April 17, 2024

Economix Blog: Jaydens and Aidens Are Taking Over

CATHERINE RAMPELL

CATHERINE RAMPELL

Dollars to doughnuts.

It’s not your imagination: Jaydens, Aidens, Ethans and Masons really are taking over, at least among baby boys.

On Thursday, the Social Security Administration released its annual list of most popular baby names from the last year. Within the top 10 names for boys were the names above, which, as you may note, all end in the letter N. Names ending in the letter N have become phenomenally popular in recent years — so much so, in fact, that they have dominated the list of the top 1,000 boys’ names.

Source: Social Security Administration

The chart above plots the total number of babies born who have a name in the top 1,000 list in 2012, sorted by the last letter of their name. Laura Wattenberg, creator of babynamewizard.com, first conducted this last-letter name analysis a few years ago. Using a longer-tail list of boys’ names — all names given five or more times in 2012, which totals the top 14,162 names for boys — she estimates that more than a third of all baby boys born in 2012 had a name that ended in N.

Some of these N-names are falling in popularity. “Braeden,” for example, fell over 100 spots last year to No. 581 in 2012 from No. 476 in 2011. But these N-names are still hugely more popular than they were decades ago. Here is Ms. Wattenberg’s chart for the distributions of names for boys born in 1950, sorted by the last letter of their given name:

Courtesy of Laura Wattenberg, babynamewizard.com.

As you can see, there was a large cluster of N-names, but still more equitable distribution among a few other letters, particularly D’s, S’s and Y’s.

For more data analysis on baby names, I suggest Ms. Wattenberg’s blog and a “Freakonomics” excerpt on the trickling-down of baby names from higher-income families to lower-income ones. The Social Security Web site also lets you track a name’s popularity over time.

The Social Security site also lists the top five names each year over the last century. Jacob has been No. 1 for 14 years  now for boys. Sophia has been the top girls’ name for the last two years.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/jaydens-and-aidens-are-taking-over/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks: What’s Important About Money to You?

Carl Richards is a certified financial planner in Park City, Utah, and is the director of investor education at The BAM Alliance. His book, “The Behavior Gap,” was published this year. His sketches are archived on the Bucks blog.

What’s important about money to you?

This is an uncomfortable question because we aren’t used to thinking about money in those terms. But it’s one of my favorite questions to ask. Even before talking about goals or building a personal balance sheet, you might find it helpful to ask yourself this question.

While I’m not certain of the question’s origins, I first learned of it about a decade ago in a book by Bill Bachrach. It was about the importance of understanding your values when making important financial decisions. I’ve been using the question ever since.

The purpose of this question isn’t to think in terms of goals. It’s meant to go deeper than that, or to get at the reason why we have certain goals. The first answers people come up with are usually easy — things like security and freedom. But once we pause and really think, we can move even deeper still, or into what might be called the “why” of money. This question gets uncomfortable because it forces us to get really clear about our underlying reason for doing things. It also forces us to face some inconsistencies in our lives.

Let’s say the first thing you come up with when you ask yourself the question — what’s important about money — is indeed freedom or security. Then, the next question you should ask yourself is, “What’s so important to me about freedom and security?’” From there, keep asking questions until you get to until you get to the thing that is most important to you.

Here’s how it works.

My friend, who we’ll call Sara, was a hard-charging professional whose career required her to be super competitive. She was “type A” to the hilt and worked long hours. So when I talked to Sara and her husband and asked her this question, I was curious what she would say was most important. She said freedom.

When I asked her what freedom meant, she replied, “More time.”

So I said, “Okay, let’s pretend you’re there. Let’s say you have more time. What’s so important about being at that spot?”

With some emotion she said, “I just want the time to raise a child.”

Now don’t get caught up on what Sara said was the most important to her. Her values are just that. They’re hers. Your values may be completely different. The thing to keep in mind is that, like Sara, once you identify what’s most important to you, things get clearer.

The answers to a question like this give you a lens through which to view your financial decisions. And after you’ve identified what’s most important, you’ll have incredibly valuable information to help you make decisions that match your values.

In fact, it can make it easy to say no to things that can distract you from what’s most important. Like the self-help author Stephen Covey said, “It’s easy to say ‘no!’ when there’s a deeper ‘yes!’ burning inside.”

For Sara and her husband, her answer became that “deeper yes.” The same can be true for you. You just have to ask the question.

I’d love to know what’s most important to you. How has knowing the answer to that question changed your life?

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/whats-important-about-money-to-you/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Tuesday Reading: Teenagers and the Morning-After Pill

December 04

Tuesday Reading: Teenagers and the Morning-After Pill

Teenagers and the morning-after pill, toys get makeovers as dads shop more, study finds high-speed trades hurt investors and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/tuesday-reading-teenagers-and-the-morning-after-pill/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks: You Probably Don’t Care Enough About Your Goals

Carl Richards

Carl Richards is a financial planner in Park City, Utah, and is the director of investor education at the BAM Alliance. His book, “The Behavior Gap,” was published this year. His sketches are archived on the Bucks blog.

How badly do you want it?

I’ll ask this question when someone tells me about a goal they have in mind and their struggles to reach it. It’s usually an important goal, connected to their career, their families or some sort of personal achievement.

And when I ask this question, the responses tend to fall into two categories:

1) I want it badly, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.
2) I want it badly, but I don’t think it’s possible.

Think about those two answers for minute.

If you answered the first way, that you’ll do whatever it takes, you’ve made a choice. You’ve decided that this goal means enough to you that you’ll pursue it until you achieve. I don’t worry too much about these people.

But if you answered the second way, that you don’t think it’s possible, then I have to wonder if you really want it. I most often get the second response when people are talking about money goals. And when I ask a few more questions, like what they have tried already, the answers astonish me. A majority of the time, people have put these goals aside aside because they seem impossible, not because they actually tried to reach the goal and failed.

Here’s a classic example. A few months ago, I had a conversation with an acquaintance who earns a super-high income. He tells me that he wants to make big changes in his life, like cutting back on work, maybe even changing jobs completely. He really wants these changes, he tells me.

So when I ask him why it hasn’t happened, he explains that he doesn’t have enough savings to make the change. But you have excellent cash flow, I reply. Well yes, he says, but I don’t really want to change my lifestyle.

And right there we see the problem. How badly does he want it? Apparently not badly enough to change his spending and increase his savings.

We can all be guilty of similar thinking. We walk around with big goals and talk about how important those goals are to us, but what are we really doing about those goals? How badly do we want them?

It’s a rare goal that doesn’t require sacrifice of some sort. So what are you prepared to sacrifice to achieve your big goal? Do you want to pay off your debt? Buy a home? Travel more?

You owe it to yourself to explore all the possibilities before you concede defeat and say that it’s impossible. Don’t be like all of the people who walk away from what they want because they aren’t willing to answer the question and say out loud just how badly they actually want it.

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/you-probably-dont-care-enough-about-your-goals/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Catching Up on Retirement Savings

Paul Sullivan writes this week in his Wealth Matters column about a defined-benefit plan aimed at small-business owners in their 50s who have saved little for retirement. The plan allows them to make annual contributions of as much as $255,000. The owners can then deduct that money as a business expense, resulting in a significant tax savings.

The plan works only if the business owner has a lot of money to put aside each year. But it certainly deals with an issue affecting a lot of people in their 50s and 60s who have not put aside a lot of money for retirement and are trying to figure out ways to catch up.

If you are among those people, what are your retirement saving strategies? Or are you simply planning to work a lot longer?

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/30/catching-up-on-retirement-savings/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: The People Who Are Spending More This Season

Black Friday shoppers rush into Valley River Center mall in Eugene, Ore.Associated PressBlack Friday shoppers rush into Valley River Center mall in Eugene, Ore.

As Cyber Monday unfolds, consumers seem a bit more comfortable with spending this holiday season, according to an annual survey.

Twelve percent of those surveyed said they would spend more this year, compared with 8 percent last year, according to the survey, which was commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America and the Credit Union National Association.

At the same time, the percentage who said they would spend less declined to 38 percent from 41 percent, the survey found.

ORC International conducted the survey of 1,012 adults by land line and cellphone from Nov. 9-13.

The results indicate continued gradual improvement in holiday spending plans since a sharp decline four years ago, said Bill Hampel, chief economist for the CUNA, in a statement.

The intention of consumers to increase holiday spending may reflect improvement in their financial situation. From 2011 to 2012, the percentage who said their financial situation was better rose from 19 to 24.

Many families, however, remain strapped. Only half (49 percent) said they had extra money to pay for an unexpected expense of $1,000.

What are your spending plans for the holidays this year?

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/the-people-who-are-spending-more-this-season/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Wednesday Reading: The ‘Irrational Cheapskate’ Traveler Trap

November 28

Wednesday Reading: The ‘Irrational Cheapskate’ Traveler Trap

The argument against ‘pound foolish’ travel, United offers nonstop lift to Jackson Hole, Wyo., putting a 13-year-old safely on Facebook and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/wednesday-reading-the-irrational-cheapskate-traveler-trap/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Tuesday Reading: Job Loss Increases Risk of Heart Attack

November 27

Tuesday Reading: Job Loss Increases Risk of Heart Attack

Job loss increases the risk of heart attack, the mortgage interest deduction is under scrutiny, how to avoid counterfeit money while traveling and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/tuesday-reading-job-loss-increases-risk-of-heart-attack/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Friday Reading: Why Baby Boomers Can’t Drink as Much

November 23

Friday Reading: Why Baby Boomers Can’t Drink as Much

Why baby boomers can’t drink as much, shrewd shopping with a smart phone, picking an e-reader and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/friday-reading-why-baby-boomers-cant-drink-as-much/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Tuesday Reading: Cholesterol Tests May Not Require Fasting

November 16

Friday Reading: The ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ Explained

The “fiscal cliff” explained, learning that odd is normal, the best options for wireless tethering and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/tuesday-reading-cholesterol-tests-may-not-require-fasting/?partner=rss&emc=rss