Category Archives: Work

Could the economy be picking up steam?

(originally posted on USAA’s Inside the Mission blog)

Tomorrow is Black Friday, followed next week by Cyber Monday, and judging from the overflowing shopping carts and massive checkout lines I’m seeing around San Antonio, consumers are doing some big-time buying. While some areas of the country remain mired in an economic slump, it certainly appears around these parts that consumer spending is picking up and that can only be good news for the economy.

But don’t take my word for it — look at the research. According to the third annual holiday spending survey commissioned by USAA, more people plan to buy gifts this year compared to last year (96 percent vs. 90 percent). The survey also shows that the number of respondents who plan to create a holiday gift budget has declined over the past three years — from 64 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in 2011.

My colleague, June Walbert, a USAA financial planner, says the survey findings indicate that people may be suffering from “budget fatigue.” But, of course, USAA encourages all shoppers to commit to a budget before hitting the mall this holiday season, so they don’t overspend into debt.

According to the survey, nearly half of this year’s respondents will pay for gifts using a credit card, which is slightly up from 45 percent in 2009. Of the consumers who plan to use a credit card to make holiday purchases, the majority (73 percent) plan to pay off their balance immediately, but the rest will wait a few months, or make only the minimum payment required.

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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Thoughts, Work


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What spooks you about finances?

(Originally posted on USAA’s Inside the Mission blog)

At some level, we probably all have fears about finances.  As Halloween approaches, I’m wondering what spooks people the most about money. Are you afraid of looking at your bills each month?  Do you dread talking to your spouse about spending?  Are you worried about what the continued sagging economy means to your family? Here are my top 3 concerns about finances.  What are yours?

  1. Will I have enough for retirement?  Although USAA has a great employee 401k plan, it seems that maintaining even a modest lifestyle in retirement will require more than I could ever realistically sock away.
  2. Will my children have enough saved to go to college?  When each of our kids were born, we started 529 savings plansfor them, but the costs of education continue to skyrocket (maybe that’s why they call it “higher education”?).
  3. Will I need to provide for parents or other family members as well as my own family? I’m officially in the “sandwich generation” – so will caring for aging relatives prevent me from reaching my own financial goals?

While financial fears can be quite real, it’s good to know that USAA has tons of money advice, planning tools and other resources, right here on this site. Use the comment space below to post your own top 3 list, as well as what you do to overcome your fears.


Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Family, Thoughts, Work


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Retirement beats college savings

(Originally posted on USAA’s Inside the Mission blog)

Never did I realize the double-whammy of parenthood more so than when my wife and I had twin babies. I’m not talking about the middle-of-the-night feedings or the boxes of diapers that we go through at a lightning pace (I knew I should have bought stock in Pampers!). The real question for us is how to make it work financially. Specifically, given a choice between saving for our retirement or college funds for the kids, which one wins?

As a parent, you want to do everything you can for your kids. My parents showed me the importance of making things better for their children than they were for themselves, through their hard work. College costs are skyrocketing, but we certainly don’t want to deprive our kids of getting the best education possible. Yet we know we’ll have to stop working at some point, and will need a significant amount in savings in order to enjoy even a modest retirement. So how do parents these days balance these two seemingly competing interests?

As Scott Halliwell shows in this video, saving for retirement is more important for most people for three big reasons. Check out the video:

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Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Family, Work


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Fraud Busters

(Originally posted on USAA’s Inside the Mission blog)

USAA Financial Center employee Sunni Hansen goes the extra mile to protect a member from a financial loss. Learn more about safeguarding your accounts by visiting the Security and Privacy Center at

Say, who is that detective anyway?

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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Work


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Video shout-outs to the troops

USAA and NBA fans sent video shout-outs to the military last week. I had cameraman duties…brings me back to the good ol’ days of post-game interviews and lockerroom video. Fun, but I don’t miss those late nights. Check out the vids here:

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Posted by on March 12, 2009 in Work


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