We all want money – some of us want it dangerously. Fortunately, there are some simple and powerful ways to get rich without gambling on your hard-earned savings.

Of course, not all of them will stay in your brain. And a lot will change over time as Uncle Sam reforms our taxes and benefits, and new and better financial products are incorporated. Still, having some guiding principles at your fingertips can help you manage your money and achieve financial security:

As an economist, here are the 21 most important monetary rules I respect and teach:

1. Don’t borrow for college. It is far too risky and costly. I do not say this lightly. I am a university professor. But you can get a good education without mortgaging your future and potentially ruining your career plans.

It is simply a matter of researching scholarships and applying to cheaper, although generally less prestigious, institutions.

2. If your parents are borrowing for your tuition, discuss who will reimburse. And ask yourself if they are blowing up your legacy or sacrificing their well-being by “helping” you attend an unaffordable college.

3. Strive to own your home, not rent – and try to buy with cash. This is especially the case if you are of moderate to high income. Having more of your money in your home is one way to protect it from federal and state estate income tax.

4. Mortgages are tax and financial losers. Pay them ASAP. Think about it: if you have $ 100,000 that you can invest right now in a 1.5% bond, you would have $ 1,500 in interest income over the course of a year. But if you had $ 100,000 in debt at an interest rate of 3.2% that you could pay off now, you would save $ 3,200 over the year in interest payments.

Overall, you would earn $ 1,700 risk-free by investing in debt repayment rather than the bond.

5. Owning a home can reduce the risk of longevity. Here’s another reason it’s better to own than to rent. Let’s say you are 70 years old and have found the location of your dreams. Renting for the rest of your life runs the risk of rent increases without the possibility of increasing your fixed income.

On the other hand, if you owned your home, house prices may soar or collapse, but you will be isolated. Since you don’t buy or sell your home, who cares what the housing market is doing? Your housing consumption is guaranteed for the rest of your life.

6. Your ideal home can be much cheaper in many time zones. Or it could be a place with no state income tax, no state estate tax, and no state estate tax.

Yes, things are more complicated. The value of land in New Hampshire may be higher in light of the state tax benefit. And the school system may be better in Massachusetts. But who knows? You can be childless and happy to live in a large five story courtyard.

7. Pick jobs that everyone hates. All other things being equal – skills, education and experience – people in unpleasant, nerve-racking, insecure, disruptive, or financially risky jobs are paid more than people with the same skills who work without any of these drawbacks.

Economists call the wage supplement a “compensatory differential”. The key to enjoying it is to find something that you like and, ideally, that other people don’t like.

8. Don’t worry about your career and your job. How not to shop when there are so many options? Certainly, the quickest route to an increase is to obtain a credible external offer.

9. Consider working for yourself. I often tell my students. If you start the right business the right way, it will increase your remaining future income and provide you with unparalleled job security.

If that sounds too risky, think about ways to turn your hobby and interests into a side activity.

10. Keep thinking about tomorrow. Are you in the best possible career for the rest of your working days? Should you make a change? Is your current job in danger? Set a date every few months to do a career checkup with a spouse, partner or friend.

11. Your standard of living is your bottom line. Simulate its potential trajectories based on alternative investing and spending strategies to see where those strategies can take you.

12. Marriage beats long-term partnership. This can mean slightly higher net taxes, but it comes with an array of valuable implicit insurance provisions, which the formality and legality of marriage help enforce.

13. If you get married, plan to divorce. It is as likely as not. Protect yourself and the love of your life with a marriage contract.

14. All lifestyle decisions – change careers, move, get married, have children, divorce – come at a price. Measure these prices against your sustainable standard of living.

15. Use contributions, conversions and withdrawals from the retirement account to reduce your taxes for life. And make sure you contribute enough to get your employer’s match!

16. Wait until the age of 70 to receive Social Security retirement benefits. Retirees who wait to claim can earn hundreds of dollars more each month than those who take benefits earlier.

Of course, this is not possible for everyone. But here’s my plea: Before you do anything, determine the strategy that maximizes the total benefits of your lifetime household.

17. If you don’t officially apply for your Social Security benefits, you won’t get them. I had a lot of people in their mid-70s who asked me when they would start receiving their checks. That’s when I whimper and tell them they need to report their benefits immediately.

Social Security is not about letting us know what it owes us, regardless of whether we have paid FICA taxes our entire working life for these benefits.

18. The Social Security Administration’s program operations manual system contains thousands of rules that its staff may be wrong, in part or in whole. Speak to several offices and do your own research.

19. Taking early retirement is financial suicide. Yes, there are situations where early retirement makes sense. But very few of us think early retirement is what it really is: a decision to take the longest, most expensive vacation (which most of us can’t afford).

In other words, it’s clear that the wonderful benefits – extra time with the grandchildren, freedom to pursue hobbies, reduced stress – all come at a high price: the wasted years, if not decades, of income.

20. Most conventional investment advice is, to be fair, of questionable value. This relies on the fact that you make four major economic mistakes: saving the wrong amount when you’re younger, putting your pre-retirement savings on autopilot, spending the wrong amount when you’re older, and never adapting to job conditions. Marlet.

21. If you fear a downside risk, play on the stock market like in a casino. Think of investing in stocks as money you bring to the casino: don’t spend a dime of your winnings, if you win any, until you’ve left the building. Or, in other words, don’t invest more money in the stock market until your initial bets are loss-proof.

Laurence J. Kotlikoff is professor of economics and author of “The Magic of Money: An Economist’s Secrets to More Money, Less Risk, and a Better Life.” He got his doctorate. in Economics from Harvard University in 1977. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the WSJ, Bloomberg and the Financial Times. In 2014, The Economist named him one of the 25 Most Influential Economists in the World. Follow him on twitter @Kotlikoff.

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