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Brett Kavanaugh has saved almost nothing

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  • Avatar Phantasos 
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    An interesting article on marketwatch: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/brett-kavanaugh-has-saved-almost-nothing-so-does-he-actually-understand-business-2018-07-11

    The title may be misleading, depending on the mental math you believe in when considering pensions (and his equity in his house is unknowable).

    I lean conservative, and would like to see him confirmed – but this makes me raise an eyebrow more than the current public attacks he is attracting.  I certainly don’t agree with everything in the “Why Kavanaugh’s weakish finances matter” portion of the article.

    I thought I would post this in “the lounge” mostly for entertainment value.

     

     

    "The problem with internet quotes is that you can't always depend on their accuracy" - Abraham Lincoln, 1864

    #136303 Reply
    Hank Hank 
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    It made me raise an eyebrow too. However, he has almost $500K in his Thrift Saving Plan, at least $400K in home equity, and quite a bit in vested federal pension.

    While I don’t think a federal appellate court judge should spend up to $200K on baseball tickets and other expenses or regularly carry a balance on his credit card, the failure of numerous journalists to update their breathless articles to add details about Judge Kavanaugh’s pension, qualified retirement savings, and home equity makes me think they may be pushing an inaccurate narrative.

    #136305 Reply
    Avatar Anne 
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    I lean liberal, but I don’t think the reasoning in this article is valid, particularly the why it matters part.  The idea that someone who owns utility stock vs coal bonds would necessarily have deep understanding of the industries is flawed.  Plenty of experienced, smart people in many business sectors don’t manage their own finances well.  Just like plenty of very competent doctors are overweight, over stressed, and don’t get enough sleep despite knowing in depth what those things do to your health and recommending appropriate management of these things to their patients.

     

    #136308 Reply
    Avatar Dusn 
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    I remember seeing news reports about Trump’s businesses going bankrupt throughout my childhood and I’d guess he would be wealthier if he just put his dad’s money into index funds. Then he refused to release any financial statements (tax returns) that would give any verifiable insight into his financial state but somehow still convinced people to elect him based on his supposed business credentials.
    Considering that, I don’t see how the general public will care at all about Kavanaugh’s finances

    #136309 Reply
    ENT Doc ENT Doc 
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    His financial condition, as described in a previous thread on this subject, is not well illustrated by the information provided. He has a ridiculous pension, among other things that make his current savings less consequential. Still, it looks like he could have done a much better job.

    I’m happy the media has devoted their efforts to these noble causes, including attacks on his first name, because god forbid we should actually take the time to look at how he is at his job – interpreting laws and the Constitution.

    #136310 Reply
    Avatar Ryan 
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    Political stuff aside, he’s in a fine financial position for a lifer earning >$200k/year. That’s assuming there’s not a lot of unreported liabilities. As a supreme court justice he’ll make an inflation-adjusted wage of $260k in today’s dollars. If he’s like most supreme court judges, his retirement, if any, will be short.

    Death is likely covered by life insurance.

    If he doesn’t have a pension, a neurological or systemic disability could be a disaster for himself and family.

    I have an older partner with a bazillion in the bank, who keeps working, loves his job, is relatively frugal and loves collecting cash. I have a few other older partners with nothing in the bank, who keep working, love their job and love spending cash. Both groups are happy and will only retire when something stops them from working.

    I'm a physician. I also write software and build websites as a side-gig.

    #136311 Reply
    fatlittlepig fatlittlepig 
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    Something about the story either doesn’t add up or rubs the wrong way. Having 60K to 200K in credit card debt (over the course of many years), and also borrowing from a 401K while having meager assets in relation to his household income, shows a level of fiscal recklessness and questionable judgment. The explanation that the debt was incurred to purchase baseball season passes for friends just doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially that apparently he is claiming that he was able to pay off the debt when friends repayed him.  I am not against the guy, he does not seem like a typical ideological “right winger” but something is odd with the story.

    #136312 Reply
    hatton1 hatton1 
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    Interesting.  If he works to 67 he will draw a 260k pension.  The 4% rule means that is equivalent to a nest-egg of $6.5 mill.  I think the psychology is different for those eligible for the elusive defined benefit pension.  He really does not need to save for retirement at all.  He just needs to make it to 67.

    #136322 Reply
    fatlittlepig fatlittlepig 
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    I believe the pension applies to supreme court justices, he accrued the debt long before he was a nominee.

    #136325 Reply
    MPMD MPMD 
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    As I said on the other thread I think this is pretty common.

    My guess is that there are a lot of people we see on TV who are in a much worse financial situation than many on this forum. People in gov’t don’t make much money, plus if you’re a federal judge or on track to try to become one you can’t exactly do side hustles with impunity.

    As many will know I wish someone like BK wasn’t headed for the court but I don’t find this to be disqualifying or even surprising and I don’t think it should affect his nomination. It’s also worth noting that if he’d been a FIRE supersaver who lived way below his means and had $5M in assets there would be plenty of people out there saying “how does a federal judge get this rich?” Then again in that case he probably wouldn’t be here b/c I don’t think the used Honda Civic, the JC Penny suit, and the $120k townhouse are the waters that the Federalist Society power-brokers swim around in. The biggest thing for DOJ/LEO types is that they not have crazy debt that makes them desperate for cash. If Kavanaugh was worth -$500k at this point yeah I do think that should probably disqualify him.

    #136329 Reply
    Liked by Vagabond MD
    hatton1 hatton1 
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    I believe the pension applies to supreme court justices, he accrued the debt long before he was a nominee.

    Click to expand…

    He is a sitting judge right now so he has a defined benefit pension coming to him even if he does not make it to the supreme court.  The judges in my state all have pensions.  One lives down the street.

    #136341 Reply
    Liked by jz
    Avatar spiritrider 
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    Sometimes I think members of WCI, Boglehads, etc… forget that we are the exception rather than the rule.

    Even among highly paid professionals, the basic concepts of LBYM, don’t carry credit card balances, have a decent retirement savings rate, etc… are foreign concepts.

    I know many such professionals making $400K+ who do not even max out their tax advantaged space let alone have a minimum retirement savings rate of 15% – 20% required of that income level. I have even worked with colleagues who; “couldn’t afford” to contribute to get the employer match. In fact studies have consistently shown that < 2/3 of employees contribute enough to get the full employer match.

    #136389 Reply
    Vagabond MD Vagabond MD 
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    Earnest refinancing bonus

    I have mixed (non political) feelings on this subject. I have not read all of the articles and have not taken a deep dive. An early article suggested that Kavanaugh racked up $10’s of thousands of dollars of debt buying baseball tickets. If that is true, I think he is nuts and not fit to serve as a SCJ. I would say that about anybody.

    As for the general financial condition, judges at that level do not get paid a salary, IMO, commensurate with their training, value and skills. It is difficult to raise a family and live a typical professional lifestyle in the DC area on a judge’s salary.

    #136396 Reply
    Liked by hatton1
    Hank Hank 
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    I have mixed (non political) feelings on this subject. I have not read all of the articles and have not taken a deep dive. An early article suggested that Kavanaugh racked up $10’s of thousands of dollars of debt buying baseball tickets. If that is true, I think he is nuts and not fit to serve as a SCJ. I would say that about anybody.

    As for the general financial condition, judges at that level do not get paid a salary, IMO, commensurate with their training, value and skills. It is difficult to raise a family and live a typical professional lifestyle in the DC area on a judge’s salary.

    Click to expand…

    Article III judges were paid substantially more compared to associates at Big Law firms in the 1960s compared to today.  This strikes me as a problem for the respect, autonomy, and independence of the federal judiciary.

    If you have to buy a block of tickets all at once to guarantee that your pro sports season tickets are next to one another, then I can see one person buying tickets for a group of friends.  Heck, I might throw elbows to be the one to make the purchase just to get the airline miles.  That said, I wouldn’t buy tickets for friends who wouldn’t reimburse me prior to the end of the credit card billing cycle.

    Frankly, I don’t think it sounds like someone who makes a $200-300K salary and routinely pays interest on tens of thousands in credit card debt has the good judgment to sit on a federal district court, much less the Supreme Court.

    #136400 Reply
    Zaphod Zaphod 
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    I think for the most part you cant take these articles seriously, unless it really is a full financial picture. Then on the other hand, its highly likely that he has lifetime medical, a fat pension etc….and it really doesnt make a lot of sense to waste your good years saving, might as well enjoy life. Even if he doesnt become a SCJ his pension is still going to afford him an amazing life. Its not at all like anyone else in a non pension environment (not subject to company risk, etc….).

    I am most concerned with his purported position of a president is above the law in all regards. I havent searched it out, but even if remotely true thats a dangerous ideology. These branches are supposed to serve as checks and balances, and presidents are just people and no one should be above the law.

    #136401 Reply

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