Thursday, September 18, 2008

AIG 401k SOS

Banking crisis got you down? Concerned about diminishing dividends, or your forlorn 401k? Are you becoming more interested in the FDIC, and whether your checking account will be covered if your bank folds? For the record, virtually all accounts up to $100,000 are covered ($250,000 in retirement accounts); and most banks are nowhere near collapse. However, the ongoing crisis is frightening.

One solution would be to follow a parishioner's wisdom: upon seeing his statements with lower and lower numbers, he opined, "I wish I had given more of it away." If the banks, or governments, or the "unseen hand" of the markets is going to take a big chunk anyway, you may as well get the satisfaction (and tax advantage) of donating to your church.

Another approach: talk to a minister, and check in with (find?!) a financial planner. We clergy may not know how to protect your money, but we do know about feelings. We religiously liberal folks often have a complicated relationship with wealth; we sometimes feel guilty about our own success. Whatever you're feeling, ministers are here to listen, without judgment and with compassion. Just saying things out loud can help.

Clearly, there is a justice issue here: the "haves" get bailed out; the "have-nots" face tougher bankruptcy laws and foreclosure. Of course we need money; yes, nest eggs are important--and the lesson here is so old it's a cliché: our real wealth is our health, and our relationships. Make a deposit in a "friendship" account today.


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