I really love to read Ben Stein. His first burst of fame, as you may know, came from being the teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off back in the 1980s. More recently, he hosted a game show for a while (Win Ben Stein’s Money), and he writes regularly for the New York Times on Sunday.
What people may not realize from his typical movie and TV stunts is that Ben Stein is really intelligent. Not just in a book smart kind of way, but in a profoundly intellectual way. As an actor, writer, economist and lawyer, he seems to have internalized not just the facts and theories of several different fields, but also how they fit together. I find his writing style compellingly simple, and yet rich and articulate.
More recently, Ben has become more proactive with writing articles to help guide people with their own financial lives. Here is an article he wrote in 2005 on saving for retirement:
An example passage, which I think demonstrates both his easy way with numbers and his compelling presentation of basic financial facts:
If you start at 25 with six months’ salary saved, you need only save 3 percent of your total, pre-tax salary per year to get the nest egg you need (roughly 15 times earnings at retirement) by age 65. But if you start at age 45, you need to save 18 percent of your salary (again, assuming you start out with six months’ of salary saved). If you start at age 50, you need to save 28 percent of your salary. And if you start at age 55, you need to save nearly 50 percent of your gross salary to get where you need to be.
In other words, if you start with a sensible plan at a young age, you can get to your savings goal without breaking a sweat. If you wait until you are middle aged, it takes some serious doing. If you wait until you are a silver fox, you’re required to do some heavy lifting indeed. If you assume the stock market has passed its glory days, you need to save even more.
I’ve found two great resources now for Ben Stein fans:
I’m going to be writing a follow up post on one of my favorite pieces by Ben Stein, clipped from the New York Times last year. I’m having trouble finding an online copy, so I may have to type up the whole thing. In the meantime, check out his RSS feed. It’s so exciting to me to find out that some of my favorite columnists and authors have their own feeds – it’s something I just wasn’t finding somehow before I started blogging myself.