MONEY retirement planning

Forget About Saving. Just Go on Vacation.

Mickey Mouse posing with the Gaither quintuplets
You budgeted for your Disney World trip, but did you count the hit to your retirement savings? Gene Duncan—AP

Americans get retirement saving backwards: We think about it more when there's less time to do it. Millennials, now's the time to fix on the problem.

More people plan for their next vacation than plan for their retirement, new research shows. This won’t shock anyone who has followed the retirement savings crisis in America—or scraped together $12,000 for a family trip to Disney World. What’s striking, though, is how totally upside down our thinking is on this issue.

The amount of time we spend thinking about retirement increases with age across every cohort, the financial services firm Edward Jones found. That makes sense until you think about it. By the time you are in your 60s it may be too late to make much of a difference in your nest egg. A little more thinking in your 30s would go a long way.

Yet Jones found that time spent thinking ahead about retirement rises dramatically with age. Among those 18 to 34, only 9% say retirement planning is top of mind. The share rises to 31% among those 35 to 44, to 37% among those 45 to 54, and to 40% among those 55 to 64. Overall, Jones found that 28% of Americans have the next vacation top of mind while 25% have retirement planning and 22% have paying for college top of mind.

Once upon a time, retirement planning could wait. More workers had pensions and retiree health benefits. Planning was more about when to take Social Security, who to designate as beneficiaries, and how to trigger pension payments. Today, if you don’t start thinking about retirement before 55 you are either wealthy or out of luck. Yes, important adjustments can be made at any age—like taking advantage of catch-up tax-deferred savings rules, working longer and delaying Social Security benefits. But the real juice is in saving early and often.

Compound growth for an extra 20 years, or even just 10, can more than double your savings over 35 years. Investing $2,000 a month and earning an 8% return would provide $399,082 over 35 years, according to data from T. Rowe Price. Savings after 25 years would total $165,457; over 15 years, just $60,203.

So when only 9% of young adults say that retirement planning is top of mind, it means that 91% are at extra risk of falling short in the long term—and doomed to think about retirement finances much more often when there is much less they can do about it.

MONEY financial advisers

Investment Start-Ups Shake Up Financial Industry

Companies targeting mass-market millennials say they're forcing lower prices and greater transparency.

Led by a group of start-ups that have emerged in the last two years to offer previously expensive and exclusive financial services on a low-cost basis to a mass audience, the financial services industry is starting to adapt its ways.

The changing way of doing business is resulting in lower fees and more transparency about services, leaders of the start-ups say. And instead of failing or being gobbled up by larger entities, these online money management and investment product companies have been growing exponentially.

A snapshot of the growth revealed recently at the Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit in New York:

  • Wealthfront.com, a provider of low-fee investment management aimed at tech-savvy millennials, born after 1981, recently crossed $1 billion in assets under management, achieving that feat in two years. (Its closest cohort in the space, Betterment, now has $630 million under management.)
  • SigFig.com, which aggregates accounts and offers investing advice, but does not directly take in assets under management as its main service, tracks $200 billion. The company is on its way to tracking $1 trillion in the next year, said chief executive Mike Sha.
  • Hedgeable.com, which provides low-fee alternative investment products directly and has broad distribution on many traditional platforms such as Fidelity and TDAmeritrade, has $400 million in assets under management. With just six employees, the company is cash-flow positive and developing new products all the time.

For anyone thinking that sounds like a good target for an acquisition, Hedgeable’s chief executive, Michael Kane, said, decidedly, “We are not for sale.”

Already, the companies see their influence in fee slashing industrywide as well as on greater transparency. Firms like LPL Financial, Wells Fargo, and Edward Jones are trying to lower fees by offering bundled services, Kane said.

In five years, 90% of these companies will be offering flat-fee pricing for all of the services they offer a retail client, Kane predicted.

Change is also at hand as traditional firms rethink their pricing model, going from a percentage of assets under management to flat fees. SigFig has helped move this along by showing customers exactly how much they are paying in fees yearly. For clients who have money in traditional mutual funds at a brokerage, fees average $7,000 per year. More than 90% of those costs are avoidable, Sha said.

“Over 30 years, that’s staggering,” Sha said.

Another shift: how firms service customers who don’t have huge account balances. While traditional advisers often have high minimums of $500,000, Wealthfront accounts start at $5,000. In the last few weeks, the company has added about $100,000 in assets under management, all without needing to grow their 40-person staff.

Wealthfront chief executive Adam Nash understands why the big firms still mostly go after baby boomer clients, who control $15 trillion in wealth versus $2 trillion for millennials, a third of whom are still in college.

But Nash sees growth for Wealthfront as millennials age, and wants to engage them as early as possible. The company recently fielded a slew of complaints from college students who couldn’t sign up accounts, so the company lowered its minimum age to 18 from 21.

MONEY Savings

Despite Lessons of Recession, Many Are Ill-Prepared for a Crisis

Emergency box broken
Peter Crowther—Getty Images

One in four Americans have no savings set aside for an emergency, a new survey finds.

When it comes to your finances, you need to be prepared for the unexpected: a gap between jobs, a health crisis, a leaky roof that needs to be repaired. But 26% of Americans have no savings set aside for an emergency, according to a new report from Bankrate.com.

What’s more, many of those who do have a rainy day fund have too small of one. Only 23% of Americans say they have set aside at least six months’ worth of living expenses—the commonly recommended minimum. For 24% of Americans, an emergency fund would last less than three months, the survey found; another 17% have enough money for three to five months of expenses.

Americans have been poor savers for decades, notes Bankrate.com financial analyst Greg McBride. “What did change since the recession was the recognition of the importance of emergency savings,” says McBride. “Americans know that having emergency savings is important, they know they don’t have enough, and they feel very uncomfortable about that. But despite that, they’re just not making any progress.”

These findings jibe with MONEY’s recent survey of Americans and their finances, which found that while Americans are exercising more financial restraint than they did before the recession, they still aren’t saving as much as they should.

Six in 10 told MONEY that they were trying to build their emergency savings, up from less than 25% who said the same in 2009; three-quarters reported cutting back on spending. Still, 58% wouldn’t be able to handle an unexpected $10,000 expense. Even high-income families would feel the pinch—38% of those earning more than $100,000 said they wouldn’t be able to cover a $10,000 surprise.

Similarly, the Bankrate survey found that insufficient savings crosses all income groups: Among households with incomes of $75,000 or more, only 46% have a six-month emergency reserve.

Another alarming finding: Americans age 30 to 49 are the worst off. One-third don’t have anything saved for a rainy day.

“That’s a pretty scary finding in that they are more likely to have the house, two cars, three kids, the dog,” McBride says. “They need those emergency savings more than anybody.”

The bright spot? Millennials may have learned from their elders’ mistakes. More than half—54%—have three- to five-months’ worth of expenses set aside in cash.”Young adults have had a front row seats for the recession and the anemic recovery,” says McBride. “They’ve recognized the need for emergency savings.”

Need another impetus to build up your rainy day fund? In MONEY’s recent survey on marriage and money, 25% of couples say they fight about insufficient emergency savings.

For more on budgeting and saving:

MONEY retirement planning

Leave a Financial Legacy? Boomers and Millennials Slug It Out

Unlike older Americans, young adults want to leave an inheritance to future generations. Too bad they're investing in cash.

Baby Boomers like to point out that our famously self-absorbed generation advocated for many good causes as youngsters and turned the corner to greater giving in retirement. Much of it is true. But younger generations are way ahead of us, new research suggests.

Maybe it’s a case of our kids doing as we say, not as we do. Boomers are the least likely generation to say it is important to leave a financial legacy—even though they have benefited from an enormous wealth transfer from their own parents, according to a new U.S. Trust survey of high net worth individuals. How’s that for self-absorbed?

More boomers have received an inheritance (57%) than say it is important to leave one (53%). The opposite holds true for younger generations. Some 36% of Gen X and 48% of Millennials have received some type of inheritance while 59% of Gen X and a whopping 65% of Millennials say it is important to leave one.

Circumstances may account for the difference in mindset. The Great Recession struck just as boomers were preparing to call it quits. With more to lose, and little time to make it back, boomers suffered the worst of the crisis from a savings point of view. A financial legacy seems less important when you are downsizing your retirement dreams.

For younger generations, the crisis created an employment nightmare. But it drove home the need to begin saving early, and those that did have seen stock prices double from the bottom and house prices begin to rebound as well. Millennials’ problem may be that they still don’t trust the stock market enough.

Well more than half in the survey remain on the sidelines with 10% or more of their portfolio in cash. Millennials are the most likely to be tilting that direction. Two-thirds of Millennials, the most of any cohort, say they are fine carrying a lot of cash and just 13%, the least of any cohort, have plans to invest some of their sideline cash in the next 12 months. This conservative nature threatens to work against their desire to leave a financial legacy—or even retire comfortably.

Millennials are the youngest adult generation and have the most time to absorb bumps in the stock market and benefit from its long-term superior gains. Intuitively, they know that. In the survey, those holding the most cash, regardless of age, were the most likely to say they missed the market rally the past few years and are not on track to meet their goals.

In our younger days, boomers rallied around things like civil rights and workplace equality for women, among other grand moral battles. But we didn’t necessarily put our money where our mouth was. Today’s young adults are quieter about how to fix the world. But they are willing to invest for change. One-third of all high net worth individuals invest in a socially conscious way while two-thirds of Millennials do so, U.S. Trust found.

By a wide margin, more Millennials say that investment decisions are a way to express social, political or environmental values (67%). Most (73%) believe it is possible to achieve market-rate returns investing in companies based on their social or environmental impact, and that private capital from socially motivated investors can help hold public companies and governments accountable (79%). I’d say the kids are alright.

TIME Marriage

More Millennial Mothers Are Single Than Married

Despite the anxiety society still feels about single mothers, most American mothers aged 26 to 31 had at least one child when they were not married. And the number of these millennial single mothers is increasing. In fact, in a study just released by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, only about a third of all mothers in their late twenties were married when all their kids were born. And two thirds of them were single when at least one of their kids were born.

The less education the young women have the higher the probability that they became a mom before they got married. Conversely, the married moms of that generation probably have a college degree. “It is now unusual for non-college graduates who have children in their teens and 20s to have all of them within marriage,” says Andrew Cherlin, one of the authors of the study “Changing Fertility Regimes and the Transition to Adulthood: Evidence from a Recent Cohort.”

Sociologists such as Cherlin have been tracking the decline of marriage as one of the milestones or goals of an individual’s life—the whole “first comes love, the comes marriage, then comes the baby with the baby carriage” paradigm. And it’s clear that an increasing number of young people are just not putting a ring on it. “The lofty place that marriage once held among the markers of adulthood is in serious question,” says Cherlin.

Motherhood is beginning to show the fissures along income and education lines that have already appeared in other aspects of U.S. society, with a small cluster of wealthy well educated people at one end (married with kids), a large cluster of struggling people at the other (kids, not married) and a thinning middle. While many children raised by single parents are fine, the advantages of a two parent family have been quite exhaustively documented. Some of these advantages can be tied to financial resources, but not all.

Among people with kids between the ages of 26 to 31 who didn’t graduate from college, 74% of the moms and 70% of the dads had at least one of those kids while single, Cherlin found. A full 81% of the births reported by women and 87 % of the births reported by guys were from people who didn’t finish college, so some of these single, lower education parents had more than one kid.

The chart below, using data from the National Longitude Study of Youth 1997, which looks at people born 1981 to 1984, shows all the births reported by women who didn’t get through high school, how old they were when their kids were born and whether they were married. Only a quarter of these young moms were married, slightly more than a third were living with someone, not necessarily the child’s father, and almost 40% had no partner at all.

 

unmarried mothers high school
Johns Hopkins University

 

Among college graduates, the picture is a little different. These young women account for fewer births—college graduates delay having kids generally—and as the number of births goes up, so does the number of marriages. “If marriage retains its place anywhere, it would be among the college graduates,” said Cherlin, “The difference between them and the non-college-educated with regard to the percentage of births within marriage is so striking as to suggest a very different experience of early adulthood.”

Johns Hopkins University

 

The study points out that unmarried couples have a high break up rate in the first few stressful years after the birth of a child and that this often leads to what’s called “multi-partner fertility” in the academy and “a lot of different baby mamas” in the rest of the world. This kind of family instability, with step-siblings and half siblings and a lot of fleeting parental figures can be tough on both finances and on kids and leads to the calcification of social inequality “The sharp differentiation by education in the transition to adulthood,” says the study, “is another indicator that American society is moving toward two different patterns of family formation and two diverging destinies for children.”

MONEY Family and Money

Boomer Women More Confident Managing Money, but Millennials Enjoy It More

New survey compares financial confidence among different generations.

Who’s more cocky about their financial savvy—Gen Y women or Boomer women? Turns out both are, just in different ways.

A study released today by Ameriprise Financial found that women nearing retirement feel most in control of their finances. Nearly eight in 10 have a clear financial plan they’re comfortable with (vs. 55% of younger women), and three quarters feel confident that their careful planning will pan out (vs. 63% of younger women). Six in 10 say they feel a strong sense of control when it comes to saving and investing (though the Millennials are closing in at 58%).

Boomer women’s confidence may be tied to their level of involvement in financial decisions along with their years of experience. Nine in 10 say they are primarily or jointly responsible for long-term saving and investment decisions in their households. And older women are more likely to feel at peace with their past financial decisions. Nine in ten boomer women say they feel confident about the financial decisions they’ve made in the last few years. compared to only 83% of millennials, and 80% of boomers say they are satisfied with what they’ve achieved, while unsurprisingly only 66% of younger women feel the same.

Across all generations, two in five women consider themselves the primary financial decision maker, though a majority of these women (63%) are doing so out of necessity, as they are either unmarried or divorced. Among women who’ve chosen to take the lead for their household, only 37% are in long-term relationships.

What’s particularly interesting, though, is that millennial women are more likely than older generations to say that they’ve taken control because they are more knowledgeable than a spouse and because they enjoying making these decisions.

Part of this confidence in their financial know-how could be attributed to early education from their parents, Ameriprise postulates. Six in 10 young women ages 25 to 34 learned about finances from Mom and Dad, while only 43% of Boomer women could say the same.

Millennial women are also more likely to feel that success is defined by making informed financial decisions, and they are also more likely to tweak their financial strategy in reaction to a life milestone or challenge than older women.

MONEY buying a home

Top Reasons Millennials Shouldn’t Buy a Home — Yet

couple standing by outline of house
Martin Barraud—Getty Images/OJO Images

Many millennials want to buy a home. But maybe they shouldn't just yet, says Trulia's consumer expert.

There are many reasons to buy your first home, including dozens of financial benefits and lifestyle benefits. And right now, it’s a buyer’s market; interest rates are still low, hitting 4.34% for a 30 year fixed loan this month. According to the latest Trulia survey, 68% of Millennials are in the market for a home priced at $200,000 or lower. However, home buying is not for everyone. For all the positive aspects to home ownership, there are some very compelling reasons not to buy a home right now. So, if you’re ready to jump headfirst into the ‘American Dream,’ read this first.

More: Why This Millennial Will Send My Son To College Before He Buys a Home

Losing Flexibility

Home ownership provides stability, but that may not always be a good thing when you are in your career-building years. If you are looking for a promotion, an advance, or job change, you may have to relocate to get to that next level. You need to have the ability to move on short notice, maybe even as fast as 30 to 60 days. Having to sell your home quickly could force you to offer it up at a bargain price to snag a buyer, in addition to incurring thousands of dollars of closing costs.

No Room For Baby

Millennials are in the prime years for starting families. You may not have one now, but chances are you may in the near future. So, buying that cozy home or condo perfect for the two of you may not be such a great idea when baby makes three. Afterall, having a baby is stressful enough. Having to sell your house to buy a larger one with a due date looming can be unbearably stressful, costly, and may even put you in the red.

Five Years In

If for any reason you think you may not be able to stay in your home for five to seven years, you should not buy. It will be cheaper to rent. The rule of thumb used to be seven years, but now that the housing market is stabilizing, that timeline has shifted slightly. With only moderate market appreciation, it will generally take five years for you to recoup the costs of buying, selling, and carrying costs. Unfortunately, in the first years of your mortgage, you won’t be building up too much equity. Banks charge a hefty portion of your interest upfront, with very little going to your principal in the first few years.

No Money Down, No House

If you don’t have enough money saved for a down payment, don’t buy a house right now. I am a big proponent of 20% down. That is not always feasible for most Millennials starting out, and it is lot of money to have saved up. But, unfortunately, it is the safest, most conservative approach to home ownership. If you can’t bank on Mom and Dad for a leg up on the down payment, then you need to keep saving.

Too Much Debt

Student loans, car loans, and any other debt you have accumulated are all reasons not to buy a house just yet. You will need to pay down your debt first. Not only will a home purchase put a dent in you debt reduction plan, banks will not be willing to approve you for a loan with a high debt-to-income ratio.

Shaky Job Security

First, purchasing a home with today’s new qualified loan standards requires some consistent job history. When you’re in the early stages of your career, there may be jumps and gaps in your history, so getting the loan is going to be a challenge. Once you own a home, be aware that job situations can change overnight. Losing a job, periods of unemployment, and changes in income are not as easily weathered when you own a home. Your income may change, but your housing costs will remain the same. You won’t be able to quickly downsize, leaving you to sell your home out of financial desperation.

Cash Poor

Home buying often leaves buyers cash poor. After you dip into your savings to come up with the down payment, the closing costs, and any renovation that you need to make prior to moving in could leave your bank account in the double digits. That is not the way you want to start living the ‘American Dream.’ Make sure you will have enough cash leftover to weather a job loss, an unexpected emergency, or even a health issue that could impact your earning power. Bottom line: Don’t end up house rich, cash poor and emergency fundless.

More from Trulia:
9 Things to Look For When Touring An Open House
The Pros and Cons of Buying a Newly Built Home
The 10 Most Costly Home Selling Mistakes – & How To Avoid Them

Michael Corbett is Trulia‘s real estate and lifestyle expert. He hosts NBC’s EXTRA’s Mansions and Millionaires and has authored three books on real estate, including Before You Buy!

MONEY First-Time Dad

Why I’ll Send My Infant Son to College Before I Buy a House

061416_FF_Luke_1
Luke Tepper Taylor Tepper

With housing so expensive, I figure my young family will be renting for foreseeable future. The latest on being a new dad, a Millennial, and (pretty) broke.

Mrs. Tepper and I are 28 years old, and our son is four months. Over the past year, Luke has acquired an $800 stroller, a $250 crib, and a $50 humidifier. (Before you make fun, understand that he constantly bore a stuffy morning nose, and what kind of monster wouldn’t spend a measly $50 to help his only son sleep soundly?!)

We’ve begun funding Luke’s New York 529 college savings account in order to spot his entire higher education bill (provided he goes to a state school), and we, of course, will pay his medical expenses for the next 26 years.

But there is one thing that we will not buy him—a house. In all likelihood (which means unless we win the lottery, or someone gives us a hundred thousand dollars), we will put our son through college before we buy our family a home.

Which, when you think about it, is strange. Last year we earned almost $110,000 and that will (hopefully) increase rapidly as we enter our career primes. We hardly travel (much to our chagrin) and have a reasonable $300 monthly car payment. Mrs. Tepper really only shops for (baby) clothes on sale, online, or both, and my main indulgence is a bimonthly $45 bottle of Templeton rye whiskey.

Why then will we be renters, at least until we’re in our fifties?

Reason #1: It’s (Really) Hard to Save

We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with cheap wood cabinets and a kind of white plaster countertop that stains as easily as a peach bruises. In the afternoon it often takes five minutes for the water to go from warm to hot. We don’t have a washing machine—neither does our building, which was built during the Hoover administration—and I do our dishes by hand because we don’t have a dishwasher.

Next year our rent will be $2,020 (and that doesn’t include gas, electricity, cable, Internet, or whiskey).

Eventually we’ll decamp for the ‘burbs for the sake of space and sanity, but with that move comes higher mass transit costs (an $1,800 yearly increase) and more house to heat and furnish and maintain.

The Dave Ramsey in me says I should find more ways to cut spending: no more occasional brunches or flights to Florida. (Luke can meet his grandparents on Skype!) But those hypothetical savings are peanuts in the grand scheme of things, and the me that wants to stay married shuts Dave Ramsey up.

Read: Half of Millennials Will Ask Mom and Dad to Help Them Buy a Home

Reason #2: Student Loans

In order to gain our cushy, 50-hour-a-week jobs, both Mrs. Tepper and I attended (public) graduate school. That came on top of studying at New York University for four years and (seemingly) $550,000,000.

So we have loans. Lots of them. (I alone owe almost $60,000.) Obviously we are not the only ones tied up in the web of student loan bills. People like me now owe almost $1.1 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, or about twice as much as in 2008, when my wife and I graduated college.

I’m now paying $350 a month—and that’s mostly interest.

Reason #3: Houses Are Expensive

In New York City, the median home price is $369,000, and that comes with a median down payment of $74,000, per a recent Redfin report. In Nassau County, which is out on Long Island, you need to put $88,000 down.

Needless to say, we don’t have that kind of money, nor will we anytime soon.

And that–expensive rent, student loans, and homes—doesn’t even take into account the $1,500 a month gorilla in the room (child care) or, you know, Christmas presents.

Look, there are worse things than not buying a house (like not having a job or being a Dallas Cowboys fan.) We have a happy, healthy family, with sunny days ahead, and maybe we’ll find a way to save a buck or two over the years.

But not that long ago, it took only one middle class job in the family to afford a home. Now, according to the Redfin report and my life, two doesn’t cut it. When the prospect of owning the roof over your family’s head is so far gone, is it really that crazy to buy a $50 humidifier for your son?

MORE: Why Does My One Baby Need Two of Everything?

MORE: How Can Child Care Cost as Much as Rent?

 

MONEY Sports

Fore! No, Make That Five! 5 Reasons Golf Is in a Hole

digging golf ball out of bunker
Thomas Northcut—Getty Images

Golf's U.S. Open and Father's Day both take place this weekend. Chances are, dad isn't celebrating by playing golf.

Golfer numbers are down. Golf equipment sales have been tanking. The number of golf courses closing annually is supposed to dwarf the number of new courses opening for years to come. “We really don’t know what the bottom is in golf,” Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack said in a recent conference call, attempting to explain why golf gear sales have fallen off a cliff. “We anticipated softness, but instead we saw significant decline. We underestimated how significant a decline this would be.”

Insult to injury: Tiger Woods isn’t playing in the U.S. Open this weekend, and that’s sure to hurt TV ratings big time. The overarching question, though, is why the golf business has entered such a rough patch—and why it looks to remain in a sand trap, so to speak, for quite some time. Here are a handful of reasons, including the curious case of Woods himself.

People are too damn busy. When someone asks how you’re doing, the response among working professionals and working parents especially is probably a kneejerk “crazy busy.” Studies show that leisure time has shrunk for both sexes, and that dads are doing more work around the house, though moms still devote more time to chores and childcare than their spouses. A so-called “leisure gap” still exists between mothers and fathers, and while dads tend to enjoy an extra hour per day of free time on weekends, they’re more likely to be watching TV than hitting the links. Fathers spend an average of 2.6 hours per week participating in sports (compared to 1.4 hours for mothers), which isn’t nearly enough time to play 18 holes.

As new dad Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal put it recently, speaking for dads—all parents, really—everywhere, “It is more likely I will become the next prime minister of Belgium than it is that I will find 4½ hours on a weekend to go play golf.”

A year ago, golf groups launched a “Time for Nine” campaign, pushing the idea that, because so many people can’t find the time for 18 holes, it’s acceptable to play a mere nine holes. The problem is that it looks like people don’t have time for nine holes either, lately.

It’s elitist and too expensive. There are plenty of ways to save money on golf, including booking discounted, off-peak tee times and finding deals on equipment. So golf can be affordable.

It’s just that, by and large, the sport has a well-deserved reputation for being pricey—think $400 drivers, $250,000 club “initiation” fees, and too many gadgets to mention. The snooty factor goes hand in hand with the astronomical prices and atmosphere on the typical course. As USA Today columnist Christine Brennan cautioned recently, unless the sport figures out a way to change course, “Golf is destined to continue to hemorrhage participants and further ensure its place as a mostly-white, suburban, rich men’s niche sport with plenty of TV sponsors who make cars, write insurance and invest money.”

It’s just not cool. In 2009, Jack Nicklaus lamented, “Kids just don’t play golf any more in the United States and it is sad.”

American kids today seem to be nearly as overscheduled as their parents. And like their parents, tweens and teens probably don’t have the time to regularly play 18 holes, what with soccer practice, saxophone lessons, and coding classes to attend to. Even if kids had more time, would they want to spend it playing an “old man sport”? When iPhones and tablets and Xboxes and Instagram are drawing their attention?

Among the suggestions offered by Golf Digest to increase participation in the sport, columnist Ron Sirak recommended that the USGA should fund caddie programs, and that private clubs should give four-year “scholarships” to junior players, with free lessons and playing privileges.

It’s too difficult. Pretty much every other sport on the planet is more immediately rewarding than golf. Take a snowboard lesson in the morning, and by afternoon, you can make a few turns down the bunny trail without falling (much). Golf is renowned not only for being frustratingly difficult for beginners, but even longtime players “enjoy” it as a frustratingly difficult hobby.

“The deep appeal of golf, once you get hooked, is that it’s difficult,” John Paul Newport, golf columnist for the Wall Street Journal, told NPR last month. “Normally when you play a round of golf, you step onto the green and that’s when all the intense stress starts. You know, this tiny little hole, you have to look at putts from many ways, you hit it a few feet past and you add up strokes quickly around the green.”

Newport was discussing a new golfing option involving 15-inch cups, a system created to make the game much easier and approachable, particularly for beginners. But don’t expect to see it anytime soon. In the description to Golf Is Dying. Does Anybody Care? author Pat Gallagher points to golf’s “resistance to productive change” as a big reason why participation has slumped dramatically. “While other sports have embraced new technology and innovation with open arms, traditionalists strive to protect the game of golf and keep it exactly as they love it—even in the face of suffering courses and shrinking audiences.”

Tiger Woods. Skeptics insist that golf isn’t dying. Not by a long shot. The sport’s popularity, they say, is merely taking a natural dip after soaring to unjustified heights during the “golf bubble” brought on by the worldwide phenomenon that was Tiger Woods. After the infidelity scandals and, more recently, poor play and loads of injuries from Woods, fewer people are watching golf on TV, buying golf gear in stores, and, you know, actually going out and playing golf.

So perhaps it’s not so much that golf is losing favor with the masses today as it is that golf’s widespread popularity a decade or so ago was something of a fluke. The decline in golf, then, would basically be the return of golf’s status as a niche game. “Golf courses were overbuilt, saturating major cities and secondary markets with ridiculous golf hole per capita ratios,” golf blogger David Hill wrote in a manifesto on why the sport, in fact, isn’t dying. “Tiger’s decline from Teflon coated Superhero to mere great golfer precipitated the bursting of the golf bubble. It’s as simple as that.”

MONEY First-Time Dad

For Father’s Day, this Millennial Dad Wants Absolutely, Positively…Nothing

Luke Tepper

After four months of dad duty, this first-time father thinks fatherhood is its own reward.

This Sunday will be my first Father’s Day. And believe me (wife and world) when I say that this year, and every year after, I don’t want anything.

This isn’t a flippant decision, and I’m as much of a hedonistic materialist as any other red-blooded American. Books and ties and whisky are as important to me as they are to anyone else. I love sweaters and tickets to basketball games and urbane picture frames.

(One thing I would never, ever want is cash, like one father in Kit Yarrow’s piece.)

I realize that I’m a new father and don’t really have a lot of legitimacy among those who’ve been parenting for decades. (Although all of the hard work is front-loaded.) Maybe a nice chunk of new-fangled technology makes the veteran dad’s day a bit easier. Do I really want to eschew the thrill of opening something wrapped?

In a word—yes.

Why? Well, a little over four months ago I was in a hospital room at two o’clock in the morning. My responsibilities at that time included making sure the lights stayed dimmed and repeatedly counting to 10.

My wife was also in the room on that day. Her responsibilities were a little different. She spent the better part of five hours actively pushing our son out into the world.

Subsequently, she’s been his sole source of food, enticed him (every night) to sleep, and administered medicine when he was sick. She hasn’t had a full night of rest since he was born (and it’s not like pregnant women sleep that well anyway) and has watched over him for his entire life.

Of course I’ve helped. I’ve fed him occasionally and risen pre-dawn every so often. I’ve held him as he wailed in the doctor’s office after getting his shots. I change diapers.

But I’m a supporting character (the Tonto to her Lone Ranger) in the story of how he’s made it this far.

Which brings me back to Father’s Day.

Receiving a present from my wife (or my son when he’s older) will just feel rather silly. Almost like Randy Brown (Who? Exactly!) earning a championship ring for being on the same team as Michael Jordan.

The existence of Father’s Day is not written on the heart of man by the hand of god. It became a national holiday about 50 years after Mother’s Day, and President Obama’s birthday predates it. So, it’s not like I’m breaking Tevye-like tradition here.

This Sunday I will think about my kid and my new family, and relish my luck and good fortune. That is my present.

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