The cost of overthinking finances

Mood of the Market

Recently, I read the pithy but powerful business inspiration book, "Rework," by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of small business software company 37signals. The book is formatted into mini-chapters with provocative titles, including a couple that put me in mind of this column’s current series of mindset-shifting recommendations for Americans around money matters.

One, ASAP is Poison, reminded me of the much-needed mindset shift away from instant gratification. Another, Inspiration is Perishable, "inspired" me to think of the Conscious Bookkeeping approach to your relationship with money, including transforming your monthly budget into a "map of intentions," renaming the staid, standard expense categories by what they really mean to you, rendering it much juicier and more likely that you will honor your own values and intentions with your dollars.

But the third "Rework" chapter that got my money mindset gears shifting was this: Planning is Guessing. The American obsession with books and television shows on retirement planning belies the truth that 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 in retirement savings — and 27 percent have less than $1,000, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey.