AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 A: I like your idea, provided of course you pay your credit card bills on time. I like it so much my wife and I have our long-distance, newspaper subscription, Internet service provider and dental coverage plan bills charged automatically to our credit card (the long-distance carrier even discounts $1 a month for paying by credit card). In turn, we pay the credit card balance automatically by electronic funds transfer from our checking account. We save a few bucks a month and lots of time. As you said elsewhere in your e-mail, not all merchants allow automatic payment by credit card. My suggestion (it worked for me once) is to ask those that don’t to start offering it. Q: On the subject of spending retirement funds, I believe those who suggest 4 percent to 5 percent of your retirement nest egg each year are not realistic. You should spend only as much as is needed, and no more, without harming your lifestyle. It may be 4 percent one year or 7 percent another year if a major expenditure is needed such as a new automobile or a special vacation. If you don’t need 4 percent, why spend it? A: When you see those 4 percent and 5 percent figures bandied about, it refers to the maximum amount financial planners believe you can safely withdraw from a retirement portfolio the year you retire. The assumption is that you would increase withdrawals each year to keep up with inflation. Today’s column is not about readers’ questions but about their good comments and thoughts. Q: I’m writing to suggest a way of getting “free money” from your credit cards besides cash-back rewards from everyday purchases. My suggestion is to pay your bills automatically, not with electronic funds transfer from your bank account but with a credit card (one that pays rewards on all your charges). Once the automatic payment is set up, there is no further action required on your part no checks to write or mail. My wife and I use automatic pay by credit card for the long-distance, home and cell phone, and cable and newspaper bills. We have a credit card just for this purpose, which makes tracking and checking for accuracy easier. We then pay the credit card bill online. With this system the bills are paid on time, there is no danger of an overdraft, it saves the cost of postage and mailing checks, and you get rewards and support from the credit card company if there a payment dispute. But I agree with you that many people interpret these numbers as a mandate to spend that much. While I strongly believe that the reason we save is to be able to spend later, there is also no logic in spending more than you need or want. Rather, as I’ve written in other columns, I believe we should manage both our income and expenses in retirement, keeping them as closely aligned as possible. (For example, cashing in some investments or drawing down principal as needed to cover major expenses we may need or want to incur a particular year.) The following e-mail is from Gary Hair, a financial adviser in Eugene, Ore., responding to a column on the ongoing debate over whether to spend now (and supposedly “enjoy the moment”) or save for the future. He speaks wisely: “Encouraging people to save is the first step in creating a society that is free from debt,” he said. “We are a society that is very impatient; we must have everything and we must have it now, at any cost. Unfortunately, it is our future that is being sacrificed. It won’t surprise you how many 50-somethings I meet with who have nothing saved for their retirement and want to ‘get started before it’s too late.’ “I feel bad telling them that time passed many years ago. I will gladly help them save all they can, but it won’t be what it could have been, nor will it be as painless as it would have been if they started 25 years earlier. I don’t take on a defeatist attitude, but I don’t paint a rosy picture either. “I think my best day at work is when I have new clients in their 20s who want to start putting money away for their future. Typically, these are people with very little money to save, but fortunately, they also have very little debt. Their greatest asset is a vision for their future. They just need me to help guide them along.” Humberto Cruz offers personal finance advice each Thursday and answers readers’ questions each Saturday. Write him at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!