When it's time to retire, a great career in any field means little if you didn't save enough.
So when it comes to savings, even legal eagle Sonia Sotomayor is not free from judgment.
After President Obama nominated the U.S. Court of Appeals judge to the Supreme Court her saving habits became the center of intense speculation.
As The Washington Post reported last week:
Sotomayor, an avid Yankees fan, lives modestly, reporting virtually no assets despite her $179,500 yearly salary. On her financial disclosure report for 2007, she said her only financial holdings were a Citibank checking and savings account, worth $50,000 to $115,000 combined. During the previous four years, the money in the accounts at some points was listed as low as $30,000. When asked recently how she managed to file such streamlined reports, Sotomayor, according to a source, replied, "When you don't have money, it's easy. There isn't anything there to report."
The above news nugget led to blog attacks on Sotomayor. The sharpest crticism came from Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw, who declared Sotomayor is a "spender" who "lives paycheck to paycheck" and who would have "shocked and appalled" Mankiw's dear old grandmother because the Supreme Court nominee apparently saves so little.
But it's possible Sotomayor already has six figures or more squirreled away in her Thrift Savings Plan. Money in that account, which is a version of the 401(k) for federal employees, does not need to be publicy reported, as Mankiw eventually acknowledged. (You can check out the last few of her financial disclosures here.)
Another econ professor, J. Bradford DeLong from U.C. Berkeley, retorted that Sotomayor's finances are fine. DeLong says she has about $1 million in equity in her Manhattan condo and her pension is worth $2.5 million, though he doesn’t source either of those figures.
For fun, let’s assume for the moment that the Post’s unattributed Sotomayor quote is true, and she has no real savings.
At almost $180,000 a year, it would be ridiculous for someone not to put any money away. It flies in the face of everything we preach here at MainStreet. Given she doesn’t have children, $180K is a lot of money, even in pricey New York City. We're kind of fantasizing about her saving habits coming up during confirmation hearings.