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Ten Words for 2023

Jonathan Clements

MOST OF US ARE forever striving to be better versions of ourselves—usually with mixed success. Still, the changing of the calendar often prompts renewed efforts. But what should we focus on? Let me offer 10 words that I try to live by.

1. Pause. Throughout the day, we make snap decisions, and they usually work out just fine—except when it comes to spending and investment choices. Got an overwhelming urge to buy an expensive bauble or make a portfolio change? Try waiting a few days, so your feverish desire has a chance to cool and you can ponder the decision with a clearer head.

2. Reflect. Feeling down? Take a minute to think about your good fortune—the friends and family who surround you, the home you live in, the wonderful experiences you’ve enjoyed, the wealth you’ve accumulated. With gratitude comes happiness.

3. Move. Exercise has all kinds of benefits—physical, emotional and cognitive. If possible, try to get your exercise outside, so you can delight in nature, see your fellow humans at play and feel the sun upon your face.

4. Give. This doesn’t have to be money. You can also give of your time by, say, volunteering for your favorite charity or helping out at your place of worship. I see this every day: HumbleDollar’s writers get paid little—and some decline payment—and yet they pour countless hours into their articles. Trust me, they’re a wonderful bunch of folks to work with.

5. Sleep. This is one of my greatest struggles. I know I sleep better when I’ve been active during the day, eat earlier in the evening and have addressed any major worries. What if these things don’t happen? You’ll find me answering emails at 4 a.m.

6. Simplify. Over the past few years, I’ve been shedding both possessions and financial accounts. I highly recommend it. It’s liberating to be less encumbered by both financial complexity and household items you no longer care about. Afraid you’ll dispose of something and later regret it? I’ve shed countless items and, thus far, I haven’t had a single pang of regret.

7. Talk. We, of course, do a lot of talking, but we often avoid the important stuff, especially when it comes to our finances. Too many folks shy away from honest conversations about money, partly because they fear they’ll reveal their ignorance or they’re embarrassed that they haven’t amassed more.

Get over it. Within families, I think the onus is on the parents to start these conversations, talking about what financial contributions they can afford to make toward college costs, how well they’ve prepared for their own retirement and what steps they’ve taken to address end-of-life issues. Such conversations don’t just keep everybody informed. They can also spur all concerned to be better managers of their money.

8. Listen. We tend to be much better at talking than listening. There’s an obvious reason to be a better listener: We can learn about others and their perspective on the world, and that may nudge us to change our own views. But there’s also a less obvious reason: People will like you more. Want to endear yourself? Stop talking about yourself and ask others about their lives.

9. Never. Our most important actions are often the ones we don’t take. Indeed, in a world full of temptation, it’s useful to decide what’s verboten. My list includes individual stocks, fried chicken, actively managed funds, hard liquor, CNBC and processed meats. (Okay, I admit it, pepperoni gets the all-important pizza exception.)

10. Anticipate. I love having fun times to look forward to. Last January, I made the arrangements for the get-together for my 60th birthday—which won’t happen until next month. In August, I booked a cruise from New York to Bermuda—for March 2024. Every so often, I daydream about what the cruise and my birthday celebration will be like, and that daydreaming offers a thoroughly enjoyable minute or so that costs me nothing.

Want to squeeze more happiness from your dollars? My advice: Plan that vacation, family reunion or remodeling project well in advance—and make sure you do a lot of research, so you have the pleasure of imagining all kinds of possibilities.

Jonathan Clements is the founder and editor of HumbleDollar. Follow him on Twitter @ClementsMoney and on Facebook, and check out his earlier articles.

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Fred Wallace
Fred Wallace
1 day ago

Jonathan…avid fan and follower of Humble Dollar! However, as an avid follower what is wrong with a martini or scotch & soda at the end of the day, particularly if you are a retiree? Must regress… Winston Churchill enjoyed scotch and lived to a ripe old age!

Jonathan Clements
Admin
Jonathan Clements
17 hours ago
Reply to  Fred Wallace

We all “sin” — but, for the sake of our health and our finances, we have to limit our sinning. There’s nothing wrong with having a martini or scotch and soda. But if you’re going to do that, what are you not going to do? A martini, followed by a few glasses of wine with dinner and a brandy afterwards, strikes me as a recipe for a short life if done on a daily basis.

Dan De La Garza
Dan De La Garza
25 days ago

Happy Birthday Jonathan!

June Elizabeth Dosik
June Elizabeth Dosik
25 days ago

Today is Jonathan’s 60th birthday, and as his Mum I would like all his readers to know how proud I am of him, not only as a fine human being, but also as a a person with a strong work ethic. Thank you for so much love and caring and all that you do for our large family.

DrLefty
DrLefty
27 days ago

Great list. For #9, I have a running list of things I’ll never do again:

  1. Horseback riding
  2. Fly on American Airlines
  3. Go to Las Vegas (unless there’s an awesome show I want to see)

Thanks for everything this past year, Happy New Year, and Happy Big Birthday!

Nate Allen
Nate Allen
27 days ago
Reply to  DrLefty

As a spin-off to your #2: After this last week, a lot of people in the US likely added Southwest to their list. Talk about a bad week for them..

Mike Wyant
Mike Wyant
27 days ago

#9…no hard liquor, except for bourbon.

johny
johny
27 days ago

adding to #9,

white bread
Lotto
soda
choco chip cookies


Richard Gore
Richard Gore
27 days ago

I would suggest that you are missing the most important one. Practice your faith.

Sonja Haggert
Sonja Haggert
27 days ago

Great list. Need to address #6. Unfortunately for my husband, parting is always such sweet sorrow. If it weren’t for #10, even with small things, I wouldn’t be nearly as happy most of the time.

Martin McCue
Martin McCue
27 days ago

Great article, Jonathan. All excellent suggestions. I’m lucky in that I don’t ever have to worry about my sleep, so I’d just add “Appreciate” at the end to replace it for me.

Why? 2022 was a year of small small joys and pleasures, of appreciation for many things we usually overlook, and of having my curiosity rewarded with lots of new learning. 

During the past year, I felt constantly moved by seeing what humans can achieve, whether it was with a musical instrument, with a pen, with a paint brush, or even with a spacecraft, and especially by the everyday friendliness and simple acts of kindness among friends and strangers.  I hope every future year delivers such rewards.

Nate Allen
Nate Allen
27 days ago

I admit, I had to Google what “verboten” meant, but then again, I am a product of the public school education system.

Stacey Miller
Stacey Miller
27 days ago
Reply to  Nate Allen

Being surrounded by fellas who loved WWII movies… and having a husband who worked for a German-based company, verboten is one of the few German words I do know! Bier, danke, guten tag, and vassa are the others!

Jonathan Clements
Admin
Jonathan Clements
27 days ago
Reply to  Nate Allen

Maybe I should add “use of verboten” to the “never” list….

Nate Allen
Nate Allen
27 days ago

I will admit, I noticed your use of parentheses. However, it was for a “humorous aside”, so I think we can let it slip. I have also started counting the number of capitalized characters in every article, along with trying to limit my use of commas in comments, which I tend to fail miserably at, as evidenced with this sentence.

One thing that I’d like to know: When do you decide to use this headshot, as seen in the above article, and when do you use this headshot, as you sometimes do. Inquiring minds want to know, Jonathan!

Jonathan Clements
Admin
Jonathan Clements
27 days ago
Reply to  Nate Allen

I try to mix up the headshots, just for the sake of variety. Sorry it isn’t any more mysterious than that!

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
27 days ago

Great list, Jonathan. I need to work on #2 and #6 (and probably a few others).

Happy New Year!

Jonathan Clements
Admin
Jonathan Clements
27 days ago

Happy New Year to you, too, Andrew. I look forward to more articles in 2023 about your battles with customer service!

Ted Meek
Ted Meek
27 days ago

I would like to add to #9.
No trampolines
No motorcycles
No guns if you do not know how & when to use one
No single engine airplane rides
But, I am keeping my gin.

Last edited 27 days ago by Ted Meek
Mike Wyant
Mike Wyant
27 days ago
Reply to  Ted Meek

finallygave up my motorcycle after 50 years of riding…but keeping the bourbon.

Esther Rose
Esther Rose
27 days ago

My first time logging in to make a comment. I’m more of a lurker 🙂

Wonderful list – thank you! I’ve bookmarked this page so that I can refer back to it regularly.

Happy New Year to all!

Juan Fourneau
Juan Fourneau
27 days ago

#5 and #9 are ones I need to work on in 2023. Great list.

Jack McHugh
Jack McHugh
27 days ago

A bit stuck on “never fried chicken,” but pretty good list.

Jonathan Clements
Admin
Jonathan Clements
27 days ago
Reply to  Jack McHugh

We all have to draw the line somewhere. Note that I didn’t commit to “never French fries” or “never wine.”

SanLouisKid
SanLouisKid
27 days ago

#3 reminded of something my doctor told me. He said, “Motion is the lotion for your joints.” And #2 can help make an amazing day for you if you just think about what your life would be like 100 years ago. My father grew up using an outhouse. He really seemed to enjoy indoor plumbing.

Jerry Pinkard
Jerry Pinkard
27 days ago

A great list and great advice for all of us. I definitely have room for improvement on these items. I tried to think of any to add to the list and the only one I could think of was grace. Be gracious to others.
Happy New Year!

Stacey Miller
Stacey Miller
27 days ago
Reply to  Jerry Pinkard

And grace for oneself!

Rick Connor
Rick Connor
27 days ago

This is one of those that articles that should printed out, placed on the refrigerator, and referred to frequently.

#8 reminded of a favorite saying a friend taught me. “God gave you two ears and one mouth so you should listen twice as much as you speak.”

Thanks Jonathan. Happy New Year to you and the HD community.

Jonathan Clements
Admin
Jonathan Clements
27 days ago
Reply to  Rick Connor

Happy New Year to you, too, Rick — and thanks for all the great articles in 2022.

Mary Gizzie
Mary Gizzie
27 days ago

Thank you Jonathan, and to your contributors, for your sane and sensible newsletters. They are a pleasure to read. Wishing you a safe slide into the new year!

M Plate
M Plate
27 days ago

Darn! I was going to gift you with individual stocks, and processed meat for your birthday.
PS: I haven’t received my invite yet.

ralphgrizzle
ralphgrizzle
27 days ago

Great list! Two tech items have helped me with 3) Move and 5) Sleep. In 2019, I bought my first ebike. After logging 6,000 miles during the first two years, I came off blood pressure medication. Nuff said! I ride nearly every day and more consistently than many of my cyclist friends who have “analog” bikes. I also purchased an Oura ring at around the same time. It’s a sleep tracker that encourages good “sleep hygiene.” It may not be for everyone, but it’s worked for me by providing feedback on my sleep habits to that I can identify what works and what doesn’t (like having a late night snack and beer before bed).

Stacey Miller
Stacey Miller
27 days ago
Reply to  ralphgrizzle

Ebike convert here, too! Now my husband needs one because it’s too easy to leave him in the dust. I turn off my battery…but you’d better believe it’s on for hills!

ralphgrizzle
ralphgrizzle
26 days ago
Reply to  Stacey Miller

Haha! The ability to regulate speed (turning off, for example) does help when riding with “old school” family and friends!

Edmund Marsh
Edmund Marsh
27 days ago

Wise words.

polamalu2009
polamalu2009
27 days ago

Sage advice all around.

R Quinn
R Quinn
27 days ago

Excellent words to live by for sure.

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