I’VE PREVIOUSLY written about the dramatic turn my life took when I went from carefree bachelor to husband and proud father of four. With multiple college educations looming, I drastically curtailed my spending, including on my professional wardrobe.
Initially, instead of the Hickey Freeman suits in which I’d previously indulged, I was happy with the latest sale at Jos. A. Bank. But eventually, I dipped my toe in uncharted waters—buying clothes on eBay.
This comes with risks.
I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE about stumbling on an unexpected way to save on auto insurance. My education continues: I’ve also learned of a way to save on Medigap coverage.
When I became eligible five years ago for Medicare, I bought Medigap Plan G supplemental coverage from Mutual of Omaha (MOO). Last summer, as my wife was about to become eligible for Medicare, we took another look at Medigap coverage. I was generally happy with MOO’s claims procedures and customer service,
THERE ARE MANY virtues, but one of the rarest is persistence in following through. In our complicated world, often you can’t get something done on the first go. Instead, you have to revisit the task, sometimes more than once. This is true not just of financial decisions but also many other aspects of our lives.
In fact, if you’re trying to get folks to do something, often their first defense is to stall—because they know that,
I RECENTLY STUMBLED on a way to save a significant sum on my home and auto insurance. While I knew that insurance companies use credit scores in setting premiums, I didn’t know about a policy option that could be turned to our advantage.
Our home, auto and umbrella policies are with Safeco, which is part of Liberty Mutual. I don’t know if this option is available with other insurers, although Liberty Mutual has many subsidiaries and I would guess it may be available with them.
IN MY COLLEGE DAYS, a roommate taught me something about bargaining. He was a clothes horse, a rarity among college students then and, for all I know, still today. When he was feeling down, his best medicine was to take a stroll down the Drag, as Guadalupe Street in front of the University of Texas is known, and buy a new shirt.
In those days, there were several small mom-and-pop haberdashers on the Drag,
IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY month or so, one of our kids—and, for the married ones, that includes spouse and little ones—is on vacation. A week or two in Cabo or Cozumel, a road trip out west, or a jaunt to some other interesting destination is commonplace. How is this possible? One of the reasons, I believe, is because they don’t work for themselves.
Instead, they work for big institutions, such as corporations, universities, school districts and large nonprofits.
EVEN AS I’VE WRITTEN regularly for HumbleDollar over the past year, I’ve also learned a lot from the other writers. There have been specific tips I’ve picked up, as well as more general strategies that have influenced my thinking.
For instance, John Lim and others have touted the benefits of Series I savings bonds, with their virtually risk-free interest rate, currently set at a whopping 7.12%. My wife and I took the plunge,
MY PARENTS WERE financially comfortable but not rich. Some of their friends, though, were rich. The men always seemed to die before their wives, resulting in a few wealthy widows in my parents’ social circle.
I recall glancing at the annual report of a company for which my dad had done some work. One of the widows was listed as a board member and her occupation was stated as “investor.” I asked my dad what that meant and he replied that it meant she had enough money that simply managing it was a part-time job.
I TURN 70 IN JANUARY and my wife just turned 65. I recently applied for my Social Security benefits, and got her kicked off with Medicare. I needed to call both agencies. What a contrast I’ve seen in their responsiveness.
As I’ve conceded before, I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to this topic.
We set up my wife’s online Medicare account, and she designated me as her “authorized representative.” Like most couples,
THE ABOVE HEADLINE doesn’t refer to Afghanistan. Even that 20-year struggle has finally come to an end. This is about an even more relentless campaign—against the cable company. In my case, that means Spectrum, part of Charter Communications.
The first question is, why haven’t I cut the cord? The short answer: My wife loves sports on TV and cable seems to be the only way to get all her favorites.
As cable victims know,
AS A HAPPILY RETIRED 69-year-old, I still remember a conversation I had with an acquaintance two decades ago. The gentleman had had many years in the military, followed by time as a city police officer. He had recently retired—forever—from his third career in federal law enforcement. That meant he was sitting pretty with three different pensions. To top it all off, he was probably in his mid-50s.
Even though my own retirement was still many years away,
WHEN IT COMES to communication, I’m kind of a fanatic. (My wife would say I should drop the “kind of.”) More specifically, I’m a fan of responsive communication.
Back in my working days, when I practiced criminal law, I made it a point to return phone calls and emails from clients promptly. It was rare that I didn’t do it the same day. If that meant staying late at the office until I caught up,
“THERE IS A VERY fine line between ‘hobby’ and ‘mental illness’,” according to humorist Dave Barry.
Some years ago, we had a weekend place—a cabin on acreage—which we greatly enjoyed, even if it did come with challenges. One thing I especially enjoyed: taking the kids on nighttime walks to see how many critters we could spot. That led to an interest in flashlights, and I collected a bunch of them. That, in turn, led to a keen interest in pocketknives.
I HATE DEBT. A very happy day was when we paid off the mortgage. I’d rather walk on broken glass than pay a penny of interest on my credit cards. But there have been a few exceptions to my usual rule, all involving car purchases.
The first was many years ago when I reached what I thought was an all-cash deal on a new car. The salesman surprised me when he offered the same price with 0% financing.
IN MY CALLOW YOUTH, I would sometimes travel northeast from Austin, Texas, on Highway 79. It was a peaceful and somewhat lonely drive as I passed through various sleepy little towns, with the railroad track paralleling the highway to my right. The sound of the occasional train whistle was the perfect musical accompaniment.
One of the first towns I’d get to was Rockdale, which was best known for having a big Alcoa aluminum factory.