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A Rocky Road

Don Southworth

Don is a semi-retired minister, consultant and tax preparer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He recently completed his Certified Financial Planner education. Don is passionate about the intersection between spirituality and money, and he encourages people to follow their callings wherever they lead. 

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A Rocky Road

Don Southworth  |  Apr 2, 2022

MY PATH TO FINANCIAL freedom began when I was seven years old. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, but that was when money became something I started to worry and care about.

I was living with my mom and my sister in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco when my dad came over to bring us Valentine’s candy. Mom and Dad had been separated for a few months, and within minutes of his arrival,

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Treasured Trash

Don Southworth  |  Feb 11, 2022

WHEN PEOPLE DISCUSS financial matters or take the “A Year to Live” class that I lead, there’s a common refrain: They don’t want to be a burden to their loved ones. They’re concerned about having enough money to take care of themselves when they’re older.

But even if we have plenty of money, we can still end up being a burden. How so? Our kids and other loved ones don’t want the stuff we’ve gathered over the years.

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Living With Insecurity

Don Southworth  |  Dec 30, 2021

HOW DO YOU STAY centered when markets plunge and volatility is off the charts? One of the ways I cope is by pulling out a wonderful financial book to reread.

In 1951, Alan Watts wrote The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety. But his message is as timely today as it was then. “There is a feeling that we live in a time of unusual insecurity….

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Santa Claus Rally

Don Southworth  |  Dec 25, 2021

THERE ARE FEW certainties in life, but December always brings a few. Our neighbors will decorate their houses with bright lights, our mailbox will be stuffed with letters asking for charitable donations and the financial pundits will speculate whether there’ll be a Santa Claus rally this year.

If you’re a regular reader of HumbleDollar, you know that a Santa Claus rally has the potential to fill our portfolios with extra dollars via higher stock and mutual fund prices.

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Paying the Price

Don Southworth  |  Dec 7, 2021

I STARTED DOING the family grocery shopping when I was 12 years old. I also married a woman who doesn’t like to cook or grocery shop. That means I’ve been buying the groceries now for more than 50 years. Fortunately, I enjoy it most of the time, but only recently have I noticed some behavior that I wish I’d used more frequently in my early investing life.

I find it hard to buy anything unless it’s on sale.

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Stuck in the Sand

Don Southworth  |  Nov 30, 2021

MY WIFE AND I recently took our first mini-vacation since 2019. We traveled to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a long weekend to celebrate our anniversary. The weather was perfect, the crowds were small, the food was delectable and the morning sunrise was spectacular. But none of these memories has stuck with me like the one that wasn’t so delightful.

We spent a morning driving up the coast to enjoy the sights and sounds of the small villages and towns along the way,

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Thankful Tomorrow

Don Southworth  |  Nov 25, 2021

I RARELY PREACH these days—at least in front of congregations—but I still recall how hard it was, every Thanksgiving week, to come up with something new to say about gratitude.

The messages we hear and see this week will be fairly consistent: Buy more food and stuff. But also: Thanks be to God. Thanks for the life we enjoy.

Expressing gratitude is indeed good. Practice more of it in your life, and life will be sweeter.

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Playing Games

Don Southworth  |  Oct 13, 2021

REUBEN KLAMER, one of my greatest financial teachers, died last month. I never knew his name until I read his obituary. Klamer invented The Game of Life—the one that’s played with a spinner, a small plastic car full of blue and pink stick people, and lots of money.

I grew up in the 1960s, long before the internet or video games. Board games were what we played when it was rainy outside or when we had family gatherings.

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Return on Spending

Don Southworth  |  Oct 4, 2021

WHEN I STARTED MY sales and marketing career, one of the first mantras I learned was, “You have to spend money to make money.” Salespeople like me would always be asking the company to spend more—on commissions, product development and support.

The bean counters, as we called them, would always respond by telling us how tight the budget was and how we needed to cut expenses. Especially those expenses they didn’t think we needed,

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CDs and Cemeteries

Don Southworth  |  Sep 27, 2021

“A YEAR TO LIVE.” That’s the name of a class I’ve been teaching on and off for the past 20 years. My hope: Participants will gain more understanding, acceptance and peace about one of life’s few guarantees—death. This year’s class members have a little over five months left to live.

Every group is a little different. Some people resist the practicalities of preparing for death: putting things in writing, making medical and funeral arrangements,

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Found Money

Don Southworth  |  Sep 24, 2021

IT’S ESTIMATED THAT up to $3 billion of unclaimed property is recovered every year. But another $49 billion is lost and still waiting to be claimed. How much of it is yours?

Whenever I check if I’m due anything, I always come up empty. But the memories of found money keep me checking and hoping something pops up. Who can ever forget finding that surprise dollar bill in the pocket of your recently washed jeans when you were 11 years old,

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Taught by Others

Don Southworth  |  Sep 21, 2021

THE DEEPER I SETTLE into semi-retirement, the more I miss something that I didn’t realize was important to me: working with and learning from a diverse group of people. I was lucky that, for most of my four-decade career, I was employed by profit-making and nonprofit organizations that were committed to workforce diversity.

I miss how easy it was to be challenged and changed by difference. Sometimes, it was on pop culture. Sometimes, it was on something much more important.

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Game Changer

Don Southworth  |  Aug 24, 2021

I FELL IN LOVE with baseball in 1965. My parents were in the midst of divorcing. I found sanctuary listening to San Francisco Giants’ games on the radio. I put on my batting helmet and pretended I was Willie Mays swinging at every pitch or diving on my bed catching imaginary lines drives. Willie had a magical year and, although the hated Dodgers nosed us out in the end, a lifelong passion was born.

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Bucket List

Don Southworth  |  Aug 11, 2021

WHEN YOU’VE BEEN saving and investing for a long time, you have a long list of things you wish you could do over. Like hanging on to Apple, instead of selling at $85 a share. Like buying an index fund, instead of that hot mutual fund that quickly turned cold. My wife calls these “what ifs.” We have a rule not to talk about them because they almost always lead to arguments about who was wrong.

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The B Word

Don Southworth  |  Aug 7, 2021

I’M NOT SURE HOW anyone can achieve financial peace and prosperity without addressing the “b” word—budgeting.

I got my first credit card in my late teens. I bragged that—in my wallet—I had whatever my credit limit was and could do anything I wanted with it. By my early 20s, I was in credit-card debt. But as long as I could pay the monthly minimum, I didn’t think I had a problem. Of course, the interest rate was astronomically high—sadly,

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