DECEMBER IS A BUSY month for everyone. But it seems especially busy for clergy and those who work with money.
If you work with money, there are important tasks to complete, such as planning for taxes, ensuring your investment allocations are where they should be, making charitable contributions, and getting ready for the new financial year.
Meanwhile, when I was serving a congregation as a minister, December was full of gatherings and services to celebrate the traditions and holidays that come this time of year.
I’VE BEEN ENGAGING IN the same end-of-the-year ritual for decades. Right after Christmas, I take a day or two—preferably away from home—to reflect, pray, meditate and write in my journal about the past year and the year that lies ahead.
It’s a time for me to think about what I’ve done, what I haven’t done and what I hope to do in the new year. In this review, I include my financial, spiritual, emotional and physical lives.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE end-of-the-year rituals is watching Turner Classic Movies’ annual memorial to those in the film business who have died during the past year.
Each year, I’m reminded of people who have entertained and often strongly influenced me. It’s four bittersweet minutes of smiling, crying and reliving memories. Movies, and especially holiday movies, have been as important in inspiring and teaching me as any scripture I’ve ever read and any sermon I’ve heard or given.
I HAVE READ THAT confession is good for the soul. I suspect it’s also good for our financial health—or, at least, I hope so. I have a confession to make as a usually loyal fan, regular reader and occasional contributor to HumbleDollar.
I’ve read less than a dozen of the site’s articles in 2022, and I’ve checked my portfolio just as infrequently. This is a new practice for me. I share it somewhat reluctantly because it may or may not be healthy.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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,
“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,
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,
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.