I KNOW I’M NOT WISE. Still, I’ve picked up enough wisdom to realize I didn’t have much of it when I was younger. At the very least, 60 years of stubbed toes, slips and falls have shown me that some paths shouldn’t be trod, while a few are worth traveling.
I try to refrain from offering unsolicited advice. But I’ve lately had a growing desire to steer young adults toward choices that escaped my notice when I was their age—with a focus on three areas:
Think about who came before us.
I COULD BE KIND TO my home and say it has rustic charm, but that would be pretentious. The truth is, it’s an old house, built in 1930 by my maternal grandparents. It sits on a remnant of the farm my family once owned. It’s a place I love, and where I’d like to grow old, and therein lies the challenge.
More than 20 years ago, my father and I extensively renovated the house inside and out.
GETTING TO RETIREMENT is lazy work for an indexing aficionado. What could be easier than stuffing money every paycheck into an all-in-one target-date index fund? Even building a two- or three-index-fund portfolio takes minimal effort.
Actually retiring, on the other hand, feels like a fulltime job. Who knew that spending money takes more thought than earning, saving and investing it? At age 61, I’m faced with important decisions that I want to get right,
MY DAUGHTER IS MORE than halfway through her junior year of high school. College and career choices are hot topics in our household. My wife and I have a dilemma: Should we encourage our daughter to pursue a college degree that matches her passions—or nudge her toward one that has a better chance of paying the bills?
My daughter is no slouch in math and science, but her true love turns in another direction.
OVER EIGHT MILLION Americans have said “so long” to the U.S., heading overseas to work or retire. These expats—short for expatriates—most likely have eight million different reasons to leave our shores for life in another country. My wife’s cousin Chuck and her brother John are among them.
John had his eye on living abroad when he took his first engineering job with Litton Aero Products, where he helped support aviation customers in the Middle East.
“DOES MONEY BUY happiness?” That’s one of the questions in HumbleDollar’s Voices section. I hesitate to say that happiness is a commodity we can buy. But studies—and many people’s personal experiences—suggest a lack of money can bring on unhappiness.
A recent paper, “Financial Stress and Depression in Adults” by researchers at the University of Birmingham in England, supports this conclusion. The researchers reviewed 40 studies examining the relationship between depression and financial stress,
MY FAMILY IS FRUGAL all year long, even during the Christmas season. We’re modest with our gifts and sparing with our decorations. Each year, our sprucing up consists of one cut-your-own Christmas tree trimmed with the same ornaments we used the year before. I can’t say the same for our neighbors. They pull out all the stops to create a seasonal spectacle.
There’s no need to take a long, cold sleigh ride to the North Pole to scope out Santa and his companions frolicking in snowy splendor.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE save more for retirement than others, even when their income is the same? It turns out that a difference in spending behavior, rather than a larger salary, may separate better savers from those who struggle to set aside funds for their future.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute and J.P. Morgan Asset Management joined forces to examine the spending and saving behavior of 10,000 households. The households, which were analyzed by age cohort,
THE NATIONAL Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has good reason to boast. Its programs serve as a catalyst to generate billions of dollars of economic activity that’s spread across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Also, the transfer of NASA spinoff technologies and products to private businesses improves the lives of each of us in myriad ways.
Along the way, it’s even put men on the moon—and plans to do so again,
I’M TOO EMBARRASSED to reveal how long it took my wife and me to prepare our wills. We knew this important task was near the top of almost every financial “to do” list—a list that, it seems, we’ve spent our adult lives slowly working our way through.
We’d discussed the details of our wills, including the crucial decision of who would care for our minor child in the event both of us died. Despite this,
WHEN I STARTED investing, I never thought much about risk, partly because I didn’t recognize that there were any.
The investor questionnaires always placed me in the aggressive category. Even though I never ventured much beyond mutual funds, all were pure stock funds, except for a small position in a balanced fund that I briefly owned. I didn’t know much, but I had learned that stocks most likely meant growth over the long haul,
IN THE SOUTH, it’s common for a restaurant server or store clerk to refer to me as “sweetie” or “honey.” I’ll often respond by asking, “How did you know my name is Sweetie?”
This will usually bring a smile to the face of even a harried worker. Our friendly banter is the worker practicing some of the charm and hospitality that the South is famous for, and me returning the courtesy with “reverse hospitality.”
A commercial transaction doesn’t involve just money.
I HAVE READ THAT spending on experiences brings more happiness than spending on things. But what about the experience of buying? Can that make us happy?
I’ve lived in my small community for 21 years. Over that time, my regular buying habits have led me to discover people who provide me with excellent service. They also supply me with a generous measure of genuine satisfaction.
Every third Friday, I sit and listen to a great raconteur as he cuts my hair.
WE ALL HAVE GOOD habits and bad habits. One of my best habits: bringing my lunch to work.
I save both money and calories by brown-bagging it rather than buying lunch at a restaurant. My lunch of leftovers, along with a few pieces of fruit and a bottle of water, cost less than even a fast-food meal deal, and it’s healthier. What about the long-term savings from avoiding those additional calories? Researchers have found that excess body weight adds thousands of dollars to our annual health care expenses.
PHYSICAL THERAPY IS a teaching profession. I am the teacher and my patients are the students. They come to me with a problem in need of a solution. I help them find the answer.
Most of my patients have never faced the daunting challenge of overcoming a physical disability caused by injury or disease. They don’t know where to begin. Many have also never put in the sustained effort needed to achieve a tough goal.