Inflation Bites Dog

James Kerr

Jim led global communications, public relations and social media for a number of Fortune 500 technology firms before leaving the corporate world to pursue his passion for writing and storytelling. His book, “The Long Walk Home: How I Lost My Job as a Corporate Remora Fish and Rediscovered My Life’s Purpose,” was published in early 2022 by Blydyn Square Books.

Inflation Bites Dog

James Kerr  |  Mar 16, 2023

RACHAEL AND I WENT to Walmart the other day to stock up on dog food—and came away with a severe case of sticker shock.
We feed our two dogs a daily menu of dry food mixed into a delightful mash with a little canned wet food. Our go-to brands are Purina Dog Chow for the dry food and Pedigree Chopped Ground Dinner for the wet food.
The cost of the 40-pound bag of Purina dry food has barely budged.

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Where Value Ends

James Kerr  |  Feb 17, 2023

I RECENTLY HAD a revelation about my adult children: When it comes to money, they’re a lot like me—and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

I had this revelation while dining with my 25-year-old son at a sports bar over the New Year’s holiday. The food was marginal—it was a sports bar, after all—but the plates came loaded with food. What’s more, the prices were quite reasonable, especially compared to those in Philadelphia and Washington,

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How to Retire at 38

James Kerr  |  Feb 2, 2023

You know who I’m talking about: Ordinary people making ordinary salaries who are somehow able to sock away half or more of their disposable income and who accumulate enough to step away from the working world long before the rest of us.
We hear about these people all the time on podcasts. The couple who banked $1 million over the course of a decade by scrimping and saving.

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Best-Laid Plans

James Kerr  |  Jan 6, 2023

I HAVE A RITUAL ON New Year’s Day—and it has nothing to do with making resolutions or watching college bowl games on TV.
Every Jan. 1, I pull up my handy financial planning spreadsheet on my laptop and input year-end numbers for my investment portfolio based on where the various funds closed out the year. I created the spreadsheet 20 years ago when I was in my early 40s, had just gone through a financially devastating divorce,

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This Empty House

James Kerr  |  Jan 4, 2023

I STEP INTO THE OLD farmhouse where I grew up and am momentarily confused.

Where’s the blue sofa under the living room bay window with its plump pillows and cozy blankets that my mother likes to throw over her as she reads the morning paper? Where’s the coffee table with the covered pewter candy dish filled with M&Ms and Hershey Kisses? Where’s the rickety table where our family of eight crowded around for countless meals in the tiny but somehow adequate kitchen?

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Riding Out the Storm

James Kerr  |  Dec 14, 2022

THEY SAY TIMING IS everything. That’s something I should know—because I’ve never been very good at it. The motto of Scotland’s Kerr clan is Sero Sed Serio, or Late, but in Earnest. That’s been my reputation since I was young.
In high school, my basketball game blossomed at the end of my senior year, just in time to have one good game of double-digit scoring before I graduated.

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Breakfast for a Buck

James Kerr  |  Nov 8, 2022

LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, I’ve been experiencing sticker shock lately when I step into the grocery store.
Meats, vegetables, paper products, canned goods—everything is costing a lot more. One example: My favorite brand of Good’s thin pretzels now costs $2.50 a bag—75 cents more than I was paying a year ago. Compared to the other brands in the snack aisle, those Good’s pretzels are still a bargain, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.
Along with steeper prices for gas,

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Puppy Love

James Kerr  |  Oct 18, 2022

SIX YEARS AGO, I made one of the worst investments of my life.
I got a dog.
Ignoring the age-old advice to never invest in anything that eats, I signed up for a purebred German shorthair pointer puppy. I thereby locked myself into an indefinite stream of future cash outflows in the form of dog food, treats, supplies, annual checkups, vaccinations, flea and tick treatments, heartworm pills, procedures and other expenses required for keeping man’s best friend healthy and happy.

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An Arm and a Hip

James Kerr  |  Aug 25, 2022

I’M THE PROUD OWNER of a shiny new, state-of-the-art left hip.

My new hip is made of super-strong titanium and cobalt chrome with a ceramic femoral ball. The doctors tell me that with proper care—alas, no more running—it should last me a good 25 years. 

The prosthetic was implanted in early June and already this modern medical miracle is changing my life for the better. It’s less than two months since the surgery and all the old arthritic pain that I’ve lived with for so long is gone.

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Gas Pains

James Kerr  |  Jun 14, 2022

LIKE MILLIONS of other Americans, I’m experiencing serious sticker shock when I gas up the car.
Last week, I was filling up my 2019 Ford F-150 and, for the first time ever, the bill topped $100. That was 21 gallons of regular unleaded at $4.85 a gallon.
Shelling out that kind of cash for a tankful of gas is hard enough for working folks. But for those of us who are retired and living on a set income,

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Stocks on Sale

James Kerr  |  Jun 13, 2022

YOU MIGHT WANT to check your mailbox. Mr. Market has been sending around a book of discount coupons on some great index funds and individual stocks.
Twenty-two percent off the S&P 500’s closing high set earlier this year. Seventeen percent off the Dow Jones Industrial Average. How about a whopping 33% off the Nasdaq Composite?
Still kicking yourself for not scooping up Amazon’s stock (symbol: AMZN) in early 2020 when it was—adjusted for the recent stock split—below $100?

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Ignore That Gut

James Kerr  |  Apr 28, 2022

WITH THE MARKETS in a tizzy this year due to roaring inflation and the war in Ukraine, I’ve been kicking myself for not listening to my gut. At issue: an investment decision I made last fall.
When I left the corporate world in September, I took with me the 401(k) balance I’d built up over my five years with my former employer. I’d been aggressive with my investment choices in that 401(k), stashing half the account in Vanguard Small-Cap Growth Index Fund (symbol: VSGAX) and half in Vanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund (VIMAX).

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Look Before Leaping

James Kerr  |  Apr 27, 2022

WELL, I’M SIX MONTHS into my retirement from the corporate world. How are things going? Any regrets? Any big surprises?
No regrets, for sure. I knew that leaving the workplace at age 61 would be a tradeoff of freedom gained versus money forgone. But I had a second-act dream to pursue—becoming an author—and, for me, that tradeoff was worth going for. So far, it has been. I have my first book out and another in the works.

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Only an Eight

James Kerr  |  Mar 11, 2022

WHEN I STOPPED at CVS the other day to pick up a new charging cable for my iPhone, I was reminded just how woefully out of fashion I am.
The young lady behind the counter handed me a box from the rack and watched as I took the cable out to make sure it was the right one. I guessed her to be in her early 20s. She was wearing a pair of those huge loopy earrings that you could jump hoops through out in the parking lot.

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Listen to the Kids

James Kerr  |  Jan 7, 2022

ONE OF THE GREAT pleasures of having grown children is seeing them do things better than you ever did.
My son, who’s in his mid-20s, is already well beyond me in terms of investments. When I was his age, I was still bouncing around in grad school, living off teaching stipends and dreaming of one day being a novelist. I had no concept of what a mutual fund was, how to trade stocks and bonds,

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