Taking Control

Jiab Wasserman

Jiab Wasserman, MBA, RICP®, has lived in Thailand, the U.S. and Spain. She spent the bulk of her career with financial services companies, eventually becoming vice president of credit risk management at Bank of America, before retiring in 2018. Jiab lives in Texas with her husband Jim, who also writes for HumbleDollar. She's an advocate for addressing the issue of gender inequality. In addition to writing and playing tennis, Jiab creates and sells art, which is available through her online shops. She and Jim are working on a new book, due out in 2023, that examines the impact of social media influencers on youth consumerism and identity development.

Taking Control

Jiab Wasserman  |  Jun 25, 2022

I WAS BORN INTO an upper-middle-class family in Thailand. My dad was a doctor and my mom was a nurse. Both had a profound effect on me—on how I tackled my career, financial issues and life more generally.
I was the oldest of four children and the only girl. My father made sure I was given the same opportunities as my brothers, whether it was education, sports or other extracurricular activities. For him, “because you’re a girl” was never a reason to do or not do something.

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Resolved: New Journeys

Jiab Wasserman  |  Jan 23, 2022

WE RETIRED AND MOVED to Spain in 2018. We were excited and eager to explore our new home and a new culture. We traveled a lot, mostly in Spain, but also the rest of Europe and Asia. But since the pandemic started, our travel has been limited.

Indeed, COVID-19 sped our return to Dallas. I’m happy that we’re now closer to our sons, and can see family and friends in person. But having lived in Dallas for 28 years,

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Brotherly Betrayal

Jiab Wasserman  |  Jan 10, 2022

I WROTE PREVIOUSLY about my parents being victims of financial abuse by one of my brothers. Recently, I returned to Bangkok, which gave me a chance to discuss this situation at length with the entire family, including my other brothers and my uncle.

When the financial abuse of an elderly person is committed by a stranger, the rest of the family often has no chance to see warning signs. But 90% of abusers are family members or trusted individuals.

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Brain Food

Jiab Wasserman  |  Dec 3, 2021

MY MOST MEMORABLE experiences are family vacations—and that includes the mishaps. Those become the stories we laugh about years later.
For instance, when our boys were young, we took an overnight train from Bangkok to northern Thailand. We found ourselves trapped for three days in Chiangmai by an unexpected torrential flood. Multiple times, we had to modify our plans for getting back to Bangkok. Finally, we got a flight on a small airplane. As we walked up to the plane,

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Cheaper Abroad

Jiab Wasserman  |  Nov 26, 2021

JIM AND I JUST CAME back from two weeks’ vacation in Greece and Turkey. We planned the trip at the last minute, and booked our tickets less than a week before flying.

 Many imagine high prices when they think of travelling abroad. But in fact, there are many international destinations that are more affordable than vacationing in the U.S. We spent much less on lodging and food—the costliest items after airfare—than we would in America.

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Trust Betrayed

Jiab Wasserman  |  Nov 16, 2021

BEFORE I RETIRED, I was a credit risk manager. I had to take compliance courses annually. One course focused on financial abuse, especially of the elderly. I learned that the most common perpetrators are not strangers, but family members, friends and caregivers who take advantage of too-trusting seniors.

But it’s one thing to know this theoretically—and quite another to find out it’s happening in your own family.

I previously wrote about now both my late father and his close friend were victims of financial abuse.

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Scope Creep

Jiab Wasserman  |  Sep 8, 2021

DURING OUR TIME in Spain, we came to admire the water fountains common in mudejar architecture, the Moorish-style homes of Andalusia. During the lockdown, while I tried my hand at creating art, Jim picked up the hobby of making water fountains using a few basic items, including a small water pump and terra cotta planters that he found around the apartment.
As the lockdown dragged on, Jim progressed to building more complex fountains. He built an indoor one in a Zen-like style,

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Less Is More

Jiab Wasserman  |  Aug 20, 2021

I RECENTLY INJURED my lower back playing tennis. I rested for a day and then decided I was well enough to resume my usual activities. But my haste worsened the pain, extending my recuperation to more than a week. Every move—even sneezing—hurt. Putting on my pants was a major struggle. I was forced to do nothing except rest.
Doing nothing was the one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Ironically, at the time of my injury,

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Happy to Be Home

Jiab Wasserman  |  Aug 12, 2021

IN THE PAST THREE years, Jim and I have moved five times—three times in Spain and twice in Dallas. We sold almost all our possessions when we moved to Spain, taking just four suitcases and two cats. When we returned to Dallas, we didn’t bring home much more—five suitcases and two cats.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered that I prefer living in a smaller home. I love the design of Spanish houses, which are—on average—just half the size of equivalent U.S.

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Harder for Some

Jiab Wasserman  |  Jul 30, 2021

IS SUCCESS WITHIN reach for anybody willing to work hard? We like to think of the U.S. as a meritocracy with a one-to-one correlation between effort and achievement. It’s a notion that allows us to feel that we’re in control of our destiny and that we’ve fully earned the success we enjoy.
But in truth, there are many factors that continue to tilt the playing field one way or another. Socioeconomic status, race and gender still sway the game.

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Time Not Well Spent

Jiab Wasserman  |  Jul 13, 2021

MY RELATIONSHIP with money is complicated. I want to get the best value for our dollars, so I spend a lot of time comparison shopping. Other people hunt for bargains. I go on long safaris.
My frugality and comparison shopping have served Jim and me well. In our double-income household, we managed to save 50% of our combined pay—basically living on one income and saving the rest. That, coupled with some lucky breaks, propelled us to early retirement.

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Reversing Course

Jiab Wasserman  |  Apr 23, 2021

THREE YEARS AGO, Jim and I decided to retire to Spain. We were attracted by the promise of excellent health care, warm weather, low cost of living and travel throughout Europe. From there, we’d also be able to fly with relative easy to both the U.S. and Asia, allowing us to maintain family connections. All of this gave us a great quality of life for almost three years.
Then COVID-19 hit. Like everyone else,

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One Day at a Time

Jiab Wasserman  |  Feb 18, 2021

JIM AND I RECENTLY moved from Granada, our first home in Spain, to Alicante, a city by the Mediterranean. The move gives us the opportunity to walk along the coast each day.
A few weeks ago, we hiked a rugged coastal trail that’s part of a nature preserve, with an ancient Roman dock still partially visible. Along the coastline, you can also see how layers of sand have built up over the centuries, compacting together to form the breathtaking sandstone hills we enjoy today.

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Saving Happiness

Jiab Wasserman  |  Nov 4, 2020

RESEARCHERS HAVE spent decades probing the connection between money and happiness. For instance, a much-cited 2010 study by academics Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found that folks tend to feel happier the more money they make—but only up to a point, which they estimated to be about $75,000 a year.
But using only income to measure the link between money and happiness is incomplete. Another study, entitled “How Your Bank Balance Buys Happiness,” analyzed the connection to people’s “cash on hand.” The researchers found that having more money in checking and savings accounts was associated with higher levels of life satisfaction.

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Riding It Out

Jiab Wasserman  |  Apr 27, 2020

IN MID-MARCH, I went into lockdown with optimistic thoughts. Perhaps it would give me time to perfect my Spanish, master classical guitar, write more blog posts, start online courses and even begin the book that Jim and I often discuss writing together.
I’ve accomplished none of my grand plans. Instead, I’ve been consumed by reading COVID-19 news. I’ve slept poorly and eaten too much. I remain perpetually exhausted. I struggle to focus and lack creativity.

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