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Talking Money

Jim Wasserman

Jim is a former business litigation attorney who taught economics and humanities for 20 years. He's the author of a three-book series on how to teach elementary, middle and high school students about behavioral economics and media literacy. He has also authored several educational children's books. Jim lives in Texas with his wife and fellow HumbleDollar contributor, Jiab.

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Talking Money

Jim Wasserman  |  Apr 22, 2022

APRIL IS FINANCIAL Literacy Month. If that doesn’t excite you, imagine how your children feel.
Still, consider this an opportunity to begin or reinforce your kids’ financial education. Many of my students told me one of their parents was into “finance,” but when I asked how the parent handled the family money, students would just shrug and say that was all they knew.
Children don’t like a straight-up lesson, especially from a parent. The trick is to make it seem casual and as blended into everyday life—theirs,

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Still Resolute

Jim Wasserman  |  Apr 7, 2022

AT THE BEGINNING of 2022, I wrote about our resolution to go back to grad school. The short update: Jiab and I are indeed doing it. We’re enrolled in the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program at the University of Texas at Dallas.
We scrambled to get the application paperwork done before classes started Jan. 18. Neither of us had applied to school for ourselves since the introduction of online registration, but we found it fairly easy.

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How to Be Bookish

Jim Wasserman  |  Mar 15, 2022

BY THE TIME WE GET to middle age, we all supposedly have a book inside us. (Maybe that explains the weight gain.) We have a wealth of experience we want to share. Perhaps it’s about money. Maybe we want to tell the family history. Perhaps there’s a great novel we’ve been writing in our head for years. We finally sit down and hammer it out and, of course, edit and rewrite, rinse and repeat,

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Saving the Day

Jim Wasserman  |  Feb 12, 2022

I ENJOY WATCHING superhero shows. It feels good to see the hero swoop in and save the day. Truth is, however, I also get a bit annoyed, as there are always some citizens who seem to ignore imminent danger. They sometimes just stare at it coming, doing nothing to get out of harm’s way.
It’s almost like they just count on the hero saving the day, and that’s a bad strategy. Strangely, many people in real life adopt the same strategy,

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Lucky WOOFs

Jim Wasserman  |  Feb 6, 2022

MY FATHER-IN-LAW was an avid tennis player and an astute coach. The first time he observed me play, he commented on how I—a soccer player growing up—had good speed and quick reactions. I had a terrible swing, however. As he put it, “You can get to any ball. You have no idea what to do when you get there.”
He was correct. To this day, what looks like a great shot is often actually a mishit off my racquet frame.

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The Sun-Tzu Also Rises

Jim Wasserman  |  Jan 31, 2022

I WAS SURPRISED to realize the other day that, despite the varied topics HumbleDollar has addressed, I couldn’t recall a single mention of Sun-Tzu, the 6th century B.C. military commander who purportedly wrote The Art of War. The book is a favorite read of business schools. Even a cursory search on Amazon shows how often Sun-Tzu and The Art of War are invoked regarding business, finance and investing.

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Better With Others

Jim Wasserman  |  Jan 26, 2022

IN THE COMPUTER gaming world—and I’ll openly admit to occupying that realm often—one measure of a game’s value is its replayability. If you shell out $60 and play a game through to the end, how likely are you to do it again? Each time you replay, you’re getting more value from your initial outlay, making it a better decision.
I sometimes use that economic logic to try to persuade my wife it’s better for me to “shoot and loot”

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Resolved: More School

Jim Wasserman  |  Jan 5, 2022

MOST FOLKS DON’T teach and write about a topic until after they’ve earned a degree in the subject. Owing to my career path, and the nebulous nature of my specialty, I’ve done the opposite—with the next step coming in 2022.
I went to law school just after college because—frankly—I had no better plan. I enjoyed being a lawyer, but I knew it wasn’t my passion, so I went into teaching. I loved it. I taught various humanities,

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Crocs and Cats

Jim Wasserman  |  Jan 1, 2022

THERE’S A PARABLE that I don’t claim to have authored, but which I think about at the beginning of each year.
A man became justifiably upset when he realized his home had been invaded by crocodiles. He wasn’t sure where they came from, but they were there, lurking and menacing him.
He went to a local store to ask for a solution. The salesman enthusiastically proffered his answer: kittens. Kittens are cute, their purr is soothing and,

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Try the Elvis

Jim Wasserman  |  Dec 29, 2021

ECONOMICS IS ABOUT supply and demand. Call me biased, but I think why people demand particular goods and services is a whole more interesting than how suppliers do their thing.
It seems, however, that the topic of supply is unavoidable these days. We’re all hearing about supply chain woes. We’re all tired of seeing the empty shelf where our favorite crackers used to sit.
Even though economists will scream from the tallest Federal Reserve Bank building that supply and demand are separate and independent variables,

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Training the Mind

Jim Wasserman  |  Dec 19, 2021

WITH THE SURGE of urbanization in the 19th century, many folks became concerned by the seeming rise in bad behavior. This behavior could be illegal—such as theft—or legal but undesirable, like alcohol abuse.
Nascent social sciences, including sociology and psychology, developed two alternative theories. “Moral Deficit” theorists said people engaged in bad behavior because they were internally “weak.” You might have seen a movie scene where a hysterical person is slapped with the admonition to “get a hold of yourself.” Or you might be familiar with the approaches of The Salvation Army and YMCA,

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Me Fighting Me

Jim Wasserman  |  Dec 12, 2021

PSYCHOLOGISTS and biologists call it a supernormal stimulus response. Basically, organisms evolve in the direction of what’s good for them. There doesn’t seem to be an off switch to this instinct, however, so organisms can pursue these “good things” even to their detriment.
For instance, field researchers have shown that birds instinctually drawn to colorful eggs will roost on more colorful fake eggs—and ignore their own. And, no, humans aren’t immune to such mistakes.

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Schooled on Taxes

Jim Wasserman  |  Dec 8, 2021

IT’S PROPERTY TAX time. Amid the holiday mail from friends, many of us get notices of payments due from our friendly local tax assessor.
No one likes getting taxed. But in many places, property taxes make up a huge part of the funding for public education. What always surprises and irks me are those who say the tax is unfair because they don’t “use” the public schools.
One neighbor says he has no children.

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Beyond Dollars

Jim Wasserman  |  Dec 4, 2021

“RIFFING OFF” is a term used in music and particularly jazz. It describes when a musician picks up a musical line played by another musician and then runs with it, adding his or her own style or take.
I love riffing off my co-writers—and when they riff off me. I also do it sometimes with HumbleDollar articles and blog posts. I read a thoughtful piece and then, as the day goes on,

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Creative Tension

Jim Wasserman  |  Nov 29, 2021

PAUL MCCARTNEY SAYS he originally wrote lyrics to a song that began, “She was just seventeen. Never been a beauty queen.” When he showed it to John Lennon, his writing partner, Lennon roared with laughter and said, “You’re joking.”
Lennon, who was a bit cheekier, then had McCartney change the second line to “you know what I mean” to add a wink-wink-nudge-nudge element. The eventual song, I Saw Her Standing There,

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