Comparison Culture

Sundar Mohan Rao  |  Jan 26, 2024

WHEN I VISITED INDIA after working in the U.S. for a decade, it struck me that people seemed happy, despite harsh living conditions.
How could that be? “People compare themselves with others,” my brother said to me. “That’s human nature. If they’re better off than their immediate community, they’re happy. It doesn’t matter how bad their situation may be compared to more prosperous countries.”
That made sense. I was making the mistake of applying U.S.

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Investing Softly

Steve Abramowitz  |  Jan 25, 2024

HEY GUYS, DO YOU carry a rifle like Clint Eastwood when you invest—or are you a vulnerable romantic like Hugh Grant? My contention: Most of us lean toward a traditionally masculine or feminine orientation when building our portfolio, similar to how we handle many other life choices, from career to sports preferences.
This gender orientation is, I believe, a pervasive bias when buying and selling mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), not unlike the behavioral-finance biases you’ve likely read about,

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When It’s Worth It

David Gartland  |  Jan 25, 2024

REGULARLY CHANGING the oil is the most important step you can take to extend your car’s engine life. Oil is the engine’s life blood and changing it is one of the least costly maintenance steps. It’s also one of the dirtiest, crummiest, least pleasant jobs you can do.
Before I got married, I lived in a six-story apartment building in Brooklyn, with a parking garage in the basement. A friend of mine lived in the same building.

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Stay Positive

Marjorie Kondrack  |  Jan 23, 2024

WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS. But for some folks, it seems every day is a bad one. No matter how good things seem to be, they’ll focus on the one bad thing. Think about the negative thoughts that you have:

Are they helpful?
Are they true?
Does the bad in your life outweigh the good?
Has negative thinking become a habit?
Do others really need to know about all the bad things in your life?

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Give Peace a Chance

David Gartland  |  Jan 18, 2024

I’VE SPENT MY ADULT life on a self-improvement journey. It’s kept me moving forward or, at least, trying to move forward. I take great pride in what I’ve accomplished and have no regrets about the goals I set.
But a funny thing happened. I retired. I’ve applied the brakes to my life, and now I’m reevaluating what I’ve done and what I want to do.
I’m not Catholic, but I’ve attended many a mass.

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This Began With a Pen

David Gartland  |  Jan 12, 2024

MY FAMILY ATTENDED the wedding of our neighbor’s daughter. I was seated next to a friend of my neighbor. My wife believes the seating chart was based on the fact that the family has special needs children. This has happened frequently over the years. It’s as if those of us with special needs children speak a different language.
During the course of the evening, the husband asked me if I had a pen. I knew I did,

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A New Life

Don Southworth  |  Dec 25, 2023

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.

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Twelve Days Long

Tom Scott  |  Dec 25, 2023

AS AN EPISCOPAL priest, I’ve lived for more than 40 years with two calendars for every December.
The first calendar is widely recognized. It begins on Thanksgiving Day, with the arrival of Santa Claus in the Macy’s parade, and runs through Christmas Day, with all the celebration that’s entailed.
These few weeks are a huge feature of modern life in America. Businesses depend on a good season. Extra work and part-time jobs are available.

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Be the Good Scrooge

Mike Drak  |  Dec 24, 2023

IT’S THE HOLIDAY season, which means I get to enjoy one of my favorite movies, A Christmas Carol. I’ve watched it every Christmas for as long as I can remember. I guess you could say it’s cast a spell over me, but in a good way.
To be honest, I don’t watch it in its entirety anymore. Instead, I usually just tune in for when Scrooge wakes up on Christmas Day as a changed man,

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It’s Not So Bad

Richard Quinn  |  Dec 19, 2023

EVERY GENERATION HAS its own unique perspective—one that’s shaped by its environment, but also limited by a lack of appreciation for the past. Are things all that bad in the 2020s? I think not.
A recent Bloomberg radio discussion mentioned that, when families go out to dinner, they become keenly aware of inflation when they pay, which in turn affects their view of the economy. It took me a minute to digest that. Is going out to dinner no longer a luxury?

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Wasting Energy

Dennis Friedman  |  Dec 11, 2023

I TRY NOT TO WORRY too much these days. Although I’m retired, it doesn’t mean my life is carefree. There’s always something I could worry about.
After all, as we age, we tend to have more health problems to fret about, and just as many money issues. We can also find ourselves alone for the first time in decades without our partner, the stabilizing force in our life.
My mother worried a lot after my father passed away.

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Pick Your Fights

David Gartland  |  Dec 8, 2023

WHEN I WAS GETTING ready to marry for the second time, I went to Klaus Dorfi, the CEO of the company where I worked, and asked what advice he’d offer to ensure a lasting marriage. His words became another of those phrases that stayed with me for the rest of my life.
“Pick and choose your fights,” he said. “You can argue about everything—or decide what are the most important issues that need to be agreed upon.”
We all know people who disagree often.

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Predictably Wrong

Kenyon Sayler  |  Dec 7, 2023

I DON’T USUALLY FOLLOW the NFL. But this year, I’ve made an exception—because the current season offers a valuable lesson not just for football fans, but also for investors.
Teams devote huge amounts of time, energy and money to determining who’s the best quarterback for their team. Yet, this year, three quarterbacks are leading their teams when most experts, who get paid to evaluate talent, didn’t give them much of a chance.
Brock Purdy leads the San Francisco 49ers.

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Messing Us Up

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 2, 2023

I BELIEVE MANAGING money should be kept as simple as possible. That’s usually the route to lower costs, fewer mistakes and greater financial peace of mind. But, alas, three crucial areas of our financial life defy simplicity: health insurance, taxes and paying for college.
This is hardly an original insight. Folks have complained for decades about the maddening complexity involved with all three. All are ripe for a total revamp, but there’s no sign that’ll happen any time soon.

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The Power of Never

David Gartland  |  Dec 1, 2023

I WAS FIRED OR LAID off 10 times during my career. Why did this happen so often? One reason: I made a decision that I’d never quit a job.
This position was formed during high school when I had a job parking cars at a local Chinese restaurant. I became friends with the guy who’d set up this deal with the restaurant’s owners. While the job was fun, I realized one night that the payment this guy received from the owners wasn’t being divided evenly among all the teenagers parking cars.

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