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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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Faulty Perceptions

Richard Quinn  |  Nov 28, 2023

THERE’S A SAYING that “perception is reality,” meaning that what you believe is your reality, whether it’s true or not. Changing our perception isn’t easy. It takes effort, along with a willingness to discover and accept facts.
Many Americans’ perceptions are incorrect, leading them to make subpar financial decisions. Consider:

Social Security. Nobody stole the trust fund, it’s not going broke and, yes, it will be there for you.
Medicare. It’s not socialized medicine.

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Room at the Table

Tom Scott  |  Nov 23, 2023

MY UPBRINGING WAS difficult. The alcoholism and rage among adult family members were often at their worst during the year-end holidays, and Thanksgiving could be particularly bad. What made this even worse was that I thought the popular images and ideas about Thanksgiving were accurate descriptions of other people’s good times.

One familiar depiction of Thanksgiving is Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting, “Freedom from Want.” The picture has come to represent the central moment of our Thanksgiving celebration: the roasted turkey arriving at the table as the prelude to eating ourselves into a tryptophan coma.

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Playing Possum

Marjorie Kondrack  |  Nov 20, 2023

ZERO-WASTE LIVING. Kondo cleaning. FIRE, or financial independence-retire early. Whatever your feelings are about these three movements, frugality is at their core, with the focus on minimizing possessions and living simply.

To these, you might want to add another, “possum living,” which has been hailed as a manifesto for living cheaply. Possum Living is the title of a book written in 1978 by a free-thinking, resourceful young woman who went by the pen name Dolly Freed.

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Get Your Hands Dirty

Adam M. Grossman  |  Nov 19, 2023

WHEN THOMAS EDISON was a child, he apparently set fire to a barn on the family’s property. After it burned to the ground, his parents were furious.
“Why would you do such a thing?” his father asked.
Young Edison replied, “I wanted to see what would happen.”
The story may be apocryphal, but I was reminded of it recently when I came across a study titled “Not Learning from Others.” A group of economists wanted to understand more about how people learn.

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Confidence Game

Jonathan Clements  |  Nov 18, 2023

WE LEARN EARLY ON whether we’re stronger, faster or have better hand-eye coordination than other kids. We might initially harbor dreams that we’ll get better. But after a while, it’s hard to ignore the mounting evidence of our athletic mediocrity.
If only life were always so simple.
I’ve heard parents say, “You don’t have to tell your kids that they aren’t good at something, because the world will do it for you.” That’s true—except there’s an additional step involved: Your kids have to listen.

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