Clumsy With People

Edmund Marsh  |  Jul 11, 2024

SOME PEOPLE ARE BORN clumsy. Tools never seem to fit their hands. Their hammer finds a thumb more often than a nail. For them, running looks and feels like an ungainly, uphill battle—even on level ground.
I don’t claim to be physically gifted. But my clumsiness shows up in a different way. I have a notable social deficiency: I’m naturally clumsy with people. Why is this important? It defined the first quarter-century of my life,

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The Apprentice

Andy Clarke  |  Jun 29, 2024

WE MET IN THE GALLEY, the cafeteria in Vanguard Group’s nautical lexicon. Jack Bogle shook my hand. My pulse raced.
I’d learned about Vanguard’s founder while working at Morningstar. I’d read about him in Jonathan Clements’s Wall Street Journal columns. And I’d devoured his first book, Bogle on Mutual Funds.
“Where’d you go to college?” he asked. “Good board scores?”
We sat down, tucked into our meals—some sort of industrial casserole for me,

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Raise Your Voice

Jonathan Clements  |  Jun 22, 2024

OVER THE PAST SEVEN years, HumbleDollar has become my professional life’s passion. Cancer means I have maybe another year in me—and then it’ll be up to you. My hope: The site will have a life beyond me.
On the site’s homepage, just below the latest articles, you’ll find a new feature dubbed Forum. Will HumbleDollar have a lively future, rather than fading into a dusty collection of old articles? That all depends on whether readers and writers embrace the Forum,

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Summer School

Steve Abramowitz  |  Jun 13, 2024

RETURNING TO NEW YORK for the summer was out of the question. It was spring of my freshman year, and I wasn’t about to acquiesce to my parents’ wishes, not after the whirlwind of college life that included an introduction to pot and dating non-Jewish girls from small Midwestern towns. I didn’t give much thought to what I’d actually do. Maybe meeting girls taking summer school in The Grill or driving all the way to Miami and party,

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Rolling Right Along

Jeff Bond  |  Jun 4, 2024

I BEGAN MY CAREER as a part-time employee for an engineering consulting firm. At the time, I was working on my master’s degree in mechanical engineering. I shifted to full-time when I’d wrapped up my coursework but before completing my research and oral defense.
Over the next four years, I finished that degree and passed the national exam to become a registered professional engineer. I also got married, and bought a dog, a second car and a house.

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Buying Freedom

Jonathan Clements  |  Jun 1, 2024

IF 20-SOMETHINGS ASK me for financial advice, I suggest getting a job right out of college and saving like crazy, so they quickly get themselves on the fast track to financial freedom.
If 60-somethings ask me for advice, I advocate a phased retirement, seeking part-time work in their initial retirement years and, if they enjoy it, perhaps keeping it up into their 70s.
Yeah, I know, I sound like a real killjoy. My advice raises an obvious question: Is there ever a time when we should cut ourselves some slack and not have a job?

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Man vs. Machine

Jonathan Clements  |  May 25, 2024

COULD HUMBLEDOLLAR be replaced by a website chock-full of articles created using artificial intelligence? The short answer: It would be remarkably easy—and I fear readers wouldn’t object, especially if they didn’t know how the articles were generated.
To show what’s possible, I requested eight personal-finance articles from three freely available artificial intelligence (AI) tools, ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini and Microsoft’s Copilot. The first of those articles is published today, with the other seven appearing over the next four days.

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Count Me Out

Dana Ferris  |  May 10, 2024

MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE movie is the Coen brothers’ 2000 classic, O Brother, Where Art Thou? At one point, Holly Hunter’s character, Penelope, declares, “I’ve said my piece and I’ve counted to three.” Her estranged husband, played by George Clooney, understood from long experience that once she had “counted to three,” her mind couldn’t be changed.
Last summer, I wrote an article that explored the decisions my husband and I are working through about our retirement date and location.

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Extra Innings

Ken Cutler  |  Apr 23, 2024

IN MY EARLY 50s, when retirement began looking like a viable option, I started thinking seriously about what my life might look like after I stopped working as an engineer at a nearby nuclear power plant. Earlier in my career, I’d imagined living off my pension and not working at all. But by my 50s, I wasn’t so sure. I felt retirement could be a time to explore other work opportunities.
My favorite hardware store is less than a mile from my house.

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An Ordinary Life

Ken Cutler  |  Apr 11, 2024

MY GRANDFATHER FALLS into the category of folks who are “not long remembered.” He died more than 75 years ago. None of his children or their spouses is alive. The one grandchild alive at the time of his death was only a few months old. It’s safe to say his memory has been all but erased, and yet his story offers a glimpse into what working life was like in the first half of the 1900s.

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Back to Work

James Kerr  |  Apr 3, 2024

CALL IT THE GREAT unretirement. Hit by rising living costs and unexpected feelings of boredom, one out of eight retirees plan to return to work this year, according to a recent survey.
I’m one of them. Two and a half years after retiring from the corporate world, I’m headed back to work. I’ve accepted a position as lead writer for the CEO of a Fortune 200 technology company. I’ll be writing the CEO’s speeches,

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Against the Odds

Steve Abramowitz  |  Mar 31, 2024

MARCH MADNESS HAS descended on my family. I’m not just referring to the hoopla surrounding the annual NCAA college basketball tournament that runs from late March through early April. I mean the reckoning for our 36-year-old son, and his decision to switch careers and pursue his dream of becoming a professional sports bettor.   
For the 10 years after college graduation, Ryan taught high school math and coached basketball. But in between planning lectures,

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Not Wired to Retire

Kathleen M. Rehl  |  Mar 26, 2024

MY HUSBAND SAYS I’LL never retire. He’s right. Now in my 78th year, I have no intention of stopping work altogether to devote myself to round-the-clock leisure. That sounds unappealing, especially since I plan to live well into my 90s, just like my great-grandmother.
Most of my friends opted to retire in their 60s. That includes my husband, Charlie. He retired at age 61 after 38 years as a nuclear engineer, all that time with the same company.

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Retirement Dreams

Andrew Forsythe  |  Feb 20, 2024

THIS ISN’T ANOTHER article about dreaming of retirement. Rather, it’s about dreaming in retirement.
I retired in 2017 after practicing criminal law in central Texas for almost four decades. It could be stressful at times. Before that, there were long years in college and law school.
College was relatively easygoing and enjoyable in the laid-back Austin of the 1970s, plus my major was sociology—a world apart from those in pre-med,

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Death by Retirement

Mike Drak  |  Feb 16, 2024

I LED A RETIREMENT seminar some years ago at a large manufacturing company. During the question-and-answer session that followed my presentation, a 60-something welder told the group he’d never retire. I asked why. His response: All his friends who’d retired before him were already dead, and he didn’t want to follow in their footsteps.
What he said resonated with me—because I knew someone who suffered a similar fate. Gino was a client back in my banking days.

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