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Almost Magical

David Gartland  |  Jul 4, 2024

THE OTHER DAY, WHEN my son and I were out on our daily trash pickup walk, I found a $5 bill. No one was around, so I didn’t know who dropped it. It was just lying there.
I picked it up and put it in my wallet with all my other “pocket money.” This is money I use whenever credit cards aren’t allowed. The $5 bill slipped in next to the other $5 bills.

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Favoring Fiber

Michael Flack  |  Jun 21, 2024

IN AN EARLIER ARTICLE, I detailed how Charter Communications wasn’t so much my internet provider as my extortionist. I thought I’d dealt with it all in an equitable manner. But then, exactly two years after our relationship began, Spectrum abruptly increased the price it charged for internet access by 67%, from $29.99 a month to $49.99. I guess we didn’t have a relationship so much as a contract.
While I didn’t take too kindly to that,

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Shouting Out

Dennis Friedman  |  Jun 20, 2024

AS WE GET OLDER, some of us have less patience and complain more. Maybe it’s because we’re frustrated. Many everyday activities become more difficult to perform as we age. As a 73-year-old, I probably have a shorter fuse when dealing with life’s daily hassles.
My friend Bill might also fall into the cranky category. He was complaining about how terrible customer service has become since the pandemic. “Prices keep rising, but we keep getting less in return,” he ranted.

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Fish and Grits

Jeffrey K. Actor  |  Jun 6, 2024

MY RETIREMENT BUCKET list includes long drives across the U.S. in search of the unexpected.
Such trips appeal to my frugal nature. As a rule, the total cost of gas, hotels and meals is usually less than the total for roundtrip plane tickets, airport parking fees and baggage expenses. This might not be true for single travelers. But it’s a guideline that works for my wife and me.
We typically pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,

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Cutting the Cord

Richard Hayman  |  Apr 30, 2024

DURING A RECENT VISIT to retired friends in Florida, I learned about YouTube TV, a streaming service from Google with more than 85 channels. I decided to try it when my wife and I returned home. I initially kept my TV trial private. I wasn’t ready to introduce the idea to my wife, who doesn’t like change and would rather just stick with cable TV.
I thought YouTube TV worked well. I still had to sort a few things out,

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Making Everyone Happy

David Gartland  |  Apr 19, 2024

I’M NOT A GENEROUS guy. Which brings me to tipping.
I see a price on the menu, and I’m willing to spend that amount on the food. Then I have to spend additional money, after having consumed that food, because someone served it to me. Why?
What about the kitchen staff who cooked my meal? Should I tip them also? After all, I can’t cook, so the kitchen staff is doing me a more important service than the person who carries my food to the table.

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Where It Goes

Jonathan Clements  |  Apr 13, 2024

I HAVE ONLY A VAGUE idea of how much I spend. I figured it was time to find out.
I’ve never budgeted because I’ve never seen the need. From my early 20s until three-plus years ago, I kept an iron grip on my wallet, spending with the utmost care and saving great heaps of money. Over those 35 years of fierce frugality, I don’t feel like I deprived myself, but I do feel like I thought about money far too much—and tracking my spending would only have made that worse.

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A Dirty Business

Jeffrey K. Actor  |  Apr 12, 2024

I’M SLOWLY LEARNING not to let frugality prevent me from doing the things I love.
One of my favorite pastimes is cooking outdoors during the heat of the summer. Nothing pairs better with steelhead trout than a homegrown, freshly picked Hungarian hot wax pepper, softened by the grill’s intense heat. The aroma of the pepper’s lightly scorched skin, complete with grill marks, is enough to make any mouth water. Simply pick the largest, throw it directly on the burner and wait patiently for the magic to occur.

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Acting Our Age

Marjorie Kondrack  |  Apr 9, 2024

I CHUCKLE WHEN I read Lucille Ball’s gentle admonishment that “the secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” That’s not so easy anymore, ever since the internet outed us all.
But I’m not above using a little subterfuge. After all, forced disclosure is never comfortable. When asked how old I am, my usual reply is “any woman who will tell her age will tell anything”—a remark sometimes attributed to Mary Kay Ash.

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What Our Dollars Buy

Jonathan Clements  |  Apr 6, 2024

WHEN WE SPEND MONEY, we’re looking to get something in return. But what? Forget classic budgeting categories like housing, food, utilities, insurance and entertainment. Instead, suppose we used a completely different classification system—one that reflected the physical, social and emotional benefits we garner.
The list below is, I suspect, far from complete, especially when I compare it to the 16 basic desires developed by psychologist Steven Reiss. Moreover, as you’ll see, while an expenditure might fall predominantly into one category,

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If Not Now, When?

Jeffrey K. Actor  |  Apr 5, 2024

WE WERE DINING WITH close friends when the conversation turned to foreign travel. Stories were recounted of ventures to exotic and faraway lands filled with inspiring people, unique cultures and historic sites.
My wife and I were humbled by the sheer number of trips our friends had taken. We were shy to admit that our international travel bucket was relatively empty, and we had embarrassingly few stories to share.
This wasn’t a matter of keeping up with the Joneses.

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Billionaire Next Door

Ken Cutler  |  Apr 2, 2024

JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER was the richest man in the U.S. in 1918, which happens to be the year my father was born. His $1.2 billion net worth at that time would have the buying power today of more than $24 billion.
Rockefeller, with his massive wealth, could purchase things most of us can only dream about, such as sprawling estates and gigantic yachts. Still, in many ways, today’s millionaire next door has more purchasing power than this billionaire of yesteryear.

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Making Waves

Larry Sayler  |  Mar 22, 2024

MY WIFE AND I recently returned from a 14-day cruise to the Caribbean with my 96-year-old mother. Since my dad passed away in 2009, my wife and I have gone on several cruises with my mom.
We departed from and returned to Fort Lauderdale, visiting eight Caribbean islands: St. Kitts, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, Martinique and Aruba. For my wife and me, the fare was $2,200 per person for a room with a balcony.

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Our Spending Spree

Dan Smith  |  Mar 20, 2024

WHEN I GOT DIVORCED, my ex-wife told the judge at family court that I was good with money. But most folks I knew at that time wouldn’t be so kind: They’d say I was cheap.
No, I didn’t align myself with the financial independence-retire early, or FIRE, movement. During my days as a driver-salesman, after I diverted 15% of my pay into the 401(k), I spent every nickel raising the kids, paying the bills and trying to keep up with my big bucks buddies.

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Cool Has a Cost

David Gartland  |  Mar 18, 2024

I’M SITTING ON MY patio drinking coffee, as I do every morning before my wife and son wake up. I go to bed early and wake up before sunrise, so when I’m drinking my coffee, it’s still dark. This is a great time for me to think.
This morning, I’ve been thinking about Jordache jeans. For those of you too young to remember, Jordache jeans were the thing to own in the late 1970s and early 1980s if you were a teenager or in your 20s.

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