PAUL NEWMAN WAS BEST known as an actor, but he was also passionate about auto racing. He took his hobby seriously, improved his driving skills and won many races, including on his “home track” at Lime Rock, Connecticut.
His wife, actress Joanne Woodward, supported her husband’s auto racing career, but also worried about him. She bought him a Rolex watch to wear when he raced. To personalize the gift, she had an inscription added to the back.
MOST READERS HAVE likely graduated from the vacations of their youth, where they saved a few dollars by sleeping on a friend’s hand-me-down couch. Still, some of my fondest travel memories were shaped by such frugal accommodation.
I once traveled cross-country on a summer camp trip with 48 other teens, touring the greater U.S. in a converted Greyhound bus. It was an eye-opener, visiting such heralded landmarks as the Statue of Liberty and the St.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is the timeless tale of a poor Jewish dairy farmer in Russia during the early 20th century. What makes the musical timeless? It tells the story of a worker, husband, father and religious believer who’s trying to succeed in all these facets of his life.
One of the show’s most famous songs is, “If I Were a Rich Man.” As the title implies, the farmer dreams of a life of wealth and how wonderful that would be.
MONEY CONVERSATIONS are part of my daily life. I’ve written a personal finance blog for five years and recorded a related podcast for three years. I work full-time for a fiduciary financial planning firm. All of these activities expose me to folks seeking to improve their financial literacy.
I love talking money. But the more “money talks” I have, the more I see that people overlook the most fundamental principle of personal finance. What principle?
MY WIFE CONSTANTLY reminds me that I promised to get her a dog when we purchased our first home. Problem is, it turns out that I’m allergic to most animals with fur, so that promise fell through. Indeed, all too often, the only animal in the doghouse is me.
Many moons ago, as a cash-strapped student working toward my PhD thesis, I purchased plastic roses as a Valentine’s Day gift for my fiancée. The salesperson sold me on the fact that they’d never die and always retain that beautiful bright red color.
“YOU CAN PAY ME NOW—or you can pay me later.” Years ago, that was the catch phrase, spoken by an auto mechanic working on a broken-down car, in ads for FRAM oil filters. The pitch: If you spend a modest sum on routine car maintenance, you’ll avoid far bigger bills down the road.
The same philosophy applies to retirement savings. There’s a constant tradeoff between now and later.
Faced with life’s challenges, we need to strike a balance.
ON OUR RECENT TRIP to Alaska, I was surprised by the number of solo women passengers. It turns out I shouldn’t have been.
According to a recent report from Road Scholar, a not-for-profit travel company geared toward those age 50 and older, a quarter of its travelers were single, with 85% of them women. That group included married folks traveling solo. It’s a growing trend. The Road Scholar study reported that 60% of the company’s solo travelers in 2022 were married.
THE END OF ONE YEAR and the beginning of the next is always a time to look back, and to think about the successes and failures of the year past.
It was a good year in many ways. My wife and I enjoyed excellent health, we’re surrounded by happy, talented and nearly perfect grandchildren, and we had an outstanding corn crop.
Financially, though, it was the pits.
Although I’ve retired from one job, both Julie and I work every day at our farm and small business.
I DROPPED OFF OUR Honda Civic at the dealer for routine maintenance. A young Uber driver gave me a ride home in his new Tesla.
I was embarrassed when he picked me up, because I couldn’t figure out how to open the car door. I told the driver I owned a Honda Civic, not a luxury car. “Those Honda Civics are good cars,” he said. “That was the first car I owned.”
Our conversation seemed backward to me.
DECADES AGO, WHEN I was trying to save consistently for retirement, I found that my impulse purchases were standing in my way. Like many, I wanted feel-good stuff or the latest gadget, and I was willing to spend money to get it.
Once, I saw an expensive jacket in a store and badly wanted it. I was about to buy it when reality struck. I said to myself, “Let me think it over for a day.
MY WIFE RECENTLY traveled to Connecticut for a week to help with loose ends following her brother-in-law’s unexpected heart surgery. I was left to fend for myself, with only three hard-boiled eggs, two ounces of nearly expired low-fat milk, half a jar of gourmet salsa and a moldy cucumber to keep me company.
Boredom quickly set in. For some inexplicable reason, I had an uncontrollable urge to spend money. The first activity that entered my forebrain was visiting a casino.
STOCK INVESTORS TALK about taking advantage of market inefficiencies. That sounds nice, but I don’t have any confidence I can spot mispriced stocks, which is why I stick with mutual funds, especially index funds.
But there’s a market inefficiency where I’ve done pretty well—train tickets. In my late 60s, when I was in my final job, I commuted from central New Jersey to Philadelphia by train. This meant parking my car at the station,
I GET A THRILL FROM saving money on groceries. We have customer loyalty cards for the two local grocery stores where we do most of our shopping. The sales receipts list total savings for that shopping trip. I love to see big numbers on that line.
I’m a prodigious cereal eater, and my favorite is Cheerios. The regular price for the smallest box is $4.99. Of course, I never pay that. Fairly frequently, one of the local stores runs specials on General Mills brands,
MY FIRST PET WAS a timid pup called Precious, a moniker inspired by the cartoon character of the same name. My four-year-old self felt an affinity for the runt of the litter, so I quickly picked him out. That sweet, little dog had a nature true to his name. I don’t remember his fate but, in those days, pets ranged free in our little town, and I fear he may have met with some mishap.
AN UNPLEASANT PRICE shock awaits those who grew up in a low-cost-of-living nation and then relocate to a high-cost country. Coming from India, I experienced it firsthand, as I routinely converted prices into Indian rupees and compared them to the cost of similar items back home. In my initial years abroad, this made it challenging to open my wallet. Everything appeared overpriced.
It took time to come to terms with the fact that, despite higher living costs,