On the Road Again

Howard Rohleder  |  Dec 30, 2022

SEEING NEW PLACES is something my wife and I have enjoyed throughout our married life. Some families have a vacation home that’s their primary destination. I can see the appeal: a place to get away to, where everything is familiar and memories are made.
Others have hobbies that consume their free time. I’ve lived near the Great Lakes and know boaters who head there every weekend. Then there are the golfers. Enough said. Or the football fans who tailgate,

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Just What I Wanted

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 17, 2022

‘TIS THE SEASON when many of us open our wallets and spend with reckless abandon. Along the way, we often end up buying a gift or two for that special person in our life—ourselves.
I don’t put too much stock in the accuracy of quick consumer surveys, but it seems the percentage of folks who self-gift might be 22% or 57% or even 77%. Whatever the right number is, I’m not inclined to be too judgmental,

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Rules for Gift Giving

Sonja Haggert  |  Dec 16, 2022

IT’S THE MOST wonderful time of year—for trying to figure out what gifts to give. If you’re like me, you may be wringing your hands. But some studies and a bit of psychology could help.
While searching my favorite websites for gift ideas, I came across a helpful article by psychologist Jill Suttie. She offered five suggestions.
The first is to make sure the gift is practical. I didn’t see that one coming. Practical gifts are remembered.

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Getting Off Lightly

Andrew Forsythe  |  Dec 15, 2022

I’VE BEEN A WITNESS to inflation with every trip to our neighborhood H-E-B grocery store. As various articles have pointed out, inflation can disproportionately hurt retirees. Yet recently I stumbled on a piece that argued the reverse, at least for some of us. I think my wife and I fall into that lucky category, and I’m curious if other HumbleDollar readers feel the same.
We own our home free and clear, so there are no rent increases to worry about and no mortgage to pay.

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Never Going Back

Howard Rohleder  |  Dec 12, 2022

A FRIEND ONCE explained to me his theory of lifestyle creep—and how there’s a ratchet effect. Let’s say you move to a better neighborhood. A bigger house means larger utility bills. Property taxes will be higher, the lawns bigger and the landscaping more extensive. The neighbor’s cars are nicer, and the shopping and restaurants are more upscale.
Like a socket wrench, once the one-way ratchet of lifestyle creep clicks in, it’s nearly impossible to go back.

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Booking It

Andrew Forsythe  |  Dec 10, 2022

I SPENT 40 YEARS practicing criminal law, and there was always a lot to read: police reports, lab reports, probation and pre-sentence reports, motions, orders and court opinions. These were required reading and there was little time left to read for pleasure.
One of the great joys of retirement is the freedom to read a lot—and whatever I choose.
Which, in this season of reflecting on the things we’re thankful for, brings me to one of mine: public libraries.

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Relative Affluence

Sanjib Saha  |  Dec 6, 2022

WHEN RESTRICTIONS ON travel eased this year, I visited Kolkata, India, where I grew up and my mother still lives. The airline ticket and other travel costs were almost 75% higher than my last visit four years ago.
This year, I’ve grown used to price shocks at every turn, from groceries to gas, so the steep ticket price didn’t shock me. What did surprise me was my feeling of affluence once I arrived.
Traveling to a low-cost country as a tourist doesn’t necessarily feel like a bargain because most items still have an international price tag.

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Bah Humbug

Richard Quinn  |  Dec 3, 2022

MY LEAST FAVORITE time of the year is fast approaching—the holidays. The curmudgeonly part of me will be on full display.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many aspects that I like. I enjoy the spirit of Christmas, the music, getting together with friends and family, and eating. But let’s face it, there’s a lot of stress, aggravation—and money to be spent.

My DVR stores A Christmas Story, which is my favorite holiday movie and which I watch every December.

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Just Say Noël

Edmund Marsh  |  Nov 28, 2022

MY FAMILY IS FRUGAL all year long, even during the Christmas season. We’re modest with our gifts and sparing with our decorations. Each year, our sprucing up consists of one cut-your-own Christmas tree trimmed with the same ornaments we used the year before. I can’t say the same for our neighbors. They pull out all the stops to create a seasonal spectacle.
There’s no need to take a long, cold sleigh ride to the North Pole to scope out Santa and his companions frolicking in snowy splendor.

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America the Drivable

Richard Quinn  |  Nov 25, 2022

I’M BASICALLY A BORING kind of guy. I’ve been known to fall asleep during a raging house party. But when it comes to travel, you’ll find me wide awake. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Given the hassle of international travel right now, Connie and I decided to see more of the U.S., rambling from state to state, planning no more than a day or so in advance.

We’ve just finished our third cross-country road trip since 2014.

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Go Ahead, Spend It

Luke Smith  |  Nov 24, 2022

PERSONAL FINANCE gurus and bloggers will tell you that lifestyle creep—the tendency for spending to rise along with income—is one of the greatest barriers to building wealth. While that’s sometimes true, I believe it can also be a source of joy and reward.
After all, while we might work hard to get a pay raise or earn a big year-end bonus, what a lot of people are really striving for is the ability to increase their spending.

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My Furry Friends

Jiab Wasserman  |  Nov 18, 2022

I’M KNOWN AS A FRUGAL, rational and practical spender. My husband Jim likes to remind me that, six months into dating, my first birthday present to him was prefaced with, “I think I know what you want and need.” It was a three-compartment laundry hamper to separate his clothes before washing.
But one area where I’m neither rational nor practical is cats. I wholeheartedly agree with Jim Kerr’s recent dog story, where he wrote that a pet is a terrible investment—if we’re only considering money.

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A Million Dreams

Sonja Haggert  |  Nov 15, 2022

I DIDN’T WIN the Powerball lottery—this time.
That’s too bad because I knew exactly what I’d have done with the money. I’ll bet you did, too.
I was ready to pay for the education of all of our nieces’ children. “Go where you wanna go,” as the song says. My favorite charity would also have been on the list. Laurel House, a domestic violence agency, does tremendous work in Montgomery County, where we live in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

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Games Humans Play

Richard Quinn  |  Nov 14, 2022

IN A FEW MINUTES, I’ll be off to play a round of golf with friends I met after we moved to our condo in 2018.

Golf is a crazy game, insane actually. It’s immensely frustrating and yet has a way of providing devious incentives to keep you playing—like hitting that last good shot of the day after 75 lousy ones. Not unlike stock-picking.

This week, I shot a 39 on the first nine holes.

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Breakfast for a Buck

James Kerr  |  Nov 8, 2022

LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, I’ve been experiencing sticker shock lately when I step into the grocery store.
Meats, vegetables, paper products, canned goods—everything is costing a lot more. One example: My favorite brand of Good’s thin pretzels now costs $2.50 a bag—75 cents more than I was paying a year ago. Compared to the other brands in the snack aisle, those Good’s pretzels are still a bargain, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.
Along with steeper prices for gas,

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