A Hillbilly Elegy Review

I’m always hyper aware of books that are mentioned around me. To the extent that I keep a running list of books that I need to read, often putting them in my wishlist on Amazon. When the same titles are mentioned again and again, I take that as a sign that it deserves a place on my reading list. When the recurrence of that title warrants it, the book moves all the way up my ‘to read’ pile and becomes the next book in succession.   The most recent book that fit that description was Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. …

Have These Things Re-Quoted At The Beginning Of Every Year

With the passing of every New Year, I make it a habit to go through the family expenses for the previous year. Year after year I make the grim realization that we spent nearly $3,000 in telephone and internet fees! I realize that over $700 goes to a security company to make sure that our doors are “guarded and monitored”. And I discover that the YMCA will get over $800 for the year to be used a few dozen times. And every year I get serious about lowering those monthlies to a more acceptable amount. So, without fail, here are …

Do You Tell Your Kids How Much You’ve Saved For College

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I had the most interesting conversation the other day with a parent of a senior in high school. We were talking about what her daughter was going to do next year after graduating and this mom got a look on her face that said, “it’s best if I don’t go there.” “Not a fun topic in your home?” I asked. “Let’s just say I have a 17 year old that knows everything and I’m at a point where I know nothing.” The conversation went on to the colleges or Universities she was looking into, what her thoughts were about community …

Why Black Friday is like the Iowa State Fair

I love Black Friday. But not for the reason that most people like Black Friday. Me getting up at 4am to get the door-buster deals generally doesn’t happen. However, me getting up at 4am to watch what happens when the door-buster customers show up routinely happens. Black Friday is like the Iowa State Fair for me. It’s a circus, oftentimes mayhem, wrapped in cloaks of consumerism, greed, and sloth. It’s not the deals, but the details I’m interested in. While the benefits of $2 DVDs and $200 TVs are unmistakeable, it’s the people watching that makes the day such a …

Love Your Kids? Let Them Struggle.

**Originally published on The Huffington Post – February 7, 2017** “What do you do when your girls are texting you to put money in their account?” This was the first question asked by a group of parents at a college parent night where I had been invited to speak. The look on this particular dad’s face suggested it wasn’t a hypothetical situation but something that was happening occasionally. So I turned the question back on him, “What do you do when your girls are texting you to put money in their account?” “I usually put some in there for them, …

Your Financial Survival Guide

With the Dow Jones still above 20,000, most people aren’t giving a second thought to a stock market collapse, a massive devaluation of the dollar, or an attack on our banking system. That being said, now is THE BEST TIME to prepare yourself in the event of a financial armageddon. The problem with high flying economies like ours is they create a false sense of security. Seeing the DOW break 20,000 had some people celebrating the end of the recession, the next goal of 30,000, and rosy futures for all investors. The flip side of this coin is every high …

The 5 Things You Must Do When Having A Child

Granted all you want to do is stare lovingly at the magical being you and your partner created, there are five things that you MUST do when having a child for the first time. I heard Jim Gaffigan once describe life before kids as almost perfect — you get to sleep in on the weekends, get to do whatever you want at night, eat at great restaurants, have extra money for the things you like, have a clean house all the time… and then you get to thinking, “you know what would make this even better? Let’s have A KID!” …

Car Care 101: 3 Proactive Ways to Keep Your Car Running

For the record, car care is not an emergency. Cars, as much as they might be an asset/worth something if you want to sell it, are really a big honkin’ liability. They cost money. And it’s the least fun money to spend. If I can help you understand in this article what it takes most people years (um, me) to learn about their car, then I’ve done my duty. Find a Reliable Mechanic Mechanics tend to get a bad rap — and that’s because some of them fix things on your car that either don’t need fixing to squeeze more money …