College debt 101

This post is from staff writer Jeffrey Steele. A few weeks back, by sheer coincidence, I happened to meet a young woman currently enrolled in the same journalism school master’s degree program from which I graduated more than a third of a century ago. We got to talking about all the opportunities she and her […]


Key steps to a richer life

This post is from staff writer Jeffrey Steele. At a recent neighborhood function, I ran into a woman I’ve known for years, but hadn’t seen in a few months. She’d be the first to admit to suffering a weight problem. A shorter woman, she’d packed on enough pounds over the years to audition for the […]


What some call retirement planning is a joke

This post is from staff writer Jeffrey Steele. The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey was released in mid-March, and reinforced the notion that within many sober reports on serious personal finance subjects, we can find a few good laughs. In short, one will come away from perusing this survey with more than […]


An Affinity for Fraud

There are some who wear their religiosity on their sleeves. They never tire of telling people how devoted they are to their church or synagogue, how faithfully they attend services, and how God-fearing, spiritual and pious they are. Some go so far as to suggest others who don’t share their faith are headed hell-ward. My […]


Rating Your 401(k) Plan Administrator

Two years ago, a survey asked a sampling of Americans whether, if they had a choice, they would prefer more money or a better boss. Since most of us are a bit cash-hungry, one might think the answer would be the former. But instead, the survey found a sizable majority (65%) would actually pick a […]


Avoid This Ill.-Advised State of Monetary Madness

What I’m about to reveal I don’t like to bandy about. In fact, I try to hide it when in polite company. So I’ve got to ask you to please not breathe a word of what I’m about to divulge. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’m from Illinois. I’ve lived here almost all […]


The Antidote to “Buy High, Sell Low”

The stock market has been on a tear recently. The month of January ended with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up six percent, the S&P 500 index north five percent, and the NASDAQ composite up “merely” four percent. And the trend has continued in February. That caps a skein of months and years, ever since […]


Deeply Downsized Domiciles

I wasn’t exactly born yesterday. But among the misty watercolor memories clouding my brain pan, I retain a clear memory of the kind of homes that many middle-class people lived in way back in my 1960s-era childhood. They often were very small. Three tiny bedrooms, a phonebooth sized bathroom, a kitchen just larger than a […]


Saving Savings with Home Emergency Gap Coverage

The typical washer-dryer combo unit lasts about eight years. The one in my home was in its 14th year, and living on borrowed time when it finally expired last year. Its demise meant a large unexpected expense I hadn’t counted on. I bit the bullet and called the same appliance retailer I’d bought my last […]


Financial Lessons Learned

Aside from the unswerving advice to spend less than you make, personal finance wisdom has a way of evolving year by year, as the economy, tax laws, and other variables change. True, most lessons these days have to do with it being harder and harder to build a nestegg, the need to start earlier and […]