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Jonathan Clements, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, is leaving journalism. He published his last article on Wednesday, a reflection on fourteen years at the Journal and 26 years writing professionally about money.

In the article, he looks at the essence of saving and investing. Why bother? A number of visitors touched on these points on yesterday’s post on Consumerism Commentary about frugality and compromises. Here’s what Jonathan Clements has to offer for his final word to readers.

If you have money, you don’t have to worry about it. You don’t have to worry about it, but many people do. Growing your money requires paying attention to your finances, and when you’re aware of problems, you’re more likely to worry about it. But if you’re earning enough from your pay check or investments to cover your expenses, save, and invest for the future, then you have the flexibility to turn your attention to other things.

Money can give you the freedom to pursue your passions. This is what inspires me to continue being vigilant about my own finances. There have always been a number of things I’ve passionate about, including music, technology, building communities, and inspiring other people whenever possible. For a long time I was able to combine these passions, but the real world was calling and I needed to stop going deeper into debt. Once I’m financially independent, no longer needing to trade my time to earn a living, I can pursue these activities further.

Money can buy you time with friends and family. For most people, this probably falls under the “passions” category. Jonathan writes about the ability to spend when socializing with people who make you happy, but even those who are struggling financially can find happiness through making time for those who are important. It doesn’t take expensive dinners and traveling to find happiness.

Clements ends his final article with a reminder that a rich life isn’t always about the money.

I’ve cited Jonathan Clements‘ articles a number of times on Consumerism Commentary, and I’ve almost always agreed with his points of view. Thanks for the excellent articles over the years.


I’m disappointed that the NBC television show Journeyman has been canceled. Last night’s final episode seemed like the writers rushed to close the storyline. I’m probably just a sci-fi geek, but despite a first-impression resemblance to NBC’s Quantum Leap (and more resemblance to classic science fiction literature), I found the show to be quite unique and enjoyable. It’s another clever show that got lost in the network’s ratings chase.

On AllFinancialMatters, JLP echoes Jonathan Clements’ 12 suggestions for making your kids financially savvy. I particularly like the first point: children should learn the ability to delay gratification. Not only must the parents be able to say no, but the parents must exemplify this philosophy through modeling sound decisions.

Nickel writes about his thoughts on the new energy bill. I still see so much misunderstanding about this bill. The government is *not* banning incandescent bulbs, for instance. It does raise the interesting issue of how much government should be involved with regulation. See the article and commentary on Compact Fluorescent to Become Mainstream.

A few days ago, I watched the classic It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart. (If there’s any ambiguity in that sentence, I apologize.) It’s an interesting movie, often imitated, with an interesting social and financial commentary. On Get Rich Slowly, J.D. hit the nail on the head with his analysis of the value of social capital.

Finally, Lynnae from Being Frugal has some suggestions for building an emergency fund when money is tight. Her suggestions are to “pay yourself first,” a camera-ready way of saying, “Automatically deduct a small portion of your paycheck before you even have a chance to see it,” and use your growing savings as encouragement to continue. It takes only a small amount of dedication and discipline to build an emergency fund, and it’s possible using these techniques in almost any situation.


According to Jonathan Clements, index mutual funds with low fees are gaining popularity and attracting more investors who are trying to get the most for their money.

This is driving more fund companies to lower their fees to compete. Fidelity, as mentioned in the article, has capped its index fund expenses at 0.1%.

Suppose you have a $200,000 portfolio and you shift to lower-cost funds, cutting your annual fund expenses to 0.5% from 1.5%. If all funds earn the same 7% a year before costs, your new portfolio would balloon to $700,000 after 20 years, versus less than $600,000 if you had stuck with the higher-cost funds.

That’s a solid argument to me. But what’s going to happen when fund companies are not earning as much as they used to, even while cutting their own expenses? It will be time to start looking for new hidden fees silently appearing under the radar.


Ending the Week

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It was a bit of a light week for me in terms of blogging due to my traveling and visiting with family. It’s time to get back into the swing of things. Look for a book review later this week, as well as an announcement about the winner of the latest giveaway.

Here’s what has been happening around the MoneyBlogNetwork (and beyond) lately:

Blueprint for Financial Prosperity points out the world’s easiest inflation calculator. Free Money Finance presents six ways to spend a raise. Five Cent Nickel shows how his flexible spending account showed a profit.

AllFinancialMatters shows nine ways to management money effectively (thanks to Jonathan Clements) and Mighty Bargain Hunter has some suggestions for companies to make “Black Friday” more interesting.

The 100 by 30 Project shares a personal example of cognitive cliche dissonance, as she contemplates whether to take advantage of a significant discount by buying in bulk or resisting the temptation to splurge on a sale.


Four Mental Mistakes in Investing

by Luke Landes

Jonathan Clements from the Wall Street Journal decided to don his psychologist hat and evaluate the muddled minds of investors. He discovered four mindsets that hinder people from investing intelligently. Let’s face it, amassing a decent-size nest egg isn’t exactly rocket science. All we have to do is save regularly, buy a few low-cost mutual ... Continue reading this article…

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Around The Horn

by Luke Landes

Here’s what we had going on in the MoneyBlogNetwork (and more) this week. It was a light posting week for me as I’ve been quite busy with life, but everyone else has been blogging like mad: * JLP snagged an interview with Jonathan Clements from the Wall Street Journal (Part 1 and Part 2). * ... Continue reading this article…

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Have A Happy Retirement

by Luke Landes

According to a study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, each additional $10,000 added to your net worth in retirement increases the chance that an individual will rate his or herself among the most satisfied by 1 percent. This study has been cited by a number of journalists: John Clements of the Wall Street Journal, Walter Updegrave ... Continue reading this article…

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Teaching Kids About Money

by Luke Landes

Yahoo Finance is presenting a feature on teaching children about money. Here are some of the highlights. When to Kick Your Kid Out of the House, and Other Financial Lessons for Parents. In a middle-class household, it will cost on average $184,000 to allow your one child to live to year 17. If you send ... Continue reading this article…

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