Learn along with me as I take more awkward steps into the future

mother duck leading four ducklings through a meadow
mother duck leading four ducklings through a meadow
Mother duck and ducklings walking across a meadow. Photo by Andrea Lightfoot on Unsplash

Back when I started this blog, I couldn’t have imagined that in a couple more years, I’d be factoring a big government stimulus check for a year-long climate-related pandemic into my personal finance update, but then I didn’t see the #SnyderCut of Justice League coming, either.

The month of February and, now, the first weeks of March, have been characteristically like those of any spring for us, yet also particularly like this spring, marking more than a year in a global health crisis: whippy, breezy, changeable, and…


A Round-up of Recent Perspectives on MLK’s Ideas about Money

Image: Close-up of Martin Luther King’s face in stone, the MLK Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo by Ron Cogswell for Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Personal finance is not the first topic that comes to mind when you ponder the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. But the great thinker, orator, man of God, and activist had quite a lot to say about the subject — and how it relates to the larger forces at work in American and global society.

Here’s a round-up of some of the best recent perspectives on King’s financial philosophy, from a range of thinkers who agree on one point: King lived his life in the service of others, as…


My 2021 Bottom Line Is Not Much Different from the One in 2020

Photo by Ralph Katieb on Unsplash

In January of last year, I shared exuberantly about my cool new job and the seemingly limitless future. Ending that month with consumer debt of $18,265 and overall debt creeping up toward $500,000, I saw no possibility except improvement.

One year and a hellscape of endlessly tedious days, blown holidays, political terrors, and public suffering later, I am starting this year much better off than many people, yet not much better or worse than I was last February.


Way more action, way less judging

Neon sign that says, Be Afraid of the Enormity of the Possible
Neon sign that says, Be Afraid of the Enormity of the Possible
Josh Couch for Unsplash

Let’s face it: Now is no time to go about firming your resolve. If you are reading this and you are not under constant daily stress, woo-hoo for you, but chances are you’re one of us: FUBAR seven ways from Sunday, unsure who you are anymore, caught up in a daily routine that is most notable for its banality within the bizarre continuation of a global pandemic and the near-miss of a full-blown Constitutional crisis in the US that now gives way to hopeful signs amid a slow, simmering brew of grievance, mistrust, and…


What Next.

In November I wrote a brief letter to my past self, two years more or less from the day a roof leak led me to start blogging my financial despair and recovery.

This past month, at the closing of one of the strangest years any of us has ever lived through, I was still trying so hard to get an inkling, to grasp even the vaguest sense of the whole year: what it was for me and my family financially (the subject of this blog), and what it was for us broadly, beyond money into our community and…


Restaurant marquee: “In 20 Years Our Country Will Be Run by People Homeschooled by Day Drinkers.” ”: Design Boom.

Doing okay in a very not-okay way

Happy Halfway through the Holidays and Almost Through 2020! What have we learned?

  1. Hobbies are for amateurs. Like a lot of middle-class officer workers who hadn’t seen their families during daylight in a long time, my immediate response to the pandemic was to take up baking. None of us really know why this seemed like a good idea in March. We thought it’d be nice.

Bielany Wrocławskie, Poland. The photographer, Paweł Czerwiński, says, “The last photo I took that day. I was photographing the trees separately and found those two that just needed to be shot together. Obviously metaphoric and kind of sad.” Via Unsplash.

My own circumstances improved as the world we knew collapsed

Dear Me,

Remember when we used to write letters to our future selves? Warning, giving advice, reflecting on the adventure that lay ahead?

This letter is not that.

This letter is written in reverse. It’s from your future self, two years more or less from the day a roof leak led you to start blogging your financial despair and recovery. Maybe there is a warning here. The warning might be: Life comes at you fast. Or Be careful what you wish for.

What have I learned, this me of the…


So I embarked on this crazy project a few years ago, to read every book in my house (still at it).

The first book took me two weeks to finish.

The next one took about a week.

The third one, I devoured in three days. I started filling notebooks and underlining quotes and scribbling ideas in the margins. Just like my mom used to do.

Beautiful as they were, these books I was reading back then were not what you would call pleasure books. They led not to escape but to confrontation. I’m not knocking escape, mind you. …


open door, image: Pexels

The story of my mother leaving was not funny at all

Here is all I know about the day my mother left:

I wasn’t alive. For as long as I could remember, the family had told hilarious stories of hijinks and mayhem that did not involve me. They always went something like this:

Older sister: Mom, Dad, remember that time when we had all those jars of pennies, and we counted the pennies, and there were so many that we had enough for all four of us go to Six Flags together? Mom: Of course! Dad: That was so fun! Older brother: Haha, yeah! Me: When was that? I don’t remember…


During COVID-19, I think about my mother every day. She was essential. She would have been there for other people.

Hands. Image by Costanza on Flickr

NOTE: My mother passed away many years ago, but not a day of the pandemic goes by that my heart does not go out to nurses, and their families.

My mother was a nurse, and it defined her life. She fought her parents to become one, put herself through school without their money. They believed nursing was beneath her. All those bedpans. All that blood and stink. …

The Traumatized Budget

I’m a 50-something bohemian with a mountain of debt and regrets. Can I dig out before it’s all over? I brake for poets.

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