A lesson in speaking up for yourself: I saved $575 for a moment of discomfort

Today, I want to share a small victory. Like all humans, I have flaws. One of mine is that I hate confrontation. It’s a family thing. I’m not sure why, but none of us like conflict. Sure, this trait has some upsides. My brothers and I don’t get into a lot of arguments and fights …

Drama in real life: Moving Mom to memory care

Today, I did the second-hardest thing I’ve ever had to do: I took away Mom’s cat. Mom’s assisted living facility called last Thursday. “We strongly encourage you to consider moving your mother to memory care,” the director told me. “I know we talked about this a year ago, and at that time you and your …

The leak in our bathroom ceiling

Ah, the joys of homeownership. Remember the peeling paint in the bathroom ceiling that I mentioned last week? The peeling paint that I felt certain was due to humidity from the shower and lack of adequate ventilation? Well, I was wrong. The paint is peeling because we have a leak in the roof. It seems …

Drama in real life: Making planned gifts before death

My mother’s health has been declining over the past few months, and it’s produced a wee bit of year-end financial drama in our family. (The word “drama” is a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe it’s produced some year-end financial consternation?) As long-time readers will recall, my mother has been in assisted living for more than …

Keeping a home improvement projects to-do list

My Christmas curse continues! You see, for a long time now — almost thirty years — Christmas has become synonymous with home problems for me. This all started in the first home that Kris and I owned back when we were newly married. We woke one Christmas morning to find that the water heater had …

Grading homes: The system I used when picking a new place to live

This morning — because the sky was clear and I hadn’t anything better to do — I let the dog lead me on a six-mile walk. For two hours, we wound our way through the streets of Corvallis. We sniffed drains, barked at squirrels, and in every way had a merry old time. If I’d …

The value of a college degree

I’m a long-time vocal proponent of higher education. For me, it’s personal. I was raised in a poor family with parents who had briefly attended college, but never with any real gusto. (I’m not sure my father had a plan. My mother studied home economics. Not kidding.) My uncle got a math degree from a …

A useful new tool to help you pick a place to live

Every now and then, The New York Times gives us an awesome new personal-finance tool. Back in 2007, they created an amazing rent vs. buy calculator, which they’ve diligently updated and maintained over the past fifteen years. A couple of weeks ago, they unveiled their where should you live? tool. [Warning: possible paywall, which is …

Learning from history: How this all happened

The older I get, the more interested I am in history. When I was young, history and myth seemed to be interchangeable to me. To ten-year-old me, there was little difference between, say, Abraham Lincoln and the Greek gods sitting atop Mount Olympus. All of it was abstract stuff that happened to imaginary people long …

Amazon Brand Detector

Two months ago, The Markup — a big-tech watchdog site — published a piece about how Amazon prioritizes its own “brands” first above better rated (and/or cheaper) products. This came as no surprise to me. I’ve found Amazon increasingly useless over the past few years. Its search results are cluttered with ads. Sometimes my searches …

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