Monday, April 14, 2008

The Final Countdown

As a (relatively) young cub in the journalism world, one of my secret pleasures is reading the final offerings of columnists before they retire or move on to other things. From where I sit, the opportunity to have a weekly soapbox, wherein you're entitled to write about all the things that are stuck in your craw and have readers respond to your thoughts, is such an awesome way to make a living that I find myself constantly seeking out the fruits of various columnists' final efforts.

I figure people who do that for a living accrue so much knowledge over their column's life that witnessing its final incarnation -- where the writer gets to choose how that column will end -- is a truly special experience.

Sometimes, they're generic and feel rushed. Sometimes, the columnist chooses to honour what the column was about was to make the final one in the exact same voice as the first one, giving readers a final taste of what made it special for so many years. Sometimes, I stumble upon a truly special one that, although clicheed, reminds me of just how lucky I am to be able to get paid to write for a living.

And sometimes, a writer opts to distill a lifetime of knowledge on their particular beat into two or three nuggets of advice he hopes his readership will take to heart, which is exactly what Wall Street Journal writer Jonathan Clements went for last week.

Pay yourself first. Live below your means. Always save for a rainy day. We hear these simple axioms of personal finance so often, that they begin to lose their meaning, and we think we can get rich quick by predicting which junior mining play is going to find the next great molybdenum deposit, or which obscure, money-losing Internet firm is about to be bought out my Google.

But when a man who covered everything from the mexican peso crisis to the rise of mortgage-backed securities basically tells you ignoring the noise and focusing on simple investing for the long term is the secret to a happy life, I find myself nodding in agreement.

I'm not one to encourage greed, but this column really hit home for me. Money can't buy you happiness, but it does buy you the option of pursuing things that do make you content in the long run. I think the people who realize that the quickest are the ones who end up feeling truly fulfilled.


MG said...

Thanks for that WSJ article...good read..

nancy (aka money coach) said...

ditto. Clements nailed it. I wish I'd said it!

Canadian Capitalist said...

I was so sad to see Jonathan Clements leaving... there is no reason to check the Wall Street Journal now.

nancy (aka money coach) said...

@canadian capitalist That's what I said about N.P. when mordecai richler died. *sigh*