This year marks the 25th anniversary of writing this column for the Rapid City Journal. I have seen a lot of editors and reporters come and go since my first column in April 1991. In fact, everyone who was in the newsroom at that time is gone, which must make me either an elder statesman or a dinosaur.
Journalism is in my blood. My grandfather worked for 43 years for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and my father graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I was editor of my high school paper when I was a sophomore, attended Boy’s State as a journalist, earned a Boy Scout merit badge in journalism, and was offered a scholarship in journalism. After a visit with long-time Journal editor Jim Kuehn, when I learned what journalists earned, I turned down the scholarship and decided against a career in journalism.
My interest in writing remained, however, and I was very pleased when the Journal began publishing my columns. The early ones were monthly, 900 to 1200 words with a split focus on real estate and personal financial planning. Eventually the Journal expanded the column to twice a month and then to once a week.
During the past 25 years, like anyone, I’ve seen a lot of changes in my life. I married, had two children, earned a college degree and a master’s in financial planning, shifted my career focus from real estate to financial planning and built the largest fee-only planning firm in the region, coauthored four books, traveled the world, and have done a lot of inner growth. Producing this column has been an integral part of my weekly routine during all those life events.
I am sometimes asked, “How do you manage to run a business, speak nationally, teach a graduate course, and write a weekly column?” My response is that it would be impossible without two things: technology and wonderfully talented people who support and encourage me.
Publishing this column wouldn’t happen without my personal editor and friend, Kathleen Fox, who has worked with me for over 10 years. She was my coauthor of Conscious Finance and edited two other books I coauthored with Drs. Ted and Brad Klontz. As Kathleen knows, my unique genius is not spelling, grammar, or sentence structure. She says that after working with me for so long she hears my voice in her head when she is rearranging my written words.
Over the years I’ve tried to inform readers about all aspects of personal finance. So it was a bit humbling when the column that received the most responses ever was one about exiling a cat named Venus to Texas. The most memorable comment was a note from the Dean of the Business School at SDSU, who said it was the best column I had ever written: “Right from the heart!”
I had trouble even receiving that comment as a compliment. At the time, I saw personal finance as dealing far more with the head and the pocketbook than the heart. I envisioned my role as explaining some of the nuts and bolts of financial planning in understandable terms.
I still enjoy that aspect of these columns. However, over the years I’ve expanded my knowledge base and horizons to include what has become known as financial psychology or financial therapy.
I’ve come to recognize that money has a powerful impact on every aspect of our lives. Writing about personal finance and financial wellness is incomplete if it only deals with the dollars. The heart has far more to do with finance than I ever imagined.