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Mr. Money Matters

The guy who’s been offering you retirement and other financial advice in this space for nearly 20 years is moving on from the Kentucky Living part of his career.

“I’ve been blessed by the Lord, I have adequate money in my pocket, and I have avenues to go down without getting too lost in the wilderness,” Jim told me in a phone conversation this summer.

Jim’s been Kentucky Living’s only Money Matters writer, the first column appearing in the January 1989 issue.

His writing career began on Ohio and Indiana newspapers before becoming a civilian staff member for the U.S. Army’s highly respected Stars and Stripes newspaper. On that publication he served as Vietnam news editor in the late 1950s, which he describes as a very active time for a journalist in southeast Asia.

That international experience helped earn him a job with the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he worked for 22 years as a copy editor and business news editor.

In addition to the Money Matters column, Jim has been serving on the board of the Louisville Bedding Co., an involvement he plans to continue.

I asked Jim for his top advice for Kentucky Living readers:

1. Don’t panic. Despite the scary economic news these days, don’t rush out and react to the current situation. Keep your powder dry—there’s going to be a good time to buy. And stay away from those second mortgages—pay off the first one.

2. For younger people in particular, take advantage of any of your employer’s programs offering to match your contributions. Take the free money.

3. Buy stocks that you know. Jim just sold some Exxon stock he bought in the 1960s, and it did very well for him. He reasoned at the time that a company would likely do well if it owned the crude oil production, marketing network, and sold the gasoline to the end user. And he hung on to it for a long time. Don’t jump from business to business, Jim says. If a stock doesn’t go up for several months, that’s OK.

Jim sums up, “Everybody needs to have a grip on where they are and where they want to go.”

I didn’t ask him whether that was financial advice or a guide for life in general.

Thank you, Jim, and on behalf of all Kentucky Living readers, best of luck.

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