As you read this I am no longer an employee of the Dallas Morning News. I could have written a "good bye" column last week. But I'd rather write a "hello" column today.
As some readers know, I started writing my personal finance column nearly 30 years ago at the Boston Herald American. When it was nationally syndicated in 1981 the Dallas Morning News was one of the first papers to buy the column. And when they asked me to join as a staffer in 1985, I was delighted to transplant myself to Dallas, to Texas, and to the Southwest.
The change, the challenge, and wonderful support from Morning News readers sustained me through the darkest time in my personal life. The same wonderful support from readers also encouraged me to widen the scope of my reporting -- from a motorcycle trip along the U.S./Mexico border where most of the columns were suggested by reader emails, to visits to RV parks and inquiries about different ways to live our lives.
Now, after nearly 22 years, it's time to transplant myself again.
I'll still be in the Dallas Morning News. But it will be as a syndicated columnist, on the same basis as my column also appears in the Abilene Reporter News, the Bryan Eagle, the Corpus Christi Caller Times, the Denton Record Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express, and the Victoria Advocate.
My intention, yesterday and today, has been to cover personal finance with particular attention to America's growth triangle. The growth triangle could be described as a big pizza slice of America. It is outlined by a point in Denver and a long crust that spans the southern borders of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The area may be what Cormac McCarthy calls "No Country for Old Men" -- but it's where the action is. Fortunately, the vast majority of the action is the positive Texas stuff that I love -- real people working to be independent, to do good things and to make their way in a tough and uncertain world.
Will you notice any difference between yesterday and tomorrow?
Yes. I'll be writing two columns a week instead of three. The difference will help me take actual vacations, recognize national holidays, and enjoy real weekends instead of using them to "catch up." I will, after all, be 66 in November.
The change from 3 to 2 columns will also help me leave my office by 5:30 and walk the 30 feet to our Santa Fe house. I'll start cooking dinner. My wife and I will have time to talk about our day and enjoy each others company.
Retirement, some people say, is when you can do what you want to do. By that definition, it could be argued that I have never worked.
Similarly, it's been a while since we needed a paycheck. Our house, cars, and Airstream trailer are owned free and clear. I am not saying this to brag: Had I been less than financially prepared for "retirement" you'd have good reason to wonder why you were reading my column.
The plain truth is that I prefer the challenge of writing this column to the ritual humiliation of playing golf.
I've never had grandiose ideas about what it meant to be a newspaper columnist. I've always thought of myself as your full-time learner and researcher, the guy who did the learning you might not have the time or inclination to do, the guy whose advice always came along with the movie listings. My primary mission remains unchanged -- being a trusted source of financial education and consumer advocacy.
Are there other projects in the works?
• Professor Kotlikoff and I are working on another book. We're hoping it will present a major challenge to the financial services industry. I'll share parts of it with you as it develops.
• A new website, a social computing engine that my new partners and I expect will create a new model for financial service and investment management. We launch in early 2007. My new title: Chief Investment Strategist for AssetBuilder, Inc. Our intention is to develop low-cost prescriptions that will go beyond the Couch Potato portfolios. Meanwhile, just visit http://www.scottburns.com/ to see the pieces come together.
• Finally, more reporting on how people have re-imagined their lives. I think there is a great opportunity to chronicle all that we can do for ourselves.
So the answer to the retirement question is a resounding "No." Instead, I'm reorganizing my life to pursue my passions--- my wife, our extended family, and the active pursuit of the best answers possible in personal finance and investments. I look forward to being part of your life for many more years.
Want to keep in touch? Just remember my e-mail address: email@example.com
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