10. Putting It All Together

“Everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money.”

Danny DeVito, Heist

One of my most important lessons learned about finances came—repeatedly—via my mother’s lengthy and irate telephone conversations with whatever insurance company or brokerage representative was unfortunate enough to answer when it was her turn in the customer service queue. My mother is not the world’s most sophisticated investor when it comes to asset allocation, but when it came to disputed charges on accounts—any account at all—she had one easy rule: Never pay. “Don’t ever pay. Ever,” she told me once, soon after letting the poor sap on the other side of the phone call know this exact fact. The advice stuck—even though it had to be repeated ...

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