How I gave up a six-figure salary for a chance to help those who have nothing BY ED SPEEDLING, 64, PHILADELPHIA
(MONEY Magazine) – "When I was in college in New York City in the early '60s, I encountered a homeless woman while coming out of the subway one night. I gave her $1 and went on my way.
In the years that followed, I became a health-care administrator and a medical educator, but I never forgot the face of that woman. From time to time, I'd wonder if I had truly done enough for her. I had a successful career, but I felt that my job was taking me further away from helping people. I was constantly thinking about how I might work more directly with people and make a difference.
In 1999 I decided to leave my six-figure job to run a homeless shelter. My wife's switch to a higher-paying position helped make up for our income shortfall as my salary dropped to $40,000. Saving for our four children's education was our No. 1 priority. As it turned out, we ended up with a surplus: Our daughter won a full athletic scholarship, and our son's tuition was covered when he attended a college where I taught. We redeployed the excess funds to our retirement savings accounts.
I am now a community liaison for Project HOME in Philadelphia, dealing with people who live in cardboard boxes or who panhandle on the streets. I'm enormously content. I feel that I'm really doing something that matters every day."
Winterproof your home
It takes just one burst pipe to make the season less merry--and more expensive. These tips from the American Red Cross and the Institute for Business and Home Safety can help your house withstand the wicked weather.
• PROTECT INDOOR PIPES Always keep thermostats at 55ºF or higher so pipes don't freeze and crack. When temperatures plummet, prop open undersink cabinets to allow warm air to flow around plumbing.
• PROTECT OUTDOOR PIPES Turn off water to outside faucets; drain them.
• PROTECT YOUR EXTERIOR AND ROOF Insulate your attic floor so that the roof stays cool. (If snow up there melts too quickly, it can get under the roofing.) And don't forget to clean those gutters.
Give them gift cards
Why bother with another sweater? More than half of Americans want gift cards this holiday, reports the National Retail Federation. Just avoid giving ones with these Grinchy terms:
• QUICK EXPIRATION DATE More than a third of cards expire or drop in value if they aren't used. Opt for cards that last two years before waning.
• PURCHASE AND ACTIVATION FEES Some issuers--banks and credit-card companies more than retailers--sock you with fees as high as $10. Make sure to ask what you'll pay before you buy.
• NO REPLACEMENT A third of issuers do not replace lost or stolen cards for free. Find one that does, and box the receipt with the gift.
...Merry and bright Go for LED holiday lights: 10 strands eight hours a day for a month will ding your electric bill 72¢ vs. $7.20 for regular mini bulbs...
...American dreaming? Adults in this country with a net worth of $1 million or more: 1.2%; high schoolers who expect to be millionaires by age 40: 39%...
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