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Vanguard Q&A, 500 Emails, Money Guide

R48 and CountingETURNING TO JOURNALISM has been a heck of a lot of fun. But it's also meant a return to long-forgotten worries. My biggest worry? Making factual mistakes.

I was recently reading another writer's personal-finance article and quickly spotted two errors. At that point, the story lost all credibility. This is very much on my mind, as I wrap up the Jonathan Clements Money Guide. It's a huge piece of work--I estimate the print edition will run about 400 pages--and somehow, in the weeks ahead, I have to double-check everything in the book.

October 10, 2014

My most popular columns often focus on the intersection between money and the rest of our lives--topics like money and happiness, teaching kids about money, and how to tweak a portfolio to reflect our human capital, debts, real-estate holdings and other aspects of our finances.

I have been toying with pulling these various threads together into a long essay that I might publish as a 99-cent e-book. In part, I'm inspired by William Bernstein's success with If You Can, his guide for millenials. As Bill and I have discussed, we're both much more interested in reaching readers than making great gobs of money, so a low-priced book with an important message seems like a worthy undertaking. I hope to turn my attention to the book in 2015, after I finish the Money Guide.

September 26, 2014

My column on financial beliefs, published August 24, unleashed almost 500 emails from readers. I try to respond to all messages, except those from folks who are foaming uncontrollably at the mouth, so this was a mixed blessing--but, two weeks later, I've finally cleared the backlog.

That brings me to a sad insight from the columnist's life: I can devote weeks to writing a nerdy article, and get almost no response from readers. Meanwhile, I can spend a few brief hours on a simple, punchy column, like the one on financial beliefs, and readers love it.

September 7, 2014

I was recently interviewed by a writer from Vanguard Group. The resulting Q&A provides a good recap of my financial thinking and various writing projects, plus you can read about my brief foray into market-timing. I won't do it again. Promise.

August 29, 2014

It's been five months since I returned to the life of the ink-stained wretch. Not surprisingly, things are a tad different from 2008, when I was last writing a regular column. Perhaps the biggest change is the comments from readers that are posted at the bottom of every column. I don't spend much time perusing these comments, in part because they're often only tangentially related to what I wrote. Instead, many of these folks seem to know each other and banter back and forth, but instead of meeting at Starbucks they meet at the bottom of my column.

The over-the-top public comments stand in sharp contrast to the emails I receive, which are typically less confrontational and more thoughtful. I recognize many of my correspondents' names and email addresses from six years ago, with the same hazy recollection you have when bumping into distant cousins at the family reunion. The tone of the emails has also changed. There are fewer performance-hungry questions about stocks and real estate, and more heartfelt questions about how to make the best of rough financial circumstances.

Want to keep tabs on my weekly column? It appears in The Wall Street Journal Sunday, a special section available in 70 U.S. newspapers with a combined circulation of almost seven million. In addition, the column is posted to WSJ.com and MarketWatch.com. I also keep links to past articles on this site.

August 8, 2014

After more than a year hunched over the keyboard, I finally have a complete draft of my new book, the Jonathan Clements Money Guide, an annually updated personal-finance book. The 2015 edition will hit bookstores next January. At 110,000 words, this is easily the longest book I have ever written, but it's also the most comprehensive, covering the full array of financial-planning topics.

July 11, 2014

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