By Steve Kautz, former Maine mathematics teacher and personal finance expert.
When Maine Jump$tart (thanks to its President, Mary Dyer) told me that they wanted to repurpose my blog I was all at once honored, excited, and curious. The honor and excitement are obvious, but the curious part might need some explanation. I was curious because at first I felt so far removed from that year (2014) when I blogged about personal finance for the Portland Press Herald. I mean, a lot has changed in my life since then.
In the Fall of 2015 my wife was presented an opportunity from her employer to return to her home (Sevilla, Spain) to lead a new study abroad program. She first came to Maine in February of 2006 and when we got married in 2009, I promised that one day I would consider living in Spain. So, I took an action which is also critical to personal finance – I kept my promise – and on July 4th, 2016, I boarded the plane and officially moved to Spain. Sold the house and the cars and whatever else we could, made endless trips to Goodwill, and fit the remaining pieces of our lives into 17 boxes and 6 suitcases.
A year a half later, I am still very much in an adjustment period dealing with language, culture, trading snow for four months of 100-degree-plus weather, and, yes, a whole new chapter of personal finance. I have been fortunate to stay in touch with Maine Jump$tart. It was a career highlight to be the Coordinator for the August 2017 Maine Jump$tart Foundations of Personal Finance teacher training conference. And now, it´s equally rewarding to see my blog used once again.
Which brings me back to the curious feeling I was talking about. I wondered if the entries I wrote almost four years ago could be relevant. I wondered if I had any new lessons to offer since my move. I wondered if after all the changes in my life I still felt connected to the words and ideas I used in the blog.
So, I went to my bookshelf and pulled out one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever received. The folks at Maine Jump$tart had my blogs printed and bound as a book which they presented to me at the 2016 Annual Conference. I had only read the first two entries when it hit me – YES, STILL RELEVANT AND WOW, I MADE SOME GOOD POINTS!
Now I sit here in Sevilla, over 3,000 miles and an ocean away, and I enthusiastically introduce – reintroduce – select entries from my personal finance blog, Making Cents, which were presented by the Portland Press Herald from January of 2014 to January of 2015.
And I do this with new lessons in mind. Some have to do with reflection on my financial behavior in the 10-15 years before my move to Spain. For example, work is hard to come by right now, but careful planning and sacrifices from the past are helping to support this current adventure. Also, I am learning about personal finance in Spain. Buying a car, paying bills, banking, the price of gas, attitudes towards employment…these are just a few examples. And, um, don’t get me started on health insurance. Unless you really want me to. Maybe sometime soon we can chat about that. My opinions might surprise you.
I hope you enjoy, learn, feel reaffirmed, disagree, etc. Please reach out to me with questions, feedback, thoughts, Spain questions, etc. I remain dedicated to financial education and right now that is happening on two continents!