A personal finance writer who made it refreshingly personal

I was sad to learn Jonathan Clements was leaving The Wall Street Journal, not to write at another media outlet, but to work at Citigroup. (Though I was far from shocked; the Murdoch-era editorial cleansing rages on, just today claiming top editor Marcus Brauchli.) Make that, I'm happy Clements is pursuing something new, different -- hopefully, stimulating and lucrative, too. I'm sad because he was the rare personal finance writer who indeed understood the personal, going beyond raw dollar signs to keep financial planning in perspective.

Clements made his last column unabashedly about the personal, lifting the editorial curtain to expose his feelings about the endgame for all this financial engineering. "What is the real reason for all this saving and investing?" he asked. "The short answer is, you save now so you can spend later. But what will you spend your money on? People dream of endless leisure and bountiful possessions. Unfortunately, after a few months, endless leisure often seems like endless tedium."

He went on to cite three key things wealth can – should -- do for us, noting their relevance to the fat of wallet and modest savers alike: (1) If you have money, you no longer should worry about it; (2) Money can give you the freedom to pursue your passions; (3) Money can buy you time with friends and family.