Currency of the Heart

Currency of the Heart

A Year of Investing, Death, Work, and Coins

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220 pages
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Currency of the Heart . . . is brilliant—a book that is poetic in its prose, profound and yet effortlessly readable, a book that is full of humor and sorrow, confusion and loss and pride and joy. . . . a masterpiece.”—Andrew Leonard,

“A new genre—the personal finance memoir—may have been born in Currency of the Heart. . . . [Nichols] knits together family, fears, and finances in this candid and touching book.”—Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

“By telling the poignant story of the emotional and financial journey that he went through as his father died, Donald Nichols offers profound advice and guidance for any other child suffering through their parent’s demise. This experience is about as difficult as any child can face.”—Jordan E. Goodman, author of Everone’s Money Book

“Here in a glittering series of personal essays, occasioned by the year of his father's death, Don Nichols transcends all of his distinguished books on investing by investing himself in a journal-like story of that year, eloquently bearing witness to the complex ways that his life, his thoughts, and his feelings were profoundly influenced by the legacy of loss. Anyone who cares about the ultimate significance of investment, work, and the intricacies of family life will surely find this a compelling book.”—Carl H. Klaus, author of Taking Retirement

In 1998, Don Nichols returned regularly to Iowa from his life and job in Washington, D.C., to be with his dying father and to oversee his parents’ investments. A veteran investor and investment author, Nichols found that managing the portfolio entrusted to him brought a larger understanding of mortality, family, love, work, and the choices he had made as “an agri-kid who took the road out of town and kept going.” In this insightful and money-wise book that grew out of that experience, he merges the emotions of a dutiful son with the actions of a knowledgeable investor.

Nichols uses money in myriad forms—a grandfather‘s silver dollar, stocks and bonds, salaries, pallets of coins at the U.S. Mint, on-the-job dealings with coin collectors—as touchstones for reflections on relationships, motives, and a career "like one of those moving walkways in airports." His father's health is measured, tested, and evaluated in part by the health of his finances; at the same time, the turmoil and mystery surrounding both money and relationships are reflected in this memorable story.

Wry, unsentimental, and financially savvy, Currency of the Heart is about rediscovering family, managing a portfolio, honoring promises, grieving, and healing; it is about a father and a son who once “fought like medieval villagers in a Thirty Years‘ War” and the deepening bond between a middle-age son and his aging mother. It is a multilayered story for everyone who will manage, financially and emotionally, a parent's death.