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Become an Art Collector

Tips for creating your aesthetic treasure trove

Look, visit, and read. Check out art reviews in local and national newspapers and online art sites such as artnet.com and artinfo.com. Visit galleries, museums, and art fairs and educate yourself on the styles you like. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—artists and galleries usually love talking about art.

Learn to suspend judgment. With art, love at first sight isn’t always in the cards. For example, critics first rejected Impressionism, but today it is one of the most beloved movements in art history. Often viewers must spend time in front of an artwork before it opens itself to them.

Don’t expect to make millions. Buy what you love and feel comfortable with, remembering that the most interesting and valuable collections are built over a lifetime. Don't speculate in the hope of finding the next Picasso—it's almost certain to result in disappointment.

Don’t be afraid to commit. Bear in mind that not every work needs to be a masterpiece. Art will always enrich your life if you enjoy looking at it day after day. Also, if you ever grow tired of a work, you can always hang it somewhere new. Art lends personality to a space and has a wonderful ability to take on a new look depending on where you put it.

Know how to negotiate. Many galleries are mom-and-pop operations that can be flexible with payment terms and discounts. For large purchases, a gallery may extend payment over several months or offer a discount for paying all at once. In fact, you might consider asking for a discount even if you're not paying all at once—most galleries build a little cushion into their prices.

Hanging Tough

How to thrive in the school of hard knocks

Surround yourself with supportive people. And understand that to identify such people, you must check in with yourself often. How do you feel? Nourished? Then the person is probably supportive. Drained? Then he or she might not be.

Don’t be afraid to fail. In difficult times, you may be more prone than ever to avoid any possibility of failure. Resist that tendency; otherwise, you may become stiff, stuck, and cynical.

Don’t go to the butcher for milk. That is, don’t try to get something from someone who doesn’t have it. Sounds obvious, but decades are spent trying to get sympathy from an unsympathetic parent or thoughtfulness from a not-very-thoughtful spouse. You need to invest your energy more wisely, especially when you're struggling in life.

Safeguard your self-esteem. Remember the value of kindness and generosity. And take care of yourself, no matter what. Exercise, get enough sleep, drink water, and don’t abuse substances.

Jewish Parenting Wisdom

Modern lessons from ancient texts

Know that you can do it—and must do it. As the Book of Deuteronomy tells us, “It is not in heaven that you need say: ‘Who shall ascend for us to the heavens, and bring it to us, and teach it to us, that we may do it?’ . . . This thing is very near to you, upon your lips, and in your heart, and you can do it.” But the Hebrew word that climaxes this passage, la’asoto—which means “you can do it”—also translates to “you must do it.” Parenting must be done, and done well.

Discipline with love. The Talmud instructs us to “always let the left hand thrust away, but the right hand draw near.” While there will be times we must figuratively “thrust away” our children through discipline, we can do so most effectively with our “left” hand, the symbolically weaker one. With our stronger hand, we must reassure them of our love.

Teach by example. “A person should not promise to give a child something and then not give it,” the Talmud warns, “because in that way the child learns to lie.” And we must always be mindful of the environment in which we are rearing our children. A Hasidic story tells of a disrespectful boy whose parents go to their rabbi for help. He sends them away so that he might spend the day with the child, and they return to find their son affectionate and respectful. When they ask the rabbi how he performed such a miracle, he responds that he simply loved the child, listened to him, and tried to understand him.

Demand respect. In the Book of Exodus, God gives us the Fifth Commandment: “‘Honor your father and your mother.” We are often so busy considering our obligations to our children that we fail to consider their obligations to us.

Rebuild Your 401(k)

Keep contributing to your account. Even in or near retirement, your nest egg needs to grow.

Keep kicking in the same amount. If you trim or stop contributions, you’ll lose whatever matching contribution your employer makes.

Don’t speculate. Stick with the stock mutual funds in your 401(k) plan’s menu to the greatest extent possible. Avoid converting your growth-oriented investments to bonds or cash: market rallies are almost impossible to predict, and the penalty for guessing wrong can be stiff.

Remember the research. Charles Schwab, the giant brokerage, looked at how the market performed from 1990 through 2009. The findings showed that if you invested in a simple index fund that mimicked the best-known part of the market, the S&P 500, you would have earned 8.2 percent on average each year. But what if you got cold feet every time the market sneezed? If you were out of that S&P 500 index fund on just the ten best days, your average annual gain was just 4.5 percent.

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