Before we look at a few current issues and some additional personal finance quotes, I want to take a moment to say a few words about U.S. District Judge Michael Telesca, who recently announced his retirement from actively hearing cases. A proud fellow former Marine, Judge Telesca has always been the perfect gentleman, who has lived a life of integrity, generosity and genuine concern for his fellow man and his community. He has handled numerous complex cases with ease, both as the Monroe County Surrogate’s Court Judge and then as a U.S. District Judge, earning the respect of his legal and judicial colleagues all across the country. He has also been a role model and a mentor to countless lawyers and Judges, including me. In fact, my first court appearance as a young lawyer was before Judge Telesca when he was the Surrogate. He is respected and admired throughout the Rochester region for the countless things “he has made happen,” that perhaps only he could have. In addition, since this is a personal finance column, I can also say that he has always lived a financially prudent life, worthy of the son of Italian immigrants.

On a different subject, did you ever wonder about the benchmark automobile insurance company that all of the other companies compare themselves to? Every insurance company, in its television advertisements, at one time or another, says that it will save you money. So what company is it that gouges and overcharges everyone, and doesn’t promise that it will save you money?

I was behind a UPS delivery truck at a stop light recently. It turns out that it was a Hybrid vehicle. I was impressed. Some Wikipedia research indicates that there were over 4 million hybrid vehicles sold in the U.S. through 2016. It appears that sales of hybrids and pure electric vehicles are increasing. There were 361,307 electric vehicles sold for the year 2018, which was up 81 percent over 2017. Some other research indicated that the prices of many hybrids are going down, but whether a hybrid is financially right for you depends on a number of factors. Basically, it’s the higher cost of a hybrid divided by the annual savings in fuel costs, which also depends upon such things as the price of gasoline, driving habits, annual miles driven, and whether you are driving mostly in a city or on highways. It is certainly something to look at, apart from the environmental considerations.

The minimum wage for fast food workers, not in New York City, has and will increase over the next several years, as follows: Dec. 31, 2019 - $13.75. Dec. 31, 2020 - $14.50. July 1, 2021 - $15. Remember, however, that your waiter and waitress are not included. They were successful in being excluded, because they were concerned that YOU might not tip them as much.

Here are some interesting tipping survey results from

$ Men (59 percent) are more likely than women (47 percent) to leave a restaurant tip that exceeds 15 percent of the bill.

$ Those in the Northeast tip their restaurant servers most often, with 62 percent leaving at least a 15 percent gratuity, followed by Midwesterners (57 percent), West Coasters (51 percent) and Southerners (46 percent).

$ Those who pay by credit or debit card tip more often (90 percent) than those paying cash (76 percent). No surprise to our regular readers, since research that has found that people spend more when they pay with plastic than with actual cash, no matter what they’re buying. “When you pay with a card, your brain doesn’t see it as real money, so it’s not as painful,” says Michael McCall, a professor at Michigan State University who specializes in consumer behavior.

$ Republicans (59 percent regularly tip more than 15 percent) and Independents (57 percent) are bigger tippers than Democrats (46 percent).

$ 67 percent of all respondents said they always tip their stylist or barber; 12 percent said they never do.

$ 27 percent of survey takers said they always tip the housekeeping staff when staying at a hotel; 31 percent said they never do.

Let’s finish up with a few more personal finance quotes.

$ "The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket." — Kin Hubbard.

$ “The trick is to stop thinking of it as ‘your’ money” — IRS Auditor.

$ "So you think that money is the root of all evil. Have you ever asked what the root of all money is?" — Ayn Rand.

$ "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore." — Yogi Berra.

$ "Every day, I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work." — Robert Orben.

$ "Money often costs too much." — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

$ "If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments." — Earl Wilson.

$ "It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy." — George Lorimer.

$ “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.” — Woody Allen.

$ “There is a very easy way to return from a casino with a small fortune: go there with a large one” — Jack Yelton.

$ “All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.” — Spike Milligan.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at or at