FREE NEWSLETTER

If you try to keep up with the Joneses, you’ll fall ever further behind your unpretentious neighbors with the seven-figure portfolio.

Twelve Rules

JORDAN PETERSON, a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, has thundered onto the cultural scene, thanks in large part to his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I began reading with healthy skepticism, but quickly became a fan.
Not that the doctor and I agree on all points. But the book immediately confronted my intellectual laziness in a careful but unavoidable way.

Read more »

Harder Than It Looks

PICKING WINNING stocks seems so easy—and yet most investors fail miserably. Why? Partly, it’s the nature of the stock market, with its fierce competition, unavoidable trading costs and gains skewed toward a minority of shares. But partly, it’s the emotional pitfalls that trip up all too many investors. I pull together these various threads in my latest article for Creative Planning—and offer eight reasons the apparently easy money so often proves elusive.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @ClementsMoney and on Facebook.

Read more »

Viva Las Vegas

I AM NOT an investment expert. I am befuddled by such things as puts and calls. Who is putting what where?
I do know the difference between stocks and bonds. I know that bond prices go up when interest rates go down, and vice versa, and I eventually figured out why. I also know stock markets are used to raise capital and that shareholders are actually owners of a company, but with little power or influence,

Read more »

Latest Blogs

Twelve Rules

JORDAN PETERSON, a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, has thundered onto the cultural scene, thanks in large part to his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I began reading with healthy skepticism, but quickly became a fan.
Not that the doctor and I agree on all points. But the book immediately confronted my intellectual laziness in a careful but unavoidable way.

Read more »

Harder Than It Looks

PICKING WINNING stocks seems so easy—and yet most investors fail miserably. Why? Partly, it’s the nature of the stock market, with its fierce competition, unavoidable trading costs and gains skewed toward a minority of shares. But partly, it’s the emotional pitfalls that trip up all too many investors. I pull together these various threads in my latest article for Creative Planning—and offer eight reasons the apparently easy money so often proves elusive.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @ClementsMoney and on Facebook.

Read more »

Viva Las Vegas

I AM NOT an investment expert. I am befuddled by such things as puts and calls. Who is putting what where?
I do know the difference between stocks and bonds. I know that bond prices go up when interest rates go down, and vice versa, and I eventually figured out why. I also know stock markets are used to raise capital and that shareholders are actually owners of a company, but with little power or influence,

Read more »

Blog archive

Numbers

AMERICAN HOUSEHOLDS SPENT an average $60,060 in 2017, with 33% going toward housing and 16% toward their cars and other transportation costs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Truths

NO. 79: PAYING ZERO TAXES is a terrible waste. If you lose your job, or you just retired and aren’t yet tapping your retirement accounts, you may have a year with little or no taxable income. To take advantage of your low tax bracket, consider selling winning taxable-account investments or converting part of your IRA to a Roth.

Truths

NO. 79: PAYING ZERO TAXES is a terrible waste. If you lose your job, or you just retired and aren’t yet tapping your retirement accounts, you may have a year with little or no taxable income. To take advantage of your low tax bracket, consider selling winning taxable-account investments or converting part of your IRA to a Roth.

Act

BUY THE BIG THREE. The global market portfolio consists of four major sectors, roughly equal in size: U.S. stocks, U.S. bonds, foreign shares and foreign bonds. Arguably, foreign bonds are optional, offering modest yields but wild currency swings. The other three sectors, however, are crucial to a diversified portfolio. Do you have enough exposure to all three?

Think

INTRINSIC VALUE. It’s easy to get caught up in the stock market’s wild price swings. Feeling unnerved? Never forget that behind those price swings are companies of great value. While you can’t put a precise figure on their intrinsic value, you can get a sense by examining the profits they earn, the dividends they pay and the value of the assets they own.

Home Call to Action

Free Newsletter

My Favorite Questions

YOU’RE UNLIKELY to get the right answers—unless you ask the right questions.
That’s especially true when it comes to managing money. We have answers thrust in our faces all the time, as marketers and salespeople exhort us to buy this mutual fund, that car, this stock, that home and this insurance policy.
But are these really what we want or need? It’s hard to know unless we ask the right questions. There’s ample evidence that many folks end up with financial products they don’t need and spend money in ways that bring little or no happiness.

Read More »
Jonathan Clements

About Jonathan

Jonathan Clements is the founder and editor of HumbleDollar. He spent almost two decades at The Wall Street Journal, where he was the personal finance columnist. His new book is now available: From Here to Financial Happiness.

Money Guide

Start Here

Term Life Insurance

LOOKING FOR LOW-COST insurance coverage that will deliver a big payout to your family if you die prematurely? Term insurance, which provides a death benefit and nothing more, will likely be your best bet. When you first buy, you typically need to take a medical exam. Many term policies are convertible into permanent life insurance. Most are one of two types: annual renewable term or level-premium term. Level-term policies are priced so you pay the same premium every year for, say, 10, 15 or 20 years. You may be able to continue coverage beyond the end of the policy’s term, but another medical exam might be required. If your health has deteriorated, that could create serious problems. To sidestep this issue, before you first purchase a policy, think carefully about how long you’ll need coverage for. Don’t skimp by buying insurance with a shorter term than you really need. One possible strategy: Buy two policies with different terms, such as 10 years and 20 years, so your coverage—and your premiums costs—decline as your savings grow and your need for insurance declines. Meanwhile, with annual renewable term, the premium rises each year as you grow older. But these policies can give you more flexibility. They may be renewable up until age 95, with no further medical exam necessary. Even if you can renew your term insurance late in life, you probably won’t want to—because at that point the premiums can be exorbitant. But by then, you will likely no longer need coverage because your children will be out of the house, and you and your spouse should have enough socked away for retirement. You might also hear about a third type of term policy: return-of-premium term life insurance. With these policies, if you live until the end of the term—which might be 20 or 30 years—some or all of your premiums are returned to you. That feature, however, means that the premiums on these policies are significantly higher than those on annual renewable term or level-premium term. Next: Permanent Life Insurance Previous: Life Insurance
Read more »

Archive

Did I Say That?

IF YOU’RE READING the business section, you need to read between the lines. Here are 14 things financial journalists won’t tell you:
  1. That unbelievably telling anecdote at the top of my article? I scoured the country for three weeks to find that schmuck.
  2. The Dow industrials fell 263 points today. Why? By the time deadline arrives, I’ll have cooked up a reason.
  3. What qualifications do I possess? An ability to dial a telephone.
  4. Actually, I always wanted to be a sports reporter.
  5. Today, I had to bang out a long feature story on the mortgage market. My editor is looking to buy a new house.
  6. What qualifications do my sources possess? A willingness to pick up the receiver.
  7. If you saw my portfolio, you’d never ask me for financial advice.
  8. In the story, the company’s PR guy is quoted as saying, “no comment.” But on background, the senior counsel sung like a bird.
  9. The more the market falls, the giddier the newsroom gets.
  10. I don’t understand collateralized mortgage obligations, but I just wrote 1,000 words about them.
  11. My sources aren’t nearly as articulate as I make them sound.
  12. That joking, throwaway comment that the CFO made as we hung up? It’ll be in the second paragraph.
  13. We’ll get the online version up now, and figure out the real story for the print edition.
  14. I want my editors and sources to think I’m smart. What about readers? Yeah, I guess they’re also important.
Related: Lists
Read more »

Money Guide

Start Here

Term Life Insurance

LOOKING FOR LOW-COST insurance coverage that will deliver a big payout to your family if you die prematurely? Term insurance, which provides a death benefit and nothing more, will likely be your best bet. When you first buy, you typically need to take a medical exam. Many term policies are convertible into permanent life insurance. Most are one of two types: annual renewable term or level-premium term. Level-term policies are priced so you pay the same premium every year for, say, 10, 15 or 20 years. You may be able to continue coverage beyond the end of the policy’s term, but another medical exam might be required. If your health has deteriorated, that could create serious problems. To sidestep this issue, before you first purchase a policy, think carefully about how long you’ll need coverage for. Don’t skimp by buying insurance with a shorter term than you really need. One possible strategy: Buy two policies with different terms, such as 10 years and 20 years, so your coverage—and your premiums costs—decline as your savings grow and your need for insurance declines. Meanwhile, with annual renewable term, the premium rises each year as you grow older. But these policies can give you more flexibility. They may be renewable up until age 95, with no further medical exam necessary. Even if you can renew your term insurance late in life, you probably won’t want to—because at that point the premiums can be exorbitant. But by then, you will likely no longer need coverage because your children will be out of the house, and you and your spouse should have enough socked away for retirement. You might also hear about a third type of term policy: return-of-premium term life insurance. With these policies, if you live until the end of the term—which might be 20 or 30 years—some or all of your premiums are returned to you. That feature, however, means that the premiums on these policies are significantly higher than those on annual renewable term or level-premium term. Next: Permanent Life Insurance Previous: Life Insurance
Read more »
Home Call to Action
Jonathan Clements

About Jonathan

Jonathan Clements is the founder and editor of HumbleDollar. He spent almost two decades at The Wall Street Journal, where he was the personal finance columnist. His new book is now available: From Here to Financial Happiness.

Free Newsletter

My Favorite Questions

YOU’RE UNLIKELY to get the right answers—unless you ask the right questions.
That’s especially true when it comes to managing money. We have answers thrust in our faces all the time, as marketers and salespeople exhort us to buy this mutual fund, that car, this stock, that home and this insurance policy.
But are these really what we want or need? It’s hard to know unless we ask the right questions. There’s ample evidence that many folks end up with financial products they don’t need and spend money in ways that bring little or no happiness.

Read More »

Archive

Did I Say That?

IF YOU’RE READING the business section, you need to read between the lines. Here are 14 things financial journalists won’t tell you:
  1. That unbelievably telling anecdote at the top of my article? I scoured the country for three weeks to find that schmuck.
  2. The Dow industrials fell 263 points today. Why? By the time deadline arrives, I’ll have cooked up a reason.
  3. What qualifications do I possess? An ability to dial a telephone.
  4. Actually, I always wanted to be a sports reporter.
  5. Today, I had to bang out a long feature story on the mortgage market. My editor is looking to buy a new house.
  6. What qualifications do my sources possess? A willingness to pick up the receiver.
  7. If you saw my portfolio, you’d never ask me for financial advice.
  8. In the story, the company’s PR guy is quoted as saying, “no comment.” But on background, the senior counsel sung like a bird.
  9. The more the market falls, the giddier the newsroom gets.
  10. I don’t understand collateralized mortgage obligations, but I just wrote 1,000 words about them.
  11. My sources aren’t nearly as articulate as I make them sound.
  12. That joking, throwaway comment that the CFO made as we hung up? It’ll be in the second paragraph.
  13. We’ll get the online version up now, and figure out the real story for the print edition.
  14. I want my editors and sources to think I’m smart. What about readers? Yeah, I guess they’re also important.
Related: Lists
Read more »