I AM AMAZED our schools don’t require kids to learn three important life skills: the basics of nutrition, a thing or two about parenting, and how to handle money. I’m no expert on nutrition and my parenting is a work in progress. But I do have a background in personal finance: When folks ask me what to read to deepen their financial knowledge, I have a ready list of titles.
Recently, however, someone asked me for a more advanced list—a “201”
EVERY SO OFTEN, I’m asked about my biggest investment mistakes—and I really don’t have much to say. Yes, like many others, I dabbled in individual stocks and actively managed mutual funds early in my investing career. Yes, like everybody who’s truly diversified, there are always parts of my portfolio that are generating disappointing short-term results. But such things don’t cause me any regrets.
Instead, as I look back, my big financial regrets fall into four buckets:
TO MANAGE OUR money better, often we don’t need to know more. Instead, we need to unlearn what we think we already know.
Here are just some of the things that, at various points in my 35-year investing career, I’ve thought I’ve known:
Which fund managers will outperform.
Which way the economy is headed.
What’s next for interest rates and share prices.
Whether the overall stock market is overvalued or not.
Which individual stocks will beat the market.
BACK IN AUGUST, Adam Grossman wrote a thought-provoking article about regret. He offered six strategies to minimize the chances you’ll end up kicking yourself for a choice you made. That got me thinking about the financial decision I most regret.
I bought a timeshare.
I know this admission will generate strong reactions in the personal finance community. I’d like to claim the ignorance of youth, but I was in my early 50s. I’d like to blame my wife,
TODAY, I SING the praises of spending—on the little things in life.
We fiercely resist the suggestion that money doesn’t buy happiness. Commentators will often trot out the quote—which has been attributed to all kinds of folks—that, “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better!”
I think that’s true. But it isn’t proportionally true. If you went from earning $100,000 a year to earning $200,000, or your portfolio grew from $500,000 to $1 million,
FORGET THE SUMMER doldrums. In terms of total page views, August was HumbleDollar’s third best month ever. What caught readers’ attention? Below are last month’s seven most popular articles, three of which were penned by the ever-insightful Adam Grossman:
Should you refinance your mortgage to take advantage of today’s rock-bottom interest rates? Rick Connor shows you how to run the numbers.
If you own a jumble of stocks, bond funds, ETFs and more, you need to figure out whether this adds up to a sensible portfolio.
AFTER YEARS of handwringing, you finally concede that it’s all but impossible to beat the market over the long haul, so you shift your portfolio into index funds. Next up: the truly tough decisions.
Almost every writer for—and reader of—HumbleDollar is a fan of indexing, and there’s no doubt that index funds are a wonderful financial tool. But how will you use that tool? Let the bickering begin.
The differences of opinion show up among the articles we run on HumbleDollar.
MICHAEL BURRY waited years to be rewarded for his bet against subprime mortgages. Actor Christian Bale, in the movie version of Michael Lewis’s book, The Big Short, portrays Burry curled up in the fetal position on the floor of his office. When the financial crisis finally hit in 2008, he made $100 million.
I’m no Michael Burry and the chance I’ll ever see $100 million is about 100 million to one.
INDEX DESIGNERS FTSE Russell and MSCI are jumping on China’s A train this year—and index-fund investors should watch out. There’s a $6 trillion wild-and-woolly domestic Chinese stock market slowly chugging your way, whether you like it or not. Yes, it may bring riches—and it’ll definitely bring huge risks.
In fact, your emerging markets index fund may already have 34% in Chinese stocks, and it could exceed 50% in years to come. Sound unnerving? For those with a position in an emerging markets index fund—or are considering one—good alternatives are hard to come by.
IN MY ROLE as a financial planner, I hear a lot of stories. By far the most appalling and upsetting relate to life insurance. All too often, insurance salespeople leave clients with policies that are simultaneously overpriced, inadequate and inappropriate.
Are you evaluating a policy? Here’s a quick summary of the most important considerations:
What type of coverage should I have? Life insurance comes in two primary flavors: term and permanent. Term insurance,
DOES WEALTH bring advantages? Yes—but it can also invite some unique challenges. Consider country music singer Kane Brown.
Shortly after moving into a new home, he went for a walk. He told his wife he’d be back in half an hour. But seven hours later, after getting lost, he ended up calling for help. What was unique about this episode is that, the entire time he was lost, Brown was on his own property.
TWO WEEKS AGO, I described how to scour your portfolio for holdings that no longer fit your financial plan. At a high level, these investments fail at least one of two tests:
Risk. Some investments are just inherently unsuitable or excessively risky. Alternatively, an investment might be perfectly fine, but it represents a big risk simply because you own so much of it.
Return. You might have an investment that has chronically underperformed,
INVESTING IS JUST one ingredient for financial success. In fact, one of the best routes to financial security is also one of the most obvious: Increase your income.
In the middle of a pandemic, this might seem like a tall order. After all, most people’s work and home life have been turned upside down this year. But it’s for precisely that reason that I wanted to pull together the following time-tested strategies for increasing work productivity.
THE STOCK MARKET hit a milestone last week, surpassing its pre-coronavirus all-time high. There’s a lot of debate about whether this is justified or sustainable. But the bottom line is, your portfolio today probably looks very different from the way it looked six months or a year ago. This may be a good time to take stock of what you own and to consider whether changes are warranted.
Back in February, I talked about the importance of asset allocation—and that’s a critical first step.
LAST SUNDAY, I discussed six strategies that could help you avoid decisions you’ll regret. But what if it’s too late—and you’ve already made a financial choice that’s left you unhappy? Now what?
Below are six notions to help you manage, and hopefully minimize, your regret over past decisions:
1. Your imagined happy ending likely wouldn’t have happened. Back in 2004, I recall seeing an iPod for the first time. A co-worker had received one for Christmas.