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Lost Property

Sonja Haggert  |  Mar 2, 2023

OUR COMMUNITY HAS a Facebook-like online forum called Nextdoor. I tend to ignore the posts, which usually involve things like items for sale and new restaurant openings. But a recent post caught my eye—because it was from the Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds.
The article said Pennsylvania’s Attorney General had initiated a lawsuit against a realty company for deceptive practices targeting elderly, low-income and minority homeowners. The realty company was offering a “Homeowner Benefit Program” that gives homeowners anywhere from $400 to $1,000 upfront to lock into a contract.

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A Taste for Junk

Sonja Haggert  |  Dec 21, 2022

BONDS ARE IN THE NEWS again. Everyone’s talking about Series I savings bonds and Treasurys. But what about corporate bonds, both investment-grade and junk?
Nine years ago, we started following Marc Lichtenfeld’s investment service that recommends corporate bonds. When my husband suggested we try it, I asked, “Aren’t corporate bonds junk bonds?” Forgive the holiday reference, but I had visions of Michael Milken dancing in my head.
From the beginning, my husband was all in.

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The Call on AT&T

Sonja Haggert  |  Oct 22, 2021

HAVE YOU EVER HELD a stock for years and grown to love it? What if your research now says it might be time to break up?
Many years ago, I bought AT&T. It was the perfect stock for a dividend investor like me. It was a dividend aristocrat, meaning it had increased its dividend for at least 25 years. In fact, AT&T had been increasing its dividend for more than three decades.
But while the dividend was always generous,

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He Says She Says

Sonja Haggert  |  Jul 16, 2021

MY HUSBAND AND I have been selecting investments together for years—and we’re still married. How have we gotten along for decades without killing each other?
Our investment discussions revolve mostly around individual stocks and bonds. They constitute the bulk of our investments and take up the bulk of our time. We own everything from small amounts of risky stocks like Immutep (symbol: IMMP) to blue chips like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and 3M (MMM).

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Why We Own Bitcoin

Sonja Haggert  |  May 21, 2021

GROWING UP, I remember my mother telling me to save because “you never know what can happen.”
Like a pandemic?
I reference my mother because she was ahead of her time in preparedness and quite savvy about money. She bought gold when it wasn’t popular—and I think she would have bought bitcoin. Why? For the same reasons that my husband and I decided to take the plunge.
To be sure, bitcoin itself has plunged in recent weeks,

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Price of Success

Sonja Haggert  |  Jan 7, 2021

MY HUSBAND AND I are planners. We can tell you where we’ll be living 15 years from now, the trip we plan to take in 2022 and how much we’ll likely pay in taxes this year.
What we didn’t plan for: Paying more for Medicare—a lot more.
If you’re covered by Medicare, you’ll likely know that this year you pay $148.50 in monthly premiums for Medicare Part B, plus a premium for the Part D prescription drug benefit,

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Friend Requests

Sonja Haggert  |  Oct 6, 2020

MY HUSBAND AND I have been investors for a long time. For us, it’s an interesting hobby and we’ve learned a lot along the way, plus we’ve made some money.
Friends and family sometimes ask what we’re doing and whether we can help them. Neither of us has any sort of certification as a financial advisor or any sort of formal training in investments. We can just imagine what a wrong suggestion would do to a friendship or family relationship.

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Right Turn

Sonja Haggert  |  Sep 13, 2019

MY HUSBAND IS the consumer every company should fear. In my last post, I detailed his multi-month research that preceded our recent car purchase. This time, he decided to investigate auto insurance.
The Gecko’s promise to save 15% had hit a nerve. A savings of 15% on a $2,500 annual insurance bill for two cars would be worth the effort. But, of course, being the thorough person that he is, my husband had to check out every other insurance company on the planet.

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Getting Used?

Sonja Haggert  |  Jul 18, 2019

IN THE PAST, WE’VE always bought certified preowned cars. We know new cars lose a big chunk of their value when you drive them off the lot, so we had our eye on a used car when we started our search earlier this year.
Our goal was a Mercedes Benz GLC 300 AWD 4MATIC. My husband enjoys the negotiating and drama that comes with buying a car, so he investigated choices, checked out prices at dealerships and was ready to start his usual two-to-three-month car hunt.

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Check’s in the Mail

Sonja Haggert  |  May 17, 2019

I HAD TO PAY MY credit card bill, so I went online and set up a payment from my credit union a week before the bill was due. Why not, it’s an online transfer, right?
Not always.
The payment was due on the 16th. I went online the day before to check my bank account. It said the credit card payment was “sorted” and hadn’t transferred. Same thing the next day and the next.

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Maintain the Brain

Sonja Haggert  |  Jan 1, 2024

WHAT’S VERNON SMITH been doing since he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics at age 75, and why should you care?
At 97, Smith is still on the faculty of the business and law schools at Chapman University. When he’s not traveling the country delivering lectures, he usually spends 10 hours a week writing and researching.
I read about Smith in a recent article in the AARP Bulletin devoted to super-agers, defined as those over age 80 with the brain of a person 20 to 30 years younger.

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Leave It at Home

Sonja Haggert  |  Aug 3, 2023

MY WALLET WAS STOLEN many years ago when I was traveling on business. I had gotten onto a crowded elevator at my hotel. The last person to get on was a woman who pretended to get her heel caught in the elevator door.
The thieves were a young couple—and they were real pros. While we were focused on her, her partner proceeded to open the flap of my handbag and help himself to my wallet.

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Not So Rewarding

Sonja Haggert  |  Jun 30, 2023

WE TRAVEL A LOT, so I try to read up on new places, new deals and what to watch out for. This year, I’ve made two new discoveries—not pleasant ones.
I admit it, I love hotel points. I know I’ve paid for those points, but seeing a “free” hotel bill makes me feel good.
Hotels started their rewards programs when I was traveling for business. I signed up right away. In fact, my rewards account number with one hotel chain starts with 000.

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Vet These Policies

Sonja Haggert  |  Mar 9, 2023

YOU LOVE THEM LIKE family. You want them to have the best care possible. You have insurance for yourself, your family, your home, your car and your upcoming vacation. Why not for your pet?
One of our friends recently opted for pet insurance—after multiple trips to the vet, with more than 20 medications prescribed. Intrigued by the idea of pet insurance? Here are eight choices and what they offer:

Pets Best covers everything, including medications,

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Lodging Complaints

Sonja Haggert  |  Feb 20, 2023

PRESIDENT BIDEN’S State of the Union speech this month touched a nerve when he mentioned “junk fees.” Talking about hotel costs, he said, “Those fees can cost you up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts.”
I was reminded of the first time we were hit with a resort fee. It was at a Marriott hotel in New York City. A bicycle was part of the “resort” package.

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