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Eight Heroes

Adam M. Grossman

Adam is the founder of Mayport, a fixed-fee wealth management firm. He advocates an evidence-based approach to personal finance. Adam has written more than 250 articles for HumbleDollar.

Eight Heroes

Adam M. Grossman  |  Aug 19, 2018

A CURIOUS THING happened in Stockholm in 2013. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in economics to three academics who had developed theories about stock prices. What was odd was that two of the recipients—Eugene Fama and Robert Shiller—couldn’t have been more opposed in their viewpoints.
Fama believes that stock prices are always rational and that there’s no such thing as a market bubble. Shiller believes that stock prices are often irrational and that bubbles do occur.

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Separated at Birth

Adam M. Grossman  |  Aug 12, 2018

IF YOU’RE A FAN of basketball, you may be familiar with the Lopez twins—Brook and Robin. On the surface, they are identical in every way. Both stand seven feet tall. Both went to Stanford University. Both entered the NBA draft in 2008 and both were picked in the first round. Since then, both have enjoyed successful careers.
A casual observer would be hard-pressed to see any difference between the Lopez twins, but there is one: While they are both impressive players,

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Non Prophet

Adam M. Grossman  |  Aug 5, 2018

THE SELF-PROCLAIMED fortune-teller Nostradamus published more than 6,000 predictions during his lifetime. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see that his prophecies had little substance or predictive value. In fact, in his day, even astrologers dismissed Nostradamus as incompetent.
But what if the person making a prediction is the opposite of Nostradamus? What if he is a serious individual, someone who is universally respected and whose forecasts have a demonstrated track record of success?

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Stress Test

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jul 29, 2018

IN THE FIELD of epidemiology, researchers have long used the term “tipping point” to describe how epidemics occur. At first, an ordinary disease moves slowly, not gaining much attention. But then, seemingly overnight, it snowballs into something far larger.
Within the world of public health, this concept is well understood. But about 20 years ago, the author Malcolm Gladwell took a closer look and pointed out that tipping points can be found in a whole host of other situations far beyond epidemiology.

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All of the Above

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jul 22, 2018

A QUESTION FOR YOU—a trick one, I admit: Should you invest in technology stocks, such as Apple?
My answer: Yes, certainly.
Another question, also a trick one: Should you invest in the stocks of entertainment companies like Netflix?
My answer: Again, yes, of course.
A third question: Should you invest in energy companies, such as ExxonMobil?
My answer: Again, yes.
You might wonder why I’m asking these questions and why I’m answering “yes” to all of them.

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Not My Thing

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jul 15, 2018

NOT LONG AGO, I ran into my friend Martin, who works as a cardiologist at a local hospital. In the course of our conversation, I commented on the construction equipment outside his facility and asked what they were building.
His answer: “Building? No, they’re actually un-building.”
He explained that recently his hospital had been sold and the new owner was a for-profit company. As part of the transition, the new owner had evaluated the hospital’s facilities and discovered that a group of older buildings was largely unused.

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Telling Tales

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jul 12, 2018

WHEN YOU WERE growing up, did you ever hear stories like these?

“If you swallow gum, it will stay in your stomach for seven years.”
“If you keep making that face, it will freeze that way.”
“If you drink coffee, it will stunt your growth.”
“If you watch too much TV, your eyes will turn square.”

In hindsight, these stories are funny and harmless. But problems can arise if, as adults, we make important decisions based on misinformation.

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Nothing to Chance

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jul 8, 2018

IN THE SUMMER of 1789, George Washington got into a dispute with his Postmaster General—a fellow named Ebenezer Hazard—and removed him from office.
Looking for a new profession, Hazard decided to start an insurance company. He called his new firm the Insurance Company of North America and specialized in providing life insurance to ship captains. The business was a perfect fit for the times and quickly prospered. Still, I’m sure that even Hazard would be surprised to see his company still in business more than two centuries later.

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Coffee Break

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jul 5, 2018

“THERE ARE TWO kinds of people in the world…” There are Republicans and Democrats. Right-brained and left-brained. Yankees fans and Red Sox fans. And, of course, Starbucks people and Dunkin’ Donuts people.
In Boston, where Dunkin’ was founded and where I live, this is a particularly strong theme. Dunkin’ people and Starbucks people see themselves as very different. Starbucks aficionados see it as a higher-quality experience and don’t mind paying for it. Meanwhile, Dunkin’ fans are proud of their frugality and think that the people over at Starbucks are overpaying.

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In the Cards

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jul 1, 2018

IN HER BESTSELLING book Thinking in Bets, retired poker champion Annie Duke stresses an important point: As kids in school, it was regarded as a failure if we ever answered a question, “I don’t know.” But in the world outside the classroom, the only honest answer to many questions is, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure.” This isn’t due to ignorance. Rather, it’s because, in many cases, the precise right answer simply isn’t knowable.

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You—But Better

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jun 24, 2018

MUCH PERSONAL finance literature, including most of what I write, focuses on how to handle money—how much to save, which investments to buy, and so forth. But what if you have a more fundamental question: How do I earn more in the first place?
To help answer that question, I have five new summer reading recommendations. Each of these books offers strategies to help you increase your productivity—and your happiness—on the job. That, in turn,

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Happily Misbehaving

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jun 17, 2018

IN SUMMER 2011, a rural Illinois man named Wayne Sabaj was in his backyard picking broccoli, when something caught his eye. Half buried in the dirt, he found a sealed nylon bag. Inside was $150,000 in cash. For Sabaj, who was unemployed and had, in his words, “spent my last $10 on cigarettes,” this was a godsend.
Though it remains a mystery who had buried this particular stash of money, these sorts of finds are not uncommon.

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Laying Claim

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jun 10, 2018

IN MY WORK as a financial planner, there’s one topic that always seems to raise an eyebrow: Social Security. When people see projections of future retirement benefits, they often respond with skepticism. My sense is that media reports, questioning the system’s solvency, have led people to discount the value of Social Security benefits—or disregard them entirely.
In my view, this is a mistake. While no one can guarantee what Social Security will look like in the future,

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Proceed with Caution

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jun 7, 2018

MY FRIEND ROSTISLAV, who would know, tells me that in Russian there’s no equivalent for the word “privacy.” That’s because privacy—as we understand it—is a foreign concept. Children’s grades are posted publicly in schools and it isn’t considered impolite to ask someone’s salary.
Why is this relevant? As a stock market investor, if you have international exposure, you’ll want to be aware of these cultural differences, because they impact how other countries run their economies and how they regulate—or don’t regulate—their investment markets.

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Old Story

Adam M. Grossman  |  May 27, 2018

PERHAPS YOU’VE heard the story of Ronald Read. A lifelong resident of Brattleboro, Vermont, Read was a quiet man. He preferred flannel shirts and spent much of his career as an attendant at a local gas station. Yet, when he died in 2014, even his closest friends were surprised to learn that Read had accumulated a fortune of more than $8 million.
Stories like this appear with some regularity. In 2010, Grace Groner, who was an administrative assistant in Lake Forest,

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