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Not So Different

Jonathan Clements

Jonathan is the founder and editor of HumbleDollar. He also sits on the advisory board and investment committee of Creative Planning, one of the country’s largest independent financial advisors, and is the author of eight personal finance books. Earlier in his career, Jonathan spent almost 20 years at The Wall Street Journal, where he was the newspaper's personal finance columnist, and six years at Citigroup, where he was director of financial education for the bank's U.S. wealth management arm. Born in England and educated at Cambridge University, Jonathan now lives in Philadelphia, just a few blocks from his daughter, son-in-law and grandson.

Not So Different

Jonathan Clements  |  May 8, 2021

THE ECONOMY IS recovering and the stock market has recovered. The pandemic isn’t over, but it seems we’re past the worst, at least in the U.S. Feeling better? Take a deep breath, take a step back—and think about the past two decades.
Since early 2000, we’ve had three major stock market declines, or roughly one every decade:

In 2000-02, the S&P 500 tumbled 49%, excluding dividends. The first leg down was triggered by the bursting of the dot-com bubble.

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April’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  May 4, 2021

WHAT CAUGHT YOUR attention last month? Here are the seven most popular articles that we published in April:

“You need a mix of stocks, bonds and other asset classes that aren’t tightly correlated,” writes Adam Grossman. “As you think about the risk posed by today’s stock prices, this is, I think, the most important thing.”
Mike Drak says there are three types of retiree. “What type are you?” he asks. “If you can answer that question,

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Built for Ease

Jonathan Clements  |  May 1, 2021

MY FATHER LOATHED the idea that he would spend his final years in a nursing home. In the end, he never had to confront that possibility: At age 75, while riding his bicycle, he was struck and killed by a speeding car.
Still, I think often about his reluctance—because I share it. Despite exercising every day, I know I’m not as flexible or as fast as I once was, and it takes longer for the stiffness in my muscles to ease each morning.

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Hanging Tough

Jonathan Clements  |  April 24, 2021

IS THIS A TIME to be fearful? In Berkshire Hathaway’s 1986 annual report, Warren Buffett wrote, “We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.”
Make no mistake: There’s plenty of greed on display right now, whether it’s bitcoin, nonfungible tokens, Robinhood traders, GameStop or special purpose acquisition companies. All of this has some observers talking of a market bubble. Indeed, I suspect much of this nonsense “will end in tears,” a phrase my mother often used when trying to control her four rambunctious children.

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Feel Better

Jonathan Clements  |  April 10, 2021

WARREN BUFFETT doesn’t have the best investment record over the past three decades. That accolade apparently belongs to Jim Simons. Buffett also isn’t the world’s richest person. In fact, he hasn’t held that title for the past dozen years and currently ranks No. 6, with barely half the wealth of today’s richest person, Jeff Bezos.
I doubt Buffett feels bad about this. Is your surname neither Simons nor Bezos? I don’t think you should feel bad,

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Risk Less Make More

Jonathan Clements  |  April 3, 2021

WHEN WE’RE YOUNGER, we tend to focus almost exclusively on our portfolio’s performance. But as we grow older, risk becomes a bigger concern. The irony: That greater focus on risk is often the key to better long-run investment results.
Want to make wiser portfolio choices? Keep these nine notions in mind:
1. Bad results happen to good investors. Let’s start with one of the most counterintuitive notions in investing: Just because we score spectacular short-term gains doesn’t mean we made smart decisions—and just because our portfolio struggles in the short run doesn’t mean we got it badly wrong.

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Meet BraggingBucks

Jonathan Clements  |  April 1, 2021

GET TO KNOW OUR NEW website: BraggingBucks.com. Intended as a sister site to HumbleDollar, the new website is designed for those who can’t quite shake that hankering for market-beating returns.
It’s become clear that notions like indexing, diversification and a sense of contentment have limited appeal—and that many folks want more excitement from their financial life. Perhaps an occasional flier on a hot stock. Or playing the commodities market. Or going from all-stocks to all-cash and then back again.

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Blowing Bubbles

Jonathan Clements  |  March 20, 2021

ARE FINANCIAL markets in a bubble? It’s a question I’ve never liked. I believe stocks and bonds are fairly valued most of the time, which means it’s extraordinarily difficult to beat the market averages and our best bet is to buy index funds.
But at the same time, during my adult life, there have been three key occasions when markets lost touch with reality: Japanese stocks and real estate in the late 1980s, technology stocks in the late 1990s and housing in the mid-2000s.

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Nine Roads to Ruin

Jonathan Clements  |  March 6, 2021

THERE ARE MANY WAYS to fritter away our wealth. Pay high investment costs. Day trade stocks. Buy timeshares. Marry a spender. Purchase variable annuities. Retire too early. Buy leveraged exchange-traded funds. Mimic the spending of our wealthy friends. The list goes on and on.
But anybody can ruin themselves slowly—and plenty of people do. What’s really attention grabbing is when it happens quickly. Want to blow up your financial life? Here are nine ways to ruin yourself in a hurry:
1.

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Poor Old Me

Jonathan Clements  |  February 20, 2021

HERE’S A COMMENT I’ve heard countless times in recent years: You should claim Social Security early because you’ll enjoy the money more in your 60s and because you’ll spend less later in retirement.
I think this is nonsense that rests on three wrongheaded assumptions:

That spending needs should drive when you claim Social Security.
That you will indeed spend less each year as you age.
That you’ll be better able to enjoy whatever money you have in your 60s than later in retirement.

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Unhappy Results

Jonathan Clements  |  February 6, 2021

HAPPINESS RESEARCH fascinates me—and I’m not alone. Many of the insights uncovered by economists and psychologists have caught on with the general public, influencing countless life decisions.
Do you favor experiences over possessions? Do you strive to keep your commute short? Do you pause occasionally to ponder the good things in your life? Whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely been influenced by happiness research.
But it turns out that there are two popular insights that we need to unlearn—because they haven’t held up to close scrutiny:

Have you heard that happiness caps out at an income of $75,000 a year?

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Don’t Overdo It

Jonathan Clements  |  January 23, 2021

THRIFTY. FRUGAL. CHEAP. Pick the adjective you favor, and you could apply it to me.
I’ve spent almost my entire adult life being financially careful. I haven’t carried a credit card balance or overdrawn my checking account since my early 20s. I was an early convert to low-cost index funds. When I worked at The Wall Street Journal and at Citigroup, I brought my breakfast and a thermos of coffee to the office every day,

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Easy Wins

Jonathan Clements  |  January 9, 2021

IF YOU SAW $20 on the sidewalk, you’d pick it up, right? Unfortunately, when we buy stocks and stock funds, there are no guarantees we’ll emerge a winner. But elsewhere in our financial life, $20 bills abound—and it often takes little effort and scant risk to grab this free money.
Looking for some easy financial wins? Here are 15 of them:

If you’re eligible for a Roth IRA and you have the spare cash to fund the account,

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Our Report Card

Jonathan Clements  |  January 2, 2021

I TURN AGE 58 today—and, a few days ago, HumbleDollar turned four. The good news: Only one of us is slowing down.
In 2020, HumbleDollar garnered 3.6 million pageviews, up from 2.6 million in 2019, 1.7 million in 2018 and 900,000 in 2017, which was our first year. Here’s a closer look at those numbers and what’s been happening here at HumbleDollar:

Earlier this week, I posted a list of the 20 most widely read articles from the past four years.

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Hits 2017-20

Jonathan Clements  |  December 29, 2020

OVER THE PAST FOUR years, readers have a cast an eye on almost 8.8 million of HumbleDollar’s pages. But which have they looked at most often? Below are the 20 most widely read articles since HumbleDollar’s launch at year-end 2016:

Terms of the Trade (2019) by Jim Wasserman
Nobody Told Me (2020) by Jonathan Clements
Farewell Money (2019) by Richard Quinn
He Gets, She Gets (2020) by James McGlynn
Don’t Delay (2020) by Dennis Friedman
The Taxman Cometh (2020) by James McGlynn
Still Learning (2019) by Richard Quinn
Don’t Get an F (2019) by James McGlynn
My Four Goals (2020) by Jonathan Clements
27 Things to Do Now (2020) by Jonathan Clements
Farewell Yield (2020) by Jonathan Clements
Ten Commandments (2018) by Richard Quinn
Enough Already (2017) by Jonathan Clements
Flunking the Test (2020) by Richard Connor
The Tipping Point (2018) by Jonathan Clements
12 Investment Sins (2020) by John Lim
This Too Shall Pass (2020) by Richard Connor
Unanswered (2018) by Jonathan Clements
45 Steps to Success (2019) by Jonathan Clements
The $121,500 Room (2018) by Joel M.

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