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The Long Game

Jonathan Clements

Jonathan is the founder and editor of HumbleDollar. He also sits on the advisory board 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.

The Long Game

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 4, 2023

RUNNING OUT OF MONEY is retirement’s biggest financial risk—though this, of course, never actually happens. Thanks to Social Security, almost all retirees will have some monthly income, no matter how long they live.
Still, Social Security alone probably won’t make for a comfortable retirement, though it is the financial cornerstone for many. In fact, Social Security accounts for at least 50% of income for half of retirees. That includes a quarter of those age 65 and up for whom their monthly benefit is at least 90% of their income—a statistic I find shocking.

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January’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 1, 2023

READERS LOVE LISTS. For proof, look no further than our (ahem) list of January’s 10 most popular articles. Seven of those articles took the form of lists, and their readership helped propel HumbleDollar to its second-best month ever for pageviews.

“I suggest skipping the step of building up an emergency fund—in cash, that is,” writes Chuck Wilson. “I’m willing to bet that only a small minority truly use it for emergencies only.”

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Retire Is a Verb

Jonathan Clements  |  Jan 28, 2023

WE LIKE TO ESCAPE the Northeast’s cold each winter, so we just spent 10 days in Sarasota, Florida. Like many others when they’re on vacation, we found our noses pressed against the windows of real-estate offices, perusing the listings and musing about whether we’d want to live there.
Fantasizing about the future is fun and free, but it can also be dangerous. It’s how folks end up buying timeshares and second homes during wonderfully relaxing vacations.

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Juggling for Retirees

Jonathan Clements  |  Jan 21, 2023

WHEN I FIRST LOOKED at the issue of portfolio withdrawals more than two decades ago, many financial experts suggested retirees follow a simple strategy: spend taxable account money first, traditional retirement accounts next and Roth accounts last. That way, you’d squeeze more years of tax-deferred growth out of your traditional retirement accounts, and even more out of your tax-free Roth.
If only things were so simple today.
Why have portfolio withdrawals become more complicated?

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A Difficult Year

Jonathan Clements  |  Jan 7, 2023

I GREATLY VALUE honesty. I think it’s important to be scrupulously honest with others and brutally honest with ourselves. That brings me to HumbleDollar’s annual report card.
After steady growth over the site’s first five years, our sixth year—2022—saw mixed success. Below are five key metrics that I track. These numbers, I believe, tell you not only about HumbleDollar, but also a little about the mood of Americans over the past 12 months.

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Ten Words for 2023

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 31, 2022

MOST OF US ARE forever striving to be better versions of ourselves—usually with mixed success. Still, the changing of the calendar often prompts renewed efforts. But what should we focus on? Let me offer 10 words that I try to live by.
1. Pause. Throughout the day, we make snap decisions, and they usually work out just fine—except when it comes to spending and investment choices. Got an overwhelming urge to buy an expensive bauble or make a portfolio change?

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Tax-Free Abundance

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 30, 2022

I HAVE A CONUNDRUM: In 2023, I’ll have ample opportunities for tax-free growth—but probably not enough cash to take advantage.
It doesn’t get much better than tax-free, right? I remember the excitement when Roth IRAs came into being, thanks to 1997’s Taxpayer Relief Act. But today, the Roth is just the tip of the tax-free iceberg. Indeed, for 2023, I’m eyeing four tax-free accounts.
I want to fund a health savings account and my solo Roth 401(k),

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Hits 2017-22

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 26, 2022

READERS HAVE PERUSED almost 18 million HumbleDollar pages over the past six years. Many of those pageviews were garnered by the homepage, the latest articles page and the main money guide page. But what about the site’s articles? Below are the 30 best-read pieces since the site’s launch on Dec. 31, 2016.
If the list seems a little eclectic, there’s a good reason: Many of the articles that have enjoyed big traffic over the past six years have been those that got promoted by far larger sites.

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Writ Large

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 24, 2022

WANT TO BE A PERSONAL finance columnist? I can’t claim expertise on many topics, but this is one where I draw on a lifetime of experience.
And it isn’t just as a writer. At HumbleDollar, I have a hand in editing every piece that appears, plus I get to see the numbers on which articles catch readers’ attention—and which get the cold shoulder.
To be sure, popularity isn’t necessarily the best way to gauge an article’s quality.

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Just What I Wanted

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 17, 2022

‘TIS THE SEASON when many of us open our wallets and spend with reckless abandon. Along the way, we often end up buying a gift or two for that special person in our life—ourselves.
I don’t put too much stock in the accuracy of quick consumer surveys, but it seems the percentage of folks who self-gift might be 22% or 57% or even 77%. Whatever the right number is, I’m not inclined to be too judgmental,

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Late Shift

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 10, 2022

LIKE A SLOW-MOTION train wreck, we’ve spent recent decades inching toward a world where we have too few workers and too many retirees dependent upon their labor. Have we finally reached the tipping point?
Consider today’s confluence of economic events: a labor shortage, sharply higher inflation, massive government budget deficits, and depressed stock and bond prices. To be sure, all this can be explained by the pandemic and what followed—excessive government stimulus, supply chain issues,

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Check Again

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 3, 2022

THE TWO-MINUTE CHECKUP is, I like to think, a unique financial tool: It aims to offer feedback across someone’s entire financial life based on no more than nine pieces of information. That’s an ambitious goal and—perhaps no surprise—some users have found the calculator wanting.
Meet Checkup 2.0.
Sanjib Saha, who writes for HumbleDollar when he isn’t busy writing software, and I went through all the comments that the calculator had received and made a host of changes.

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New Rules for Success

Jonathan Clements  |  Nov 26, 2022

FOUR DECADES OF falling inflation and declining interest rates have come to an abrupt halt—and that’s changed the calculus on a fistful of financial decisions.
Want to make smarter money choices in the months and years ahead? Here are seven new rules for financial success:
1. Carrying debt is less foolish—in some cases. Thanks to inflation, families can now repay the money they’ve borrowed with depreciated dollars. That won’t help you with credit card debt,

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Maximum Thinking

Jonathan Clements  |  Nov 20, 2022

WHEN I PICK HEALTH insurance each year, my focus is twofold: What’s the monthly premium—and what’s the out-of-pocket maximum?
Sure, I want to stay with my primary care physician. But my doctor just announced that she’s leaving Philadelphia to return to her native Massachusetts, so that became a non-issue for 2023.
Meanwhile, I’ve long wanted a high-deductible health plan so I could fund a health savings account (HSA). But since 2014, when I started working for myself and had to buy individual coverage,

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Happy Talk

Jonathan Clements  |  Nov 19, 2022

PESSIMISTS SEEM LIKE they’re clever and sophisticated, but—if you want to make money—take my advice: Invest like an optimist.
I’m not talking wild-eyed optimists who are over-enthused about meme stocks and nonfungible tokens. Instead, I’m talking about a fundamental belief that economic setbacks are temporary and the future will be better than the past. Struggling to stay cheery amid 2022’s rotten financial markets? Here are five reasons for optimism.
1. The news is terrible.

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