What’s Your Story?

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 nine 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.

What’s Your Story?

Jonathan Clements  |  Aug 5, 2023

AS SOMEONE WHO HAS marched through life—and made money along the way—by putting one word in front of another, maybe it’s no great surprise that I’m a big fan of writing things down.
My challenge to you: Follow the example of the 30 HumbleDollar writers who contributed essays to the book My Money Journey, and devote a few thousand words to detailing your financial journey, including your mistakes, triumphs and the lessons you learned along the way.

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When to Give

Jonathan Clements  |  Jul 29, 2023

WANT TO DONATE TO charity? It usually makes sense to give now rather than upon death. You’ll get the pleasure of helping a cause you care about, and your generosity may also earn you an immediate tax deduction.
But what about giving money to your children or other heirs? This is a much trickier question, one I’ve thought about a lot ever since my first child was born almost 35 years ago.
Giving now.

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Looking Up and Down

Jonathan Clements  |  Jul 15, 2023

THE STOCK MARKET offers limited downside and unlimited upside. That might not seem like a big deal. But this asymmetry has huge implications for how we manage our money—and, for prudent investors, it should be a great comfort. How so? Consider five key implications.
No. 1: The most a stock can lose is 100% of its value. Sound grim? There’s a silver lining. Assuming you own your stocks outright, your potential loss is limited to the sum you invested.

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No Right Way

Jonathan Clements  |  Jul 8, 2023

WE LIVE IN A WORLD rife with intolerance—and that intolerance, alas, has infected the once-civilized world of index-fund investors.
Back in the 1990s, we indexers were such a small minority that simply owning index funds was a common bond. But now that more than half the fund market is given over to index funds, internecine skirmishes regularly erupt, with folks debating what’s the right way to index and belittling those who take a different approach.

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Look Inside

Jonathan Clements  |  Jul 1, 2023

AS WE MANAGE OUR financial life, we’re compelled to cope with heaps of uncertainty—which way the stock and bond markets will head, what financial misfortunes will strike, how long we’ll live and so much more.
But there are also ways we can exert a measure of control: spend thoughtfully, save diligently, keep a close eye on risk, hold down investment costs and manage our annual tax bill. To this list, I’d add one other key way to reclaim the advantage: have a good handle on who we are.

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A Dangerous Moment

Jonathan Clements  |  Jun 24, 2023

MY PORTFOLIO HAS bounced back nicely from October 2022’s stock market low—and that’s a problem: I’ve learned over the decades that I’m not good at handling prosperity.
At issue is the question of when to rebalance my portfolio, in this case selling stocks and buying bonds to bring them back into line with my target percentages. Among experts, there’s no agreed-upon strategy, which is almost an invitation to bad behavior. We investors do better with hard-and-fast rules.

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Ask Before Quitting

Jonathan Clements  |  Jun 17, 2023

AS FOLKS HURTLE toward retirement, they often wonder whether they’ve saved enough, debate when to claim Social Security and fret about how they’d pay for long-term care. Make no mistake: Such issues are hugely important.
But amid these financial musings, we should also spare a thought for four other questions:
How can I transform myself from a diligent saver to a happy spender? This sounds so easy, and yet many struggle with it,

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Begging to Differ

Jonathan Clements  |  Jun 10, 2023

DON’T ASSUME YOUR PATH up the mountain is one that everybody else should also follow.
I don’t budget, I earmark 80% of my retirement savings for stocks and I’m currently well above that level, I don’t have a separate emergency fund, I expect to live comfortably in retirement on half of what I currently earn, I plan to delay Social Security until age 70 and my stock market money is entirely in index funds,

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Eyeing the Future

Jonathan Clements  |  May 27, 2023

I DON’T TRACK MY finances that closely and I don’t make big financial moves very often. Partly, it’s because I’m so busy with other things. But partly, it’s because I’ve come to see the virtue in benign neglect.
Still, this is shaping up to be a surprisingly busy year. I’ve taken a handful of financial steps—with three key goals in mind:
No. 1: Prepaying retirement. Like many others as they approach retirement,

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Breaking My Rules

Jonathan Clements  |  May 13, 2023

I’M ABOUT TO MOVE OUT of my home for four or five months. Yeah, this takes some explaining.
In February 2020, when I was planning my move to Philadelphia, I wrote down 10 criteria I’d use to pick my new home. I recently re-read the article—and realized I broke the final two rules I’d laid down for myself.
To be sure, the home search didn’t go quite the way I planned. For starters, there was this little hiccup called the pandemic.

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Free to Be

Jonathan Clements  |  May 6, 2023

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE financial freedom? That’s the intriguing question I’ve been asked twice in recent weeks by journalists curious about the new HumbleDollar book, My Money Journey: How 30 People Found Financial Freedom—And You Can Too.
Financial freedom is something that pretty much everybody wants, and yet there’s no agreed-upon definition. Still, I think most folks would focus on two key elements: time and money. But I don’t think it’s a simple matter of having lots of dollars and lots of free time.

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Learned Along the Way

Jonathan Clements  |  Apr 22, 2023

IMAGINE YOU TOOK a group of folks—mostly male, mostly older, mostly upper-middle class, mostly well-educated—and had them describe their financial journey. They’d all be pretty similar, right? You might be surprised. I was.
Next Tuesday marks the official publication of My Money Journey, which you can now order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as directly from Harriman House, the publisher. When I asked 29 writers for HumbleDollar to join me in contributing essays to the book,

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What’s Your Answer?

Jonathan Clements  |  Apr 15, 2023

COMMENTS FROM READERS are one of HumbleDollar’s greatest strengths. Just finished perusing an article? If you don’t scan the comments posted below, you’re often missing out on some savvy financial insights and eye-opening personal stories.
With an eye to tapping into this strength, I launched the Voices section two years ago. My hope: The questions—now 133 in total—would offer a way to organize readers’ collective wisdom and become a go-to resource for those seeking help on a particular financial topic.

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Wishing My Life Away

Jonathan Clements  |  Apr 8, 2023

WHENEVER FOLKS declare that their goal is to one day write a novel, or get in great physical shape, or learn to speak Italian, my immediate reaction is always the same: If these were things they really had a burning desire to do, they’d have done them already.
Which is why you should be skeptical of the article that follows.
Now that I’ve turned 60, I’m thinking about how I’ll divvy up my time in the years ahead.

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So Much to Like

Jonathan Clements  |  Apr 1, 2023

THE BEAR MARKET HAS now dragged on for 15 months—and no doubt plenty of anguished investors are second-guessing their allocation to stocks. But as for me, I grow more enthusiastic with every drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In fact, I’d be happy to see the bear market last a few months longer, so I can finish fully funding various tax-advantaged accounts for 2023.
Not only are stocks better value than they were 15 months ago,

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