Learned Along the Way

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.

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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More Than Enough

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 30, 2023

IF YOU’RE LIKE MANY readers of this site, you’ll reach your 60s and discover one of those nice problems to have—that you’ve over-saved for retirement.
What now? For answers, check out a new book, More Than Enough: A Brief Guide to the Questions That Arise After Realizing You Have More than You Need. Author Mike Piper is the driving force behind both the Oblivious Investor website and the free Open Social Security calculator.

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No Satisfaction

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 25, 2023

MONEY BUYS HAPPINESS—but it may not buy us very much. Indeed, no matter how much we earn and no matter what other steps we take to boost happiness, we may discover the impact is modest and fleeting.
That brings me to a recent academic debate. In 2010, Princeton University’s Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman noted that happiness, on average, didn’t appear to increase beyond an annual income of $75,000 or so—a finding that’s since been widely reported in the mainstream media.

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No Going Back

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 18, 2023

RETIREMENT IS LIFE’S most daunting financial puzzle, not least because many of the decisions we make are difficult or impossible to reverse. To make matters worse, we’re often making decisions we’ve never made before, so we have no real expertise.
What sort of decisions am I talking about? Here are 10 examples.
1. When should I quit work? Needless to say, this is the most important retirement decision. Once you quit the workforce,

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The Other Enough

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 11, 2023

I SPENT NINE YEARS at English boarding schools. The food was beyond disgusting. The buildings were cold and drafty. I was constantly bullied. I would go as long as 14 weeks at a time without seeing my parents, who were based first in Bangladesh and then Washington, D.C.
But I also knew I was getting a good education, and I opted to stay when I had the chance to return home and go to the local U.S.

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What I Don’t Own

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 4, 2023

WE BUY ALL KINDS of investments and financial products. But what is it that you haven’t bought, do you have a good reason for not buying—or is there a gaping hole in your finances?
Below are some of the investments and financial products I’ve chosen not to own. The list, of course, isn’t comprehensive—and I didn’t bother to touch on financial products that are beyond the pale. Equity-indexed annuities, anyone? How about leveraged exchange-traded funds?

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Got Change?

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 25, 2023

I MESSED UP MY retirement planning—but I have few regrets.
I don’t know if or when I’ll fully retire. Arguably, I’ve been at least semi-retired for the past nine years. That’s how long I’ve gone without a fulltime job. On the other hand, during those nine years, I’ve continued to earn enough to cover my living costs and I’ve worked longer hours than at any time in my life, thanks mostly to that insatiable mistress known as HumbleDollar.

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Clements’s Favorites

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 18, 2023

I’VE PENNED MORE THAN 450 articles for HumbleDollar, so picking 10 favorites could have been a laborious task—if I’d bothered to look back through all the articles I’ve written.
But instead, I took an easier route, simply listing the articles that I could most easily recall. What made these articles memorable? Some were quite personal, while others broached ideas that I continue to grapple with to this day.

Really Useful Engine (Dec.

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Helpful in Theory

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 11, 2023

IF YOU KICK AROUND Wall Street for long enough, you’ll witness all kinds of investment fads—special purpose acquisition companies, cryptocurrencies, meme stocks, to name just a few. Each bubble differs, but the eventual comeuppance always feels brutally familiar.
But there aren’t just fads among investments. There are also fads among investment concepts. But while naïve investors tend to get caught up in investment bubbles, it’s the brainy types who fall in love with investment concepts,

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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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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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