SOME FRIENDS WERE recently discussing their investment performance. I couldn’t contribute to the conversation—because I have no idea what our investment returns have been.
The fact is, I don’t find performance information all that valuable, plus it’s relatively hard to calculate since you have to account for both price changes and dividend or interest payments. To be sure, investment returns are useful if you’re looking to determine whether a mutual fund manager is adding returns in excess of a benchmark index,
WHEN OUR CHILDREN were little, we had season tickets to the Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis. We started taking our older child, and then brought his brother along when he was old enough to enjoy the show. We had tickets in the front row of the balcony.
Before my youngest son’s first show, he looked over the balcony railing at all of the people below. He asked why we were clear up here, when there were all of those people below us.
INVESTORS ARE OFTEN told that it’s impossible to consistently time the market. To do so successfully requires you to make two correct decisions: when to get out of stocks—and when to get back in.
In 2022, J.P. Morgan published a study showing that a lump sum invested in the S&P 500 over the 20 years through 2020 would have earned an annualized return of 5.2% if you’d missed the 10 best days, versus 9.4% if you’d stayed invested throughout the period.
AFTER ENRON’S COLLAPSE in 2001, there were numerous articles about employees who had most of their money in the company’s stock and how they’d lost it all. Taking that message to heart, I’ve endeavored to keep our holdings of my company’s stock below 10% of our net worth. I must confess, however, that in good times it’s crept up to 15%—and in bad times it’s fallen to zero.
I can’t claim any particular insights or novel thoughts on how to manage company stock.
HOME DEPOT COFOUNDER Bernie Marcus made headlines late last year with his claim that capitalism may not survive because “nobody works, nobody gives a damn.” I respectfully disagree. While Marcus has one example—people not wanting to work or work hard enough at the stores he founded—I believe America has a terrific future based on four observations:
I was a Boy Scouts leader for 16 years. I like to think that Scouts teach leadership and independence.
I RECENTLY WROTE about taking a seasonal part-time position during the holidays. My job at the bookstore has now ended. Later this year, I’ll decide whether I want to take another part-time job. With that in mind, I thought I’d review the good and not-so-good aspects of the job, while they’re still fresh in my memory.
Let’s start with the plusses. First, the job gave structure to my weeks. My employer provided me with a work schedule three weeks in advance.
I’M RETIRED, BUT I KEEP fairly busy. From January through April, I volunteer at AARP, helping folks file their income taxes. From May through October, our vegetable garden keeps me occupied. That leaves November and December as a slow period. There’s some volunteering that I do, but nothing that fills up large amounts of time.
This year, I thought I might try some seasonal part-time work to keep myself occupied. Retailers usually need help during the holiday season.
IT’S EASY TO GET overwhelmed by the number of documents we receive over our lifetime. Paper copies take up space, and even electronic records necessitate computer storage. Either type requires a certain amount of time spent organizing.
The sheer volume makes the question of how long to retain records a perennial topic for newspapers, social media and podcasts. For instance, many folks have heard the advice that they should retain all documentation for seven years after they file their taxes.
AT THE FIRST Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting I attended, Charlie Munger was explaining an investment that the company had made. He said it was likely to provide satisfactory returns.
At the time, that seemed like an odd statement. Satisfactory? Not great returns. Not market-beating results. Not returns of 10% or 15% per year. Not even market average performance. Just satisfactory.
Since that meeting, I’ve come to appreciate satisfactory returns. Satisfactory covers a wide range,
I RECENTLY LISTENED to author JL Collins on the Bogleheads Live podcast. Collins mentioned several times that stock declines never last. He isn’t alone in this assertion. You can read any number of books or articles that talk about the need to remain invested during stock market downturns because the market always recovers.
Perhaps it’s my training as an engineer. We’re taught to think about failure rates and probabilities of failure—which brings me to an uncomfortable notion: Just because the U.S.
MY 95-YEAR-OLD mother recently asked my brother and me what information we could get on our cellphones. While showing her the many possibilities, we went to Zillow, so she could see the information that the site has about the house that my wife and I own.
Zillow estimates that the house is currently worth $336,700, and said that we purchased it in 1986 for $86,700. My brother, who is much smarter than me, did some quick mental math using the rule of 72,
YOU PROBABLY RECALL many firsts: Your first car, your first kiss, maybe even the first stock you purchased.
Firsts are exciting. Firsts are easy to demark. You’ve never purchased an item before, so—when you do purchase it—it’s a first. By contrast, lasts sneak up on you. There’s always a chance that you’ll replace an item one more time.
My wife has caused me to start thinking about my lasts.
This winter, my 36-year-old winter mittens finally wore out.
A POPULAR REFRAIN is that we shouldn’t let the tax tail wag the investment dog. I struggle with this one.
Currently, 87% of our stock portfolio is in broad-based, low-cost index mutual funds, with the other 13% in individual stocks. I prefer the index funds—and yet I continue to hold the individual stocks because I don’t want to pay the taxes on our gains.
About 6.7% of our total stock portfolio, equal to half our money in individual stocks,
EBAY CAN BE a fantastic teacher of basic economic principles. I’ve been an active buyer recently, and enjoy watching the interaction among supply, demand and price.
Take the market for business attire. Demand has declined for suits, blazers and jackets. This has happened at the same time that supply has risen, so prices are cheap.
Suits were once the everyday uniform for both men and women. When I started working, I owned six suits in shades of blue and gray: a winter suit,
LIKE MANY PEOPLE who read HumbleDollar, I greatly respect Warren Buffett’s opinions and insights. I’ve even attended Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha. Now that it’s broadcast, I reserve the Saturday of the meeting to watch it on the web.
Seeing it from a distance means I miss out on the terrific deals various Berkshire companies offer shareholders who attend in person. By attending virtually, however, I don’t have to navigate the crowds or spend six hours driving to Omaha and another six hours returning home.