AS A COLLEGE professor, there are a few times during the year when things quiet down. During these lulls, I take on tasks that have moved to the bottom of the to-do list. The items include things like doctor’s appointments, home repairs and portfolio rebalancing. I can hear my students’ reaction: “But professor, you teach us about investing in companies and you write about investing. Why do you drop your portfolio review to the bottom of the list?” Valid question.
HALF OF THE COLLEGE students I taught last semester just graduated. A few are going on to graduate school, but most are starting accounting, finance or other business careers. For my classes with a heavy concentration of seniors, I reserve the last five minutes of the final class to give them a few career tips. In keeping with my overall teaching approach, I keep the message simple: Do what you enjoy.
Now, this isn’t the usual “follow your passion” pitch you hear in so many commencement addresses.
MIKE ZACCARDI recently wrote about his favorite podcasts. His list was excellent, but it didn’t include my own favorite, which is Focus on Facts by Eric Sussman. One of the most popular professors at the University of California at Los Angeles’s Anderson School of Management, Sussman delivered a series of riveting podcasts in the first half of 2021.
Given its short run, it’s no surprise that Mike missed the series. But I recommend that Mike—along with other HumbleDollar readers—go to Sussman’s podcast archives to hear his witty insights on the financial markets.
TWO TICKETS TO the Kia Forum: $250. Event parking: $60. One beer and one water: $28. A night with my wife at a Pearl Jam concert: priceless.
A few weeks ago, we attended a concert for the first time in more than two years. It was my 13th Pearl Jam show since becoming a fan 30 years ago. My status as a Pearl Jam follower has not wavered from the first time I heard them in the early 1990s.
LOOKING FOR A FIELD trip that’ll inspire you? It may sound strange, but I suggest visiting your local landfill. I just went to mine to discard a rug. I returned with a commitment to change my behavior.
The landfill was a surprisingly busy place. This was my first visit, so I was confused about where and how to drop off my rug. Dozens of more-seasoned visitors sped past me to drop off their loads.
IN THE FIRST WEEK of March, prices for regular unleaded gas sprinted past $5 per gallon in Ventura County, California. Last week, a station I pass on my way to work increased its price three times in 36 hours. Before work on Thursday, March 3, the price was $4.89 per gallon. By the end of that same day, the price was up to $5.09. When I left work on Friday, March 4, the price had been jacked up again,
THE NATIONAL STUDENT Clearinghouse Research Center recently published a report on postsecondary enrollment for fall 2021, including enrollment at community colleges, undergraduate institutions and graduate schools.
If you’re a believer in postsecondary education, the headline numbers weren’t encouraging. Enrollment fell by 2.7%, or 476,100 students. Over the two years since the start of the pandemic, it’s declined by 5.1%, or 937,500 students.
While the report offers no reasons for these declines, my view is that colleges are struggling to justify their value proposition to students and their families,
LIKE SOME OF YOU reading this, I get a thrill from seeing my 401(k) contributions start at zero in January and tick up to the annual limit. I’ve been fortunate to maximize my contributions for most of my 24 working years. Last year, my contributions topped out at the 2021 limit of $19,500. In 2022, I’m aiming to make the maximum contribution of $20,500. For those age 50 and older, you can contribute up to $27,000 in 2022.
BACK IN NOVEMBER, I wrote about using options to bet that shares of Peloton Interactive would decline. This was my first options trade. I purchased the put option when Peloton was trading in the low $50s. The option cost me $200, and it gave me the right to sell 100 shares at $35 per share in March 2022.
Since then, Peloton’s shares have indeed tumbled. It was recently announced that the stock will be booted from the Nasdaq-100 index,
MY FIRST RESOLUTION for 2022 is to clean up my investment portfolio. While my garage and my closets are in good order, I shudder when I review my brokerage account.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated close to 20 mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Overall, I’ve done well with these investments—most of which are based on stock market indexes—but it’s an unnecessary hodge-podge. By the end of the year, I plan to sell a majority of these positions and consolidate the proceeds in a target-date fund.
MY MOM HAD PLANNED to look for a new home near my wife and me in 2022. In November 2021, I searched Realtor.com to see what was available. I saw a home that looked like a good fit, but its status was listed as “pending.” On a whim, I called the selling agent. It turned out that the house was falling out of escrow. We made an offer.
We didn’t have an agent, so the selling agent offered to represent us.
THIS IS THE TIME of year when many folks rush to purchase last-minute gifts. Not me. While others are out buying, I’m at home selling. You see, this is when I make moves in my brokerage account to limit my tax bill.
What have I been up to? First, I logged on to my Schwab account and reviewed my year-to-date realized gains and losses. I had generated $8,000 in long-term capital gains earlier in 2021 by selling an appreciated exchange-traded fund.
A FEW WEEKS BACK, Jonathan Clements wrote an article reminding readers that they, too, likely made financial missteps in their younger days. His article was in response to comments by HumbleDollar readers about the perceived lack of financial discipline shown by those currently in their late teens and early 20s.
Before my recent career change, I would’ve had the same opinion as many readers. With my new job teaching accounting to undergraduates,
I’M USUALLY BORING when it comes to investing. My portfolio is mostly comprised of stock and bond index funds. I dabble in individual stocks when I come across something I see as interesting, but individual stocks have never made up more than 5% of my portfolio. I currently hold just three individual stocks amounting to less than 2% of my investment holdings.
While my interest is occasionally piqued by stocks with upside potential, I’m more often drawn to companies I see as having significant downside.
WHAT’S THE REAL PRICE? In September, I wrote about the potential tab for sending our first child to college in 2025. The four-year cost was estimated at anywhere from $65,000 to $430,000, depending on the college chosen.
This wild disparity led me to conclude that college financial planning was like saving to buy a car—when you don’t know if you’ll drive off the lot in a Honda or a Lamborghini.
Since then, I’ve tried to put a sharper pencil to college costs.