ARE WE ANY GOOD at correctly analyzing simple financial situations involving probabilities? Kenyon, my brother and fellow HumbleDollar contributor, introduced me to a 2016 study that suggests that many of us are shockingly poor at doing so.
Sixty-one business students and young professionals at financial firms were presented with the following scenario: At a website, you’ll be given $25 and allowed to bet on a computer-generated coin flip. You may bet on either heads or tails.
HOW DO YOU COMPETE in an investment contest when you’re a firm believer that investors can’t consistently beat the market averages? That was my dilemma several years ago.
A school not far from where I taught was given money by an alumnus to endow the St. Louis Area Collegiate Investment Contest. All colleges and universities in the area are invited to participate in the competition, which is held regularly. Each is given a hypothetical $1 million and asked to select 20 value stocks.
FELLOW HUMBLEDOLLAR contributor Marjorie Kondrack concluded a recent article by saying she’d “never been to Paris or Prague, Timbuktu or Tokyo.” I had always thought of Timbuktu as an imaginary, faraway place. Only recently did I discover that it actually exists.
Timbuktu is a town in Mali with a population just north of 50,000 people. But according to Wikipedia, thanks to gold and salt that could be found in the area, it was once a “world-renowned trading powerhouse” with a population of 250,000.
IT’S CHALLENGING TO GO from saving during our working years to spending in retirement. Our solution: Use a modified version of the 4% rule.
Financial planner William Bengen was the first person to articulate the 4% rule. He wanted to know how much people could withdraw from their investments each year and still not run out of money. Through extensive back-testing, he found that if folks withdrew 4% in the first year, and thereafter increased this amount each year for inflation,
PEOPLE WHO INVEST in the stock market and people who bet on horses both hope to win. I expected the efficiency and behavioral finance factors that rule the stock market to have similar effects on horse betting. Instead, I found just the opposite.
The story begins 40 years ago. A few years after we were married, I suggested to my wife that we spend a day at the fabled Saratoga Race Course in Upstate New York and watch the thoroughbreds run.
IN THE 1980s, I SPENT nearly 12 weeks in an Australian hospital. I learned that language is not always universal. I was a corporate auditor for General Electric, and the company had sent me to Australia for a three-month assignment. To Yankee ears, Australians have an accent. But at least we speak the same language. Or so I thought.
Within a week of getting to Australia, I was diagnosed with subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE),
WE’VE OWNED OUR NEW 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid for six weeks. The technology and features are breath-taking. Until now, both of our vehicles were 18 years old. I feel like Rip Van Winkle, waking up in a time I do not recognize.
Here are some of the bells and whistles on our new SUV, and my evaluation of their usefulness. Please forgive me if some of this information isn’t accurate; I’m still learning about these features.
WE JUST PURCHASED a new car. The whole buying process has been upended by the pandemic and today’s chip shortage, and we learned seven important lessons.
My wife and I view car buying as an unavoidable chore. We know financial experts recommend buying a car that’s a few years old, so someone else takes the big hit on the initial depreciation. We haven’t done that. We like to buy a new vehicle and keep it for 15 or 20 years.
“WE BEHAVE BETTER when we know others are watching—so be sure to tell friends if you’re aiming to exercise more, lose weight or save more.” I love the pithy sayings that appear each day at the top of HumbleDollar’s homepage. This statement appeared Oct. 19.
A few years ago, when I was still working fulltime, some colleagues and I adopted this philosophy. Suppose one of us had a goal, such as losing five pounds by the end of the month.
WHEN SHOULD YOU start drawing Social Security? If folks want to maximize their lifetime benefit, I think the answer is fairly straightforward.
Maximizing lifetime Social Security income isn’t always the goal, of course. Some people need Social Security to meet basic needs. These people usually claim benefits as soon as they reach age 62, the earliest possible age.
Others view Social Security as longevity insurance. They want as much monthly income as possible in the event they or their spouse live a long time.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN a person dies without a will and there isn’t enough money to pay all of his or her debts? Who gets paid and who gets shorted?
I’d always heard that funeral expenses were the first priority, and then unsecured creditors got everything else. I’ve recently learned from personal experience that the rules are more complex—and more generous to widows and widowers.
A 60-year-old friend of mine recently died. He hadn’t written a will.
DURING MY NEARLY 70 trips around the sun, I have made countless mistakes. Most have been minor, but three stand out. Two I have already made, and the third I’m about to make.
Mistake No. 1: Go-Kart. When I was 12 years old, I bought a go-kart. It has a fiberglass body and was built to resemble the car driven to victory by legendary driver Jim Clark in the 1965 Indianapolis 500.
IS THE IRS NO LONGER able to provide basic services to the public?
When my father passed away, he left his financial assets in a trust for my siblings and me. A trust is a good estate planning tool, but there are some disadvantages. Among them: A trust has to file its own income tax forms.
My mother is the trustee. She uses a local CPA to prepare the tax returns for the trust.
FINANCIAL ADVISORS used to suggest a 20-year planning horizon for retirement. Now, most advisors say to plan for a 30-year retirement. From my own experience, I believe 40 years should be the norm, and 50 years isn’t unreasonable.
If we plan for the longest possible life expectancy, we’ll almost always die with money left over. That’s far better than the alternative—living longer than planned and running out of money.
People who live to 100 are called centenarians.
MY MCDONALD’S INDEX is the way I keep track of long-term inflation. I worked at McDonald’s in 1971 and 1972, while in high school. The menu was much simpler back then: hamburger, cheeseburger, Big Mac, fish sandwich, small and large fries, coffee, small and large soda, and shakes—one size only.
We didn’t have Quarter Pounders, chicken sandwiches, salads, lattes, mochas, frappes, smoothies, sundaes, McFlurries, super-sized drinks, meal combinations or Happy Meals. The food was not made fresh.