MY 1975 GRADUATION from college was a momentous occasion for my parents. We had emigrated from Germany, first to Canada and then to New Jersey. They didn’t have college degrees, but they had worked hard and epitomized the American dream. Proud that they’d been able to pay for my education but also relieved that college costs were over, they were looking forward to the start of my career.
Wait, what about marriage and a house in the suburbs?
DO YOU SKIM OVER the fine print? Two recent incidents involving insurance coverage made me rethink my tendency to do just that. One incident alerted me to a major problem. The other saved me money.
Let’s start with the problem. It was time to renew our homeowner’s insurance. In looking over the policy, something didn’t look right. In the section for dwelling, which is defined in our policy as alterations and other improvements, we had $5,000 worth of coverage.
OVER THE PAST TWO years, we’ve seen everything from tornadoes to devastating fires to hurricanes, often at unusual times and in unexpected places. That got my husband and me thinking about how to prepare for what may come our way—and how we could document what we might lose.
We decided to make a home movie. Our new phones are perfect for taking videos. What better proof of what we have? You’ve probably seen the suggestion that you do this,
MY HUSBAND’S READING material consists of financial publications and Chemical & Engineering News, a throwback to his chemistry education. The other day, I glanced over his shoulder to see an article about Spencer F. Silver.
Never heard of him? No doubt, you’ve used a Post-it Note or two. Silver invented their adhesive while a chemist at 3M.
The article told of his passing, and went into a technical explanation of the science behind the Post-it Note.
HAVE YOU EVER HELD a stock for years and grown to love it? What if your research now says it might be time to break up?
Many years ago, I bought AT&T. It was the perfect stock for a dividend investor like me. It was a dividend aristocrat, meaning it had increased its dividend for at least 25 years. In fact, AT&T had been increasing its dividend for more than three decades.
But while the dividend was always generous,
OUR MONEY DECISIONS usually aren’t driven by rational thinking and financial math. That’s one of Morgan Housel’s key messages in his recent book, The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness. He uses history and personal tales to highlight a crucial insight into our relationship with money—that we often feel as though we’ll never have enough.
The book contains no formulas for success, no get-rich-quick stock tips. Housel states the premise this way: “Doing well with money has a little to do with how smart you are and a lot to do with how you behave.
DURING A HEATED discussion, the chairman at my old employer grew exasperated with me. “Rules are meant for other people, not me,” he snapped.
I had no idea how prevalent that attitude was—until recently. It seems some hospitals and drug companies also feel that the rules don’t apply to them.
There have been articles in The Wall Street JournaI about a new rule that went into effect requiring hospitals to show how much they charge for procedures.
I’VE BEEN READING UP on stock buybacks because I want to know how they’ll impact my investments. As best I can gather, there are two schools of thought: Those who love them—and those who hate them.
Those who love them point to the reduction in the number of shares, which means the value of those that remain should increase. Earnings per share (EPS) is net income divided by the number of shares, and EPS increases when shares decrease.
WE LOOK AT OUR traditional IRAs each year and decide how much we’ll convert to a Roth IRA. We’re worried our tax rate may increase down the road, either because of tax law changes or because of the extra taxable income once we start taking required minimum IRA distributions at age 72. To head off that threat or at least limit the damage, we’ve been shrinking our traditional IRAs by converting them to Roths,
MY HUSBAND AND I have been selecting investments together for years—and we’re still married. How have we gotten along for decades without killing each other?
Our investment discussions revolve mostly around individual stocks and bonds. They constitute the bulk of our investments and take up the bulk of our time. We own everything from small amounts of risky stocks like Immutep (symbol: IMMP) to blue chips like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and 3M (MMM).
GROWING UP, I remember my mother telling me to save because “you never know what can happen.”
Like a pandemic?
I reference my mother because she was ahead of her time in preparedness and quite savvy about money. She bought gold when it wasn’t popular—and I think she would have bought bitcoin. Why? For the same reasons that my husband and I decided to take the plunge.
To be sure, bitcoin itself has plunged in recent weeks,
MY HUSBAND AND I are planners. We can tell you where we’ll be living 15 years from now, the trip we plan to take in 2022 and how much we’ll likely pay in taxes this year.
What we didn’t plan for: Paying more for Medicare—a lot more.
If you’re covered by Medicare, you’ll likely know that this year you pay $148.50 in monthly premiums for Medicare Part B, plus a premium for the Part D prescription drug benefit,
MY HUSBAND AND I have been investors for a long time. For us, it’s an interesting hobby and we’ve learned a lot along the way, plus we’ve made some money.
Friends and family sometimes ask what we’re doing and whether we can help them. Neither of us has any sort of certification as a financial advisor or any sort of formal training in investments. We can just imagine what a wrong suggestion would do to a friendship or family relationship.
MY HUSBAND is the consumer every company should fear. In my last post, I detailed his multi-month research that preceded our recent car purchase. This time, he decided to investigate auto insurance.
The Gecko’s promise to save 15% had hit a nerve. A savings of 15% on a $2,500 annual insurance bill for two cars would be worth the effort. But, of course, being the thorough person that he is, my husband had to check out every other insurance company on the planet.
IN THE PAST, WE’VE always bought certified preowned cars. We know new cars lose a big chunk of their value when you drive them off the lot, so we had our eye on a used car when we started our search earlier this year.
Our goal was a Mercedes Benz GLC 300 AWD 4MATIC. My husband enjoys the negotiating and drama that comes with buying a car, so he investigated choices, checked out prices at dealerships and was ready to start his usual two-to-three-month car hunt.