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Comfort Has a Cost

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 2, 2024

INVESTING IS MESSY. Get used to it.
In the financial markets, you’ll typically pay a high price for certainty. That price is paid in lower investment returns, and sometimes also in greater financial hassles. Yet I see investors paying that price again and again.
Consider equity-indexed annuities. Investors imagine they’re getting stock market returns without any downside risk. But in truth, what they’re buying is an overhyped investment that captures only a portion of the stock market’s gain,

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February’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 2, 2024

WHAT GOT EYEBALLS in February? Here are the 10 most popular articles and blog posts published last month by HumbleDollar:

We all make financial mistakes. Adam Grossman’s advice: Strive to sidestep those that are easily avoided. Adam offers 11 examples.
What will get you out of bed in the morning once you’re retired? If that sounds like a silly question, Mike Drak has a story for you—about an old banking client called Gino.

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Making It Easy

Dennis Friedman  |  Mar 1, 2024

ONE OF MY BIGGEST retirement surprises: how difficult it is to maintain a robust social network.
My wife and I decided last Thanksgiving to travel overseas. In the past, we would have spent the holiday with family and friends. But now, most are no longer near us—or with us.
My mother passed away about four years ago. Afterward, my sister and brother-in-law moved to Tennessee to be closer to their son. My cousin Barb and her husband moved to Florida to be near their daughter.

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Lessons of a Lifetime

Richard Quinn  |  Mar 1, 2024

MY RETIREMENT finances today are based on actions I took over six-plus decades, starting at age 18. Early on, I tried my hand at picking stocks and beating the market—to my regret. As time went on, I became more sensible.
Want to avoid my mistakes? Here are 10 tips based on my lifetime of managing money:

Start saving as soon as you have cash—it might be from shoveling snow, raking leaves or loose change—and never stop.

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The Changes Ahead

Dan Haylett  |  Feb 29, 2024

THE SECOND HALF of life isn’t just a continuation of the first. Rather, it’s an opportunity for transformation, new adventures and deepening wisdom. As we navigate these years, understanding the five key stages of this journey can help us live more joyfully and meaningfully. What five stages? Here’s a look at each:
Phase 1: Pre-Rapture. This stage, typically between ages 45 and 60, is marked by a feeling of newfound freedom and independence.

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Why We Spend

David Gartland  |  Feb 29, 2024

PAUL NEWMAN WAS BEST known as an actor, but he was also passionate about auto racing. He took his hobby seriously, improved his driving skills and won many races, including on his “home track” at Lime Rock, Connecticut.
His wife, actress Joanne Woodward, supported her husband’s auto racing career, but also worried about him. She bought him a Rolex watch to wear when he raced. To personalize the gift, she had an inscription added to the back.

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Our Waiting Game

Edmund Marsh  |  Feb 28, 2024

A FEW MONTHS AGO, my wife and I were searching for an exciting diversion on a Saturday evening. It didn’t take long to agree on the perfect experience—logging onto SSA.gov to check out our estimated Social Security benefits.
What’s so thrilling about that? Like many people, Social Security will comprise a key component of our retirement income. Even now, those future funds exert a strong influence on our plans.
Background. I’ll turn age 62 this month and still work full-time.

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The Taxman Cometh

Ken Begley  |  Feb 27, 2024

FOR A FEW YEARS early in my career, I was an internal revenue agent for the IRS. I audited the tax returns of small businessmen, drug dealers, doctors, lawyers, a professional basketball player and everybody in between.
That was 43 years ago, when the IRS was much bigger relative to the population. One result: A larger percentage of the population were subjected to audits.
I saw and heard a lot. Some people would put dogs,

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Inns and Outs

Jeffrey K. Actor  |  Feb 27, 2024

MOST READERS HAVE likely graduated from the vacations of their youth, where they saved a few dollars by sleeping on a friend’s hand-me-down couch. Still, some of my fondest travel memories were shaped by such frugal accommodation.
I once traveled cross-country on a summer camp trip with 48 other teens, touring the greater U.S. in a converted Greyhound bus. It was an eye-opener, visiting such heralded landmarks as the Statue of Liberty and the St.

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Smaller Than It Looks

Richard Quinn  |  Feb 26, 2024

I RECENTLY STUMBLED on a retirement planning blog listing the top 10 regrets of retirees. Planning for health care costs was among the things that people wish they’d handled differently.
The site had this suggestion: “Before you retire, you should get a reasonable estimate of your health care costs and make sure you can afford them. Medicare does not cover everything and most people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket health care expenses in retirement—not even including funding a long-term-care need.”
This statement is scary—and very misleading.

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Keeping It Simple

David Gartland  |  Feb 26, 2024

“I NEVER MEMORIZE anything I can look up.” Albert Einstein, it seems, said this or something similar. I first heard the quote in my freshman physics class. The teacher asked a student to recite a formula. The student’s response: “I never memorize anything I can look up.”
I’ve adopted the same philosophy. My wife loves to point out that I don’t remember the names of streets in our neighborhood. But I don’t need to know them.

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Every Bit Helps

Adam M. Grossman  |  Feb 25, 2024

IN NEW ORLEANS, a lagniappe refers to a small gift or bonus—like receiving 13 items for the price of 12, or a so-called baker’s dozen. Today, credit card points are a popular form of lagniappe, delivering a modest bonus every time you spend. But many other lagniappes are also readily available:
Banking. If you’ve ever paid a fee to use an ATM, Charles Schwab Bank’s checking account is worth a look. You can use any bank’s ATMs and,

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What Lies Beneath

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 24, 2024

MONEY IS A TOOL. But a tool for what? We might imagine it’s simply a way to purchase the goods and services we need or want. But in truth, there are all kinds of things that money can do for us—some worthy, some not so much.
Want to use your wealth more wisely? I think all of us should spend time pondering what money represents to us, how we use it and why we like to have it.

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Details Matter

Scott Martin  |  Feb 23, 2024

FOR THE PAST FOUR years, I’ve been dealing with both a revocable and irrevocable trust that my parents created decades ago. In 2020, I knew little about trusts, and my elderly parents weren’t willing or able to share much information with me. In retrospect, I don’t think they fully understood the details of either trust, instead relying on attorneys and financial advisors.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot about trusts. I’ve come to feel they’re unnecessarily complicated and allow unscrupulous advisors to take advantage of well-intentioned,

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Money Matters

Sundar Mohan Rao  |  Feb 23, 2024

DURING THE PANDEMIC, I started devoting more time to retirement planning. But I had more questions than answers. I called a friend who was a financial planner.
“Retirement planning is confusing,” I told him. “I have a lot of questions.”
He laughed and said, “The answer is money. What’s the question?”
While his answer was humorous, it reflected what most retirees already know: Money is crucial for a good retirement. While it isn’t the only thing you need for a happy retirement,

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