FOR MANY YEARS, I didn’t own bonds or anything similar, except some bank certificates of deposit. Frankly, I was clueless.
My first dilemma: Should I invest in bonds if I have a mortgage? It didn’t make sense to me to borrow from the bank and, at the same time, lend out my money at a lower interest rate to a bond issuer. I felt I should pay off my mortgage first. A few friends and even a financial advisor recommended otherwise.
I’M GUESSING our credit cards are excited. It’s the holidays, so they’ll get to see the light of day more often. December is a time for spending, for throwing caution to the wind, for rationalizing what we and our children need or deserve. It doesn’t help that we’re barraged with advertising tugging at our heart strings.
Perhaps it’s time to counterattack, to apply logic and to think not about the joys of Christmas morning presents or the next Chanukah gift,
TRADITIONAL or Roth retirement accounts? Below are eight key questions to ask. Your decision should be based on your answers to these eight questions—including the importance you put on each.
Do you want a tax break now? Assuming you qualify, a traditional IRA allows you to deduct your contributions, resulting in a lower taxable income for the year. Ditto for tax-deductible contributions to an employer’s 401(k) or 403(b) plan. But with Roth accounts, you don’t get this tax benefit.
BEEN DISTRACTED by Thanksgiving? Maybe it’s time to catch up on your reading—by checking out last month’s seven most popular articles:
Are you on Medicare and own a Medigap policy? James McGlynn argues that Plan G is the way to go—assuming you can qualify.
“There’s no need to think about my money because, according to Carl, I’m not going to run out,” writes Dennis Friedman. “For the first time in my life, I realize I’m financially secure.”
IF THE NAME Harry Browne doesn’t ring any bells, I’m not entirely surprised. Though he was twice a presidential candidate, he never captured more than 1% of the vote. Still, to my knowledge, Browne is the only financial advisor ever to run for the White House.
As a Libertarian, some of Browne’s economic proposals were extreme—including, for instance, abolishing income taxes. But one of his ideas has stood the test of time: In his 1981 book,
WE ALL DO things that make us feel good right now, but which aren’t so good for us over the long haul. Yes, even me. Yes, even you.
Some of this behavior stems from hardwired instincts passed down to us from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, like our tendency to consume whenever we can and to focus too much on today, while giving short shrift to tomorrow. Other damaging behavior is the result of habits we’ve developed,
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Every time you dry your pots and pans with HumbleDollar’s high-quality, microfiber dish towels, you’ll be reminded of what it takes to succeed financially. They offer the daily affirmation we all need—and they make a great gift for family and friends. Each dish towel costs $15,
FULL DISCLOSURE: I wrote this out of frustration, bordering on desperation.
More than a year ago, I bought a condo and took out what was supposed to be a short-term mortgage, which we’d pay off once we sold our home of 45 years. Silly me. You guessed it: I still have the mortgage and I still own the old house, with not even a single offer received. The No. 1 reason for buyers’ lack of interest: The kitchen is too small.
TUCKED AWAY on Greece’s rugged north Aegean coast lies a place seemingly frozen in time, where men lead simple lives, much the same as they have for the past 1,000 years. It’s a rocky, narrow peninsula covered in wooded valleys and terraced farms that comes to an abrupt end at a dramatic 6,000-foot peak—Mount Athos.
Here, the men live in strict, self-enforced isolation. No women have set foot on the peninsula for more than 1,000 years and even female animals are removed upon their discovery.
USE THE RIGHT tool for the job and you’ll get the best result. If you need to connect two boards, you could use a hammer and a nail or a screwdriver and a screw. Either methods work—and they’re certainly better than banging in a screw with a hammer, which I’ve seen tried. It was not effective.
Participants in 401(k) plans, alas, display similar behavior with target date funds, or TDFs. A TDF offers a diversified portfolio in a single fund,
BAD INVESTMENT and personal finance books get cranked out every year with catchy titles and celebrity authors. But skip such pulp fiction. Instead, give yourself or someone you know the gift of timeless investment wisdom with one—or all—of the following classics.
Why? Perhaps you’ve heard that indexing is the way to go. Or that you should insist on low-cost funds. Or that stocks are the best asset class, and should be bought and held.
MEDICAL EXPENSES are a big worry for retirees—leading many to purchase supplemental insurance. But you need to think carefully about which Medigap policy you buy.
What does this insurance get you? Medicare Part B, which covers doctor’s visits and other outpatient care, typically only pays 80% of the expenses that retirees incur. To plug this and other coverage gaps, many folks buy a Medigap insurance plan. Want to keep your current doctors and not be restricted to the network of medical professionals offered in a Medicare Advantage plan,
IT’S LATE NOVEMBER. Is there anything you can still do to trim your 2019 tax bill? There might be. One overlooked aspect of mutual funds is how they can significantly—though quietly—impact shareholders’ tax returns.
By way of background, mutual funds—including exchange-traded funds (ETFs)—are required to pay out to shareholders, on a pro-rata basis, all of the income that they generate each year. This includes interest paid by bonds, dividends paid by stocks and capital gains created when a fund sells an investment at a profit.
LOGIC AND DATA make it abundantly clear that we’re highly unlikely to beat the market averages—and that indexing is the best strategy for the vast majority of investors. Yet half of U.S. stock fund assets remain actively managed and, for money that isn’t in mutual funds, the percentage is likely far higher.
That brings me to today’s contention: Maybe we should spend less time making the case for indexing. Instead, perhaps we should focus on the more obvious conundrum: If beating the market is a game that we’re extraordinarily unlikely to win,
SOME PEOPLE are into fashion, changing what they wear depending on the season, their whims or what others say should adorn our bodies. In fact, I would go so far as to say some of us are addicted to clothes.
Don’t believe me? Check out sites like Poshmark, which—it says—is “a vibrant community powered by millions of Seller Stylists, who not only sell their personal style, but also curate looks for their shoppers, creating the most connected shopping experience in the world.” Got that?