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Certain but Risky

Rick Moberg  |  February 24, 2021

A POPULAR MYTH holds that individual bonds are safer than bond funds—because individual bonds supposedly come with no interest rate risk.
Proponents of this notion claim that if you buy a bond and interest rates rise—which they have this year—you won’t lose any principal because you’ll eventually get back the bond’s par value, assuming you hold the bond to maturity and the issuer doesn’t default. This is true, but it doesn’t mean individual bonds don’t involve interest rate risk.

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What Went Right

Sanjib Saha  |  February 23, 2021

I SPEND WAY TOO much time analyzing what went wrong and how to do better. Instead, I should probably focus more on what went right and how to do it again.
This tip came from a close friend, when I told him about my money mistakes. My friend’s logic? Despite my missteps, I must have done a few things right to offset the damage.
He had a good point. There are three things I did that paved my path to financial freedom.

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Acquired Taste

James McGlynn  |  February 22, 2021

SPECIAL PURPOSE acquisition companies are hot. But will investors get burned?
Also known as “blank check” companies, special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) are shell companies with no current business operations that raise investor funds through an initial public offering (IPO). The companies then seek a merger with a private company, allowing its new partner to go public without the delays and demands of a traditional IPO.
An additional advantage: The acquired companies are allowed to make projections about their business prospects,

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Not That Simple

Adam M. Grossman  |  February 21, 2021

CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE coined the term “single story” in 2009. A novelist and a native of Nigeria, Adichie first came to the U.S. to attend college. Almost immediately, she was struck by the one-dimensional lens through which many saw her. It started with her roommate.
Knowing that Adichie had just arrived in this country, her roommate—an American—asked how she was able to speak English so well. Adichie had to explain that English is Nigeria’s official language.

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Poor Old Me

Jonathan Clements  |  February 20, 2021

HERE’S A COMMENT I’ve heard countless times in recent years: You should claim Social Security early because you’ll enjoy the money more in your 60s and because you’ll spend less later in retirement.
I think this is nonsense that rests on three wrongheaded assumptions:

That spending needs should drive when you claim Social Security.
That you will indeed spend less each year as you age.
That you’ll be better able to enjoy whatever money you have in your 60s than later in retirement.

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Which Road?

Mike Zaccardi  |  February 19, 2021

I RECENTLY LEFT my fulltime position at an energy trading company. I had a good run and enjoyed the job. It was mainly the people, both my coworkers and our clients.
I also liked the business travel. It broke up the daily routine and put faces to names, plus there were the awesome ribeye steak dinners with clients. Speaking at conferences was fun, too.
But things evolve. To quote Rocky, “If I can change and you can change,

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One Day at a Time

Jiab Wasserman  |  February 18, 2021

JIM AND I RECENTLY moved from Granada, our first home in Spain, to Alicante, a city by the Mediterranean. The move gives us the opportunity to walk along the coast each day.
A few weeks ago, we hiked a rugged coastal trail that’s part of a nature preserve, with an ancient Roman dock still partially visible. Along the coastline, you can also see how layers of sand have built up over the centuries, compacting together to form the breathtaking sandstone hills we enjoy today.

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Dueling Desires

Richard Connor  |  February 17, 2021

MANY YEARS AGO, when I first developed an interest in financial planning, I read as much as I could on the subject. I distinctly remember being in a bookstore—remember them?—and looking at the myriad of personal finance books. Two stuck out.
The first book purported to show how to maximize your spending throughout retirement and die with nothing. The second book purported to help with the opposite strategy—leaving millions to your children. The stark dichotomy struck me then and it’s stayed with me ever since.

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Change Gets Old

James McGlynn  |  February 16, 2021

RETIREMENT RULES seem to get revised almost every year. Whether it’s IRAs, Roth IRAs or Social Security, Congress is constantly rewriting the regulations.
Just think about what’s happened over the past half-a-dozen years. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 eliminated the “file and suspend” option for Social Security recipients. Savvy financial planners would advise clients who had reached their full Social Security retirement age to file for benefits, so their husband or wife could receive spousal benefits.

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Crossing the Stream

David Powell  |  February 15, 2021

IT BEGAN AS A trickle. Now, it’s a flood—and my family’s been swept up in it. For the past decade, we’ve streamed on-demand movies and Netflix shows, but we also continued to pay far too much for live TV using either cable or satellite services. No longer.
As Jannette Collins noted in a recent article, there are now numerous internet streaming services, including some free options. Our family has used some of these, but we still kept costly TV service for live broadcasts of news,

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Senior Assumptions

Richard Quinn  |  February 14, 2021

THERE ARE ADVANTAGES to being old. We seniors can leverage the widespread perception that we’re all poor, incapable of decision-making and inept at using technology.
I have fun with this.
We recently went car shopping. As we left the house, my wife turned and said, “You’re going dressed like that?”
“What’s wrong with the way I look?” I’m in my well-worn jeans, flannel shirt, suspenders and battered baseball cap.
“You look like a pauper.”
Ah,

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My Confession

Adam M. Grossman  |  February 13, 2021

BACK IN 2017, I wrote about an oddity in my portfolio—an actively managed mutual fund that I bought without much thought to how it fit with my overall financial goals. Today, I have a confession. That fund isn’t the only oddity I own. In the interest of transparency—and because I hope readers will find it instructive—here are five more oddities, plus the thinking behind each:

While I firmly believe that low-cost index funds are the best way to build wealth and I believe that stock-picking is a fool’s errand,

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Final Thoughts

Kathleen M. Rehl  |  February 12, 2021

YOUR ESTATE PLAN specifies what you want done with your money and possessions after your death. But your life’s treasures extend beyond these material items—to your values, heritage, relationships, hopes, dreams, memories and stories. You can share some of this with family and friends through a legacy letter, sometimes called an “ethical will.”
Not long before my mother died, she wrote her legacy letter. She asked that it be read during her memorial service.

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Say No to FOMO

Joe Kesler  |  February 11, 2021

I’VE LATELY FACED one of the investment world’s greatest dangers: It’s called FOMO, or fear of missing out. If you pay attention to the financial news, you may be wrestling with this one, too.
Let’s start with bitcoin. I’ve studied it, but never invested. I’ve got friends who own the digital currency. I’m thrilled they’ve been wildly successful. But you know how awkward you feel when somebody tells an inside joke that you don’t get?

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Retirement Preview

Mike Drak  |  February 10, 2021

THE PANDEMIC HAS given many folks a taste of what retirement could be like. An abrupt end to work. A loss of social connection. Trying to make ends meet on a much lower income. Many haven’t been happy with the experience.
Worried that your retirement could be similar? Here are eight lessons we can learn from the pandemic, all drawn from my new book, Retirement Heaven or Hell:
1. Retirement can be a shock.

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