BEGINNING IN 1961—and for the 48 years that followed—I administered, designed, managed and negotiated health plans covering some 40,000 employees. In the late 1970s, cost became a growing issue. Over the years, we tried every trendy thing to control costs, from HMOs to wellness programs to shifting costs to employees. Nothing worked then and nothing seems to work today.
Before you jump to the most common conclusion, there was no insurance involved in any of the plans I managed.
ALBERT EINSTEIN reportedly once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler,” or words to that effect.
When it comes to investing, I have always believed that the simplest approach is the best approach. But in recent years, a new type of investment has, I believe, crossed over into the “too simple” category.
This new type of investment: target-date mutual funds. If you aren’t familiar with them, target-date funds are mutual funds that typically buy other funds.
THE SAVINGS RATE has been revised by the federal government—and the new numbers offer a rosier take on America’s financial rectitude. But is the story believable?
Make no mistake: The old figures told a sorry tale. They suggested our savings habits fell apart after 1984 and with a vengeance after 1997. But suddenly, post-1984 doesn’t look so grim. Under the new methodology, the annual savings rate averaged 11.3% over the 35 years through 1984,
JUST A FEW MONTHS ago, I wrote about my housing plans. Those plans included waiting until I was closer to retirement age before purchasing a home. Having spent the past five years as a renter, I assumed I’d keep renting until I was ready to leave fulltime work behind.
Living in a relatively inexpensive apartment complex came with a few benefits. It allowed me to invest a large part of my income in various retirement accounts.
I DON’T KNOW about you, but there are things I wish I had learned when I was young—say, at the ripe old age of three or four. I wish I had learned another language. I wish I had started the violin. I wish someone had taught me math and not just how to count to 10.
I believe we can learn all these things and more at a very early age. Why? Because we are human sponges when we’re children.
JORDAN PETERSON, a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, has thundered onto the cultural scene, thanks in large part to his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I began reading with healthy skepticism, but quickly became a fan.
Not that the doctor and I agree on all points. But the book immediately confronted my intellectual laziness in a careful but unavoidable way.
PICKING WINNING stocks seems so easy—and yet most investors fail miserably. Why? Partly, it’s the nature of the stock market, with its fierce competition, unavoidable trading costs and gains skewed toward a minority of shares. But partly, it’s the emotional pitfalls that trip up all too many investors. I pull together these various threads in my latest article for Creative Planning—and offer eight reasons the apparently easy money so often proves elusive.
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I AM NOT an investment expert. I am befuddled by such things as puts and calls. Who is putting what where?
I do know the difference between stocks and bonds. I know that bond prices go up when interest rates go down, and vice versa, and I eventually figured out why. I also know stock markets are used to raise capital and that shareholders are actually owners of a company, but with little power or influence,
THE NOTED PHYSICIST Lord Kelvin reportedly declared in 1900, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.” In the annals of inaccurate proclamations, this one stands out. Just a few years later, Einstein published his Theory of Relativity and, in the following years, proceeded to upend many of the scientific world’s longest standing and most deeply held beliefs.
The world of personal finance witnessed a similarly inaccurate prediction 76 years later. When the newly formed Vanguard Group launched its first index fund,
WHAT WILL IT TAKE to achieve a better financial life? It all starts with asking the right questions, as I explain in HumbleDollar’s latest newsletter. Some examples: If money were no object, what would you change about your life? If you were out of work, how long could you cover expenses before having to take drastic financial steps? In late 2008 and early 2009, did you buy stocks, sell or sit tight?
A FINANCIAL PLANNER called Archie Nickel is stealing entire articles from HumbleDollar and posting them to his own site—without permission. In the online world, it’s fine to link to interesting articles elsewhere on the web. But it’s a no-no to swipe entire articles. I’ve endeavored to contact the nefarious Nickel, by posting comments on his site and via Twitter, but he’s ignored my requests to stop purloining this site’s blogs and and to remove the blogs he’s previously stolen.
I OFTEN WONDER: How did I manage to retire early, at age 58? I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I never earned a large salary. I wasn’t a very good investor. I didn’t start saving for retirement until I was in my late 20s.
My future did not look bright. I graduated from college at age 23 with a degree in history. There were not many job openings for a history major.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT today released an inflation measure that’s closely watched—for no good reason.
At issue is CPI-W, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. In July, it stood at 246.155. August’s level, which was released this morning, was 246.336. July and August’s levels are two of the three months used to calculate the annual cost-of-living increase for Social Security retirement benefits. The CPI-W for September will be the final factor in determining 2019’s benefits increase.
RECENTLY, I STARTED advising three entrepreneurial brothers who are the controlling shareholders of three companies with several hundred employees. All of their companies are presently short of operating cash and unable to borrow from banks or other conventional sources. Without quick infusions of funds, they’ll likely go under.
They won’t be able to pay skittish suppliers who refuse to extend additional credit, even if the brothers guarantee payment. Nor will they be able to meet payroll for employees.
I HAVE A FRIVOLOUS routine. I buy $40 in lottery tickets on the first day of each month. Many years ago, this was part of my retirement plan—the years when I was young and foolish, or maybe just foolish.
For as long as I can recall, I’ve had a premonition of receiving $14 million, either from a long-lost relative or from the lottery. Time is running out, however. That relative appears to have forgotten about me.