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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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Give Early and Often

John Yeigh  |  Feb 22, 2024

KEY PROVISIONS IN 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will expire in 2026 unless Congress steps in. That means folks have a two-year window to prepare.
What’s at stake? Income-tax rates will increase for many taxpayers. This creates an incentive to boost income over the next few years by, say, undertaking Roth conversions to shrink traditional retirement accounts and thereby lowering future required minimum distributions.
The sunsetting of key TCJA provisions would also cut the threshold for federal estate taxes in half,

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Losers Weepers

David Gartland  |  Feb 22, 2024

MY SON AND I WALK the streets of our town, so my son can pick up trash and recyclables. He’s obsessive-compulsive about trash. He impulsively picks it up even if he isn’t wearing gloves or doesn’t have his grabber available. To reduce this behavior, he and I go out daily looking for trash, so he feels there’s less trash out there.
We do find trash, but we also find things that I wouldn’t classify as trash.

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For the Fun of It

Robert Dailey  |  Feb 21, 2024

THIS IS MY FIRST contribution to HumbleDollar. It may well be my last, for I am no longer old. Rather, I’m ancient and on my way to being archaic.
The vicissitudes of investing are behind me. I now invest for fun, for the data analysis, for following the impact of macro world events on economies, for the thrill of the market rollercoaster, for the intellectual challenge, for the exercise of discipline,

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Measuring My Money

Mark Eckman  |  Feb 20, 2024

I KNOW FOLKS WHO consider their income to be the best measure of their wealth. Income, however, doesn’t gauge whether you’re making headway toward financial independence.
What does? My financial statement provides everything I need to measure my progress. At the end of each December, I gather the dollar amounts for my assets and liabilities, and assemble the details on a spreadsheet that compares my current standing with prior years. If you’re inspired to do the same,

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Retirement Dreams

Andrew Forsythe  |  Feb 20, 2024

THIS ISN’T ANOTHER article about dreaming of retirement. Rather, it’s about dreaming in retirement.
I retired in 2017 after practicing criminal law in central Texas for almost four decades. It could be stressful at times. Before that, there were long years in college and law school.
College was relatively easygoing and enjoyable in the laid-back Austin of the 1970s, plus my major was sociology—a world apart from those in pre-med,

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If I Were a Rich Man

David Gartland  |  Feb 19, 2024

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is the timeless tale of a poor Jewish dairy farmer in Russia during the early 20th century. What makes the musical timeless? It tells the story of a worker, husband, father and religious believer who’s trying to succeed in all these facets of his life.
One of the show’s most famous songs is, “If I Were a Rich Man.” As the title implies, the farmer dreams of a life of wealth and how wonderful that would be.

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Faulty Assumptions

Richard Quinn  |  Feb 19, 2024

I SAW A GRAPH recently generated by some retirement-planning software. It showed the investor enjoying substantial portfolio growth over the course of his 30-year retirement. Forget running out of money. This particular software program says the guy’ll be a 90-year-old multimillionaire.

My curiosity piqued, I used the same software to run numbers for my finances. I ran optimistic and pessimistic assumptions. I entered my monthly expenses and my fixed income. I tried to run out of money,

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Easily Avoided

Adam M. Grossman  |  Feb 18, 2024

APPLE COMPUTER WAS founded on April 1, 1976, by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. What’s less well known is that originally there was a third co-founder, an engineer named Ronald Wayne. Wayne’s tenure at the company was short, though. Concerned by the risk—and by Jobs’s personality—Wayne sold his stake in the company after just 12 days.
In exchange for his 10% stake, Wayne received $2,300. Today, Apple is worth close to $3 trillion. Wayne’s decision to sell is sometimes cited as one of the worst missteps in financial history.

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Forget Me Not

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 17, 2024

WHAT WILL BE YOUR legacy? It’s a question many of us ponder as we get older. My conclusion: It’s the wrong question to ask.
The fact is, the whole notion of a legacy is a tad delusional, and very likely a trick played on us by our genes, which want us to care deeply about future generations. The reality: Most of us will leave scant mark on the world and we won’t be remembered for very long after we’re gone.

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Death by Retirement

Mike Drak  |  Feb 16, 2024

I LED A RETIREMENT seminar some years ago at a large manufacturing company. During the question-and-answer session that followed my presentation, a 60-something welder told the group he’d never retire. I asked why. His response: All his friends who’d retired before him were already dead, and he didn’t want to follow in their footsteps.
What he said resonated with me—because I knew someone who suffered a similar fate. Gino was a client back in my banking days.

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Dance With Destiny

John Yeigh  |  Feb 16, 2024

TODAY IS THE 50th anniversary of the most important day of my life. On Feb. 16, 1974, I met my wife. Choosing a life partner is arguably the most crucial decision we make. No other choice likely matters as much, including education, career, finances, where we live or even having children.
We’ve all heard the statistic that half of marriages end in divorce. In addition, marriage rates are declining, marriages are happening at later ages,

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What I’d Keep

Ken Cutler  |  Feb 15, 2024

IT WOULD BE GREAT if my wife and I could stay indefinitely in the two-story colonial-style home where we raised our two children.
Right now, in our early 60s, taking care of the place doesn’t seem like a huge burden. The lawn is only a third of an acre and mowing it helps me stay in shape. Before I retired, we updated the kitchen and had a new roof installed. In the near term,

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Pursuing Happiness

David Gartland  |  Feb 15, 2024

THERE USED TO BE a TV show called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I assume it was created to make viewers envy rich people and want what they had. The memorable catchphrase of the host, repeated at the end of every episode, was “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”
Envy is one of the seven deadly sins—for good reason. All it does is cause heartache and pain. When I was younger,

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