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Staying Positive

Adam M. Grossman  |  September 22, 2019

PRESIDENT TRUMP recently criticized the Federal Reserve—yet again. Calling Fed Chair Jerome Powell and his colleagues “boneheads,” the president expressed frustration that they haven’t done more to lower interest rates. Specifically, the president said we should, “get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less.” That last part—“or less”—was key. Not only should rates be lower, he argued, but they should be below zero, as they have been in Europe.
Last week, the Fed did indeed cut short-term interest rates—by 0.25 percentage point.

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Timely Reminder

Jonathan Clements  |  September 21, 2019

PAST PERFORMANCE is no guarantee of future results. But we keep hoping.
Over the 10 years through August 2009, the large-cap stocks in the S&P 500 shed an average 0.8% a year, even with dividends included. Meanwhile, U.S. value stocks beat U.S growth stocks, smaller-cap U.S. shares notched 5.5% a year, developed foreign stock markets 2.7% and emerging markets 10.4%.
Fast forward one decade, and the leaders have become laggards and vice versa. Over the 10 years through August 2019,

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Shame on Us

Jim Wasserman  |  September 20, 2019

OVER 600 YEARS ago, Geoffrey Chaucer gave the world The Canterbury Tales, a caustic look at a cross-section of English society. While all the stories are still worth reading, one tale is especially relevant to today’s consumer.
For those who don’t remember The Canterbury Tales, it’s a story about a group of pilgrims traveling from London to Canterbury. They pass the time on the road by having a contest to see who can tell the best tale.

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What Number?

Richard Connor  |  September 19, 2019

A DECADE AGO, a large financial firm ran a clever advertising campaign that showed people going about their everyday lives carrying a bright orange six- or seven-figure sum that represented their number—how much money they needed to retire. It was clever because we humans like to simplify—and sometimes oversimplify—complicated issues. It’s one of our cognitive biases.
I spent almost 40 years in aerospace engineering. I did a lot of detailed engineering analyses, calculating expected performance numbers,

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Educated Consumers

Kristine Hayes   |  September 18, 2019

COLLEGE STUDENTS who borrow graduate with an average $37,000 in loans. While many people believe loans are the only way to finance a college education, that’s simply not the case. Here are five ways to get an advanced education while minimizing debt:
1. Stay close to home. Sure, it’s fun to think about moving across the country to go to school. But staying close to home after high school comes with several benefits.

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Where to Begin

James McGlynn  |  September 17, 2019

WHEN I STARTED working fulltime in 1980, there were very few retirement savings vehicles available to the average worker. I remember setting up my IRA and contributing the $2,000 annual maximum—at the time the only retirement account I could fund.
Today, by contrast, there’s a slew of retirement choices on offer. Where should those new to the workforce focus their dollars? If you have access to a 401(k) or similar retirement plan with an employer matching contribution,

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Creeping Costs

John Yeigh  |  September 16, 2019

WE ARE ALL victims of continually rising costs. Here’s the oft-repeated drill: The service provider sends the yearly renewal bill by mail or email, or the new annual cost is simply posted to our credit card account or deducted from our bank account.
Assuming we even notice the charge, the head-scratching starts. What the heck was the cost last year anyway? The new fee may have increased just 3% or 5%, which doesn’t seem like a lot.

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Need to Know

Adam M. Grossman  |  September 15, 2019

A DOZEN YEARS ago, on my first day of business school, the professor stood at the board and illustrated a concept called “present value.” Truth be told, over my remaining time in school, I don’t think I learned anything more important than I learned in that first hour. It is, in my view, the single most useful tool in all of personal finance. Below, I’ll walk you through the concept and then illustrate some ways it can help you make better financial decisions.

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Declaring Victory

Jonathan Clements  |  September 14, 2019

I OFTEN FEEL like the Grinch, who “puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore.” One question I’ve puzzled over endlessly: If what I do barely matters in the greater scheme of things, why in the world do I keep doing it?
Here are four related thoughts that often crop up in my writing:

One of life’s great pleasures is working hard at something we care deeply about.
While striving toward our goals can bring great satisfaction,

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Right Turn

Sonja Haggert  |  September 13, 2019

MY HUSBAND is the consumer every company should fear. In my last post, I detailed his multi-month research that preceded our recent car purchase. This time, he decided to investigate auto insurance.
The Gecko’s promise to save 15% had hit a nerve. A savings of 15% on a $2,500 annual insurance bill for two cars would be worth the effort. But, of course, being the thorough person that he is, my husband had to check out every other insurance company on the planet.

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Are We There Yet?

Dennis Friedman  |  September 12, 2019

PREPARING for retirement is like running a marathon. It requires dedication, discipline and endurance.
But there’s also a crucial difference.
When you cross the finish line in a marathon, you know the race is over. But when you quit the workforce, it’s much harder to figure out whether you’ve successfully reached retirement. Why? A happy and prosperous retirement is about money, but it’s also about so much more than money. Here are 15 signs that a wonderful retirement likely lies ahead:

You don’t need an online calculator to tell you that you have enough money,

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Mercedes and Me

Richard Quinn  |  September 11, 2019

MY FATHER was a car salesman. For the last 20 years of his career, he sold Mercedes and he was good at it. He even won a sales contest that included a trip to Germany to tour the factory.
Unfortunately, selling Mercedes does not mean you can afford one. But he did get to drive them. As a kid, I was also hooked. When I was 17, I was allowed to drive a 190SL in the local July 4th parade.

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A Rich Life

Sanjib Saha  |  September 10, 2019

I AM FRUGAL and I feel fortunate to be so. Indeed, among all the financial skills I’ve learned, frugality stands out as the most powerful. But at the same time, I also feel affluent. This might seem like a contradiction, but the mindset of frugality and the feeling of affluence strike me as two sides of the same coin.
Frugality is often associated with being cheap. Frequently, “affluent” is used interchangeably with “wealthy.” I beg to differ.

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Taking Your Lumps

Richard Connor  |  September 9, 2019

I’M ONE OF THOSE lucky folks whose employer had a traditional defined benefit pension plan. I worked in the aerospace industry, starting with GE in the 1980s. Various mergers led to us to become part of Lockheed Martin. Through these multiple sales and mergers, our benefits and pension plan stayed largely the same, though—to be honest—I didn’t pay a lot of attention in my early years and was only vaguely aware of the details.

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Passive Stampede?

Adam M. Grossman  |  September 8, 2019

LAST WEEK, investment manager Michael Burry made waves when he issued an apocalyptic forecast: Index funds, he said, are in a bubble similar to the housing bubble that ended very badly in 2008. Burry couldn’t say when the crash would come, but noted ominously that, “the longer it goes on, the worse the crash will be.”
Burry acknowledged that he’s “100% focused on stock picking,” so—at first glance—his criticism seems not unlike other active fund managers’ criticisms of index funds,

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