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15 Ways to Happy

Jonathan Clements  |  July 11, 2020

WE DON’T PURSUE money just to put food on the table and a roof over our head. Instead, the hope is to enhance our life. On that score, it seems we aren’t doing terribly well: Our reported level of happiness is no higher than it was half a century ago.
Could we do better? I believe so. There’s been extensive research on happiness in recent decades. For those who want to dig into the details,

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It Took Decades

Richard Quinn  |  July 10, 2020

IF YOU’VE WORKED a lifetime—while prudently saving and investing—so that in old age you’re well off financially, should you feel guilty?
If your retirement income is greater than the income of most American families, including those still raising young children and facing college costs, as well as the cost of their own retirement, is that embarrassing?
A few years back, during a discussion about how people spend, save and invest, my son-in-law—who’s a financial advisor to high net worth families—casually said to me,

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Did It Myself

Kristine Hayes  |  July 9, 2020

I PURCHASED my first house almost 30 years ago. To call it a “fixer” would have been an understatement. It was 800 square feet of neglected space in desperate need of repairs and updating. Being fresh out of college and working at a job that paid less than $20,000 a year, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on improvements. But I had the energy and enthusiasm of youth.
Over a five-year period,

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Sunny Prospects

Jonathan Clements  |  July 8, 2020

“NICE OFFICES,” offered the 30-something investor, as he cast a wary eye across the corporate art, barren desks and empty bookshelves.
“Yeah, we asked management if they could put us on the 12th floor, so our suite number could be 12b-1. Funny, right?” The financial salesman winked.
“Not sure I get it.”
“It’s a joke, but clients never get it, they pay it.”
“What qualifications do you have?”
“See those initials after my name?

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Your 10-Year Reward

James McGlynn  |  July 7, 2020

IF YOU’RE MARRIED, filing for Social Security can be confusing. But there’s one group who has it even worse—those who are divorced.
In recent weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with women who had no idea that they were even eligible for spousal benefits based on their ex-husband’s earnings record. (I also recently watched the television show Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, which gave completely erroneous advice on benefits for ex-spouses.) My hope: Someone reading this may learn that he or she is eligible for spousal or survivor benefits from an ex-spouse.

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Played for Fools

William Ehart  |  July 6, 2020

“THE CHINESE PLAY the long game. We play checkers, they play chess.”
You hear such sentiments from Americans a lot. It’s one of the narratives that draws foreign money to China. The story is so good, it distracts investors from an important fact: The oldest China exchange-traded fund, the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (symbol: FXI), has lost a quarter of its value since peaking in 2007. Yet somehow—helped by Chinese government pressure on index providers—China’s weight in the emerging markets indexes is higher than ever.

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Two Reasons to Worry

Adam M. Grossman  |  July 5, 2020

IN HER MOST recent book, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright quotes Mussolini. “If you pluck a chicken one feather at a time,” he said, “no one will notice.”
Don’t worry, I’m not veering into political commentary. But when I heard this quote, it brought to mind what we’ve been seeing in the financial markets this year. Taken individually, there’s nothing that strikes me as a clear red flag. But taken together, the current environment looks a little bit like a chicken that—all of a sudden—seems to have lost a whole lot of feathers.

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Keep Your Distance

Jonathan Clements  |  July 4, 2020

IT’S INDEPENDENCE Day. But how truly independent are we, both financially and in our thinking? The two, I believe, are inextricably entwined.
Whether it’s the TV shows we watch, the political views we hold or the investments we buy, we often take our cues from family, friends and colleagues. They, in turn, may be influenced by advertising and the media. But however ideas get spread, the result is that most of us aren’t the fiercely independent thinkers we imagine.

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Fear of Falling

Marc Bisbal Arias  |  July 3, 2020

I’M 28 YEARS OLD. How much should I have in stocks? Some financial experts would suggest allocating 90% of my portfolio, because I have a long time horizon and a steady job. But I don’t think that would be a good idea for me.
My father has driven hundreds of thousands of kilometers over his lifetime—because he’s afraid of flying, despite the much lower risk that air travel entails. Similarly, I have a good idea of what optimal investing behavior looks like for someone of my age.

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No Down Less Up

Dennis Ho  |  July 2, 2020

INDEXED ANNUITIES have been taking the insurance world by storm. According to industry sources, sales of indexed annuities—also known as equity-indexed annuities or fixed-indexed annuities—topped $70 billion last year and estimates for 2020 call for continued growth in the market.
On the surface, indexed annuities seem simple enough: You deposit a lump sum and earn interest based on stock market returns, with a guarantee that your annual return will never be less than zero.

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June’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  July 1, 2020

THE FINANCIAL markets haven’t been calm over the past month, but they have been calmer—and that’s meant readers have been interested in articles about topics other than the stock market and the coronavirus. Here are June’s seven most popular blog posts:

Is your estate plan in order? Richard Connor, who has helped settle five estates, offers his list of seven must-haves.
Adam Grossman has written 143 earlier articles for HumbleDollar. But this may be his best: Check out the five minds of the successful investor.

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Older but Wiser

Stephen Chen  |  June 30, 2020

A REVOLUTION in the workforce is creating an underutilized resource: workers over age 50. These workers represent more than a quarter of the U.S. labor force, and that number is expected to climb sharply as the population ages.
For these workers, it would be a boon—financially and otherwise—if they could stay in the workforce for longer. It would also be great for the economy, ensuring we continue to have enough workers to produce the goods and services that society needs.

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Right From Wrong

William Ehart  |  June 29, 2020

I’VE BEEN WRONG many times, as I’ve noted in earlier articles. But the past few months have made me—and maybe you—look like an investment genius.
I’ve had some nice “wins” since March 13, when I started buying the stock market dip. Does that make me brilliant? Of course not. Was I “right”? That depends on how I made my decisions. A quick profit doesn’t necessarily mean I made the right call.
Too often, when we analyze our investment moves,

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Too Slow?

Adam M. Grossman  |  June 28, 2020

THIS PAST WEEK, I received an email from a reader—let’s call him Tom. He described his experience during this year’s unruly stock market. After the market dropped in February and March, he said, the stock side of his portfolio lost a lot of its value. He decided to rebalance—that is, to buy more stocks so his original asset allocation would be restored. That is just what I would have done. But the key question—always,

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Breaking the Rules

Jonathan Clements  |  June 27, 2020

YOU KNOW THOSE timeless financial principles? Sometimes they don’t age so well.
Since I started writing about money in 1985, all kinds of financial principles have gone out the window—and that’s continued right up until 2020. Indeed, if you’re still hewing to the financial wisdom of the 1980s, you’re likely hurting yourself today. Here are four examples:
1. Goodbye, Peter. In the late 1980s, America’s most celebrated fund manager was Fidelity Magellan’s Peter Lynch.

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