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Following My Muse

Rand Spero  |  May 21, 2022

WHEN I WAS A YOUNG boy, my grandmother kept telling me, “You must go into the family warehouse business.” She was a product of the Great Depression. To her, this well-established business represented security. Many people would crave an offer of financial stability and a career roadmap. But I hated the feeling that my life path was being dictated by my family.
Maybe my financial journey was complicated by two competing influences—my father and my mother.

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Driving a Bargain

Logan Murray  |  May 20, 2022

“NEVER BORROW MONEY to buy a depreciating asset.” This personal finance tip is often used to dissuade folks from taking out car loans. But does a car really leave folks poorer?

When we value an asset, it’s typically thought of as its dollar value on a balance sheet. The monetary value of my car might indeed decline, and quickly at that, but it has far more usefulness than my personal balance sheet shows. When I consider my car’s true value,

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The Krone Stops Here

Richard Quinn  |  May 19, 2022

I LIKE TO KEEP my wallet organized. It’s a bit obsessive. All my bills must face the same direction and be upright, with the 20s in the back and singles in front. I’m thinking that means something. Turns out an organized wallet is indeed a thing.

I also save my change. All those little coins add up. To what purpose? Before we travel, I take the coins to the bank and then add the proceeds to our spending money.

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Ten Points of Pain

Richard Connor  |  May 18, 2022

I JUST COMPLETED my fourth year preparing tax returns as part of the federal government’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. I’ve seen first-hand how confusing our tax code can be for many taxpayers. Here are the 10 areas of confusion I’ve encountered most often:
1. Income. Anyone looking through a tax return will see multiple definitions of income. There’s total income, adjusted gross income (AGI), modified adjusted gross income, provisional income and taxable income.

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Better Than Dollars

Kathleen M. Rehl  |  May 17, 2022

A FRIEND ASKED ME recently if I got paid for the writing I do. She assumed that I’d be compensated, especially for research articles published in scholarly journals.
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m paid generously—in psychic income.”
“What’s psychic income?” she asked.
I explained. “Instead of earning a paycheck for my paper, I earn the satisfaction of this well-respected periodical running my article.” That’s also the way it is for my short stories and poetry that appear in specialty publications.

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Get Shorty

William Ehart  |  May 16, 2022

SOMEBODY OUT THERE is buying and holding longer-term bonds—but you probably shouldn’t. Yes, they’ll notch big gains if interest rates fall, but perhaps suffer even bigger losses if the upward trend in rates continues.
To be sure, investors in almost all bonds have been hit this year, with the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (symbol: AGG) down 9.6% in 2022 through May 13. Shorter-term funds have fared better but are also in the red,

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Four Horsemen

Adam M. Grossman  |  May 15, 2022

DON PHILLIPS is a former CEO of the research firm Morningstar. In a recent commentary, Phillips discussed what he called the “four horsemen of the investor apocalypse.” I hasten to add that Phillips isn’t predicting any kind of apocalypse. Rather, he wanted to highlight factors that can cause problems for investors. Phillips’s four horsemen are complexity, concentration, leverage and illiquidity. It’s worth taking a closer look at each, especially amid today’s rocky financial markets.

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Investing Together

Sonja Haggert  |  May 14, 2022

MY 1975 GRADUATION from college was a momentous occasion for my parents. We had emigrated from Germany, first to Canada and then to New Jersey. They didn’t have college degrees, but they had worked hard and epitomized the American dream. Proud that they’d been able to pay for my education but also relieved that college costs were over, they were looking forward to the start of my career.
Wait, what about marriage and a house in the suburbs?

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How to Bear It

John Lim  |  May 14, 2022

INVESTING MAY BE simple, but it’s far from easy. Our mettle is tested during market extremes, whether it’s bubbles or bear markets. Today, both U.S. and international stocks are close to bear market territory. Amazingly, even major bond market segments are sporting double-digit losses, with Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (symbol: BND) down almost 10% in 2022.
What makes years like this one so difficult is our deep aversion to losses. Successful investing is about balancing risk and reward.

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Five Years Later

Richard Connor  |  May 13, 2022

MARCH 31 MARKED the fifth anniversary of my retirement from fulltime work. Back then, I didn’t think I was retiring and I’m still not sure I really have retired. Instead, over the past five years, I’ve described myself as semi-retired. But a recent HumbleDollar article provided a better description of my situation: I’m in a “phased retirement.”
How have things gone, what have I learned and what would I have done differently?

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Listen Up

Mike Zaccardi  |  May 12, 2022

WHEN I STUDIED FOR the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams, I snagged extra prep time by listening to textbooks while commuting. As boring as that sounds, it helped me absorb the dry curriculum—and it made listening to financial information part of my daily routine.
While I no longer commute—or even own a car—I continue to plug in my earphones to catch up on the latest investment insights, often during my afternoon walks. Here are my eight favorite podcasts:

The Long View.

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Rules for Retirement

Ray Giese  |  May 11, 2022

WANT A HAPPIER, more fulfilling retirement? You work your entire life to get there, and you want to make the most of the time you’re given. But how? Here are my 10 rules for retirement:
1. Have a purpose and a plan, but be flexible. You might have devoted more than 70,000 hours to your career, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if your work has become a huge part of your identity.

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She Finally Said Yes

Michael Flack  |  May 10, 2022

I’VE BEEN GIVING salient and sagacious financial advice to HumbleDollar readers for coming up on two years. Before that, I’d shared my wisdom for as long as I can remember with family, friends and—in a few cases—complete strangers. Sometimes, though, you need to listen.
Recently, I attended a presentation given by Carlson Financial, where various personal finance issues were discussed while I ate a complimentary eight-ounce filet mignon. One of the issues raised: When determining the total cost of a financial advisor,

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Taking a Punch

William Ehart  |  May 9, 2022

BOXER MIKE TYSON observed, shortly before he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear, that, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Well, the bond market has me black and blue and gnashing my teeth. Have Treasury bonds lost their diversifying power in these inflationary times? For decades, they’d mostly held their ground or gained during stock market routs. Not this year.
My longstanding plan has been to invest in conventional short- and intermediate-term Treasury funds to cushion volatility and as a source of money to add to my stock funds when the market tanks.

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Why Rates Matter

Adam M. Grossman  |  May 8, 2022

A FRUSTRATING reality: Uncertainty is always a factor in personal finance. Still, some aspects are somewhat predictable. Among them is the connection between interest rates and other parts of the economy. Consider four key relationships:

1. Interest rates and inflation. Inflation has been the financial topic of the year. The Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates twice so far in 2022, including a larger-than-average increase last week, as it tries to rein in rising prices.

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