When to Roth

Adam M. Grossman  |  October 7, 2018

MY 10-YEAR-OLD son and I had a chance encounter last month with the commissioner of the Boston Police Department. After saying hello, he bent down and offered my son this advice: “Stay in school,” he said, “and listen to your parents.”
Often, the recipe for childhood success is just that simple. Ditto when it comes to managing money. The basic principles are usually pretty straightforward. But there’s one topic that often leaves people with a headache.

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Newsletter No. 33

Jonathan Clements  |  October 6, 2018

FORGET THE GOOD LIFE. Today, what many folks want is something quite different: A Good Life. Tired of running the hedonic treadmill and getting nowhere fast? Stop seeking happiness in the next promotion, pay raise and purchase—and instead try the half-a-dozen simple strategies suggested in HumbleDollar’s latest newsletter.
Behind on your reading? Our latest newsletter also includes brief descriptions and links to the 17 blogs we’ve published since our mid-September newsletter.

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Jack of Hearts

Jonathan Clements  |  October 5, 2018

ON WEDNESDAY, Vanguard Group’s 89-year-old founder John C. Bogle was in hospital to receive treatment for his latest health scare—an irregular rhythm in his transplanted heart. On Thursday and again today, he was at the Bogleheads’ 17th conference in Philadelphia, as feisty as ever.
The Bogleheads are, of course, the online community who congregate at They’re renowned as fans of frugality—especially frugally priced index funds. And Jack Bogle—even though it’s been more than two decades since he was Vanguard’s Chief Executive Officer—remains their guiding light.

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Heading Home (Part 2)

Kristine Hayes  |  October 4, 2018

WHEN I FINALLY made the decision to apply for a mortgage, time was of the essence. Mortgage rates were rising daily and I wanted to lock in a reasonable rate as quickly as I could.
Luckily, I’m one of those people who pride themselves on being well-organized. The loan officer at my credit union sent me a lengthy list of financial documents I would need to provide before she could begin processing my loan application.

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Under Construction

Richard Quinn  |  October 3, 2018

TO MY WAY of thinking, it is inexcusable that we’ve reached the point where there’s even the possibility that Social Security may not be able to pay full benefits 16 years from now. Americans are scared by the prospect. Some have even given up hope that the program will continue to exist.
Back in 2000, Social Security’s Trustees urged action: “In view of the size of the financial shortfall in the [Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance] program over the next 75 years,

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Bouncing Back

Dennis E. Quillen  |  October 2, 2018

IN SUMMER 2005, my 40-year marriage officially ended. My previous world, with its hopes and dreams, was no more. My life as a single individual became the new reality. Part of the new reality was financial in nature. Previously developed long-term plans became fiction. New plans, by necessity, appeared on the drawing board.
My personal net worth had dropped by roughly 50%. I no longer owned my historic neighborhood condo. I lost two of our three cars,

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September’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  October 1, 2018

WHICH ARTICLES were readers drawn to last month? Here are the seven most popular blogs published by HumbleDollar in September:

Buy What You Know
Archie Is Scum
Striking a Chord
Lay Down the Law
That’s Rich
Twelve Rules
Any Alternative?

Last month also saw lots of traffic for HumbleDollar’s mid-September newsletter and for a blog from late August, Bad News.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @ClementsMoney and on Facebook.

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Not for You

Adam M. Grossman  |  September 30, 2018

MY GRANDFATHER was from Queens in New York City. He was a great guy and taught me a lot. He was also a native New Yorker, so he was street smart and tough.
One day, while we were walking together down 47th Street, near Times Square, I stopped to look at the jam-packed window of an electronics store. My grandfather waited patiently, but cautioned me, “Careful, they’ll take the eyes out of your head.”
It was a funny expression,

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Budget Busting

Jonathan Clements  |  September 29, 2018

WHO SHOULD DIET? This isn’t exactly a tough one: It’s people who need to lose weight.
Who should budget? If you listen to conventional wisdom, this is another easy one: It seems we all should. Creating a written budget, and then tracking our spending against it, is considered a sign of high financial rectitude.
I think this is nonsense. I have never created a written budget and I don’t track my spending—because I don’t need to.

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A Word of Advice

Dennis Friedman  |  September 27, 2018

THERE ARE CERTAIN things in life that remind you you’re getting old: You receive mail from companies offering their cremation services. You realize your house was made for a younger person. You have this urge to throw and give away things as if you won’t be here tomorrow. You feel it’s time to hire a financial advisor.
Actually, I’m not sure hiring a financial advisor is a sign of getting old, but that’s the way it struck me.

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Hitting Home

Julian Block  |  September 26, 2018

OWNING A HOME is getting more expensive, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted in December 2017. The new law is the most comprehensive overhaul of the Internal Revenue Code since the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The legislation includes provisions that curtail long-cherished write-offs for mortgage interest and property taxes.
It also abolishes deductions for casualty and theft losses claimed by individuals whose homes, household goods and other property suffer damage due to events like burglaries,

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Get Me the Doctor

Richard Quinn  |  September 25, 2018

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.

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Off Target

Adam M. Grossman  |  September 23, 2018

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.

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All Better?

Jonathan Clements  |  September 22, 2018

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,

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Heading Home (Part 1)

Kristine Hayes  |  September 21, 2018

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.

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