AS A KID, my most revered manmade invention was not a train or a record player, but rather the Swiss Army pocketknife. When I saw it for the first time at a friend’s home, I was fascinated that it could cut paper, open bottles, file nails and more. I marveled at the engineering beauty and wished I had one of my own.
Years later, I was in Switzerland for a short business trip and had some free time for souvenir shopping.
I’M NOT THE TYPE of person who makes New Year’s resolutions. This year, however, I foresee some major changes in my life—and that’ll require some financial adjustments.
Now that my elderly parents have passed away, Rachel and I can live like a normal couple in our own home. As I mentioned in an earlier article, we will be moving into my parents’ house.
During the last several years taking care of my mother, I was constantly traveling from one house to another and living out of a suitcase.
IT’S THAT TIME of year again—when magazine editors put on their Nostradamus hats to offer up get-rich-quick schemes for the new year. “What China’s Best Investor is Buying Now,” reads the cover of Fortune, along with “40 Stocks for the New Decade.” The magazine even praises perennially unpopular Goldman Sachs. “Not your father’s vampire squid,” Fortune says.
These kinds of headlines seem comical, but it turns out they may be good for more than just entertainment.
WE’RE THREE-YEARS-old, and we’ve grown to become something I never intended. When I launched HumbleDollar on Dec. 31, 2016, my plan was to take my money guide—which had previously appeared as an annual paperback—and make it freely available on the web. I also had plans to write an article every week or so and have others occasionally blog for the site.
Since then, HumbleDollar has morphed into a fulltime job that doesn’t pay me a salary and a site that—I like to think—occupies a small but unique place in the internet’s ongoing financial conversation:
Readers visited 937,000 of the site’s pages in 2017,
AMID THE HOLIDAY celebrations, many folks still found time to visit HumbleDollar in December. The site notched its second-highest total monthly page views ever. What were people reading? Here are last month’s seven most popular articles:
Want to make your life better? Here are 11 simple things you can do today.
Real estate investment trusts account for 3% of the S&P 500. Adam Grossman argues there’s no reason to own more than that.
I CAN TELL I’m a little squishy on my investment plan, because the thought of making a public New Year’s resolution fills me with all the dread of a reluctant groom.
As I linger outside my metaphorical church, I imagine my bride wants to shackle me to allocation targets and rebalancing rules that I announce to the whole congregation. My aversion to such commitments competes with my realization that—without them—I’ll be back to my free-wandering self.
“RESOLUTE” is the wrong adjective to describe most of us at the start of a new year. We know what we should be doing for our future self. But within weeks, days and sometimes hours, we forget about the person we’ll become.
What can we do to improve our odds of success in 2020? As Stephen Covey taught us years ago in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the answer is to exercise integrity at the moment of choice.
MY WIFE AND I spent Thanksgiving on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. For 25 straight years, we’ve gathered there with my wife’s extended family to spend the week of Thanksgiving at the beach.
It started with about 15 of us in 1994, all in a seven-bedroom house. Over the years, the family—and the size of the house—have grown significantly. This year, we had 39 in attendance, representing four generations. For the past five years,
AFTER TAKING the Series 65 exam in February, I set a goal for 2019: Help 10 friends and family members with their finances. Instead of giving specific investment advice, I wanted to educate them on money matters. I knew that they would benefit from one-on-one discussions, well-regarded books, educational videos and credible websites. But I also suspected that some might hesitate to talk to me about their finances. Nonetheless, I gave it a try.
AS IF ON CUE, Ebenezer Scrooge recently showed up in Washington, DC. The result wasn’t pretty.
A bill known as the SECURE Act, a favorite of the insurance industry, had been stuck in Congress all year. But suddenly, on Dec. 20, it got tacked onto another bill and signed into law. As far as I can tell, the primary beneficiaries of this new law, which heavily impacts retirement plans, will be the IRS and the insurance industry—but probably not you.
DEAR READER, I may write for you. But I also write for myself. Many of my articles grow out of intriguing ideas I stumble across or half-baked notions I want to explore further. The next thing I know, I’m scouring the internet for additional information and typing furiously on my laptop, all because I’m interested—and I hope you will be, too.
The good news is, after 34 years of writing about finance, I’m still learning things and still tripping across topics I’m curious about.
IT’S BEEN THREE years since I launched this site—and I’m still not very good at guessing which articles will attract readers and which will go largely unnoticed. Partly, it’s the nature of the internet: The articles that rack up the most page views are often those that get promoted on other sites, and I have no control over that.
Still, I think the top 20 articles from HumbleDollar’s first three years make an intriguing list,
FUNDING A ROTH—and enjoying tax-free growth—may not have been an option for many high-income baby boomers when they were working. But these folks can still get money into a Roth IRA by converting their traditional retirement accounts—and often there’s a great opportunity to do so if they retire early and find themselves in a lower tax bracket.
The first thing to know: Converting from traditional tax-deferred accounts to a Roth IRA will generate ordinary income equal to the taxable sum converted.
WANT TO TAKE some simple steps to improve your life, as well as that of those around you? Here are 11 things to do today:
Look somebody in the eye and say, “Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.”
Stop talking about yourself and, instead, ask folks about their life.
Throw out something you’ve been meaning to get rid of.
Read an article by somebody you disagree with—and think hard about whether he or she might be at least partially right.
GIVING GIFTS delivers significant emotional and health benefits, or so says the research. But I find much depends on how the actual giving takes place.
My best giving lesson occurred many years ago. At a rural busstop on the island of Crete, off the coast of Greece, I sat next to an old local woman dressed in ragged clothing and torn shoes. Neither of us spoke the other’s language. She carried with her a small bag of fresh peaches and motioned for me to take one.