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Down the Drain

Jonathan Clements  |  June 2, 2019

TODAY, I REVEAL this year’s most embarrassing moment: On a recent Sunday, 14-year-old Sarah—stepdaughter of a moderately well-known financial writer—spent $16.47 to have two Starbucks specialty drinks brought to her by the food delivery service DoorDash.
Let that sink in for a moment.
In our defense, my wife and I were away for the weekend, and Sarah was staying at a friend’s house. In my defense, we aren’t talking about my DNA.
As you might imagine,

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Rewriting the Rules

Adam M. Grossman  |  June 1, 2019

WHEN POLITICAL parties set aside partisan bickering and agree on an issue, it’s worth taking note. Such was the case last week when the House of Representatives voted 417–3 in favor of a bill known as the SECURE Act. This legislation would represent the most significant set of changes to retirement rules in more than a decade.
Why the sudden bipartisan cooperation? For better or worse, both parties recognize that a growing number of Americans face a retirement crisis.

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School’s Out

Kristine Hayes  |  May 31, 2019

THIS TIME of year, nightly news shows often feature a montage of clips from various commencement and graduation speeches. The speakers, mostly well-known business people, politicians and celebrities, dish out anecdotes and inspirational words to hordes of newly minted college graduates.
If I were ever invited to speak at a commencement, I’d offer a more commonsense approach, sharing some of the insights I’ve gained from working in higher education for more than two decades.

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Money Pit

Richard Quinn  |  May 30, 2019

ON JUNE 6, 2018, we closed on our new condo in a 55-plus community. The time had come to avoid the stairs in our three-story house. Moving after more than 40 years was quite a transition. Still, condo living is great—so much less house stuff to do or worry about. Eventually, our monthly expenses will be greatly reduced.
Notice I haven’t mentioned selling our house. That’s because we haven’t. The thought of cleaning out a house,

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Courting Success

Jiab Wasserman  |  May 29, 2019

I JUST ATTENDED the Madrid Open, a major clay court tennis tournament. It’s one of nine Masters series tournaments, ranked just below Grand Slams like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. It was amazing to witness the players’ speed and agility at such close range.
Because it was early in the tournament, most of the matches I saw were part of the first and second round, with top 10 players pitted against contenders outside of the top 100.

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Private Matters

Robin Powell  |  May 28, 2019

WISH YOU COULD invest in one of those exclusive investment funds that buy private companies? Maybe it’s lucky you can’t.
It’s easy to see why institutional investors and wealthy individuals are so keen on private equity. It’s a useful diversifier. It also offers the potential for higher returns than publicly traded companies at a time when, for a variety of reasons, pension plans, university endowments and other bigtime investors are under pressure to improve investment performance.

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Into the Woods

Ross Menke  |  May 27, 2019

JADAV PAYENG lives on a remote river island in India and is eloquently known as “Forest Man.” He has been planting trees his entire life, one at a time, to revive the ecosystem of his native land.
Today, the island is a dense 1,300-acre forest. It’s home to hundreds of thousands of trees and a variety of animals, such as tigers, deer, monkeys and elephants. How did he do it? Payeng credits nature.
In a 2017 interview with NPR,

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Danger Ahead

Adam M. Grossman  |  May 26, 2019

I’LL NEVER FORGET my first interaction with Wall Street. I was in my early 20s and just getting started in my career, when I was introduced to a stockbroker—let’s call him Eddie. He was a pleasant fellow with a good reputation and all the trappings of success, including a DeLorean in the driveway. He seemed like a safe choice.
My interactions with Eddie were straightforward. He would call from time to time with stock ideas.

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Great Debates

Jonathan Clements  |  May 25, 2019

IN THE FINANCIAL world, making money is the most popular pastime—but having a good argument is a close second.
What do folks argue about? HumbleDollar’s online money guide has always included a handful of sections labeled “great debates.” I decided to expand that collection to 12—and gather them together in their own chapter. Below you’ll find one of the new sections, plus links to the other 11.
Debate No. 8: Is Indexing Dangerous?

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Making a Mesh

David Powell  |  May 24, 2019

THERE ARE AREAS in my life where I’ve spent too much money and time trying to be cheap. My reward: steady aggravation—until I spent a bit more to get the right solution.
Which brings me to home networking technology. Most of us spend some $500 a year or more for internet broadband service. The problem: Many families are still living with old networking gear that’s slower than it should be, sometimes unreliable or provides poor wi-fi coverage in parts of their house.

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Crying Poverty

Richard Quinn  |  May 23, 2019

I HAVE BEEN accused of being too critical of America’s spending habits. I’m not in touch with families who live paycheck to paycheck, or so I’m told. I was roundly attacked by folks on Facebook, who claimed I lacked sympathy for the federal workers who ran out of money during the government shutdown—even before they missed a payday.
We all know there are Americans who struggle to get by on very low incomes. But that’s the minority.

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Not My Priority

Dennis Friedman  |  May 22, 2019

SOME YEARS AGO, I had a health scare—and it taught me an important lesson about my relationship with money. My primary care physician wanted me to see a hematologist. “Your white blood cells have been trending lower for the last five years,” he opined. “We need to find out what’s causing it.”
After a number of tests, the hematologist thought I might have a rare blood disease. He said the test results were inconclusive,

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Insult to Injury

Lucinda Karter  |  May 21, 2019

IN DECEMBER, I fell head first onto the bathroom floor. The doctors agreed I had a mild concussion. These typically heal in four-to-six weeks, but it’s now been five months. In March, I dislocated my left knee cap during an afternoon stroll. I was suddenly unable to put any weight on my left leg.
These two unrelated injuries have required me to see an array of medical professionals and undergo multiple tests, including two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans,

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The Happy Employee

Ross Menke  |  May 20, 2019

OWNING a business comes with a unique opportunity: the chance to better the lives of your employees. The paycheck you provide helps them pay for their daily expenses and supports the local economy. But there’s an opportunity to do even more: By being thoughtful in how you structure employee benefits, you can ensure they have a more prosperous future, while also helping them lead happier lives today.
Remember, money is simply a tool to help you enjoy your life—and one way to do that is to buy time.

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Know Doubt

Adam M. Grossman  |  May 19, 2019

ONE SPRING DAY in 1995, McArthur Wheeler walked into two banks near his Pittsburgh home and robbed them at gunpoint.
His plan had one critical flaw: The disguise he chose didn’t hide his face at all. Instead of the usual stocking cap or hat and sunglasses, Wheeler made an unconventional choice. He applied a coating of lemon juice to his face. His reasoning: Lemon juice could be used to make invisible ink, so Wheeler figured it would have the same effect on his face,

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