Against the Odds

Steve Abramowitz  |  Mar 31, 2024

MARCH MADNESS HAS descended on my family. I’m not just referring to the hoopla surrounding the annual NCAA college basketball tournament that runs from late March through early April. I mean the reckoning for our 36-year-old son, and his decision to switch careers and pursue his dream of becoming a professional sports bettor.   
For the 10 years after college graduation, Ryan taught high school math and coached basketball. But in between planning lectures,

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Totally Your Choice

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 30, 2024

LET’S START WITH a contention that’ll get nods of agreement from the vast majority of HumbleDollar readers: Your portfolio’s core holdings should be total market index funds.
But which funds?
Frankly, the differences among the most popular total market index funds are modest and perhaps not worth worrying about. Still, worry we do. As I see it, which ones you choose depend on what you’re most focused on. Here are four key considerations:
Low cost.

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Next Meetup

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 30, 2024

HUMBLEDOLLAR HELD its inaugural meetup on March 4 in Philadelphia. I initially expected half-a-dozen attendees. We had 25. One couple came all the way from Virginia, while another gentleman traveled down from Long Island, New York.
Lots of pizza, beer and wine were consumed, and folks seemed to enjoy meeting their fellow readers. I spent a little time with everybody in attendance and, by the end, was hoarse after three hours of talking.

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Getting in Line

Howard Rohleder  |  Mar 29, 2024

WE RECENTLY MADE a down payment on our next home. After several months of research, we joined the waiting list for a continuing care retirement community, or CCRC.
We’re in our late 60s and only relocated to our current home four years ago. It’s in a metropolitan area two hours’ drive from our daughter and her young family. We know that perhaps 10 years or so from now, we’ll want to be closer to her,

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I Had the Dream

Jeffrey K. Actor  |  Mar 29, 2024

I RECENTLY SHIFTED from part-time work to complete retirement. I closed my laboratory, published my final research findings, and handed over my teaching duties to a bright-eyed, newly minted assistant professor.
After I cut the career cord, my retired friends cautioned me that I’d likely experience a multifaceted, work-related dream, similar to those described by Andrew Forsythe in a recent article. They just didn’t tell me it might be a nightmare.
Sure enough, a few nights after retiring,

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Good for Them?

Richard Quinn  |  Mar 28, 2024

BETWEEN INVESTMENTS and our two homes, Connie and I have accumulated a respectable net worth. I don’t expect we’ll need those assets to live on. What will happen to our money?

It’ll continue to grow, I hope. I want to be sure there’s sufficient wealth if, say, we need to pay for long-term care.
I want the income generated by our investments to be available to Connie, should I predecease her. She’ll also receive Social Security and survivor benefits from my pension.

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Charging Ahead

David Gartland  |  Mar 28, 2024

I GREW UP DURING the muscle car era. That was when Detroit automakers became aware of the baby boomers’ buying power.
The boomers, of whom I’m a proud member, didn’t live through the Great Depression. We had television, frozen foods, Mattel toys and a car in every driveway. Prosperity is what we were used to, and we loved it. It seemed everyone had jobs, so there was money to spend.
My friends and I felt that having a nice car was the key to getting that special girl.

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What Advantage?

Lucretia Ryan  |  Mar 27, 2024

WHEN MY FATHER DIED, my mother moved to be closer to me. I didn’t know anything about Medicare, but I knew she needed health-care coverage.
I would call up Medicare and ask questions, and the phone reps would read me a script. I’d ask another question and they’d read me the same script. Rephrase the question, and I’d get the same useless scripted responses.
I had no idea about the difference between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

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Fox in the Henhouse

Marjorie Kondrack  |  Mar 27, 2024

ALBERT EINSTEIN reportedly once said, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.” Which makes me wonder: How did I end up wandering into this mind-boggling field? 

I like knowing how my money gets taxed because it helps me better control our finances. By managing taxes, we can significantly boost how much money we have for retirement.

Why is the tax system so complicated? The system is trying to do more than just collect taxes.

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Not Wired to Retire

Kathleen M. Rehl  |  Mar 26, 2024

MY HUSBAND SAYS I’LL never retire. He’s right. Now in my 78th year, I have no intention of stopping work altogether to devote myself to round-the-clock leisure. That sounds unappealing, especially since I plan to live well into my 90s, just like my great-grandmother.
Most of my friends opted to retire in their 60s. That includes my husband, Charlie. He retired at age 61 after 38 years as a nuclear engineer, all that time with the same company.

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Road Less Traveled

Ken Begley  |  Mar 26, 2024

I HAVE A SIDELINE writing stories for a local newspaper. Every now and then, even in a small rural community, you’ll find folks who blow your mind. One such individual is a retiree named Junius R. Tate, who goes by J.R. and who spent his youth in Washington County, Kentucky.
Tate hiked the Appalachian Trail, which crosses 14 states from Georgia to Maine and is roughly 2,200 miles long. It takes a determined hiker about six months to complete.

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Losing Benefits

Richard Connor  |  Mar 25, 2024

SOCIAL SECURITY retirement benefits are a critical source of income for many seniors. But as I’ve discovered from preparing tax returns, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding two key issues.
The first issue: the reduction in benefits that occurs when folks claim benefits before their full retirement age (FRA) of 66 or 67, but continue to work. This is the so-called earnings test. If folks are under their FRA for the full year, the Social Security Administration will reduce their benefits by $1 for every $2 earned above $22,320,

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Killing Time

David Gartland  |  Mar 25, 2024

WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER, my father and I went to the local mall. I don’t recall why we went shopping together, but I do remember going into a Tandy craft store and buying a customizing kit for leather belts. Tandy Corp. would later become well known as the owner of RadioShack.
On the way home, my father and I were talking about the kit, and I made the comment, “It’ll be a good way to kill time.” My father shot back,

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Five Seasons

Adam M. Grossman  |  Mar 24, 2024

NICK MAGGIULLI, in his book Just Keep Buying, makes an observation about the world of personal finance: If you Google common questions—such as “how much should I save?”—you’ll receive more than 100,000 results. It’s an overwhelming amount of information. But there’s a bigger issue: Many of the answers contradict each other.
It’s the same with many other personal finance questions. How much should you hold in bonds? Do you need international stocks?

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A Quiet Life

Kristine Hayes  |  Mar 23, 2024

IT’S CLEAR LIFE experiences shape how we behave. But what role does temperament—the innate personality traits embedded in our DNA—play in how we navigate our personal and financial lives?
I began exploring my personality in my mid-40s. Amid a midlife crisis, I wanted to better understand why I act the way I do. I was recently divorced, living alone for the first time and determined to do some in-depth self-reflection.
I was aware my personality was the result of both inborn and environmental influences.

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