Two’s a Crowd

Julian Block  |  November 8, 2018

IRS AUDITS are usually uneventful. Auditors ask taxpayers to produce receipts, canceled checks and similar documentation to verify deductions and other facts and figures. When taxpayers come up with the required substantiation, examiners move on to other audits. In fact, the feds frequently close cases without exacting extra taxes—and sometimes they even authorize refunds.
But things aren’t always so friendly.
Be concerned when an IRS investigator walks in unannounced at your home or office and asks to see your records.

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Hard Earned

Richard Quinn  |  November 7, 2018

LOOKING BACK on my 75 years or, at least, those after age 10, I realize I have always managed to make money. I never received an allowance or lavish gifts as a child, but it never mattered. I always earned what I needed.
Let me count the ways: raking leaves, shoveling snow, lemonade stands and—my favorite—rummaging through the trash cans in a local park for soda bottles. We got 2¢ for regular size and,

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Flying Solo

Ross Menke  |  November 6, 2018

THE RANKS of self-employed Americans are expected to rise to 42 million by 2020. It’s easy to understand why folks flock to self-employment. These workers report higher job satisfaction and overall happiness. The downside: They need to craft a benefits package that mirrors what they lost by leaving traditional fulltime positions.
Other than health insurance, the cornerstone of any employee benefits package is the employer-sponsored retirement plan. Most often, this is a 401(k), 403(b) or similar plan.

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Merging Money

Kathleen M. Rehl  |  November 5, 2018

I TIED THE KNOT again—at age 71. Four years into widowhood, I met Charlie online. Also widowed, he and I began dating cautiously, each respectful of our late spouses and those marriages, as well as our adult children and grandchildren.
We also focused on financial and legal issues. We knew from experience, and from research we had read, that financial disagreements can derail love. In an international survey of  widows and money, women shared advice about re-partnering: Talking about money matters was essential before remarriage,

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Hole Story

Adam M. Grossman  |  November 4, 2018

IS APPLE the greatest company ever? On the surface, it certainly appears that way. The company sells more than 450,000 iPhones every day. Customers love them: According to surveys, iPhone customer satisfaction stands at 98%. Last year, Apple’s revenues topped $250 billion, and in its most recent quarter the company saw profits jump 41% from a year earlier. Not surprisingly, the company’s share price reflects this success. Having gained 33% over the past year,

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October’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  November 3, 2018

BUSINESS HEADLINES last month were dominated by the stock market’s daily drama. But HumbleDollar’s readers also had other things on their mind. While two of October’s best-read blogs were devoted to the stock market, five weren’t:

Jack of Hearts
Bearing Gifts
Won in Translation
When to Roth
Ignore the Signs?
403 Beware
The Other Half

Last month also saw big traffic for October’s three newsletters, A Good Life, Thinking About Money and Warning Shot,

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Just Asking

Jonathan Clements  |  November 2, 2018

“I DON’T KNOW.” Those may be the three toughest words for an investor to utter—and yet perhaps also the most important.
Despite the robust rebound of recent days, the S&P 500 is still down 6.5% from its September all-time high. Indeed, U.S. stocks just suffered their worst monthly loss since 2011. What should we make of the craziness? Here are five crucial unanswered questions:
1. Where are stocks headed?
As the saying goes,

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Why Wait?

Jiab Wasserman  |  November 1, 2018

MY MOTHER-IN-LAW Doris passed away last year at age 90. In the last few years of her life, she often mentioned that she felt guilty spending any of her money, let alone splurging. She wanted to leave the money to her children, even when her children kept telling her to spend, splurge and enjoy the last few years of her life.
Doris didn’t want to worry about her investments. Like a lot of people,

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Creative Destruction

Dennis Friedman  |  October 31, 2018

MY FIRST JOB was in 1963, at age 12, delivering newspapers for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. There must have been at least five children from my neighborhood who were newspaper carriers. Today, you rarely see anyone delivering newspapers. The Herald Examiner went out of business in 1989.
My next job, as a teenager, was working at a machine shop that made tools for aerospace companies, such as McDonnell Douglas and Rockwell North American.

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Food for Thought

Dennis E. Quillen  |  October 30, 2018

WHILE DINING recently at my favorite restaurant, I focused on my food order. But I also got to thinking about economic concepts—an occupational hazard for a retired academic.
Opportunity cost hit me almost immediately. When the urge to eat strikes, I cannot consume two meals at two different restaurants at the same time. By selecting “A” over “B,” I’m automatically giving up an experience at “B.” Next, once in my selected spot,

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Taking Care

Phil Dawson  |  October 29, 2018

MY PARENTS were married in 1947 and produced six children over the ensuing 17 years. Dad remained with us, in diminishing health, until 2008. Since then, my siblings and I have been looking after our Mom and her day-to-day needs.
Despite the seemingly endless chaos involved, we have done remarkably well. Here are just six of the things we’ve learned:
1. Your expiration date is unknown.    
When observing longevity in our family over several generations,

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Seeking Zero

Adam M. Grossman  |  October 28, 2018

WHAT’S YOUR favorite tax rate? This isn’t meant to be a trick question. If you’re like most people, your favorite rate is probably zero.
While a 0% tax rate is great, it isn’t easy to achieve. There’s just a handful of ways to create tax-free income. If you have young children, 529 accounts are a great option. If you earn a high income, you might buy tax-exempt municipal bonds.
And, of course, there are Roth IRAs.

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Closet Saver

Lucinda Karter  |  October 27, 2018

LATE LAST YEAR, The New York Times published an article by Ann Patchett headlined “My Year of No Shopping.” In it, Patchett describes not buying clothing and electronics for one year. I was intrigued—and inspired.
Ever since I collected my first paycheck, I’ve loved to buy clothes and shoes, especially for my twice annual business trips to Europe. I always felt lacking in elegance compared to my clients there. That was how I justified finding new outfits for nearly every day of each trip.

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Newsletter No. 35

Jonathan Clements  |  October 26, 2018

WE CAN’T STOP the stock market from correcting, but we can make sure we’re investing right. To that end, I pulled together a special newsletter devoted to the current market swoon. Want to make sure your finances are ready for a bear market? The newsletter offers three quick calculations that may either spur you to action—or bring you peace of mind.
The newsletter also includes a rundown of the past week’s blogs, plus details of a special offer from publisher Harriman House,

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Time to Choose

Richard Quinn  |  October 26, 2018

IT’S OPEN ENROLLMENT season for many employer health plans, Medicare and plans offered through the health care exchanges. The window of opportunity can range from a few weeks to perhaps a month.
Sadly, in my experience, most people wait until the last day or two and then make a quick decision. Even worse, they ignore the communications they receive and make no decision, leaving in place for another year the coverage they currently have.

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