Better Next Time

Marc Bisbal Arias  |  February 3, 2021

LAST YEAR WAS MY first bear market. I’ve been thinking a lot about it and about the astonishing stock market recovery that followed, so I’m better prepared for next time around. Here are three lessons I learned in 2020:
Lesson No. 1: Buy aggressively when markets fall. When the market crashed last February and March, I invested more in stocks. But I regret not having invested a lot more, despite having cash available.

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Winter of Discontent

William Ehart  |  February 2, 2021

WELCOME TO OUR inaugural monthly personal-finance update. I was all ready to write about January’s robust stock market—and then the GameStop saga garnered national headlines, with short-selling hedge funds losing billions, everyday investors crowing and politicians piping up. Some bashed Wall Street for allegedly thwarting retail traders, while others worried about the financial system’s stability.
Amid the tumult, the S&P 500 fell into the red for the year-to-date, despite blockbuster earnings reports from two of the market’s longtime leaders,

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Street Brawl

Adam M. Grossman  |  January 31, 2021

EVERY SO OFTEN, an arcane topic jumps from obscurity into the headlines. Such was the case last week when everyone was suddenly talking about the “short squeeze” on Wall Street. Below I’ll explain what happened and offer four thoughts on how to respond.
What does it mean to short a stock? In simple terms, it means you’re betting a stock will decline in price.
How does one accomplish this? First,

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Not What I Planned

Kristine Hayes  |  January 30, 2021

I WROTE MY FIRST column for HumbleDollar four years ago. In that article, I described how a midlife divorce had forced me to learn as much as I could about investing and personal finance. As part of that education process, I spent hours creating spreadsheets designed to predict my financial health over the next decade.
Planning didn’t seem difficult back then because my life was quite simple. I shared a one-bedroom apartment with my elderly dog.

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Starting Off Right

Jannette Collins  |  January 29, 2021

AS SOON AS THE BALL dropped, ushering in the new year, I got my ball rolling, making contributions to three tax-favored accounts. Why did I do this in January? I like my investments to have all year to grow.
I go through the same routine every year, and it’s always a chore. I invariably forget what to do and, in any case, the steps involved often change.
The first account I contributed to was my Roth IRA.

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Home Free

Kenyon Sayler  |  January 28, 2021

MY SON AND HIS fiancée recently purchased their first home. They’ve asked me about things like how to fix a leaky faucet, but they haven’t asked me for financial advice—which is a good thing, because I’ve had very limited experience buying houses.
You see, my wife and I bought our first and only home in 1986. We paid $89,000, putting down $20,000 and taking out a $72,000 mortgage by the time we added in points,

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Land of Opportunity

Pratima Gulati  |  January 27, 2021

WE MOVED FROM INDIA to the U.S. in 2014 when my husband got a job with a Silicon Valley tech company—and we found ourselves living in one of the world’s most expensive places.
On top of that, when our daughter was born, I left the workforce for a few years to look after her, which meant we had a period when we lived on just one paycheck. Still, within five years of arriving in the U.S.,

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How to Lose

William Ehart  |  January 26, 2021

MY OLD INVESTING self was like the guy in the meme who twists around to ogle a woman in a red dress, while his girlfriend looks ready to break his neck.
Just as jumping from one relationship to another introduces new risks, the same holds true for jumping in and out of different investments. For me—and for most people, I’d wager—investing in individual stocks and narrowly focused funds involves a certain amount of trading,

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Seven Habits

Sanjib Saha  |  January 25, 2021

BEING A BOOKWORM, I’ve read countless tomes on investing and personal finance. Many were helpful, but my favorite isn’t even about finance. Instead, my vote goes to Stephen Covey’s masterpiece, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Surprised? What does a self-improvement book about character development have to do with finance? The connection between the two didn’t occur to me until I recently listened to a podcast on personal finance books.

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For Their Sake

Adam M. Grossman  |  January 24, 2021

A FEW YEARS BACK, I found myself in the emergency room, thinking I had a serious condition. As I sat there, I worried about my family, including my wife and young children. If I didn’t come home, would my wife have a clear picture of our finances?
Fortunately, the health scare turned out to be a false alarm, but it was a wakeup call. Sure, I had an estate plan, but I realized that a binder full of legalese wasn’t enough.

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Don’t Overdo It

Jonathan Clements  |  January 23, 2021

THRIFTY. FRUGAL. CHEAP. Pick the adjective you favor, and you could apply it to me.
I’ve spent almost my entire adult life being financially careful. I haven’t carried a credit card balance or overdrawn my checking account since my early 20s. I was an early convert to low-cost index funds. When I worked at The Wall Street Journal and at Citigroup, I brought my breakfast and a thermos of coffee to the office every day,

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Old Arguments

Richard Quinn  |  January 22, 2021

THERE ARE TWO GREAT debates in retirement planning: whether the famous 4% rule is valid—and how much income folks need, relative to their final salary, to retire in comfort.
I find both subjects frustrating, in part because there’s so little consensus. I also find much of the advice way too complicated for the average American.
I participate in NewRetirement’s Facebook group and occasionally give my views on both topics. I recently expressed the opinion that the goal in retirement should be to replace 100% of the base income you earned immediately before retirement.

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Carlson’s Way

William Ehart  |  January 21, 2021

IT ISN’T EVERY personal finance book that includes a chapter entitled, “You Will Lose Money.” But that’s Ben Carlson laying down the harsh truth for inexperienced investors in his self-published fourth book, Everything You Need to Know About Saving for Retirement.
I interviewed Carlson recently because I find his A Wealth of Common Sense blog among the most useful for a small investor like me—someone with an intermediate level of market knowledge.

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Going Neutral

Anika Hedstrom  |  January 20, 2021

ONE OF THE KEY skills I quickly learned as a new parent: how to curb some of my emotions. Take last night. We were enjoying our normal bedtime routine, including bath time, bottles and a few favorite books.
Then I was vomited all over.
Being vomited on was just another evening with our 16-month-old twins. If you dial up or down your emotions too much in response, they have you. Dial them a bit too high,

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Whole New Game

Joe Kesler  |  January 19, 2021

BASEBALL USED TO BE a game where managers would go with their “gut.” But Brad Pitt changed everything. In the movie Moneyball, Pitt played Billy Beane, the first baseball general manager to use data analytics to great success—and suddenly it was all the rage.
Today, from a typical game, seven terabytes of data are gathered, everything from the arm angle of every single pitch to the exit velocity of hit balls.

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