YOU’RE SITTING in your favorite restaurant, feeling famished. The waiter arrives and reads a long list of mouth-watering specials. Yet the moment he walks away, all you can recall is the last item on the list.
Welcome to the recency effect.
In psychology, the recency effect refers to the human tendency, when asked to remember a long list of things, to have sharper recall of the final items. No doubt you’ve experienced this at a party.
I WAS AGE 31 when I started my job as a department manager at a small college in Portland, Oregon. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for people to mistake me for one of the students.
Now I’m 53 and people assume I’m the mother of one of the students. I’ve been working at the college for more than 22 years, which means I’ve been there longer than most of the current students have been alive.
MANY FINANCIAL planners say they “stress test” portfolios. That sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t well defined. I decided to do some research to see how I could apply the notion to the investments owned by my wife and me.
I came across a number of useful articles. Investopedia, one of my go-to resources for all things financial, provides this definition: “Stress testing is a computer simulation technique used to test the resilience of institutions and investment portfolios against possible future financial situations.” Forbes,
DANIEL SUELO is one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever met. At dinner with him and some friends almost a decade ago, I spent the evening trying to understand his view of money—or, to be more accurate, his refusal to believe in money at all.
Suelo was in Montana to talk about a book that had been written about him, The Man Who Quit Money. As the title implies, Suelo—a well-educated and articulate man—made a decision in 2000 to stop using money.
IF A SALESPERSON had tried to get me to sink my hard-earned money into an investment that’s illiquid or issued by an insurance company, I would have shut down in a New York minute—until now.
My spouse and I recently became owners of a deferred income annuity (DIA), with plans to put perhaps 15% of our savings into these products. Also known as longevity insurance, a DIA involves plunking down money today in return for regular monthly income starting at a future date.
TESLA JUST REPORTED financial results for its most recent quarter. For the fifth time in a row, it announced a profit. This was notable for a few reasons. Among them: Tesla’s increasingly strong performance again raises the question of why it’s been excluded from the S&P 500-stock index.
By way of background, the S&P 500 includes almost all of the 500 most valuable publicly traded companies in the U.S. But Tesla’s stock isn’t included,
WE FIGHT ABOUT money all the time. Politicians argue over how to spend the stuff and who should pay. Couples argue about why there isn’t enough and who’s to blame. And nerdy folks—that would include me—bicker over which investments to buy, when to claim Social Security, the virtues of homeownership and countless other topics.
These debates may amuse others, but I often find them frustrating—because they’re never just about facts and logic. Instead, far too many people come to these arguments with baggage that borders on cargo.
LATE LAST YEAR, Congress voted to kill off the so-called stretch IRA, which had allowed those who inherited retirement accounts to draw them down slowly over their lifetime. Many folks were surprised by the stretch IRA’s demise, but they shouldn’t have been.
When a tax break or some other government provision benefits only a few folks, Congress often changes the law. Think back to 2015. That year, Congress eliminated the ability to “file and suspend” Social Security—another strategy that tended to be exploited only by a privileged few.
A FEW YEARS AGO, my future husband and I took a trip to southern Utah to participate in a pistol shooting competition. We were taken by the area’s beauty and easy access to outdoor recreational activities. While there, we looked at a few homes and were pleasantly surprised to find the prices quite reasonable. We decided Utah would be high on our list of places to relocate to once I retired from my job.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE things to do is sit on our local beach with a cold beverage on a beautiful day, and talk finance with interested friends and family members. This past Labor Day weekend, I did just that with a soon-to-be retiree.
One of the big issues facing him and his wife: where to live. He had been relocated to New York by his employer. But he and his wife are natives of the Philadelphia region,
FOR A LIFE to be meaningful, it doesn’t need to be unique—and yet many of us believe that’s necessary. We’re convinced we lack something special, and that paralyzes us. This is a mistake, says the philosopher Iddo Landau, who argues that everybody already possesses what they need for a meaningful existence. We just need to look harder.
I’ve spent years researching and educating myself on how to find and cultivate purpose. This helped me to develop a process to guide clients,
THEY WERE GURUS and gunslingers. Market mavens. Stock pickers and sector bettors. Over in the bond market, there was even a king. They were star fund managers—but most were shooting stars, destined to crash.
Yes, we’ve had managers like Peter Lynch, Will Danoff and Bill Gross, whose long-term returns did indeed beat the indexes. But for every winner like them, there have been—statistically speaking—seven who failed. Between 74% and 93% of funds in a variety of broad categories—small-cap,
STOCKS WENT INTO a freefall earlier this year, as I’m sure you recall. But all of a sudden, on March 23, everything changed. The market turned around and, just as quickly as it had dropped, it rebounded. Remarkably, the U.S. stock market is now in positive territory for the year.
What happened on March 23? The situation with the virus didn’t get any better. And it wasn’t Congress or the White House. What happened was that the Federal Reserve issued a statement.
THIS YEAR’S PANDEMIC has unleashed financial turmoil for many American families, so data from last year might seem irrelevant. Still, there’s one set of 2019 data that deserves our attention—the Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, which was released last month.
Conducted every three years, the survey is perhaps the most in-depth look we get at the state of America’s personal finances. For the 2019 survey, 5,783 families (who may be individuals living alone) were interviewed at length about their income,
IT SEEMS EVERYONE has an opinion about the markets—and they are, of course, entitled to those opinions. But here’s the irony: Some of the most successful investors have also been among the least dogmatic in expressing their views.
Perhaps it’s the humility gained from repeatedly trying and failing to second-guess the financial markets. These veteran observers of markets are a stark contrast to the swashbuckling managers who flaunt their confidence about the likely direction of stocks and bonds—a sales strategy they use to encourage people to buy products they don’t need.