Matters of Principal

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 22, 2024

HAVE YOU EVER HAD one of those debates where you come up with the winning argument—hours later, long after everybody has gone home?
Among the many financial topics that cause confusion, extra-principal payments on a mortgage deserve a special mention. For decades, I feel like I’ve been trying to stamp out the nonsense that’s spouted on this topic, and I think I finally have the answer. Maybe.
The chief reason for all the confusion is a mortgage’s shifting mix of principal and interest.

Read More

Making Waves

Larry Sayler  |  Mar 22, 2024

MY WIFE AND I recently returned from a 14-day cruise to the Caribbean with my 96-year-old mother. Since my dad passed away in 2009, my wife and I have gone on several cruises with my mom.
We departed from and returned to Fort Lauderdale, visiting eight Caribbean islands: St. Kitts, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, Martinique and Aruba. For my wife and me, the fare was $2,200 per person for a room with a balcony.

Read More

Took Courage

Dennis Friedman  |  Mar 21, 2024

I ALWAYS THOUGHT my father was a brave man. It wasn’t just because he served in World War II. It had to do with a few incidents that I witnessed.
I’ll never forget when my dad and I went to McDonald’s for a late evening meal. I was probably in the eighth grade. I believe my mother was working late that night. It must have been a Friday because a lot of teenagers were hanging out in the parking lot.

Read More

Nothing Odd

Ken Cutler  |  Mar 21, 2024

VOGUE RAN AN ARTICLE a decade ago about Marissa Mayer, then Yahoo’s CEO. The opening quote from Mayer grabbed my attention: “I really like even numbers, and I like heavily divisible numbers. Twelve is my lucky number—I just love how divisible it is. I don’t like odd numbers, and I really don’t like primes. When I turned 37, I put on a strong face, but I was not looking forward to 37.”
Mayer’s statement resonated with me.

Read More

Our Spending Spree

Dan Smith  |  Mar 20, 2024

WHEN I GOT DIVORCED, my ex-wife told the judge at family court that I was good with money. But most folks I knew at that time wouldn’t be so kind: They’d say I was cheap.
No, I didn’t align myself with the financial independence-retire early, or FIRE, movement. During my days as a driver-salesman, after I diverted 15% of my pay into the 401(k), I spent every nickel raising the kids, paying the bills and trying to keep up with my big bucks buddies.

Read More

The Money Tournament

Tom Welsh  |  Mar 19, 2024

MARCH MADNESS IS upon us, with millions of sports fans rooting for their favorite college or university basketball team. For your team to win, all other teams in the tournament must lose—a zero-sum game. We accept this as part of the sport.
What’s that got to do with finance? Household economics can be a similar win-lose tournament. But it’s a zero-sum game that’s rarely acknowledged.
Relative purchasing power. In the U.S., we have some 130 million households that collectively possess roughly $150 trillion in wealth.

Read More

Give While You Live

Dan Haylett  |  Mar 19, 2024

MANY FOLKS DELAY financial gifts to family and charity until their death. But I advocate a different approach: giving generously during our lifetime, or what I like to call “giving with a warm heart, not a cold hand.”
This not only transforms the lives of the recipients, but also enriches those who give, making their lives more meaningful and fulfilling.
One of the most compelling reasons to give during your lifetime: You get to see the impact of your generosity.

Read More

They Pitched We Swung

Jeff Bond  |  Mar 18, 2024

WHEN I FIRST CAME across HumbleDollar, I just lurked on the website, convinced that everyone knew more about investing and personal finance than me. After a while, I started making occasional comments.
Finally, I’m ready to share some of my financial stories. My first topic relates to my misadventures with real estate limited partnerships. Note that all references here are to my then-wife, not my current wife.
I was in my first job as an engineer.

Read More

Cool Has a Cost

David Gartland  |  Mar 18, 2024

I’M SITTING ON MY patio drinking coffee, as I do every morning before my wife and son wake up. I go to bed early and wake up before sunrise, so when I’m drinking my coffee, it’s still dark. This is a great time for me to think.
This morning, I’ve been thinking about Jordache jeans. For those of you too young to remember, Jordache jeans were the thing to own in the late 1970s and early 1980s if you were a teenager or in your 20s.

Read More

Thinking Anew

Adam M. Grossman  |  Mar 17, 2024

AMONG THE QUOTES wrongly attributed to Mark Twain is this one: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
This quip highlights one of the challenges of personal finance: that the data and the conclusions we rely on for decision-making can never be accepted with absolute certainty. That’s for a few reasons.
First, because the world changes and markets change, our approach must change as well.

Read More

Asking Myself

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 16, 2024

WHAT’S THE BETTER choice? This is the perennial question for all of us, as we ponder how best to use our time, how to invest our savings and how to get the most out of the dollars we spend.
Want to lead a more thoughtful financial life? As I try to make better choices, here are five questions I find particularly useful.
1. Why would I stray from the global stock market’s weights?

Read More

Money Buys Choices

Brenna Clairr Moore  |  Mar 15, 2024

AS I WATCH MY daughter gleefully play with her toes and stare in wonder as she turns the pages of a new book, I’ve never felt more fulfilled. The day she entered the world, I knew I’d finally found my true purpose.
I’ve always believed that money buys us choices, and I wanted a lot of choices and flexibility once I became a mom. My daughter, who is my firstborn, arrived eight months ago,

Read More

Money in the Middle

Steve Abramowitz  |  Mar 15, 2024

OUR COURTSHIP WAS both ripe with joy and fraught with tumult. One scene is emblazoned in my memory. Alberta and I had just finished lunch on the grass in front of the campus cafeteria. I was slumped over, exhausted by the frantic academic scramble to get published and disillusioned by the political intrigues.
Alberta read my mood and rested my head in her lap, as she ran her hand softly through my hair. Schooled by my parents to keep an eye out for retirement and advancing age,

Read More

What It Cost

Ken Cutler  |  Mar 14, 2024

MY DAD’S FINANCIAL ledgers were key sources of information for my article yesterday about my parents’ retirement journey. In these binders, my father kept track of a wide variety of financial information, all entered in his impeccable handwriting.
I have no doubt Dad would have loved Excel spreadsheets as much as I do, had they been available earlier in his life. When he was in his 80s, he purchased his first personal computer and was able to perform some rudimentary tasks.

Read More

The Downside of Up

Richard Connor  |  Mar 14, 2024

SAVINGS YIELDS SOARED in 2023—and all that interest income is now showing up on people’s tax returns.
Forbes published historical average money-market rates based on FDIC data. The average rate in 2020 and 2021 was 0.1%. That jumped to 0.15% in 2022 and 0.59% in 2023. But remember, those are averages, and it isn’t difficult to find higher yields. For instance, interest rates on high-yield savings accounts are up sharply since spring 2022.

Read More