Helping Out

John Yeigh  |  October 15, 2020

SOME FAMILY members recently asked me to help them find a financial advisor. As luck would have it, soon after, Barron’s published a perfectly timed article, “America’s Best RIA Firms,” which listed 100 highly ranked registered investment advisors (RIAs). Similar lists are available from CNBC and the Financial Times.
It was time for me to get to work. Who wouldn’t want to recommend a “top” firm to his or her family?

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Go Long

Dennis Friedman  |  October 14, 2020

WHEN I WAS growing up, I don’t remember my parents talking about the stock market. In fact, I’m not sure when they started buying stocks. It could have been sometime after I graduated from high school in 1969.
When I was a junior in high school, however, I do remember a conversation about stocks between two of my classmates. Brandon was telling Brian that he could buy a motorcycle if he sold some of his shares.

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A Seat at the Slots

Richard Quinn  |  October 13, 2020

WHAT DO HIGHER corporate profits truly mean to investors? Or, put another way, this 77-year-old neophyte wants to know, “How is investing in stocks different from gambling?”
Don’t get me wrong, I invest in stocks and I understand they’re the best way for most of us to grow wealthy over time. What I don’t get is, “Why? What causes a stock to increase in value?”
I’ve researched the question and what I find is a lot of talk about earnings per share,

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Trading Places

Michael Flack  |  October 12, 2020

MY WIFE AND I decided at the end of 2016 to sell our house. Selling a home is the biggest transaction most of us will ever make, and yet—in my experience—almost all home sellers spend too little time trying to find the right real estate agent.
Folks might interview two agents at most and many interview none at all, instead hiring based on a friend’s recommendation. I realized there must be a better way.

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Save and Give First

Adam M. Grossman  |  October 11, 2020

I’VE DISCUSSED the election in my recent articles and cautioned against timing the market. But if market timing isn’t recommended, what can you do to keep your finances on track through this potentially turbulent period?
Last week, I suggested reviewing your finances through the lenses of leverage, liquidity and cash flow. This week, I’d like to share another framework—and this is one you could employ at any time and not just in times of worry.

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Game Over

Jonathan Clements  |  October 10, 2020

LET’S START WITH the obvious: If you buy high-quality bonds today, you’ll collect very little yield—and there’s an excellent chance you’ll lose money once inflation and taxes are figured in.
Take Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF, which aims to track U.S. high-quality taxable bonds. It yields some 1.2%, which is below the 1.7% expected annual inflation rate for the next 10 years, and the amount you pocket will be even less after deducting taxes.

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Stop and Go

John Goodell  |  October 9, 2020

LIKE SO MANY others, I’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. But I know in my soul that we’re all going back—and I’m mostly okay with that. There are things I miss about the office: colleagues who have become friends, the collaboration, the access to ideas and creativity.
The biggest thing I don’t miss? Traffic. Nothing even comes close.
I live in Austin, Texas, which ranks tenth in America in terms of worst commute.

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Neglected Child

Sanjib Saha  |  October 8, 2020

I GREW UP IN INDIA, where I worked for a few years before venturing overseas and finally emigrating to the U.S. In our culture, most parents feel responsible for their children until their offspring are fully settled in their career and their life, which is often well into adulthood. In turn, the children feel dutybound to support their parents in old age, financially and otherwise.
This cultural tradition is mutually beneficial when both parents and children can fulfill their respective responsibilities.

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Covering Kids

Dennis Ho  |  October 7, 2020

TERM INSURANCE is typically the best bet for people who need life insurance, while permanent policies are appropriate for relatively few folks. Yet I keep getting the same question from parents: What about children? Does it make sense to purchase a whole-life policy for a young child?
No doubt influenced by Gerber Life Insurance’s relentless marketing, these parents want to know whether it’s worth locking in insurance pricing early on and whether this is a good way to help their children start saving for retirement.

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Friend Requests

Sonja Haggert  |  October 6, 2020

MY HUSBAND AND I have been investors for a long time. For us, it’s an interesting hobby and we’ve learned a lot along the way, plus we’ve made some money.
Friends and family sometimes ask what we’re doing and whether we can help them. Neither of us has any sort of certification as a financial advisor or any sort of formal training in investments. We can just imagine what a wrong suggestion would do to a friendship or family relationship.

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The Short Game

Dennis Friedman  |  October 5, 2020

I WOKE UP one morning, looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the person looking back at me. Who is this person? It can’t be me. I’m not the same person I was five or six months ago. I don’t know if it’s the pandemic that caused me to behave differently or if I’m going through some kind of midlife crisis.
No, it can’t be a midlife crisis. I’m almost 70 years old, plus I don’t feel my life is boring,

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Don’t Play Politics

Adam M. Grossman  |  October 4, 2020

WITH THE ELECTION just a month away, many investors are worried about what lies ahead. Does it make sense to lighten up on stocks now, in advance of the election? I see at least four reasons not to sell:

Despite the polls, we can’t be sure what the result will be.
As we saw in 2016, nobody knows how the market will react to that result.
Even if the market reacts negatively, the effect may be temporary.

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Pay It Forward

Jonathan Clements  |  October 3, 2020

MINDFUL. INTENTIONAL. Purposeful. These are the buzzwords of our time—and they make me slightly queasy, with their whiff of self-centered, self-satisfied self-indulgence.
Yet it seems those are my goals.
On Monday, a moving van will arrive to take my worldly possessions to a house in Philadelphia that, I hope, will be my last. All this has made me ponder what I want from the years that remain. Three items top my wish list:
Do good work.

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The Path Not Taken

Andrew Forsythe  |  October 1, 2020

IN AN EARLIER article, I wrote about a catastrophic stock market loss that taught me—the hard way—about the benefits of diversification and the importance of managing my own investments. That loss derailed our plans to build a large and expensive home in the hills overlooking Austin, Texas.
We were heartbroken at the time. This had been our dream for several years. But it’s funny how life works out sometimes—and it may have been the best thing that ever happened to us.

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Not Exactly True

Jonathan Clements  |  September 30, 2020

THERE ARE FINANCIAL issues on which reasonable people can disagree. This article is not about those issues. Instead, it’s about issues where people disagree—because one side has a fundamental misunderstanding.
These misunderstandings, I fear, are leading folks to shortchange themselves financially—and we’re talking here about some of the most important money decisions we make. Examples? Based on the comments I’ve received, here are three widespread misconceptions:
1. Commissions equal trading costs. If you think it’s free to trade stocks because you aren’t paying a brokerage commission,

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