Never Retire

Ross Menke  |  January 2, 2019

IF YOU’VE EVER asked for career advice, you were probably told to “follow your passion.” This seems like great advice. Who wouldn’t want to do what they’re passionate about every day?
The reality: What you’re passionate about may not be a viable career. I’m passionate about the game of golf. But I fell short of making it my career, despite playing collegiately.
There have been plenty of times when I’ve thought I needed to change direction.

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December’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  January 1, 2019

LAST MONTH wasn’t great for traffic to this site, with page views down 9% from November. My suspicion: Folks were too busy spending money—and didn’t want to dent their holiday cheer with awkward thoughts of their financial future.
Still, I consider it a good month for HumbleDollar. Why? Five of the seven most popular blog posts were written by folks other than me—and I love it when contributors to the site get the recognition they deserve:

Just in Case
Taking Us for Fools
Grab the Roadmap
First Impressions
Be Like Neil Young
Keeping It Going
What Matters Most

Readers also flocked to our list of the most popular articles published by HumbleDollar since its year-end 2016 launch.

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Time to Reflect

Dennis Friedman  |  December 31, 2018

FOR CHRISTMAS, I bought Rachel a saucepan and a universal travel charger for her smartphone. The previous year, I bought her a pair of gloves and socks. She likes gifts that are practical and good value. During December, we prefer to spend our Christmas money on weekend trips. We live in Los Angeles county and this year we went to La Jolla and Las Vegas.
We like to collect pictures of our adventures. We not only store them on the cloud,

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Intuitively Wrong

Adam M. Grossman  |  December 30, 2018

ROBERT SOROS, son of billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, has a surprising explanation for his father’s success: “You know the reason he changes his position on the market or whatever is because his back starts killing him.”
You read that right: The younger Soros attributes his father’s success to a sort of sixth sense—as if he can feel the market in his bones. He goes on: “My father will sit down and give you theories to explain why he does this or that.” But,

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What Now?

Jonathan Clements  |  December 29, 2018

LIKE THE COBBLER whose children have no shoes, I get so busy with this website and other projects that I tend to neglect my own portfolio. I think of it as benign neglect: If you’re invested in a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds, there isn’t much reason to look or much need to trade.
But for the past week or so, I’ve been doing plenty of looking—and a little trading.
By the market close on Dec.

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Hits 2017-18

Jonathan Clements  |  December 27, 2018

AS THIS SITE heads toward its second birthday, I was curious to see which articles had resonated most with readers. Below are the top 20 blog posts and newsletter articles published by HumbleDollar since its launch at year-end 2016:

The $121,500 Guestroom
Ten Commandments
The Tipping Point
Enough Already
Retiring: 10 Questions
Making a Difference
Second Childhood
Best Investment 2018
Ten Commandments
Fooled You
Yes, It’ll Happen
How About Later?
Bad News
Courtside Seat
When I’m 64
Next to Nothing
The Morning After
Old Story


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Pay as You Go

Julian Block  |  December 26, 2018

WORKERS TODAY have income taxes and Social Security taxes withheld from their paychecks. But it didn’t always work that way: The withholding system experienced a difficult birth—in the middle of the Second World War.
The wide-ranging 1943 tax act included a provision that authorized withholding. But President Franklin Roosevelt thought the legislation too complicated, so he vetoed it, saying, “The American taxpayer had been promised of late that tax laws and returns will be drastically simplified.

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Strings Attached

Jonathan Clements  |  December 25, 2018

IT MIGHT SEEM risky to write about the gifts my kids will receive later today. Won’t that ruin the surprise? Probably not. My children and stepchildren aren’t, I suspect, regular HumbleDollar readers.
My wife and I tag-teamed on gifts this year. Her job was to find one or two items for each kid that we could wrap and throw under the tree. This works well, because she likes shopping—and I loathe it. How strong is my distaste?

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Paper Tigers

Adam M. Grossman  |  December 23, 2018

I RECENTLY received some odd communications from mutual fund giant Vanguard Group.
First, it sent a white paper, “Here today, gone tomorrow: The impact of economic surprises on asset returns.” As the title suggests, this paper examines the relationship between the economy and the stock market. In particular, the authors asked whether accurate economic forecasts could help an active trader profit in the stock market. Their conclusion: To beat a simple buy-and-hold strategy, an investor’s predictions would need to be accurate 75% of the time.

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Newsletter No. 39

Jonathan Clements  |  December 22, 2018

SUPPOSE YOU were talking about money to your children or your favorite niece or nephew. What financial ideas would you emphasize? I took a stab at this question in HumbleDollar’s latest newsletter, where I listed what I consider the seven most important financial ideas.
The newsletter also includes our usual recap of the latest blogs published on HumbleDollar. Need to catch up on your reading? Spend some time perusing the list.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @ClementsMoney and on Facebook.

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Three Questions

Jonathan Clements  |  December 21, 2018

THE BLUE CHIP stocks in the S&P 500 ended today down almost 18% from their September all-time high. Smaller U.S. shares and foreign markets have had an even rougher time in 2018. To get their higher reward, stock market investors have to shoulder higher risk. Guess what? This is risk.
It’s also looking increasingly like a decent buying opportunity. If this turns out to be a full-fledged bear market, history suggests the peak-to-trough decline will be around 35%,

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Not So Fast

Jiab Wasserman  |  December 20, 2018

THE GENDER PAY gap is quantifiable. But there are also other, subtler forms of workplace discrimination that are harder to quantify, but which women face every day.
When I was part of a five-person analyst team, my manager invited everyone on the team to a poker night at his house—except me, the only female. When I asked why I was left out, he said the absence of women would make the guys feel freer to relax.

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Be Like Neil Young

Dennis Friedman  |  December 19, 2018

ONE OF MY favorite musicians is singer and songwriter Neil Young, who has sold millions of records since the 1960s. Young was rated No. 17 by Rolling Stone on its list of 100 greatest guitarists. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: once as a solo artist in 1995 and as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997.
When I was in college in the early 1970s, I would often hear students strumming their guitars to his songs as I walked across campus.

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It’s All Relative

Julian Block  |  December 18, 2018

YOUR INVESTMENT holdings might include an asset that’s dropped in value since you bought it. Still, you have great hopes for the investment: While you’d like to sell and get the tax loss, you really hate to part with your old friend. Should you instead sell it to your spouse or your child?
You can usually claim losses on investments when you sell them. But IRS code section 267 generally disallows deductions for losses on sales to certain family members and other related parties.

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Saving Ourselves

Richard Quinn  |  December 17, 2018

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT said on Aug. 14, 1935, that the new Social Security program would provide “some measure of protection to the average citizen… against poverty-ridden old age.”
Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works and chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition, opined this year that “after a lifetime of work Americans should have enough guaranteed Social Security to maintain their standard of living.”
Make no mistake: There’s a vast gap between Roosevelt’s notion of protecting against poverty and Altman’s goal of guaranteeing one’s standard of living.

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