USING HIS CONTACTS and connections, our son landed an interview with a New York City health-care system. He was hired as a business analyst and started work in August 2016.
Along with his roommate—also a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania—our son chose to live in Jersey City, N.J., because it’s cheaper than Manhattan, plus his roommate’s job required that he split time between Newark, N.J., and Manhattan. The rent on their 600-square-foot apartment was $2,500,
LAST MONTH saw more folks visit HumbleDollar than ever before. What were you reading? These were the seven most popular blogs:
My Favorite Word
August also saw a slew of readers for a blog that first ran in July, Not So Predictable, as well as for HumbleDollar’s newsletters from early August and mid-August.
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KANYE WEST, it turns out, is one heck of an investor. According to a recent analysis, a group of West’s stock picks has beaten the overall market by 40 percentage points this year. It’s an astonishing result. What, if anything, can we learn from his performance?
First, some background: As you may know, West is married to Kim Kardashian, who is one of the dominant personalities on social media, so it was via Instagram that the world gained a window into these investments.
STORIES ARE MORE powerful than statistics, which can make for maddening personal-finance conversations. You offer a rational argument, only to have it derailed by your brother-in-law’s anecdotal evidence. Still, two areas of personal finance appear to be more susceptible to reason than others, as I explain in HumbleDollar’s latest newsletter.
Our early September newsletter also includes a plug for my new book and a full list of the blogs published since the last newsletter.
GETTING INTO COLLEGE is a complicated business—and it doesn’t get less so once your teenager is accepted. There are countless financial challenges and discussions related to tuition, ongoing expenses, buying books, transportation and more. For us, all the logistics were a little more involved, because our son decided to attend the University of Pennsylvania, away from our home state of North Carolina.
In addition to the “big stuff,” we wanted to make sure our son was successful managing his everyday finances.
I’M IN THE PROCESS of moving into a 55-plus condo community—in my case, way plus. The property taxes on my new condo will be $12,200 a year, the bulk of which goes toward the local school system. But here’s the thing: No one in the community has children in school and hasn’t for decades. That got me to thinking. Why can’t we just buy the services we need from the town?
Years ago, I felt quite differently.
SHORTLY AFTER I retired, my father was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. I would spend the next three years helping my mother take care of him. After my father passed away, my mother was emotionally devastated and her health started to decline. It has been nine years since I retired, and most of that time has been spent taking care of my parents.
It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It takes compassion,
MY SONS’ BASKETBALL coach, George, has a favorite expression: He talks about “working through the uglies.” When you’re developing a new skill, he says, you shouldn’t expect to be perfect the first time or even the second. But if you keep working at it, over time there will be progress, “from ugly to not-so-bad to decent to good and then, eventually, to great.” The message is clear: You can’t rush it, you can’t skip steps and you have to start with the basics.
WHEN I WAS a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, I repeatedly heard two complaints from editors, especially those with little understanding of personal finance: “Our readers want something more sophisticated” and “Where’s the news hook?”
That, in a nutshell, explains why the media can be so bad for our financial health. When print and broadcast journalists cave in to the twin imperatives of timeliness and sophistication, they’re almost guaranteed to lead their audience astray—for three reasons:
IF YOU READ articles about adding your children to your credit cards as authorized users, there will often be experts quoted, offering all kinds of dire warnings. They’ll say you need to make sure your child is responsible and won’t go on some crazy shopping spree.
We had no reason to think our son would do that—but we also didn’t see any reason to take the risk and put temptation in his wallet.
As I mentioned in my previous blog,
WE’VE ALL HEARD the expression, “the house always wins.” Does it? The evidence suggests that some casino players can consistently come out ahead. Hard to believe? Pick a casino game that has a definite element of skill and a low house “edge,” and you, too, can be paid to play a game you enjoy. I know what I’m talking about: I have enjoyed free vacations at the expense of casinos for almost two decades.
THERE’S LITTLE difference between the typical American family’s spending habits and that of our federal government—and many state governments as well. We run our government like many Americans run their financial lives, living above our means, seeking instant gratification, saving inadequately, showing little concern for the future, supporting our lifestyle with debt and denying the risks we face.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, all the major trust funds are headed for insolvency in the near future.
I JOINED MY company’s 401(k) plan at age 25. Now, I’m 51. Over the intervening 26 years, there have been many market cycles, recessions, bull markets, a financial crisis and countless periods of market volatility.
Still, my 401(k) is well on its way to being big enough for a comfortable retirement. How did it get there? A third of the balance came from my contributions, a third from my employer’s matching and profit sharing contributions,
A CURIOUS THING happened in Stockholm in 2013. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in economics to three academics who had developed theories about stock prices. What was odd was that two of the recipients—Eugene Fama and Robert Shiller—couldn’t have been more opposed in their viewpoints.
Fama believes that stock prices are always rational and that there’s no such thing as a market bubble. Shiller believes that stock prices are often irrational and that bubbles do occur.
YOU CAN’T GET high returns without taking high risk—and yet many investors believe that U.S. stocks are not only safer than foreign shares, but also pretty much guaranteed to outperform over the long haul. I take a look at this muddled thinking in HumbleDollar’s latest newsletter.
I’m now putting out the newsletter twice a month, in large part because email subscribers were requesting a regular list of HumbleDollar’s latest blogs. You’ll find that list in the newsletter,