Taking Inventory

Dennis Friedman  |  October 11, 2018

MY NEXT DOOR neighbor had her home burglarized. The thieves stole some expensive electronic equipment and jewelry. In the aftermath, I thought I should make a list of my valuable possessions and take a photo of each one, in case I ever have to file an insurance claim.
Here’s my list of valuables:
1. Fender Telecaster guitar.
Yes, that’s my complete list. I really don’t own anything of value, other than that guitar, which my parents gave me in 1968 for my 17th birthday.

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Give and Receive

Julian Block  |  October 10, 2018

MANY OF MY CLIENTS volunteer to perform chores for religious institutions and other charitable organizations. I remind them that volunteers qualify for tax breaks. Their itemized deductions include what they spend to cover unreimbursed out-of-pocket outlays—though there are limits to the IRS’s generosity.
I caution clients not to count on deductions for the value of the unpaid time that they devote to charitable chores. Let’s say the prevailing rate for the kind of services they render is $100 per hour and they spend 100 hours to render those services during the year in question.

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Mini-Golf, Anyone?

Richard Quinn  |  October 9, 2018

I WAS RECENTLY on vacation. Okay, the truth is—since I’m retired—I’m always on vacation. Still, it was away-from-home time that costs extra money.
Back in the olden days, vacation meant our family of six squeezed into our 1972 two-door Duster and we were off on a six-hour drive to Cape Cod for one week. We saved for the entire year for that vacation. We allocated $100 a day to spend. If we spent less than $100,

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Double Feature

Jonathan Clements  |  October 8, 2018

THE INTERNATIONAL edition of my 2016 book, How to Think About Money, was published today by Harriman House in the U.K. Another book, you ask? Yes, this is indeed my second book launch in as many months. In September, John Wiley & Sons published my eighth personal finance book, From Here to Financial Happiness.
For the new edition of How to Think About Money, I updated a host of numbers,

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When to Roth

Adam M. Grossman  |  October 7, 2018

MY 10-YEAR-OLD son and I had a chance encounter last month with the commissioner of the Boston Police Department. After saying hello, he bent down and offered my son this advice: “Stay in school,” he said, “and listen to your parents.”
Often, the recipe for childhood success is just that simple. Ditto when it comes to managing money. The basic principles are usually pretty straightforward. But there’s one topic that often leaves people with a headache.

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Newsletter No. 33

Jonathan Clements  |  October 6, 2018

FORGET THE GOOD LIFE. Today, what many folks want is something quite different: A Good Life. Tired of running the hedonic treadmill and getting nowhere fast? Stop seeking happiness in the next promotion, pay raise and purchase—and instead try the half-a-dozen simple strategies suggested in HumbleDollar’s latest newsletter.
Behind on your reading? Our latest newsletter also includes brief descriptions and links to the 17 blogs we’ve published since our mid-September newsletter.

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Jack of Hearts

Jonathan Clements  |  October 5, 2018

ON WEDNESDAY, Vanguard Group’s 89-year-old founder John C. Bogle was in hospital to receive treatment for his latest health scare—an irregular rhythm in his transplanted heart. On Thursday and again today, he was at the Bogleheads’ 17th conference in Philadelphia, as feisty as ever.
The Bogleheads are, of course, the online community who congregate at They’re renowned as fans of frugality—especially frugally priced index funds. And Jack Bogle—even though it’s been more than two decades since he was Vanguard’s Chief Executive Officer—remains their guiding light.

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Heading Home (II)

Kristine Hayes  |  October 4, 2018

WHEN I FINALLY made the decision to apply for a mortgage, time was of the essence. Mortgage rates were rising daily and I wanted to lock in a reasonable rate as quickly as I could.
Luckily, I’m one of those people who pride themselves on being well-organized. The loan officer at my credit union sent me a lengthy list of financial documents I would need to provide before she could begin processing my loan application.

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Under Construction

Richard Quinn  |  October 3, 2018

TO MY WAY of thinking, it is inexcusable that we’ve reached the point where there’s even the possibility that Social Security may not be able to pay full benefits 16 years from now. Americans are scared by the prospect. Some have even given up hope that the program will continue to exist.
Back in 2000, Social Security’s Trustees urged action: “In view of the size of the financial shortfall in the [Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance] program over the next 75 years,

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Bouncing Back

Dennis E. Quillen  |  October 2, 2018

IN SUMMER 2005, my 40-year marriage officially ended. My previous world, with its hopes and dreams, was no more. My life as a single individual became the new reality. Part of the new reality was financial in nature. Previously developed long-term plans became fiction. New plans, by necessity, appeared on the drawing board.
My personal net worth had dropped by roughly 50%. I no longer owned my historic neighborhood condo. I lost two of our three cars,

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September’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  October 1, 2018

WHICH ARTICLES were readers drawn to last month? Here are the seven most popular blogs published by HumbleDollar in September:

Buy What You Know
Archie Is Scum
Striking a Chord
Lay Down the Law
That’s Rich
Twelve Rules
Any Alternative?

Last month also saw lots of traffic for HumbleDollar’s mid-September newsletter and for a blog from late August, Bad News.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @ClementsMoney and on Facebook.

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Not for You

Adam M. Grossman  |  September 30, 2018

MY GRANDFATHER was from Queens in New York City. He was a great guy and taught me a lot. He was also a native New Yorker, so he was street smart and tough.
One day, while we were walking together down 47th Street, near Times Square, I stopped to look at the jam-packed window of an electronics store. My grandfather waited patiently, but cautioned me, “Careful, they’ll take the eyes out of your head.”
It was a funny expression,

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Budget Busting

Jonathan Clements  |  September 29, 2018

WHO SHOULD DIET? This isn’t exactly a tough one: It’s people who need to lose weight.
Who should budget? If you listen to conventional wisdom, this is another easy one: It seems we all should. Creating a written budget, and then tracking our spending against it, is considered a sign of high financial rectitude.
I think this is nonsense. I have never created a written budget and I don’t track my spending—because I don’t need to.

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A Word of Advice

Dennis Friedman  |  September 27, 2018

THERE ARE CERTAIN things in life that remind you you’re getting old: You receive mail from companies offering their cremation services. You realize your house was made for a younger person. You have this urge to throw and give away things as if you won’t be here tomorrow. You feel it’s time to hire a financial advisor.
Actually, I’m not sure hiring a financial advisor is a sign of getting old, but that’s the way it struck me.

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Hitting Home

Julian Block  |  September 26, 2018

OWNING A HOME is getting more expensive, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted in December 2017. The new law is the most comprehensive overhaul of the Internal Revenue Code since the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The legislation includes provisions that curtail long-cherished write-offs for mortgage interest and property taxes.
It also abolishes deductions for casualty and theft losses claimed by individuals whose homes, household goods and other property suffer damage due to events like burglaries,

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