I TURN AGE 58 today—and, a few days ago, HumbleDollar turned four. The good news: Only one of us is slowing down.
In 2020, HumbleDollar garnered 3.6 million pageviews, up from 2.6 million in 2019, 1.7 million in 2018 and 900,000 in 2017, which was our first year. Here’s a closer look at those numbers and what’s been happening here at HumbleDollar:
Earlier this week, I posted a list of the 20 most widely read articles from the past four years.
I MADE A SMART financial decision last year that netted me thousands of dollars. What’s so fantastic about this decision is that I didn’t have to do anything. I just sat back and let my investment portfolio do all the work.
If you did what I did and ignored the talking heads, and just bought and held a diversified mix of stocks and bonds, your investment portfolio performed well in 2020. Those who warned about investing in overvalued domestic stocks and low-yielding bonds might be right one day,
AS A PARENT, it’s my responsibility to teach my children good financial habits. Core among these are deferring gratification, saving diligently, giving generously and making sensible spending choices. I feel it’s also important to make my children aware of financial pitfalls. Succeeding financially—and in life generally—seems to be as much about avoiding self-destructive habits as it is about cultivating good ones.
My wife and I have been homeschooling our children for the last couple of years.
‘TIS THE SEASON for making predictions and financial recommendations for the year ahead. Since everyone else is doing it, I figured I’d hop on the bandwagon. Here are my 10 predictions and recommendations for 2021:
1. The stock market will fluctuate, but company dividends will be relatively stable.
John Pierpont Morgan was asked what the stock market would do next. According to legend, he answered, “It will fluctuate.” If only financial experts were so truthful today.
OVER THE PAST FOUR years, readers have a cast an eye on almost 8.8 million of HumbleDollar’s pages. But which have they looked at most often? Below are the 20 most widely read articles since HumbleDollar’s launch at year-end 2016:
Terms of the Trade (2019) by Jim Wasserman
Nobody Told Me (2020) by Jonathan Clements
Farewell Money (2019) by Richard Quinn
He Gets, She Gets (2020) by James McGlynn
Don’t Delay (2020) by Dennis Friedman
The Taxman Cometh (2020) by James McGlynn
Still Learning (2019) by Richard Quinn
Don’t Get an F (2019) by James McGlynn
My Four Goals (2020) by Jonathan Clements
27 Things to Do Now (2020) by Jonathan Clements
Farewell Yield (2020) by Jonathan Clements
Ten Commandments (2018) by Richard Quinn
Enough Already (2017) by Jonathan Clements
Flunking the Test (2020) by Richard Connor
The Tipping Point (2018) by Jonathan Clements
12 Investment Sins (2020) by John Lim
This Too Shall Pass (2020) by Richard Connor
Unanswered (2018) by Jonathan Clements
45 Steps to Success (2019) by Jonathan Clements
The $121,500 Room (2018) by Joel M.
I STARTED WORK in 1961 as a mailroom boy earning $1.49 an hour. There was a fellow named Tony who worked there, too. He started a few years before me. Today, Tony is 87 years old and he still works in the same mailroom. He collects his pay, his pension and his Social Security. I don’t know what motivates Tony, but apparently retirement holds no attraction. Tony is atypical.
When my work situation changed after 49 years in a way that took the fun out of the job,
WHEN I THINK BACK on 2020—and I know we aren’t quite done with it yet—I’m reminded of the movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. But to paraphrase Nietzsche, chaos isn’t all bad—if something positive ultimately emerges from it.
Below are five financial lessons that, in my mind, are worth carrying beyond this year:
1. Stock prices respond to news—but never in a predictable way. Leading up to the election,
I NEVER REALLY liked the vehicles that I owned. They were an unimpressive lot, including a Volkswagen Beetle, Mercury Capri, Toyota SR5 pickup, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. I would like to say they got me where I needed to go, but that wasn’t always the case. All the cars, except for the Camry, were unreliable, which would sometimes make my life stressful and difficult. Of course, keeping those cars for many years didn’t help.
YES, MONEY BUYS STUFF—and we all need some stuff. But that’s probably its most prosaic use. Want to make the most of the dollars that pass through your hands? Here are a dozen other things that money can buy:
The warm glow that comes from helping those who are less financially fortunate.
The extra time you purchase by hiring someone to do chores you dislike.
The fun of daydreaming about all the experiences and possessions you might buy.
I RECENTLY WROTE about how, if you claim Social Security benefits before age 66 or 67, your monthly check could be reduced if your earned income is “too high.” Shortly after the article appeared, I ran into a colleague who was struggling with the issue.
My colleague had retired a few years back. He thought there might be some opportunities to do part-time consulting with our old employer. But nothing came of it during the first year he was retired,
CONVENTIONAL wisdom posits that a car is a poor investment, at least from a financial standpoint. It’s extraordinarily difficult to turn a profit, especially over the long term.
According to Carfax, the owner of a new car can expect the vehicle to lose 20% of its value in the first year and 10% annually thereafter. Beyond depreciation, owning a car involves fuel and maintenance costs, insurance premiums, parking fees, registration fees, tolls, sales tax,
BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, my father and I would go out for coffee every Saturday morning. I would order a venti mocha Frappuccino with soymilk, which would cost $6, while he would opt for a tall dark roast, black, price $2.50.
As I ordered, my dad would joke, “You millennials and your avocado toast.” In fact, my dad had the same reaction to many of my spending habits. “You spent $50 on a shirt?” he’d ask me,
DURING THE BULL RUN of the 1990s, when the S&P 500 soared 417%, I had a brilliant idea: Why not start an investment club? I invited my father and sister to participate. My mother declined. It turned out she was the smart one in the family. We met periodically, usually on a Sunday, to decide which companies to invest in.
I was serious about this endeavor and determined to make it successful. I even gave our new investment club a name: DSD.
YOU’RE DRIVING DOWN the highway when, all of a sudden, a maniac goes speeding by, weaving in and out of lanes. Most of us have experienced this—and most of us have the same reaction. “That guy is crazy,” we think to ourselves. “If he doesn’t slow down, someone’s going to get hurt.”
But suppose that an observer instead responded, “That fellow’s speed is perfectly appropriate. Nothing at all wrong with it.” Now, you might think it’s the observer who’s the crazy one.
OUR MOST PRECIOUS resource is time. I’m determined to waste as little as possible.
Unless we’re at death’s door, none of us knows how much time we have, but we all know it’s limited. Yes, money is also limited—but, if we squander money, there’s always a chance we can make it back. Time lost, by contrast, is gone forever.
My preoccupation with time and its dwindling supply has grown as I’ve grown older. I may be patient with my investments,