YOU MAY HAVE heard me say this before: I don’t think people need to budget if they have an effective spending and saving system. Recently, a reader of my blog challenged me on that point, arguing that you need a budget to ensure you’ll have enough to pay off your credit cards in full.
Au contraire, as we say here in New Jersey.
You may also have heard of the envelope method, where some people place money in envelopes for specific expenses.
THEY SAY A PICTURE is worth a thousand words. But what about a chart?
A few weeks back, I noted that the stock market had become unusually top-heavy, with just five companies—Alphabet (i.e. Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—accounting for 20% of the overall value of the S&P 500. A chart that appeared online last week illustrates the impact of that imbalance. What it showed, in a nutshell, is that the overall S&P 500 is around breakeven for the year,
IT’S NEVER BEEN cheaper to build a globally diversified portfolio of index funds. In fact, today, you could invest $100,000 and pay just $10 in annual fund expenses—equal to the cost of two Big Macs and a large fries.
Moreover, you don’t need $100,000 to build that portfolio. Not even close. The funds in question—which are managed by Fidelity Investments—have no required investment minimum, which means your four-year-old could start investing with the contents of her piggybank.
AS THE MARKET plunged earlier this year, I recalled the sage advice of billionaire investor Mark Cuban: “When you don’t know what to do, do nothing.” My wife and I are 100% in index funds, so doing nothing was easier for us than for more active investors. Still, we did take some action and, more important, learned some valuable lessons.
Examples? With the bear market apparently behind us, I decided to create a record of the steps we took,
WHEN FINANCIAL planners are asked at parties what they do for a living, many hesitate to be specific. Why? Because the inevitable follow-up questions relate to where they think the stock market, the dollar, interest rates or the economy are headed.
It’s a myth that dies hard—the idea that a financial planner is a market prophet with special powers for foreseeing the next big boom or bust. To be sure, some advisors position themselves as smart forecasters or market timers.
MAY 18, 2020, started as an ordinary Monday. I was busy with office work. An email from our human resources department hit my inbox. It said something about fraudulent unemployment benefits. I couldn’t pay attention right away, so I saved it to read later.
That evening, I found five letters from our state’s unemployment claims department in the mail. I’d never heard of such a department, but it reminded me about the email I got earlier.
DELAYING SOCIAL Security until age 70 will get you the largest possible monthly benefit, and that’s the right strategy for many retirees. But what’s right for many folks won’t necessarily be right for you—and you may want to file at 62, the youngest possible age, so you maximize your total lifetime benefit.
If you’re single with no dependents, you should probably file at age 62 if you’re in poor health or your family doesn’t have great genes,
I RECENTLY WROTE about the market indicators I pay attention to. As a long-term, buy-and-hold investor focused on gradually building wealth, I downplay the importance of day-to-day market gyrations. Nevertheless, I can’t deny my fascination with charts and big market moves.
Back in college, I used to watch CNBC all the time. Now, I rarely have it on. The talking heads are constantly discussing matters that I believe are distractions. There’s a set of indicators that make headlines and are great fodder for financial journalists,
IN RECENT WEEKS, I’ve focused on some of the growing risks in the financial system. In the stock market, there are day trading enthusiasts and their obliging brokers. In Washington, there’s a Federal Reserve that has served up a seemingly bottomless punch bowl of new money.
Result: Despite the current recession and 11% unemployment, the stock market is close to its pre-coronavirus all-time high, fueled in part by the Fed’s policies, which have driven income-starved investors to take greater risk.
I’M PROBABLY a year or two away from regularly tapping my portfolio for income. That prospect—coupled with this year’s market turmoil—has led me to tinker with my investment mix and ponder how I’ll generate cash once I’m retired. One surprising result: I have more in stocks today than I’ve had at any time in the past three years, and I’m thinking of increasing my allocation even further.
Since 2014, I’ve thought of myself as semi-retired.
ON FEB. 12, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took the stage at a press briefing to address escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iraq. A reporter asked him a question regarding evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Rumsfeld famously replied, “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know.
OUR PAST INVESTMENT errors give us strong clues about how we’ll behave in future. They also contain lessons we can put to good use.
Since I started investing, I’ve occasionally assessed my performance—but not in the traditional sense. Rather than evaluating my portfolio’s results, I’ve been pondering my response to the errors I’ve made.
My first mistake happened before I even began investing. I avoided the stock market because of fears of a potential correction.
MANY OF US DREAM of owning a second home near the sea, a lake or the mountains. For my wife and me, that dream location was the southern New Jersey shore. We’d both spent many vacations there as children and then did the same with our own growing family. We had visions of taking grandkids to the beach and boardwalk.
In March 2012, we realized our dream by purchasing a three-bedroom condo in Ocean City,
I MISS BASEBALL. I love the strategy and the moments of excitement that come in the later innings. I also like to attend games, watching the interaction among the players and coaches. The third base coach plays a big role, relaying signals from the manager to the baserunners and the batter. If you’re a player, and you miss a signal, it can ruin the next play.
While the stock market has signals, they aren’t as black and white as those in baseball.
I’M THE TYPE of person who likes to plan. I have at least 10 to-do lists going at any one time. I have calendars on my refrigerator, my desk and my phone. I plan out my days, my months, my years and, on occasion, my decades.
My job, managing the biology department at a small liberal arts college, is a perfect fit for my personality. For the past 22 years, I’ve methodically planned out every day of each semester.