Case Closed

Kristine Hayes  |  March 15, 2018

I’VE ALWAYS BEEN a meticulous record keeper. As a child, my 4-H record book often won top honors at the county fair. As an adult, my career as a laboratory manager requires me to keep detailed records about budgets, lab prep and equipment maintenance. All that recordkeeping has bled over into my personal life as well. I have drawers full of neatly-labeled file folders filled with receipts, tax returns and other personal documents.
It’s probably no surprise,

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Jonathan Clements  |  March 14, 2018

WANT TO CHECK your retirement readiness? There’s a slew of online calculators available, but one of the best is The site strives to deliver great content and foster an active community, and it does a decent job on those two fronts. But the site’s heart and soul is its super-sophisticated, comprehensive retirement calculator.
Truth be told, my preference usually runs to calculators that don’t require registration and don’t involve many inputs, so I was initially reluctant to create an account at

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No Substitute

Julian Block  |  March 13, 2018

FOR REASONS that make lots of sense to my clients, many of them place their homes, securities and other assets in joint ownership with their spouse or children. A characteristic of joint ownership is the right of survivorship—the co-owner who dies first loses all ownership in the property and the surviving co-owner acquires all ownership.
Many individuals mistakenly believe that joint ownership relieves them of the need to write a will. To be sure,

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The Tipping Point

Jonathan Clements  |  March 10, 2018

STARTING TO SAVE is a discouraging business. Even if you invest in stocks—and even if stocks post gains—progress initially can seem agonizingly slow.
Consider a simple example. Let’s say you earn $100,000 a year. Not exactly an everyday salary, I admit, but it makes the numbers easier to grasp. You save 12% of your income, equal to $12,000 each year. That money is invested at the start of the year and earns 6% annually,

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One Small Step

Jonathan Clements  |  March 9, 2018

IN NOVEMBER 2006, I wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal about how to get started as an investor, even if you didn’t have much money to spare. The article was read by Charlie Cutelli, a high school teacher and coach in St. Louis, Missouri.
“At the end of the article, there was a nugget about T. Rowe Price waiving the $2,500 minimum ‘if you commit to socking away at least $50 a month through an automatic investment plan’,”

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Planting Seeds

Steven Aguiar  |  March 8, 2018

ALMOST TWO YEARS ago, I made the jump from fulltime digital publishing strategist to self-employed marketing consultant. Still, I love magazines and have always wanted to start my own media company. I just never thought it would be a site devoted to house plants.
Last year, my friend John Verdery released a book called the City Dweller’s Guide to Indoor Plants. He threw up the corresponding website, where he detailed his favorite gardening tools and linked to Amazon.

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Six Figures Tiny Taxes

Adam M. Grossman  |  March 7, 2018

“IN THIS WORLD,” Ben Franklin famously once wrote, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But I would also argue that neither is completely out of our hands.
When it comes to our health, we all know that we should exercise, eat right and go for regular checkups. And when it comes to our tax bill, there’s quite a bit we can do to minimize it, especially in retirement. Below,

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My Younger Self

Kristine Hayes  |  March 6, 2018

DEAR 18-YEAR-OLD Kristine: You’re about to embark on adult life, so I want to share some financial advice with you. You will do many things right—and a few things wrong—so listen closely.
You’ll be heading off to college soon. Even though many of your high school classmates will be attending four-year schools, you’ll be staying closer to home. The local community college will be a good choice, since you have absolutely no idea what you want to do with the rest of your life.

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Making a Difference

Jonathan Clements  |  March 3, 2018

TRYING TO BEAT the market isn’t just a risky endeavor that will almost certainly end in failure. It’s also unnecessary and, arguably, an astonishing waste of money and time.
As I grow older, the clock ticks ever more loudly in my head. I hate to be kept waiting. I keep chores to a minimum. I try to eliminate activities from my day that bring little pleasure and have no purpose. I think hard before acquiring new possessions,

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Free for All

Adam M. Grossman  |  March 2, 2018

IN AUGUST 2004, venture capitalist Peter Thiel sat down to listen to a pitch from a 20-year-old entrepreneur named Mark Zuckerberg. It didn’t take long for Thiel to make up his mind. According to most accounts, they met in the morning and, after a short break for lunch, Thiel committed to buying 10% of Zuckerberg’s new company, Facebook.
In hindsight, this was clearly a smart move, making Thiel a billionaire. But while it was certainly a great investment,

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No Exit

Phil Dawson  |  March 1, 2018

IN THE NEARLY 30 years we’ve been married, Donna and I have used fewer than a handful of insurers for home, auto and umbrella liability coverage. The occasional changes we have made have been due to either the recommendations of an insurance agent or, in one case, an especially disagreeable claim experience. Fortunately, even though three of our four daughters are skilled at dispatching cars with stunning efficiency, claims have been few.
Indeed, my biggest insurance complaint has nothing to do with how a claim was handled.

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Tracking the Markets

Jonathan Clements  |  February 28, 2018

IF THERE’S ONE financial website I visit more than any other, it’s The Wall Street Journal’s market data site. Before the stock market opens, I’ll look to see whether the S&P 500 futures indicate shares are headed higher or lower. During the trading day, I’ll check occasionally to see where things stand with stocks—and, if there’s been a big move, I’ll scour news sites to see what might be driving it.
But the Journal’s market data site doesn’t just offer a snapshot of the financial markets.

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Rendering Unto Caesar

Julian Block  |  February 27, 2018

MANY OF MY CLIENTS are freelancers who are legally required to make estimated tax payments. I remind them that the IRS takes a dim view of freelancers, self-employed individuals and others who miss deadlines for making those quarterly payments. Miss just one, says the IRS, and it might exact a sizable, nondeductible penalty.
Who are in the IRS’s crosshairs? Individuals who receive income from sources not subject to withholding and whose tax liability exceeds $1,000,

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Subsidize Me

Jonathan Clements  |  February 24, 2018

ARE YOU GETTING rich off your neighbors—or are they mooching off you? You might imagine your financial success, or lack thereof, rests squarely on your own shoulders. But much also hinges on the behavior of your fellow citizens.
In numerous financial situations, one group in society effectively subsidizes another. Much of the time, you want to be the recipient of the subsidy—but not always. Consider seven examples:

Spenders subsidize those who save prodigious amounts.

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Kristine Hayes  |  February 22, 2018

MY INTEREST in personal finance began during a road trip five years ago. Driving alone, in a desolate part of the state, my choice of radio stations was limited. Desperate to find something other than static to listen to, I punched the “seek” button and came across Dave Ramsey’s radio show.
As someone who has always tried to live within or below my means, I appreciated his “beans and rice, rice and beans” philosophy.

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