House in Order

Michael Flack  |  Feb 6, 2023

“I WOULD SAY TO the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering…. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory. Victory at all costs—victory in spite of all terror—victory, however long and hard the road may be,

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Bought to Be Sold

Michael Flack  |  Nov 17, 2022

I’M STILL AMAZED WHEN I speak with friends and neighbors who have no idea what their home is worth. They tell me they might sell in the near future. When I ask them how much they think they’ll get, they say something like, “I’m not sure, I’m meeting a real estate agent next week.”
Homeowners always need to know how much their home is worth. You can’t wait until your boss tells you about a great opportunity in Honolulu to start determining your home’s value.

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Losing My Cool

Michael Flack  |  Oct 9, 2022

IF THERE’S ONE THING that causes more marital stress than money, it’s the thermostat. I figured combining both into one article would be nothing less than genius.
As I grow older, I’ve come to appreciate my father’s fascination with the thermostat, because now I, too, am constantly adjusting it. In my case, based on the current and future temperature, humidity and cloud cover, the adjustments are in the most economical direction. My wife is a set-it-and-forget-it kind of gal,

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Looking Not Seeing

Michael Flack  |  Sep 27, 2022

IN THE NAVY, THEY USED to say, “You don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect.” Inspections played a major role in how the Navy determined the competency and capability of a warship. For nuclear-powered submarines, the most important inspection was the Operational Reactor Safeguard Exam, or ORSE, which rhymes with horse.
A team of experts thoroughly inspected all aspects of a submarine’s nuclear power plant. This covered everything from material readiness (“verdigris on valve stem”),

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Anchors Aweigh

Jiab Wasserman  |  Sep 7, 2022

THE DALLAS HOUSING market has recently shown signs of slowing. In our townhome community, I’ve noticed that houses are sitting unsold for longer. Until recently, any place on the market for more than seven days was considered unusually long.
Two weeks ago, we became interested in buying a two bedroom, two bath townhome on our street as a rental property. It was listed at $375,000. Upon a closer look, however, we found the following:

The property hasn’t been upgraded since 1988.

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Best Option

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 6, 2022

BACK IN 2005, my employer was in merger talks. If the deal had gone through, I would have lost my job. I’d already received an offer of promotion to vice president. That made me eligible for an officer’s severance package that included, among other things, two years’ pay plus my full pension.
I was almost hoping the deal would go through, but it didn’t. Still, I was made a VP and worked another five years.

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Backdoor Real Estate

Steve Abramowitz  |  Sep 1, 2022

“I’VE GOT SOME REAL estate here in my bag,” croons Paul Simon, as he consoles his lover in the iconic 1968 song America.
The real estate industry’s marketing arm couldn’t have put it better. The industry’s message: If you want to feel secure and be prosperous, get yourself some real estate.
Problem is, many people can’t come up with the down payment for a home or rental property. The good news: There’s an alternative to direct ownership.

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Best Advice Ever

Kristine Hayes  |  Aug 26, 2022

I’M EMBARRASSED to admit that the best piece of financial advice I’ve ever received is also the only piece of financial advice I’ve ever received. To make matters worse, the advice came from someone who stood to profit from the guidance he was providing.
As a child, I don’t remember a single family discussion about money. There were no dinner table talks about the stock market. There were no lectures about saving, spending or investing for college.

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Poor House?

Kenyon Sayler  |  Aug 20, 2022

MY 95-YEAR-OLD mother recently asked my brother and me what information we could get on our cellphones. While showing her the many possibilities, we went to Zillow, so she could see the information that the site has about the house that my wife and I own.
Zillow estimates that the house is currently worth $336,700, and said that we purchased it in 1986 for $86,700. My brother, who is much smarter than me, did some quick mental math using the rule of 72,

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Rate Relief Ahead?

Mike Zaccardi  |  Aug 15, 2022

ONE OF MY FAVORITE indicators right now is the ICE BofAML MOVE Index. Sound like trading jargon? Think of it as comparable to the VIX, except—instead of measuring stock market volatility—it does the same for bonds. Today, it’s indicating improving confidence in what’s lately been a very turbulent bond market.
MOVE is high when there are big daily swings in bond market interest rates. That’s what we’ve seen in 2022 as traders grapple with fast-changing economic data.

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A Narrow Escape

Sanjib Saha  |  Aug 12, 2022

I ENVY THOSE WHO can remain patient and calm in almost any situation. Thanks to my neurotic personality, I find it hard to wait for an outcome over which I have little control. This year, I narrowly escaped that sort of agonizing experience. What happened? We found ourselves selling our home during 2022’s suddenly cooling real estate market.
I was surprised last year when the red-hot property market pushed our modest home past the $1 million mark.

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The Humble Landlord

Steve Abramowitz  |  Jul 28, 2022

MY FATHER WAS BUILT like a linebacker and hollered like a coach. One evening in the late 1950s, I accompanied him as he went door-to-door to collect rents.
A tenant called Schoenfeld—I only recall his surname—paid his rent reliably, but he was always a month late and he didn’t include the late fee. This drove my father nuts. That night, he unloaded on him. When I asked my father why he had to be so hard on Schoenfeld,

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Procrastination Pays

Kristine Hayes  |  Jul 15, 2022

I CONSIDER MYSELF to be a reasonably skilled do-it-yourselfer. I’ve tackled painting, plumbing and even small electrical projects with the help of YouTube. I figure I’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years by completing various projects myself rather than hiring a professional.
A couple of months ago, our utility provider offered my husband and me a deal on a new “smart” thermostat. The utility would give us the thermostat for free if we agreed to sign up for one of its energy saving programs.

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Falling Like a Brick

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jul 11, 2022

IF YOU THINK STOCKS have fallen fast this year, check out the collapse in the National Association of Realtors’ housing affordability index. The index tracks how financially easy it is for the typical family to buy a house with a conventional 30-year mortgage.
May’s reading of 102.5 is down sharply from the 154.4 recorded in December 2021 and it’s just a whisker away from the lowest levels seen in the past four decades. For those of us in the southern U.S.,

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Home Sweet Whatever

Kevin Thompson  |  Jun 24, 2022

I PURCHASED MY FIRST home in 2005. At the time, I was a Major League Baseball prospect with the New York Yankees organization. I had always been taught that homeownership was part of the American dream. Looking back, I’m now much more skeptical.
Purchasing a home on my salary was difficult. Minor leaguers don’t land big contracts like their counterparts in the major leagues. In fact, I had multiple years when I made less than $10,000 as a professional baseball player.

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