Just Do It

Richard Quinn  |  Feb 3, 2023

AS A REGULAR READER of HumbleDollar, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, I pick up all kinds of pointers on investing. And the more I read, the more I think I may have been doing it wrong all these years. My approach to picking investments is more aligned with a dartboard than a spreadsheet.

I’ve never owned an exchange-traded fund. I don’t know what the VIX is,

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Hearing Voices

Marjorie Kondrack  |  Jan 28, 2023

READING ABOUT FINANCE can be a little dry at times, so I occasionally turn to TV for relief, relaxation and a little entertainment. What am I drawn to? More than anything, it hinges on a person’s voice.
For instance, I like listening to Neil Cavuto on Fox Business Network. His interviews with business leaders are usually interesting and his demeanor holds my attention. He comes across as earnest.
My parents were transplanted New Englanders,

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Death to Dividends

Michael Flack  |  Jan 13, 2023

KIPLINGER’S HAS TOUTED using dividends to “Fund 20 Years of Retirement,” Forbes insists they’re useful “For Sleeping Well At Night During Turbulent Times,” and Seeking Alpha declares “I’m Living The Retirement Dream, Paid With Big Dividends.”
Morningstar has an entire monthly newsletter devoted to the subject of dividends. I even vaguely recall HumbleDollar praising the virtues of dividend-paying stocks.
Investing in such stocks is perhaps the oldest investing meme in the world,

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A Taste for Junk

Sonja Haggert  |  Dec 21, 2022

BONDS ARE IN THE NEWS again. Everyone’s talking about Series I savings bonds and Treasurys. But what about corporate bonds, both investment-grade and junk?
Nine years ago, we started following Marc Lichtenfeld’s investment service that recommends corporate bonds. When my husband suggested we try it, I asked, “Aren’t corporate bonds junk bonds?” Forgive the holiday reference, but I had visions of Michael Milken dancing in my head.
From the beginning, my husband was all in.

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Clipping Coupons

Adam M. Grossman  |  Dec 11, 2022

IN A TYPICAL YEAR, the bond market doesn’t attract much interest. That’s by design. The role of bonds in a portfolio is to serve as a bulwark against the unpredictability of stocks. They’re supposed to be boring.

All that changed this year. Thanks to rising interest rates, the most common total bond market index, the Bloomberg Aggregate, has lost about 11%. To put that in perspective, this index has delivered a negative return in only three of the past 25 years.

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Clear as Knight

Michael Flack  |  Dec 9, 2022

GOOGLE THE WORD “annuity” and you’ll receive 97 million and one results. Is there anything left to be said?
Yes, I think there is.
About 11 years ago, my 89-year-old mother asked me if she should invest more money in her Knights of Columbus annuity. Unbeknownst to me, she and my father had purchased it many years earlier. It earned a guaranteed 3.5% annual interest rate, which was better than every savings account or certificate of deposit available,

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Watching Them Grow

Joe Springer  |  Dec 8, 2022

FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS, I’ve bought dividend-paying stocks and then reinvested my dividends. The big appeal: I increase my wealth with minimal effort.
Starting as a dividend investor used to be tricky, but it’s now much simpler. Many discount brokerage firms have no minimum to open an account and no longer charge stock commissions. You can also purchase shares through the dividend reinvestment plans offered by the transfer agents for many companies. These plans allow shareholders to reinvest their dividends and also purchase shares in amounts as little as $50 or $100.

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Not My Game

William Ehart  |  Dec 4, 2022

INVESTING CAN AND should be simple—and yet sometimes I make it so hard. Blame it on my ego and a faulty belief in my ability to pick winners among exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and, once in a while, individual stocks.

Problem is, I’ve had a few things go my way this year. Now that know-it-all feeling is rearing its ugly head again—“hey, I can pick stocks and sectors”—even though it’s hurt me badly in the past.

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Guessing Game

Richard Quinn  |  Nov 29, 2022

ALL THIS MARKET turmoil has me thinking about my portfolio—and the things I’m a little hazy about.

One of my stock mutual funds just paid me a capital gains distribution of more than $5,000. I sure wasn’t expecting that. In fact, I wasn’t expecting any capital gains this year. It seems the net gain on the sale of individual stocks within a mutual fund are distributed to shareholders, no matter how the overall fund has performed.

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New Rules for Success

Jonathan Clements  |  Nov 26, 2022

FOUR DECADES OF falling inflation and declining interest rates have come to an abrupt halt—and that’s changed the calculus on a fistful of financial decisions.
Want to make smarter money choices in the months and years ahead? Here are seven new rules for financial success:
1. Carrying debt is less foolish—in some cases. Thanks to inflation, families can now repay the money they’ve borrowed with depreciated dollars. That won’t help you with credit card debt,

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Giving Thanks

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 24, 2022

AS WE CELEBRATE Thanksgiving, I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned over the past year or so from HumbleDollar—both as a reader and as one of the site’s writers.
An article I wrote about claiming Social Security bounced back and forth a few times between me and HumbleDollar’s editor, Jonathan Clements. The breakthrough came when Jonathan referred me to a free online calculator built by financial blogger Mike Piper. I’d been trying to do my own calculation in Excel.

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The Next Buffett—Not

Adam M. Grossman  |  Nov 20, 2022

A UNIVERSAL TRUTH about market bubbles is that they’re​ masters of disguise. Each new bubble appears different enough, at least on the surface, to reel in unsuspecting investors. While bubbles are almost as old as the market itself, the latest example—centered around the cryptocurrency exchange FTX—is particularly impressive. At this point, no one is 100% sure what happened, but this is what we know so far.
Back in 2017, a 25-year-old MIT graduate named Sam Bankman-Fried started a hedge fund to trade cryptocurrencies.

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Made You Look

Greg Spears  |  Nov 18, 2022

I LOOKED UP OUR investment account balance recently. It’s something I’d avoided doing for months. My wife, the voice of reason, said we might bounce a check if we didn’t know how much was in the money market fund. Confession: I don’t balance our checkbook manually.
I waited to log on until after the Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 14% in October, its best month since 1976. I don’t know why the bear lost its grip on the Dow last month,

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Here for the Duration

Phil Kernen  |  Nov 15, 2022

BONDS ARE OFTEN SEEN as the safe harbor in a retiree’s portfolio. But that sure hasn’t been the case this year.
As the long era of easy monetary policy—one that dates back to 2008—has come to an end, bond owners have been handed hefty losses. With interest rates rising and the Federal Reserve tightening, many investors have come to understand the risks they run with bonds.
Was there a way to know the risk beforehand?

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Heightened Interest

Andrew Forsythe  |  Nov 14, 2022

I TEND TO KEEP MORE cash than the average investor, so the recent rise in interest rates paid on savings has my attention. In fact, 2022’s pitiful performance by bonds has caused me to shift even more money into cash.
We have online savings accounts at CIT Bank, Synchrony, Marcus and American Express. CIT is currently paying 3.25%, Synchrony 3%, Marcus 3% and American Express 2.75%. The rates have climbed so frequently this year that they’ll probably be higher by the time you read this.

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