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Harmful Illusion

Philip Stein  |  Jan 1, 2024

MANY FOLKS EQUATE a stock market downturn with losing money. I often hear comments like, “I lost money yesterday. The stock market went down.”
I believe this impression of loss is an illusion, one that can be detrimental to our financial health—because it blinds us to certain fundamental truths.
1. Illusion of lost money. You only lose money if you sell shares at a loss. If you don’t sell amid a downturn,

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What We’ve Learned

Adam M. Grossman  |  Dec 31, 2023

THIS YEAR SAW THE passing of two giants of the investment world. The first was Harry Markowitz, who in the 1950s developed a concept now known as Modern Portfolio Theory. His key insight was one that today we view as so fundamental that it’s easy to take it for granted: Markowitz was the first to articulate and quantify the importance of diversification. He later won a Nobel Prize for his work.
This year also saw the passing of Charlie Munger.

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Aging Into Bonds

William Ehart  |  Dec 28, 2023

REMEMBER WHEN YOU got that first AARP card in the mail? I must have been 50, not at all ready to begin thinking about senior discounts, and slightly offended. That was 12 years ago.

Well, I’m feeling that way again. You see, the grim reaper—oops, I mean retirement—is getting close. That means it’s time to reduce my exposure to stocks, while boosting my holdings of income-oriented investments. It’s a strange feeling for someone who has spent his life investing almost exclusively for capital appreciation.

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Don’t Trust Your Gut

Nicolas Bérubé  |  Dec 27, 2023

WE OFTEN IMAGINE WE know something about the future that’s unknowable—and the result can be costly investment mistakes. Below is an edited excerpt from the new book “From Zero to Millionaire: A Simple, Effective, and Stress-Free Way to Invest in the Stock Market,” published by Harriman House.
“I don’t think the United States is going to survive.”
Several years ago, I was having lunch with a friend in a San Francisco restaurant when he made this confession. 

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Alberta’s Money

Steve Abramowitz  |  Dec 22, 2023

I PAY FOR MY OWN partial retirement with a university pension, income from rental properties, income from the remnants of my private psychology practice and, of course, Social Security. I long ago emptied my retirement accounts to pay for our son Ryan’s college education and to help launch his career.
What about my wife Alberta? She has income from her fulltime psychology practice, her share of our rental income and Social Security. But unlike me,

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Yielding Results

William Ehart  |  Dec 21, 2023

I INVEST FOR GROWTH, not income. That will likely change as I get closer to my 2028 planned retirement. For now, I diversify my portfolio mainly with cash and short-term bonds with the goal of stability, not yield. Yet this article is about the yield I receive.

Why focus on yield? Some say everyday investors overemphasize the importance of dividends, and maybe that’s true of me. But with much of the U.S. stock market richly valued—and now that I’m only five years from retirement—I feel pretty good about my portfolio’s yield,

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Time for a Checkup

Adam M. Grossman  |  Dec 17, 2023

AS WE HEAD INTO year-end, many are cheering the financial markets’ returns. The S&P 500 has gained nearly 25% and now sits just a hair below its all-time high. Bonds are also looking more attractive, with yields at 15-year highs.
As a result, many investors are feeling a whole lot better about their portfolio balances. That’s certainly one way to measure financial progress, and it’s an important one. But as you make plans for 2024,

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Happily Ever After

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 16, 2023

INVESTING IS ABOUT finding a strategy that’ll allow us to meet our life’s goals—and which we can live with along the way. That brings me to a major portfolio change I made two years ago, and a series of changes I’m planning for the years ahead.
In late 2021, I split my portfolio in two. One part I’ll use to fund my retirement, while the other part I’ll leave to my two kids. This “bequest” portion consists of my three Roth accounts,

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Becoming an Investor

David Gartland  |  Dec 15, 2023

MY DREAM WAS TO become a brilliant investor who knew when and what to buy and sell. I imagined myself doing the necessary research, which would allow me to make savvy decisions, which would then impress my wife and relatives, as they observed my uncanny ability to always know what to do and when to do it.
This never happened.
Instead, I took stock of who I was and how I’d consistently behaved. “Know thyself” was the advice of Ken Pangburn,

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My Four Favorites

Steve Abramowitz  |  Dec 14, 2023

I’M A BELIEVER. SURE, I stray every now and then. But after a late start, I’ve now been a devotee of exchange-traded funds for many years—though some of the ETFs I own would be considered actively managed.
In his iconic A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Burton Malkiel strongly advocates long-term passive investing as the strategy of choice for individual investors. But he also confesses to having been “smitten with the gambling urge since birth.” Acknowledging that index fund investing can be “boring,” he takes pity on folks like me with “speculative temperaments,” who may need to indulge those instincts with some small portion of their portfolio.

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Fixing Your Mix

Adam M. Grossman  |  Dec 10, 2023

WITH YEAR-END IN sight, it’s a good time for some investment housekeeping. What’s worth your attention? Last week, I discussed the importance of asset allocation. According to research, this is the most significant portfolio decision you can make. But while asset allocation is important, it isn’t the only decision. Within each of the major asset classes, there’s another set of considerations.
Bonds. Earlier this year, I conducted a survey on X, as Twitter is now known,

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A Moat That Works?

Steve Abramowitz  |  Dec 7, 2023

IN THE VALLEY OF FEAR, Sherlock Holmes searches a moat to shed light on a puzzling murder, only to be surprised by what he finds. Among today’s exchange-traded index fund (ETF) cognoscenti, another moat has become the focus of inquiry.
“Holmes, which moat are you investigating now?”
“Too much chronicling of our little capers, Watson, and not enough reading. It’s the VanEck Morningstar Wide Moat ETF.”
“The who?”
“Shame, shame, Watson, you’re so ill-informed about popular culture.

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Math Rules

Bruce Roberts  |  Dec 5, 2023

I STUDIED MATH AND statistics at university. When I mentioned my academic focus at parties, eyes would glaze over as fellow students looked for a way to extricate themselves from the conversation.
To lighten the mood, I’d say I was studying statistics to learn how to get rich in the stock market. In truth, I had no idea what I was talking about, but it sounded good and would often break the ice. Still,

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An Antacid Problem

Adam M. Grossman  |  Dec 3, 2023

THERE’S AN IRONY IN the world of personal finance: The activity that’s the most entertaining—picking stocks—is also, according to the data, one of the most counterproductive. Meanwhile, making asset allocation decisions is more akin to watching paint dry, and yet—according to the data—that’s one of the most important decisions an investor can make.
Asset allocation refers to the split among your investments—how much you hold in stocks, for example, versus bonds or real estate.

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Boring Is Better

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 1, 2023

WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE, I thought I had investing all figured out. I’d taken a handful of finance and portfolio management courses, I’d allocated real money for the University of North Florida’s student-managed fund, and I’d researched individual stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and even options.
But my confidence was crushed by a year of unsuccessful options trading when I was age 20. Nonetheless, through my 20s and into my 30s, I remained optimistic that I could earn handsome long-run returns by overweighting a few investment factors—such as smaller companies and value stocks—and by having plenty of foreign stock exposure.

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