REMEMBER THAT PLANE ride when the woman next to you was consumed with the Times crossword puzzle? Every so often, she would grimace in frustration and rapidly tap the pencil against her forehead. But after a few deliberate sips of red wine, she returned to her obsession.
I have my own fetish. It’s called the January effect.
As December winds down, the tendency of stocks to rise in January becomes a favorite topic of market pundits.
I’VE OFTEN COMPARED the stock market to a Rorschach test. Depending on your perspective, what’s happening can look very different. But even in a market full of Rorschach tests, one company’s stock stands out: Tesla. Some people see it as a world-class company that’s changing the world. Others see it as a company led by an erratic genius that one day will inevitably fade—like MySpace or Polaroid.
Recently, a blogger named Alex Voigt wrote that Tesla’s head start in electric vehicles “will soon make Toyota look like what it is—a loser.” He then added for emphasis: “Dead man walking.”
Is Voigt right or wrong?
I RECENTLY READ AN article in Barron’s that inadvertently revealed two more reasons investing in broad-based index funds is the only sensible course of action.
The article, titled “This ‘Crazy’ Retirement Portfolio Has Just Beaten Wall Street for 50 Years,” touted the “All Asset No Authority” (AANA) portfolio. This “simple portfolio” consists of splitting your money equally among U.S. large-company stocks (S&P 500), U.S. small-company stocks (Russell 2000), developed international stocks (MSCI’s Europe,
FRANK CAPPIELLO and Carter Randall were longtime panelists on the television show Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser. Panelists typically worked at investment firms, with their affiliations displayed on the screen. At some point, Cappiello and Randall retired. On the screen, each was simply identified as an “independent investor.” At least one regular guest, John Templeton, also achieved this listing after retiring from running the Templeton Funds.
That “independent investor” label intrigued me then and does to this day.
I BEGAN BUYING Series I savings bonds in 1999. At the time, you could purchase them at a local bank and receive paper bonds. Amid 2022’s spike in inflation, those early bonds that I bought were—for a six-month stretch last year—yielding an annualized 13.08%. Not bad for a low-risk investment.
One drawback to buying savings bonds: the limit on how much a person can purchase each year. When I began buying Series I savings bonds,
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,
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,
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,
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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,