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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Rebuilding My Ladder

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 13, 2022

I DID IT AGAIN. I correctly identified a trend but jumped too soon.
When interest rates plummeted as the Federal Reserve reacted to COVID-19, I had a ladder of certificates of deposit. Some of these CDs are only now reaching maturity. Each step of the ladder yielded 2% to 3%. This looked good in comparison to the low rates available through most of the COVID period.
As the short-term CDs in the ladder matured,

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Read Before Jumping

Jonathan Clements  |  Nov 12, 2022

WHEN MARKETS PLUNGE, investors start questioning whether they have the right mix of stocks, bonds and cash. That’s no great surprise: Bear markets hammer home the investment risks we’re taking—and many folks discover their portfolio is too aggressive for their taste.
That’s a useful insight for the future. But it’s hardly one you want to act upon when, even after Thursday’s rally, the broad stock market remains down some 16% for the year-to-date and the bond market is off 14%.

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Actively Subtracting

William Ehart  |  Nov 11, 2022

A NEW RESEARCH report confirms that there are darn few reasons to consider an actively managed fund over an index fund—and, indeed, this year’s bear market has made the case for active funds even weaker.
Remember active fund managers, those stars of TV and magazines in days of yore? Purportedly, they could beat their relevant indexes by buying the best-performing stocks and bonds, shifting sector and country weights, and sidestepping market pitfalls. That notion seems almost quaint today—because it’s been proved so thoroughly and repeatedly wrong.

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Worst Year Ever

Greg Spears  |  Nov 8, 2022

BONDS ARE ON PACE to have their worst year on record. To be sure, once interest rates stop rising—perhaps early next year—they may win back their place as a worthwhile investment for retired investors. But right now, that feels like wishful thinking.
As the Federal Reserve has hastily raised short-term interest rates in big steps to fight inflation, bond prices have fallen down the cellar stairs. Bloomberg’s broad U.S. aggregate bond index is down 16% in 2022.

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TINA Is Dead

John Yeigh  |  Nov 6, 2022

OVER THE PAST FEW weeks, my wife and I did something we hadn’t done in four years: We bought bonds.
Specifically, we parked some money in one- to two-year Treasurys paying 4.3% to 4.6%—the highest rates in 15 years. Our portfolio now approaches 5% bonds, and we plan to buy more. We’re waiting to capture higher rates following the expected Federal Reserve rate increases.
Bonds represent a seismic shift for us. In early 2020,

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Stellar Results

Edmund Marsh  |  Nov 5, 2022

THE NATIONAL Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has good reason to boast. Its programs serve as a catalyst to generate billions of dollars of economic activity that’s spread across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Also, the transfer of NASA spinoff technologies and products to private businesses improves the lives of each of us in myriad ways.
Along the way, it’s even put men on the moon—and plans to do so again,

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Convenience’s Cost

Gaurav Kumar  |  Nov 4, 2022

ONE OF THE BEST features of the stock market is liquidity—but it’s also one of the worst.
Whenever the market is open, we can find out precisely what our investments are worth and, if we’re so inclined, we can turn our stocks into cash with the click of a button. But this convenience comes with a major disadvantage: Yes, we can buy at any time—but we can also sell. This tempts some to bail out at the worst possible moment,

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Should Have Waited

Jonathan Clements  |  Nov 3, 2022

BILLIONS OF DOLLARS poured into Series I savings bonds toward the end of October, as investors rushed to snag the 9.62% annualized rate then on offer, which was guaranteed for the first six months. But it turns out these folks were a tad too hasty.
How so? Buyers of I bonds are promised a pretax return equal to the inflation rate, plus they sometimes also get an additional fixed rate of interest, over and above inflation,

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Own It All

Greg Spears  |  Nov 2, 2022

ONLY CASH IS SHOWING a positive return this year, while most parts of the stock and bond market have suffered double-digit losses. And with inflation spiking, even cash investments have been a losing proposition in 2022. With nowhere to hide, perhaps it’s time to renounce active management and consider the three-fund portfolio.
Long championed on the Bogleheads forum, the three-fund portfolio is an indexing approach that drives down costs, feasts on diversification and ends investment selection errors by sticking with just three funds:

Total U.S.

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