November’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 2, 2023

WHAT CAUGHT THE EYE of visitors to HumbleDollar last month? Below are November’s 10 most popular articles and blog posts, which included three pieces by Dave Gartland and two by Ken Cutler. Also of note: Jeff Actor’s article accounted for roughly a fifth of the site’s total pageviews for November.

“I’ve been known to wash out previously used Ziploc baggies,” allows Jeff Actor. “I justified my frugality on environmental grounds. But when my spouse saw the bags in the dish drainer,

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My Retirement Prep

David Gartland  |  Nov 29, 2023

I DON’T KNOW THAT MY life has been all that different from that of others. Still, what’s happened to me has—I believe—been good preparation for retirement. Here are seven life lessons I learned on my journey from childhood through to my departure from the workforce just before my 70th birthday.
Lesson No. 1: Doing it yourself can save big money. My older brother got me interested in cars. This was the late 1950s and 1960s,

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Retirement Roulette

Jonathan Clements  |  Nov 25, 2023

IT’S HARD TO OVERSTATE how challenging it is to generate retirement income: We need our money to last at least as long as we do, and yet we don’t know how financial markets will perform, what the inflation rate will be, whether we’ll get hit with hefty long-term-care costs and how long we’ll live.
Moreover, the generic advice offered inevitably doesn’t work for many—and perhaps most—folks because we all start retirement with different attitudes,

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The Good and the Bad

Ken Cutler  |  Nov 21, 2023

LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, I’ve made both bad and good decisions during my financial journey, and those have affected the financial well-being of my now-older self. Here’s what I consider my five worst financial decisions, followed by my five best:
1. Contributing too little to my 401(k) early on. I’ve confessed to this in a prior article. I missed out on a lot of potential growth by making only token contributions to my 401(k) during my 20s.

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By the Numbers

Jonathan Clements  |  Oct 24, 2023

WHAT’S THE STATE of America’s family finances? The Federal Reserve just released its once-every-three-year look, in the guise of the 2022 Survey of Consumer Finances, which is based on in-depth interviews with some 4,600 families.
You can read the Fed’s analysis here. Below are some key insights from the latest survey:
Net worth. The typical (or “median”) net worth—meaning the value of all assets minus all debt for those American families halfway down the wealth spectrum—was $192,700 in 2022. 

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Check Before Leaving

Adam M. Grossman  |  Oct 15, 2023

AN IRONY OF PERSONAL finance is that retirement can take work. More than once I’ve heard a retiree express this sentiment: “Working was easy. Retirement is complicated.”
There is, I think, a lot of truth to this. When retirement appears on the horizon, numerous questions enter the picture. There are, of course, financial concerns: “How much will I need? Do I have enough? How should I invest my savings?” These questions are important, but they aren’t the only ones.

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Aim for the Middle

Adam M. Grossman  |  Oct 8, 2023

WHAT’S THE FIRST RULE of personal finance? To answer this question, let’s look at the financial lives of two notable individuals, starting with musician MC Hammer.
When Hammer gained fame in the 1980s, he made millions. But unfortunately, his spending quickly outpaced his income. Hammer bought 19 racehorses, employed a personal staff of 200 and built a $30 million house with a 17-car garage. The result, sadly, was bankruptcy.
If MC Hammer represents one extreme of financial management,

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On Second Thought

Jonathan Clements  |  Sep 9, 2023

WE ALL LIKE TO THINK we’re consistent in our views. I certainly do. Yet, as I recall how I thought about the financial world two decades ago and how I think about it today, I’m amazed at how much my views have changed.
Here are five pieces of advice that I give now—but which I wouldn’t have given two decades ago:
1. Don’t waste time on investing. In the early 2000s, I thought endlessly about how to structure a portfolio,

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Plane Sailing

Dennis Friedman  |  Sep 8, 2023

MY WIFE KEEPS COMING up with ideas for where we should travel next. She says, “How about New Orleans, Savannah or Charleston?” My wife can’t get enough of traveling. I’d rather hang around the house for a while.
This year, we experienced long flight delays on our last two trips back from Europe, so right now I’m not anxious to get on another plane. The most recent headache was our flight home from Ireland.

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Affordable Mistakes

Sanjib Saha  |  Aug 29, 2023

WHEN I SET OUT TO improve my financial knowledge, sites like HumbleDollar didn’t exist. Instead, I garnered insights from books, investment seminars and like-minded people. Still, my greatest lessons came from my own financial mistakes.
I’ve made many, and I still occasionally stumble. A few missteps were costly and had lasting repercussions, but the rest were less damaging, especially considering the lessons I learned from them. Here are six of what I call my “affordable mistakes.”

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What We Lose

Jonathan Clements  |  Aug 26, 2023

WHEN WE RETIRE, we win back control over our daily life. Gone is the boss, the expectation that we’ll be at work at a certain hour, the worry about what the next office email will bring. We have a degree of freedom that, in many cases, we last knew when we were students contemplating a long summer vacation.
But even as we gain that freedom, there’s also much that we lose. If we’re to be happy retirees,

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Learned in Uniform

Ken Begley  |  Aug 23, 2023

I SPENT ALMOST 43 years either on active duty or in the reserves for the Navy and Army. Yes, I’ve been around.
The following is my list of the top 17 items—including some pertinent financial details—that might surprise those who have never served in the military.
No. 1: Our primary mission is not to fight wars. Instead, it’s to be so big, so bad, so mean, so well equipped, so well trained and so well led that any potential enemy in its right mind wouldn’t want to fight us.

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Pick Your Mix

Adam M. Grossman  |  Aug 20, 2023

NO QUESTION, MANAGING an investment portfolio is tricky. On the one hand, you want stock market exposure to help drive your portfolio’s performance. But on the other, it’s agonizing when the market drops 30% or 50%—or more—as it’s done on several occasions.
How can investors strike the right balance? Like most things in personal finance, there isn’t one right answer. In general, investors can choose one of five approaches when building a portfolio.

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Financial Superpowers

Jonathan Clements  |  Aug 19, 2023

THERE ARE ALL KINDS of financial talents that seem desirable. Who wouldn’t want a knack for finding undervalued stocks, identifying star fund managers, and figuring out which way the stock and bond markets are headed? The problem: While some folks may briefly appear to possess these talents, it usually turns out that their apparent prescience was nothing more than dumb luck.
Where does that leave us? Forget the obvious but elusive financial superpowers, and focus on those that—with a little work—are available to all of us.

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Taught by Turmoil

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jul 23, 2023

MARK ZUCKERBERG and Elon Musk have been trading barbs in recent months, going as far as discussing a “cage match”—a literal fight.
This has followed a volatile few years for their respective companies. In October of last year, Musk took over Twitter and immediately started making changes. He fired 80% of its staff, causing an uptick in technical issues, and has made other spur-of-the-moment changes to the service. This has scared away advertisers, prompting a 50% drop in revenue.

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