Coming Out Ahead

Mike Zaccardi  |  Oct 20, 2021

LAST WEEK’S NEWS that Social Security recipients will receive a 5.9% cost-of-living adjustment for 2022 might seem like a nonevent. After all, those larger monthly checks will be fully devoured by today’s higher prices.
Or maybe not.
September’s report for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed that inflation for medical care services—a big cost for retirees—was quite tame over the past 12 months, rising less than 1%. Seniors also spend significantly less on transportation,

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Numbers Game

Kyle McIntosh  |  Oct 19, 2021

IT HAPPENED AGAIN. For the third time in two years, our credit card number was stolen. I learned this yesterday when I received the now-too-frequent question from Chase: “Do you recognize this gas station purchase for $1?” We live nowhere near the station in question, so I knew something was amiss.
I appreciate Chase’s diligence in identifying such transactions, and the fact that we won’t be held liable for any fraudulent charges. Still, I’ve grown weary of the whole process of cancelling credit cards,

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Gaining Perspective

Howard Rohleder  |  Oct 19, 2021

ON MONDAY, OCT. 19, 1987, stocks plunged more than 20%. I was relatively new to investing—and the crash shocked me. I realize now that, when you’re starting out, no matter how much you study, the trait you’re most lacking is perspective.
When I began investing, I approached a successful investor and asked for tips to learn about the market. Part of his advice was to watch Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser on PBS.

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Getting Nudged

Jim Wasserman  |  Oct 18, 2021

INFLUENCERS ARE people who use their popularity and social media presence to nudge our decision-making, especially our spending choices. They’re a powerful force in today’s marketing world, particularly with younger consumers looking for cues as to what’s hot.
In one survey, 60% of those ages 16 to 24 credited influencers with purchases they’d made in the past six months, more than any other age group. Combined with the bandwagon effect and FOMO, or fear of missing out,

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Rich Is Relative

Dennis Friedman  |  Oct 18, 2021

THE OTHER DAY, I did something I probably shouldn’t have done. I checked Zillow to see the current estimated value for the condo I sold last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I knew real estate prices had gone up quite a bit since I sold in June 2020. But when I looked at Zillow’s price, I was still surprised to see my old home had risen 19% during that short period of time. It’s hard to imagine,

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A Worthy Choice?

Mike Zaccardi  |  Oct 17, 2021

A RECENT RULING from the Department of Labor appears to pave the way for more ESG (environmental, social and governance) mutual funds in 401(k) plans. Last week, Morningstar even launched an ESG-focused retirement plan service.
ESG assets are modest compared to other parts of the money management business, but they’re growing fast. Fund flows are substantial in the U.S. and gigantic in Europe. Investors are increasingly putting their money where their conscience is. But is that really a good thing when it comes to building our long-term wealth?

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Making It Automatic

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 17, 2021

ONE OF THE TOUGHEST financial challenges most people face—second only to accumulating enough for retirement—is deciding how to convert those funds into retirement income. Especially when the goal is to never run out of money.

I pride myself on being informed. This morning, I received my comeuppance. I was reviewing my 401(k) account, which is administered by Fidelity Investments. I had taken my required minimum distribution for 2021, but was exploring other ways I could withdraw money.

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Too Heavy a Load

Michael Perry  |  Oct 16, 2021

I’M A MORNINGSTAR subscriber. I find that the site provides investing and personal finance information that’s sensible and useful for the average person, and that it promotes good investing and planning behaviors. Still, I was taken aback by a recent article, which discussed four funds that investors have been buying.
In terms of deciding what I buy, I don’t really care what others have been purchasing. Still, it’s interesting to see, so I checked it out.

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Picking Plans

Mike Zaccardi  |  Oct 16, 2021

HAVING LEFT the nine-to-five world, I face a decision: What to do about health insurance? I’m a single, generally healthy millennial. Historically, I’ve not run up major medical bills. But as with the financial markets, past performance doesn’t guarantee future outcomes. Here are the five options I’ve been considering:
1. Continue COBRA. When I left my job, I kept my old employer’s health plan, but I have to pay the full cost of coverage.

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Top of the Class

Charles D. Ellis  |  Oct 15, 2021

AMONG PENSION PLANS, foundations and other institutional investors, the dream is to invest with top-quartile money managers. But, alas, that appears to be an impossible dream. Most managers end up disappointing.
Sadly, it’s the same for everyday investors who buy actively managed funds. Most funds wind up lagging behind the market averages, and that’s before factoring in the high taxes these funds often generate and the extra risks they take.
Lots of reasons for this failure have been identified: Money managers stray from their investment discipline,

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Copycat Crime

Howard Rohleder  |  Oct 14, 2021

I WAS SITTING AT MY computer one lunchtime when an email popped up from one of my credit card companies, saying I’d just purchased nearly $12,000 of jewelry at a store in Toronto. Within minutes, I was on the phone to the card company.
I was quickly referred to the fraud unit. I told my story. The company credited my account, cancelled the card and mailed me replacements. Weeks later, I had to complete a form,

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Make Your Own Luck

Richard Connor  |  Oct 14, 2021

THERE’S A FAMOUS quote that’s often attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
Making your own luck is a concept I’ve long believed in, and have written about before. Clearly, luck plays a role in all human endeavors—finances especially. I’m particularly intrigued by the intersection of luck and hard work. But how exactly can we add to our store of good luck?

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Playing Games

Don Southworth  |  Oct 13, 2021

REUBEN KLAMER, one of my greatest financial teachers, died last month. I never knew his name until I read his obituary. Klamer invented The Game of Life—the one that’s played with a spinner, a small plastic car full of blue and pink stick people, and lots of money.

I grew up in the 1960s, long before the internet or video games. Board games were what we played when it was rainy outside or when we had family gatherings.

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The New Gender Gap

Dennis Friedman  |  Oct 13, 2021

IF I WERE STARTING my career all over again, I don’t know how well I’d fare in today’s economy. By contrast, if my dad were alive, he wouldn’t have any trouble finding work. He was good with his hands and could fix anything. He was a machinist by trade, but he could’ve easily been an electrician, plumber or carpenter.
All the disasters we’ve endured during the past few years have created an explosion in skilled,

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Time Can Take a Toll

John Lim  |  Oct 12, 2021

IT’S A COMMONLY HELD belief that market risk is a function of time in the market. Simply put, risk falls as our holding period lengthens. This is the notion behind time diversification—the idea that more time allows us to diversify across different investment periods, resulting in reduced risk.
For example, the S&P 500 has historically generated positive returns in nearly every 20-year holding period, even after adjusting for inflation. Armed with this data, one of the first things financial advisors ask clients is about their time horizon.

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