THERE’S AN OLD JEST that goes, “How can you tell if someone is a runner?” The answer: “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”
I’m a runner and have enjoyed running for more than 20 years. For me, it’s not about aspiring to go farther and be faster. It’s more about being outdoors, getting my heart rate up, clearing my head and just moving my body.
This spring finds me training for a half marathon that I’ll run with my son.
AMID THIS YEAR’S market wreckage, perhaps the most disappointing performers have been target-date retirement funds (TDFs).
Many 401(k) investors are familiar with these products. Just one of these funds can be used throughout your investment lifetime, as it automatically shifts from a stock-heavy portfolio in the decades leading up to the targeted retirement date to owning more bonds in the years immediately before and after the target year. Normally, performance is pretty steady for TDFs close to their target date,
FIVE YEARS AGO, there was a big increase in the price of the “America the Beautiful: National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass.” For a one-time fee, the pass gives people age 62 and older free lifetime access to many of America’s most popular vacation and day-trip spots.
How big was the increase? In 2017, the price of the senior pass went from $10 to $80. I tipped off some older relatives about the looming price increase,
LOOKING FOR A FIELD trip that’ll inspire you? It may sound strange, but I suggest visiting your local landfill. I just went to mine to discard a rug. I returned with a commitment to change my behavior.
The landfill was a surprisingly busy place. This was my first visit, so I was confused about where and how to drop off my rug. Dozens of more-seasoned visitors sped past me to drop off their loads.
MY WIFE AND I ARE traveling to the U.K. This will be my first time in England, Wales and Scotland. We’ll spend a week in London before taking a train to Cambridge, where we’ll rent a car for the balance of the vacation.
My wife planned the trip, doing an enormous amount of research. It took her a couple of months to put this adventure together. I thought we’d be staying mostly in major cities with well-known attractions.
DO YOU SKIM OVER the fine print? Two recent incidents involving insurance coverage made me rethink my tendency to do just that. One incident alerted me to a major problem. The other saved me money.
Let’s start with the problem. It was time to renew our homeowner’s insurance. In looking over the policy, something didn’t look right. In the section for dwelling, which is defined in our policy as alterations and other improvements, we had $5,000 worth of coverage.
MY TAXES ROSE 50% in 2021. I’ve never paid so much before, not even during my peak earning years. I’m not upset about having to pay my fair share, but the extent of the increase puzzled me. After examining my tax return, I came away with a handful of insights.
To be sure, I wasn’t expecting a large refund. The reason: I suspected that a onetime employment windfall would cause me to owe money,
HAS THE ECONOMY reached peak inflation? That might be the biggest question in financial markets right now. Economists at several Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, say the highest pace of consumer price increases may now be in the rearview mirror.
Inflation is typically measured as a percent change from a year ago. From here, prices for goods and services may still go up, but at a slower pace. That’s the hope.
WARNING: WHAT YOU read next may be interpreted as a rant—because it is.
I’m tired of hearing about how Americans are unprepared for retirement or even minor financial emergencies. A few years back, it was the inability of 40% to 50% of us to come up with $400 for an emergency. The $400 figure has been used to prove everything from the extent of inequality to how Americans struggle to manage money.
Other studies set the hurdle at $1,000.
MY MCDONALD’S INDEX is the way I keep track of long-term inflation. I worked at McDonald’s in 1971 and 1972, while in high school. The menu was much simpler back then: hamburger, cheeseburger, Big Mac, fish sandwich, small and large fries, coffee, small and large soda, and shakes—one size only.
We didn’t have Quarter Pounders, chicken sandwiches, salads, lattes, mochas, frappes, smoothies, sundaes, McFlurries, super-sized drinks, meal combinations or Happy Meals. The food was not made fresh.
FOR AS LONG AS I’VE been writing about investing—37 years now—grumpy old men have been declaring that the stock market’s party will soon end with a world-class hangover.
Is it time to stock up on Tylenol?
I, of course, don’t have the slightest clue. But when the S&P 500 rises 3% on Wednesday and then plunges 3.6% on Thursday, you sure get the sense that investors are a tad uncertain about the future. That brings me to two questions I’ve been pondering.
DO YOU SEE THINGS clearly when it comes to money? Here’s a test to find out. Which of the following scenarios would you prefer?
A 5% raise, but the inflation rate is 10%.
A 3% salary cut, but the inflation rate is 0%.
If you chose the 5% pay raise, you’ve fallen victim to a “money illusion.” This term describes our tendency to view money in nominal terms instead of inflation-adjusted “real” terms.
In the first scenario,
BEFORE I BECAME a devotee of index funds, I began my investing journey in commodities, with a focus on commodity miners and producers. These firms extract a variety of goods from the earth, including precious metals like gold and silver, as well as energy-related commodities like oil, natural gas and uranium.
As a college student first studying the markets, I was drawn to the outsized returns that can occur in a commodity bull market.
HAVE YOU EVER MADE a plan and then had it go awry? Like the car breaking down on the highway when you’re driving to Christmas dinner, as happened to me several years ago.
Stuff happens. That’s why I can’t understand why many people preparing for retirement seem to have unwavering confidence in their planned budget—one that’s often generated using software or a spreadsheet.
Hiring a financial advisor may help. But for that advice to bolster your chances of success,
EVERY MARKET DECLINE is different, but all of them can feel unnerving, even for the most steadfast of investors. Spooked by 2022’s financial market turmoil? There’s good news: Stock and bond values today look much more compelling than at the turn of the year.
Thanks to 2022’s 14% drop, the S&P 500 now trades below its five-year average price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, based on expected profits. On top of that, corporate earnings rose impressively in this year’s first quarter.