WHETHER FOR GOOD luck or because I’m thrifty, I still stoop down to pick up pennies. But there might not be any in the future.
Thanks to their copper content, pennies now cost twice as much to produce as they’re worth—and skyrocketing inflation is only exacerbating the problem. There are even rumors that the government will stop producing pennies, but so far the U.S. Mint has made no such announcement.
Instead of using my debit card for groceries,
NOT SURPRISINGLY, many of last month’s most popular articles and blog posts were devoted to the financial markets. Here were June’s six best-read articles:
Donnie Mattox has had a perfect credit score in eight of the past 12 months. He explains how he does it.
Why is managing money so maddening? Because what seems true often isn’t. John Goodell lists his top 12 financial paradoxes.
“You might want to check your mailbox,” writes Jim Kerr.
I’VE PREVIOUSLY written about the dramatic turn my life took when I went from carefree bachelor to husband and proud father of four. With multiple college educations looming, I drastically curtailed my spending, including on my professional wardrobe.
Initially, instead of the Hickey Freeman suits in which I’d previously indulged, I was happy with the latest sale at Jos. A. Bank. But eventually, I dipped my toe in uncharted waters—buying clothes on eBay.
This comes with risks.
AS A COLLEGE professor, there are a few times during the year when things quiet down. During these lulls, I take on tasks that have moved to the bottom of the to-do list. The items include things like doctor’s appointments, home repairs and portfolio rebalancing. I can hear my students’ reaction: “But professor, you teach us about investing in companies and you write about investing. Why do you drop your portfolio review to the bottom of the list?” Valid question.
THIS IS A NEW feeling for me. I’m constantly stressed about money. The thing is, there’s no valid reason for it. Nonetheless, I’ve taken to constantly checking all the details of our finances—investments, bank accounts and, most important, spending.
All this from the guy who says a budget isn’t necessary.
While I still believe in my simple strategy—don’t worry how you spend, but never spend more than your after-tax income minus savings and never charge more on your credit cards than you can pay off each month—I couldn’t help checking exactly how we’re spending our money.
STOCK INVESTORS are hanging tough. Bond investors? Not so much.
Citing flow of funds data from EPFR, Bank of America Global Research says investors collectively purchased $195 billion of stocks this year through June 22. The implication: People aren’t panicking. That’s great news, and it supports the narrative that today’s stock investors are less bullied by market volatility.
It’s a different story in the bond market, where we’ve seen so-called capitulation. Bank of America notes that $193 billion of bonds have been sold this year by investors.
PEOPLE TEND TO attribute their investment gains to skill and their losses to bad luck. To these two categories, I’d like to suggest a third: making a fortune—thanks to good luck. Let me give you an example.
I’m a member of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. It’s a downtown club where reporters went for a drink and a bite to eat after they filed their stories. As you might expect, business was rocky during the pandemic.
ARE WE HAVING FUN yet? I take no pleasure in seeing my portfolio shrink, but I love buying stock index funds at discount prices and I’m always amused by the hand-wringing in the financial media.
Two years ago, we were hiding out in our homes, fretting over a global pandemic and worrying about an economic collapse. Today, COVID is still spreading like wildfire, but vaccines have helped slash the number of hospitalizations and deaths,
I MENTIONED IN an earlier article that my wife and I were planning a trip to the U.K. Before we went, I thought I better see my primary care physician. I didn’t want any medical surprises. We’ll be gone for five weeks. A lot can happen to a 71-year-old during that time.
My doctor retired a few months ago, so I decided I’d go see my mother’s old doctor. He specializes in geriatric medicine.
WHEN I WAS GROWING up, my mother thought the best way to relieve my boredom during summer vacations was to get a job. She was a valued employee at a local business and she knew the firm was hiring.
I asked if part of the job was to calculate change for customers when they made a purchase. That terrified me. My mother said she wasn’t sure, but that I’d learn to do it if it was required.
I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE about stumbling on an unexpected way to save on auto insurance. My education continues: I’ve also learned of a way to save on Medigap coverage.
When I became eligible five years ago for Medicare, I bought Medigap Plan G supplemental coverage from Mutual of Omaha (MOO). Last summer, as my wife was about to become eligible for Medicare, we took another look at Medigap coverage. I was generally happy with MOO’s claims procedures and customer service,
IT SEEMS ALL MY LIFE I’ve been obsessed with one thing: not being average. It would be nice to be the best or the highest rated. But I have been happy simply to avoid average.
I grew up in a very average family. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Throughout school, I was very average. But in my first job as a mail boy, I went to work wearing a dress shirt and tie.
MORE WEALTH HAS been lost in this year’s stock and bond market decline than in any previous downturn, according to research firm Bespoke Investments. And, no, that doesn’t include the $2 trillion of crypto value that’s gone up in smoke.
A counterpoint to this jarring reality: Folks today are wealthier than during previous bear markets. Goldman Sachs reports that U.S. household net worth as a percentage of disposable personal income remains sharply above pre-pandemic levels.
I RECENTLY MADE a good decision, all thanks to director John Frankenheimer’s penultimate film, Ronin. In it, Robert De Niro plays a mercenary who, early in the movie, refuses to enter the roadway under Paris’s Pont Alexandre III because he’s wary of getting caught in an ambush. It’s a decision that saves his life and that of his colleagues. When he’s later asked about the decision, he replies, “Whenever there is any doubt,
ON MONDAY, MAY 2, I logged onto my Chase bank account—and discovered my balance was $992.43, many thousands of dollars less than I expected. My first thought: I’m going to get hit with a low-balance fee.
That, alas, should have been the least of my worries.
I clicked through to see the account details, and discovered that check No. 1126 had been made out to Milton Cherry for $7,000. But none of the writing on the check was mine,