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Beware of Bears

Mike Zaccardi  |  Nov 22, 2021

THE BOND MARKET has had a turbulent year. Interest rates, which move in the opposite direction of bond prices, spiked in early 2021 on hopes of an economic reopening. The 10-year Treasury yield, which started the year under 1%, surged above 1.75% in March, before subsiding in the second quarter and the third quarter’s initial weeks.
Today, 10-year Treasury buyers can earn a smidgen more than 1.5%, far less than the 6.2% inflation rate.

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Cheap to Cheaper

Mike Zaccardi  |  Nov 21, 2021

BORED ONE WEEKEND, I took up actor Ryan Reynolds on his offer to switch cellphone carriers. Frugal guy that I am, I’d been a loyal Republic Wireless subscriber for several years before my recent change. My new plan is on the Mint Mobile platform.
Perhaps you’ve seen Mint’s commercials on NFL Sunday or when perusing YouTube videos, with its offer of four gigabytes of data with unlimited text and calls. This will cost me a measly $201 a year,

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Four or Less

Sanjib Saha  |  Nov 21, 2021

A RECENT ARTICLE from Morningstar suggested that the 4% rule for sustainable retirement withdrawals should be revised downward to 3.3%. This lower rate, the researchers argued, is safer given today’s rich stock market valuations and low bond yields.
The article also recommended being flexible with withdrawals, by taking larger amounts in good markets and smaller withdrawals during down periods. This strategy could provide more lifetime income than fixing a withdrawal amount in the first year and then automatically increasing that sum each year with inflation.

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Travel Tips

Dennis Friedman  |  Nov 20, 2021

WE WENT TO NEW YORK City last month for a vacation. Before we left, I went to my credit union and withdrew money in small denominations. I wanted to make sure I had cash to tip the people who helped us during our trip.
Sometimes, I get confused about who I should tip and how much. It can be a little stressful when you want to make sure you don’t stiff anyone—especially people who are counting on tips to make ends meet,

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The Number

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 20, 2021

WHEN I WAS IN MY early 30s, I decided to determine “the number.” What would be enough money to allow me to retire, and what was the path to get there?
Personal computers were newly available, so I decided to work this out in Lotus 1-2-3. There was no internet to speak of. Investment companies didn’t have online calculators running Monte Carlo simulations that incorporated hundreds of possible retirement outcomes and spat out a most-likely scenario with a 95% confidence level.

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Bye-Bye I-Buy

John Goodell  |  Nov 19, 2021

ZILLOW ANNOUNCED recently that it would cease its algorithm-driven home buying program. Thus ends its three-year experiment to disrupt the real-estate brokerage business with what’s known as “i-buying.”
Zillow had purchased homes without significant involvement by real-estate agents. Instead, it used its proprietary algorithm—which it calls the Zestimate—to determine a property’s value. It then offered homeowners a percentage of this value, in cash, to buy their houses.
This offer proved appealing to many home sellers.

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Clicking for Cash

Kristine Hayes  |  Nov 19, 2021

A FEW YEARS AGO, I searched a government database of unclaimed assets—and was surprised to discover the state of Oregon owed me money. I submitted a claim and waited a few weeks.
A check for $86 arrived. The funds were from royalties I’d earned from a YouTube channel that I’d long since forgotten about.
It’s estimated that one out of 10 Americans has unclaimed property waiting for them. A variety of websites allow anyone to search databases filled with unclaimed property,

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Strikes Me as Fair

Richard Quinn  |  Nov 18, 2021

THE FEDERAL government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services just announced the new income-based Part B and Part D premiums for 2022. Many people aren’t happy.

Next year’s basic Part B premium jumps to $170.10 a month, in part because Congress artificially limited this year’s premium increase to only 25% of the true amount. It’s time to play catchup—and deal with rising health care costs.

But a small group of seniors will pay more than $170.10 a month—sometimes much more.

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Thy Will Be Done

Michael Perry  |  Nov 18, 2021

SOMEONE I KNOW recently learned she has a rare cancer that’s already at stage four. She’s getting treated for the cancer, as well as for various complications. I’m not surprised she’s battling the disease. She’s strong, independent and driven.
What is surprising? She’s never written a will, and must now deal with that along with a serious medical issue. Moreover, among her three adult children, one still lives at home—and has a child of her own.

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Dabbling in Digital

Mike Zaccardi  |  Nov 17, 2021

IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, you want to stick with your long-term investment plan, while remaining open to new ideas. It’s a balancing act—to avoid missing a new, long-lasting trend, while not getting caught up in a bubble.
That’s how I feel about cryptocurrencies. Their market cap has swelled to $2.6 trillion. But what does that mean? Contrast that to the value of the global stock and bond markets: Each is about $125 trillion.
To me,

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Hybrid Math

Kyle McIntosh  |  Nov 17, 2021

MY FAMILY WILL SOON be in the market for a new vehicle. With gas prices approaching $5 a gallon in California, my gut tells me that we should set our sights on a hybrid. Upon doing some math, however, I get a different answer.
I priced out a few different vehicles, including the Toyota Camry and the Honda CR-V. In both cases, you pay an all-in premium—including taxes—of about $4,500 to own a hybrid over a similarly equipped model with a conventional engine.

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Why I Own Bonds

Dennis Friedman  |  Nov 16, 2021

SOME INVESTORS TODAY are avoiding bonds because rising interest rates could cause the price of bonds to fall. I’m not one of them. Bond funds continue to play a significant role in my investment portfolio. Here are eight reasons I’m sticking with my funds:

This isn’t a good time to sell. Bonds have already factored in the market’s expectation that rates will rise. Interest rates have climbed this year, causing a decline in bond prices.

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Trust Betrayed

Jiab Wasserman  |  Nov 16, 2021

BEFORE I RETIRED, I was a credit risk manager. I had to take compliance courses annually. One course focused on financial abuse, especially of the elderly. I learned that the most common perpetrators are not strangers, but family members, friends and caregivers who take advantage of too-trusting seniors.

But it’s one thing to know this theoretically—and quite another to find out it’s happening in your own family.

I previously wrote about now both my late father and his close friend were victims of financial abuse.

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All in the Execution

Phil Kernen  |  Nov 15, 2021

A FRIEND WAS RECENTLY asked by his father to be executor of his estate—and, without hesitation, my friend agreed. But then the conversation quickly moved on to other topics, leaving my friend confused about his role.
My suggestion to my friend: Have another conversation with your dad—and ask these four questions:
What are your expectations? Someone who creates a will is known as a testator. The primary role of an executor is to settle the testator’s estate.

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Mind the Gap

Michael Flack  |  Nov 15, 2021

MY WIFE WILL BE eligible for Medicare in March 2022. To better understand the process, we signed up for a webinar given by Matt, a Medigap insurance broker. Matt did a good job explaining the issues we faced, so we made an appointment to talk with him on the phone—even though he gave off a used car salesman vibe when, at the end of his presentation, he exhorted us to make an appointment before they all filled up.

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