TWO YEARS AGO, during the early days of the pandemic, there were fears we’d see deflation. Today, the big fear is inflation—which helps explain last month’s two most popular articles on HumbleDollar:
If you buy Series I savings bonds, you could earn 8.5% over the next year. John Lim offers five intriguing ways to take advantage of that mouth-watering yield.
This year, John Lim has slashed his portfolio’s allocation to bonds from 15% to 5.5%.
“ENOUGH” IS a powerful notion. Unfortunately, it’s largely absent from financial conversations.
The concept is rooted in deep self-awareness. It asks the question, how much do I really need to be happy? I believe we should ask this more often because, if we don’t, culture will fill in the blank—and the default answer will be “more.”
Enough has two dimensions. The first dimension is about spending. Too often, we succumb to the hedonic treadmill—the endless pursuit of the next thrilling purchase,
RULES OF THUMB and conventional wisdom often serve us well. But we should make sure they’re truly applicable to our situation.
Like many parents, my wife and I prepared our first estate planning documents when our children were young. The estate planning lawyer suggested a so-called AB trust. If we’d taken his advice, when one of us passed away, half of our joint assets would have gone into an irrevocable trust. The surviving spouse would get the income from that trust,
I’M NOT SOMEONE who pats himself on the back when he does something right. I’m also not someone who takes compliments well. But this time, I want to toot my own horn.
After four years, I can finally say I’ve accomplished a goal that I’ve worked toward for many years, but was unable to achieve. It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of discipline and composure.
To accomplish this feat, I tuned out cable business news.
THE HIGHEST expression of complexity is thoughtful simplicity. It’s like standing on a mountaintop after navigating the ascent.
The work of the mountain’s trailblazer is arduous. He or she must focus intently on the task at hand, glancing left and right, guessing what will come around each new bend. But from the pinnacle looking down, the perspective puts the most efficient path in clear view. It becomes possible to make a map to aid those who will come next.
THE S&P 500 IS DOWN 10% so far this year—but the pain hasn’t been dished out evenly. Value and steady dividend-paying stocks are about flat for 2022, while technology companies and speculative small-cap stocks have suffered mightily. Money has fled the market’s unprofitable glamor companies and flocked to old-fashioned cash flow generators.
Just how bad has the drubbing been among formerly hot growth names? Look no further than Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation ETF (symbol: ARKK).
I REMEMBER 40 YEARS ago listening to Salomon Brothers economist Henry Kaufman bemoaning government deficits and predicting higher interest rates as a result. We institutional investors would gather in a room to listen to his declarations through a “squawk box” intercom system—because conference calls weren’t yet a thing.
Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker was in the process of wringing inflation out of the financial system by raising the federal funds rate so high that investors would rather hold cash investments than spend money.
BETWEEN 1972 AND 2018, the percentage of Americans who described themselves as very happy ranged from 29% to 38%. The number for 2021 was recently released: Just 19% of us said we’re very happy—10 percentage points lower than any prior survey.
Our happiness, it seems, is another victim of the pandemic. Indeed, COVID-19 and the resulting social isolation has delivered a bigger blow to our collective happiness than 2008-09’s Great Recession, 2001’s terrorist attacks and countless other distressing events from the past half-century.
WHAT ARE THE MOST important financial notions? For me, the answers are “compounding” and “financial independence.”
Albert Einstein purportedly called compounding the eighth wonder of the world. Warren Buffett has said that the power of compound interest played an important role in his success. But what I’ve learned is that compounding doesn’t just apply to our finances. It can also be used to improve our health, our relationships and our mastery of whatever topic we choose.
I RECALL PAYDAY IN 1961, when I was at my first job. There was a paymaster who would deliver our paychecks. At break time, we would be off to the nearest bank to cash our checks. I deposited most of mine in a savings account, plus $2 in my Christmas Club account. But many of my fellow workers took the whole check in cash.
I always thought taking cash was a bit risky. I once got up the nerve to ask a few friends why they took cash.
I MENTIONED IN a recent article that my wife sold her home. We thought we’d leave a legacy to her son by investing the money in the stock market and letting it compound over many decades. That way, when he retires, it would help him reach financial independence.
But my wife doesn’t want my stepson to know about the money we’re investing for him—and he won’t find out from this blog post because he’s not a HumbleDollar reader.
EXPERIENCED INVESTORS know that the stock market and the economy sometimes diverge. Early 2020 offered a stark example: Even as the economy was still contracting rapidly, stocks started bouncing back.
But right now, many areas of the stock market are doing about what you’d expect. After all the efforts by the Federal Reserve and Congress to prop up the economy over the past two years, rising inflation is front and center, along with rising interest rates.
I WAS OFFERED a “free retirement review” by Carlson Financial a year ago. The review would—among other things—”help me answer the five biggest questions I have about retirement.” I didn’t realize I had only five questions. Still, I decided a financial review might be in order.
I then forwarded an uncomfortable amount of personal information, financial statements and tax returns to a man I’d never met. Scott seemed like a nice enough guy, but hey,
SINCE EARLY JANUARY, this site has published a series of essays every Saturday, each from a different HumbleDollar writer. The theme: my money journey. The essays, 30 in all, will appear in a book of the same name, which will be published by Harriman House in March 2023. With this blog post, you get a sneak peak at the book’s cover.
As you might imagine, the book has meant a lot of work for the writers involved—and a ton of editing for me,
AFTER THEY MARRY, some people discover their spouse has hidden debt. We had the opposite situation.
Several years after we were married and while living in Illinois, my wife got a letter from the New York Secretary of State saying she may be the owner of an unclaimed savings account in the town where she was raised. This was before the internet. We had no idea how New York found her. Neither my wife nor her parents remembered the account.