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The Right Tools

Richard Connor  |  Oct 6, 2021

WE RECENTLY UPGRADED our home with smart locks, which open with a keypad code or cellphone command. After a bunch of research, we settled on Yale Assure Locks, which I’d also seen on an episode of This Old House. I’ve installed many locksets in the past, so I didn’t expect any problems.
Once they arrived, I gathered my tools, opened the packages and read the instructions. It seemed pretty straightforward. I set to work on the deadbolt,

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Room for Error

Dennis Friedman  |  Oct 6, 2021

I’M SUFFERING FROM shoulder and foot pain. My doctor said I’ve done too many pushups and run too many miles. He scolded me, saying, “You’re 70 years old. You’re not 30 anymore.”
When I wake up in the morning, the pain radiating from my shoulder and foot makes me feel much older. My dentist also reminds me I’m not getting any younger. When examining my teeth, he noticed severe erosion along my gumline. He said,

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Promises Broken

Greg Spears  |  Oct 5, 2021

VANGUARD GROUP is renowned for its rock-bottom investment costs, including announcing last week that it was lowering expenses on its target-date retirement funds. As a former Vanguard employee, I just learned how the company is, in part, paying for such cuts. Yesterday, Vanguard emailed retired “crew members” like me to say it was shutting down its retiree medical account program.
When my old newspaper company’s pension plan collapsed last year—it was underfunded by $1 billion—my payments were picked up by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

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Renting Problems

John Goodell  |  Oct 5, 2021

I’M REASONABLY certain that Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy has a long-lost section where he details the 10th Ring of Hell: being a landlord. I’ve done so twice and, despite the glorification seen on HGTV and heard on BiggerPockets podcasts, I found no joy in either experience. Selling those properties felt better than I can possibly describe.
Being a remote landlord may be the worst of all worlds. Getting an 8 p.m. phone call to fix a broken toilet is annoying.

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Return on Spending

Don Southworth  |  Oct 4, 2021

WHEN I STARTED MY sales and marketing career, one of the first mantras I learned was, “You have to spend money to make money.” Salespeople like me would always be asking the company to spend more—on commissions, product development and support.

The bean counters, as we called them, would always respond by telling us how tight the budget was and how we needed to cut expenses. Especially those expenses they didn’t think we needed,

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Haste Makes Waste

Jim Wasserman  |  Oct 4, 2021

IN SPAIN, “CHAPUZA” means something botched because of inattention or sloppy work. We learned the word when repairmen rewired the buzzers in our apartment building. They finished the work quickly so they’d be done in a single day. At 2 a.m. that night, we discovered the job was chapuza when our neighbor kept buzzing our apartment—because the buzzer had been mislabeled.
Chapuza can be found everywhere. Back in the U.S., we hired a highly recommended electrician to do major work on our home.

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A Decade to Savor

Mike Zaccardi  |  Oct 3, 2021

CAST YOUR MIND BACK 10 years—to Oct. 3, 2011. There was a fire-sale on Wall Street. Two months earlier, brinksmanship on Capitol Hill had culminated in Standard & Poor’s first-ever downgrade of the U.S. government. Meanwhile, Greece was on the verge of collapse, prompting the European Central Bank to take extreme measures to combat the region’s debt debacle.
It was a scary time. But—as is so often the case—the dire stories on financial television marked the beginning of a great period for long-term investors.

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Neighborhood Watch

Michael Flack  |  Oct 3, 2021

I BOUGHT A CONDO a few months back and have spent the past two months moving in. If I’d moved in before I retired, the process would have lasted no more than a month. But as I’m now retired and my time is virtually unlimited, I am merely halfway through the move-in process and type this sitting at a portable camp table.
While the move-in has been slow, it’s lightyears faster than the process of meeting the neighbors.

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Healthy Investment

Kristine Hayes  |  Oct 2, 2021

DURING THE FIRST FEW months of the pandemic, my almost-daily trips to the gym ceased. I was home more of the time and snacking became a habit. I found myself five pounds heavier than I’d been a year earlier. Knowing that, at age 54, my metabolism isn’t quite as vigorous as it once was, I took action. I started a ketogenic diet and quickly dropped the extra weight.
As we contemplate growing older, much of our time and energy is spent planning the financial aspects of our retirement years.

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A Large Bite

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 2, 2021

IN DECEMBER 2020, my wife got an infection at the site of an old root canal. The dentist initially thought it could be treated with medication. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, so an extraction and implant were planned.

The process took several visits and several bills, with the charges accumulating along the way. Some of this pain could have been relieved by a modest dental plan that I had from my former employer. That was not to be,

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Can’t Go On

Dennis Friedman  |  Oct 1, 2021

WHEN I WAS IN HIGH school, I had a summer job at a machine shop. My job was to deburr large cutting tools known as end mills. I would take a penny and run it over the cutting edge of the tool to smooth it out. Once I finished my job, the tools were sent to another facility for the next operation.
There was a young man in his 20s named Max whose job was to load these heavy boxes of tools onto a truck and transport them to the other facility,

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Target Dating

Kyle McIntosh  |  Oct 1, 2021

IN JULY 2020, I rolled over my old 401(k) to an IRA. Between maxing out my 401(k) contributions for many years and strong investment performance, the balance was significant.
I initially invested half the money in a combination of stock market index funds and a bond market ETF. For the remaining balance, I set up an automatic investment plan that invested a modest amount in stock index funds every two weeks. While long-run market returns argued for investing all the money in stocks right away,

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Budgeting 102

Catherine Horiuchi  |  Sep 30, 2021

IT’S BEEN A MONTH since I dropped off my twins at college, one east, one west. Each has a debit card for an account with the credit union here in our hometown. One has downloaded the credit union’s mobile app. Both are already developing their own ideas and strategies for managing college life on a shoestring budget.
I got them their debit cards some time ago. I also opened a teen account for their brother,

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Roth While You Can

James McGlynn  |  Sep 30, 2021

NEWS OF ENTREPRENEUR Peter Thiel’s $5 billion Roth account, which was funded with PayPal stock, has motivated Congress to look at restricting the growth and size of Roth accounts.
There’s talk of limiting Roth account balances to $5 million or $10 million. There are also proposals to limit both backdoor IRA conversions and so-called mega-backdoor conversions. The latter involves funding a nondeductible 401(k) and then immediately converting the money to a Roth. There’s even discussion of not allowing high-income workers to convert traditional IRAs to Roth accounts.

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Eating Our Feelings

Jonathan Clements  |  Sep 29, 2021

PANDEMICS MAKE US hungry and thirsty, or so say the monthly spending data from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
In March 2020, as the pandemic hit with full fury, our collective spending on groceries jumped 23% from a month earlier. We can chalk that up to hoarding. Since then, monthly spending on groceries has never matched March 2020. Still, it also hasn’t fallen back to pre-pandemic levels, no doubt partly because of food price increases.

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