Dollars and Sense

Sonja Haggert  |  Sep 13, 2021

OUR MONEY DECISIONS usually aren’t driven by rational thinking and financial math. That’s one of Morgan Housel’s key messages in his recent book, The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness. He uses history and personal tales to highlight a crucial insight into our relationship with money—that we often feel as though we’ll never have enough.
The book contains no formulas for success, no get-rich-quick stock tips. Housel states the premise this way: “Doing well with money has a little to do with how smart you are and a lot to do with how you behave.

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Promising Places?

Dennis Friedman  |  Sep 13, 2021

MY WIFE RAN INTO an old acquaintance at our local grocery store. I asked my wife if she was surprised to see her. “No, but she said she was surprised to see me. I asked why. She said she didn’t think I could afford to live here.”
Maybe that’s what most people would have thought, especially if they saw my wife in the neighborhood parking lot getting out of our 2007 Honda Fit.
It’s become extremely difficult for a middle-class family to own a house in California.

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All Aboard

Mike Zaccardi  |  Sep 12, 2021

AT THE CRACK OF DAWN each day, I grab a cup of coffee, and then dig into the latest investment articles and research reports. Last week’s most intriguing insight: According to data from Emerging Portfolio Fund Research, investment flows into global stocks are on pace to hit $1.048 trillion this year.
To appreciate the magnitude of this year’s inflows, consider that 2017 ranks as the next strongest year—at a relatively paltry $300 billion. Other years,

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A Nice Complement

Jim Wasserman  |  Sep 12, 2021

THE RIGHT PARTNER is not one whose outlook is the same as yours, but rather one whose outlook complements you. For me and my wife Jiab, we agree on shopping decisions most of the time. When we disagree, however, it’s due to each of our “leans.” I lean toward spending a bit more money to save time. To be finished with shopping, I’ll say at some point that what we’ve found is good enough.

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Financial Dogma

Kristine Hayes  |  Sep 11, 2021

I’VE BEEN TRAINING dogs for nearly 30 years. I’ve won enough awards in dog competitions to wallpaper my office with rosette ribbons. My 15 minutes of fame also involved dogs. Almost 20 years ago, I appeared on an episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where one of my corgis happily demonstrated his ability to ride a skateboard.
Just as there are many ways to skin a cat, there are also many ways to train a dog.

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Beginning Benefits

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 11, 2021

IT’S A QUESTION that gets asked all the time: What’s the best age to start Social Security benefits?

The discussion quickly deteriorates into calculating the breakeven point. Are you better off with a lower benefit for a longer period or a larger benefit for a shorter time—that is, assuming you live to your actuarial life expectancy? What if you die before you reach breakeven? Yeah, what if? You won’t be around to complete the final calculation.

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Altered State

Kyle McIntosh  |  Sep 10, 2021

IN A RECENT POST, I suggested three questions that folks should consider before moving out of California. As a California native who has lived many other places, I appreciate the weather and convenience of living here, and I urged others to think carefully before moving away.
The post generated some great discussion when I shared it on my Facebook page. Based on the comments left by my friends, here are some added considerations and tips for those thinking of leaving California:

Take a test drive.

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Early Intervention

Dennis Friedman  |  Sep 10, 2021

WHEN I RETIRED, friends would ask me how I was going to celebrate my retirement. A buddy suggested I take a cruise around the world. Another friend said, “Why don’t you explore Europe?” I did neither. I wound up exploring San Diego, which is about 120 miles from my home. That’s pretty much how my early retirement went. There were no expensive vacations or large purchases.
I didn’t feel comfortable spending a lot of money when I first retired.

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Price of Ignorance

Mike Zaccardi  |  Sep 9, 2021

PETER LYNCH, the famed Fidelity Investments’ mutual fund manager, used to advise investors to “buy what you know.” But many of today’s investors have other ideas.
Obscure cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens have taken the financial social media by storm. Most investors have heard of bitcoin, ethereum and dogecoin. But a new set of coins have emerged—cardano and solana are the hot trades. Meanwhile, JPEG and GIF image files are changing hands for ridiculous amounts of money.

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Protecting Poppy

Kyle McIntosh  |  Sep 9, 2021

OUR DOG LIKES SOCKS. A few months after Poppy joined our family, she consumed her first sock. Since then, she’s eaten two more. After the first sock was removed, our veterinarian offered some valuable advice: Get pet insurance because Poppy is likely to do this again. Within a few days, we purchased a policy from Healthy Paws for $38 a month. The policy has proven valuable: We’ve had four other unplanned trips to the vet over the past 21 months.

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Scope Creep

Jiab Wasserman  |  Sep 8, 2021

DURING OUR TIME in Spain, we came to admire the water fountains common in mudejar architecture, the Moorish-style homes of Andalusia. During the lockdown, while I tried my hand at creating art, Jim picked up the hobby of making water fountains using a few basic items, including a small water pump and terra cotta planters that he found around the apartment.
As the lockdown dragged on, Jim progressed to building more complex fountains. He built an indoor one in a Zen-like style,

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Take a Chance?

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 8, 2021

IS THERE AN EASY way to solve our financial problems? I doubt it, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. Initial public offerings, cryptocurrencies and hot stock tips come to mind. But they seem insignificant in popularity compared to lotteries.

My state currently offers 11 different draw lotteries and 63 scratch-off games. Several cost between $10 and $30 each to play. I consider lotteries an insidious tax, mostly on Americans who can’t afford it.

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No Green Light

Phil Kernen  |  Sep 7, 2021

MORE AND MORE investors are using environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria to direct their investment dollars toward companies fighting climate change. An obvious question: Do companies that deliver “green” innovations earn high ESG scores?
It seems not. The authors of a recent study from the European Corporate Governance Institute found that:

Companies with lower ESG scores are producing more and higher-quality innovations designed to mitigate climate change.
A sizable percentage of recent U.S.

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An Age-Old Puzzle

John Lim  |  Sep 7, 2021

ONE OF THE GREAT mysteries in finance is the reluctance of retirees to annuitize more of their portfolio. Annuities—and here I’m referring to plain-vanilla income annuities—provide a guaranteed income stream for life. Examples include Social Security and company pensions. Income annuities can also be purchased from insurance companies. When you buy an immediate-fixed annuity from an insurer, you exchange a lump sum for a guaranteed, monthly payout for the remainder of your life and,

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Similar but Not

Jonathan Clements  |  Sep 6, 2021

U.S. AND FOREIGN STOCKS are highly correlated, with monthly returns that move in the same direction almost all the time. Because of this, some have argued that there’s scant reason to diversify internationally.
But there’s a small problem with this argument: Just because investments move in the same direction doesn’t mean they generate the same return. For proof, consider the past 20 calendar years.
Over that stretch, there were only three years when U.S.

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