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Eyeing College

Mike Zaccardi  |  May 30, 2022

INVESTING FOR education costs has never been more popular, as evidenced by recent Morningstar data. The research company found that 2021 was a record-breaking year for assets in 529 college savings plans. At almost $500 billion, total investments are up nearly fourfold over the past decade.
A big reason is the tax advantages—investments grow tax-free if they’re used for qualifying education expenses—plus 529 accounts are treated relatively leniently under the college financial-aid formulas. You can learn more about the accounts from other authors who have real life experience saving through 529 plans.

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True to Form

Larry Sayler  |  May 29, 2022

IS THE IRS NO LONGER able to provide basic services to the public?
When my father passed away, he left his financial assets in a trust for my siblings and me. A trust is a good estate planning tool, but there are some disadvantages. Among them: A trust has to file its own income tax forms.
My mother is the trustee. She uses a local CPA to prepare the tax returns for the trust.

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Buy High Sell Never

John Lim  |  May 28, 2022

IN BEN CARLSON’S wonderful book, A Wealth of Common Sense, there’s a vignette about Bob, the world’s worst market timer.
Bob is a diligent saver. But unfortunately, he’s cursed with horrible market-timing skills, plowing money into the stock market just before every major decline. For you market history buffs, Bob buys into an S&P 500 index fund on the following dates: December 1972, August 1987, December 1999 and October 2007. The subsequent plunges from these highs were 48%,

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Material Difference

Michael Flack  |  May 27, 2022

A RECENT ARTICLE on HumbleDollar, which detailed the economic and moral shortcomings of commodity producers, reminded me of a conversation I had in 2004. I was in my study reading Security Analysis or watching The Sopranos—it was a little while ago—when I heard a knock at the front door. I opened it to find an earnest but scruffy sandal-wearing young man trying to raise funds for the Sierra Club.

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Enjoying the Show

Kyle McIntosh  |  May 26, 2022

TWO TICKETS TO the Kia Forum: $250. Event parking: $60. One beer and one water: $28. A night with my wife at a Pearl Jam concert: priceless.
A few weeks ago, we attended a concert for the first time in more than two years. It was my 13th Pearl Jam show since becoming a fan 30 years ago. My status as a Pearl Jam follower has not wavered from the first time I heard them in the early 1990s.

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Spend With a Smile

Kenyon Sayler  |  May 25, 2022

AS I WAS PREPARING to retire last year, I spoke with a number of friends who were also about to leave the workforce. One of the main topics of discussion: How could we best arrange a stream of income for the next three decades or so?
Among my friends, a common refrain was that they planned to spend more in their first decade of retirement. They thought their spending would fall during the second decade,

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Stay Positive

John Goodell  |  May 24, 2022

AMONG THE AREAS of law that have made me miserable over 16 years of practice, it’s the adversarial roles that have made me most miserable. My experience in labor and employment law has been particularly difficult because the interaction with opposing counsel is usually contentious, each side compelled to zealously advocate for their position.
Almost any type of litigation is a zero-sum game. One side wins, the other loses. Because the outcome is never guaranteed,

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Close but No Cigar

Mike Zaccardi  |  May 23, 2022

BEAR MARKET territory. On Friday, that phrase was all over the “financial pornography” channel, as commentator Carl Richards labels it. During trading, the S&P 500 finally dropped 20% from its early January all-time closing high. In truth, that number alone doesn’t mean much. Consider that stocks in both 2011 and late 2018 briefly encroached on 20% before bouncing back in a big way.
The media was ready last week to go with all the flashing banners and alerts.

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That Losing Feeling

Richard Connor  |  May 22, 2022

LOSS AVERSION IS ONE of the most powerful behavioral-finance phenomena. It’s often defined as “losses loom larger than gains.” It’s been said that the psychological pain from a loss is about twice as powerful as the pleasure from an equivalent gain.
Boy, am I feeling that right now. This year’s market losses have many of us concerned. But this year is different for my wife and me. This is our first year with no consistent earned income.

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Hard to Follow

John Lim  |  May 21, 2022

“BUY LOW, SELL HIGH.” This is probably the most famous investment adage. It sounds so simple and commonsensical—a sure path to success. Like so many investing truisms, however, following it is easier said than done.
For one thing, how do we really know when we’re buying low? When it comes to a pair of jeans or a laptop computer, we have a good sense of value. When they go on sale, we snap them up without hesitation.

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A La Carte

Ron Wayne  |  May 20, 2022

I REMOVED THE YOKE of cable TV several years ago. Thanks to today’s streaming channels, I have endless options—and I’m still saving money.
If you thought cable offered an overflowing abundance of choices, buy a Roku or other streaming device. You could stay glued to the screen 24/7 and never see anything twice, probably for years.
A Roku device, available for as little as $24, will give you access to more than 200 channels,

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Agency Problem

Michael Flack  |  May 19, 2022

MOST PEOPLE THINK that selling real estate is the flip side of buying. But in most cases, selling is a very different enchilada, and that should drive who you hire as a REALTOR®—and, yes, that is the preferred style.
Buyers face an almost infinite list of potential properties to purchase. Initially, almost every house is a possibility. As the buyer and agent review the buyer’s requirements, the list is whittled down until the dream home is found.

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Bringing Up Baby

Zach Blattner  |  May 18, 2022

EVER SINCE OUR OLDEST was born three years ago, my wife and I have had to confront the cold reality of paying for childcare. We visited four different daycare providers in the Boston area. None was below $2,300 a month. The gap between what we saw as the best and the worst was only $200.
Our monthly childcare outlay—now covering two kids following the birth of our second child last October—is close to $5,000.

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Slowing to a Stop

Dan McDermott  |  May 17, 2022

THERE’S AN OLD JEST that goes, “How can you tell if someone is a runner?” The answer: “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”
I’m a runner and have enjoyed running for more than 20 years. For me, it’s not about aspiring to go farther and be faster. It’s more about being outdoors, getting my heart rate up, clearing my head and just moving my body.
This spring finds me training for a half marathon that I’ll run with my son.

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Aging Badly

Mike Zaccardi  |  May 16, 2022

AMID THIS YEAR’S market wreckage, perhaps the most disappointing performers have been target-date retirement funds (TDFs).
Many 401(k) investors are familiar with these products. Just one of these funds can be used throughout your investment lifetime, as it automatically shifts from a stock-heavy portfolio in the decades leading up to the targeted retirement date to owning more bonds in the years immediately before and after the target year. Normally, performance is pretty steady for TDFs close to their target date,

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