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Enjoy the Show

Mike Zaccardi  |  Aug 8, 2021

EARNINGS SEASON is wrapping up on Wall Street. Analysts’ predictions and companies’ profit guidance is a bit of a dog-and-pony show, as HumbleDollar contributor Kyle Mcintosh recently described. Still, there’s some useful information to be gleaned from second-quarter results and from executives’ comments.
In particular, I look forward to the FactSet weekly earnings season update to see which pockets of the stock market have the best and worst figures. According to last Friday’s report,

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Making Sense

John Lim  |  Aug 8, 2021

I SUGGESTED a thought experiment in my last blog post—one in which the stock market shut down for six months at the start of the pandemic. I believe it helps explain why financial markets recovered with such a vengeance.
Today, I take a different tack, one based on financial theory. It’s easy to forget that stocks are not pieces of paper (remember stock certificates?) or ticker symbols on a computer screen. Rather, they represent a claim on company profits,

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Eyeing That Check

Richard Connor  |  Aug 7, 2021

THE SOCIAL SECURITY Administration began rolling out a new, smaller annual statement on May 1. As reported in Think Advisor and other publications, a small percentage of online “my Social Security” account users, who aren’t currently receiving benefits, will get the new printed statement.
The new statement is two pages instead of four. One significant improvement is a graphic that shows what your estimated monthly benefit could be if you started taking benefits in any of the nine years between ages 62 and 70.

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Dog Days of Summer

Kyle McIntosh  |  Aug 7, 2021

MY SON AND I recently completed a cross-country road-trip with Poppy, our two-year-old goldendoodle. We got Poppy just before the pandemic and she’s our first dog, so we learned a lot on this adventure. If you’re a first-time dog owner planning a trip that involves hotels, here are three money-saving recommendations:

Call ahead. I booked rooms many months before our trip and ensured all hotels were “pet friendly.” As I was new to traveling with a dog,

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Fourth Time Lucky

James McGlynn  |  Aug 6, 2021

I HAD PLANNED a trip to Vietnam for 2020—which coincided with the start of the pandemic and got scratched. I naively rescheduled the trip for this summer. Unfortunately, countries that lack vaccines have been forced to lock down and keep out even vaccinated tourists like me, so that trip also got nixed.
Ever the optimist, I rescheduled for Europe in July. This time, it was the delta variant and changing travel restrictions that ended my third international trip before it even began.

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A Note of Cynicism

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 6, 2021

DO YOU HAVE A LOT of stuff—all those things that fill your basement, attic and garage? Dealing with these accumulated possessions is hard. But there are folks who have figured it out: They sell everything, even their house and car.

I regularly read blogs written by people who “retired” in their 30s and 40s, all of them living in stressless financial bliss. These folks live frugally off their dividends, other passive income and, of course,

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A Well-Placed Bet

Kristine Hayes  |  Aug 5, 2021

THREE YEARS AGO, I bought a home a few weeks before getting married. The purchase wasn’t so much an investment as a necessity: My new husband and I owned four dogs between us, and we knew we’d have a difficult time finding a rental that would allow that many pets.
I’d lived in the Portland, Oregon, metro area for nearly 30 years and had owned two other homes. I knew which neighborhoods to avoid,

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Not Buying It

Sonja Haggert  |  Aug 5, 2021

I’VE BEEN READING UP on stock buybacks because I want to know how they’ll impact my investments. As best I can gather, there are two schools of thought: Those who love them—and those who hate them.
Those who love them point to the reduction in the number of shares, which means the value of those that remain should increase. Earnings per share (EPS) is net income divided by the number of shares, and EPS increases when shares decrease.

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Did I Say That?

John Goodell  |  Aug 4, 2021

THE MOST FAMOUS market-timing (mis)statement may be that of Irving Fisher, who—as a result—ultimately suffered a fate similar to that of President Herbert Hoover. Both men are inextricably linked to the Great Depression, despite a lifetime of achievement and their positive work to improve the lives of humans everywhere. Fisher, whose theories on capital, interest rates and lifecycle investing are still relied on by economists today, will likely continue to be remembered for his statement nine days before the 1929 market crash that,

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Buying Everything

Dennis Friedman  |  Aug 4, 2021

IN A FEW YEARS, my wife and I will have additional income, thanks to both Social Security benefits and required minimum distributions from our IRAs. Our thought: Any money we don’t spend from these two income streams we’ll invest for the long term. We wanted to keep this money separate from our other investments, so we opened a new joint brokerage account at Vanguard Group.
We decided to invest our extra cash in the Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (symbol: VT).

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What’s Your Number?

Ben Rodriguez  |  Aug 3, 2021

MY WIFE AND I are aiming to retire in 10 or 15 years. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average close to 35,000, I can’t help but wonder: At what level for the Dow can we retire?
Yes, I know the Dow is a terrible index. But it’s also the one that’s most commonly mentioned in the media. I’ve followed it for most of my life, so I’m much more emotionally tied to it than the S&P 500 or any other index.

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Unexpected Bonus

Mike Zaccardi  |  Aug 3, 2021

FRUGALITY GETS A BAD rap these days. It seems today’s standard advice is to “go ahead and buy your darn daily latte.” Instead, we’re told to worry about bigger financial issues.
That’s probably good advice. Small purchases here and there will likely boost our mood, while clipping coupons probably won’t move the net worth needle. Still, I’ve adopted a cheapskate practice that can be lucrative: brokerage firm retention bonuses.
To snag these bonuses, you typically need a sizable IRA or taxable account.

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Summer Relief

Sanjib Saha  |  Aug 2, 2021

LIVING IN THE PACIFIC Northwest, my favorite time of year is summer. I love the extra daylight and relief from the nagging rain. In recent years, there’s been an additional reason to look forward to summer: I get to see my paycheck again.
Some background: A few years ago, in an online investment forum, another participant—I’ll call him Dave—gave me a tip for early retirement. He suggested that I practice living off my investment portfolio even while working.

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Personal Touch

Andrew Forsythe  |  Aug 2, 2021

I’M 69 YEARS OLD and so have spent most of my life dealing with people—and businesses—in person. That said, I’ve loved and greatly benefited from the internet revolution and appreciate its marvels in a way that only a person who lived in the “before” period can. I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, and about how important it is—or isn’t—to have face-to-face relationships with the people I do business with.
For many years,

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Save First

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 1, 2021

IT’S A TOPIC WHERE I always seem to be in the minority. The controversy: Should you save first and then spend what remains—or, instead, prepare a budget which then determines how much you can “afford” to save?

Budgets are scary and stressful. Go ahead, make a budget if you like. But if you conclude that you can’t afford to save, there’s no progress in that.

A Northwestern Mutual survey found that 49% of U.S.

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