READERS MAY RECALL Laura, my acquaintance who didn’t need life insurance but was sold a policy anyway. Alarmed by her ignorance, she vowed to manage her own money. As a first step, she parted ways with her financial advisor.
The advisor had her invested in 35 funds. She never fully understood what these funds owned or why she needed them. She had previously thought that investing had to be complicated and was best left to the professionals.
EVEN AS I’VE WRITTEN regularly for HumbleDollar over the past year, I’ve also learned a lot from the other writers. There have been specific tips I’ve picked up, as well as more general strategies that have influenced my thinking.
For instance, John Lim and others have touted the benefits of Series I savings bonds, with their virtually risk-free interest rate, currently set at a whopping 7.12%. My wife and I took the plunge,
WE ALL SUFFER, in ways large and small, from COVID-driven shortages. The global supply chain has been disrupted, affecting automobiles, furniture, building supplies and much more.
But the impact really hit home last month when my brother-in-law called and told me he couldn’t find his favorite bourbon. He lives in central North Carolina, where liquor sales are limited to state-owned stores. He had to go to three stores to find his backup brand, Maker’s Mark.
MY PARENTS WERE financially comfortable but not rich. Some of their friends, though, were rich. The men always seemed to die before their wives, resulting in a few wealthy widows in my parents’ social circle.
I recall glancing at the annual report of a company for which my dad had done some work. One of the widows was listed as a board member and her occupation was stated as “investor.” I asked my dad what that meant and he replied that it meant she had enough money that simply managing it was a part-time job.
TWO MONTHS AGO, I fessed up to my addiction to financial market news. Despite knowing better, I’ve followed the markets closely for years and would update my portfolio almost daily. Based on some comments my article received, it appears I’m not alone.
In the article, I vowed not to check my portfolio until New Year’s Day 2022. How’s my experiment gone thus far—and what have I learned?
My attempt to go cold turkey hasn’t been entirely successful.
THE PREDOMINANT WAY financial planners get paid is by charging a fee based on the amount of money they’re managing. The typical industry fee I’ve seen is 1%, and it’s been that way for years. Under this model, a financial planner managing a client’s $1 million portfolio would charge $10,000 a year.
Charley Ellis’s recent article explained how this approach came into being. His article also demonstrated how a seemingly innocuous 1% fee can actually consume a large portion of a portfolio’s return.
IT’S PROPERTY TAX time. Amid the holiday mail from friends, many of us get notices of payments due from our friendly local tax assessor.
No one likes getting taxed. But in many places, property taxes make up a huge part of the funding for public education. What always surprises and irks me are those who say the tax is unfair because they don’t “use” the public schools.
One neighbor says he has no children.
I STARTED DOING the family grocery shopping when I was 12 years old. I also married a woman who doesn’t like to cook or grocery shop. That means I’ve been buying the groceries now for more than 50 years. Fortunately, I enjoy it most of the time, but only recently have I noticed some behavior that I wish I’d used more frequently in my early investing life.
I find it hard to buy anything unless it’s on sale.
I DROVE BY the condominium I sold last year. It was bought by a young lady in her early 20s. I noticed a for-sale sign hanging near the front entrance of the building.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the unit for sale online. It had the same floor plan as the condo I’d sold, but was located on the first floor in the back of the building. The condo I owned was located on the top floor facing the street—a much better location.
ONE WAY TO MAXIMIZE long-term family wealth is through a teenager’s summer or after-school job. How do these small paychecks add up to serious money? Probably the best investment we can make for our children and grandchildren: Stash their earnings in a Roth IRA.
A teenager’s Roth has three things going for it: little or zero taxes owed on the small bits of income earned, 70 or 80 years of investment compounding, and zero taxes owed when those gains are withdrawn.
MY CAR EMAILED ME to say its tire pressure was low. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it this way: An email from Subaru was triggered by data uploaded from my 2020 Forester, all part of the automatic safety and maintenance technology built into the vehicle. The email confirmed the dashboard light indicating the same problem.
My frugal friends and I have had friendly debates about car buying. Is it better to buy a used car and avoid the instant depreciation when you drive off the dealer’s lot?
FINANCIAL MARKETS had a lot to digest in recent days: Retail analysts are keeping a close eye on holiday spending, economists got their latest dose of employment data—and traders are coming to grips with the current bout of volatility.
The VIX, the S&P 500 Volatility Index or “fear gauge,” surged above 30 on Friday. That was the highest end-of-week close since January. For perspective, the VIX climbed to 80 during 2020’s COVID-19 stock market crash.
DOLLAR STORES ARE currently booming in popularity, but I’ve patronized them for many years. It never made sense to me to pay more for household goods elsewhere. Yes, the quality isn’t always great—but you can’t complain about the price.
I never buy food at Dollar General on my weekly visits. That’s partly because I go on to ALDI and Trader Joe’s immediately afterwards. I also wouldn’t want anything to spoil in the Florida heat.
FINANCIAL PLANNERS often ask new clients about their first money memory. Mine was about an early encounter with inflation. It involved a favorite childhood snack named fuchka, a popular street food in Kolkata, where I grew up.
The snack is a ball-shaped flatbread, filled with spicy potato mash and topped with tamarind water. As you crunch its crispy shell, the magical flavors burst in your mouth and take your tastebuds on a rollercoaster ride.
“RIFFING OFF” is a term used in music and particularly jazz. It describes when a musician picks up a musical line played by another musician and then runs with it, adding his or her own style or take.
I love riffing off my co-writers—and when they riff off me. I also do it sometimes with HumbleDollar articles and blog posts. I read a thoughtful piece and then, as the day goes on,