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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Falling Short

Howard Rohleder  |  Sep 6, 2021

I SERVED ON a scholarship committee for a local foundation. We offered awards to college students entering their sophomore year. Our coordinator had the unhappy job of explaining to some students and parents that, even though their students had a full freshman schedule and passed all their classes, they didn’t actually have sophomore standing. How can this be? The answer is remediation.
Almost 24% of entering college freshmen at Ohio universities required remediation in English or math and 6% needed both.

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All That Glitters

Mike Zaccardi  |  Sep 5, 2021

TEN YEARS AGO, I recall sitting in a meeting at a local financial planning firm. We hadn’t heard of cryptocurrencies. The term “FAANG stocks” hadn’t yet been coined. On the minds of many individual investors was a different hot asset: gold.
Gold is the butt of many jokes in the financial blogosphere these days. Who can blame them? The shiny metal is flat over the past decade—and, of course, has produced no dividends in that time—while the S&P 500’s total return is more than 370%.

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No Point Shouting

Jim Wasserman  |  Sep 5, 2021

TEACHERS SHARE space with people who aren’t as knowledgeable or understanding of a subject as they are. Sometimes, students will display incredible depths of ignorance. Most students try, but there are some who are unwilling to meet a teacher even halfway. Worst of all are the insolent ones. Proud of their ignorance, they dismiss the subject—and the teacher—with not-so-veiled disrespect.
You know what a good teacher does in the face of all this? She takes a moment,

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Never Better

William Ehart  |  Sep 4, 2021

BECAUSE WE’RE HUMAN, we always find something to complain about. But I’ve come to believe there’s never been a better time to be a regular, everyday investor.
No, I’m not suggesting stocks are some great once-in-a-lifetime bargain. Rather, I mean the choices available to investors have never been greater, thanks in part to the growth of exchange-traded funds and the disappearance of brokerage commissions. On top of that, the costs of fund investing have never been lower.

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Can’t Stop Looking

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 4, 2021

LIKE MANY RETIREES, I have a 401(k), a brokerage account and a couple of modest rollover IRAs, plus a small—very small—annuity purchased 35 years ago in my more naive days.

Unlike most retirees, I also have a pension. My pension and our Social Security benefits comprise the income that covers our ongoing spending.

Why then am I addicted to checking my investment performance every day? Ask me and I’ll know my 401(k) balance. In fact,

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Look Before You Leap

Kyle McIntosh  |  Sep 3, 2021

A FEW WEEKS AGO, fellow contributor Dennis Friedman discussed how he’ll remain in California for retirement, despite the lower cost of living elsewhere. Dennis’s post got me thinking about the conversations I hear at my local dog park in Newbury Park, California.
A local realtor regularly talks about the many longtime homeowners who are moving out of state. Within days of listing their home, sellers receive multiple offers above asking price. The sellers then move to places like Arizona,

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Rand Spero  |  Sep 3, 2021

ARE THERE TIMES when we waste too much energy in pursuit of a good deal? I have clients who get so caught up in proving they’re smart consumers that they can neglect their own needs.
One client runs a successful business. She’s saved more than enough to retire early, should that become her goal. She’s an outstanding negotiator. The problem is, her diligence can sometimes cause her stress.
She and her husband have young kids.

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Parents Know Best

Mike Zaccardi  |  Sep 2, 2021

A DECADE AGO, I was sure I knew everything. I scrimped and saved as much as I could to fully fund my retirement accounts. My goal was to retire early. All that was fine for me.
My error: casting my credos on others. I gave my parents grief for what I considered to be their excessive spending and insufficient regard for long-term planning. I was wrong.
While it’s imperative for those in their 40s and 50s to have their retirement plan on track,

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