IT SEEMS THE WORST of this economic crisis may have passed, though the health risks will be with us for some time. What have we learned? For many people, long-discussed financial risks became all too real in 2020.
There are two words that should always be part of our thinking: what if. Those two words aren’t always associated with bad things. What if I win the lottery? I have a plan for that, which varies depending on how much I win and whether it triggers estate taxes.
MANY OF US HAVE found ourselves with free time on our hands. I’ve read that folks are filling their days with shopping, baking, exercising and binge-watching TV. May I suggest another activity, one that may prove profitable?
Over the past few years, I’ve found significant amounts of money in unlikely places. These treasures often come not just with monetary benefits, but also great memories. Here are four places to look:
1. Forgotten savings bonds.
MANY MEMBERS of the military live in a crisis-like state. They’re frequently deployed to dangerous places. Their families often have to move every few years.
Today, that sense of crisis is shared by many others. In fact, with 23.1 million Americans unemployed as of April, a government paycheck seems stable by comparison. How can families prep their finances for ongoing economic instability? Here are five of the money principles I advocate in my work counseling soldiers,
FORCED TO SHELTER in place, I’ve used the time at home to organize my finances. I’d already read Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up. But I needed her new book, Joy at Work, to motivate me to organize my digital life. Sometimes, it helps to have a step-by-step guide to prod you to deal with such drudgery. Here are four tips I used to get myself organized:
1. Consolidate fixed costs.
EARLIER THIS YEAR, before the coronavirus hit, my family visited an amusement park. Everyone had fun—except my nine-year-old, who complained about the injustice of the rigged “down the clown” game.
You have probably seen this sort of thing: You’re given a handful of baseballs. Then, standing from about 10 feet away, the challenge is to knock down as many mechanical clowns as possible for a chance to win a prize. It doesn’t appear difficult—you aren’t that far away and the clowns are tightly spaced—but most people walk away empty-handed.
I OFTEN BLOG ABOUT mistakes I’ve made. Why change now? Looking back over my 76 years and the many poor money decisions I’ve made, it’s a wonder I’m in better financial shape than the Social Security trust fund—and yet I am. Here are 10 of my more memorable decisions:
In 1961, when I started working at age 18, I got hooked on the stock market. With little money and earning a bit more than minimum wage,
IS THE STOCK MARKET swoon messing with your head? You don’t want to make this market decline any worse than it has to be. To that end, here are 10 steps that’ll help preserve your sanity and your portfolio:
Avoid touching both your face and leveraged exchange-traded index funds.
Change the password on your investment accounts to “ItsTooLateToSell.”
Downgrade your opinion of investors based on their degree of hysteria.
Don’t watch Contagion,
I’M MANAGING my money with an eye to making it last another three decades. And yet, everywhere I turn, it seems somebody’s insisting I pay attention to what’s happening in the financial markets right now.
This isn’t just a coronavirus phenomenon. It is, alas, standard operating procedure for the financial media.
I understand the game. I’ve spent most of my career as a journalist, so I realize it’s no small undertaking to fill up a newspaper,
I HAVE DEVOTED my entire adult life to learning about money. That might sound like cruel-and-unusual punishment, but I’ve mostly enjoyed it. For more than three decades, I’ve spent my days perusing the business pages, reading finance books, scanning academic studies and talking to countless folks about their finances.
Yet, despite this intense financial education, it took me a decade or more to learn many of life’s most important money lessons and, indeed, some key insights have only come to me in recent years.
FOR THREE YEARS, I lived on Roosevelt Island, in the middle of New York City’s East River. It’s a wonderful place—a quiet, friendly, low-crime oasis in the middle of one of the world’s largest, most frenetic cities.
During my time there, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park opened on the island’s southern tip. The park is named after a 1941 FDR speech, where he articulated “four essential human freedoms”: freedom of speech, of worship,
THE FINANCIAL markets are often quick to punish investment sins. By contrast, if we err with our borrowing, spending and other personal-finance issues, problems might not show up until years later—but the damage can be just as great. Here, to complement last week’s list of 12 deadly investment sins, are 12 deadly personal-finance sins:
1. Pride: Keeping up with the Jones by buying luxury cars and fancy clothes.
Antidote: Realize the folly of buying depreciating assets you don’t need,
“THE INVESTOR’S CHIEF problem—even his worst enemy—is likely himself.” So wrote Benjamin Graham, the father of modern investment analysis.
With these words, written in 1949, Graham acknowledged the reality that investors are human. Though he had written an 800-page book on techniques to analyze stocks and bonds, Graham understood that investing is as much about human psychology as it is about numerical analysis.
In the decades since Graham’s passing, an entire field has emerged at the intersection of psychology and finance.
I HAVE NEVER broken a New Year’s resolution—because, until this year, I’ve never made one. But now that I’m retired, with time on my hands, I figure my wife and I ought to challenge ourselves with 10 financial resolutions for 2020:
We’ll continually monitor routine spending with the goal of reducing or eliminating at least half-a-dozen expenses this year. That’s one every two months. Phone companies, internet providers and insurers, be warned: Here we come.
WANT TO IMPROVE your investment results? The deadly sins below are not only among the most serious financial transgressions, but also they’re among the most common. I firmly believe that, if you eradicate these 12 sins from your financial life, you’ll have a better-performing portfolio.
1. Pride: Thinking you can beat the market by picking individual stocks, selecting actively managed funds or timing the market.
Antidote: Humility. By humbly accepting “average” returns through low-cost index funds,
DEAR READER, I may write for you. But I also write for myself. Many of my articles grow out of intriguing ideas I stumble across or half-baked notions I want to explore further. The next thing I know, I’m scouring the internet for additional information and typing furiously on my laptop, all because I’m interested—and I hope you will be, too.
The good news is, after 34 years of writing about finance, I’m still learning things and still tripping across topics I’m curious about.