Just Do It

Jonathan Clements  |  December 25, 2019

WANT TO TAKE SOME simple steps to improve your life, as well as that of those around you? Here are 11 things to do today:

Look somebody in the eye and say, “Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.”
Stop talking about yourself and, instead, ask folks about their life.
Throw out something you’ve been meaning to get rid of.
Read an article by somebody you disagree with—and think hard about whether he or she might be at least partially right.

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Three Life Lessons

Michael Falk  |  December 18, 2019

IT WAS 1989 and I was living at home with my parents after obtaining my finance degree. I still harbored dreams of playing professional baseball, but let’s just say I also embraced learning about the financial-planning trade.
A year later, my why—my purpose—was born. In 1990, my father’s employer went bankrupt. As my 59-year-old dad looked for a new job, I felt the stress level in the house rise. My mother didn’t understand why it took so long for him to find work,

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So Many Benefits

Dennis Friedman  |  December 10, 2019

SOCIAL SECURITY has come under political attack over the years. With the federal deficit ballooning, will there be another round of attacks in the run-up to 2020’s election?
I hope not. Here are 15 reasons we should all want to preserve Social Security benefits, no matter which political party we favor:

It helps many. About 63 million people get a Social Security check each month. That’s one out of six Americans.
It provides insurance.

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Give Until It Hurts

Richard Quinn  |  December 4, 2019

I’M GUESSING our credit cards are excited. It’s the holidays, so they’ll get to see the light of day more often. December is a time for spending, for throwing caution to the wind, for rationalizing what we and our children need or deserve. It doesn’t help that we’re barraged with advertising tugging at our heart strings.
Perhaps it’s time to counterattack, to apply logic and to think not about the joys of Christmas morning presents or the next Chanukah gift,

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Oldies but Goodies

William Ehart  |  November 26, 2019

BAD INVESTMENT and personal finance books get cranked out every year with catchy titles and celebrity authors. But skip such pulp fiction. Instead, give yourself or someone you know the gift of timeless investment wisdom with one—or all—of the following classics. 

Why? Perhaps you’ve heard that indexing is the way to go. Or that you should insist on low-cost funds. Or that stocks are the best asset class, and should be bought and held.

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What Do You Mean?

Richard Quinn  |  October 10, 2019

WORDS AND PHRASES have a powerful impact. They motivate and mislead. They’re subject to perceptions and preconceived notions. They come and go in fashion. Whatever happened to the word “gobbledygook”? Okay, I admit it, I’m also a fan of “curmudgeon.”
Today, there are several words and phrases in fashion that pack an emotional punch, but sometimes they’re misunderstood or go unquestioned. When you hear the following 10 words and phrases, I’d advise you to put them under a magnifying glass:

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50 Shades of Risk

Jonathan Clements  |  October 5, 2019

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST financial risk we face? Today, many folks would point to the possibility of a recession, a stock market plunge and perhaps both. Indeed, those are perennial perils—but perhaps they shouldn’t be our biggest worries. Looking to lose sleep? Here are 50 other dangers we face:

Really, really long-term care.
Your financial advisor turns out to be a crook.
Your spouse leaves.
Double-digit inflation.
Your new neighbor specializes in personal-injury lawsuits.
Your son just got his driver’s license.

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Straight Talk

Richard Quinn  |  September 26, 2019

TAKE ANY MONEY issue and you’re sure to find detailed guidance—some so complicated that it’s largely ignored, regardless of its potential benefit.
The following is not intended to make light of the difficulty some people have with money. Still, a little straightforward information helps. Let’s strip personal finance down to its basics:
1. “I can’t afford to save.” It’s easy: Put savings first, and then figure out what you can and can’t afford.

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Are We There Yet?

Dennis Friedman  |  September 12, 2019

PREPARING FOR retirement is like running a marathon. It requires dedication, discipline and endurance.
But there’s also a crucial difference.
When you cross the finish line in a marathon, you know the race is over. But when you quit the workforce, it’s much harder to figure out whether you’ve successfully reached retirement. Why? A happy and prosperous retirement is about money, but it’s also about so much more than money. Here are 15 signs that a wonderful retirement likely lies ahead:

You don’t need an online calculator to tell you that you have enough money,

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Just Asking

Jonathan Clements  |  August 31, 2019

IT’S THE LABOR DAY weekend, which is hardly the time for a nerdy article on the finer points of personal finance. Instead, I’ll leave you to spend the weekend pondering 11 great unanswered financial questions:

Who does more financial damage, stockbrokers or life insurance agents?
Is taking Social Security early and then assuming you’ll make double-digit gains by investing the money a brilliant strategy—or utterly delusional?
Is a home the best investment you’ll ever make or a money-sucking pile of bricks?

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Thinking Out Loud

Jonathan Clements  |  July 27, 2019

IDEAS ARE TOOLS that can help us see the world with greater clarity. Indeed, I find myself returning to certain financial notions again and again, because they’re so fundamental to understanding the world of finance and how we can make our lives better.
What are the most important ideas? I decided to create a new chapter for HumbleDollar’s online money guide, which covers the 15 notions I consider most crucial:

Future Self
Hedonic Treadmill
Human Capital
Be an Owner
Risk and Reward
Opportunity Cost
Risk Pooling


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Solomon on Money

John Lim  |  July 17, 2019

THE MOST WIDELY read book of all time, the Bible, has a lot to say about money. According to biblical scholars, money and wealth are mentioned more than 2,000 times. Out of the roughly 40 parables Jesus told, nearly half speak of money.
Why does the Bible make such a big deal about money? The answer belongs in a Sunday sermon, not here. Still, I believe there’s a great deal to be learned from what the Bible says about money.

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Terms of the Trade

Jim Wasserman  |  July 10, 2019

CONSUMER ECONOMICS and media literacy have evolved to become important fields of study, analyzing the way consumers make decisions—and how those decisions can be nudged. Here are 20 of the tricks and techniques used by marketers and others:
Aspirational buying. When consumers are encouraged to live like those they admire, even if they can’t afford it.
Bandwagon appeal. The psychological nudge to do—or consume—something because others are doing it. Also known as FOMO,

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Third Rail

Jonathan Clements  |  June 29, 2019

IF I’M EVER FEELING lonely, all I need to do is write about certain financial topics—and soon enough my inbox is brimming with emails, some vehemently disagreeing, others offering vigorous nods of assent.
A dozen of those topics are covered in HumbleDollar’s new chapter devoted to great debates—issues like whether money buys happiness, when to claim Social Security and whether individual bonds are superior to bond mutual funds. But those subjects aren’t the only ones that stir up readers.

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Building Wealth

Dennis Friedman  |  June 14, 2019

I’VE BEEN READING about how people aren’t saving enough money, and how almost half of all Americans carry a balance on their credit cards. Looking to be more financially prudent? Here are 10 pointers on how to build wealth and gain financial security over your lifetime:
1. Save—for a reason. Saving money is the key to building a substantial portfolio. One secret to being a good saver: Have something worthwhile to save for. It might be homeownership or early financial independence.

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