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House Rules

FOLKS USED TO SAY, “You can’t go wrong with real estate.” They sure don’t say that anymore. It’s been a rollercoaster dozen years for home prices—and some experts think another rough patch is in the offing.
Since mid-2006, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index first tumbled 27.4% and then bounced back 53.6%, for a cumulative 12-plus year gain of 11.5%, equal to 0.9% a year. Could we be facing another dip?

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Twelve Rules

JORDAN PETERSON, a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, has thundered onto the cultural scene, thanks in large part to his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I began reading with healthy skepticism, but quickly became a fan.
Not that the doctor and I agree on all points. But the book immediately confronted my intellectual laziness in a careful but unavoidable way.

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31 Rules of the Road

LOOKING TO IMPROVE your money management? Here are 31 rules for the financial road ahead:
1.  Check your retirement progress by taking your nest egg and applying a 4% annual portfolio withdrawal rate, equal to $4,000 a year for every $100,000 saved. Will you have enough retirement income—or should you be saving more?
2. Don’t automatically claim Social Security at age 62. It often makes sense to delay benefits so you get a larger monthly check,

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Four Percent Rule

BY THE LATE 1990s, with almost two decades of robust investment returns under their belts, investors would talk about 6%, 8% and even 10% as a reasonable rate at which to draw down a retirement portfolio. But researchers begged to disagree—and the financial markets provided brutal confirmation, hitting stock investors with back-to-back bear markets in 2000–02 and 2007–09.
Today, 4% is considered a safe withdrawal rate (though even that number has been called into question).

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The 80% Rule

ONE RULE OF THUMB suggests that, to retire in comfort, you need 80% of your preretirement income. Why the 20% drop? You are no longer saving 10% or so every year toward retirement and you’re no longer making an employee’s 7.65% payroll-tax contribution to Social Security and Medicare. In addition, you won’t have to buy work clothes or pay commuting costs. Your income tax bill should also go down, in part because a portion of your retirement income will likely come from Social Security benefits,

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Rule of 72

HOW LONG WILL IT take to double your money, given a particular rate of return? You can get a rough answer by dividing 72 by the annual return. For instance, if you expect to earn 7% a year, it would take just over 10 years to double your money. But at a 3% annual return, the compounding process is much slower, with your money doubling every 24 years.
Obviously, the higher the return you earn,

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31 Rules of the Road

31 Rules of the Road
Below is a modestly revised version of the Jonathan Clements Money Guide 2015‘s final chapter. 
Looking to improve your money management? Here are 31 rules for the financial road ahead:
1.      Check your retirement progress by taking your nest egg and applying a 4 percent annual portfolio withdrawal rate, equal to $4,000 a year for every $100,000 saved. Will you have enough retirement income—or should you be saving more?

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Ruled by Rules

MOST OF US STRUGGLE with self-control. We eat too much, exercise too little and spend excessively. One solution: Adopt rigid rules of behavior.
For instance, I make it a rule to exercise every morning for at least 40 minutes, always buy whole wheat bread, avoid caffeine after 9 a.m. and eat fruit as a midmorning snack. I’ve followed these rules for so long that they’re no longer rules, but rather ingrained, unquestioned habits.
Not surprisingly,

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Tiresome Debates

WHEN I WORKED at The Wall Street Journal, editors used to quip that, “There are no new stories, just new reporters.” I don’t know whether that’s the case with politics, sports and technology articles, but it sure rings true for personal finance and investing stories. All too often, the latest hot topic just seems like a rehash of something I’ve witnessed—and often written about—before.
That brings me to three financial arguments that never seem to end.

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Retirement Riddles

I SPEND SIGNIFICANT time reading the viewpoints of people who are planning for retirement or who are already retired. My frequent reaction: What are they thinking?
When I review retirement planning discussions on Facebook and elsewhere, I often find the participants show little understanding of how to proceed or even what some basic terms mean. Here’s a sampling of the confusion and uncertainty I come across:

Should people aim to replace 70%, 80% or some other percentage of their preretirement income?

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Drawdown Drawbacks

LOTS OF RESEARCH has been done on the best way to generate retirement income. It’s one of the most popular topics on HumbleDollar. I think this popularity is driven by two things: its obvious importance—and the fact that there’s no one right answer.
By contrast, figuring out how much we need to save for retirement is relatively easy. It isn’t hard to pick a future retirement date, or at least a range of years during which we’ll likely retire,

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After You Leave

VIEW ANY NUMBER of YouTube videos on retirement planning, and you’ll find advice on how much you need to save each month, how to invest, how much to accumulate and how to generate retirement income. The same is true for the experts who write blogs.
All this information relates to the retiree. Rarely—actually never—have I seen a discussion about survivor benefits. Even the 4% rule uses an assumed 30-year retirement period, apparently ignoring the possibility that retirement income needs to last over two lifetimes that may extend beyond 30 years,

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Four Debates

HARRY MARKOWITZ was a graduate student in economics at the University of Chicago. It was 1954, and he had just finished defending his thesis. Most of the committee accepted his work. But Milton Friedman, an economist with a national reputation and easily the most influential member of the economics faculty, had a problem. While he found no errors in Markowitz’s work, the problem was that it contained no economics. Markowitz’s thesis was about investments and,

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A Modest Proposal

LOOKING BACK OVER the past two years, one word comes to mind: extreme. It’s been a period of extremes in the market and the economy. Many have benefitted, but we’ve also seen excesses that aren’t necessarily healthy—from the rise in NFTs to the craze in SPACs to the boom in day trading. That’s why, as you look ahead to the coming year, the theme I recommend is moderation.

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Four or Less

A RECENT ARTICLE from Morningstar suggested that the 4% rule for sustainable retirement withdrawals should be revised downward to 3.3%. This lower rate, the researchers argued, is safer given today’s rich stock market valuations and low bond yields.
The article also recommended being flexible with withdrawals, by taking larger amounts in good markets and smaller withdrawals during down periods. This strategy could provide more lifetime income than fixing a withdrawal amount in the first year and then automatically increasing that sum each year with inflation.

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