HOW LONG WILL YOU live? A recent study from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research noted that, “A healthy 65-year old man in an employer pension plan has a 25% chance of dying by age 78, or of living to age 91 or beyond.”
Think about the dilemma this creates if you’re retiring at age 65. Even if you are in the middle 50% of the male population—neither among the 25% who die early in retirement nor among the 25% who live well into their 90s—your retirement could last just 13 years or it could be double that,
WHAT DRIVES THE PRICE of individual company stocks, and why do some soar while others sink? It comes down to five factors, I believe.
The first two factors are a company’s observable strengths and weaknesses. Consider Apple. Its strengths are easily quantifiable. In the U.S., it’s captured more than half the smartphone market. When you take into account the company’s premium prices, it collects a disproportionate share of the industry’s revenue. Last year, Apple’s profits hit nearly $100 billion,
I BEGAN MY CAREER at a small startup biotech company, only to realize the place had too much office politics, plus not enough credit was given for new discoveries. That was at odds with what I wanted, which was to be a research scientist focused on the basic principles underlying diseases.
Fortunately, I was offered a tenure-track academic position at a large medical school in Houston. I never looked back. Indeed, I consider myself one of the fortunate few who woke early each and every day to pursue their life’s passion.
WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE, working toward a bachelor’s degree in music education, a friend’s dad told me about Vanguard Group. I’d never heard of Vanguard, and I had no idea what a mutual fund was.
I did some research on the firm and its founder, John Bogle, and read his book Bogle on Mutual Funds. Soon after, at age 19, I opened an IRA at Vanguard and thereafter contributed the maximum allowed every year.
WITH DECEMBER FAST approaching, it’s a good time to think about end-of-the-year financial planning. What steps might you take?
A popular strategy is to make charitable gifts, both to support good causes and reap a tax benefit. But before you start writing checks, take a moment to better understand your tax picture. Because of the complexity of tax forms, that’s often easier said than done. Still, you don’t need to decipher every number. Instead,
AN UNPLEASANT PRICE shock awaits those who grew up in a low-cost-of-living nation and then relocate to a high-cost country. Coming from India, I experienced it firsthand, as I routinely converted prices into Indian rupees and compared them to the cost of similar items back home. In my initial years abroad, this made it challenging to open my wallet. Everything appeared overpriced.
It took time to come to terms with the fact that, despite higher living costs,
STEIN’S LAW STATES that, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” It’s named for Herbert Stein, an economist who was influential in the 1970s and served as chair of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors.
Stein first made this comment when he saw government debt growing to what he felt was an unsustainable level. While half-joking in the way he put it, Stein was making a serious observation: Trends rarely last forever.
STUDENT LOANS ARE a hot topic—one that’s fraught with confusion and complexity. Still, many borrowers should consider taking action this year. Want to get a better handle on what’s happening? Let’s start with three changes that have lately been in the spotlight:
Federal student loan payments, along with the interest charged, were paused from March 2020 to September 2023. That gave borrowers more than three years to make principal-only payments or, alternatively, to potentially accrue credit toward loan forgiveness without the need to make payments.
DO YOU EXPECT IT TO be warmer this winter in Minneapolis or in Miami? This isn’t meant to be a trick question. We’d probably all agree that it’ll be warmer in Miami. But what if I asked you to predict the precise temperature in either city on Jan. 1. This is a much more difficult question.
In his book Mastering the Market Cycle, investor Howard Marks uses illustrations like this to make an important point.
MY HUSBAND WAS STILL working at age 65 when he went into heart failure. After heart surgery, he wanted to return to his job as the warranty administrator at a large New Jersey auto dealership. But we worried that the commute would be too taxing. He traveled 55 miles each way to and from his job, and it could take hours and be treacherous when the weather was bad. When additional complications ensued from the surgery,
HOW MUCH OF YOUR retirement planning revolves around your kids and grandkids? Your estate planning goals probably include bequeathing a meaningful sum. Perhaps moving closer to your kids and grandkids is part of your plan. Whether you consciously think about it or not, you may be counting on your children to help out if needed during your final years. That seemed to be my father’s plan.
But what if you don’t have kids? How different would your retirement plan look?
BUDGETS CAN BE a contentious topic. Some people swear by them. Others argue they’re unnecessary if you easily spend less than you make. No matter which side you take in this debate, I’d advocate budgeting for one item: kindness.
I’ve always enjoyed reading news stories about strangers who left unusually large tips for their waiter. After reading such stories, I’d daydream about where I’d leave large tips if I was that rich. One day,
IT’S TIME TO THROW out our broken retirement system and start over. My first article for HumbleDollar, published more than five years ago, was titled Choosing Badly. It was about the inability of most employees to make good use of their 401(k) plan.
Guess what? Nothing’s changed.
Today, some 401(k) plans still have too few investment choices, while others have too many. There are multiple options that people don’t understand, such as target-date funds compared with index funds,
HEALTH SAVINGS accounts (HSAs) were introduced in 2003, and have since become commonplace in employee benefit plans. My experience with HSAs dates to 2004, when my employer offered $400 in one-time seed money as an incentive to sign up.
HSAs differed from existing health-care flexible spending accounts, and offered some features I preferred. To me, the HSA’s most appealing feature was that I controlled the money. There’s no “use it or lose it” rule,
WHAT’S THE FIRST RULE of personal finance? To answer this question, let’s look at the financial lives of two notable individuals, starting with musician MC Hammer.
When Hammer gained fame in the 1980s, he made millions. But unfortunately, his spending quickly outpaced his income. Hammer bought 19 racehorses, employed a personal staff of 200 and built a $30 million house with a 17-car garage. The result, sadly, was bankruptcy.
If MC Hammer represents one extreme of financial management,