Working the Numbers

Richard Connor  |  August 4, 2020

THIS YEAR’S TAX DAY was the strangest I can remember. Amid the pandemic, the filing deadline had been pushed back to July 15, three months later than usual. And for me, it was our most complicated tax year ever. I had both retirement income and income from various in-state and out-of-state consulting gigs.
But the biggest complication stemmed from last year’s sale of our second home. This was a vacation home that we rented part-time and also used ourselves.

Read More

July’s Hits

Jonathan Clements  |  August 3, 2020

THERE’S SO MUCH more to managing money than just picking investments. Indeed, we can likely add far more value to our financial life by focusing on topics like buying the right home and when to claim Social Security—which may help explain last month’s most popular articles:

“My son-in-law—who’s a financial advisor to high net worth families—casually said to me, ‘You’re wealthy’,” recalls Dick Quinn. “What? Me wealthy? I’m not even close to qualifying as one of his clients.”

Read More

Don’t Be That Person

Adam M. Grossman  |  August 2, 2020

THE TRICKY THING about investing is that there’s no single “right” approach. In an earlier article, I described the approach I favor—what I call the five minds of the investor, which involves being part optimist, pessimist, analyst, economist and psychologist.
But there are many other ways to be successful: You might invest in real estate, or follow a quantitative investment strategy, or invest in private companies. There are plenty of people who do very well with these approaches.

Read More

Take the Low Road

Jonathan Clements  |  August 1, 2020

“BUYING THE DIP.” It’s a phrase often uttered with contempt by Wall Street strategists and money managers, who look down their nose at everyday investors who instinctively shovel more money into stocks simply because share prices have fallen.
Commentators “caution against” it, dismiss it as “not an investment strategy,” predict it’s going to “die,” argue it could get “very, very nasty” and contend that—when everyday investors buy on dips—it’s a “contrarian signal.” And I got all that based on a quick internet search.

Read More

Needing to Know

William Ehart  |  July 31, 2020

YEARS AGO, when the kids were teenagers, single Dad here was cooking dinner. You guessed it, hot dogs.
I skillfully picked one up from the hot pan with my fingers and tossed it in a bun.
When my daughter began to imitate me, I nearly shrieked. She lacked my years of experience in gauging exactly how hot the sides of the dog would be, how far from the splattering grease I needed to position my fingers,

Read More

No Vacation

Dennis Friedman  |  July 30, 2020

I SOLD MY CONDO last month and the first thing I wanted to do was celebrate. It was such a relief to get rid of it, because owning a second home requires spending precious time maintaining it. At age 69, I can think of better ways to spend my time than looking after a vacation home.
At first, I was reluctant to put the condo up for sale. I had lived there for more than three decades.

Read More

Just Another Day

Jonathan Clements  |  July 29, 2020

WELCOME TO OUR new daily market report, which we’re going to run exactly once, which is probably once too many. In market action yesterday, stock prices fluctuated—a development that shocked market observers who noted they hadn’t seen anything like that since the day before.
“If we can stay above the psychologically important 3,200 barrier, that’ll create an important support level that could build a base for a new bull market,” opined market strategist Ross Nodamus,

Read More

Cooking Up a Story

Mike Zaccardi  |  July 28, 2020

I’VE PREPARED countless meals over the past few months—a result of COVID-19, which continues to have a big impact on daily life, especially here in Florida. Still, I’ve come to enjoy cooking and eating at home has saved me a ton of money.
But not all coronavirus habits have been good for our financial health. That brings me to the (supposed) rise of the Robinhood trader. By now, we’ve all seen the headlines and read the stories.

Read More

Banking from A to F

Richard Quinn  |  July 27, 2020

YOU MAY HAVE heard me say this before: I don’t think people need to budget if they have an effective spending and saving system. Recently, a reader of my blog challenged me on that point, arguing that you need a budget to ensure you’ll have enough to pay off your credit cards in full.
Au contraire, as we say here in New Jersey.
You may also have heard of the envelope method, where some people place money in envelopes for specific expenses.

Read More

Skewed Impression

Adam M. Grossman  |  July 26, 2020

THEY SAY A PICTURE is worth a thousand words. But what about a chart?
A few weeks back, I noted that the stock market had become unusually top-heavy, with just five companies—Alphabet (i.e. Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—accounting for 20% of the overall value of the S&P 500. A chart that appeared online last week illustrates the impact of that imbalance. What it showed, in a nutshell, is that the overall S&P 500 is around breakeven for the year,

Read More

Almost Zero

Jonathan Clements  |  July 25, 2020

IT’S NEVER BEEN cheaper to build a globally diversified portfolio of index funds. In fact, today, you could invest $100,000 and pay just $10 in annual fund expenses—equal to the cost of two Big Macs and a large fries.
Moreover, you don’t need $100,000 to build that portfolio. Not even close. The funds in question—which are managed by Fidelity Investments—have no required investment minimum, which means your four-year-old could start investing with the contents of her piggybank.

Read More

Crash Test

Isaac Cathey  |  July 24, 2020

AS THE MARKET plunged earlier this year, I recalled the sage advice of billionaire investor Mark Cuban: “When you don’t know what to do, do nothing.” My wife and I are 100% in index funds, so doing nothing was easier for us than for more active investors. Still, we did take some action and, more important, learned some valuable lessons.
Examples? With the bear market apparently behind us, I decided to create a record of the steps we took,

Read More

No Need for Prophets

Robin Powell  |  July 23, 2020

WHEN FINANCIAL planners are asked at parties what they do for a living, many hesitate to be specific. Why? Because the inevitable follow-up questions relate to where they think the stock market, the dollar, interest rates or the economy are headed.
It’s a myth that dies hard—the idea that a financial planner is a market prophet with special powers for foreseeing the next big boom or bust. To be sure, some advisors position themselves as smart forecasters or market timers.

Read More

Identity Crisis

Sanjib Saha  |  July 22, 2020

MAY 18, 2020, started as an ordinary Monday. I was busy with office work. An email from our human resources department hit my inbox. It said something about fraudulent unemployment benefits. I couldn’t pay attention right away, so I saved it to read later.
That evening, I found five letters from our state’s unemployment claims department in the mail. I’d never heard of such a department, but it reminded me about the email I got earlier.

Read More

Early Decision

James McGlynn  |  July 21, 2020

DELAYING SOCIAL Security until age 70 will get you the largest possible monthly benefit, and that’s the right strategy for many retirees. But what’s right for many folks won’t necessarily be right for you—and you may want to file at 62, the youngest possible age, so you maximize your total lifetime benefit.
If you’re single with no dependents, you should probably file at age 62 if you’re in poor health or your family doesn’t have great genes,

Read More