Deadly Serious

Adam M. Grossman  |  November 18, 2018

THE MUSICIAN PRINCE died in 2016 at age 57, leaving behind a legacy of musical genius. Unfortunately, he also left behind an ongoing legal and financial mess. The issue: For reasons no one understands, Prince neglected to prepare even the most basic estate plan, leaving potential heirs squabbling over his fortune.
Under the latest tax law, passed late last year, only those with more than $11.2 million in assets ($22.4 million for a married couple) are subject to federal estate taxes.

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Simple Isn’t Easy

Jonathan Clements  |  November 17, 2018

ALLAN ROTH likes to describe himself as argumentative—and, on that score, it’s hard to argue with him. But it’s also hard to argue with the points he makes, because he has this nasty habit of being right.
Roth is the author of How a Second Grader Beats Wall Street, a financial planner who charges by the hour, and a contributor of financial articles to,, and other sites. I caught up with him last month at the Bogleheads’ conference in Philadelphia.

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Pillow Talk

Lucinda Karter  |  November 16, 2018

WHAT’S IT LIKE to be married to a personal finance expert? Trust me, it isn’t easy—especially if you’re a fiercely independent but less-than-perfect manager of your own money.
Before I met Jonathan, I was a divorcee who hadn’t shared her financial life with anybody for a few years, but who had been bumbling along just fine on her own. When we started dating, we hardly ever spoke about money. The most he knew about my spending habits was that I was very good at justifying purchases,

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Taking Their Money

Jiab Wasserman  |  November 15, 2018

“UNCLE” PHAN, my father’s closest friend and my godfather, committed suicide a few years ago. I regret not seeing him often enough when he was alive and not letting him know how much I appreciated his humor and generosity.
I also regret not knowing his financial and emotional situation.
Uncle Phan retired as a surgeon 20 years ago and took a lump sum distribution instead of a lifetime monthly pension. It should have been enough to last the rest of his life,

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Family Inc.

Dennis Friedman  |  November 14, 2018

WHAT’S THE MOST important financial decision you’ll make in your life? Is it when to take Social Security? Choosing the right asset allocation for your investment portfolio? How about the decision to rent or buy a place to live?
I believe that, for many people, it’s who they choose to be their significant other. Together, you’ll decide how you spend your money and how much to set aside for retirement. There will be endless decisions dealing with money—and some will have a huge impact on your financial wellbeing.

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Richard Quinn  |  November 13, 2018

I WAS RECENTLY looking at one of those “whatever happened to” top 10 lists. In this case, it was about a select group of celebrities and their money—or lack thereof. The point of the list: All of these people, who had made millions, were broke or worse. Several had filed for bankruptcy more than once. Others were deep in debt and most owed hundreds of thousands to the IRS. One former star, who once earned several million dollars a year,

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Five Messy Steps

Adam M. Grossman  |  November 11, 2018

RECENT WEEKS have been challenging for our country. We’ve seen horrific terrorist attacks. The midterm elections suggest the U.S. is deeply divided. While the economy has been doing well, the stock market has started to wobble. October, in fact, was the market’s worst month since 2011.
For all these reasons, folks have been asking me whether they should steer clear of the stock market for a while, until the dust settles. That sounds sensible—until you realize the difficult steps involved:
Step 1: Predict what’s going to happen and when.

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Newsletter No. 36

Jonathan Clements  |  November 10, 2018

IS SAVING MONEY a bad thing? You might conclude that is indeed the case, based on all the criticism that’s recently been directed at the Financial Independence/Retire Early movement, otherwise known as FIRE. I take a look at the controversy in HumbleDollar’s latest newsletter.
The newsletter also includes brief descriptions—and links to—all the blogs that have appeared since the last newsletter. In addition, I’ve included details on how to get signed copies of my latest book,

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Seven Deadly Sins

Tony Isola  |  November 9, 2018

MANY FINANCIAL advisors are allowed to recommend investments that are great moneymakers for their own retirement—but not so good for those who buy them.
These salespeople are incentivized to push clients into investments that pay the highest commissions. It’s a system that jeopardizes the retirement of millions of Americans. Billions are spent annually on unnecessary fees. While the industry has many decent people, the sinners outnumber the saints. Here are just seven of their transgressions:

Variable annuities in retirement accounts.

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Two’s a Crowd

Julian Block  |  November 8, 2018

IRS AUDITS are usually uneventful. Auditors ask taxpayers to produce receipts, canceled checks and similar documentation to verify deductions and other facts and figures. When taxpayers come up with the required substantiation, examiners move on to other audits. In fact, the feds frequently close cases without exacting extra taxes—and sometimes they even authorize refunds.
But things aren’t always so friendly.
Be concerned when an IRS investigator walks in unannounced at your home or office and asks to see your records.

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Hard Earned

Richard Quinn  |  November 7, 2018

LOOKING BACK on my 75 years or, at least, those after age 10, I realize I have always managed to make money. I never received an allowance or lavish gifts as a child, but it never mattered. I always earned what I needed.
Let me count the ways: raking leaves, shoveling snow, lemonade stands and—my favorite—rummaging through the trash cans in a local park for soda bottles. We got 2¢ for regular size and,

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Flying Solo

Ross Menke  |  November 6, 2018

THE RANKS of self-employed Americans are expected to rise to 42 million by 2020. It’s easy to understand why folks flock to self-employment. These workers report higher job satisfaction and overall happiness. The downside: They need to craft a benefits package that mirrors what they lost by leaving traditional fulltime positions.
Other than health insurance, the cornerstone of any employee benefits package is the employer-sponsored retirement plan. Most often, this is a 401(k), 403(b) or similar plan.

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Merging Money

Kathleen M. Rehl  |  November 5, 2018

I TIED THE KNOT again—at age 71. Four years into widowhood, I met Charlie online. Also widowed, he and I began dating cautiously, each respectful of our late spouses and those marriages, as well as our adult children and grandchildren.
We also focused on financial and legal issues. We knew from experience, and from research we had read, that financial disagreements can derail love. In an international survey of  widows and money, women shared advice about re-partnering: Talking about money matters was essential before remarriage,

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Hole Story

Adam M. Grossman  |  November 4, 2018

IS APPLE the greatest company ever? On the surface, it certainly appears that way. The company sells more than 450,000 iPhones every day. Customers love them: According to surveys, iPhone customer satisfaction stands at 98%. Last year, Apple’s revenues topped $250 billion, and in its most recent quarter the company saw profits jump 41% from a year earlier. Not surprisingly, the company’s share price reflects this success. Having gained 33% over the past year,

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Signed and Sealed

Jonathan Clements  |  November 3, 2018

WANT A COPY of From Here to Financial Happiness signed by yours truly? It might make for an enriching holiday gift for a friend or family member—or perhaps for yourself.
Just follow this simple four-step process:

Shoot an email to Jonathan(at) specifying how many copies you want and what mailing address they should be sent to. We can’t ship books to addresses outside the U.S.—sorry.
You’ll receive an invoice from PayPal asking for $20 per copy.

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