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A Combustible Mix

Tom Sedoric  |  September 18, 2020

THERE’S NO SUBJECT that gets me more worked up than market volatility—and especially the danger posed by high-frequency trading (HFT). Volatility has become part of the “new normal,” thanks to fundamental changes in how the market operates.
Remember the flash crash of 2010? I haven’t forgotten the unsettling events of May 6, 2010, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 600 points in just five minutes. For a few minutes, starting around 2:45 p.m.,

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Want $870,000?

Richard Quinn  |  September 17, 2020

SENTENCES THAT begin with “I can’t” drive me nuts—and I especially dislike the sentence, “I can’t save.”
“Pish-tosh,” I say.  Every household in America earning at least the median income can save for the future. If they try hard, many lower-income Americans could also save.
Of course, the amount saved will vary, but even small amounts can help over the long haul. If a household earning $40,000 a year can sock away enough to generate $300 or $400 in monthly retirement income to supplement whatever they get from Social Security,

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It Sure Adds Up

Dennis Friedman  |  September 16, 2020

MY FINANCIAL advisor has been on a mission to reduce my investment costs. He’s been replacing my low-cost, broad-based index mutual funds with the exchange-traded fund (ETF) version. He believes this will improve my investment returns over the long run.
For instance, if you own Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund—a mutual fund—you’re currently paying 0.11% in annual expenses. But Vanguard’s ETF alternative charges just 0.08%, equal to a savings of three cents a year for every $100 invested.

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Fatten That Policy

James McGlynn  |  September 15, 2020

I WORKED in the investment department of three different insurance companies. But I never had any interest in buying a whole-life insurance policy. I knew term insurance was the best way to get the maximum death benefit for my premium dollars.
Instead, as a mutual fund manager, I was always more interested in investing in the stock market. (That said, I didn’t invest in the first mutual fund I managed. Why not? I didn’t want to pay the 7% “load”—the upfront sales commission.)
But my attitude toward whole-life insurance changed six years ago.

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High Times

Mike Zaccardi  |  September 14, 2020

READERS KNOW I love my baseball. There’s an old unwritten rule that, when a pitcher is working a perfect game, nobody talks to him. The position players leave the hurler alone since he needs to be “in the zone.” Fans grow more nervous as the game progresses and the ninth inning draws near. With each passing out, the prized perfect game comes closer into view.
I’m getting the same antsy feeling when it comes to highflying tech stocks.

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Just Say No

Adam M. Grossman  |  September 13, 2020

DOES WEALTH bring advantages? Yes—but it can also invite some unique challenges. Consider country music singer Kane Brown.
Shortly after moving into a new home, he went for a walk. He told his wife he’d be back in half an hour. But seven hours later, after getting lost, he ended up calling for help. What was unique about this episode is that, the entire time he was lost, Brown was on his own property.

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Playing Dumb

Jonathan Clements  |  September 12, 2020

TO MANAGE OUR money better, often we don’t need to know more. Instead, we need to unlearn what we think we already know.
Here are just some of the things that, at various points in my 35-year investing career, I’ve thought I’ve known:

Which fund managers will outperform.
Which way the economy is headed.
What’s next for interest rates and share prices.
Whether the overall stock market is overvalued or not.
Which individual stocks will beat the market.

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Effort Counts Twice

Anika Hedstrom  |  September 11, 2020

WHEN ROSE O’DONNELL was five years old, her mother passed away from the 1918 flu epidemic. This was shortly after her four-year-old brother died. Rose, and her remaining brothers and sisters, were raised by their father, Edward O’Donnell, in San Francisco. Edward had left school after the ninth grade.
What Edward lacked in formal education, he made up for with grit—a special blend of passion and perseverance. Edward became a self-taught expert in copper,

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What’s the Plan?

Robin Powell  |  September 10, 2020

IF YOU ASKED everyday Americans to define a financial plan, chances are they’ll talk about investment strategy. And for many people who call themselves financial advisors, that’s what a financial plan amounts to.
But a real plan is so much more than that.
To be sure, investment strategy will form part of a financial plan. But a strategy that isn’t moored to each individual’s goals, risk tolerance, financial situation, family circumstances and values isn’t really a strategy at all.

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Happier at Home

Rick Moberg  |  September 9, 2020

YESTERDAY, I made the case for investing heavily in foreign stocks. Were you convinced? Many investors aren’t. They feel there’s no need to venture abroad. Here are three key arguments for keeping your stock portfolio close to home:
No. 1: The U.S. market provides adequate diversification.
Proponents cotend that, on their own, U.S. stocks offer all the diversification that an investor needs. U.S. shares represent a majority of global stock market capitalization,

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Venturing Abroad

Rick Moberg  |  September 8, 2020

STOCKS WORLDWIDE have a total market value of some $85 trillion, with the U.S. accounting for 54%, developed foreign markets 35% and emerging markets 11%. Should your stock portfolio have similar weightings, as some experts suggest?
Tomorrow, I’ll look at the argument for keeping your stock market money close to home. But today’s article presents the case for venturing abroad—by focusing on three key arguments:
No. 1: A global stock portfolio is less risky than a U.S.-only portfolio.

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Paradise Lost

Richard Connor  |  September 7, 2020

BACK IN AUGUST, Adam Grossman wrote a thought-provoking article about regret. He offered six strategies to minimize the chances you’ll end up kicking yourself for a choice you made. That got me thinking about the financial decision I most regret.
I bought a timeshare.
I know this admission will generate strong reactions in the personal finance community. I’d like to claim the ignorance of youth, but I was in my early 50s. I’d like to blame my wife,

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Eyeing the Exit

Adam M. Grossman  |  September 6, 2020

TWO WEEKS AGO, I described how to scour your portfolio for holdings that no longer fit your financial plan. At a high level, these investments fail at least one of two tests:

Risk. Some investments are just inherently unsuitable or excessively risky. Alternatively, an investment might be perfectly fine, but it represents a big risk simply because you own so much of it.
Return. You might have an investment that has chronically underperformed,

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Small Pleasures

Jonathan Clements  |  September 5, 2020

TODAY, I SING the praises of spending—on the little things in life.
We fiercely resist the suggestion that money doesn’t buy happiness. Commentators will often trot out the quote—which has been attributed to all kinds of folks—that, “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better!”
I think that’s true. But it isn’t proportionally true. If you went from earning $100,000 a year to earning $200,000, or your portfolio grew from $500,000 to $1 million,

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Stay in Your Lane

Anika Hedstrom  |  September 4, 2020

MICHAEL PHELPS and South Africa’s Chad le Clos had an intense rivalry. In 2012, le Clos took home the gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly. In 2016, they met again in the finals of the same event. A photographer captured the moment when Phelps was intent on winning gold, while le Clos seemed intent on watching Phelps.
How many times in life have we been more focused on what others were doing and how they’re doing it?

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