Into the Woods

Ross Menke  |  May 27, 2019

JADAV PAYENG lives on a remote river island in India and is eloquently known as “Forest Man.” He has been planting trees his entire life, one at a time, to revive the ecosystem of his native land.
Today, the island is a dense 1,300-acre forest. It’s home to hundreds of thousands of trees and a variety of animals, such as tigers, deer, monkeys and elephants. How did he do it? Payeng credits nature.
In a 2017 interview with NPR,

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Danger Ahead

Adam M. Grossman  |  May 26, 2019

I’LL NEVER FORGET my first interaction with Wall Street. I was in my early 20s and just getting started in my career, when I was introduced to a stockbroker—let’s call him Eddie. He was a pleasant fellow with a good reputation and all the trappings of success, including a DeLorean in the driveway. He seemed like a safe choice.
My interactions with Eddie were straightforward. He would call from time to time with stock ideas.

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Great Debates

Jonathan Clements  |  May 25, 2019

IN THE FINANCIAL world, making money is the most popular pastime—but having a good argument is a close second.
What do folks argue about? HumbleDollar’s online money guide has always included a handful of sections labeled “great debates.” I decided to expand that collection to 12—and gather them together in their own chapter. Below you’ll find one of the new sections, plus links to the other 11.
Debate No. 8: Is Indexing Dangerous?

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Making a Mesh

David Powell  |  May 24, 2019

THERE ARE AREAS in my life where I’ve spent too much money and time trying to be cheap. My reward: steady aggravation—until I spent a bit more to get the right solution.
Which brings me to home networking technology. Most of us spend some $500 a year or more for internet broadband service. The problem: Many families are still living with old networking gear that’s slower than it should be, sometimes unreliable or provides poor wi-fi coverage in parts of their house.

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Crying Poverty

Richard Quinn  |  May 23, 2019

I HAVE BEEN accused of being too critical of America’s spending habits. I’m not in touch with families who live paycheck to paycheck, or so I’m told. I was roundly attacked by folks on Facebook, who claimed I lacked sympathy for the federal workers who ran out of money during the government shutdown—even before they missed a payday.
We all know there are Americans who struggle to get by on very low incomes. But that’s the minority.

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Not My Priority

Dennis Friedman  |  May 22, 2019

SOME YEARS AGO, I had a health scare—and it taught me an important lesson about my relationship with money. My primary care physician wanted me to see a hematologist. “Your white blood cells have been trending lower for the last five years,” he opined. “We need to find out what’s causing it.”
After a number of tests, the hematologist thought I might have a rare blood disease. He said the test results were inconclusive,

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Insult to Injury

Lucinda Karter  |  May 21, 2019

IN DECEMBER, I fell head first onto the bathroom floor. The doctors agreed I had a mild concussion. These typically heal in four-to-six weeks, but it’s now been five months. In March, I dislocated my left knee cap during an afternoon stroll. I was suddenly unable to put any weight on my left leg.
These two unrelated injuries have required me to see an array of medical professionals and undergo multiple tests, including two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans,

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The Happy Employee

Ross Menke  |  May 20, 2019

OWNING a business comes with a unique opportunity: the chance to better the lives of your employees. The paycheck you provide helps them pay for their daily expenses and supports the local economy. But there’s an opportunity to do even more: By being thoughtful in how you structure employee benefits, you can ensure they have a more prosperous future, while also helping them lead happier lives today.
Remember, money is simply a tool to help you enjoy your life—and one way to do that is to buy time.

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Know Doubt

Adam M. Grossman  |  May 19, 2019

ONE SPRING DAY in 1995, McArthur Wheeler walked into two banks near his Pittsburgh home and robbed them at gunpoint.
His plan had one critical flaw: The disguise he chose didn’t hide his face at all. Instead of the usual stocking cap or hat and sunglasses, Wheeler made an unconventional choice. He applied a coating of lemon juice to his face. His reasoning: Lemon juice could be used to make invisible ink, so Wheeler figured it would have the same effect on his face,

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Debtor’s Dozen

Jonathan Clements  |  May 18, 2019

THE GREAT Recession highlighted the frightening amount of debt—especially mortgage debt—that had been taken on by many American families.
A decade later, the picture is far brighter, with one exception: student loans. Since 2008’s third quarter, education debt has ballooned 144%, according to data just released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. But the total of all other debt—mortgages, car loans and credit card balances—is up less than 1% over the same period.

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Check’s in the Mail

Sonja Haggert  |  May 17, 2019

I HAD TO PAY my credit card bill, so I went online and set up a payment from my credit union a week before the bill was due. Why not, it’s an online transfer, right?
Not always.
The payment was due on the 16th. I went online the day before to check my bank account. It said the credit card payment was “sorted” and hadn’t transferred. Same thing the next day and the next.

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Richard Quinn  |  May 16, 2019

IN 1914, Henry Ford approved a new minimum wage of $5 per day for most of his workers. Thousands lined up for jobs. Other businesses were thrown for a loop, as they tried to figure out how to compete for workers.
Ford’s shocking wage wasn’t pure altruism. He wanted to motivate his workers to do a routine, boring job and to reduce employee turnover. The $5 included an advance on profit sharing—another motivating factor.

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Power of Two

Dennis Friedman  |  May 15, 2019

I WENT FOR MY yearly physical. During the exam, my doctor asked me if I was in a relationship.
“Yes, I’m with someone.”
“Is there anything she would want me to know about you?” he asked.
“Uh, are you asking how things are in bed?”
“No, no, no,” he answered. “I meant, has she noticed any changes in your health that I should be aware of? For instance, any skin lesions, forgetfulness or problems with your hearing that she might have brought to your attention.”
I have often heard that people who are happily married live longer than those who are single or divorced.

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Last Call

James McGlynn  |  May 14, 2019

WERE YOU BORN between 1950 and 1953, have been or are currently married, and haven’t yet filed for Social Security benefits? There’s a loophole you may want to take advantage of—before it disappears.
For couples, settling on the right strategy for claiming Social Security benefits is critically important, because it affects the size of each spouse’s benefit or spousal benefit, as well as the survivor benefit. But the payoff can be especially large for the group I’m discussing here—those born between 1950 and 1953.

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Par for the Course

Ross Menke  |  May 13, 2019

MANY OF US suffer from so-called loss aversion: We get more pain from losses than pleasure from gains. In other words, we’d rather not lose $5 than find $5 we never had.
Loss aversion has been extensively studied in financial decision-making. But it also applies to sports—especially golf. For instance, tournament coordinators might change a hole from a short par 5 to a long par 4. Par measures the number of strokes a golfer is expected to take to complete the hole—and,

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