Bank CDs and Insurance MYGAs

You may have considered investing in a bank CD (certificate of deposit) but have been dismayed by the paltry rates on offer. As of this writing, the […]

Save Your Money

What are the best habits to create and sustain healthy saving behaviors? I’ve seen various strategies that range from stellar, to creative, to works in progress. From […]

Saving For Retirement

How much should you save for retirement? There’s not a simple answer as everyone’s circumstances are different but I’ll offer a framework to think about this question.

Save More Money

It’s a new year and maybe you’ve resolved to save more money. If so, here’s my list of the 8 or 9 best ways to do it […]

Ode To A Roth IRA

For most people in most situations, a Roth retirement account is better than a pre-tax 401K or IRA, but keep in mind that either is better than […]

Teach Your Children Well

Developing financial literacy in kids is challenging. Given its importance, I have some suggestions for how to create good personal finance habits in our children. They may […]

Should you rent or buy your home?

Whether to rent or buy your home is one of the eternal personal finance questions. My two cents on this topic may be counter-intuitive to more conventional […]

Should you do a Roth IRA conversion?

You may have heard of a Roth IRA conversion and are wondering (a) what it is and (b) if you should do it.

The Giving Tree

You want to donate some money to charity? I’ll suggest the most tax-efficient and flexible way to do so.

Are you in the 4%?

You may have heard about the 4% rule for retirement spending. It’s a simple but imperfect guide to how much you can safely spend each year during […]

Should you invest in bonds?

Bonds don’t offer much of a return these days. And, their “real return” (i.e., net of inflation) is negative. That doesn’t sound like a great deal. Should they be […]

So, you’re ready to retire?

You’ve made it to retirement and now need to draw down your savings after a lifetime of building them up. As you begin to spend these funds, […]

Projecting Future Investment Returns

What should you expect for future investment returns? If you knew, it would greatly simplify your retirement planning. Unfortunately, when it comes to the future, there’s no […]

The Risky Business of Investing in Stocks and Bonds

Everyone wants the upside gains of investing in stocks but without the risks of doing so. That’s understandable but not how it works. In this note, I’ll […]

Do bonds have more fun?

You may have some sense of what bonds are, but are curious how they really work; if so, this note is for you. We’ll cover the long […]

Pay Taxes Like Trump?

The news that Trump pays no federal income tax will surprise no one. Absent tax fraud, I don’t know any way to cut your taxes as low […]

Developing Your Financial Literacy

There’s an ongoing discussion about teaching financial literacy skills to students of all ages — high school, college, adult learners, etc. Two well-known financial writers — Matt […]

Should you sell your stocks?

Do you own some stocks and bonds in your portfolio? Regular readers may know that I discourage investing in individual stocks and bonds as the lack of diversification […]

GameStop Revisited

A couple of months ago, I weighed in the GameStop controversy that was all the rage that week. Briefly, a down and out retailer of video games […]

Is bitcoin money?

Bitcoin and other so-called crypto-currencies are all the rage. Even though bitcoin has recently dropped in value, it’s still higher than at the beginning of 2021 and […]

Is this a good time to invest in the stock market?

2020 was insane. The US election was surreal, the COVID pandemic raged out of control, and the stock market rose 21%. (On average, stocks go up 10% […]

Why is the stock market doing so well?

This is the most frequent question that I’m asked — why is the stock market so damn high* while the economy is in a deep recession with […]

Mortgages and Retirement

I’m often asked if you should have your mortgage paid off when you enter retirement? The short answer is, in most circumstances, yes.

Poker, Personal Finance, and Life

Poker can be a nasty, aggressive, and hyper-competitive game. It’s also fun and challenging as it tests your mental acuity and decision-making while under emotional duress. Believe […]

From the mailbag: I’m about to retire and I’m scared out of my stocks

A correspondent asked: I plan to retire in a couple of years and the current state of the world and stock market is scaring me. Should I […]

70 Is The New 62

What is the best age to claim your Social Security benefits? Most people do so soon after age 62 but, most of us should delay until age […]

Go On A Target-Date

When investing, you should: optimize the risk/return trade-off diversify minimize effort minimize cost

Inheriting an IRA

If you’ve inherited an IRA, you may be aware that the distribution rules are different from regular IRAs and were changed when the SECURE Act was passed […]

GameStop and the Short Squeeze of the Century

Wall Street is the land of aphorisms. One attributed to John Maynard Keynes seems apropos to this GameStop moment:

Student Loan Debt Forgiveness

Joe Biden wants to cancel $10,000 of federal student loan debt per borrower while the progressive wing of the Democratic party (apparently, now including Chuck “Wall Street” […]

Longevity Insurance

You may have heard of annuities and wonder how they work and if they should be part of your retirement plan.

How do you want to pay?

If you’re of a certain age, you may remember financial innovation as Saturday morning hours at your local bank branch and a toaster for a new account. […]

Easy Money

Do you work for a public company that offers an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP)? If you answered yes, this note is for you.

Don’t Put Your Mortgage in Reverse

In spite of the reassuring words from Tom Selleck, Henry Winkler, and Fred Thompson, a reverse mortgage doesn’t usually make good financial sense.

Exponential Growth is a Double-Edged Sword

The COVID case count has been growing exponentially in recent weeks. Are you unclear on what that means or do you cringe at the memory of old […]

The Perils of Student Loan Debt

Borrowing too much money to pay for college can get you into lifelong financial trouble. Don’t do it.

The Masters of the Universe

The big tech companies that now run our lives were all initially funded with venture capital — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, and many others.

Are Robo-Advisors Worth It?

Robo-advisors are a recent innovation in the fintech industry. The two best known companies are Wealthfront and Betterment, although Schwab, Vanguard, and others are moving into this […]

Should you invest using dollar cost averaging?

I’m frequently asked if you should invest all your money now or do it slowly over a period of time?

Evaluating Your Financial Advisor

Do you have a financial advisor? If so, how do you know if s/he is serving you well? As with any professional expertise you lack, it’s not […]

Mortgage Refinancing 101

Are you thinking about refinancing your mortgage? You probably should as interest rates have never been this low. If so, consider these 6 questions:

Vanguard versus Fidelity

Clients and students may know that I’ve strongly advocated use of Vanguard mutual funds, particularly given their low cost and broad selection of index fund options.

Which bank to use?

Consumer banking is a commodity service with little that distinguishes one from another. They all have FDIC insurance, ATMs, online bill payment, etc.

Hurricane IRMAA

If you’re of a certain age (60s+) and income (higher), you may be aware of Medicare’s Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA); more likely, you don’t know what […]

Invest well; do good

Socially responsible investing is a great idea in theory but difficult in practice. I’ll explain why.

The Best Way to Save is a Health Savings Account

What is the most tax-efficient way to save money? A good guess would be a Roth IRA. That’s hard to beat, but if you qualify, a Health […]

Employee Stock Options

Have you been granted employee stock options from your company or are you just curious about how they work? If so, here’s a simple guide.

How To Pay A Financial Advisor

Financial advisors don’t work for free and their compensation model is cleverly designed for their benefit, rather than yours.

Considering Long-Term Care Insurance

I grow old… I grow old…I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Paying for Graduate School

Are you considering graduate school? A graduate school education has significantly different loan dynamics from undergraduate and you should be well-informed before you begin to borrow.

Silence is Violence

We all have views on the events that have unfolded recently; I’ll share mine.

The Mystery of Financial Advisors

As with many professional services such as lawyers, doctors, plumbers, and car mechanics, financial advisors provide expertise that their clients don’t have. Unlike those services, it can […]

Give yourself some credit

Credit reports and credit scores play important roles in our financial lives. What are they and why do they matter?

From the mailbag: How much emergency savings should I have?

A correspondent asked: I’m nervous about my job situation; how much emergency savings do you recommend someone has? Careful in Carolina

The A, B, C’s of Mutual Funds

Are you curious how mutual funds work? All of your retirement savings are probably invested in them so you may want to understand their key dimensions and […]

Creating a Budget

What is the most effective way to spend less and save more? Using a budget is the best tool to manage your spending.

Time to Refinance Your Mortgage?

Interest rates on bonds and mortgages remain low. This is not good news if you rely on the interest income from your savings but it’s great news […]

Is now a good time to panic?

After the stock market turbulence of 2020, it’s understandable to ask if now is a good time to panic, but there’s no wholly satisfying answer. I don’t […]

How To Evaluate Your 401K Plan

Not all 401K plans are created equally. To assess your employer’s plan, consider these four dimensions: 1. What are the investment options? For most people, the best […]

Mixing Love and Money

It’s only you for me, just like that whooping crane, Who has one wife for all his life and if she dies, he’ll do the same. Robert […]

ETFs versus Mutual Funds

Have you’ve been thinking, “Jeez, I really wish I knew what an ETF was.” Are you wondering if you should be investing in them instead of mutual […]

Understanding Adjusted Gross Income

Adjusted gross income (AGI) is an important number to understand on your tax return. Why? Your eligibility, cost, or subsidy for many programs is determined by it.

Potential Changes To Your Retirement Planning

You may have heard that Congress recently passed the SECURE Act which makes some changes to retirement accounts. More likely, you have no idea what I’m talking […]

2019: A Good Year For… Stocks And Bonds

Stocks and bonds generated near-record returns in 2019 — 31% for US stocks and 21% for long-term bonds. If your IRA or 401K was not up a […]

Investing Your Funds At Vanguard

Vanguard is the 800 pound gorilla of the mutual fund industry. They are the largest firm and manage ~$6 trillion (yes, with a “t”) of mutual fund […]

What To Do With Your 401K When You Leave Your Employer

When you leave an employer, you generally have four options for your 401K:

Don’t Climb the CD Ladder

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are the default investment option for many people’s savings. However, they’re rarely your best choice. Yes, they are essentially riskless investments but you […]

There Is Only One Effective Strategy To Consistently Save Money

Do you want to save more and spend less? When it comes to saving money, passive is the new active.

What are the differences between IRAs and 401Ks?

IRAs and 401Ks are similar in many ways but have important differences that can be confusing. And, it’s not just IRAs versus 401Ks but there are distinctions […]

Should You Invest In Municipal Bonds?

You may have heard about tax-free bonds and are wondering if you should invest in them. Like many of these questions, the answer begins with, “Maybe…” I’ll […]

Saving For College With A 529 Account

Are you saving up for college for your child or grandchild? In most circumstances, a 529 account is the best way to do so. I’ll explain why.

Let's Make A Deal

I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse:

Everything to Know About College Financial Aid and Student Loans

There is a lot to absorb about college financial aid and student loans but it is better to understand this before you make potentially lifelong commitments to […]

Are you retirement-ready?

Are you ready to retire? Before you rent the RV, take bridge lessons, and become helicopter grandparents, complete this checklist:

We Currently Have An Inverted Yield Curve For The US Economy

You may have heard that we currently have an inverted yield curve for US Treasury debt or, you may have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ll explain. What […]

Should you pay off your mortgage?

If you have the savings available, should you pay off your mortgage? Probably, but the answer is situation-dependent.

Car Talk

For a typical consumer, leasing a car does not make financial sense compared to buying one. A car lease is designed to befuddle you with complexity and hidden fees that obscure […]

Don’t Spend That Cash Windfall!

If you are among the fortunate who find themselves with a cash windfall, perhaps from a work bonus or a tax refund, you have three choices on […]

Divorce and Your Finances

Divorce can be emotionally and financially unsettling. During this nerve-racking process, financial decisions are made with far-reaching repercussions. Your financial security depends on being well-informed both while […]

Should you borrow from your 401K?

Generally, it’s not a good idea to borrow from your 401K but there are certain circumstances in which it can make sense. Before I explain, here are […]

So, you want to be a landlord?

I live near Boston where we have lots of three-family homes (“triple deckers” in the local patois). Often, homeowners choose to live in one unit and rent […]

The Trade-offs Between Debit and Credit Cards

Should you use debit or credit cards for your everyday spending? The answer, like many personal finance questions, depends on your personality and your financial situation.

Are you struggling to make ends meet?

Getting your finances back on track can be a lonely and frightening journey. I’ll share my approach when working with clients in this situation.

Mutual Fund Fees Will Continue to Decline

Mutual fund fees are slowly but surely heading to zero. At least that’s the conclusion of an industry analyst’s report:

Financial Advisor Fees Will Continue To Go Down

The traditional financial advisor compensation model may be slowly but surely meeting its demise. The pressure started years ago with low-cost index funds, then ETFs, target date […]

Think like an economist

In honor of the Nobel Prize in Economics being awarded this past week, here’s a primer on how economists see the world.

A Remembrance of John Bogle

You may have heard that John Bogle died this year. Or, you may have no idea who he was. The financial industry has produced few heroes; instead, […]

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