When investing, you should: optimize the risk/return trade-off diversify minimize effort minimize cost
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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” […]
You may have heard of a Roth IRA conversion and are wondering (a) what it is and (b) if you should do it.
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 […]
My clients and students demonstrate a range of personal finance behaviors – from stellar, to clever, to needs improvement. Here’s my list of DOs and DON’Ts to […]
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% […]
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 […]
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, […]
I’m often asked if you should have your mortgage paid off when you enter retirement? The short answer is, in most circumstances, yes.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Wall Street is the land of aphorisms. One attributed to John Maynard Keynes seems apropos to this GameStop moment:
You may have heard of annuities and wonder how they work and if they should be part of your retirement plan.
Do you work for a public company that offers an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP)? If you answered yes, this note is for you.
In spite of the reassuring words from Tom Selleck, Henry Winkler, and Fred Thompson, a reverse mortgage doesn’t usually make good financial sense.
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 […]
Borrowing too much money to pay for college can get you into lifelong financial trouble. Don’t do it.
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.
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 […]
I’m frequently asked if you should invest all your money now or do it slowly over a period of time?
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 […]
Are you thinking about refinancing your mortgage? You probably should as interest rates have never been this low. If so, consider these 6 questions:
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.
Consumer banking is a commodity service with little that distinguishes one from another. They all have FDIC insurance, ATMs, online bill payment, etc.
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,
Socially responsible investing is a great idea in theory but difficult in practice. I’ll explain why.
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 […]
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.
Financial advisors don’t work for free and their compensation model is cleverly designed for their benefit, rather than yours.
I grow old… I grow old…I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
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.
We all have views on the events that have unfolded recently; I’ll share mine.
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 […]
Credit reports and credit scores play important roles in our financial lives. What are they and why do they matter?
A correspondent asked: I’m nervous about my job situation; how much emergency savings do you recommend someone has? Careful in Carolina
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 […]
What is the most effective way to spend less and save more? Creating and using a budget is the best tool to manage your expenses.
In the midst of COVID-19 craziness, interest rates on bonds are at all-time lows across the world. This is not good news if you rely on the […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
How much should you save for retirement? This is the most frequent question I’m asked by my clients. To answer, I’ll go through the following three questions:
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
When you leave an employer, you generally have four options for your 401K:
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 […]
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 […]
Do you want to save more and spend less? When it comes to saving money, passive is the new active.
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 […]
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 […]
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.
I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse:
You may have some sense of what a bond is, but lack the specifics; if so, this note is for you. We’ll cover the long and short […]
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 ready to retire? Before you rent the RV, take bridge lessons, and become helicopter grandparents, complete this checklist:
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 […]
If you have the savings available, should you pay off your mortgage? Probably, but the answer is situation-dependent.
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 […]
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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 conventional wisdom […]
Mutual fund fees are slowly but surely heading to zero. At least that’s the conclusion of an industry analyst’s report:
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 […]
Are you planning to go to a cocktail party full of economists? Here’s a primer on how they see the world.
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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