Our only earthly immortality will be the memory of others. Make sure the memories are good.
CHECK YOUR RETIREMENT READINESS. Try the simple calculators from AARP, Boston College and Vanguard Group. None requires you to create an account. Each will give you a somewhat different assessment—a reminder that such projections are a rough-and-ready business. Still, you should get a sense for whether your retirement is on track or off the rails.
STOCK BUYBACKS are here to stay. The Securities and Exchange Commission opened the door in 1982, when it ruled that companies could repurchase their own stock without triggering accusations of share price manipulation. Ever since, more and more companies have taken advantage. Indeed, in recent years, U.S. corporations have spent more money buying back their own shares than paying out dividends.
Good news? I see both plusses and minuses. Here are the plusses:
Once you figure in buybacks,
THE BOGLEHEADS had their annual conference this week in the Philadelphia area, where Vanguard Group’s headquarters is located. Devotees of Vanguard’s 88-year-old founder John C. Bogle, the Bogleheads usually meet online at what’s probably the world’s best investment forum.
The star of their annual meeting was, of course, Jack himself. His latest book, an extensive revision of The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, just came out. What was on Jack’s mind?
IF YOUR INVESTMENTS CLIMB in value, hold the champagne—until you figure out whether it’s a onetime gain or a repeatable performance.
Suppose your foreign stocks post gains because the dollar weakens. Or your bonds climb because interest rates fall. Or stocks rise because price-earnings ratios head higher. Or corporate earnings increase because profit margins expand. Or stocks jump because the corporate tax rate or the capital-gains tax rate is cut.
Sound familiar? All of these things have either happened over the long haul or helped drive share prices higher this year.
“WHEN YOU’VE WON THE GAME, stop playing with the money you really need.” That’s something my longtime friend and fellow author William Bernstein is fond of saying—and lately it’s been on my mind.
There’s been much handwringing over 2017’s stock market rally. Looked at objectively, it hasn’t been that startling. As of Sept. 29, the S&P 500 was up 14.2% for the year-to-date, with dividends reinvested—a good year, but nothing compared to the 25%-plus years we saw in 1991,
Jonathan Clements is the founder and editor of HumbleDollar. He spent almost two decades at The Wall Street Journal, where he was the personal finance columnist. His latest book: How to Think About Money.