Newsletter No. 30

Jonathan Clements  |  August 18, 2018

YOU CAN’T GET high returns without taking high risk—and yet many investors believe that U.S. stocks are not only safer than foreign shares, but also pretty much guaranteed to outperform over the long haul. I take a look at this muddled thinking in HumbleDollar’s latest newsletter.
I’m now putting out the newsletter twice a month, in large part because email subscribers were requesting a regular list of HumbleDollar’s latest blogs. You’ll find that list in the newsletter,

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Late Start

Richard Quinn  |  August 17, 2018

I WAS 45 YEARS old in 1988. That year, my oldest child started college and, the next year, my second son. Two years later, it was my daughter’s turn. The year after, my youngest went off to college. I had at least one child in college for 10 years in a row.
I bet you think this is a story of college loans and other debt. Nope, it’s about retirement planning. After going into major debt and using all my assets,

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Two Grandpas

Joel M. Schofer  |  August 16, 2018

UNLIKE ROBERT KIYOSAKI, I only have one dad. I did have two grandfathers, though, and one died recently. The other died a few years ago. One was rich and one was poor. Well, he might not have been poor, but he was poorer than the one who just died. What did they teach me?
My poor(er) grandpa worked odd jobs his whole life. He never owned a business that I was aware of. I don’t think investing was his thing,

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Doctor’s Orders

Julian Block  |  August 15, 2018

SOME OF MY CLIENTS incur hefty medical expenses for themselves and family members. I tell them not to expect too much help from the IRS when it comes to deducting such expenses—unless the costs are well into five figures.
To deduct medical costs, taxpayers have to forego the standard deduction and instead itemize on Schedule A of Form 1040. Their expenses also have to be for bills that aren’t covered by insurance or reimbursed by employers.

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First Responders

Dennis Friedman  |  August 14, 2018

MY DOCTOR TOLD ME that my white blood cell count has been trending lower for the past five years. He was concerned there was something going on with my immune system and wanted me to see an oncologist.
The oncologist performed a number of tests and couldn’t find anything that would have caused my condition. He wasn’t concerned about my ability to fight off infections because my absolute neutrophil count was in an acceptable range.

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Separated at Birth

Adam M. Grossman  |  August 12, 2018

IF YOU’RE A FAN of basketball, you may be familiar with the Lopez twins—Brook and Robin. On the surface, they are identical in every way. Both stand seven feet tall. Both went to Stanford University. Both entered the NBA draft in 2008 and both were picked in the first round. Since then, both have enjoyed successful careers.
A casual observer would be hard-pressed to see any difference between the Lopez twins, but there is one: While they are both impressive players,

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Low Fidelity

Jonathan Clements  |  August 11, 2018

WE HAVE FINALLY hit rock-bottom. Last week, Fidelity Investments announced that it was introducing two index funds with zero annual expenses, while also slashing expenses on its other index funds and dropping the required minimum investment on all funds, both actively managed and indexed. All of this raises five key questions.
1. Why is Fidelity doing this? I view Fidelity’s move as both bold and borne of desperation. When I started writing about mutual funds in the late 1980s,

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Say Something

Jonathan Clements  |  August 10, 2018

THE LATEST UPGRADE to HumbleDollar: We’ve improved the system used for commenting. Before, if you wanted to comment on the site, you needed a Facebook account—and that triggered a slew of complaints from those who aren’t among Facebook’s 2.2 billion active users.
Now, anybody can comment on HumbleDollar using either an existing account, such as Facebook, Google or Twitter, or by creating a unique username and password. Please check out the new commenting section,

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Ten Commandments

Richard Quinn  |  August 9, 2018

WE’RE FACED WITH a host of thorny retirement issues: Keep Social Security solvent. Make Medicare affordable. Many Americans aren’t saving enough. They want to retire earlier than they can reasonably afford. They’re effectively financially illiterate.
But in the end, you don’t need to worry about all Americans. Instead, what you need to worry about is you. Want a comfortable retirement? Here are my 10 commandments:

If your preretirement lifestyle is set with a view to what you can sustain after you quit the workforce,

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Life Interrupted

Mary Rowland  |  August 8, 2018

I HAVE SPENT my career writing about personal finance and investing—in other words, how to make the most of your money. But when I was downed by an accident that resulted in nearly five years in and out of hospitals, and the amputation of most of my left side, I was left a financially devastated invalid.
How could I have avoided this? What did I learn? I knew the rules. I had good health insurance and I had put away some money—but,

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Getting Carded

Alan Cronk  |  August 7, 2018

UNTIL OUR SON turned 15, most of our financial education efforts focused on having conversations about money, but in different buying contexts. How we decide on food purchases. How much we budget for clothes. Why we use credit cards. What a credit card bill looks like. The consumer research we do before making a major purchase.
We figured no one conversation would stick, but the knowledge and the ideas would create a general understanding over time.

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Non Prophet

Adam M. Grossman  |  August 5, 2018

THE SELF-PROCLAIMED fortune-teller Nostradamus published more than 6,000 predictions during his lifetime. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see that his prophecies had little substance or predictive value. In fact, in his day, even astrologers dismissed Nostradamus as incompetent.
But what if the person making a prediction is the opposite of Nostradamus? What if he is a serious individual, someone who is universally respected and whose forecasts have a demonstrated track record of success?

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August’s Newsletter

Jonathan Clements  |  August 4, 2018

CAN MONEY management be reduced to a series of relatively simple rules that make sense for most Americans? For the past month or so, I’ve been inviting readers to test the Two-Minute Checkup, which I hope will one day be part of a larger website that helps folks figure out what to do with their money and then nudges them to act.
In HumbleDollar’s latest newsletter, I explain some of the logic that drives the Two-Minute Checkup’s recommendations.

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Running on Empty

Richard Quinn  |  August 3, 2018

AT 75 YEARS OLD, I find myself living paycheck-to-paycheck. I now understand how that feels and how it can happen. But you can put away the violin: It’s only temporary.
Being fiscally conservative, I don’t like being in debt or having unpaid bills. I even pay credit cards before they are due—or I used to. Until a month ago, I paid all my bills, with considerable money left over at the end of each month.

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My Favorite Word

Joel M. Schofer  |  August 2, 2018

I HAVE A NEW favorite word. That word is “no.” My favorite word used to be “yes,” but no more.
I used to be a yes-man. I used to say “yes” to everything, like Jim Carrey in the movie “Yes Man.” You want me to work on that project? Yes. You want me to be on that committee? Yes. You want me to pick up that extra duty in my free time?

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