Man in the Mirror

 

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” 

—Pogo (via cartoonist Walt Kelly)

Famous investor John Templeton once said, “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria. The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy, and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell.”

Given Templeton’s indisputable success as an investor, few would argue with this appeal. However, like much in life, this behavior discipline is easier said than done. Research shows that people tend to make rational decisions in small matters and poor ones where much is at stake. Why? Because we’re human. As humans, we are burdened with a series of nearly inescapable cognitive and emotional biases that drive us to respond to stressful events like the stock market’s ups and downs in a way that harms our financial well-being. While numerous, this article will work to consider just one: Hindsight Bias.

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Are Hidden Motives Harming Your Financial Future?

The informal birth of the financial planning profession took place nearly 50 years ago, when 13 businessmen gathered in a Chicago hotel room to discuss a better way to help people manage their financial lives. The idea behind the meeting was to make consulting, rather than salesmanship, the primary driver of the industry. This was a revolutionary idea at the time, as really the only “solution” available to investors were stock brokers or insurance agents who focused on commission producing transactions rather than unbiased advice.

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The Best Retirement Account You Aren't Using

Investors are used to struggling with the Traditional vs Roth retirement question - Do I take the tax savings now or will it be more advantageous to take it later? However, imagine a savings account that provides a tax deduction at the time of contribution, tax-deferred growth inside the account AND tax-free withdrawals.

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Bitcoin: The Currency of Evil Corp

Everyone is talking about bitcoin. Even this guy. The price movements have been staggering, and will likely continue. The underlying tech, blockchain, is both confusing and exciting (at least for those in the financial accounting world). While blockchain does have a real potential value to the world, there is an active debate regarding what bitcoin is, what it's worth, and whether you should own it.

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Outlook 2018: Yet Another Menagerie of Dubious Investment Ramblings

 

It’s getting on towards late December and the shrink-wrapped tins of chocolate covered pretzels and canisters of gourmet popcorn that miraculously appear just before the winter solstice have been pretty well picked over in the company lunchroom. Deprived of the opportunity for mindless holiday nibbling, I'm starting to go just a bit stir crazy.

Clearly, it’s time to spice things up. Since I'm temporarily unable to find anything more productive to do, it seems like a fabulous time to join the parade of econometric forecasters, market prognosticators, and other sundry financial charlatans to spew out my own half-baked vision of exactly how things are going to be in the coming year. Forget your stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, or any other dusty old-school investment. In a never-ending quest to uncover the next big thing, what’s about to be revealed here is unfiltered money-making genius. Believe me, it’s going to be HUGE!

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Managing Transition: The Key to a Successful Start in Retirement

Life can be summed up through the transitions that we experience. Whether these transitions are rewarding, like marriage or becoming a parent, or challenging, like marriage or becoming a parent, all involve an ongoing process of emotional and financial adjustment. However, when in a state of change, we often fall victim to our own weaknesses. The stress of these major life experiences can be too much for our minds and our wallets to comprehend. We are not built to only think logically. We embrace our emotions and when overwhelmed by these emotions, can make the wrong decision.

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10 Items to Add to Your Year End Financial Planning Check List

With all the bustle of the holidays right around the corner, the end of the year will be here before we know it. While there’s still time, consider checking off a few of these year-end financial planning items from your to-do list.

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The Market Has Done Worse Than You Think

When speaking with clients, peers, and friends alike, there are some common questions: "When will this bull market end?" or "It's too late to buy stocks, right? They have to go down from here." Sometimes they even use the word "bubble!" The short answer is: I have no idea and anyone who tells you they do is probably lying, misguided, or foolish. The long answer is more complicated, and involves taking many factors into consideration, especially global interest rates. Also, bubbles require exuberance and leverage. The fact that the questions above are being asked so often indicates that exuberance is low and leverage likely is too.

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6 Important Benefits of a Simplified Financial Life

 

It’s known as account sprawl and longtime investors know how easily it happens. You switch jobs and leave behind the 401k. The local bank was offering that great introductory CD rate. Your spouse inherited a brokerage account with all those utility stocks. There are also the savings bonds Aunt Lucille gave you on your birthdays. Don't forget about your old company stock in that dividend reinvestment plan. Accounts accumulate over the years and you end up with assets spread out over an assortment of financial institutions. They clutter up over time to the point where you are unsure of what you have or exactly where everything is. Staying on top of it all becomes an increasingly difficult task. While consolidating all your assets is likely not possible, effectively limiting the number of accounts, service providers and investment relationships can provide more than just simplicity and convenience.

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Social Security: Now or Later?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently released its planned changes for calendar year 2018.  Not surprisingly, to both current beneficiaries and those weighing the pros and cons of starting to collect, the item of greatest interest is the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) planned for the year ahead.

 The Good News

The SSA calls for a 2.0% COLA which compares nicely to the near-zero percent increase of 2017 and the goose egg received in 3 of the previous 8 years.  In fact, this is the highest COLA since 2012. 

The Bad News

For most beneficiaries, Medicare Part B premiums are deducted  from Social Security and, while the impact of the Part B premium on net benefits next year will vary due to the "hold harmless" provision, it's likely most Medicare enrolees will pay higher premiums.

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