• 4 Ways to Tell That Your Personal Finance Advisor is Scamming You

    This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Most personal finance advisors provide solid money advice that will help you achieve your goals. They sincerely want you to succeed, make genuine efforts to understand the specifics of your situation, and do their best to translate those specifics into a powerful plan for …

  • Personal Finance 101: What Is Rebalancing?

    One topic I see referenced quite often in personal finance books – especially books focused on retirement – is the idea of rebalancing. It’s often discussed as though the writer assumes that the reader knows what rebalancing is, but given the confusion I sometimes see in reader emails, I don’t think the idea of rebalancing …

  • Personal Finance 101: What Is a Dividend?

    A few days ago, I was working on an article where I referred to dividends. Since I didn’t really provide any sort of explanation of what dividends were, I went looking for an article where I explained in detail what a dividend actually is and, to my amazement, I never found a good, thorough explanation …

  • Five Quick Questions About Stocks and Taxes

    The idea of investing in stocks (outside of retirement accounts) can be rather stressful if you’ve never done it. Just figuring out what to invest in can be really confusing. Am I doing the right thing? Is this worth the risk? When you add taxes to the equation, it can get really, really confusing – …

  • Don’t Let Your Investments Get Spooked by World Events

    Over the past few weeks, the world has watched as events have unfolded in the Crimean peninsula. Will Crimea be allowed to secede and join Russia? Will there be a civil war? Will other nations be dragged into the situation? All of this has tumbled right onto the investment pages. Some advisors encourage people to …

  • The Hows and Whys of a Target Retirement Fund

    You’ve finally decided that you need to start saving for retirement. You’ve taken that first step of signing up for a 401(k) or a 403(b) or a Roth IRA. The next step is a doozy, tough. You see tons and tons of investment options. How do you know which one to choose? You turn to …

  • Does the Investing Advice of a Billionaire Help Ordinary People?

    A reader passed along this interesting interview from the Wall Street Journal with Mark Cuban. For those unfamiliar, Cuban is a billionaire who made a significant amount of his wealth in the early days of the internet era. His argument in this interview? Diversification is “for idiots.” First of all, let’s talk about what diversification …

  • Best IRA Accounts of 2014: Roth vs Traditional IRA

    Updated: February 27, 2014 Most of the top companies that are home to the best IRA accounts are the same places where you would open up an online stock trading account. In a previous post, I ranked the best online brokers so I had a head start when it came to finding the best Roth …

  • Best Online Stock Trading Brokers for 2014

    Updated: April 11, 2014 I’ve had an online stock trading account since I was 13 years old and I’ve used at least a dozen of the best online stock trading platforms. I’ve gained a few “learning experiences” from managing my own account and working as a proprietary day trader in Chicago for several years. There …

  • Some Thoughts on Assets, Liabilities, and “Free” Spending

    Right at the start of my professional career, an old friend of mine sat down with me and gave me some advice that I didn’t pay much attention to at the time, to my regret. I thought enough about it to jot it down in my journal a couple times during the late summer of …

  • Some Advice for Investing in Collectibles

    Right now, I have a collection of sports cards and other trading cards that is easily valued at $10,000 – and, depending on how sales went, it could add up to as much as $20,000. In fact, if I had not sold off a large number of my cards when we were first in financial …

  • Making Sure Money Advice Makes Sense

    A few days ago, a reader wrote to me stating that he had opened up a $10,000 CD for 18 months, whittling his checking account down to $2,000 while his savings was practically nonexistent. He asked me for advice on what to do next. I suggested to him that he just keep the CD for …

  • Why Paying Off Your Credit Card Is Likely the Best Financial Return You Can Get for Your Money

    This article first appeared on U.S. News and World Report Money. Personal finance writers, whether on the internet, in magazines, in books, or elsewhere, are usually very strong advocates of investing. There’s good reason for that, of course: assuming that you’re in a financially stable position, investing in things such as the stock market or …

  • My Thoughts on Bitcoin (and Other Digital Currency)

    Over the last year, quite a few readers have written in asking me for my take on Bitcoin and, lately, other digital currency such as Litecoin. As I often do when I get many emails on the same topic, I thought I would sum up my take on the issue in a single post so …

  • Selling Stocks at an All Time Market High?

    By almost every measure, the stock market in the United States has hit several all-time highs over the last few weeks. This has led several Simple Dollar readers to write in and ask whether or not now is the time to sell. Tom, for example, writes: “With stocks being so high I am getting kind …

  • When Should I Invest?

    One of the biggest fears that people have when they begin investing is that they’re going to make a “dumb” choice and not get the best investment returns that they could get. They fret and worry about this fund or that fund or buying real estate or buying bonds and that fret and worry and …

  • Five Simple Steps for Comparing Investments

    One of the most challenging parts of signing up for a 401(k) plan or opening a Roth IRA is deciding which investment to put your money into. There can be dozens of options within your 401(k) plan and many, many more within a Roth IRA. Of course, there are lots of possible questions to ask …

  • The Basics of a Mutual Fund

    Following my article on what a Roth IRA is from last week, Karen wrote in asking a good related question: “Can you help explain mutual funds? Are they a good investment – better than IRA’s or 401K’s? I realize they may be risky but can you put money into them – watch the money grow …

  • Are 401(k) Plans a Fraud?

    Over the last two weeks, quite a few readers have passed along a link to Helaine Olen’s article at Salon entitled 401(k)s are a sham: Duped by a DIY retirement dream, the elderly now face staggeringly low living standards and have asked for my thoughts on it. Are 401(k) plans really a scam? I think …