Investing

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 …

Categories: Investing, Retirement

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 …

Categories: Investing, Retirement

The Economic Bogeyman

The economy is in the doldrums. We’re in a “lost decade.” The latest jobs report is terrible. The investment you have will never see the same returns again. You need to invest in gold to have your savings survive. No, wait, silver. No, wait, natural gas. There’s always an economic bogeyman out there. There’s always …

Looking at Frugality as an Investment

As we’ve discussed before, an average American family with two children – a seven year old and a ten year old – spends $1,252 a month on food according to the USDA’s liberal food plan. If that family adopted just a few frugal practices and were able to switch their food spending to the USDA’s …

Categories: Frugality, Investing

Applying Warren Buffett’s 7% Figure to Your Retirement

A few weeks ago, I discussed a Bloomberg article about Warren Buffett’s projections for the stock market over the long term. Here’s a refresher on what Buffett said: “The economy, as measured by gross domestic product, can be expected to grow at an annual rate of about 3 percent over the long term, and inflation …

Categories: Investing, Retirement

Is Every Purchase Merely an Investment?

I’m going to use a long example of a car purchase to start off this post. Bear with me through it. Let’s say, for calculation’s sake, that a car has a life span of 200,000 miles before the maintenance issues catch up with it. For the last 40,000 miles of that drive, the reliability of …

Categories: Frugality, Investing

Where Does 7% Come From When It Comes to Long-Term Stock Returns?

Whenever I talk about investing in stocks, I usually suggest that you can earn a 7% annual return on average. That percentage is based on a few assumptions. First, I’m assuming that you’re investing for longer than ten years. That’s because in a given year, the stock market is very volatile. Some years see an …

Categories: Investing

Is This Everything You Need To Know About Financial Planning?

Here’s an interesting article I discovered over at the Vanguard site about the basics of retirement planning. In it, the article quotes a section of Scott Adams’ 2002 book Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel: Everything you need to know about financial planning Make a will. Pay off your credit cards. Get term life …

Categories: Investing, Retirement

Could Cyprus Happen Here? What Can We Do?

Several readers have sent me rather concerned emails over the past week over the banking situation in Cyprus, where the government, facing a deep financial emergency, essentially took money from every bank account in the country, anywhere from 6.7% to 9.9% depending on the size of your balance. Here’s a detailed description of what happened …

The Investment Trinity

Every investment you make requires you to balance three different factors. The first factor is risk. How likely is it that you’re going to get the return you expect over the next year, or the next five years? Generally, lower risk is better. The second factor is liquidity. How easy is it for you to …

Categories: Investing

How Does Inflation Affect a Mortgage?

Karen writes in: My brother has argued with me that I shouldn’t make any extra payments on our mortgage because we’re losing money over the long term by making early payments. He says that with inflation at 3% and our money able to earn 1% at minimum in a savings account and more if we …

Categories: Investing

My Plan for Handling a Big Windfall

Kelly writes in: What would you do if you won the lottery? Since I don’t play the lottery, I’ll answer this question under the assumption that instead I’m just receiving a very big inheritance from my unknown Uncle Rockefeller and Aunt Vanderbilt. The first step I’d take is to make absolutely sure all taxes on …

Categories: Family, Investing

Does a “Savings Club” Account Work?

Carol writes in: My local bank offers an interesting account each year. It starts on the first Saturday in January and the deal is that if you deposit the same amount each week for 49 weeks, they will make the 50th deposit for you and give you the money at the end of the year …

Categories: Banking, Investing

More Than 25 Percent of Americans Are Making a Huge Financial Mistake

What mistake? According to the Arizona Star, more than 25% of Americans are raiding their 401(k)s to stay afloat. The only way this even looks like a good idea at all is if you’re looking only at the very, very short term. If you look beyond that, making this move is pretty clearly worse than …

Categories: Investing, Retirement

Why I Never Use Stock Market Predictions to Invest My Money

Let’s say, hypothetically, that I figured out some ingenious way to predict the stock market so well that I would always significantly beat the annual returns of the S&P 500. Every year, year in and year out, I could get a 30% to 50% return in the stock market. Assuming I’m not so altruistic as …

Categories: Investing

Financing to Make Money

Connie writes in: My husband and I are in great financial shape thanks to living well below our means for many years. We are in our mid 40s and have $300,000 in the bank along with no personal debts. We’ve been thinking about buying an apartment building in our area. There’s a person who may …

Categories: Investing