Personal Finance from

  • Duke's Dean Of Admissions: Who Gets Into Top Colleges And What Makes The Difference
    This video interview with Duke University's Dean of Admissions, Christoph Guttentag, provides the most useful and actionable advice on what you need to do to give yourself the ultimate chance of being admitted to the best colleges in America.
  • 6 Money Myths Millennials Should Bust -- Now
    From shunning plastic to being blasé about job hopping, we pinpoint some big financial falsities that are leading Gen Y astray.
  • This Week In Credit Card News: Apple Pay's Incredible Growth, Will Dodd-Frank Be Dismantled?
    Apple Pay Grows to Support 90% of U.S. Credit Cards
  • Gifts That Go The Mile
    A gift guide for the adventurous sort who are interested in following whims and seeing landscapes instead of sites.
  • How To Find Out About Your Spouse's Money Habits
    Fleeced by her ex, this financial adviser offers important advice.
  • Last Minute Shopping: What You Need to Know About The Best Gift Cards
    We're down to the final stretch in that holiday frenzy known as "last minute shopping."
  • Your Last Chance: 7 Tax Saving Steps to Take by End of Year
    So what’s on your mind this time of year? If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking of the holidays. But there’s something else that should be on your mind: taxes.
  • Social Security Q&A: How Accurate Are Social Security's Benefit Estimates?
    Today’s question asks about the accuracy of the benefit estimates provided by Social Security. The answer explains why and how they are purposefully low-balled and discusses possible negative effects that giving uncritical credence to these estimates may have on retirement planning.
  • Seniors: Beware Of The Gift Delivery Scam
    A new, nasty scam targets elders, but could fool you too. A scammer calls and says their company is going to deliver a git to you. They show up in uniform and give you flowers and wine, but ask for a credit card to pay the "delivery charge" because the gift contains alcohol. If you give them a credit card (they won't take cash), they swipe and steal your card info and make a dummy card from it. They use your card until the're caught. Don't give your credit card to any unknown courier or company. It could be a trick.
  • Stocks: Did You Match The Market This Year?
    The end of 2014 is closing in rapidly and it's beginning to look like another double-digit year for the broad index of stocks known as the S&P 500. At this writing, the index is up 10.65% year to date. If you owned it through an index fund such as the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) you also got the dividends paid out, at this point a return equal to 1.79% on top of your price gain. If the market stays at about this level, that's comfortably over 12% on the year just for holding a single index fund. You didn't have to buy and sell. You didn't have to guess which stocks would do better or worse. All you had to do was match the market. Yes, some individual stocks did much better. And some individual stocks did much, much worse. You might have picked the right 10 or 12 stocks — or not. At the beginning of the year, more than a few pundits predicted a weak year for stocks, particularly after the huge run-up we saw in 2013. Many of them now call stocks "expensive" or "fully priced." Some are projecting a lower return from stocks for years to come. And maybe they're right. All we know for sure is that if you spent 2014 sitting on cash, you absolutely missed another double-digit year and even lost a little ground due to inflation. That's the whole point of portfolio indexing. Guessing right the direction of any given asset class is not just hard to do, it's nearly impossible. The pundits lose nothing by going on the air or taking to the Internet to predict bad times ahead or, conversely, by forecasting blue skies forever. Rather, they only need to keep saying the same thing over and over and at some point along the way they are likely to be "proven" right by events. I could pick an NFL team as a sure playoff winner each season and, if I stuck to a single likely team, I would eventually be right, too. More importantly, all the seasons I am wrong costs me nothing. To my friends, I'm just a fan. No big deal. Real investors can't afford to be "fans" of a given market prognostication. If you bet wrong, you lose big. If you do nothing, your money doesn't grow at all.


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