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Viewpoints

The Top 10 Places Your Next Dollar Should Go

 

There is no shortage of receptacles clamoring for your money each day. No matter how much money you have or make, it could never keep up with all the seemingly urgent invitations to part with it.

Separating true financial priorities from flash impulses is an increasing challenge, even when you’re trying to do the right thing with your moola — like saving for the future, insuring against catastrophic risks and otherwise improving your financial standing. And while every individual and household is in some way unique, the following list of financial priorities for your next available dollar is a reliable guide for most.

Once you’ve spent the money necessary to cover your fixed and variable living expenses (and yes, I realize that’s no easy task for many) consider spending your additional dollars in this order:

1. Create (or update) your estate planning documents. Your estate planning, or lack thereof, is unlikely to make headlines like that of the rich and famous. But the frightening implications of not planning for your inevitable demise lands it in the top financial priority slot, especially for parents of minor children. With extremely rare exceptions, every > SEE MORE

Riding The Elephant: Mastering Decision-Making In Money And Life

 

The most compelling findings regarding financial decision-making are found not in spreadsheets, but in science. A blend of psychology, biology and economics, much of the research on this topic has been around for years. Its application in mainstream personal finance, however, is barely evident. Perhaps a simple analogy will help you begin employing this wisdom in money and life: The Rider and the Elephant.

First, a little background.

Systems 1 and 2

Daniel Kahneman’s tour de force, Thinking, Fast and Slow, leveraged his decades of research with Amos Tversky into practical insight. Most notably, it introduced the broader world to “System 1” and “System 2,” two processors within our brains that send and receive information quite differently.

System 1 is “fast, intuitive, and emotional” while System 2 is “slower, more deliberative, and more logical.” The big punch line is that even though we’d prefer to make important financial decisions with > SEE MORE

TIPS Vs. Nominal Bonds

 

I’ve been getting lots of questions lately about the merits of owning TIPS [Treasury inflation-protected securities] versus nominal bonds. With that in mind, today I’ll discuss how to determine which is the more appropriate strategy.

To begin, we need to recognize there are two ways one can hold TIPS and nominal bonds: purchase the bonds individually or invest in mutual funds/ETFs. When investing through taxable accounts and IRAs, one can do either. However, in corporate retirement plans, such as a 401(k), one is limited to funds.

5-Year Maturities For Comparison

To keep the analysis simple, and because my firm generally recommends building bond portfolios with an average maturity of about five years, I’ll analyze TIPS and > SEE MORE