Passive Investing: Seniors Near the Edge of Change

New England 2011_001 With Text

I recently taught a course to retirees on passive investing at the University of Georgia’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). Many in the class had portfolios with various brokers or financial planners, some local, some far away, and the portfolios were complicated and laden with high-cost mutual funds as well as individual stocks and bonds. They were not making much money, and they wanted to hear about a different approach. Continue reading

What the Big Guys Say about Risk at Retirement


What should your stock allocation be at your retirement date, or in different words, how much risk (variability) should you tolerate near and at retirement? I discussed this issue in a series of posts earlier this year (see links at end), and recently the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article (paywall) about it.  Continue reading

Killer Moves Can Help Wrestle Lumpy Retirement Spending

Afternoon at a long-term care facility

Afternoon at a long-term care facility

Retirement might be easier if spending needs stayed nearly constant from year-to-year, but they don’t. Long-term care, motor homes, family members in need, and other special plans require lumps of cash at particular times. Continue reading

Retirees Can Wrestle Investment Risk and Win

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Investment risk is good in that it accompanies greater long-term wealth but it is bad if investors sell during a downdraft. Stocks are riskier (more volatile) than bonds yet offer more long-term gain.

Should retirees dial back their risk exposure to, say, 30% stocks, as is sometimes recommended, or can they carry much more risk, perhaps up to 70% stocks? The answer follows their goals and plans. Continue reading

Images of Investment Risk

Risky? These women compete in a roller derby where they skate, block and score on a concrete floor. There is risk—in the sense of loss or injury.

Risky? These women compete in a roller derby where they skate, block and score on a concrete floor. There is risk—in the sense of loss or injury. “No pain, no gain,” analogizes the SEC, which is almost a sports metaphor: play hard, risk injury and you may win.

There are standard narratives about investing that lead people to particular strategies. Risk, we’re told, infects all investments, and it is often viewed as potential injury or loss. Continue reading

Who Are You?

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Sunset on Lake Champlain

Who reads these posts? What’s going on here?

This blog is now two years old and we might take stock of our efforts. Two years ago I expected most readers would be retired. Now it’s clear that many readers are not even close to retirement but instead work serving a senior population.

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Frank’s Key to Retirement: a story


“I cut my own firewood,” said Frank. “Helen likes a fire in the winter. Of course it’s messy, what with the dirt on the wood and then the ashes, but she likes a fire. And truth be told, I like to cut and split the wood.”

It was a bright cold day, and I had stopped by Frank’s place to plan some deer hunting. We were out back of his house at his log pile, in the middle of his 4-acre woodlot.

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Join the Crowd: Manage Your Own Investments

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On Monday, Karen Damato wrote a lead piece in the Wall Street Journal, “A New Era for Do-It-Yourself Investing,” reporting that investors are taking charge of their investments, yet they are not going it alone. (Readers may meet a pay-wall with the link.) Many investors are using a hybrid approach.They are moving away from having a person or firm control their accounts, yet they are still seeking a-la-carte advice and using on-line tools to guide and validate their own investment decisions. Continue reading

The Secret Lives of Old Men


“Gee,” I yelled in the wind, and Hickory, my lead sled dog, guided the team to the right across the lake and northward toward the mountains. We entered the forest and began the ascent, steep switchbacks, dogs pulling hard. “Easy, Easy,” I said as we approached a left turn with a steep drop at the right side of the trail. We were hundreds of miles into the snow and silence of Alaska. Continue reading