Reframing the Social Security Decision

When should you begin taking Social Security benefits? That was a question AARP members were asked in an online survey last month. Less than 19 percent selected age 70, though that’s exactly what I tell the vast majority of my clients to do. Most object to my recommendation until I frame the decision in a different way, which is that they can spend money now and still let it grow. Take this recent case, for example. Kate is 66 and …

Regrets? Older Workers Have a Few

Which would you rather have: a job that offers a 401(k) or one that doesn’t have a retirement plan but comes with a higher salary? If you’re like most pre-retirees ages 55 to 65, you’re more than five times more likely to choose the 401(k). That’s one of the findings of the third annual survey by American Century Investments, a Missouri-based money manager that polled more than 2,000 workers ages 25 to 65 about saving, retirement and regrets. When the …

The Stock Market Plunge: What You Should Do, or Not Do

The headlines are brutal: Wall Street’s Rout Market Meltdown Global Financial Markets Going Crazy It’s enough to get anyone to panic and sell. And that, in my opinion, would be the exact wrong thing to do. It’s not that I have a clue whether the current market plunge is a minor setback for stocks or the beginning of the third half-off sale this century. Rather, I know that it’s our fair weather human nature to embrace risk in boom markets …

Stocks for the Long Run? Really?

Most of us have heard that stocks have outperformed bonds in the long run. But what is the definition of long run? So far this century, have stocks really outperformed? To answer that question, I decided to look at how three different asset classes have performed in the new millennium. I examined the performance of stocks vs. bonds from Dec. 31, 1999 through June 30, 2015. I compared the total returns of U.S. stocks, international stocks and investment grade U.S. …

New AARP Survey: Americans of All Ages Support Social Security

En español | As Social Security celebrates its 80th birthday, the program remains as popular as ever among all age groups, although some people are skeptical and confused about its long-term financial outlook. Those are a couple of the findings in AARP’s new report “Social Security 80th Anniversary Survey Report: Public Opinion Trends,” released Aug. 13. AARP has measured the attitudes of Americans ages 18 and older about Social Security periodically since 1995, most recently in June. Social Security Calculator: …

When to Sell an Investment

I’m often asked when the right time is to sell an investment. There are actually two answers — a logical one and an emotional one. Let me explain by illustrating through one of the lessons in a course I teach. I teach behavioral finance to CPAs (and confess I am one). I give the class the following situation and then poll them on what they would do: You have been gifted $10,000 and decide to buy two stocks with it. …