Investing — It’s OK to Have Some Fun

In a recent column I exposed my own portfolio and its daring dullness. It is that very dullness which, I believe, is the key to its success. Still, beneath this dull exterior beats the heart of “The Gambler.” Even yours truly gets the occasional urge to buy that risky stock, offering the possibility of a 1,000 percent return, and sometimes I just can’t resist acting on that thrill-seeking urge. That’s why I carve out a small piece of my portfolio …

Get the Latest Dirt on Your Bank

How well does your financial institution treat its customers? You can now find out by going to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database. There you can read in the customers’ own words about their problems with financial products and services, and how the institutions offering them responded — or not. It’s sort of like Yelp for banks. The agency has been collecting complaints about financial service companies since 2011, and it has received more than 627,000 so far. …

Fight Financial Clutter (or Do as I Say , Not as I Do)

As a financial adviser, I’ve seen a lot of clutter in people’s financial lives. I know people who have dozens of financial accounts. Problem is, the more accounts one has, the harder — and more time-consuming and stressful — it is to keep track of everything. I know one person, for instance, who has about a dozen different bank accounts, three brokerage accounts, and many stocks and mutual funds in these accounts. Though I typically don’t name people in my …

Consumers Finally Get Help Limiting Irritating Robocalls

For everyone who hates getting automated robocalls on their phone or spam text messages, the Federal Communications Commission has gotten the message. This week the FCC issued rulings designed to clarify and strengthen consumer protections so people can block these unwanted phone intrusions. The agency received more than 215,000 complaints last year about unwanted calls, its largest category of gripes. “It’s a significant deal,” says Linda Sherry, spokeswoman for Consumer Action. “The FCC took a stand for consumers.” Unwanted robocalls, …

Most Adults Flunk Social Security Quiz

Most adults likely have heard of Social Security — or seen the taxes for it taken out of their paychecks. But when quizzed on some of the basics of the program, only 28 percent got a passing grade. That’s the finding of a survey by MassMutual, which polled more than 1,500 adults on Social Security rules, including the full retirement age, benefits for ex-spouses and whether benefits can be reduced for government workers. Granted, Social Security can be complicated, particularly …

Financial Adviser Exposes Own Portfolio

People are often surprised when I describe my personal portfolio to them. Using an analyzing tool from Chicago-based Morningstar, I’ve put together a brief description of my own daringly dull portfolio and, far more important, why it looks like it does. Most of my investments are in mutual funds with an average expense ratio of 0.16 percent annually. I don’t have enough money to diversify by buying individual stocks, so I buy low-cost index funds that track the overall market. …