How to Beat the S&P 500 Index

I’m going to try to mislead you, but it’s for a very good reason. What I have for you is a U.S. stock fund that not only has beaten the S&P 500 index, it’s nearly certain to continue doing so in the long run. For now, I’m going to call this mutual fund the Super-Secret Fund, or SSF for short. Looking back over 20 years, you can see that the SSF trounced the S&P 500 index. Not only did it …

What the End of the World Teaches Us About Investing

There have been many predictions of Armageddon throughout human history and, so far, all have been a bit exaggerated. Sometimes several apocalyptic false alarms come from the same person, such as Pastor Charles Taze Russell, who predicted the end of the world in 1914, based on careful calculations. When the world didn’t end, he updated his calculations, according to the book History’s Worst Predictions (Chartwell Books, 2011), predicting it would end in 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994. …

Students Turning to Grandparents to Help Pay for College

How are families paying for college? Grandparents. Or, at least, grandparents and other relatives are kicking in more for a student’s education. The amount of money from relatives — often grandparents — and friends rose to an average of $1,247 this year, a 40 percent increase over last year. That’s according to Sallie Mae’s annual report, “How America Pays for College,” which is based on a survey of 1,600 parents and students. Enter the $50K Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes. See …

4 Reasons Not to Load Up on Muni Bonds

Many brokers recommend investing in municipal bonds. Municipal bonds, a.k.a. munis, are a debt security issued by a state, municipality or county to finance its capital expenditures. Most are exempt from federal taxes and even state taxes if you live and file taxes in the issuing state.  They are often pitched as being very safe with a long history of low default rates. Get the latest tips on protecting your money and saving for retirement — AARP Money newsletter » So …

Beware of Financial Designations and Awards

When you walk into my office, you may notice a beautiful granite and glass plaque gracing my bookcase that displays the honor of being one of “America’s Top Financial Planners.” It was awarded by the Consumers’ Research Council of America, whose address on Pennsylvania Avenue is less than a half mile from the White House. Now before you think I’m just tooting my own horn, this impressive plaque is actually inscribed with the name “Max Tailwager” — my beautiful and loyal …

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 …