Your Bond Income Could Be an Illusion

One of the saddest messages I am most often required to deliver to new clients is that their bond income is merely an illusion, and a tricky one at that. In fact, in most cases, their actual income is a tiny fraction of the amount shown in their brokerage statement. If you own individual bonds (not bond funds), this is probably happening to you as well — and costing you dearly. And this can occur indefinitely without your ever noticing. To better understand this, …

Why You Should Pay Down Your Mortgage

Many in the financial services industry will advise you not to pay down your mortgage. I can’t disagree more. Why? Because a mortgage is essentially the inverse of a bond: Mortgage: borrowed money where you pay someone principal and interest. Bond: money you lend where the borrower pays you principal and interest.   It’s that simple. For example, the high-quality bonds I wrote about here recently, or bank certificates of deposit (CDs), will pay you roughly 2 percent. The average mortgage rate is about 4 percent. My conclusion …

‘Boring’ High-Quality Bonds and Why You Need Them

Between mid-September and mid-October, the S&P 500 average sank nearly 150 points, or about 7.4 percent. Many investment pundits now suggest stocks are quite risky and the next great Bear Market could be coming. Suddenly bonds, previously shunned by many investment advisers, are looking more appealing. To better understand how high-quality bonds and bond funds act as a portfolio’s shock absorber during market volatility, let’s go back to the very painful period that ended on March 9, 2009. The stock market had plunged well …

Will Interest Rates Rise Next Year? And Should You Care?

When interest rates rise, the value of bonds declines. Many experts are sure that rates will increase next year, but should you worry about that? Why are experts convinced that rates will rise next year? For one, the Federal Reserve announced last week that it will start raising the federal funds rate next year from the near-zero rate of today. The Fed is also tapering quantitative easing, meaning that it’s buying back its own longer-term bonds at a much slower pace …

Here Is Why You Should Share Family Stories

In 1902, 16 years old and alone, my grandmother set sail from Cork, Ireland, to a new life in America. She landed in New York and found work as a maid with a wealthy family whose physician suggested she train as a nurse. She didn’t have a high school diploma but talked her way into nursing school. After graduating, she joined the Red Cross and was deployed to French hospitals near the front lines of World War I. Terrified by …

Tightening the Family Ties

Sometimes I feel like an in-house publicist for my three adult children: a text to the middle son asking him to give his sister a call; an email to the oldest telling him about his brother’s time on a half-marathon; a phone call to the youngest suggesting she check in with her brothers. Why persist in trying to tighten the sibling bonds? Because adult children are often at different stages – and locations – in their lives so it takes …