Proposed Payday Loan Regulations to Help Millions Avoid Cycle of Debt

Today AARP submitted a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) commenting on the agency’s proposal to regulate the payday lending industry. For years, many of AARP’s state offices have engaged their state legislatures and governors to secure consumer protections for Americans who find themselves in need of the small-dollar loans that the payday industry offers. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, 12 million Americans use payday lending per year, on average spending about $520 on interest on an average …

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. …

3 Lessons from a Stock Market ‘Freak Out’

Just about two months ago, on Oct. 15, the headlines read “Market Freak Out” as the Dow Jones Industrial Average “plunged.” Headlines warned “Why the selling is just getting started.” Fear had returned to the market. My editor asked me to chime in and I posted “Why the Stock Market Plunge Is Not World’s End.” As it happened, not only did the world survive, the stock market quickly recovered. Now is the perfect time to review three investment lessons that …

Are You an Irrational Investor? Here’s How to Tell

Too many of us are irrational investors. Acceptance of this fact and understanding the roots of our irrationality are the keys to better investing. First, the facts. Many studies show that a lot of investor money moves in and out of stock funds at the wrong time, often buying high and selling low. For example, at the height of the 2007 stock market bubble, investors were pouring money into stock mutual funds. After the 2008 plunge, however, those same investors took their …

The Danger of Acting on Stock Market Headlines

Over the past five years, U.S. stocks have tripled in value. For example, the Wilshire 5000 total return index increased from 27.50 to 82.62. Yet paranoia about the market has caused many investors to miss out. The chart below shows the return an investor would have received just by owning a total U.S. stock index fund and reinvesting the dividends. A total U.S. stock index fund essentially owns every publicly held company based in the U.S. Though the chart tracks …

In Banking, Americans Lean Local

I won’t tell you the name of my bank, but I will tell you this: it’s the oldest in the state; it didn’t use account numbers until the Federal Reserve forced it to; it has 25 branches, all within easy driving distance of one another; and every employee at the branch I use – from manager to teller – knows me by name. Not only that, the tellers all have baskets of lollipops and bags of dog biscuits at the …