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The Friday Brief

This Is Your Brain On (Financial) Drugs

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In 1987, The Partnership for a Drug Free America released one of the most famous commercials in TV history, featuring an egg in a frying pan and the dramatic line: “This is your brain on drugs.” Like most ad campaigns of this genre it didn’t actually prove to be effective at curbing drug usage—and in some cases may have even done the opposite—so don’t worry, I’m not advocating for a money-themed version to be released. (If I did, though, I would probably just show footage of a toddler going through the various stages of a sugar high and subsequent crash.) 

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How to Simplify College Planning

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Planning for your child’s (or grandchild’s!) college education can be stressful and confusing. What schools should they consider? What criteria do schools look at in potential students? What kind of financial or merit-based aid should they expect? Are they more suited for one career over another? What types of extra-curricular activities should they be focusing on? That’s a lot to consider and it’s only part of the process. Fortunately, there are smart people like Lindsey Ringenbach from Advantage College Planning that do a great job of walking students and their families through the college planning process. On Wednesday, October 23rd

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Populism is Tough on Markets

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Just a few years ago, before the populist revolution in our country, the ‘sausage-workings’ of government were largely carried out behind heavy gilded doors by professional politicians, appointees and bureaucrats. Every two, four, and six years we judged their finished products in terms how much better or worse off we were. We mostly left them alone in the interim to do their thing behind those closed doors. Then every election cycle, depending on the job they did, we either voted them another round, or we sent them packing. But in late 2016, with the dawn of a new era of

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How Much Should You Save Each Year?

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There’s ample research about how much you can safely withdraw from your portfolio once you retire. There’s less research about how much you need to save annually so you can retire (this is called your “savings rate”), probably due to the large number of variables that exist. It’s easy enough to say you should be able to “safely” withdraw 4% from your portfolio in your first year of retirement and increase it annually for inflation without fear of running out of money. It’s harder to say how much you need to save each year because you may have started saving

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How to Rescue a Pet and Your Finances

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What would it take for your finances to get better? I mean, you have a life, I have a life (although my friends may object…), we’re all going around doing more or less the best we can, and at every turn we are confronted with decisions that fall at the intersection of money, time, debt, values, priorities, hobbies, and people. Nothing is simple. We know we can do better, that the ways in which our finances interact with the rest of our lives could be healthier, but what would it take? In 2012, if you were a stray dog or

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Kids and Money

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You probably aren’t surprised to hear that I’d like to raise my kids to be generous, kind, patient, thrifty and modest–in all areas, including their wealth. I hope they’ll be capable of making smart financial decisions and have a healthy relationship with money. It’s not surprising because we’d all love for our children to exhibit those characteristics. What is surprising is how few of us are actually having intentional conversations with our kids about money. We all have the best intentions but life gets busy and the kids get crazy. We find ourselves reacting to money questions with short, pat

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The Inverted Yield Curve

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So what exactly is an inverted yield curve and does it really matter? Historically, when long-term interest rates fall below short term rates, more often than not, recessions ensue. However, more recently the results have been mixed. Back in February of 2005 Allen Greenspan, then Fed Chair, debunked the theory that an inverted yield curve signaled an economic slowdown, calling it a “misconception.”  He said, “the quality of that signal has been declining in the last decade, in fact, quite measurably.”  The thinking is that when interest rates, ten years or longer fall, investors believe the long-term economic outlook is

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Two Charts that Can Make Investing Easier

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Investing offers what in theory seems like an easy trade: long-term wealth creation for short-term volatility. But the reality is that it’s not so simple. The promise of gains over 10 or 20 years becomes less compelling as you face large market drops that take place over the course of a day or two, never mind when the losses accumulate for weeks or months at a time. Make no mistake about it: investing is hard, and the most difficult part is managing your emotions against the swings of the market and the constant chatter from the financial media. Below you’ll

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Is Sharing for Adults, Too?

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My wife Amy and I have two sons–Miles and Charlie–who are four years old and almost two years old, respectively. Do you know what one character trait we spend the most energy and time attempting to teach them? Of course you do! It’s sharing. Share the Legos. Give your brother a turn with that truck. Let that kid use the swing now. Pass the ball. We parents (and teachers, and coaches, and camp counselors, etc.) must be ever vigilant, for the children are constantly tempted to do anything but share. This is all well and good, but sometime in the

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Equifax and Capital One: How to Protect Yourself

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Last week, the consumer credit reporting agency, Equifax, settled with the US Federal Trade Commission over its 2017 data breach that affected over 147 million Americans. The settlement of up to $700 million includes as much as $425 million for individual settlements. On Monday, Capital One announced that a hacker had gained access to the personal information of over 100 million people. Among the personal data exposed were names, addresses, dates of birth, credit scores, transaction data, Social Security numbers and bank account numbers. It would appear that we are living during a time where hacks, data breaches and stolen

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