Yearly Archives: 2010

Personal finance

Resolved …

I’m pretty sure that I resolved several years ago to stop making New Year’s resolutions. My track record at sticking to resolutions was abysmal.

Actually, I’ve done pretty well at hitting savings goals over the years, because I don’t rely … Read more

Taxes

Taxes and Roth conversions

Year-end is fast approaching, and based on web traffic it seems like the question of converting traditional IRA savings to Roth savings looms large. Congress has added to the buzz by allowing the conversion of certain pre-tax 401(k) money into … Read more

Economy & markets

The balance sheet recession

It was such a small news item in the paper I almost missed it. A hometown bank was being acquired by a rival. For a fraction of its estimated value. The reason: large real estate losses.

As I travel around … Read more

Personal finance

Where do charitable donations fit in your budget?

The economic slump we’re crawling out of has done big damage all over the place: to employment, home values, businesses, and, of course, investment portfolios.

Put charities on the casualty list, too. Charitable organizations have been hit in multiple ways. … Read more

Retirement

Understanding 401(k) fees

As I’ve discussed in prior blog posts, 401(k) account balances for many Americans have recovered as a result of better financial markets and ongoing contributions. In tandem, the debate over 401(k)s has shifted—to the question of fees.

Critics share … Read more

Investing

Are you an ambidextrous investor?

If you’ve heard of Pat Venditte—a minor league pitcher in the Yankees organization—you may know he has an extra tool in his arsenal. It’s not another pitch, but another arm.

He’s ambidextrous and changes his pitching arm depending on the … Read more

Economy & markets

How history might see the stimulus

A Word of Clarification
My blog post below has struck a chord with some of you. As a Vanguard blogger, I am charged with sharing my personal and professional perspectives on issues facing investors. The post, prompted by a discussion Read more

Investing

Emerging markets: Innocents abroad?

Mark Twain lost a couple of fortunes through bad investments, which probably explains the pungency of his comments about investing.

Such as: “There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it … Read more

Personal finance

The Sandwich Generation

Coming back from lunch in our cafeteria (in keeping with Vanguard’s nautical theme, we call it the Galley), I ran into a co-worker (crew member) I’ve known since I joined Vanguard 14 years ago.

After exchanging quick updates on work … Read more

Retirement

Annuities for retirement income?

Vanguard is not an insurance company, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the potential value that some see in having a guaranteed income in retirement.
In fact, you may have heard that Vanguard recently introduced Vanguard Annuity Access™, … Read more

Personal finance

Savings vs. stimulus

The current economic recovery is weak, but that’s hardly news. There are many explanations for this meager improvement, but perhaps one of the most telling is a large jump in personal savings in the United States.… Read more

Investing

Musings of a cockeyed optimist

I can’t sing a lick, but a tune from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific came to mind as I was thinking about the pervasive pessimism in so much economic and market commentary.… Read more

Investing

Taking another “random walk”

I recently had the chance to reread A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel as part of a work-related book club.

Having read the book in a business school class very early in my career, I promptly ignored … Read more

Economy & markets

More on the fiscal outlook

My recent post on the government’s fiscal outlook generated several thoughtful comments.

Two readers mentioned Paul Krugman’s op-ed on Social Security in The New York Times. It is true, as Krugman points out, that Social Security is only a … Read more

Personal finance

Do you have the college mindset?

Beloit College has once again issued its annual “Mindset List,” this time for the class of 2014.

While much of the press uses this list as a way to emphasize new college students’ youth and inexperience, Beloit describes … Read more

Retirement

Does the 4% rule hold up?

I’m often asked what I think about the “4% rule” for spending in retirement. According to this rule of thumb, an individual who is planning on a 30-year investment horizon and is holding a broadly diversified and balanced investment portfolio … Read more

Personal finance

On “Mad Men” and mad money

For those of you who watch or have heard of the hit series “Mad Men,” you’ll know that the show provides an interesting story line, some fascinating characters, and great commentary on the social mores and gender differences of the … Read more

Retirement

The fiscal outlook: Tough choices ahead

The long-term budget outlook for the federal government is bleak. What is surprising is that this is considered news.

The forces driving the U.S.’s long-term budget problem have been known for decades. We’ve also known for years that sometime in … Read more

Retirement

Retirement: Who’s ready, and who’s not?

Here’s the good news: Half of Americans are “on track” financially for retirement.

The bad news? The other half aren’t. … Read more

Investing

The gold rush of 2010

We’ve been hearing a lot about gold over the last few months, related to concerns about inflation, the creditworthiness of various governments, and fallout from the financial crisis—all against the backdrop of what is the most significant increase in inflation-adjusted … Read more

Investing

The “zoom theory” and market gyrations

As we sat around after a recent family cookout, talk turned to the stock market’s recent gyrations.

The older folks (I am, of course, in that camp) were grumbling about the spring slump in stocks. After listening to his middle-aged … Read more

Personal finance

The price of living forever

The other day, I was preparing to record a podcast for Vanguard.com on life events and asset allocation. I decided to veer away from the predictable “retirement is a life event” theme and concentrate on marriage, children, and divorce as … Read more

Retirement

Retirement savings success

Ask a Vanguard investor about what it takes to be successful at saving for retirement, and he or she would probably tell you to start saving early, save as much as you can, invest in a low-cost diversified portfolio, and … Read more

Taxes

Location, location, location

We at Vanguard educate, cajole, and opine everywhere on the importance of keeping your investment portfolio diversified and matched closely with your risk profile. We should be saying more about just where you’re keeping those investments.… Read more

Retirement

The millionaire’s dilemma

What’s the typical income of a U.S. retiree? $40,000? $50,000? Higher, lower?

It’s $31,157 as of 2008.

That’s the median income of households age 65 and older as reported by Pat Purcell of the Congressional Research Service. The median means … Read more

Investing

Advice to graduates

In June 1997, Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich penned a now-famous column titled “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.” In short, the column served as the speech that Ms. Schmich would give if she were asked to … Read more

Economy & markets

Thoughts on the Greek crisis

How can a financial crisis in a small European country have such a large effect on world markets? This is the question I recently received from an investor and a friend.… Read more

Retirement

Annuity—or not?

I recently attended a conference in Washington on the question of retirement income—how baby boomers will generate income from their 401(k) accounts once they retire.… Read more

Investing

Winning the loser’s game

I don’t really follow tennis, but it turns out that an insulting label for tennis players connects to a very important investment idea.… Read more

Investing

Keeping the “bag lady” specter at bay

I’ve never heard this discussed by men, but some women carry the worry that they will end up old and alone, with no money and no home. It’s not generally ever-present, but rears up as reports on foreclosures, unemployment, plant … Read more

Retirement

The new retirement

A new poll from Gallup says that Americans expect to depend more on Social Security when they retire—and less on 401(k)s, IRAs, and part-time work. I don’t believe it for a minute.… Read more

Retirement

When to start spending your retirement savings

For many years, the government has published statistics on Americans’ age and employment. A version of that data is shown in the chart below. My sense is that these figures are the basis for much of the conventional wisdom on … Read more

Taxes

How to make a tax refund really pay off

Do you have a tax refund coming? Some would say it means you over-withheld and should have paid less last year. Others look at it as a non-interest-bearing savings account. I’d look at it as an opportunity to improve your … Read more

Investing

“Yes, Virginia”: The compensation question

In a post last month, I mentioned the skepticism we hear from time to time about Vanguard’s client-owned, at-cost structure.

In brief, under this novel structure the various Vanguard mutual funds own the operating company—The Vanguard Group, Inc.—that exists … Read more

Taxes

What you can learn from your tax return

Another tax filing season has come to an end. You might have used an online service like TurboTax, enlisted the aid of a tax professional, or, as some of us still do, used paper and pencil and good old-fashioned arithmetic.… Read more

Personal finance

“Fin Lit” 101

What do inner-city families trying to save $500 for emergencies have in common with trust-fund heirs? Their common interest, it turns out, is financial literacy.… Read more

Retirement

Getting an early start on the road to retirement

Now that Roth IRA conversions are available to people who previously hadn’t been eligible, there’s been quite a spike in coverage. However, the spotlight should probably be focused more on those who can have a Roth, but as yet do … Read more

Retirement

401(k) ratings: Caveat lector

While I have been publishing research for many years, I consider myself new to the blogosphere. So I was a little surprised when my recent post on a new 401(k) rating service, Brightscope, elicited some response, including a critiqueRead more

Investing

Yes, Virginia, we really are client-owned

While listening to groups of investors recently as part of some research, we learned something that was, to us, a bit disappointing.

And thereby hangs a tale.… Read more

Personal finance

Turning thought into action

I had the chance to listen to Dan Heath recently. He’s the coauthor, with his brother Chip, of Switch, a new book about making changes. I’d read their last book, Made to Stick, and thought their conclusions were … Read more

Retirement

Rating your 401(k)

401(k) accounts are typically among the largest assets held by middle- and upper-middle-income households in the United States. So naturally they draw a lot of attention—in the marketplace, in the media, and in Washington. The government, for example, is proposing … Read more

Investing

A modest proposal

Given all the back and forth in Washington these days, with policy meetings and dramatic proposals to revolutionize retirement, I’ve got retirement-income solutions on the brain. So here’s a modest proposal for providing “Retirement Income Security for All.”… Read more

Personal finance

Is saving really saving?

I’ve been watching the U.S. consumer savings rate climb. It’s been heartening to witness the ascent past 5% on its way to perhaps 7%. Any way you look at it, this is a welcome—if not critical—change in our financial/economic behavior.… Read more

Economy & markets

The graying budget

Several years ago at a speech in New York, I warned that “a future President Clinton or McCain would face a daunting budget challenge from population aging.” My political forecast was off, but my economic and demographic forecast is unchanged.… Read more

Personal finance

Putting your mortgage in reverse

I occasionally participate in webcasts, taking questions from Vanguard investors on various financial topics. Almost invariably, someone asks about reverse mortgages. Should they or shouldn’t they? How do they work? And are they legitimate?

Last question first: Yes, reverse mortgages … Read more

Investing

Nervous markets

In recent weeks, stocks have sold off from their recent highs. It appears that the enthusiasm that drove equity markets higher since last March may have run its course.… Read more

Personal finance

Musings of a pack rat

I am a pack rat.

A long habit of cutting articles from newspapers and magazines has left me with several boxes of clippings, only some of which have been sorted into files. On a clean-up crusade, I’ve spent more than … Read more

Personal finance

The art of the perfect password

Anytime I forget something, I rationalize that what I’m really doing is clearing out space to allow new information to be stored in my brain. It’s a bit like cleaning off my desk or deleting cookies from my computer.… Read more

Investing

Another take on “A tale of two investors”

A few readers had some strong reactions* to my recent post on the benefits of making investment purchases at the beginning of the year, as opposed to waiting until year-end.… Read more

Economy & markets

Interest rates: a worry for 2010

It’s still early in the new year, and there’s lots to worry about in the investment domain and in the broader world. But one item tops my “worry list” for 2010: interest rates. And it’s hard to decide which is … Read more

Investing

A tale of two investors

Here’s a pretty simple chart showing hypothetical investment results for two hypothetical investors. Each of them saved $2,500 a year for 25 years, using investment strategies that delivered identical 7% rates of return each year. After 25 years, one investor … Read more

Taxes

The estate tax is dead … or is it?

The federal tax on transfers of wealth from estates has been with us since the passage of the Revenue Act of 1916, although there were similar temporary levies around the time of the Spanish-American War. This tax came to an … Read more

Investing

A “decent decade” after all?

Commentators almost seem to have been competing to coin the catchiest—or most negative—label for the ten years from the end of 1999 to the end of 2009. It’s not surprising that some have called it the “Decade from Hell,” given … Read more

Personal finance

The culture of saving

Are Americans becoming more thrifty? Personal savings rates are up, the government statistics tell us. This fact has engendered a wide-ranging debate. Is this just a short-term deviation from America’s obsession with spending, or is it a permanent change?

I … Read more

Investing

What have we learned?

Like everyone else, I’ve been reading (well, skimming) reams of year-end—and in some places, “decade-end”—economic summaries. There’s lots of talk about black swans, financial “Frankensteins,” lost decades, and fundamental changes in investor behavior.

Black swans are old news, and I’ve … Read more

Personal finance

Is your financial advisor worth it?

If you rely on a financial advisory firm to manage your assets, how do you know if you’re getting what you pay for?

We think the answer to this question comes down to several specific points, one of which (an … Read more

Visit vanguard.com or contact your broker to obtain a Vanguard ETF or fund prospectus which contains investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information; read and consider carefully before investing.

Vanguard ETF Shares are not redeemable with the issuing Fund other than in Creation Unit aggregations. Instead, investors must buy or sell Vanguard ETF Shares in the secondary market with the assistance of a stockbroker. In doing so, the investor may incur brokerage commissions and may pay more than net asset value when buying and receive less than net asset value when selling.

Investments in bond funds are subject to interest rate, credit, and inflation risk.

Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market.

Foreign investing involves additional risks including currency fluctuations and political uncertainty.

Stocks of companies in emerging markets are generally more risky than stocks of companies in developed countries.

An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although a money market fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in such a fund.

All investing is subject to risk, including possible loss of principal.

Vanguard Marketing Corporation, Distributor

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