I was listening to the latest episode of the "Animal Spirits" podcast with Michael Batnick and Ben Carlson, and they mentioned a statistic in this (paywalled) Wall Street Journal article: just 2% of the 285,000 professionals giving financial advice in the United States are fee-only financial advisors, who are held to a fiduciary standard that requires them to put the interests … [Read more...] about Why do so few people use non-conflicted financial advisors?
Like aircraft flying at very low altitudes, the US tax code does strange things when very low incomes are involved. Most people know about, or have at least heard of, the earned income credit, which phases in quickly as "earned income" (which includes wage and self-employment income) rises, then phases out somewhat more slowly. I think that's bad program design, since it … [Read more...] about Basics of IRA recharacterizations
My go-to resource for high-interest savings and checking accounts has long been depositaccounts.com, which has a pretty good list of accounts offering unusually high interest rates on deposits when you meet certain requirements, usually connected to either debit or credit card spending activity, or both. Such accounts are great; what's not to love about high-interest, FDIC- and … [Read more...] about Is this the next high interest savings opportunity?
The title of this post may sound like a rhetorical question, but I assure you I don't mean it that way. It's a question I've been pondering for a while as I come across weird datapoints from the history of home financing around the world. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is maybe best defined by what it is not: it's not a one-year floating-rate mortgage. What would a one-year … [Read more...] about What is a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage?
On Friday I wrote about how people making payments in excess of the minimum to student loans need to make sure their student loan servicers have instructions to credit the excess payments to their highest-interest-rate loans first. It's the kind of simple measure you can take to save money on student loan interest, and all it takes is a single letter to put the appropriate … [Read more...] about The low-hanging fruit of personal finance