Become a Patron! There's a cliche at least as old as I am, that while ATM's were expected to reduce the demand for bank tellers, banks actually increased the number of tellers they employed, for the counter-intuitive reason that a bank branch was much easier to administer once simple deposits and withdrawals were handled by machines. Instead of wiping out the retail branch, … [Read more...] about The (weird) optionality of Series EE savings bonds
Become a Patron! My readers know that the SECURE Act, passed unanimously out of its House committee and overwhelmingly on the floor of the House, was conjured into existence by the insurance industry in order to increase the distribution of expensive, opaque annuity products in 401(k) retirement plans. It incidentally also includes a few other provisions designed to reduce … [Read more...] about What to watch for as the Senate panics over the SECURE Act
Become a Patron! A lot of financial planning and advice can start to seem pretty routine over time: maximize contributions to tax-advantaged savings vehicles, invest in a basket of diversified, low-cost assets, and periodically (but not too often!) rebalance. I'm always interested in identifying places where that kind of routine advice breaks down, and the other day, I … [Read more...] about Are there 529 plans so bad they aren’t worth their state’s income tax benefits?
Become a Patron! Last week, the nonprofit journalism enterprise ProPublica wrote a breathless expose about a number of wealthy Illinois families, and their law firm collaborator, who were able to secure generous financial aid awards for their children to attend certain Illinois public universities. The article served as a brilliant kind of Rorschach test for how readers … [Read more...] about The wealthy Illinois degenerates were good and right for getting their kids a free education
Become a Patron! I've written before about what I consider the two best 529 college savings plans: the Nevada-sponsored Vanguard 529 plan and the Utah-sponsored my529 (formerly UESP). In general, most people making contributions in excess of their in-state tax deduction for 529 plan contributions (if any) should consider using one of those two plans, thanks to their broad … [Read more...] about Why I just changed my 529 asset allocation