I had never heard of the Rule of 55 until a couple of months ago when a Certified Financial Planner (Jim Blankenship, CFP) mentioned the possibility in a discussion forum I frequent. I’m not an expert on this rule (or any IRS rule) but here’s what I’ve learned about this penalty-free method of taking a 401(k) withdrawal.
Making the rounds in my social media sphere this week is The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans, an article by Neal Gabler published in The Atlantic. The provocative subtitle reveals the shameful secret: “Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I’m one of them.” The nearly penniless (or … Continued
Stock market news can be helpful. But it can also be harmful.
It may be useful for understanding conversations surrounding the stock market. For example, I’ve noticed that positive reports on consumer spending and employment tend to result in day-over-day market gains. Knowing that an increase in my portfolio’s value is due partly to happy investor sentiment and general economic well-being, not necessarily to my genius, can keep me from being overly confident.
But commentary disguised as news can lead me astray. For example, I’ve sold shares at what was touted as a good price only to see the price grow 50% in the subsequent 12 months. In addition, I’ve had to fight the desire to completely cash out after reading doom-and-gloom predictions; my energy should be spent devising strategies and taking firm actions, not fretting about the future.
Still, consuming stock market news has helped me to learn how markets often react to certain types of news in the short term and whether these newsworthy events impact me in the long term. Having these insights has made me a more relaxed investor.
Learn about the information I find useful and my favorite place to get stock market news:
Morningstar may be best known for its star ratings of mutual funds, which you’ll often see mentioned in fund advertisements. But the company also offers market commentary, investment research, and financial education, including stock investing education.
In my quest to learn more and find resources to share, I decided to check out its educational offerings. I started with the free Stocks Curriculum accessible from Morningstar.com’s Investing Classroom page. Here’s what I found:
Positioning finances to ensure that paying for college doesn’t wreck other plans was a challenge for my family. When my children were babies, I started strong, setting aside money in minor accounts even before the advent of 529 plans. But the day-to-day activities of raising children often distracted me from longer range planning. As a result, there’s a shortfall between our savings designated for college and our college bills.
Fortunately, though, my husband and I are able to cover more expenses from our current income than anticipated. After my youngest left for college, I noticed that my husband and I were suddenly saving more on at-home expenses in these areas: