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Investing Blog Roundup: Evaluating an Existing Whole Life Policy

Whole life insurance is one of a handful of products that is regularly sold in inappropriate situations. However, in some cases, after purchasing a whole life policy and paying the premiums for several years, it may be a good idea to keep the policy, even though purchasing it in the first place wasn’t a good idea. This week Jim Dahle provides an excellent explanation and example of how to do such an evaluation:

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Investing Blog Roundup: “Heads I Win, Tails I Win”

Housekeeping note: I’ll be traveling this upcoming week, so there will be no articles on Monday 7/18 or Friday 7/22. And I may be somewhat slower than usual in replying to emails. Things will return to normal on Monday 7/25.

There’s a good bit of research (see here for one recent example) showing that investors tend to underperform their own investments, due to buying and selling at the wrong times.

This week I read WSJ editor Spencer Jakab’s new book Heads I Win, Tails I Win: Why Smart Investors Fail and How to Tilt the Odds in Your Favor, which takes a look at that gap in performance and discusses steps investors can take to minimize it.

In my opinion, the best thing about the book is the perspective of the author. Prior to working in the financial media, Jakab was a stock analyst. As a result of his experience, Jakab is able to shed light on the tricks that both the brokerage industry and financial media use to make money from you — regardless of what is in your best interests.

In any event, it’s an entertaining book, with good information. (Chapter 10 of the book — “Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Investors” — would make a good mini-book all on its own.)

Here’s the Amazon link for those who are interested:

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Investing Blog Roundup: An International Look at the “4% Rule”

Over the last several of years, researcher Wade Pfau has put out an incredible amount of useful research into various retirement planning topics. This week, he provides us with an update into one of his first pieces of research, which looks at how the “4% rule” (which was originally based on U.S. market returns) has historically fared around the world.

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Investing Blog Roundup: Every Financial Crisis is Different

Housekeeping note: There will be no article this upcoming Monday (July 4). We will return to our regular schedule on Friday.

The famous investor John Templeton once said that the four most costly words in investing are “This time is different.” The idea is that the general principles of investing are always true and it is a mistake to think that today’s particular circumstances are somehow different and those principles no longer apply.

It’s hard to argue with that line of thinking. Still, I’ve never been particularly fond of that quote, because it glosses over the fact that, every time something scary happens in the markets, it is different. It is new. That’s what makes it scary! (But the timeless principles do still apply.)

Or, as Morningstar’s John Rekenthaler puts it this week: Every Financial Crisis is Different, and the Best Investment Response is the Same.

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Investing Blog Roundup: What to Do about Brexit?

The near future is sure to be a tumultuous time in the markets, given the results of the “Brexit” referendum.

As far as how I’ll be changing my own portfolio to prepare for such tumult, I hope the answer is obvious to long-time readers: I won’t be making any changes. There will be no change to our asset allocation. Nor will there be any change to our regularly scheduled retirement account contributions next week. We’ll be sticking with our plan of regularly buying shares of “total market” index funds (via the Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth Fund).

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Investing Blog Roundup: John Oliver on Retirement Plans

People often send me links to articles that they’ve enjoyed, so that they can be considered for inclusion in the weekly roundup. This week, John Oliver’s segment on retirement plans was wildly popular.

The actual information won’t be terribly new to regular readers here (keep costs low, watch out for advisors who are looking out for their own interests rather than yours, etc). But it’s the most entertaining delivery of those messages that I recall encountering.

Warning: As is typical of a John Oliver segment, the video contains an abundance of adult language and themes.

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