Socially Responsible Investing: Worth the Price?

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Most of us want to be “socially responsible” — however we define that. We don’t want to trash the planet for our children and grandchildren. We don’t think corporations should exploit their workers or their communities. And we don’t intend to profit from the misery of other human beings.

Yet most of us also need to provide for our retirement by holding shares in the world’s economy. If we fail in that task, we’ll be a burden to others in our old age, creating a different set of problems….

Are these goals — social responsibility and financial independence — compatible? How can small investors live up to their ideals without compromising the financial freedom they’ve spent a lifetime achieving?

I’ve wrestled with these questions, off and on, for much of my investing career. I had a difficult time answering them years ago, and I have a difficult time answering them today. But, given some intervening years, and another round of research, I’m a bit smarter about the options. Perhaps what I’ve learned can help you make your own peace with securing and growing your wealth, while causing the least harm….

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Long-Term Care Insurance: Why We Aren’t Buying It

Insurance keyboard button

For us, the debate over long-term care insurance (LTCI) is finished. We aren't buying it. In my last article on LTCI, I explored the pros and many cons of this complex product pitched at baby boomers. LTCI does leverage your money in some … [Continue reading]

New Sponsor, Blog Stats and Summer Travels

News retro keys

Long before this blog existed, before my retirement came into focus, back when I was starting to accumulate assets and learn about investing, I began reading Scott Burns' nationally syndicated personal finance column. I quickly became a fan of … [Continue reading]

Long-Term Care Insurance: Beyond the Sales Pitch

Long Term Care

The long-term care insurance (LTCI) debate is chock-full of misinformation. Frightening statistics on nursing home care abound: The costs are huge, the odds are high. It apparently adds up to one conclusion: The long-term care decision is critical to … [Continue reading]

Financial Security in an Uncertain World: Protecting Your Wealth

Knight sword

If your savings are growing, you tend to feel safe. And if they're declining, you tend to worry. That's truer than ever as you get older, and the options for replacing wealth via a job disappear. But your money lives in a fickle financial world, … [Continue reading]

Financial Security in an Uncertain World: Assessing the Risks

Cloud and moon

If you are retired or on your way to financial independence, then you have assets. You've stockpiled wealth in some form. But that wealth is embedded in an always fickle, sometimes hazardous world. To preserve your assets, you need to … [Continue reading]

Does Owning a Vacation Home Make Sense?

Log home

It was a crisp, cloudless autumn day in 2004. My son and I set off on mountain bikes from a trailhead in rugged north Georgia. We climbed gradually on an abandoned logging road. It led up through beautiful old hardwood forest to near the summit of a … [Continue reading]

The 6 Crucial Questions to Answer Before You Retire

Piggy bank and calculator

Readers and friends often ask me about the retirement decision-making "process." How do you prepare, a year out, 6 months out, 3 months out? Do you need a written plan in advance? What about contingencies? Do you just pull the plug, or is there a … [Continue reading]

Financial Simplicity: What is Your Time Worth?

Zen garden stones

"Is the oil spilled? Is a little wine stolen? Say on the occasion, at such price is sold freedom from perturbation; at such price is sold tranquility…" --Epictetus Money is a stepping stone to more important things. If you're on track to your … [Continue reading]

Shopping Obamacare: Comparing Plans / Awaiting a Verdict

Caduceus symbol as scales

Much of my journey to early retirement was carefully planned. I saved a lot, invested carefully, read extensively. But in one area -- health care -- I was just plain lucky. Health insurance is one of the most critical issues in retirement: To live … [Continue reading]

Financial Freedom on a Shoestring

Old sneakers with laces

I'll admit it. I've led a life of some privilege. Maybe I didn't have it easy. But I didn't have it hard either. Simply by virtue of birth, I inherited most of the essential assets for my journey to financial independence…. No, my parents … [Continue reading]

Roth IRAs and Roth Conversions: Who Needs Them?

Question mark savings

Roth IRAs are the darling of the financial media. Maybe it's because they're relatively newer. Or because the rules have changed, allowing more people to access them now. Or because, in some situations, they can save you more on … [Continue reading]

My Investment Portfolio: 2015

Stock certificates - 3

What makes a successful investor? Is it getting double-digit returns? Beating a certain stock index? Outperforming the market for years, and making millions? Or is it just growing and protecting your wealth well enough to achieve your lifetime goals? … [Continue reading]

My Favorite Personal Finance Blogs: 2014

Magnifier on money

I believe in blogs. In a world where hidden agendas and conflicts of interest abound, personal finance blogs provide some of the most unbiased information available for managing your money wisely. The bulk of my weekly reading comes from blogs, not … [Continue reading]

10 Tips for More Accurate Retirement Calculations

Dart in bullseye

Retirement calculators are not all created equal. And the differences between them are more than just an academic issue. Why? Because you'll be using these tools to make one of the most important decisions of your life. If you're approaching … [Continue reading]

The Best Retirement Calculators

Black calculator

What's so important about retirement calculators? Why are these tools of more than just technical interest? Well, they're important because either you, or a financial planner, will use the results from a retirement calculator to make one of the most … [Continue reading]

Should You Be a Dividend Stock Investor?

Dollars domino

Dividend stock picking is the most compelling investment strategy that I've never tried. I've been tempted several times over the years, including recently when we had some new money to invest. The arguments for holding more dividend-paying … [Continue reading]

Should You Work One More Year?

Strand hill

I'm "retired," but I took this past summer off anyway. I wrote less on the blog. I postponed some personal projects. And, I worked on my bucket list -- doing the things I couldn't do while working full time, while raising a son, while living back … [Continue reading]

Annuity Shopping: Time to Buy a Deferred Income Annuity?

Dollars through hourglass

I want to buy an annuity. As I've written before, they make sense to me, in theory. In practice, I'm having a hard time pulling the trigger…. We received a modest inheritance. It doesn't change our financial picture substantially, but it does … [Continue reading]

The Good News About Retirement

Lake peak

There is no shortage of bad news about retirement: The population is aging. Workers haven't saved enough. Market returns will be lower going forward. Inflation is bound to return. Health care is expensive…. Many of you, even those who are … [Continue reading]

Money News, Calculator Reviews and What You Might Have Missed…

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It's been a good year at There are tens of thousands of visitors here every month. This blog is mentioned often in major media, and I frequently turn down opportunities for more publicity. My primary purpose is still to … [Continue reading]