Reading List for May 31-June 2

May 31, 2019
Investing, Credit Cards, Behavioral Finance, Budgeting, Research, Retirement

From 403(b) plans to goal setting to digital decluttering and graduation advice...enjoy these weekend reads with your favorite cup of joe: 

  • Thinking that annuity in your 403(b) is gouging you? You are probably right (from Barrons): "Teachers’ 403(b) plans are sold directly to individuals, rather than to employers, so the interest of the salesman was coming first. “Imagine you’re a kindergarten teacher and they’ve given you a 400-page prospectus about variable annuities,” Tony [Isola] says. That’s why three-quarters of $1 trillion in 403(b) plans are in annuities, which enjoy record sales. Insurance is a high-commission business, which you can see from Tony’s Twitter feed, where he likes to share screenshots of insurance agent literature. One says “6% commission.…Finally!"
  • Want to be happier...set attainable goals (from Science Daily): "The findings of the study revealed that perceiving one's personal goals as attainable is an indicator for later cognitive and affective well-being. This implies that people are most satisfied if they have a feeling of control and attainability. Interestingly, the importance of the goal was less relevant for later well-being than expected. Life goals also hold predictive power for specific domains: Participants who set social-relation goals or health goals were more satisfied with their social relationships or their own health. The link between life goals and subsequent well-being appeared to be relatively independent of the age of the participants."
  • Need more evidence that actively managed funds underperform index funds...almost 1/2 struggle to survive, according to this fascinating data on mutual funds from Only 51% of mutual funds survived for 15 years and then only 18% of the total that existed 15 years earlier were able to outperform. 
  • Looking to digitally declutter your life?..Here are some of the benefits (Cal Newport): "When people contemplate the declutter process I suggest in my book, in which you spend 30 days away from optional technology as a prelude to simplifying your digital life, they often predict that the main challenge will be compensating for the benefits and features they’ll miss out on. But this prediction is almost always wrong. Most people report that after a week or so of some mild withdrawal symptoms, they’re surprised by how little they miss the features of services like Twitter or Instagram."
  • The KISS [Keep It Simple...] principle applied to your finances (Xentum): 3 very simple steps that take probably 20% of the effort (or less) that drive at least 80% of the returns for personal finances.
    1. Find out where you are financially
    2. Cut expenditure or earn more (preferred)
    3. Invest simply
  • Graduation time is advice's 6 pieces of advice for recent college grads and many also apply to HS graduates too (from Fattailed blogFirst piece of advice is to get a brokerage account: "Get the account going and contribute to it regularly, even if it’s only $50 or $100 a month. I suggest Vanguard as your money will sit in a money market account prior to being invested and their commissions (when you decide to take that step) for Vanguard products are non-existent. Consider using index funds or target date accounts. Get comfortable with using the account as your savings repository."
  • Should boomerang kids returning home after college or high school graduation pay rent? The WSJ (subscription) weighs in: "Many parents don’t charge rent to their returning progeny, but some financial experts say they should pay their share of the real estate. “By collecting rent you’re teaching your kids to budget, to prepare for life,” says Kim Luu-Tu, a private wealth adviser with Ameriprise who specializes in generational wealth planning. Mrs. Luu-Tu, who is based in Vienna, Va., has one client whose son dropped out of college and moved back home, where he lived rent-free. He got a job and used his money to buy a luxury car. Six months later, his parents agreed to buy that car from him so he could buy a sports car. Now her client wishes she’d charged rent and put the money toward his wedding or house down payment."
  • Start-up called Zero just raised $20 million and has a different take on credit cards (TechCrunch): "Zero has a clever idea that targets millennials’ hesitance to sign up for credit cards. Today, only 33% of millennials have a major credit card, a Bankrate survey found — largely because they’re wary of falling into the vicious debt cycle. Instead, this younger demographic often only carries a debit card. But that also means they’re missing out on credit card benefits — like points, rewards and cash back. Zero’s idea is to offer a rewards credit card that works like debit. The Zerocard itself is a World Mastercard, so it earns credit card cash back. But unlike a traditional credit card, it’s combined with an FDIC-backed checking account called Zero Checking. That means Zerocard and Zero Checking work together in the app, allowing cardholders to see one net number they can spend from."






About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.