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Investing

Lies Annuity Salesmen Tell: A Dateline Undercover Investigation

by Luke Landes

Last year, a reader wrote into Consumerism Commentary with a story about how her elderly father was convinced to buy a variable annuity, locking away his money until after his likely passing. He had wanted to talk to a financial adviser, but found his way to Banc of America Investment Services. Recently, Dateline took a ... Continue reading this article…

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Many Exchange-Traded Funds are Not All They’re Cracked Up to Be

by Luke Landes

I own shares in one exchange-traded fund, iShares Dow Jones U.S. Telecommunications Sector Index Fund (IYZ). I picked up the shares with free money from a Sharebuilder bonus, and since it was free money, I decided to attempt to choose an investment narrower than my typical investing philosophy would normally allow. Rather than a broad ... Continue reading this article…

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My First Quarter 401(k) Results Are In

by Luke Landes

Here is a case study in why you shouldn’t fret over the details in an account that’s designed to keep funds invested for the long term. I would probably stay saner if I wait three decades before looking at my 401(k) account again. I received my retirement account statement in the mail today. This is ... Continue reading this article…

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Thrasher Funds’ GendeX Mutual Fund: You Know, For Kids

by Luke Landes

Do investment companies need to market to “Generation X” and “Generation Y” differently than the general investing public? Would new, “hip” investment products encourage individuals falling within these particular demographics to care about their financial future? Thrasher Capital Management was founded on the principle that these markets, as well as minorities, are currently under served ... Continue reading this article…

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8 Benefits to a Recession or Down Market

by Luke Landes

Will politicians say the word recession? Not if they’re serious about helping their party get elected. Yet, it feels like we are in a recession — or at least, that’s what the media wants us to believe. The stock market, measured by the indexes, is certainly in a downward trend, but I suppose I agree ... Continue reading this article…

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Get Rid of Your High-Cost Variable Annuity Easily

by Luke Landes

Although Ben Stein likes variable annuities, these insurance products can be an expensive way of investing. They do “assure” a level of income over a certain time period, but depending on where you go to receive this product, you could be paying too much for a service that can be found somewhere else for less. ... Continue reading this article…

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The End of Bull Markets: Don’t Expect Great Returns Over the Long Term

by Luke Landes

Ever since I’ve been investing, nigh on six years now, the general sentiment has been that stocks are the key to long-term growth. Investing in the stock market is risky, but bumps even out over long periods of time resulting in close to double-digit annual growth. Young people like myself (six years ago) should invest ... Continue reading this article…

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Ben Stein’s Parents are Well-Off Thanks to Variable Annuities

by Luke Landes

Should you get a variable annuity when you retire? The company I work for hopes you will, but many financial advisers, gurus, and authors steer people away. The reason is simple — the benefits in the form of gains don’t outweigh the fees and diligent investors can manage their retirement money in the form of ... Continue reading this article…

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States Plan On Shutting Down Small 529 College Savings Plans

by Luke Landes

Are state-run 529 plans — investment accounts that offer tax benefits for saving for educational expenses but with penalties otherwise — worthwhile? I haven’t made up my mind yet. But some investors may be wishing they had chosen other investments. Some 529 plans are being closed because the states are finding them too expensive to ... Continue reading this article…

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Increased 401(k) Contribution Rate

by Luke Landes

Today I increased my 401(k) contribution, a move which will bring me significantly closer to my goal for investing up to the limit allowed by the government in 2008 ($15,500). My 401(k) account is split into three portions: my before-tax contributions, my Roth contributions which are after tax, and my company’s employer matching contributions, which ... Continue reading this article…

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How Do Finance Professors Invest?

by Luke Landes

A researcher at Central Michigan University surveyed 600 finance professors at major universities to determine their investment philosophies, practices, and the differerences between the two. You would think that those involved in higher education, teaching about market analysis, options and futures, and discounted cash flow analysis, would use these techniques when handling their own investments. ... Continue reading this article…

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The Mole on Lump Sum vs. Dollar Cost Averaging

by Luke Landes

Recently, I asked whether I should fund my Roth IRA in one lump sum or dollar cost average throughout the year. It’s unlikely that I’ll qualify to fund a Roth IRA this year, so now this question is moot. Regardless, Money Magazine’s “The Mole,” an anonymous financial adviser insider, tackled this question (though with an ... Continue reading this article…

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My 2007 401(k) Performance and Blog Roundup

by Luke Landes

Yesterday, I received my final 2007 401(k) statement in the mail. According to their records, my account’s performance in the fourth quarter last year was down 3.50 percent while my performance for the entire year was up 7.09 percent. That’s a bit of a let-down from 2006, when my 401(k) performance was a strong positive 16.25 percent. It ... Continue reading this article…

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The Keynote Index Fund: Buying and Holding AAPL Beats Market Timing

by Luke Landes

What if you invested in Apple (AAPL) the day before each of Steve Jobs’ keynote addresses at Macworld and sold the day after? Matt Haughey researched historic stock prices and designed the Keynote Index Fund. A fund of this style would return an average of 2.2 percent immediate (not annual) growth over two days. According to ... Continue reading this article…

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Index Fund Investors Earn More From Investments

by Luke Landes

Trying to beat the market through trading based on impressions of short-term trends has the opposite effect. There’s a new study assembled by researchers from three university that shows that those who invest in index funds have better investment returns than those who invest in managed funds. In fact, those who invest in no-load index ... Continue reading this article…

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2008 Roth IRA: Lump Sum or Dollar Cost Average?

by Luke Landes

The last contribution to my 2007 Roth IRA was invested last Monday. Ever since my first Roth IRA several years ago, I’ve been maximizing the contribution each year by automatically investing equal amounts twice each month. One reason for using that technique, usually known as “dollar cost averaging” was to reduce risk. With the market ... Continue reading this article…

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Teaching Children Practical Money Lessons: Investing

by Luke Landes

Last week, I wrote about a family that has a hard time saying no to the children when it comes to fulfilling the kids’ material desires. There were a number of suggestions in the article and the discussion on Consumerism Commentary with thoughts about how such a family could impart healthier financial values. A recent ... Continue reading this article…

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ING Direct Lowered Commissions for ShareBuilder Accounts

by Luke Landes

Last month, ING Direct acquired ShareBuilder, a discount online brokerage. The two companies seem to make a good pair, so I think it was a good move for the company. ShareBuilder has now lowered the commission charged for real-time trades to $9.95. Automatic investments, orders which are grouped together with many customers and executed as ... Continue reading this article…

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Roth 401(k): It’s Official

by Luke Landes

As I mentioned recently, I am now eligible to participate in my company’s Roth 401(k). I spent some time yesterday to adjust my 25 percent pre-tax 401(k) contribution in order to take advantage of this offer. Even though the calculator I mentioned earlier told me I’d likely benefit the most from depositing my full contribution to ... Continue reading this article…

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2007: The End of TIAA-Cref for My Investments

by Luke Landes

At the end of the year, I will be ceasing my investment in TIAA-Cref funds for retirement. There are less expensive options at Vanguard, and TIAA-Cref’s customer service record has been spotty. I haven’t had any problems lately, but other people still face difficulties. My original post about my problems with TIAA-Cref from almost two ... Continue reading this article…

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