Avoid Investments That Do Not Trade

When contemplating a potential investment, how can you know if it is fairly priced? Such a determination is critically important since even the best company will prove a poor investment if its stock is purchased too dear. Paying a fair price for an investment vehicle is just as important as not overpaying for a house, […]

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Don’t Choose Between Investments, Buy Them All

If the expected return from two similar stocks is the same, how should an investor decide in which one to invest? The best answer is she shouldn’t. In most cases, the wiser choice is to buy some of each. The two investments will offer the same theoretical expected return but with lower overall risk. This […]

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Comparing the Expected Return on Stocks

It seems safe to assume that almost no two individual stocks will bring the exact same return to an investor over the next decade. Those differences in return, however, will be explained by unpredictable and unexpected events that will occur in the future. Based only on what is known right now, the stocks of two […]

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How an Offer You Hope to Refuse Can Increase Your Power

Strengthening your best alternative is the surest way to increase your negotiating power. This concept may seem counterintuitive; after all, our best alternative to the current deal is the offer we anticipate turning down. We hope, instead, to fashion the deal currently being discussed into one that best meets our needs and interests. Why work […]

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Alternatives Power the Best Negotiators

Before studying negotiation, I thought of “alternatives” and “options” as synonymous. To students of the process, though, these two words mean very different things. Options are all the ways a deal can be structured. Should you pay up front or over time, include the plantings or take them along, repair the fence or lower the […]

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The Best Use of Your Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits form an important part of your overall retirement planning. Even the most skilled financial planners, though, have different understandings of how best to utilize this important resource. Some ways of thinking about, and deploying, social security benefits may be wiser than others. For many people, the “highest and best use” of social […]

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Please Don’t Take Your Social Security Benefits Early

A conventional wisdom has developed, among those who study the matter, that waiting to claim benefits is the better course for those deciding when to start receiving social security. There has been some pushback, though, and lately a spate of articles has urged people to consider claiming early. For example, this one suggests that “smart […]

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Economic Science, Sales-Based Nonsense, and the Vast Gulf Between Them

Economists know a great deal, yet, for some reason, most Americans invest as if that knowledge did not exist. The financial world is full of scientifically established truths that fly in the face of much that Wall Street sells. The situation calls for both careful study and great caution. Investing at this historical moment may […]

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Shouldn’t Education be Tax Deductible?

The first day of school is an exciting time. Everyone remembers the mixture of promise and trepidation while waiting to find out what the new school year will bring. What is my teacher like? (What are my students like?) What will we be doing? Who are my new classmates? What wondrous (or boring) new things […]

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Patience Is a Valuable Negotiating Asset

Among the most powerful items in a negotiator’s toolbox is the ability to wait. Of course, the habit and mental discipline of patience is probably an advantage in most areas of life. It tends to be overlooked in negotiation, though, and so is worthy of some further consideration. For many years, I worked with a […]

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