Wealth and Wisdom: Week of March 25, 2024

You and I don’t know who will be sitting in the Oval Office a year from now, or which political party will control Congress. We don’t know what the people running the country will do – if anything – about runaway government spending, mounting debts, or income tax rates.

We don’t know what inflation will be twelve months from now, or interest rates, or whether the economy will be growing or shrinking. And honest people like us will admit that we have no idea whether the S&P 500’s move – after hitting another record high last week – will be up 10 percent, or down 10 percent.

What you and I do know is that 365 days from now we will all be one year closer to what we need to accomplish financially, and the deadlines we have set for achieving those goals will be another year closer. We will have one year less to save and invest for retirement, or pay for a child’s education, or see the world. And in the long run, all those things in the preceding two paragraphs – the things that are unknowable in the short run – won’t really matter that much at all when it comes to how the rest of your financial life plays out. The world isn’t going to stop and wait for you to figure everything out.

As your friend, let me offer you three concrete pieces of advice: If you don’t have concrete financial goals – set some. If you don’t have a plan for achieving those goals – make one. If you do have a plan – don’t change your approach based on what you fear what might or might not happen in the next 12 months.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t sit around waiting to find out.

So long, 6 percent

A recent legal settlement likely means buying and selling a home will soon be much less expensive. (Reading time: 7 minutes)

Americans looking much healthier financially

U.S. households have never been richer – due to rising stock prices and home values. Plus, household leverage hasn’t been this low since the 1960s. (Reading time: 3 minutes)

Where’s all this money coming from?

It’s not just stocks and real estate – Americans are sitting on lots of cash, too. (Reading time: 3 minutes)

Taxes might go up, too

Without action from Congress, income taxes on individuals and businesses will go up by about $400 billion a year – automatically – in 2026. (Reading time: 4 minutes)

Should couples file jointly or separately?

Married couples qualify for several tax breaks – but it’s not always the best strategy. (Reading time: 6 minutes)

I’m not making this up

Nearly a third of Americans now suffer from “money dysmorphia.” Turns out spending hours a day on social media makes some people feel poorer. (Reading time: 3 minutes)

‘5 Habits of 401(k) Millionaires’

Follow these simple steps over time and you might retire with $1 million or more in your retirement plan. (Reading time: 4 minutes)

When do people file for Social Security?

The most popular answer: as soon as they can get their hands on it – even if it means leaving a small fortune on the table. (Reading time: 4 minutes)

Paying up for Medicare

The higher your income in retirement, the more likely you’ll one day meet IRMAA. But in some cases it’s possible to avoid her. (Reading time: 3 minutes)

Retirement’s window of opportunity

There’s still time to take advantage of recent changes in retirement rules. Here are three key strategies you should know about. (Reading time: 4 minutes)

Words to the Wise

“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as we do when a baby gets hold of a hammer. It’s just a question of how much damage he can do with it before we take it away from him.”

– Will Rogers

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