Do You Know What Makes You Happy?

What gives you the most pleasure: stuff or experiences? Material items can last a long time. Experiences are often fleeting. Would you enjoy new furniture more than a vacation? Listen to the video to hear what studies say regarding this matter. After all, your financial life extends beyond saving and investing -- spending well can make a difference, too.

Musical Treat

Is money a prerequisite to love? This eternal question was contemplated in the song "If I Were a Carpenter." I'm partial to Bob Seger's version, but there are many great takes on this classic, including ones by Alison Kraus & Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson & Sheryl Crow, The Four Tops, and Bobby Darin. Which one do you like best?

How Much Investment Risk, Are You Comfortable With?

Do you really know the true level of investment risk that you are comfortable taking? Click the Risk Review link, answer a few quick questions, and you can instantly obtain a clearer sense of how much risk you can tolerate. You may be surprised what you find out.

We can also help you take it to the next level and compare your current portfolio to your risk score. Many people discover that they have more risk in their portfolios than they realized. People are often complacent with a relatively aggressive portfolio when the stock market is going up, forgetting about the discomfort they endure during a downturn. This exercise helps you focus on both risk and reward.

If you are interested in a slightly more detailed quiz than the one provided in the link, let me know and I'll send you a more comprehensive survey.

I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to pass this on to your friends and colleagues as well.

Should You Have Invested, All Your Money in India in 2014?

Peering out into the investment world on January 1, 2014, Ms. X decides to put the bulk of her portfolio in a mutual fund investing in India. Mr. Y, on the other hand, chooses to put a significant amount of his assets in Latin American stocks. As it turns out, the average stock fund investing in India gained 44.6% in 2014 while the average Latin American fund lost 12.9% (according to Morningstar).

Who made the better choice? The answer appears to be Ms. X, who achieved incredible returns by selecting India. I would argue that neither Ms. X nor Mr. Y acted in a particularly wise manner. They both made big bets with an outcome that was far from certain.

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College as an Investment

Does it pay to go to college? The non-monetary rewards of higher education can be significant and varied. But what if you focus on just the financial benefits? After all, higher education has become an expensive proposition.

The cost of college has increased almost five times the rate of inflation over the last 30 years. This has led to two-thirds of college graduates taking out student loans to pay for school. Even worse, many young people are saddled with debt without obtaining a diploma. Only 57% of students obtain a four-year degree within six years.

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Financial Advice in Italian

Providing someone financial advice in Italian is not particularly helpful when the recipient of the advice doesn't speak the language.  As explained in the video, a purely rational discussion about finances does not resonate with someone whose behavior is motivated, in whole or in part, by emotions.  We need to recognize that financial decisions often have an emotional as well as logical component.  It's necessary to find a common language in order to come to an understanding on financial matters.

Musical Treat

Listen to one of my favorites, Crowded House.  The song "Weather with You" references Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire.  You can also listen to "Italian Plastic" in the live or studio version.

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