Wednesday Reading List

ICYMI: Best Books I Read in 2023 – My favorite reads in 2023 and recommendations from prior years. Fiction, investing/business, sports, and general non-fiction all represented.

Sharing the Best of 2023 by Heritage Financial

This week on the blog, the Heritage team recapped our most popular content (blogs, podcast, and webinars) from 2023, including retirement mistakes, credit cards, China, Jim Simons, and more.

Strings Attached by Humble Dollar

529’s are the best college savings vehicles, but they have one challenge: since they can only be used for education and education related expenses, parents fear overfunding them. This article summarizes a new rule where you can take excess 529 dollars and contribute it to a Roth IRA for the beneficiary. The amounts are capped ($35,000), it’s spread out over five years, the beneficiary had to earn the income in those years, and it limits what else they can contribute to an IRA in those years for themselves.

It then pivots to explain that 529’s offer lots of flexibility to redirect leftover dollars to other family members in the event the Roth IRA doesn’t work for you and that the 10% penalty on withdrawals not used for education isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Cash Has Been King. Why You Should Be Moving Out of It. by Barron’s

With short-term yields over 5%, investors have flocked into cash and cash-equivalents. Great move? Well, stocks and bonds both outperformed them last year, and if the Fed cuts rates as expected in 2024 the yields on those short-term instruments will decline and you might miss a rally in stock and bond prices from easing monetary conditions.

The Misunderstood Housing Market, a Rate Paradox, and a Magic Number by DoubleLine

The author of this piece called the late 2023 interest rate decline on this Wealthy Behavior podcast episode. He now thinks lower rates could motivate sellers who have been stubbornly holding on but wanting to sell and are locked into 3%-4% mortgages. Rates in the 5% zone could drive a lot of listings and soften the real estate market.

Top 6 Portfolio Moves for 2024 by Morningstar

Besides checking to see if you should rebalance, consider adding money to bonds now that yields are higher, improve the yield on cash but don’t overdo how much you have in cash, and consider some small-cap stock exposure.

Buy or Rent? by HomeEconomics

A very detailed analysis showing buying is better financially by the end of year four, that buying beats renting if home prices increase by 3.15% per year, but things like out of control insurance costs in certain regions could skew the analysis towards renting over the long-term.

Stop Worrying So Much About Getting Eight Hours of Sleep a Night by The Wall St. Journal

Yes, it’s still important if you can do it. But a recent study looking at sleep and longevity found that going to bed and waking up at consistent times mattered more than how long you slept. Even six hours, if consistent, was associated with a lower risk of early death than a bad eight hours.

If ‘dry’ January sounds daunting, try ‘damp’ January instead by The Washington Post

Cutting out drinking for the month of January has become a popular tactic for people to start the year with a health focus, but you don’t have to go cold turkey to get the benefits of drinking less. Some other ideas like only special occasion drinking, more dry days, capping the number when you drink, and some combination of these also provides benefits.