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Joseph Slife

Joseph Slife


Joseph Slife has been a news writer for the Associated Press, a college instructor, and a radio host.

From 1990 to 2003, he was a writer/researcher for Larry Burkett at Christian Financial Concepts and Crown Financial Ministries, and he served as the executive producer for CFC/Crown Radio from 2000-2005.

He first joined SMI's writing team in 2008, before going on to serve nearly six years as senior producer/co-host for WORLD Radio. He returned to Sound Mind Investing in 2017.

Joseph and his wife Joye have three grown sons.

Most Recent Articles

Setting My House in Order

My colleague Matt Bell, with whom I share an office, is a steady advocate for the cause of getting financially organized. I'm not exactly a slouch in that area — I adhere to a well-designed budget, I have automated many of our family's financial transactions, and with help from SMI Private Client, I've streamlined and simplified our retirement holdings.

But I've been delinquent in documenting all the things my wife would need to know about our finances (and several other matters) if I were to pass away or become incapacitated. In fact, I haven't done a full documentation since my three sons were little boys. They're now grown men!

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker and Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 7-31-18

Heads up! We've just updated SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and our monthly Fund Performance Rankings (FPR) to reflect mutual-fund performance data through July 31, 2018.

  • The Personal Portfolio Tracker is our most popular web tool. It allows you to personalize SMI's mutual-fund rankings to your specific situation. The result is a monthly report showing only the funds you're interested in, ranked by momentum and sorted according to various risk categories (or without the categories, if you prefer).

    This allows you to take the 20,000+ mutual funds we track and instantly transform those rankings into a concise report covering only the specific funds available via your 401k and/or other retirement plan(s).
  • The Fund Performance Rankings report is a PDF file containing performance data and SMI's momentum rankings for more than 1,600 no-load funds and ETFs. The funds included have been selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability.

    Check page 2 to learn more about how to use the FPR. On page 3, you'll find an overview of the 70+ risk categories that will help you compare "apples to apples." And on page 4, there are explanations of the various data-column headings.

Want to get an email when the Tracker and FPR updates go live each month? Visit the SMI home page and click on "My Account" under Quick Links. From there, go to the "Email Subscriptions" page and check the box next to "FPR/Tracker Update."

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Making Mortgages More “Affordable” for Millennials

The Level 1 article in the August SMI newsletter touches on the topic of making an entire mortgage down payment with money received as a gift. Making a down payment with gift money is an increasingly common practice, at least in certain parts of the country.

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Money Roundup: The Finish Line in the Race to Zero, Stock Market Hooligans, and More

It's Friday! And here's our heading-into-the-weekend collection of interesting reads on investing and personal finance. Enjoy!

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New Momentum Research

As you probably know, most of SMI's investing strategies take advantage of the observable market phenomenon known as momentum.

Momentum — or "performance persistence" — is just what it sounds like. It means an investment that has been performing well in the recent past tends to keep performing well into the near future.

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Money Roundup: “Scared Out of the Stock Market,” Suddenly Unliking Facebook, and More

As we head into the final weekend of July, here's our weekly collection of interesting reads on investing, personal finance, and stewardship.


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The Nuts and Bolts of a Roth IRA Conversion

Moving retirement money from a Traditional IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other tax-deferred account to a Roth IRA is a bit like refinancing a home mortgage: you get long-term benefits, but only if you’re willing to bear short-term costs.

The long-term upside includes tax-free income in retirement and more time for your investments to grow (Roths, unlike Traditional accounts, don’t have required distributions starting at age 70). The short-term downside? A sizeable tax bill from the IRS.

Fortunately, the tax bite isn’t as bad as it once was. The tax law that took effect in January re-worked the federal tax brackets and lowered rates, thus reducing the tax bill on Roth conversions. Last year a married couple filing jointly who together earned $95,000 were in the 25% federal tax bracket. Now they’re in the 22% bracket.

Here’s an example, in dollar terms, of the difference that makes. In 2017, converting $30,000 from a Traditional IRA to a Roth would have cost the couple $7,500 in taxes. This year, they’ll pay $6,600, or $900 less. (Depending on your state of residence, state taxes may apply.)

The lower income-tax rates aren’t permanent, however. The rates are scheduled to expire at the end of 2025, and they could be raised even sooner if Republicans — who enacted the current law — lose control of Congress and the White House in 2020. That means the next two or three years are an optimal time to make Roth conversions.

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Homebuying? What to Know About Conventional and FHA Mortgages

Buying a house is the largest financial commitment most of us make, and the process can be intimidating. It involves making a series of decisions — typically about unfamiliar matters — that will have a financial impact (for good or ill) for years to come.

Among other things, you must choose whether to apply for a loan insured through the private mortgage market or one insured through the U.S. government’s Federal Housing Administration. Or to put it in common parlance, whether to get a “conventional” mortgage or an FHA mortgage. (The government also backs lesser-used VA and USDA loans.)

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Money Roundup: The Big Upside of Working 1 More Year, Not Watching Your Garden Grow, and More

Here's our latest collection of interesting articles on investing, personal finance, and stewardship:

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Catching Up on Retirement Savings

Way back when, you may have learned this formula in a math or science class:  P=F/A — pressure equals force divided by area. 

Think of the difference between a garden-hose nozzle on the "shower" setting and a pressure washer used to clean your patio. One spreads the water over a wide area, the other is focused on a much smaller area.

I thought about the P=F/A formula when reading "Behind on Retirement Savings? It’s Not Too Late to Catch Up," an article (behind paywall) in the weekend Wall Street Journal:

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