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Matt Bell

Matt Bell

Managing Editor

Matt joined SMI in 2012. He leads SMI’s content strategy — managing the company’s monthly editorial calendar, writing many of the articles, sourcing content from outside the company, and either writing or overseeing much of what appears on our web site. He also represents SMI in various radio guest appearances.

Prior to joining SMI, Matt was an independent biblical money management writer and speaker. He is the author of four personal finance books that were published by NavPress, including Money and Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples and The Grad’s Guide to Money (written for high school seniors and college freshmen). He does some outside speaking as well at churches, universities, conferences, and retreats throughout the country. Matt has been involved in stewardship ministry since 1990 when he began serving in the Good $ense ministry at Willowcreek Community Church.

Matt earned an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Northern Illinois University and a graduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from DePaul University, where he wrote a thesis about the history and influence of our consumer culture.

Matt and his wife, Jude, have three children at home. 

Most Recent Articles

SMI on the Radio - The Wisdom and Foolishness of Saving Money

SMI Executive Editor Mark Biller is on the radio this weekend with Rob West and Steve Moore of Compass — Finances God’s Way. Their conversation takes a closer look at saving money — how much is too little and how much is too much? The Bible uses a strong word to describe both ends of the spectrum — "foolish." Mark, Rob, and Steve discuss how to best walk that line between saving too little and too much.

Also on the program, they address the following listener questions:

  • I filed for bankruptcy during the recession. I am 57 and trying to figure out the best avenue for retirement. Should I buy another home?
  • I'm 59, retired from the military but working another government job, and I own some rental properties. How can I figure out whether I'm ready to retire for good?
  • How much money should you have between your pension and other savings in order to be ready for retirement?

To listen to the entire 25-minute program, click the link below.

To learn more about this topic, read the article The Wisdom and Foolishness of Saving Money.

To participate in a future program, call in a question at 1-800-525-7000 and mention that it’s for Sound Mind Investing.

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Money Roundup: Enjoy the Quiet While it Lasts, Calling a Market Top, and More

This week’s picks for the best investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

Enjoy Wall Street’s quiet time while it lasts (CBS Money Watch). It's dangerously easy to be lulled into complacency at a time like this.

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Common Questions About Donor-Advised Funds

The July issue of the Sound Mind Investing newsletter includes an article about the one of the fast-growing charitable-giving vehicles: Donor-advised funds (DAF). There are many benefits to DAFs, such as the ability to take an immediate tax deduction for a donation while distributing portions of the donation over many years, the ability to invest the money placed in a DAF so that it could be a source of ongoing contributions to favorite ministries or other charities, and more.

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Money Roundup: The Difficulty of Discipline, ‘Worrying is a Serious Offense,’ and More

This week’s picks for the best investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

Investors fight strange winds (Bloomberg Gadfly). Discipline is an essential investor trait, and very difficult to master.

How to create an investment policy statement (Morningstar). Have you committed your investing plan to paper?

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Giving Generously While In Debt

When Karen and Scott got married, Karen had nearly $50,000 of non-mortgage debt. Scott, who was a Chicago firefighter at the time, jokingly referred to it as “a reverse dowry.”

Several years before meeting Scott, Karen had been through the breakup of a relationship she thought was headed toward marriage. “I decided that if I’m not getting married, at least I’m going to have a nice apartment. I can remember standing at the counter of a furniture store unrepentently handing over my credit card. I thought, I deserve this couch; I’m going to get it. It didn’t bother me one bit that I didn’t have the money for it.”

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Donor-Advised Funds: A Great Tool For Tax-Efficient Giving

When crafting a plan to achieve your charitable-giving objectives, your accountant or attorney will likely consider several factors, such as flexibility, simplicity, and the ability to handle contributions of non-cash assets. Starting a private foundation is one way to approach these more complex giving issues, but today’s givers should also consider another more convenient option: a donor-advised fund (DAF).

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An Inconvenient Truth and Other Points To Ponder

An inconvenient truth

  • “Momentum is a big embarrassment for market efficiency.” — Eugene Fama, professor of finance at the University of Chicago and Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, in a speech at the CFA Society Chicago conference on June 13. Fama’s Nobel Prize was awarded for his work advancing the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), which states that it is impossible to beat the market because share prices always reflect all available information. Previously, he has called momentum, which is the engine behind SMI’s three most popular strategies (and which shouldn’t be as effective as it is if markets truly were efficient), “the premier market anomaly.” Read more

Pennsylvania Avenue is far from Wall Street

  • “The stock market is best understood not as a presidential poll but as a barometer of the nation’s current economic mood, and it remains buoyant now for reasons unconnected to the White House.” — Ruchir Sharma, chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, writing in the NY Times on 5/30/17 on why a widely anticipated “Trump slump” hasn’t materialized. Read more

Trouble ahead?

  • “Every boom in the U.S. economy is different, but over the past several decades, each has ended the same way. First you get full employment. Then you get a spike in the price of oil. And then there’s a recession.” —Bloomberg View columnist Conor Sen, writing on 6/14/17. He noted that the U.S. hit full employment nearly two years ago, and when that has happened in the past, it never took more than a few years for the price of oil to double. Read more
  • “As history demonstrates, conformity to the irrational can and often does persist beyond conceivable limits, yet incoherence of behavior is not sustainable indefinitely.” — Michael Lebowitz, founding partner of investment consultancy 720 Global, writing in Advisor Perspectives on 6/19/17. He argues the long bull market has numbed investors to the reality that it can’t last forever. Read more
  • “Tech ‘wreck?’ That’s a bit of a stretch in my opinion; but the financial media loves a good headline.” – Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, writing on 6/19/17. She thinks mid-June declines for so-called FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) will prove to be more of a pause than the start of a steeper sell-off in the tech sector. Read more

Caution comes with its own risks

  • “If you want to protect on the downside, you have to be willing to be wrong, early and often. There is no other way. You have to accept that the rain may never come.” — Charlie Bilello, director of research at Pension Partners, an investment advisor, writing on his company’s blog on 6/14/17 about the tradeoff that caution requires. Read more

The big picture

  • “Diversification is not about owning more stocks. That’s not a particularly useful kind of diversification if they all end up rising or falling together. Diversification is about owning assets or running strategies that are uncorrelated or minimally correlated to each other.” — Charles Sizemore, chief investment officer at Sizemore Capital Management, on the one piece of wisdom he would impart to all investors. Read other people’s answers on Abnormal Returns
  • “Though there has never been a better time to be an investor, it does not mean that there has never been an easier time to be an investor.” — Phil Huber, chief investment officer, Huber Financial Advisors, writing on his bps and pieces blog on 6/6/17. He said cost reductions, new investment products, and other advancements have given investors more advantages than ever, but investors continue to be their own worst enemies. Read more
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Traditional vs. Roth: How Fuzzy Math Works In Your Favor

We often use this space to document the many cognitive biases that pull people off track with their investments. However, there’s one such bias—or perhaps it’s just blissful ignorance—that seems to be working in some investors’ favor. As The Wall Street Journal reported recently, people who choose the Roth version of their employer’s 401(k) plan tend to get even more for their money than they may realize.

A rational world

As you may know, a key difference between a traditional 401(k) and a Roth is when taxes are due. With a traditional account, investors get a tax deduction for their contributions but then owe tax when they withdraw from the account in retirement. With a Roth, there are no deductions for contributions, but then there are no taxes due when the money is withdrawn down the road.

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Money Roundup: No Sign of a ‘Trump Slump,’ The End of Everything, and More

This week’s picks for the best investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

Why there is no ‘Trump Slump’ on Wall Street (NY Times). “The stock market is best understood not as a presidential poll but as a barometer of the nation’s current economic mood.”

This one important and emotional issue hurts Americans’ ability to invest (MarketWatch). When helping hurts.

3 reasons why this couple is ignoring their 401(k) accounts in early retirement (MarketWatch). How one couple is deciding which accounts to tap when.

She retires. He doesn’t. Why retiring together makes sense (usually) (Wall Street Journal). As with most things, it helps to talk about it and plan ahead.

Planning your estate when you’ve got no children or heirs (CNBC). Your church or a ministry you’re involved in may be natural choices for beneficiaries, but who to name as power-of-attorney can be more challenging.

And from the blogosphere…

The end is everything (Of Dollars and Data). Your investment returns right before and after you retire matter greatly.

Getting older? Admit it when you rebalance your portfolio (Monevator). Is it time for you to start dialing down the risk profile of your portfolio?

Can you afford to reach 100? (Mauldin Economics). What if you live much longer than you’re planning to?

The timing decision: When to leave an inheritance (Ron Blue Institute). Two principles to consider: The “Kingdom principle,” and the “givin’ while livin’ principle.”

How do you know if you need an annuity? (Oblivious Investor). Some people love annuities, other people hate them. Here’s how to make a good, unemotional decision.

We’d love to hear your responses to any of the above. To weigh in, just meet us in the comments section.

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Money, Divorce, and Building a Stronger Marriage

We spend a lot of time in this space talking about risk—identifying various threats to our finances and suggesting ways to minimize them. There’s market risk, inflation risk, longevity risk, sequence of returns risk, and more.

A recent study highlighted another risk that we don’t spend much time talking about—the risk of divorce.

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