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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 website. 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

Money Roundup: Sounding the Yield-Curve Alarm, Reasons for Optimism, and More

Some of the better investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

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An Update on “Multiply”

After introducing Multiply, SMI’s new video-based small-group/workshop resource about taking a biblical approach to investing earlier this year, it’s been exciting to see more and more churches and individuals making use of it.

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Money Roundup: Spotting the Signs of a Recession, The Danger of Average Returns, and More

Some of the better investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

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Innovations in the Annuities Market

In this month’s newsletter cover article about annuities, we mentioned several companies where you can purchase annuities without going through a commissioned salesperson.

But there are some new players in this space—companies that are trying to disrupt the annuities market, mostly by further simplifying the purchase experience. Here are some such companies that I ran across while researching the cover article.

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Making Sense of the Annuity Puzzle

“Defined-benefit” pension plans were once common. You could work for a company for 30 years and retire with 60% of your salary — perhaps with inflation increases and healthcare benefits to boot. Today, most employers have shifted to “defined-contribution” plans, such as a 401(k). You contribute over the course of your career, and then try to manage your nest egg well enough later in life to cover expenses.
 
In light of this change, annuities have a strong appeal. Buying an annuity is, in essence, buying a steady pension. Here’s how to determine if one is right for you.

Guaranteed income. Those words sound so appealing, so reassuring. With a promise like that, is it any wonder that annuities hold a lot of appeal for retirees and those getting close to retirement age?

But there is more to consider, such as illiquidity, high fees, and complexity. With issues like these, is it any wonder that annuities make many potential buyers skeptical?

Somewhere in between the compelling promise and the cautionary tales lies the truth about annuities.

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How to Give Your Kids an Allowance

The subject of children’s allowances can get surprisingly contentious. Some parents have very strong opinions about the topic. With this article, we’ll seek to provide helpful, actionable ideas, while doing our best to avoid stirring the pot!

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August Sightings

Value Stocks Haven’t Traded This Low Since the Dot-Com Bubble

A total-return measure of value versus growth across developed markets just slumped to its lowest since 2000. That marks almost two decades since shares dubbed inexpensive traded at such depressed levels versus those with the best earnings growth....

When value stocks plunged to similar levels versus growth at the height of the dot-com bubble in 2000, they went on to surge more than 50% against their opposing cohort in the next 12 months, MSCI indexes show....

Structurally, there’s a growing suspicion the value factor may be broken. Technology is evolving so rapidly that it’s turned traditional sectors like financials and industrials into permanent laggards, the argument goes.... In a Bank of America survey from July, just 2% of fund managers who oversee a total of $489 billion expected value to outperform growth in the next 12 months, the least since 2010....

[But] value is backed by one of the longest histories and some of the most academically rigorous research among factors.... [F]rom 1926 through 2018, various metrics of value beat growth by at least 1 percentage point in annualized returns, O’Shaughnessy Asset Management research shows.

– From a 7/24/19 market-analysis piece published by Bloomberg. Read more

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Beware the Short Memory, and Other Points to Ponder

Crazy times

“We are in such bizarre times, all bets are off. It is certainly not the time for ‘buy and hold’ unless your goal is to lose everything. If not, then you need an active, flexible, defensive investment strategy now more than ever.”

– John Mauldin, chairman of Mauldin Economics, writing on 7/19/19. He believes the Fed’s increased intervention in the markets has made this an especially challenging time to be an investor. Read more

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Money Roundup: The Good That Bad Forecasts Can Do, Lessons From the Best Years in the Market, and More

Some of the better investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

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Contemplating the Death of the Stretch IRA

Over the past several weeks, we’ve used the Friday Roundup to highlight some important proposed legislative changes that, if approved, will have a significant impact on many people’s retirement plans. Most significantly, the so-called “stretch IRA” will be all but eliminated.

For the past 20 years, IRA owners have been able to name young beneficiaries, such as children or grandchildren, knowing that such heirs would be able to take distributions over their life expectancy. Depending on the size of the account, the tax-deferred compounding that could ensue might largely take care of the beneficiary’s future retirement needs.

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