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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

Money Roundup: Unpleasant Planning, The Market Trumps the Prez, and More

Our latest picks for the best investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

How to plan for the unforeseen (NY Times). A little planning ahead can be a big help to you — and your loved ones.

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The Art of Money Management Takes the Science Prize

In recognition of just how very unscientific personal money management is, University of Chicago Economist Richard Thaler has been named this year’s Nobel laureate in economics.

Thaler is considered one of the founders of behavioral economics. Whereas the traditional definition of economics assumes people make rational financial decisions that are in their best interests, behavioral economics recognizes the many emotional factors that influence people’s financial choices, often to their detriment.

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Money Roundup: Anticipating a Market Plunge, Retiring With a $0 Tax Bill, and More

Our latest picks for the best investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

Investors expect a stock market plunge—and they are ready to buy (Bloomberg). Of course, we don’t advocate market timing. For a less stressful way to plan ahead, follow the Bloomberg article with this one from Austin.

Coping with sequence risk (Advisor Perspectives). There are numerous options for dealing with sequence of returns risk. This one throws an annuity into the mix.

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How to Manage Your Medical Records (And Why It’s So Important)

It doesn’t take very many years of life to amass a medical history. There are immunizations, allergies, medications, and dates of medical procedures. Think of this information as your medical profile.

Having ready access to your medical profile can be convenient when you’re applying for insurance or when you’re asked (yet again!) to fill out forms in a medical provider’s office. More importantly, having ready access to this information can be a life saver should you experience a medical emergency.

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Investing At Times of Crisis and Other Points To Ponder

Reasons for caution

  • “If it’s true, as I believe, that (a) the easy money in this cycle has been made, (b) the world is a risky place, and (c) securities are priced high, then people should probably be taking less risk today than they did three, five or seven years ago. – Howard Marks, co-chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, in a 9/7/17 memo titled, “Yet Again?” Read more
     
  • “The complete market cycle is enormously forgiving of investors who become defensive ‘too early’ in a strenuously overvalued market. This is a lesson that investors still have an opportunity to act upon, by reducing portfolio sensitivity to general market fluctuations.” – John Hussman, founder of the Hussman Funds. Read more

Carry on

  • “So, am I predicting 12% returns for the next 40 years? No, of course not. But I am suggesting 12% annual returns don’t require a perfect Golden Age. They can, and have, blossomed in the midst of turmoil, war, grief and economic collapse.” – J.L. Collins, author of The Simple Path to Wealth, on his look back at 40 years of economic ups and downs—a period that generated double-digit average annual returns. Read more
     
  • “Mass opinions may well change, but for now, in the critical psychological dimension, the stock market does not closely resemble the market in the dangerous years of 1929 or 2000.” – Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller, writing in The New York Times, that current investor sentiment shows no signs of an impending market crash. Read more

‘Often the best time to buy’

  • “Since [1980], the S&P 500 has experienced 737 new highs. Of those 737 new highs, only three were major tops. So the data emphatically suggests that new highs are often the best time to buy, not to sell. But even if you do buy stocks at a major market top, it doesn’t have to end in agony if you’ve got a long time horizon and a balanced portfolio that doesn’t leave you with more risk than you can stomach.” – Michael Batnick, writing at The Irrelevant Investor. Read more

Investing at times of crisis

  • “I know it can seem unbecoming for any of us to worry about our net worth at a time of global crisis. But think about it this way: If military conflict with North Korea does erupt, we help no one by compounding the crisis by doing something stupid in our portfolios.” – MarketWatch columnist Mark Hulbert. At times of geopolitical crisis, he said history suggests that doing nothing is “almost always the best investment strategy.” Read more

The data hack of all data hacks

  • “It hasn’t helped that Equifax has handled the situation incredibly poorly. High-level executives sold off almost $2 million of the company’s stocks after finding out about the breach in late July, weeks before they went public about the hacks, which prompted the company’s stock to fall 18 percent as of this week.” – Vox writer Karen Turner, writing about the Equifax data theft in which more than 140 million people may have had their personal information stolen. Equifax says the executives “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred.” Read more

Regrets: Retirees have a few

  • Two of the nearly 600 comments Vanguard received when it asked retired readers what they would have done differently, financially speaking:

    “My do-over would be to delay Social Security until age 70. That would have resulted in several benefits: a larger Social Security payment, lower RMDs at 70½, and a larger Social Security payment upon my death for my spouse.”

    “I spent too much time thinking about the money part of it. When I finally got there, I was taken aback by not knowing what else I would do. I needed more non-financial planning.” Read more
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IRA Regrets: Is a Roth Always Right?

When Vanguard recently asked readers of its blog about their retirement planning regrets, the company received an overwhelming response. At last count, there were 569 responses.

One common regret came from people who had used a traditional IRA or 401(k) instead of a Roth. In retirement, such folks are feeling the pain of having to pay ordinary income tax on their withdrawals.

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Money Roundup: Gauging Your Real Risk Tolerance, ‘Disruptive Generosity,’ and More

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

Your tolerance for investment risk is probably not what you think (Wall Street Journal). Don’t wait until the next bear market to find out for sure.

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The Other Side of 'Longevity Risk'

When financial planners talk about "longevity risk," it isn’t that they don't wish you a long life. They're simply concerned that you may live a long life without the ability to pay for that long life. But there’s a related risk that doesn’t get enough attention. It's the risk of living a long life in poor health.

A recent book, Life Reimagined, provides a comprehensive survey of the latest research on how to best navigate the path from midlife onward. Author Barbara Bradley Hagerty found much to be hopeful about, and much that we can do to live a long, healthy, fulfilling life.

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Money Roundup: Time to Check Your Risk Tolerance, When Losing Big is No Loss at All, and More

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

The market is high. Beware of portfolio drift. (NY Times). It’s a good time to honestly assess your risk tolerance.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, here’s what you need to know about flood insurance (Washington Post). What’s your risk?

Transferring IRA money to a health savings account (Kiplinger). It can be done, but you need to understand the rules and the drawbacks.

Read this before getting a reverse mortgage (MarketWatch). Some key rules have changed recently.

The language of long-term care (Morningstar). When shopping for a policy, as when visiting a foreign country, it helps to speak the language.

And from the blogosphere…

An amazing lesson from Buffett on his cake day (The Reformed Broker). How to lose $6.2 billion and not lose a thing. If you read nothing else in this week’s roundup, read this.

Stocks are fundamentally sound (Dr. Ed’s Blog). The case for optimism.

Bull and bear market volatility look very different (Bloomberg View). Is this the calm before the storm?

What do the best investors do that the rest don’t? (Behavioral Value Investor). Successful investing is largely an inside job.

‘It’s not you. It’s me.’ (Above the Market). A detailed look at confirmation bias.

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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Moving Your Career Forward Through Mentoring

The biblical admonition to do your work “with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23) stands in stark contrast to many people’s daily experience.

According to the latest in a long-running series of Gallup studies, only one-third of U.S. workers are “engaged” — that is, involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. That number has “barely budged” over the past 15 years. More than half (51%) of today’s workers are not engaged (“indifferent”) and another 16% are actively disengaged (“miserable in the workplace”). No wonder more than half of all workers are actively looking for another job or watching for openings.

Labor Day is an appropriate time to take stock of your career. If you’re feeling less than engaged, mentoring — whether being mentored or serving as a mentor — might just breathe some new life into your work.

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