But first . . . this chart perhaps says it all about FOX News:


If it’s not immediately clear why this graphic is not “fair and balanced,” click here.  And by the way?  With all the folks rushing to make yesterday’s deadline, and still in process this coming week, it’s not inconceivable we’ll actually hit the 7 million target.  Despite those awful first few weeks.  And despite a concerted effort from the other side to discourage people from buying coverage.

(Amazing, no?  I can see someone opposing a law that requires you to wear seat belts — hey, personal freedom!  Don’t tread on me!!!  But once it passes, actually spending time and energy to try to persuade people not to wear them?  Really?  Seriously?  To me that’s not much different from what the Republicans have been doing here.  What a horrible thing it would be if people who wanted health insurance bought it!  Or if we extended Medicaid in Republican-controlled states to cover more struggling families!  They can do that in Massachusetts — sure.  And in the rest of the developed world — sure.  But not in today’s Republican’s America.  No way!)

And speaking of health . . .


The answer is not guaranteed, but just going through these 13 questions every so often should boost your resolve to be health-smart.  Way better than someone’s nagging at you (though nag at you I will).  At the end of the exercise, Northwestern Mutual offers a raft of other free calculators, some designed to steer you toward the purchase of whole life insurance.

I could not resist taking the financial literacy quiz.  I answered all 14 questions correctly (well, please!) — and scored a B.

They docked me for missing two questions.  The first:

2: What is the best way to minimize losses in your investments when the stock market declines?

Your three really bad choices?

(a) Have a diversified portfolio.

(b) Don’t buy stocks in the first place.

(c) Be the first to sell at the slightest hint of a downturn in the market.

(A)  Is incorrect because — while diversification is always good — if the market declines 20% (say), your diversified portfolio is likely to decline about 20% as well.

(B) Was my choice, because if you want to avoid that 20% decline, this is a guaranteed way to do it.  It’s a bad investment strategy, of course, because over the long run (which can be very long), stocks will outperform all other asset classes.  But that wasn’t what they were asking.

(C) Is actually a good choice in a sense, because, as with (B), if you own no stocks you’ll experience no decline.  But it’s wildly impractical.  What are you supposed to do — sell everything any day the market drops a little?

The best answer would be (D):  “If your investment horizon is long-term, and your investments sensible, just hold on.”  The stock market will always go up and down, but over long periods — and especially in a taxable account — you are almost sure to be more successful paying no attention to market fluctuations than trying to “time” them.

But they didn’t offer that answer.

They said (A) was the right — though it’s clearly NOT a way to avoid a decline in the market.  (It would be a fine answer to this question:  “What is the best way for the average stock market investor to minimize risk?”)

The other question I got wrong was about whole life insurance:  You are supposed to check off which of six really great benefits it provides.  Northwestern Mutual (a good company, by the way) sells whole life insurance.  For 150 years, that’s been its bread and butter.  Not surprisingly, I checked off all six.  I wasn’t born yesterday.

I scored wrong on this because, yes, the first five should have been checked off, but the sixth — “You can change who the policy insures whenever you want” — is incorrect.  It should be “whom the policy insures.”

Bad grammar offends me, too, but it shouldn’t count in a financial literacy quiz.  And of course that wasn’t their real reason for saying I got it wrong.  I had assumed they meant you can change whose financial security the policy assures at any time — i.e., you can change beneficiaries.  What else could they possibly have meant?

Apparently, they were being more literal, to weed out those financial illiterates (of whom there are actually none on the entire planet) who believe you can buy a $1 million life insurance policy on yourself, aged 27, and then transfer it to cover your mother, aged 103, dying in the next room.   Really?  Seriously?

Anyway, I got a B.

I’d still make bold to suggest that you buy competitively priced renewable term life insurance — not whole life — and only to the extent you need life insurance at all.

And I’d ask you this:  For what you pay for the advice on this page, do you even deserve A-rated talent?



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