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Don’t let financial pundits shame you

Here are three of the week’s top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

Don’t let financial pundits shame you
The message around obtaining financial stability is traditionally “built on shame, often packaged as tough love,” said Emma Pattee and Stefanie O’Connell at CNBC. “From the oversimplified math of David Bach’s The Latte Factor to Dave Ramsey’s condemnation of nearly all debt,” people who ask for financial advice are often shamed for it. Don’t fall for that. When a young doctor with $240,000 in medical-school debt went on the Suze Orman Show in 2012, “Orman started off by telling her that she shouldn’t have gone to medical school” and questioned “if she should buy her children Christmas presents.” This kind of shaming “ignores the reality of a shifting financial landscape” and typically backfires. Fortunately, that young doctor ignored Orman’s advice to declare bankruptcy, and eight years later has a thriving medical practice.

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A manager’s very honest goodbye
A $10 billion fund manager has decided to call it quits because “our return sucks,” said Mark DeCambre at MarketWatch. Ted Aronson is planning to close his firm, AJO Partners, after 36 years, saying that his company’s strategy has been “at odds with the forces driving the market” over the past five years. AJO’s largest fund was down 15.5 percent through September. Aronson said his firm’s steadfast pursuit of stocks that “were undervalued by some metric” has been “at the heart of our challenge,” leading AJO to miss high-flying growth stocks in “e-commerce, software, and other tech-related ventures.” Aronson said the firm’s funds had fallen so far behind that “it makes it look like we’ve been buying our selling list and selling our buy list.”

Watch out for Medicare premiums
Even a little “extra income in retirement can mean much higher Medicare premiums,” said Neal Templin at The Wall Street Journal. The Medicare math is tricky. “If you’re a single person with modified adjusted gross income up to $87,000, or a married couple with income up to $174,000, you will pay the basic premium this year of $144.60 monthly.” But if you’re a single person earning more than $163,000, or a couple filing jointly earning above $326,000, the premium soars to $462.70 a month. One way to cushion the blow: If you’re over 70½, a qualified charitable deduction from a tax-deferred account can reduce your required minimal distribution to keep you in a lower-income Medicare bracket.

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This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.