Happy National Heart Month!
Before I get into this week's Q&A, it's a good time to make sure you're taking great care of your ticker. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of adult men and women (last year aside, when deaths attributed to COVID-19 took the lead). But most of us don't think often enough about taking care of our hearts.
So today, I want to share some of my favorite ways to keep your heart in shape – and debunk common misconceptions about heart health...
What do you do to keep your heart going strong? Send your top tips to [email protected].
Q: [Does last week's issue, Why I Write About Bitcoin], mean you're still not recommending cryptos? – G.N.
A: The short answer is: I'm not going to tell my subscribers to buy bitcoin.
I know how popular it is. I know it's making a lot of people a lot of money right now. I've even heard from folks who swore they would never buy it... and now they own several cryptocurrencies.
When I first started writing my newsletters 12 years ago, I wrote for my parents. I only recommended investments that were as safe as you could get. Today, I'm still largely a conservative investor. Lots of readers are retirees who can't afford to gamble with their money.
Of course, each investor is different. There is no one-size-fits-all guideline. Some folks want to make speculations. They want to swing for the fences to complement the rest of their portfolios.
I've said it many times before: I'm not a bitcoin expert. And I don't plan to become one anytime soon.
But so many folks e-mail asking to start recommending cryptos. My job is to empower you to make the best decisions. And that includes getting the absolute best research available.
That's why, if you're interested in learning more about investing in cryptos, you don't want to hear my thoughts. Instead, I strongly recommended Stansberry Research's in-house crypto expert, my colleague Eric Wade.
Eric just released a video where he explains his crypto strategy, how to know which cryptocurrencies to invest in, and why the crypto boom isn't over yet.
Q: In an earlier issue, you mentioned the somewhat toxic properties of cash register receipts. Does the "carbon copy" duplicate paper in my checkbook have the same problem? Asking this because I got a headache after handling a year's worth of checkbook entries while doing my taxes. But maybe it was simply the act of doing my taxes that gave me the headache. – L.T.
A: Here's a quick refresher for the folks who aren't familiar with the dangers...
Bisphenol A or "BPA" is found in certain plastics, receipts, newspapers, and – yes – the duplicate paper in your checkbook.
Scientists have linked BPA to prostate and breast cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. Even low doses of BPA can wreak havoc on your hormones.
Another common type of chemical are phthalates, which are added to plastic and vinyl to make them more flexible. Because of their structure, they easily leach out of the plastic into whatever the plastic contains, including our food.
Years of research on phthalates have linked them to obesity, cancer, and even male infertility.
A 2013 study also linked prolonged BPA exposure to severe headaches and migraines. This same study found decreased exposure significantly reduced the occurrence of both headaches and migraines.
I don't know why you use duplicate checks, but there are lots of alternatives out there depending on your situation.
But, hey, it could be your taxes too. Doing taxes gives most of us a headache!
Q: As everyone knows, cash in money-market funds or savings earns nothing.
Bond fund yields are in the 2% range, so after paying taxes on the earnings and inflation, you're going backwards in many cases. What are some ideas for holding your ballast funds other than cash these days?
How about CEFs in muni bonds, high-yield bond funds, or a gold fund?
Just looking for some ideas or thoughts. Thanks much. – J.R.
A: It's true that your emergency fund won't make much in the accounts we mentioned. But that's not the point of setting aside savings...
Your emergency cash fund is there to provide a safety cushion in the event of unforeseen emergencies, especially the loss of your source of income. An emergency fund needs to be liquid, since you won't know when you'll need it. And you don't want to pay taxes or fees to get to it.
Let's look at municipal bonds as an example... One of the problems with keeping your emergency fund in munis is that you could pay some tax, depending on the muni fund and where you live. Many municipal bond funds are exempt from federal taxes, but not always. And you might have to pay state and local taxes, and maybe even capital gains tax.
And, after all that, you might have to wait a few days to get your money.
If you're looking for a place to push cash (after you've put your emergency fund aside), and you're looking for something safer than individual stocks, then munis, high-yield bond funds, and a good gold fund are good places to start. In fact, I've recommended several funds over the years in two of my monthly advisories – Retirement Millionaire and Income Intelligence.
Your emergency fund and your portfolio are essential pieces of wealth planning... but keep them separate.
What We're Reading...
- Did you miss it? The No. 1 way to beat the afternoon drag.
- Something different: What really killed the dinosaurs?
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
February 19, 2021