Talking Real Money

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30-year financial talk radio veteran, Don McDonald and former host of Serious Money on PBS, Tom Cock, reunite on a weekly call-in program talking about real money issues. Each week they solve real money problems, dole out real investing (not speculating) advice, and really explain the financial issu…

Don McDonald, Tom Cock

    • Sep 30, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 28m AVG DURATION
    • 1,050 EPISODES

    4.6 from 265 ratings Listeners of Talking Real Money that love the show mention: real money, paul merriman, low cost, index funds, investment advice, listening to tom, scams, financial advice, honest advice, daily podcasts, portfolio, best financial, keep rocking, financial podcast, personal finance, investments, investing, sensible, investors, retirement.

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    Latest episodes from Talking Real Money

    Back Answering Your Questions

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2022 23:32

    Don is taking your questions again to wrap up the week: Which comes first, your HSA or 401k? When is interest taxed in "at maturity" CDs? The best way to create a balanced investment at Fidelity? What do we make of an obscure, institutional only fund for retirement plan? What should parents do with $150,000 sitting in the bank? Before considering an annuity, with whom should she talk? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

    Sinking Home Values

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2022 36:50

    Real estate prices can fall. That truth is becoming obvious as we learn that the Seattle area is falling fastest. Plus, we talk about all of the misleading advice from idustries with commissioned salespeople. Do you have to withdraw from a Roth 401k. Tom asks Don about the latest Florida Hurricane. We share JPMorganChase CEO's Jamie Dimon's thoughts about cryptocurrency. We follow that with the story of Michael Saylor's multi-billion dollar BitCoin bet. We also hear from listeners: What are the tax consequences of realizing capital gains in an IRA product? Thanking us for what we do. Can you choose with type of 401k account from which you take withdrawals at age 72? Looking for more information about Series I bonds. Does it make sense to get a HELOC to buy stocks? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

    How to Bear Another Bear

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 26, 2022 37:27

    For the second time in a row, investors have faced a second 20%+ decline in 2022. What happened and what does it mean to you? With stocks down and bonds down, at least that bear market protecting, inflation hedging asset class, gold, must have bailed you out? Right? Think again. So, how are those complaex hedging type mutual funds done? Find out. Plus, we talk about both hurrican and market panic. Then, we take your calls: What happened to your podcasts in mid-September? How to buy treasury securities on their initial offering? How does the "wash sale rule" work and how to define a "substantially identical" security. Is AVUV worth the higher fees compared with a pure small cap value index? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

    Old & Poor in America

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2022 26:40

    Don is slowly mending as the podcast maintains a shortened schedule of three to four episodes a week. There will be no videos for the nest few weeks. Today, is the American retirement system broken and what can you do to avoid poverty in your final years? PlUs, a reformed stockbroker wonders about using actively managed funds to create an income portfolio? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

    Time to Retire?

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2022 36:31

    Don and Tom consider the question that plagues many during times after markets have lost money: Is it a bad idea to retire from work in a bear market? Should you go after a "guaranteed" 9% return? Then, on to your questions: What do we think of an "advisors" advice to use American Funds in lieu of Vanguard funds? How much can a working teenager contribute to a Roth? How can money be given to grandkids and yet protected being used too early? Is her bank advisor actually a fiduciary and how do they make money? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

    The Power of Luck

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2022 36:43

    Don returns to the mic and explains his recent surgical absence (and catches some flack for his disdain for emergency room procedures). Then, we discuss the recent improved performance of active mutual fund managers. Could it simply be luck? Plus, Robin Hood is creating a stupid trader index. From there we take listeners questions: When should a 529 plan be funded? Immediate joint annuity...? Moving money to Fidelity. How should he switch to indexes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

    Add Bonds, Too.

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 18, 2022 36:44

    Program note: We apologize for the delay in getting this episode posted. Don had a major medical emergency on September 9th that both kept him from doing the show and caused him to undergo some intensive surgery on Monday. Thanks so much for your understanding. What is the diffrenece between stocks and bonds and why do you need those boring bonds? He also discusses the power of broad diversification and a long period during which owning the S&P 500 alone was disasterous. Plus, Tom takes questions: Another call about I-Bonds How do we view REITs? Thoughts on a Social Security withdrawal strategy? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

    Lessons from a Queen

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2022 35:58

    Program note: We apologize for the delay in getting this episode posted. Don had a major medical emergency on Friday that both kept him from doing the show and caused him to undergo some intensive surgery on Monday. Thanks so much for your understanding. He plans to be back for the Saturday show and subsequent episodes. Tom uses the passing of Queen Elizabeth to make a point about investing consistency. Do you know your retirement number? Can you really retire in a recession? Can iBonds be used in retirement accounts? What should be done with low interest rate credit union money? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

    Getting Back to Work

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 8, 2022 27:47

    Don and Tom and John Rekenthaler share some lessons learned about the latest hot boutique funds. Then we take some questions: Which mutual funds should be used in new Fidelity IRAs? What's a good ETF in which to park tax loss assets?

    Always Right

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2022 37:16

    Sure, you might correctly guess the future direction of the stock market once, but can you do it every time? Then, we hear from a bunch of listeners: One shares a great Vanguard experience. Another with some really bad investments. Are Vanguard and few other fund groups facing government intervention? We hear about the elcetic concept of private foundations avoiding RMD. Must money be in Roth for five years before withdrawals? Finally, what do we think of the Fidelity Zero funds?

    Retiring in a Bad Market

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 6, 2022 37:24

    We start with off-topic discusssions about holidays and changes in office work. Then we discuss a concern that many share: Can I afford to retire? Plus, we question a retirement portfolio suggestion. We hear from listeners: About Vanguard's declining level of customer support. Wondering if Tom remembers him? Bashing us for bashing crypto. It was a holiday.

    Worthless Writings

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 1, 2022 24:43

    Don discover a number of articles in Entreprenuer magazine that seem to be created from the same formula by a stock "research" firm in Kalkota. Plus, a comment of our tax-free investing advice.

    More Pointless Products

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 31, 2022 26:22

    Tom and Don take a look at a couple of popular investnents that no one needs; buffer funds, private real estate. Then a listener wonders how to get into Dimensional Funds' products?

    401 Fiduciary Failure?

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2022 36:34

    United Healthcare has been using expensive funds in their 401k plan. Should they have looked for cheaper products? Looks like a court will decide. Then we take lots of listener questions: Is Vanguard getting out of mutual fund business? How do ETFs work and why use them? What might happen to a company when all shares are held internally? Will savings rates ever get reasonable again? How do Treasury Bills work? Must IRA accounts have beneficiaries named?

    1,000 and 10,000

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 29, 2022 36:29

    As the market collapsed again, how bad has the market actuall been for real investors? Then, what should you do with your student loan forgiveness? How do you pick the right mutual funds? We share the latest chapter in the AMC meme stock stupidity. Listeners ask: Does it make sense to tax-loss harvest in tax-advantaged accounts? How long does the IRS expect us to live?

    A Better Way to Q&A

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 26, 2022 34:48

    Don spends another day answering listeners questions: What to we think about market timing? How can he add small and emerging markets with a mediocre 401k? What is the worst case scenarion for an I-Bond buyer? What is a basis point and is Tom caffeinated? Can a retored spouse have a Roth IRA and Personal Capital's new savings account? What should be done with next year's Roth contributions?

    Are There No Fiduciaries?

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 25, 2022 34:02

    We exlore one of those lists of the "best" financial "advisors." What makes this list of commissioned brokers the "best" wealth managers? We ask and answer that question. Plus, listeners want to know what to do with a bunch of Microsoft stocks and what is the difference between Dimensional and Avantis? Also, check out the video version at

    Are There No Rules?

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2022 23:04

    Tom is back. First, we discover that active mutual funds can pick their own securities benchmarks against which they are compared. Now, it appeard that insitutional fund managers are setting their own performance targets to increase performance bonuses. A listener wonders if Social Security can be considered part of a fixed-income portfolio?

    Just Change the Rules

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 23, 2022 36:27

    Don't like the way your active mutual fund compares to the competition? No problem. Just pick a better benchmark. It's perfectly legal and very effective at misdirecting investors. Don also considers the arguments that index funds are un-American. Yet, only a tiny percentage of active funds beat the indexes. A caller wonders if annuities are guaranteed and what to do with them? What's the best way to fund retirement accounts for young children? How could Wellington and Wellesley be recreated with index funds? In which accounts should bonds be held?

    The Great Ed and Med Ruse

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 22, 2022 36:21

    Don dives into one of his biggest issues with the financial services industry. Many insurance companies are lying their way into the retirement plans of educators, medical workers, and public employees and sucking out HUGE fees. That's not conjecture, it's fact. Even worse the teachers unions are more than complicit. They actively promote expensive annuities to their members. Then onto the questions: Where can the most recent IRS mortality tables ne found? Does al all value portfolio make sense? What should be done with an old fixed annuity?

    Chock Full O' Qs

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 19, 2022 25:26

    Thanks for all the great questions. Here's what Don answers in this episode: How should bonds be added to a portfolio? Is it time to abandon the sinking ARKK? Does Crowdstreet look like a good investment? Will a 70-year old employee face any emergency 401k penalties? Are these advisors always fiduciaries? Any apparent problems with this 60/40 portfolio?

    Paying Too Much

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 18, 2022 17:20

    Today Don dives into Morgan Stanley's form ADV and a sample crokerage statement to try and help you understand how much you might be paying for investing advice. Be sure to watch the video to get the visual details at

    Who Shot Crypto?

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2022 23:33

    Taken from the pages of New York magazine, Don shares the tale of two hot-shot "kids" whose greed nearly killed cryptocurrencies. If you haven't heard of Three Arrows Capital before, you will soon. This is an incredible story of greed gone wild and how it can destroy investors fortunes (again).Plus, a caller wonders if his income allows for IRA contributions.

    Famously Bad Advice

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 16, 2022 36:15

    Tom's all alone again and discusses the foolishness of taking celebrity investing advice. The he takes questions on:The best places to invest for stability?Which is better: Roth or traditional 401k?How to get started with a 529 education plan?When should you start taking Social Security?

    Reacting to News

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 15, 2022 33:17

    Tom's on duty as Don takes his final vacation of the summer. In this episode, Tom discusses the silly idea of making investment decisions based on the news and what you should do instead. He also shares the recent movement of various securities.Then he takes your questions:Should investors have short, intermediate, and long-term bond buckets?Do Oppenheimer and Ameriprise act as fiduciaries?How can mutual fund shares be split among heirs?  

    Bad Brokers Sell Insurance

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 10, 2022 35:44

    A recent study shows that brokers with a disciplinary history tend to go into the insurance industry. We explain what a "35% bonus" on a complex annuity product really means. Has an insurance agent ever disclosed the total commission paid on annuity products. Then, the callers keep us in the insurance product groove with questions about:The value of a universal life policy for savings.Does it make sense to move a 401k into an annuity?Does it make sense to convert a pension payout to an immediate annuity? 

    Essentials Ignorance

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 8, 2022 33:56

    A study shows that a large percentage of Americans don't understand stocks. Then, we hear from a bunch of listeners:Is an advisor likely making a decent suggestions?Does it makes sense to extend a "target date" to make a portfolio more aggressive?A "friend" suggests moving a government deferred compensation plan to his brokerage firm.Is his fiduciary charging extra fees?   

    Friday Means Questions

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 5, 2022 32:48

    Don's taking your questions again:What does it take to sell an RTF?In which funds can money from VT be parked to avoid wash sale rule?What's the story of JEPI (a complex ETF from JP Morgan)?Are ETFs an better deal than Fidelity's Zero funds?In which ETFs should rebalanced assets be invested?Should retiring wife keep her money with Empower?

    Too Little to Retire?

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 4, 2022 25:34

    Don and Tom discuss an all too common problem, reaching age 65 without enough money to live comfortably. What can you do if you find yourself in this situation and how can you avoid it.Plus, a listener comments on Don's brother's death and Don share a couple of minutes from his memorial.

    Returns Can Deceive

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 3, 2022 23:30

    A listener wonders if a great 38-year track record makes a fund a buy? Tom and Don explain why looking at historic returns can be problematic.Tom shares some advice he gave a friend who "came into money."

    "Baloney Storm"

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 2, 2022 35:30

    You can't know the future. So, what do you do, then? Tom has some ideas.Then, Tom takes questions:What is the impact of a government pension on Social Security payments?What do all of those letters at the end of mutual fund names mean?What are the benefits of third-party trusts?What should be done with a costly short-term bond fund?Is a short or intermediate bond fund better?Can assets be moved tax-free into a donor-advised fund? 

    Gambling and Social Security

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 1, 2022 36:29

    What should you do with a big jackpot? Tom is joined by Social Security expert Tom Margenau who explains how the Social Security might be saved and answers listeners questions. 

    Yes, Q&A Day is back

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 29, 2022 26:39

    Happily, Don is back in the studio taking your wonderful questions:Why are we being so hard on annuity salespeople?Will Voyager Digital customers get their money back?How will I-Bond rates change in the future?What are some Fidelity fund alternatives for 529?Should he sell some stocks to take tax losses?

    Wanna Retire Early?

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 28, 2022 28:12

    Tom and Don discuss an article filled with tips to help you retire at a younger age. Some a great, others not so much. Should you even consider early retirement. Plus, Don shares a unique tribute to his brother (to get the full effect watch our video on YouTube).

    Crazy Crypto Counseling

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 27, 2022 25:01

    On a day when some crypto prices rose over 15%, we dive back into the crypto controversy with stories of Bit Boy (not Bat Boy) and Celsius (not the temperature) in this episode. Why do people keep buying into this insanity? Is there any credible cryptocurrency advice?

    Lying by Omission

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 27, 2022 36:10

    Please forgive the audio quality. We had a glitchy live Saturday show.Once again, we discuss the latest scandal involving the misleading sale of annuities in teachers retirement plans (again). The bottom line is the fact that those who sell investments don't want you to know what you are actually paying them. However, there are a very few financial advisors who disclose costs up front. Plus, are financial publications becoming shills for salespeople?Listeners ask:Is there anytime when buying a commissioned myutaul fund makes sense?What do we think of his portfolio?Did a broker mistreat an older client with an annuity sale?Which bond fund do we prefer?  

    Sell House Now or Later?

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 25, 2022 34:27

    As real estate prices have been slipping recently, what should home owners do now? Plus, has real estate ever been a generally great investment? Plus, we had a few technical difficulties trying to connect Don while he was traveling.Then we take some questions:Over how much time should you compare investments?How do you pick mutual funds?What is sequence risk and how does it weffect real investors? Does it make sense to take annual retirement distributions?What are our thoughts on brokered CDs? 

    High Returns, No Risk

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 22, 2022 36:04

    Don is on vacation and Tom discusses our number one question: I just came into money, so how should I invest it? Of course, everyone wants high returns with no risk. Investors went from buying hot stocks from fear of missing out (FOMO) to fear of holding on (FOHO), ignoring the fact that stocks are now on sale.Listeners ask Tom:What should be done with some old American funds in the current market?Should an RMD strategy change based on market conditions?Does it makes sense to more aggressively invest assets destined for inheritance?How can an inherited IRA be moved to a new custodian?  

    Fowl Prices

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 19, 2022 37:20

    With Don on vacation, there will be fewer episodes this week.Almost everything costs more including chickens and, yes... eggs. However, stocks and bonds are lower. Today, Don leaves his post to loaf in the Georgia mountains, forcing Tom to take the reins. Later, Paul Merriman joins Tom to discuss how the markets should impact your investments.A listener shares a strategy to reduce required minimum distributions.Should a mortgage be paid down early? 

    Prepare For Bear

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 14, 2022 26:05

    Since bear markets can't be predicted, how can you get your portfolio ready for the inevitable downturns. Tom and Don share the wisdom of Dimernsional Funds founder, David Booth.Plus, they take a question on the best way to invest $30,000 languishing in a CD?

    Snowballing Swindles

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 13, 2022 24:14

    Scams of various kinds have been proliferating. We talk about some of the worst ones and how you can avoid being ripped off.Plus, a listener wants to know if a reverse mortgage makes sense for them.

    In Case of Recession...

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 12, 2022 34:24

    How much emergency cash might you need and where should you keep it?Then, we talk about all the extreme metaphors for bad events (like "Black Swans").Then we hear from our listeners:What's the best way to invest very simply with Vanguard?What the heck are these 9% I-Bonds?Finally, whay are we so negative about those "innovative" cryptocurrencies?

    When to Do What?

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 11, 2022 36:09

    This is a very strange episode. In addition to the personal tribulations that Don has been facing, we get more than our share of "unique" callers.Our main topic is the market, particularly all of the mistaken signs that are believed to point to an imminent change. Tom shares a different kind of market analogy. Then on to the callers discussing:The best way to take a distribution from a non-qualified retirement plan?A strong distate for the "government."Who knows, because "Dave" left the phone off the hook.Complaints about the system that reduces Social Security payments for those who have some types of pensions.

    Just a Few Good Qs

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 8, 2022 17:03

    A holiday shortened week led to fewer questions:A woman believes she and her husband were pressured to invest in bad investment.Can an inherited IRA avoid distributions for 10 years?Does it make sense to keep a short-term bond fund in a taxable account?Plus, Don shares a tough personal story. 

    The Truth About Rollovers

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 7, 2022 28:38

    So many "financial advisors" will say almost anything to get you to rollover your 401k or 403b to them. The most egregious of those are peddling annuities inside IRAs (a HORRIBLE idea). Will a new Labor Department rule requiring greater disclosure reduce the abuses?A listeners wonders why Don hates Cathy Wood (of Ark Innovation).Finally, Eli has a beef with Grandpa Tom over his 529 plan. You really need to see the video (

    Annuities: Agreeing With Dave

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 6, 2022 35:47

    Entrepreneur magazine should be ashamed for publishing an "article" by an annuity peddler. Plus, how does this salesman's website offer a 3% guaranteed interest rate?Then, our holiday caller fest continues with:A listener who shares his misleading annuity sales pitch.How should a portfolio be structered to add small cap?Does a retired military member need long-term care insurance?What is the difference between TIPs and I-bonds?

    Holiday Caller Day

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 5, 2022 34:37

    Holiday weekend shows typically feature few callers. This year's 4th of July weekend was unusual.Lots of calls:How does one move from a 401k into self-guided investing?What should be done with wife's Long-term care policy?Does it make sense to move to a longer maturity target-date fund?How should a portfolio be allocated for long-term care purposes?Should an aggressive investor move into all stocks?A caller complains about our opinions on long-term care insurance.Plus, Don sneaks in a couple of dad jokes about money.

    More of Your Questions

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 1, 2022 26:57

    This week, Don covers the following questions:Is there something better to do with the money that should be in bonds?What's the best interval for retirement withdrawals?How should parents invest after leaving a bank broker?Is this a good stocks?Are ETFs dangerous and how to read a RisQuiz?

    Bad Six Months

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 30, 2022 24:35

    How bad were the first six months of 2022 for investors? It really depended on how you invested. Plus, Tom and Don take a question from a listener who has lost 35% off his investments.

    Pensions Compound Mistakes

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 29, 2022 17:45

    A combination of bad match and magical thinking have created hugely underfunded pension plans. Rather than solve the problem rationally, plan managers are stretching for unlikely additional returns while increasing costs.Plus, a listener wants to know if it makes sense to extend the maturity of a target-date fund?

    Growth to Value to ARKK

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 28, 2022 35:27

    Several of the the past decades most popular stocks have gone from fast growing to undervalued. Yet, another case for diversification. Plus, Don shares the real story of the return that most of Ark Innovation ETF investors received.Listeners want to know:What should be done with an unneeded required minimum distribution?Is her financial advice provider really acting as a fiduciary?Will the RMD age be increased to 73 this year?Can their non-retirement plan investments support them until Social Security?How can you know which ETFs are actively managed?

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