money matters

Ken Wilcox /

No matter how financially savvy you are, there’s always room for improvement.

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Have you been swept up in bitcoin mania?

Bitcoins purchased at the beginning of this year were valued at $13.50. As of Dec. 9, they were trading at close to $900. That’s a rise of more than 6000 percent!

Many folks are eyeing the virtual currency as an easy way to make huge profits. But KPLU financial commentator Greg Heberlein urges caution. Bitcoin prices may very well continue their march into the stratosphere. Or the bubble could burst.

PRNewsFoto/Tableau Software, Inc.

In the Center of the Universe, Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, stands Tableau Software. Tableau is 10 years old and has been a publicly owned company for just six months. It’s growing fast. In just the past three years, employment has gone from fewer than 200 to more than 1,000.

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein says Tableau is a company that local investors should keep their eyes on.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

When Microsoft holds its annual meeting Nov. 19, shareholders will finish voting for the company’s board of directors. Usually it’s a straightforward affair, but this time, the candidacy of John W. Thompson will be closely examined.

Recently, a company that advises major shareholders on corporate governance urged shareholders to vote against Thompson.

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It’s not uncommon for heirs to stumble across old stock certificates when disposing of an estate. What should you do with them?

If the stock is for a recognized company that’s still in business, your task is relatively easy. If there’s no cancellation stamp on the certificate, any brokerage can cash it in for you (but you’ll need to provide the necessary paperwork proving you inherited it).

If you don’t recognize the company name and can’t find it online, then you have some work to do. We’ll help you get started.

U.S. Treasury / National Archives and Records Administration

Are U.S. savings bonds still a worthwhile investment? KPLU financial commentator Greg Heberlein thinks so.

Even with all the government shutdown shenanigans in Washington, D.C., Greg says savings bonds are still one of the safest investments you can buy.

In addition to safety, savings bonds are ideal for savers of modest means who need to sock a few dollars away each month. You can buy a savings bond for as little as $25.

Death and IRAs

Sep 17, 2013
Dave Meyer / KPLU

You've worked hard to fund your golden years with an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). But what happens to that money when you die?

Well, since you won't be around, maybe you're not worried about it. But financial commentator Greg Heberlein says a little planning now can make things easier on your loved ones down the road. /

Why are exchange traded funds (ETFs) growing in popularity?

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein says the ability to buy and sell them at any time during market hours makes them very appealing.

freddthompson /

We’ve all seen the TV commercials:  Fred Thompson, Robert Wagner, Henry Winkler and others urging us to sign up for a reverse mortgage. 

As alluring as the ads are, financial commentator Greg Heberlein says anyone considering such a deal needs to give it some serious thought.

Is multi-level marketing (MLM) a good way to make money? At a time when family budgets are strained and jobs are hard to find, it’s a fair question.

KPLU financial commentator Greg Heberlein recommends you do your homework before signing on with an MLM company.

Ano Lobb /

To get an enormous stock market gain, buy a penny stock.

To risk losing all of your investment, buy a penny stock. 

Still interested?

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein recommends you steer clear of penny stocks.


The financial markets have been roiling lately, a sign that a change of direction might be about to occur, or already is underway. However, crystal balls tend to be more cloudy than clear. No one consistently appraises the markets accurately. 

No matter the market direction, financial advisers are not timid about telling you to rebalance your portfolio. But KPLU financial commentator Greg Heberlein says it's OK to ignore that advice.

Doug88888 /

In our digital world of social media, blogs and the like, is the newspaper industry a dinosaur? 

Only 11 newspaper businesses are publicly owned. Is it foolish to invest in them? Legendary investor Warren Buffett doesn't think so. He's acquired 28 papers in the past couple of years.

A veteran of 32 years at The Seattle Times, financial commentator Greg Heberlein, can't help but believe Buffett is on the right track.

jking89 /

The financial media are full of suggestions for timing the stock market. We usually discredit those schemes on Money Matters, but this month we talk about one that might have at least a little merit to it.

The strategy is to “sell in May and go away.” 

It’s based on the notion that the six months from late fall to late spring are great for owning stocks. Conversely, the period starting in May is not.  Those periods are often referred to as the winter months vs. the summer months.

Does it really work?

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein has just returned from a vacation in Vietnam and Cambodia. While there, he couldn't help but notice how westernized the Southeast Asian economy is becoming.

SalFalko /

When it comes to collecting Social Security, there’s a way for some people to “have their cake and eat it, too”.

On this week's Money Matters, Greg Heberlein explains a spousal benefit that is sometimes overlooked.

If your spouse is already collecting Social Security and you decide to postpone collecting your own benefits, you may be able to collect payments equal to half of what your spouse is getting. 

Alin S Living with Autism /

Investors encounter numerous indices claiming to predict the future. Some are ridiculous, and some are based on facts. But most are worthless.

This week on Money Matters, financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU’s Dave Meyer look at the January effect, sports indicators, and the fear index.

HomeStreet Bank

HomeStreet, a Seattle bank company, sold its first shares publicly on Valentine’s Day, 2012. It's been a love affair with investors ever since.

This is a stock that didn’t split its shares only once, but did so twice in just nine months. Factoring in both two-for-one splits, the stock started out at $11 a share. They finished up at $25.55, more than a double their initial value.

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer talk about Home Street on this week's Money Matters.

David Goehring (CarbonNYC) /

There are a lot of worthy (and, perhaps, not-so-worthy) charitable organizations asking for your support at this time of year. How should you decide which ones deserve your money?

One website that can help you is It rates charities according to their financial health, accountability and transparency. Financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer talk about the ratings on this week's Money Matters.

Dave Meyer / KPLU

As we approach the dreaded fiscal cliff, many financial pundits are sounding the alarm: “Take your capital gains now to avoid higher taxes next year!”

Should most of us be worried about this? On this week’s Money Matters, financial commentator Greg Heberlein says you should hang on to your winning investments. He tells KPLU’s Dave Meyer that the push to sell because of capital gains concerns may be the biggest idiocy since the sale of no-money-down, balloon-payment mortgages. 

nikcname /

If you can define compound interest and inflation, then pat yourself on the back!

A recent report by the Securities and Exchange Commission finds that most Americans don't understand such basic concepts.

Commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer talk about financial literacy on this week's Money Matters.

Alex Proimos /

There are few guarantees in the world of finance. Every investment involves risk. But one thing is guaranteed: everyone makes mistakes.

On this week's Money Matters, financial commentator Greg Heberlein warns us away from some of the most common errors.

Thomas Hawk /

Municipal bonds are relatively safe investments. So insured municipal bonds should be a sure thing, right?

That's not a safe assumption.

Thanks to the financial meltdown, that insurance may not offer any protection. Financial commentator Greg Heberlein explains why on this week's Money Matters with KPLU's Dave Meyer.

Tom Heberlein

Last Friday, India's main stock index suddenly experienced a 16% drop in value. $58 billion temporarily vanished in the blink of an eye thanks to a computer problem. 

Computer errors have also been blamed for Facebook's IPO troubles and 2010's infamous Flash Crash. Financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer look at the world of computer driven, high-frequency trading on this week's Money Matters.

s_falkow /

The numbers are staggering. Three-quarters of the population approaching retirement (aged 50 to 64) earns less than $53,000 a year. That group has saved an average of $26,000 in their retirement accounts. Even adding in social security, one forecaster estimates retirees will be able to pay only $5 a day for food.

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer look at the looming retirement crisis on this week's Money Matters.

Insider trading

Sep 11, 2012
Securities and Exchange Commission

As legendary money manager Peter Lynch once said, "Insiders might sell their shares for any number of reasons, but they buy for only one; they think the price will rise."

On this week's Money Matters, financial commentator Greg Heberlein explains why you should pay attention when executives buy or sell shares in their own companies.

Beware of IRA pitfalls

Aug 21, 2012
leisergu /

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are great for planning your financial future. But if you don't pay attention to the rules, you could find yourself in trouble.

Financial Commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer look at IRA pitfalls to avoid on this week's Money Matters.

Last summer, financial commentator Greg Heberlein became more pessimistic about the economic recovery, predicting it would take 10 to 15 years to get back to "normal".

Now that a year has gone by, has anything changed?

Sadly, Greg says we have another 9 to 14 years left to go.

Greg and KPLU's Dave Meyer look at the prospects for a slow recovery on this week's Money Matters.

LaughingRhoda /

Have you ever received a letter from your bank stating "we have learned that some information from your credit card account may have been compromised at an undisclosed third-party location"?

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer had their cards canceled and replaced by the same bank in recent weeks. They gripe about it on this week's Money Matters, and offer tips on how to minimize the damage.

Social Security Administration

One of the great debates among those approaching retirement is whether to take Social Security benefits at age 62, 66 or 70.  

There's no one-size-fits-all answer. Financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer explore the options on this week's Money Matters.