Greg Heberlein | KNKX

Greg Heberlein

Financial Commentator

Greg Heberlein spent 32 years at The Seattle Times.  In 12 years in the Sports Department, he was the only reporter to cover every game in the Seattle SuperSonics' championship season.  Towards the end of his 20 years in the Business Department, an award was established to honor the Northwest's top business columnist.  He won in each of the first three years and shortly after, wisely took early retirement.


When Money Matters first aired on KPLU some 7 years ago, we were speculating about whether the housing bubble was going to burst, and wondering if we were heading into a recession. It's certainly been a wild ride since then.

All good things must come to an end, and it's time to bid farewell to financial commentator Greg Heberlein. For our final show, we leave you with some advice to keep in mind going forward.

Ken Wilcox /

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

sokole oko /

It is said the stock market climbs a wall of worry. Well, it was a really, really, big wall this year.  

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein groups the worries into three categories: Economic, Political and Market.

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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.

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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.

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If a financial adviser offers you a quick way to double your money, should you go for it?

Hold on to your wallet! The bigger the promised return, the more skeptical you should be.

On this week’s Money Matters, Greg Heberlein looks at Ponzi schemes and how to avoid them.

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.

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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.

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Many families plan to go to Disneyland someday, but it's an expensive proposition that requires a lot of planning.

Should you buy a package or figure it out for yourself? Do you need a car? When are the best months to go? What are the best days to enter the park? How expensive are tickets and food?

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein is a big Disney buff and has visited the park dozens of times. He's more than happy to share his knowledge of Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom on this week's Money Matters.

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Are you saving enough for retirement? Most Americans aren't. 

According to a report from the National Institute on Retirement Security, 45 percent of American households don't have anything saved for retirement. Four out of five working households have retirement savings less than one times their annual income.

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein says one way to turn this around is to encourage more people to take advantage of 401(k) retirement plans.


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.

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If you think the money in your money-market mutual fund is as safe as the cash in an FDIC insured bank account, think again.

Although money funds have been very safe investments in the past, there's always the possibility they could drop in value or "break the buck".

Federal regulators are considering new rules that could impact the cash you park in money-market funds. But it looks like the targets at this point are funds catering only to corporations and other large institutional investors.

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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.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 have been hitting record-high levels this year.

Many investors retreated from the stock market a few years ago and have cash sitting on the sidelines. Are you feeling pressured to invest?

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein says there's no need to rush back into the market.

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Some call it the spreadsheet error heard 'round the world. 

The 2010 Reinhart-Rogoff paper, Growth in a Time of Debt, was the most authoritative report providing hard data on why government spending needs to be cut. Too much debt, the study said, impedes economic growth.

But a mistake in coding the Excel spreadsheet skewed the results. Mike Konczal at Business Insider says the spreadsheet mistake is one of three glaring problems in the study.

The whole debacle serves as a prudent reminder to maintain a healthy sense of skepticism about economic statistics.

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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.

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When publicly held companies have excess cash, they often face two main choices: issue dividends, or buy back shares from the marketplace.

Both actions are considered roughly equal in terms of benefit to stockholders. On this week’s Money Matters, financial commentator Greg Heberlein explains why he prefers dividends. /

It's the second week of March and April 15th will be here before you know it. Have you started preparing your 2012 income tax return yet?

On this week's Money Matters, financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer help you avoid some common tax mistakes.

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Financial commentator Greg Heberlein firmly believes the stock-market axiom that says "history repeats, but never exactly". So when he see the market at or near record highs, he gets nervous. Conventional wisdom is that individuals buy near the high and sell near the low.

What’s an investor to do? Greg and KPLU’s Dave Meyer look for answers on this week’s Money Matters.

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According to an old adage on Wall Street, "as goes January, so goes the year".

Last month, we cast aspersions on the "January effect" as a predictive tool. And then the month turned out to be the best January for stocks since the 1990s.

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU's Dave Meyer take a second look at January on this week's Money Matters.

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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. 

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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.