What would Ben Stein do?

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John Wiley & Sons

Economist, writer and actor Ben Stein’s newest gig is his book, “What Would Ben Stein Do?” which was published in October 2011. We asked Stein what he did do: Like many people, he bought too much real estate, both residential and corporate, before the market tanked. As Stein might say, “Wowwww.”

As a result, Stein adopted a patient approach that makes sense for anyone who finds himself/herself in similar straits: He will pass his real- estate holdings to his child, who he believes will benefit from their sales in the distant future.

What else can you learn from Ben Stein’s money? Think long term and avoid volatility. He says he wishes that he’d just bought a good index fund when he was 13 and held on to it. He got into Berkshire Hathaway when Class A shares were sold below $1,000 each. (As of press time, the share price was $123,480.) He says he sold off too many shares much too soon.

Stein also bought annuities and whole-life insurance policies and is sorry he didn’t buy more. A guaranteed income for life is a “gorgeous thing” when markets crash, he says. 

His portfolio is split 70/30 between stocks (mostly index funds) and bonds (mostly short term), not including annuities or whole-life policies.

S. Berg