Mary Pilon

is New York-based sports reporter at The New York Times and is writing a book about the history of Monopoly.

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How to Donate Like a Pro »

A Weekend Investor story (and OMG interactive graphic!) about how to get the biggest bang for your charitable buck! Read before you donate this year! 

And its not every day that you see Mark Zuckerberg, T. Boone Pickens, David Rockefeller and television’s Bob Barker all in harmony in one cover art spread. 

Breaking Up Without Breaking the Bank »

Even for couples with fewer assets than, say, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, that is a good recipe for frustration and anger. One St. Louis family lawyer, Marta Papa, has seen such a rise in client hostility that she purchased a Taser, which she places on a nearby end table when couples come in.

In this Weekend Investor’s cover story, I take on divorcing in a downturn (a natural chaser) and you can read all about it here

And OMG more bloggage!

Stuffed horses. JFK Bumper Stickers. Estate Tax. »

This month, Roy Rogers Jr. parted with Trigger, the horse made famous by his singing cowboy father.

Mr. Rogers and his siblings kept the palomino, mounted and preserved, in the family museum in Branson, Mo., before its doors closed last year. The horse sold for $266,500 at Christie’s in New York, one of 300-odd items, including cowboy boots, belt buckles and guitars, bequeathed to the Rogers family after their father’s death.

"I grew up with a lot of these things," says Mr. Rogers, who goes by the nickname "Dusty." "My dad told us years ago, when you get to the point where it costs a lot of money, when it becomes demanding to keep things, it’s OK to let them go. It’s been a very difficult decision."

KEEP READING “Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth” 

Did Stop-Loss Orders Help Trigger the May 6 Meltdown?

So you might not know what a stop-loss order is. But it’s all good, because in the 5-10 minutes it will take you to read our story today, you’ll learn all about them. In brief: 

A stop-loss order is designed to protect investors by triggering a sale once a stock reaches a certain target. The trades are computer-activated and are based on criteria set up by the investor in advance.

So…. 

For example, an investor who owns a stock trading at $50 could set up a stop-loss order at $40. But if the stock is falling quickly it could blow right through $40; it might next change hands for $30, $20 or even one penny, and that is where the trade would be executed.

But here’s where it gets real. Gary Pinder, an individual investor in Maryland estimates he lost 10% of his net worth solely because of stop losses backfiring on May 6. 

He explains: “When I first started working, I hoped to have the option to retire by age 50. The bursting of the dot-com bubble probably put us back to 55. The 2008-2009 crash put us back to age 60 or so. And now we’ll maybe have to work an extra year, or just live with less money whenever we do retire.”

Data on stop-loss orders is relatively scarce and the SEC is looking into how they folded into the flash crash. Should be interesting to see how it all shakes out.