Category Archives: Family

The Elderly, Money and Doing the Right Thing

There exists a distrust of the financial system among certain ethnic and cultural groups in this country.  If your parents or grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe or Asia this is something you may want to pay attention to.  Some people hide money rather than entrust it to a bank.  In the fast paced financial world of today, this behavior is largely confined to the elderly.  I recognize there are substantial amounts of cash locked out of the legitimate banking system due to the illegal nature of the activity producing it.  But this story is about the elderly and their hard earned savings Continue reading

Fable of the Ungrateful Child and the China Doll

china doll

Before writing, family history passed from generation to generation through complex storytelling.  Thousands of years ago it was easy enough to tell your children not to throw stones at the lion.  Much more effective was the passionate telling of a story, around a camp fire, of what terrible things happened to the little boy who threw stones at the lion.  Through storytelling not only would the child understand the cause and effect of such behavior, he would also be provided a tool to instruct his own children when the time came.  In current times we have plenty of opportunity to learn through books and film that a certain behavior will have consequences.  Yet, storytelling remains an important part of passing a family’s culture and experience through the ages.

One Christmas during the time our family was living in Japan my father bought two handmade porcelain china dolls for his brother’s two pre-teen daughters.  The dolls were fairly expensive and unique.  He lovingly packed them in shipping boxes and mailed them to his brother’s home in Oregon along with a letter to each niece.  My parents were excited about the gifts they had sent their nieces for Christmas and hoped the girls would appreciate and enjoy them.

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High School Never Ends

reunion

During the 1980s I was visiting my aunt and uncle in the LA area.  My uncle told me about his fiftieth reunion which had taken place a couple of weeks prior to my visit.  He said, “Betty and I got all dressed up and headed toward the nearby hotel where the reunion was being held, but as we turned into the parking lot I looked at her and told her I didn’t want to see those people.  I wanted to remember them the way they were, not the way they are now.  We turned out of the parking lot and went to a restaurant and had a quiet dinner.”  This was surprising to me as they had been a power couple in high school and had attended all prior reunions – and enjoyed the events.

Yet, that’s how I feel about my class.  In the early 1970s we were young, fresh, full of life, and the opportunities lying before us were unlimited.  I want my memories to be of a bunch of fresh-faced seventeen-year-olds graduating from a brand-new high school.  When speaking to my wife I still refer to that building as the new high school.  My memories of the school are stuck in 1973 and perhaps it’s best for me to keep its people confined there as well. Continue reading

Saving For Retirement – an example

save-money1

As a CPA and a former financial advisor, it seems people are always asking me one of two questions: 1) how much should I be saving and 2) what do you think my number is?  My usual answer is 15 to 20 percent and more than you think!  The people asking the questions are usually looking for free advice and, after I give them the advice they seek, I add the simple disclaimer, “It’s worth every penny you paid.”  All kidding aside, the financial discussions on this blog are to entertain and to get you thinking.  When it comes time that you actually want to take action you should meet face to face with a qualified advisor, who should take the time to understand your individual situation. Continue reading

The Hat

hat

With summer’s end, come the merchandise sales at the lake.  Over the weekend I purchased a ball cap that I had my eye on for some time.  That morning the $19.95 hat was in a large bin of hats offered for $5.00.  As the young woman at the counter is checking us out she tells my wife Sue, “That will be $8.33.”  Sue says, “That seems kind of high”, to which the sales clerk replies, “Well there’s sales tax”.

Mildly amused up to this point, I jump into the conversation. “ Do you agree the hat is five dollars?”  “Yes”, she replies.  “Is the Idaho sales tax rate still 6%?”  Again, “Yes.”  “Well then, the tax would be thirty cents and the total is $5.30.”  At this point she presents us with a printed receipt and says, “But it says $8.33!”  I offer, “Maybe if you tell it that the hat is $5.00 it will print the correct receipt.”  She says, “Okay, I can override the price”.  Me, “Really, they let you do that?”  Oh my.  Continue reading

Paper Boy? Why?

paperboy

Think back to when you were a kid in elementary school and there was something you really wanted. You might have asked for it on your birthday, had it on your list to Santa or some other special occasion. It could have been a special trip, an activity or a thing you were just dying to have. For me it was a Schwinn Varsity Sport ten speed bicycle.  The year was 1967, I was 12, and had just moved across the country from Washington DC to Spokane Washington the previous summer. I wanted that bike more than anything. The bike was about $75 and I had no money and no real means to earn money. These days, Baby Boom parents would have bought their son the bike just for having made the move with the family. Not so my dad. As a Navy Commander and combat pilot he expected discipline in his troops and his children. No amount of pleading, begging or similar tactics would sway the Commander. His only suggestion was that I find a way to earn some money. Continue reading

Molly

1997-Mercury-Mountaineer
We first met her on a crisp Colorado fall day in 1999, around the time when golf clubs are being stored for the winter and skis are being readied for the season.  From the moment we met, there was never a doubt we would be taking her home that afternoon.  And it wasn’t long until she found her place in our family.  It has been over fourteen years and our girls are now in their twenties, yet the memories of them with Molly when they were younger are still fresh.  When she first joined our lives, the girls were in second and fifth grade.  That first Christmas we purchased a permit to go into the forest to a cut a tree.  And of course Molly went with us.  I still smile when I see the pictures we took with the girls and Molly next to our fresh cut tree.  She has accompanied us on countless ski trips, softball tournaments and birthday parties.  She even spent a semester with my younger daughter at the University of Colorado!  Later in life Molly visited a number of western states with us, with the family’s favorite being trips to the shores of Priest Lake in northern Idaho.  Continue reading