Tag Archives: life

The Word of the Day is So

Having moved beyond the intellectual confines of my career in finance, I now have time to ponder the great questions of our time. Like for instance, why do people overuse the word ‘so’ so darn much? Do they not realize in conversation it makes them sound like ignorant hillbillies from Kentucky or West Virginia- or perhaps Idaho? I mean seriously why must you be so sorry or so happy or so sad? Just be sad or sorry or for God’s sake be happy.

Continue reading

Cooperative Ditch Digging

A few years back I was on a consulting engagement visiting a co-op in a very rural area of the Missouri Ozarks.  The town only had one motel and I’m being generous calling it a motel.  It was a fishing camp on a river and its marque board advertised water-beds in every room.  I didn’t check into it, but I believe they might have offered an hourly rate.

As it turned out, the motel was one of the few things the town had going for it.  The town was so small not only did it lack a stop-light, it had no restaurant either.  So what’s a traveling consultant from the city supposed to do?  Fortunately my planned stay was just one night.  After a day of consulting the client offered to take me to dinner.  I said, “Where are we going, there’s really nothing here?” 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.

Continue reading

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

Super Savers and Too Big IRAs

Can you save too much in your tax deferred retirement accounts?  The short answer is, yes.  The longer answer is perhaps, but most Boomers will never have to worry about it.  The press is full of stories detailing the sad state of retirement funding for the Boomer generation and how they are woefully unprepared for what once was a distant retirement and is now upon them.  Only recently have I started picking up on articles dealing with the equally serious problem of families who have saved too much, or at least too much in tax deferred accounts. Continue reading

Problems with Simple Financial Planning

monkey

My previous post demonstrated how a young guy named Rich got out of school, worked 40 years and saved enough to retire with an income equal to his final year salary from actually working.  The key assumptions I discussed were that he would need to save 21% of his income for all 40 years and get a modest salary increase every year.  What I did not discuss was the probability that he would be able to earn a steady 8% rate-of-return (ROR) on his 401k year in and year out.

 I should note that his discussion is for your entertainment and designed to get you thinking about the future.  Implementation of any concepts described should be reviewed with a professional financial planner beforehand.

 As any student of personal finance, you should readily ascertain, the actual ROR you earn may jump around considerably.  I’ve been an active investor for over thirty years and I have had years with double digit gains and years with double digit losses.  On balance, I am far ahead for having been in the market of stocks and bonds since the early ‘80s. Continue reading