The Price of Admission

There’s no other way to say it, this market is brutal. The S&P500 Index is down 9.61% year to date and has declined more than 17% since October. Small caps stocks are in a bear market, down more than 24% in the fourth quarter. Bonds haven’t helped. The US aggregate index is down 0.45% for…

The Best Books I Read in 2018

I am a notoriously slow reader compared to my colleagues, but I managed to sneak in a few great books this year. There so many books on my reading list that it feels I may never get to them all. I’m often reading something that’s not current. Maybe that makes my list a little different…

Cracks in the System

Charles Ellis wrote an article in the Financial Analysts Journal called,  “Our #1 Challenge: Retirement Insecurity”. The retirement crisis isn’t creeping up on us, it’s here. Americans do not have enough money saved for retirement, and they can’t all work until they die. Social Security does not cover the basics. Pensions are gone, and less than…

Annuities are Sold, Not Bought

I spoke to a reporter earlier this week who asked, “What’s the number one reason people buy annuities?” My answer, “because someone sold it to them”. When you slap a 7%-12% sales commission on any financial product, a hungry salesforce is going to find a way to sell it. Nobody wakes up in the morning…

National Security

Last week, I attended the annual lunch of the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans where Mike Leiter, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, spoke about his views on national security, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity. When I tell you, this guy has an impressive resume, it’s a dramatic understatement. He is a former naval…

One Million Dollars

I have bad news, a million dollars is not a lot of money. Let me rephrase that, a million dollars is not worth as much as it used to be. In the context of saving for a 30-year retirement, a million dollars won’t be enough. It all depends on how much you need to withdraw…

Crisis du Jour

Back in February of this year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1,032 points in a single day. The media hyped it as the largest decline on record, which was misleading. Yes, it was the largest POINT decline, but not the largest one-day PERCENTAGE decline. This is my biggest pet peeve about market reports. We…

Living to 100

How long do you think you will live? This is the greatest area of uncertainty when creating a financial plan. We know that people are living longer, but we don’t know how much longer that will be in 30 to 40 years. Former President George HW Bush was 94 when he died last week. The…

What I Learned on Internet Break

I wish I could tell you that my four-day internet break over Thanksgiving was a mountaintop moment, but it truth, there was nothing earth shattering. However, I have a few takeaways from four full days and five nights without social media, email, or internet. I turned off my smart phone for most of it, something…

Money Scripts

Several years ago, I attended a conference session with Tim Maurer. He began by asking each of us to think of our first memory of money. Take a moment, do you remember yours? A common answer is the Tooth Fairy. I find this a hilarious first money memory, a magical fairy who pays children for…