“RETIREMENT 101” (6 LESSONS FROM DAD – FATHER’S DAY EDITION)

My parents are fortunate – after raising/providing for two boys in NY their post-retirement life includes traveling, pursuing new hobbies/interests, and spending time with family and friends. My parents were a team (more on that later) and my dad’s role on how he did it can be summarized in 6 simple lessons:

  • Invest for the Long-Term. Fast money is exciting – <sighs> I’m downplaying this – “Explosive growth feels amazing!” but it’s NOT anything what retirement planning should be based on. My dad, while working, focused on the long-view, never critical over annual performance; or whether he beat the index one year or another. Instead, he deliberately ignored the short-term noise and gradually became involved with his retirement portfolio… 30 years later. By then it was more of a hobby – enjoying the steady pace of the race. Mr. Tortoise knew what he was doing… the Hare never had a chance.
  • Stop Looking.  Expect your retirement investments to produce for the Big Picture rather than fixating on daily price fluctuations. So pretty please, with sugar on top, stop looking! (Yes, I’m also talking to you…Mom!) We’re all guilty of this – but as Warren Buffet writes: “Games are won by players who focus on the playing field — not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard.” My dad enjoys his financial reads to stay informed without logging on for the ‘nth’ time. (Oh, but before I go further, you know I love you Mom!)
  • Have a Plan & STICK TO IT!  It takes a lot of saving to have enough money to retire- ahem, ahem. see my first post. When it comes to contributing to your retirement accounts consistency is what really counts. Avoid the temptation to not touch it along the way for loans or early distributions. My parents were a team with a system in place that worked for them – one salary dedicated to living expenses, the other, savings. My dad embraced his role and more importantly, stuck to it.  
  • Don’t Panic. Resist the urge to panic when the market turns the other direction. Black Monday (1987), Dot-com Bubble (2000-2002), and more recently, the Subprime Crisis of the late 2000’s – despite some of the worst financial periods (and there will be more, you can count on it) my dad’s investment temperament remained incredibly calm. Now the nerd in me wants to work asset allocation, efficient frontier theory, and/or Monte Carlo simulation into this but my dad’s approach was just as responsive: “remain cool, this too, will pass.”
  • Be Happy. The market goes  and  wait I’m sorry, it surges to record breaking highs until it plunges to levels where we could’a, should’a, or would’a, we have the media to thank for that! My dad always chooses to be happy, ALWAYS. Warren Buffett writes. “If you can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays without looking at stock prices, give it a try on weekdays.” Be happy with your plan, your investment allocation, your convictions and beliefs. My dad’s enthusiasm as an investor is not directly tied with what the bulls and bears say on CNBC. Be happy, if not “so happy!” Pharell had it right, except for that stupid mountain of a fedora.
  • Stay Healthy. This should be a no-brainer. What good is accumulating wealth if you aren’t going to be around long enough to enjoy it? Stay Healthy – you owe it to yourself! My dad exercises regularly, makes smart choices about nutrition, and keeps his daily activities (gardening, morning walks, and longevity stick  yes, longevity stick, look it up!) at reasonable levels in order to maximize his retirement years.

Today, an hour before his morning walks, my dad’s sitting outside the NE corner of our local Starbucks (SBUX). Though he enjoys using his Stock App on his I-Phone (AAPL) reading the ticker-feeds on Yahoo (YHOO  last one, I promise), he prefers to read his hard-copy WSJ just as he likes to pay his bills via US Mail. He roots for the Lakers, a loyal fan for over 30 years, yet proudly says: “Don’t you know, I’m a New Yorker!” as his go-to response to just about anything. Try it. Happy Father’s Day! Love you Pop!

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THE PURPOSE OF THIS SITE

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The purpose of this site is twofold:

(1) to increase my awareness as an investor and;

(2) develop a greater efficiency as an informed adviser for my clients.

My research is endless as it is inevitable – from mounting equity analysis, revised (over and over) price target reports, and countless investment newsletters – all is necessary in my genuine effort to be in the know and only in the know. For at the end of a very long day all the data gathered despite the strongest of convictions from brilliant Econs & PMs (and make no mistake, Wall Street’s elite are intelligently intimidating just as they are offensively wealthy) will not substantiate an answer to that familiar question: “Why is the market up/down?”  And there is absolutely NO CRYSTAL BALL.

Josh Brown (if you don’t know who he is – shame shame shame) could not have said it any better: “I blog or link to much of what I read in an effort to distill this acquired knowledge into some semblance of an understanding or an action plan. I attend events and listen to conference calls. I devour the presentations or analysts and strategists. I rarely miss much, and if I do I make it a point to hunt it down. And then I take all of this and I write about it.” – (Josh Brown, The Reformed Broker)

“Writing about it” is the next step of my action plan. So thank you Josh Brown (The Reformed Broker), Michael Kitces (Nerd’s Eye View), & Bill Winterberg (FPPad) <—- leading by example, your blogs are among THE BEST in the game.

When I first began my career as a Registered Rep/Investment Adviser, I knew very little compared to what I know now. Not in terms of prospecting, networking, and client-service – I genuinely enjoyed learning such and became rather good in those areas. At any rate, portfolio analysis and financial planning became so automated that one of my early mentors called it “Dummie-Proof.”

“Dummie-Proof” you say? Now blame me for earning a degree in Philosophy but among the aptitude of a scholar versus that of a salesman, I will always choose the former.

“Ultimately, financial planning is about helping people change their behavior for the better. But you can’t help people choose which opportunities to take advantage of along the way unless you have a sound base of technical knowledge to apply the best skills, tools, and techniques to achieve their goals in the first place.

Most of the harms inflicted on consumers by “financial advisors” occur not due to malice or greed but ignorance; as a result, better consumer protections require not only a fiduciary standard for advice, but a higher standard for competency.”(Michael Kitces, The Nerd’s Eye)

Here, competency can be mistaken for salesmanship and I strongly believe committing to this site, this purpose, not only creates for greater accountability and transparency but also vulnerability. With vulnerability, you experience true connection—and you begin to attract people to you who are inspired by your openness. I cannot imagine developing the best of relationships any other way going forward.

So that is why I will continue to write… once again, much kudos to the above mentioned the best in the game– thank you for providing the road map. Last but not least, thank you Marty Morua! The best .02 cents I ever invested 😉

“I love CDs. It’s a great way to grow POOR slowly.”

Before going further, let me cover how CDs work – and for those already in the know, “… just a lil’ patience” <— Axl Rose, GNR

The interest is paid periodically (i.e. monthly, semi-annually or at maturity).

The terms can vary depending on how long you are willing to lend the bank your money (i.e. 1-3 month, 6 month, 1 yr, 2yr, 3 yr, 5 yr, etc.)

Generally, CDs may renew automatically at maturity for the same term you initially selected unless you choose otherwise where you can withdraw your original amount.

Lastly, CDs are “FDIC insured” – where the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, an independent agency of Uncle Sam, protects the funds depositors place in banks and savings associations [i.e. up to $250k- you can reference the limits here: (https://www.fdic.gov/edie/fdic_info.html)].

FDIC insurance is backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States government.” Is that more than a punchline? Well, since the FDIC was first established in 1933, no depositor has lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds.

Sounds good right?

Well here’s my “KOBE (BEEF)” with CDs…

As they currently stand today, the interest rates are incredibly low and have been since the Sub-Prime Debacle of 2008. Having said that, why the heck would I loan my money to my bank only to earn around 1.5-1.7% – and I’m rounding up to be generous. To me, there’s  just not enough financial incentive right now.  Btw… (by the way <— inside joke! sorry!) that joke of a rate is only available if I am willing to loan my money for at least 3-4 years; and don’t even get me started about the current CD rates of anything under a year. Alternatively, “JUMBO CDs” may offer a higher interest rate (currently around 2.3-2.5%), but with minimum purchases costing 100x more than your standard CD, I’ll look elsewhere.

Perhaps a more compelling reason to look elsewhere is when you factor Inflation. Historically at around 2-2.5% annually -today’s interest earned from CDs are still not enough to outpace the rising cost of goods – the time may come when rates start to significantly increase (i.e. and how I miss those years when CDs were yielding 5%) but until then, some more patience yea? CDs according to you know who are just a  F#$!@*N Disappointing Investment Choice.

(…. and how bout’ that Axl Rose reference!)

OUR SAVINGS & INVESTMENTS… WHAT A CROCK OF S%^T!?!

I will get right to it – let’s figure out how we ‘ought’ to save/invest based on the current maximum amounts we are allowed to put into our retirement accounts; college savings (if any) for our unborn children; come to think of it, we might as well throw child care in there, along with an emergency/slush fund; you get the picture…

And let’s assume that ‘mama didn’t raise no fool’ so both husband and wife are in their mid 30s, and each earn over 100k – with a household gross income of 250k – and for argument’s sake, let’s do without the taxable withholdings.

On the one hand – pat your self on the back! woah! way to go! an individual wage earner earning at least 100k represents only 5% of the US population re the distribution of income. You baller you! or is it balla’? (keep patting yourself).

On the other hand, let’s put this income to work and see how it translates for maximum savings/investments.

(1) Retirement Accounts (401k, 403b, 457, etc.) $17,500 per person (not including the $5,500 catch up when you are 50 and older);

(2) IRA/ROTH IRA $5,500 per person – and though I included ROTH, guess what? the $250k household income “phases you out!” In other words, you and your spouse earn ‘too much’ (according to the IRS) to contribute to a ROTH, but hey, lets go ahead with that good old Traditional IRA;

(3) CHILD CARE Normally, I would suggest Annuities after being able to maximize your 401k and IRAs, but let’s instead consider some non-retirement goals like the annual amount of child-care in the US. After all,  ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ are both working. Let’s call it $18,700.00 per child;  (feel free to have more than one child, I double dog dare you!)

(4) College Savings – after a quick analysis on savingforcollege.com, it’ll cost $7,000.00 annually per child beginning at age 1. but hey! you’re in luck, you only have to do that for the next seventeen (17) years… oh wait, were you planning on having more than one?!?!?;

(5) Emergency/Slush Fund – let’s not forget about those unforeseen expenses! Gawd forbid you drive that Bimmer – and a nail in your tire will cost $2000! no? for all you German Car Enthusiasts, when was the last time you had to replace just one tire… at $500 each? Well, rule of thumb according to College for Financial Planning – you ought to have 3-6 months worth of expenses in cash. So let’s go with 6 months, it’s a Hockey Season (btw GO RANGERS! <—I had to, I’m from NY!) Hmmm, well – I’d say 6k net ought to adequately keeps the lights running, so $36,000.00 in a money market ought to be enough. Best part is, this is a one time deal – until an emergency happens… when was that last earthquake?

So where are we now? Let’s add everything:

(1) Retirement (for both husband and wife): $35,000.00,

(2) IRA (for both husband and wife): $11,000.00,

(3) Avg cost of Child Care (per child) $18,700.00,

(4) College Savings (for 2 kids <— hey! just keeping it real!) $14,000.00,

(5) Emergency/Slush Fund $36,000.00

CURRENT ANNUAL TOTAL: $114,700.00

Well in our current example, our household income is $250k – so that leaves us with 54% of our disposable income, or $135k. Oh wait? What’s that you say? did you want to remodel your kitchen with graphite? a curved 70” TV? did your car break down? Gee whiz I really saw us having three kids!- Can we still take that Euro-Vacation? but what about student loans! what about credit card debt?!?!? uh, did we even account for taxes? holy crap wait a minute! what if we don’t earn $250k?!?!?!! What a crock of S%^T!!!

Are you still patting yourself on the back?