One of the projects I undertook over the past few weeks, was to redesign this blog. I had never liked the design that was originally imbedded with our website and two years ago I decided to use a separate host. I picked a template and configured it – at least as best I could. To be generous, it sucked. After a while, I just stopped posting – frankly, I was a bit embarrassed by it and it was way too distracting. Fixing it is one of those things that just never got to the top of the to do list. Until now.
I have been writing Financial In$ight for three decades. It morphed from a monthly printed and mailed newsletter to a blog. Communicating with our clients and followers is important. The financial world is a big place and I cherish the opportunity to make it a bit smaller. I needed to solve this problem.
CNBC is usually playing in the background on a TV in my office. In addition to hard news, financial and otherwise, they have and endless stream of talking heads and commentators, both their own and outside guests, throwing opinion and predictions at the audience.
Last week the equity markets were particularly volatile, so I was paying a bit more attention. At one point on a sharply down day, they put on a guest who told us that he was predicting the S&P 500 Index would finish the year higher than where it was as he was speaking. He seemed very sure of himself. Continue reading →
This month marks 30 years ago that I started my own firm. At the time, I was working at a local Financial Planning firm that was actually pretty progressive for that era.
When I had started there some two years earlier, one of my colleagues, Jacquie, took me under her wing and taught me much about employee benefits. That became an important career skill for me. Jacquie had left the firm in the spring of 1988 for another endeavor. Like many breakups I guess there were bad feelings between her and the firm’s ownership. She was very involved in a local business association and they sponsored a running race that September to benefit a charity. I was a runner (I still am) and I ran in the race. I saw Jacquie at the race and spent some time catching up with her. Continue reading →
I read Newsday and some other newspapers on my phone every day. It’s a Long Island, NY paper if you’re not familiar. Yesterday I opened the app to the headline page. One of them said “Tree cutter dies after fall”. It’s not the kind of story I will usually open or read but for some reason I did. I glanced at the story and a name jumped off the page, Erik Halvorsen.
In my 20’s and 30’s I was an avid basketball player and often played at a park with great competition some 15 miles from my home. During that time I also coached HS basketball so I would find a spot on my team for a younger kid if he played hard. Erik was one of those kids. As a bonus he was also the nicest most polite kid.
Once a month I play poker with some friends. One of the things a poker player always looks for is a “Tell” in the other players. A Tell if you don’t know is a change in behavior by another player that gives clues in their assessment of their own cards. If I have a good idea of the strength of your hand I can bet accordingly and hopefully improve my odds and results.
You may ask how this relates to your investment portfolio or financial plan especially if you don’t play poker. Let me explain… Continue reading →
When you create a trust, selection of the Trustee should be as important as the language contained in the trust. While some Founders select corporate Trustees, especially with large complex trusts, most select a family member. Selecting the wrong person can create chaos at best and harm the beneficiary’s interests at worst. There are three attributes you should be seeking.
The Trustee needs to be Honest and Trustworthy and able to execute a Fiduciary Duty to the beneficiary. Is the candidate able to put others interests above their own? Continue reading →
The estimated value of tonight’s Powerball Lottery currently stands at $1.5 Billion if the winner takes a 20 year payout. A lump sum would generate an estimated $930 Million. That exceeds the cost of buying every single ticket.
There are 295 million combinations and each game costs $2. Therefore, if someone wanted to guarantee they would be a winner, the cost would be $590 Million. That means if such a person was the sole winner, their profit would be $340 Million, a gross return of 58%. Continue reading →
An elderly relative of mine died recently. Her death certificate says she died from complications of an existing chronic health problem. However, I would argue that the real cause of death was entering into a late in life 2ndmarriage. Let me explain… Continue reading →
Yesterday the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) experienced a technical “glitch”, and all trading was halted for a few hours. Yet to the average investor, this was a non-event. Had this happened a decade or more ago, this would have been a major disruption, as it would have brought a large part of the US financial system to a complete stop. But in the last decade, stocks and other instruments that once traded on only one exchange now trade on multiple exchanges. Stocks traded all day as if nothing had happened. That the NYSE has lost its monopoly on trading shares listed there clearly benefited the overwhelming majority of us. Yes, competing exchanges have created some issues that are anti- consumer, such as order flow payments, but on the whole, competition is a good thing. The shutdown cost the NYSE money and prestige. They will now have even more incentive to make sure their systems work properly.
Conventional wisdom says that it’s best to wait until retirement to convert a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA, which allows money to grow tax free. The theory is based on the belief that most people will have lower incomes and be in lower (certainly not higher) tax brackets. And that much is usually true.
However the decision is not so simple. There are many potential benefits to conversion. Anyone can do it – there are no longer any income limitations, but choosing the right timing can be complex. Yes the marginal tax bracket the conversion income is likely to be subject to is a major factor in the decision, but the timing of the additional income generated by the conversion can create issues with other retirement programs, mainly Social Security and Medicare. Continue reading →