Nine Key Financial Steps That Procrastinators Miss

Yesterday I went to get a mammogram; the annual “boob smashing” is what I call it.  The process isn’t fun so for any of you who haven’t had one, a mammogram basically consists of smashing your breast between two plates painfully stretching your skin along the way, then you are left standing there while the technician walks away.  She ducks behind a machine that reminds me of the wizard of oz behind the curtain.  She then tells you not to breathe (oh sure, relax!!) and hold perfectly still, all the while you are held captive in a strange kind of vice.  If that isn’t enough, they do it again from a different angle and on the other side.  Read more

Financial Planning and Learning to Drive

My daughter just got her learner’s permit.  Drivers everywhere, beware!  Last Sunday I let her drive as we ran errands, and she did a remarkably good job for her first time on busy roads.  It wasn’t an empty parking lot this time!  And…that’s not just a proud dad talking.  It’s an honest evaluation of her performance.  This whole “learning to drive” experience has me thinking about our capacity to learn new things. Read more

Searching for the “Holy Grail” of Mutual Funds: Less Risk and Higher Returns

In the last few blog posts, we discussed the danger of the “greed, hope, and fear cycle” (in which people tend to earn below average returns by buying high and selling low) and some ways to overcome it by diversifying and rebalancing your portfolio to earn the average return. But what if you were to actually buy low and sell high?  Could you actually earn the “holy grail” of higher returns and lower risk that way? Read more

Is Now the Right Time to Refinance?

If you’re in the market for a home, you couldn’t ask for a better scenario.  Since 2006, home prices have steadily fallen back to more normal levels, while at the same time interest rates on mortgages are near all-time lows.  This may be the best buying opportunity in real estate I will see in my lifetime, there’s only one problem: I already own a home.  Is there any way for me, an existing homeowner, to take advantage of the current market conditions?  Well, the answer is a definite maybe. Read more

Taking Stock of Options and Awards

I recently spoke to a freshly minted MBA graduate who was so thrilled to have had landed her first job in this tough job market, but her icing on the cake was a sign-on bonus equal to ½ of her first year’s salary.  The catch to the bonus was that it was given to her in the form of a restricted stock award, so she had called me to find out the details.  She was very confused, because in addition to the stock award for the bonus, she is also eligible for a restricted stock matching program AND stock grants. Read more

Estate Planning: Governor Brown Has Enough To Do

Around the water cooler at the office yesterday, I was congratulating one of my co-workers on her child’s second birthday.  It seems like yesterday when she was pregnant, went into labor a few weeks early at work and we were all running around like chickens with our heads cut off so she almost needed to drive herself to the hospital!  It was something out of a “Three Stooges” comedy.  She made it to the hospital and everything turned out just fine. Read more

Financial Planning: I’m a Geek and I can Prove it

It was pointed out to me recently that I can be quite a geek (fortunately, my girlfriend likes geeks).  It was also pointed out that when I was a kid I had to feed my pet dinosaur before I walked 10 miles, uphill, in both directions, to school in the morning.  (I love my kids!  Anyone want them?)  I guess a little back-story might help.  In an interesting twist (at least to us) of timing, my girlfriend and I share a birthday for a brief moment.  Her birthday is on the 20th, mine is the 21st, and we like to spend our birthdays together doing fun stuff.  Or, at least mostly fun stuff. Read more

The Investment Strategy That Actually Made Money in 2008

Last week, I wrote about some common ways to diversify your investments and make sure you don’t get caught up following the herd into the vicious “greed, hope, and fear” cycle that can lead to buying high and selling low. But even if you followed one of those strategies, you still probably haven’t been too happy with your portfolio’s performance lately. Your “early retirement plan” may have started looking like the “never retirement plan.” Is there a way to earn that 8-10% average return without all that risk? Read more

When in Doubt, Balance it Out

As more and more of the onus of saving for retirement falls on employees, more and more employers will look for ways to enhance their retirement savings plans.  One of the emerging plan features that many employers are adopting is the addition of a Roth option in their 401(k) plan.  If and when an employer adds this option, it seems inevitable that employees will immediately ask “which option should I use?”  To help shed some light on this basic question, here are some things to consider: Read more

Nuisance Calls at Work

For the umpteenth time this year, I got a call last night from someone who is trying to track down my ex father-in-law.  The call came in on my business fax line (does anyone else even have a designated fax line anymore?) at 8:30 pm, and since my office is conveniently located 10 ft. away from my living room, I answered the call. Read more

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