Financial planning and investment services for a more secure future

Worry less. Live more.

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Clearer direction

More confidence

Greater peace

Are financial concerns keeping you up at night?

Troubled by market volatility?

Uncertain about the safety of your 401(k)?

Confused by so many investment options?

Burdened by debt?

Wondering if you'll ever be able to retire?

Shocked at college tuition costs?

Frustrated with advisors who don't keep you updated?

We understand how unsettling financial insecurity is.

Let us help you make the most of your income and assets.

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Planning

We’ll walk you through the proven, five-step process we’ve used to help hundreds of clients create financial plans to reach their unique goals.

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Protecting

We’ll work to guard your assets from real-life risks. We’ll explore insurance strategies that can mitigate threats to your family’s long-term financial security.

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Investing

We’ll carefully monitor and grow your assets, keeping in mind your investment goals, your time parameters, and your tolerance for risk.

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See if we're the right financial advisors for you.

We’ve found our services align best with four types of clients. If you decide we’re not a good fit for you, we’ll be glad to refer you to a financial services firm geared to your particular needs.

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Retired & Loving It!

Typically these clients are:

  • 60+
  • Financially independent, but concerned about outliving their money 
  • Looking for a trustworthy financial advisor to “mind the store for them” so they can enjoy life to the fullest. (They often have $500,000 dollars--or more--to invest.)
  • Eager to preserve wealth, generate income from a life of savings, and eventually pass on their estates.

Hoping for Retirement

Usually in their 50s and early 60s, these folks hope to retire at some point, but wonder Is that even possible for us? And if so, when?

They generally have a retirement nest egg of at least $250,000, which may come from a company plan, a large IRA, or other assets they have accumulated over the years. They seek a lifetime income that is secure and growing.

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In Major Life Transition

These clients come to us, for example, after:

  • Selling a business they built (“What should I do with the proceeds?”)
  • Changing careers (“How can I rollover my 401(k)?”)
  • Losing a spouse (“I need a wise plan for this insurance payout.”)
  • Receiving an inheritance (“What’s a smart, long-term investment strategy?”)

Up and Comers

Typically in their late 20s to mid-40s, these busy entrepreneurs, professionals, executives, and managers tend to take a long-term view when it comes to finances.

They’re family-oriented and conscientious. They often save or invest upwards of $1,000 a month. Many are also serious about debt reduction strategies and insurance protection.

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1. Schedule a free call.

No obligation. No sales pitch. Just a brief conversation about your financial goals.

2. Get a wise financial plan.

We’ll help you create the roadmap you need to get you to the life you want.

3. Worry less. Live more.

While we protect and grow your assets, you can worry less and live more!

Wisdom on Wealth

When Planning Becomes Procrastinating

As I type this sentence, you can purchase a fancy Viking 7 refrigerator/freezer online for just under $30,000 (that’s $2K off). Or you could drive to your local home improvement store and get a Whirlpool model on sale for $1,499. Which one’s “better”?It depends. Suppose you buy the Viking and park it in your garage, […]

Why It’s Hard to Change Financial Habits

They were an easy-going couple who rarely squabbled—UNTIL he suggested they create (and live by) a budget. Each time he gently brought up the subject, she got defensive. He walked away muttering to himself. They remind me of a story I heard John Maxwell tell. A friend showed him a list of New Year’s resolutions: […]

Three Cures for Financial FOMO

Every day we face a variety of financial decisions: When it comes to making financial choices, my observation is that some people struggle all the time, and all people struggle some of the time. What’s behind this reluctance to choose?  After decades as a financial planner, I’m convinced most of our indecision is caused by […]

The Problem of Dying Without a Will

NFL quarterback Steve “Air” McNair was rich and famous.  About a year after retiring from football in 2008, the former Tennessee Titan star died of sudden onset acute lead poisoning (a polite way of saying “his girlfriend shot him”).  That’s when the world found out about McNair’s intestacy (a fancy way of saying “he died […]

5 Ways to Profit from Failure

The next time you fail financially—losing a sale or a job, making a bad investment—I hope you’ll think of Tom. Tom’s head was crammed with ideas he was certain would change the world. Yet more times than not, when he tried to bring those ideas to life, he failed.  Tom inspires me because he refused […]

5 Reasons You Need to Engage in Long-Term Financial Planning

The movie classic Gone With the Wind ends with Scarlett O’Hara…procrastinating.  “I’ll think about that tomorrow,” she declares in her exaggerated Southern drawl. “After all, tomorrow IS another day.” I can’t tell you how often I meet people who embrace that “later” mindset when it comes to their financial futures. They say things like, “I […]

Keeping Your Emotions from Hurting You Financially

How much does confident optimism matter in the marketplace—for job hunters, salespeople, entrepreneurs, and investors?  That’s the subject we began exploring last week. We said that every person has a built-in emotional thermometer that measures how they’re feeling from one situation to the next.  Some “run” a higher emotional temperature. That is, they’re usually “up” […]

The Emotional Roots of Money Issues

I’m a financial planner, not a therapist. Nevertheless, I want to talk about your emotions. (Relax. I’m not trying to be Dr. Phil here. This will all make sense shortly.) We need to discuss emotions because everyday job situations and money matters stir up strong feelings inside us. And our reactions in those moments have […]

Why Performance Isn’t Always the Best Measure

Your mutual fund got clobbered in 2023. You’re wondering if your mutual fund manager is out of sync with the times. How long do you wait before you dump him/her? Therein lies the problem with looking solely at last year’s results—they are so…last year. To fix something that’s not working, you have to analyze not […]

The Five Qualities of a Good Goal

Bob claims he wants a second home on a lake where he can build memories with his kids. He’s asking, “How do I accomplish my goal?” To be fair, Bob’s “goal” is really more of a daydream at this point. Nothing wrong with that. Daydreams are harmless fun. They CAN lead to goals; usually, however, […]

A Saner, Simpler Life for Harried Business Owners

Last week we met Ron and Sharon, the couple who started a little side hustle, watched it boom into a profitable business, and then lamented how this “blessing” of a company had completely overtaken their lives.  I described three stages many business owners go through. I argued that the essence of contented simplicity is saying […]

Are You a Victim of Your Own Business Success?

Ron and Sharon started a little side hustle…that unexpectedly morphed into a booming business. Initially, all those happy customers—and that sizable bump in income—were thrilling. But in time, their growing enterprise became a 24/7 obsession. Says Sharon, “At first, it was fun telling people, ‘We’re business owners!’ Now it’s more like ‘Ugh! This business owns […]

Is Marriage Good for Your Financial Health?

There’s an old maxim that “Two can live as cheaply as one.” Is that true? Or is it what people used to call “an old wives’ tale”? Consider… In 2006, in a State of Our Unions report from the Institute on Marriage at Rutgers University, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead declared, “Marriage is a wealth generating institution.”  […]

A Wiser Plan for Spending in 2024

It’s the time of year that people approach me for help in shoring up their finances. One of the questions they inevitably ask is, “What kind of rewards card do you recommend?” I always tell them the best rewards card I’ve ever seen is the one with the name of a wise financial planner on […]

Three New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make

Something about the week between December 25 and January 1 makes us reflective.  It may have to do with the fact that we’re exhausted from too many Christmas festivities. We just want to pause and regroup. Or it could be a function of the fact that many of us have the luxury of time off […]

Four Surprising Ways to Pay For All That Holiday Shopping

Let me guess…you haven’t even gotten your credit card statement, but you already know it’s going to be ENORMOUS. And you’d like some ideas for finding some extra cash to pay the proverbial piper. I have some ideas. Try looking in your banking app, your desk drawer, at your pay stub, and even in your […]

The True Cost of That New House

You found a house!  It’s newer, nicer, bigger. It sits on a hill…at the end of a quiet street…in a great neighborhood. You haven’t gone so far as to measure for drapes. But you have imagined yourself relaxing on the back porch, enjoying a chilled beverage while watching a summer sunset. Given today’s interest rates, […]

A Better Way to Think About Funding Your Kids’ Education

Mark Gungor is a popular marriage conference speaker.  In one humorous presentation, he explains the different ways men and women think. Women, Gungor contends, think in a very global, integrated, complex way. Their thoughts and feelings constantly interact together. Men, on the other hand, are much simpler. According to Gungor, we males think in separate […]

Three Ways to Escape the Comparison Trap

Does this scenario ring a bell? You have an old friend from college, or maybe a sibling. They’re well off financially—and their luxurious lifestyle—house, cars, vacations, hobbies, etc.—screams it. Next to them, your income is meager, and your lifestyle is decidedly middle class. You try not to compare, but it’s tough not to notice all […]

Have You Met Your Future Self?

I overhead a young person say, “This whole ‘financial planning thing’ seems so…far off. Like, it’s for this person I haven’t even become yet. Part of me thinks, just do it. Start being financially responsible. But another part of me says, ‘Relax! There’ll be time for that later. You’re not even dating anyone! You’re only […]

About Those Great “Rewards” Cards

With inflation lingering like a chronic cold, everyone is looking for ways to stretch their dollars.  Credit card companies know this. That’s why we constantly get all those offers for “rewards cards.” Use card X and get airline points…card Y and get “free” hotel stays…card Z and get cash back. You’d be nuts not to […]

Preparation Beats the Quest for Perfection

You probably have a friend who thinks about money and investments all the time.  (Or, perhaps, YOU are that friend.) You know the type: Always monitoring the markets. Constantly trying to identify the hottest mutual fund. Relentlessly keeping one eye on CNBC or Fox Business. For some, this hyper-focus on money is thrilling, almost addictive. […]

How Business Owners Can Avoid Burnout

If you’re the owner of a business that’s SO successful… • You sometimes feel like the business owns you! • You find it hard to get away • You feel like if you do take time off, it’ll hurt your business… I have something I want to say to you. You’re hurting your business by […]

Pessimistic, Optimistic, or Realistic?

Someone recently said to me, “Your columns and emails haven’t been very upbeat lately. You turning pessimistic on us?” Me, pessimistic? Never! The word “pessimism” comes from a Latin root meaning “worst.” Seeing things in the “worst” possible light doesn’t do anyone any good.  The mantra for pessimists is “Why even try? Nothing ever works […]

Three Things Your Adults Kids Want to Say to You

Many adult children tell me: “My parents desperately need to do some estate planning. However, because we’ve never talked much about financial matters in our family, I don’t know how to urge them to take action.” I have heard this sentiment often. So frequently, I want to take this opportunity to speak to older moms […]

Escaping the Credit Card Debt Trap

Let’s talk about credit card debt—and how to get out. If you gulped at that sentence and thought, “How did you know?” you need to understand this: You’re not alone. I get a steady stream of people in my office seeking freedom from the miserable consequences of buying more than they can afford.  Most are […]

What We Can Learn from Japan and Canada

In the last few weeks, I’ve been discussing how your financial future could be impacted by our national debt, our changing demographics, and our leaders’ reluctance to act decisively.  You may be thinking, “Is there any way out, short of national bankruptcy?” One, I don’t believe the United States will ever declare bankruptcy. Two, I […]

4 Ways to Respond to America’s Economic Situation

Last time we looked at three economic problems that loom large on our nation’s horizon: debt, demographics, and decisions. Lured by the economic steroid of borrowed money, we’ve accumulated debt as if we’d never have to re-pay the proverbial piper (i.e., the bank).  Politically, Social Security is known as the “third rail” of politics. The […]

Three Challenges Facing America

I am routinely asked, “Is the U.S. headed for a financial crisis? And, if so, what can we do to get ready for it?” I get the feeling some questioners expect me to reply, “Buy 40 acres and some livestock, plant a garden, and stock up on gold and ammunition.” While that isn’t what I […]

How to Pay for College

Most parents eventually think, “College…oh yeah…what’s THAT going to cost?” Smart question to ask—and answer—ASAP. (Have you checked the price of higher education lately?) According to SoFi, as of the 2022-23 school year, a four-year degree from Harvard (tuition, books, and all other expenses) now runs $334,152. If you want to tack on a degree […]

Thinking About Taxes and Retirement

Susan’s getting close to retirement. She has money in two mutual funds and in a traditional IRA. Susan loved the tax break she got annually on her IRA contributions while she was working. But now she’s realizing she’ll have to pay taxes on that money when she starts withdrawing it. Consequently, as she plans for […]

Can Money Buy Happiness?

Can money buy happiness? More than a decade ago, Nobel Prize-winners Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton decided to tackle that question.  They studied the results of a 2008-2009 survey of 450,000 Americans (i.e., the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index).  Kahneman and Deaton observed that the more people earned, the more inclined they were to report being happy—up […]

Student Loans: Smart Investment … or Big Mistake?

As a financial advisor, I’m often asked: “Are student loans a wise investment in my future…or a bad idea?” Let me offer some facts, an example, an update, and some advice. Some facts: What does all that borrowing cost? Current interest rates on federal loans range from 4.99%-7.54%. Private loan rates range from just under […]

When is It Too Late to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

Someone recently asked, “If I’m already retirement age, is it too late—and too pricey—to consider long-term care insurance?  What I thought was, “It depends. How lucky do you feel?” What I said was, “I recommend you plan like a pessimist so you can live like an optimist.”  Here’s why I answered that way: When we […]

Can We Trust the Big Financial Institutions?

Visit a small town coffeeshop one morning this week. Listen in on the conversation. It won’t be long before someone starts grousing about financial institutions. “Can you believe we’re bailing out banks AGAIN? Why are we giving money to a bunch of billionaire bankers! You ask me…I’m ready to do away with ALL financial institutions!” […]

Don’t Confuse Symbolism with Substance When Trying to Save Money

As a financial advisor, I hear these complaints all the time: All of these comments reflect a faulty mindset. They are looking at the “savings problem” from the wrong end of things.  You see, it’s all but impossible to cut back when you see everything you buy as “essential.” You can waste a lot of […]

Why the Stock Market Goes Up

If you had invested $100 in an S&P 500 index fund on January 1, 2020, it would have been worth… Which raises the question: Is this kind of volatility normal? Maybe we need to define “normal.” One wag has suggested that the only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well yet. The […]

The Person Behind the Plan

I get this sort of question often:  “A friend introduced me to a very nice Christian man who is recommending I put my money into some kind of annuity or bonds or something like that. I’m not a stock market person. I don’t understand finances, but I really like this young man. He seems so […]

What To Do With My Money Stress

When people find out I’m a financial planner, they: (a) ask a lot of fiscal questions; and (b) make a lot of money confessions. One admission I hear a lot? “I’m constantly stressed about money!” Maybe you can relate? (Especially in the current economic climate.) If so, let me give you two reminders and five […]

What to Do in (Financially) Gloomy Times

This is for the person who feels financially “gloomy.” Keep reading only if: (a) you’re convinced the economy will be bad for a while; and (b) because of that belief, you’ve put a halt to investing and all other financial moves. I understand why you feel cautious. I get wanting to be safe and watch […]

What Food Trucks and Retirement Income Plan Have in Common

At exit 332, the Millers and Jacksons find themselves in a “culinary crisis.” They have multiple dining options, but they can’t agree on where to eat. Margie Miller is feeling adventurous—she’d really like a cauliflower taco and a fish taco from a food truck with stellar Google Reviews.  Her best friend Amanda thinks the truck […]

What’s Your Retirement Income ‘Personality’?

Most people I know have taken at least one of these famous “personality tests”: It could be that you’re a “high D” or an INTJ or an Enneagram 3. Whatever the case, these assorted assessments (and all the others like them) are a fascinating reminder of just how differently we’re wired. And it’s not just […]

When Small Stuff Becomes a Big Deal

An exasperated client told me,“My wife keeps saying we need to get our wills updated. I tell her, “Why? We already have wills, which is more than most folks can say. We’ve covered all the big stuff! Why fuss over the details?” There’s a lot to like about the mindset that says, “Don’t sweat the […]

Before You Invest in that Sweet Deal …

Should you be part of a large investment group and guarantee a large loan for a business deal? It depends on a number of factors: Remember, when farmer Brown comes into the barnyard with a hatchet in his hand, not all the chickens are at risk…just the fat ones. Consider the case of Mark Brunell. […]

Three Secrets for Finding the Career You Want

Remember Tee-ball? It was mostly about having fun. You could hit the ball three whole feet, run the wrong direction, and still get plenty of high fives—and a shiny trophy at the end of the season. Compare that to professional baseball. In the big leagues, nobody cares that your dad is one of the coaches, […]

How to Ensure Your Family Business Survives

Most businesses in the U.S.—in the world, for that matter—are family businesses.  Small, family-owned businesses are the engine of growth and job creation in this country. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s best interest to see them thrive. Unfortunately, about 70% not only don’t thrive—they don’t survive past the first generation! Fully 95% fail to make it […]

The Truth About Disability Insurance

On a regular basis, people come to me and say some version of: “Do I really need disability insurance? I mean, I have a desk job, and as long as I have my mind, I can always do my work, right? Besides, wouldn’t my employer’s workers’ compensation insurance take care of my basic needs if […]

The Pros and Cons of Income Annuities

It sounds too good to be true: You give an insurance company a sum of money, and they promise to give you a check for as long as you live.  This is what’s called a “single premium immediate annuity” (SPIA). It’s essentially a form of insurance.  To the recipient, it works like an employer pension […]

Long-Term Care Insurance: Waste or Wise Move?

Tim Berry wishes he had discussed long-term care insurance with his parents. When Tim’s dad had open heart surgery, the family was told there was only a 3% chance of anything going wrong. But in the days following the procedure, Mr. Berry suffered a stroke. “His mind was wiped out,” Tim told the Asset Protection […]

What an Investment Manager Is (and Isn’t)

How do you know if your investment manager is doing a good job? (Especially when the markets are so volatile.) Before we answer that question, let’s remember what an investment manager is and isn’t. A good investment manager is not… 1. An Economic Alchemist.  In ancient times, alchemists were individuals who claimed the ability to […]

Are Social Security and Medicare Running Out of Money?

No, I’m not a prophet. But since people regularly ask me, “Will Social Security and Medicare still be around when I retire?” let’s explore that question. One of my clients lives abroad. I only see him about once a year. At our last visit, I was shocked at how much he’d trimmed down. “You’re not […]

The 3 Most Common Financial Advisor Mistakes

“I’m unhappy with my financial advisor,” a man told me. “Not only have I lost money, but I don’t feel like he knows I’m alive! Is it too much to expect that my advisor would take care of me and my money?” This man is surely not alone in his thinking. Maybe you feel the […]

How to Do Anything You Can Do

A man once said to me, “My friends are always talking about their financial plans, but the idea that I could create such a thing feels impossible. I’m terrible with money!” I told him, “I understand that feeling. But the truth is you could create a smart financial plan. It really is possible.” (That’s a […]

How to Avoid Lost Trust

A man confessed: “My business did really well last year. Unfortunately, my CPA just told me what I owe in taxes, and I’m in shock. I don’t have the money! I reinvested it in my business. If my wife finds out about this it will send her into a tailspin. Should I just handle it […]

What’s Wrong with Righting a Wrong in Your Will?

An elderly couple told me this story:“Years ago, our son stole some money from us. We caught him, and he has since turned his life around. He’s married and has a wonderful family. He’s a good person. But he never did pay back the money he took. The subject just never comes up.  “It wasn’t […]

Three Things a Financial “Coach” Can Do for You

A man told me, “I read lots of books and articles about personal finance, but I don’t seem to have the self-discipline to put all those good ideas into practice.”He’s not the only one. I’m convinced this disconnect between “knowing what to do” and “doing what you know” is at the root of most financial […]

Money Grief … and How to Leave It Behind

Someone told me they have two primary emotions whenever they think about their financial situation: “It seems like I’m either frustrated or mad. Is that weird? Should money always make me so upset?” This admission reminds me of a book written more than 50 years ago by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in which she discussed five distinct […]

A Question About Safe Money

A client recently asked this question: I’ve got some money I’d like to leave to my grandkids. I want it to grow, but I’m not comfortable putting it at risk in the market. Meanwhile, safer investments like CDs seem like they’re barely keeping up with inflation. Do you have any suggestions? It’s a classic case […]

What Bad Financial Experiences Do To (or For) Us

A client told me: “I grew up poor. I was the first in my family to attend college. Now I have a comfortable income. But because of my background, I tend to be cautious with my money. Sometimes I wonder if I’m too cautious.” Hearing that, I thought of an interview with Erin Botsford in […]

On the Verge of Economic Collapse?

In my line of work, I hear comments like this frequently: “Despite what some are saying, I don’t think our economic hard times are over. In fact, some are saying online that the ‘experts’ are hiding how big our problems really are. Some think the whole world is on the brink of bankruptcy. If that’s […]

Adult Children Dependent on Parents

A subscriber wrote and asked: I’m retired and widowed. My two adult sons still depend on me to pay some of their bills—even though one of them has a job. (The other can’t seem to keep steady work.) I’m worried that when I’m gone, they are going to fight over my money, even though I […]

Life Planning for College Students

A few weeks ago, I shared some remarks I recently made to a classroom of college students.  You can go back and read my column from December 11th, but in summary I discussed the importance of dying well, living well, being “whole,” and remembering the truth that “life compounds.” The other four challenges I gave […]

A Financially Perfect 2023?

The week after Christmas is a strange hodge-podge of activity, isn’t it? We head for home, take down holiday decorations, and return gifts. We worry about how much we overspent…and resolve to “do better” in the coming year.  I’m convinced the week after Christmas is the perfect time to review the year that’s been…and look […]

Life Planning for College Students

Occasionally I get invited to speak to college students about life, money, and success. In fact, I’m scheduled to do that tomorrow.  Here are the four reminders/suggestions I plan to share with them. Die well. Soon after you arrived on campus, you realized, “Not everybody thinks the way I do.” That’s actually a good thing. […]

Preparing Beats Repairing

A car breaks down on the side of the highway. The couple can’t remember the last time they had an oil change. A man lies nervously in pre-op awaiting a heart-lung transplant. He recalls his first cigarette and wishes he’d never started smoking.  A couple wrangles in divorce court, arguing bitterly over custody and property. […]

Thankful for Hope in Hard Things

I don’t have to remind you we just celebrated Thanksgiving. For many of us, the day was full of family, feasting, football and Friday…endless advertisements about Black Friday and the “don’t you dare miss this” sales that go with it.  One of my family’s simple traditions is to go around the table during the Thanksgiving […]

Welcome Back to “The Old Normal”

What’s the most overused phrase in the English language? Here’s a vote for “the new normal.”  (“At the end of the day” runs a close second.) Pundits talk endlessly about “the new normal” in healthcare, politics, foreign relations, sexuality, the climate, the workplace—you name it. One exception is the financial world where I’m seeing a […]

Let’s Make a Deal

I grew up watching Let’s Make a Deal with Monty Hall.  Eager audience members would scream wildly, pleading with Monty to pick them to play the game. Once Hall had chosen someone to play, announcer Jay Stewart would bring down what looked to me like a TV dinner trey with a small package on it.  […]

Budgeting isn’t “Rocket Surgery”

“I should get on a budget.”  Ever say that? It’s really an admission that budgeting isn’t easy or fun. (If it were, everyone would be doing it, right?)  So, if you’re one of those who doesn’t have a budget, why bother trying to create and live by one? Because having a firm spending plan—which is […]

Why Listening to Your Heart is a Bad Idea

“Honey!” the mother pleads, looking into her adult daughter’s eyes. “I just want you to be happy. Listen to your heart!”  This line (or one like it) shows up in every sappy Hallmark movie I watch with my wife.  I can’t imagine worse advice to give someone—whether in the area of romance, parenting, career advancement, […]

Falling for Financial Fads?

In my 100% polyester, off-white leisure suit with its bell-bottomed pants and extra wide lapels, I thought I was hot stuff. My lime green nylon shirt sported a lion’s head on the back. My ensemble was made complete with platform shoes and a puka shell necklace. Oh, and I should mention my hair—blown dry and […]

Time for a Fiscal Physical?

No matter why I go see my doctor, he always does a few things first. Whether I’m complaining of cold or flu symptoms, or getting an annual physical, he first listens to my heartbeat, assesses my breathing (with an extra cold stethoscope), and looks down my throat, up my nose, through my ears, and into […]

When Will the Markets Bounce Back?

What a year it’s been financially! Here’s a snapshot… A year ago, the stock market, as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, closed at 34,390. Today (I’m writing this on September 30, 2022) the Dow stands at 28,725—about 17% lower!  Meanwhile, the S&P 500 has been falling since early January! A year ago, an […]

Two “Dudes” Work Out an Investment Plan

“You’re saying I should invest NOW?” Jordan almost choked as he thrust the heavy weights over his head.  He and his buddy Patrick regularly solved all the world’s problems during their noon workouts. On this day, the conversation had turned to personal finance. “Dude, the stock market is HORRIBLE!” Jordan said emphatically as he set […]

Why People Don’t Save

“I have some other things I’d like to do,” he said with a slight hesitation in his voice. “So, I don’t think I can commit to that right now.” He was responding to my encouragement that he establish a regular saving plan. How unfortunate. Because except for those rare souls who win the lottery or […]

The Long Hard Road to Instant Success

One of my clients emailed me recently, saying “People keep sending me this video. What am I missing?”  The video featured an attractive young man. He was glib, funny, a bit ironic, and full of confidence. The gist of his message was “Borrow money at 4% and invest it at 8%, and you’ll make a […]

Good (and Bad) News for Mid-Lifers

Bill scowled at his reflection in the mirror. At least his grayish beard hid his double chin.  “How did I get so old so soon?” he asked himself. Bill’s not old; he’s only 45. But he is at “halftime” in his professional life. Twenty years down, roughly twenty to go. In our twenties and thirties, […]

The Benefits of Being Older

It’s football season again. For the next 4-5 months, every Friday through Sunday—okay, almost every day that ends in “y”— big, strong young men (and Tom Brady) will suit up and take to the gridiron.  What’s fascinating is that these gifted athletes will listen to and follow the instructions of coaches twice as old and […]

On the Road Trip to Retirement

After two-plus years of pandemic protocols, 2022 was the summer we finally got back to one of our great American traditions: the road trip. Road trips can be epic or awful, unforgettable or regrettable. (We could swap stories, I’m sure.) The difference usually comes down to planning. The same is true with the journey of […]

When Information Becomes “Too Much”

“What Hath God Wrought.” That was the first telegraphed message, sent on May 24, 1844. It traveled 50 whole miles—from the United States’ Capitol all the way to Baltimore.  Before Samuel Morse’s landmark invention, news and information moved at the speed of a horse, a train, or a ship. With the introduction of the telegraph, […]

The Four Forgotten Retirement Challenges

One year into retirement Al is…unhappy. His issue isn’t money. Al’s always been a diligent saver. At age 45, he hired a financial planner. They drafted a wise plan and stuck to it for the next twenty years. Fact is, when Al walked away from his career last year, he was in great financial shape. […]

Your “Wealth Culture” (& Why It Matters)

Did you know your family has a “wealth culture”? (By “culture,” I mean the collection of common beliefs, values, assumptions, customs, and behaviors that mark a group of people.)  Every group of people displays a certain culture. Cities do. So do schools and churches, civic organizations and sports teams.  Businesses also have distinct cultures. (I’m […]

Paying for Retirement – Now vs. Later

“You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” That was the tagline from a famous Fram Oil Filter ad campaign back in the 1970’s. It featured a grizzled auto mechanic holding up an inexpensive oil filter, then pointing over his shoulder at a car engine in need of an expensive rebuild.  You […]

Get a Stronger Retirement Plan

Who knew we could glean financial insights from the World’s Strongest Man competition? If you saw it recently, you know the winner was a 28-year-old Scot named Tom Stoltman—all 6’8” and 384 pounds of him.  This year’s contest showed that if you ever have an 18-ton bus blocking your driveway, Tom’s your guy. Just give […]

Smart Plans vs. Plans That “Smart”

In the 1960s, going to the dentist meant a little white spittoon by the dental chair and a whole lot of pain.  Our dentist at the time—I’ll call him Dr. Hurt—thought only sissies needed anesthesia for a “little thing” like drilling and filling a cavity. Translation? Going to see Dr. Hurt was stressful! One day […]

How the Economy is Like Junior High

The last time the stock market had such a terrible January-through-June performance, I was in junior high. The year was 1970. For me, that was a time of pimples, polyester clothes, bad hair, trying to impress girls, and Mrs. Lawrence’s English class. All not-so-fun experiences—a lot like investing is for most people right now. For […]

Our Most Overlooked Freedom?

Each July 4 we Americans throw a national party. We celebrate our unparalleled freedoms which are the envy of the world. Our more “famous” liberties—freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc.—are spelled out in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. But perhaps the hidden genius of that document is that it laid […]

When Everything Seems Bleak

In early October, 1871, a fire turned Chicago’s business district into a smoldering ash heap. Today, visitors to the Windy City marvel at a skyline of beautiful architecture. In late December, 2005, quarterback Drew Brees of the San Diego Chargers suffered a severe injury to his throwing shoulder. Many experts believed his NFL career was […]

What Pain Can Do for Us

I had hip surgery last week. Man, did that ever hurt! Beforehand, I researched the procedure, the surgeon, the health facility, and the outcomes of others who’d had the same surgery.  What I didn’t focus on is the grueling rehab patients have to do after surgery. I didn’t think to ask, “How much pain will I […]

Five Financial Potholes (and How to Fix Them)

After two years of masking up and shutting down, we stir-crazy Americans are traveling again!  Beaches are packed, Disney is bustling, and national parks and campgrounds are turning away visitors. Our renewed wanderlust means a reintroduction to a regular feature of road trips: potholes!  We’ve all had the unpleasant experience of driving along and hitting […]

What to Do When the Markets are in Turmoil

 “We’ve never seen anything like this,” my friend whispered in an ominous tone. “Like what?” I asked. “This economy,” he continued. “You know, inflation. Debt. The stock market.” “You’re worried about the stock market?” I asked. “Aren’t you?” he responded. “Do you remember when COVID-19 first appeared?” I asked. “In late February 2020, the stock […]

The Problem with Financial “Extrapolation”

Back in the 1970s, an OPEC oil embargo sparked a period of hyperinflation in America. To clamp down on rising prices, Fed Chairman Paul Volcker raised interest rates. By 1981, you were lucky if you could find a home mortgage for less than 16%. Business loans were going for 25%.  On the bright side, if […]

Timing is Everything (but Predictable)

“DOUBLE YOUR NEST EGG” the headline screamed. “Now’s the time to jump into cheap stocks, funds and real estate.” Bad timing for a magazine called “Smart Money.” This headline was on the cover of the October 2008 issue—immediately before an epic financial crisis and market meltdown.  In early October 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average […]

The Problem with Swimming Naked

Legendary investor Warren Buffett once said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” This was the billionaire’s iconic way of saying that risky financial behaviors inevitably get exposed when economic conditions change dramatically.  Unless you have been snoozing the last 6-8 months, you probably know the economy is changing. […]

Finances are More than Numbers

He had his eye on some land.   “Daddy always said land was a smart investment. I think so too. They’re not making any more of that,” he said with a smile. “I could borrow the money,” he continued. “But I look at those amortization tables, and it kills me to see how much interest […]

When the Markets are Making You Nervous

“I bet you’re getting a lot of calls.” I could tell by the background noise he was driving with his windows down. I suppose calling to needle me seemed a good way to pass the time. I didn’t take the bait. “Calls about what?”  “This dang market,” he said. “Inflation is out of control. Fuel […]

A Legacy of Generosity

When I was in my 20s my father sold his business and retired. His commitment was to give a portion of the proceeds to charity. But he also wanted that money to have a long-term impact…on worthy local causes and also on his family. So, following some good advice, he and my mother created a […]

The Problem with Most Financial Plans

A lot of people use the term “financial plan” to refer to “a savings and investment plan.” I always wince. I’ve yet to meet someone who says, “My life goal is to save and invest money.” What people tell me is, “I want to save and invest money so that one day I can …” […]

In Golf (and Finance), the Swing’s the Thing

This weekend, golf fans everywhere are watching The Masters. The world’s best players—legends like Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson, as well as younger pros like my man, hometown hero Sam Burns—are showcasing their flawless golf swings. (They make it look so easy, don’t they?) In between all the jaw-dropping shots, golf fans will also “ooh” […]

Are You Betting Against the Odds?

Each year the college basketball season concludes with a tournament known as “March Madness.”  Part of the appeal is that there’s often a team from a small school that gets on a roll and beats several heavily favored opponents. Fans love these David vs. Goliath storylines. This year, in the men’s bracket, the unlikely underdog […]

When Investing Feels Like Gambling

“The stock market is like gambling,” someone told me earlier this week. I understand such feelings.  Thanks to inflation, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and other factors, the markets are more volatile than normal. The S&P 500 is a prime example. It fell 12% earlier this year. It has since recovered about half that year-to-date […]

5 Common Questions About Inflation

If you typed the word “inflation” into your favorite search engine, you’d get over 380 million results.  Whew. That’s a lot of reading. Let me save you time and confusion. Here are short answers to the five most common questions people ask about inflation. 1. What is inflation?  In simple terms, inflation is when our […]

The Benefits of Slowing Down

Can you run as fast today as you could 20 years ago?  Probably not. We get slower the older we get.  And it isn’t just our 40-yard dash time that declines. Our willingness to accept change and tolerate risk both decrease with age.  There are always exceptions. But most folks are far more safety-conscious at […]

Why Would Anyone Want to Get Out of Debt?

Why would anyone want to get out of debt? Think about it. You borrow money. You get to use that money now. Then you get to pay it back slowly, over time. Who wouldn’t want that deal? You might expect a financial planner to say getting out of debt is what everyone should do, ASAP. […]

What Story Are You Telling with Your Life?

If Hollywood made your life into a movie, would people want to watch it? Author Donald Miller got me thinking about stories, characters, and plots with his terrific new book Hero on a Mission. Drawing inspiration from great story tellers of the past, Miller argues that all great stories have four primary characters: the victim, […]

Why It’s Bad to “Fit In” Financially

One of the common questions I get from new clients is, “How am I doing financially . . . compared to everyone else in my situation?”  Something in us loves to compare—and do whatever “everyone else is doing.” When it comes to finances, this is rarely wise: Right now, some 2 million homeowners are three […]

The Things We Do for Love

This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Merchants will sell millions of flowers and cards and tons (literally) of candy. And restaurants will serve up all manner of candlelight dinners to sweethearts who are clamoring to demonstrate their passion.  But if you’ve been married for longer than about a month, you know that love needs deeper […]

Buckets of Money for Retirement!

I’m pretty sure National Lampoon’s 1985 movie “European Vacation” was based on my family’s 1972 trip to the same destination.  Both were comedies. Back then, European borders and currencies were as numerous and confusing as a Byzantine map.  To this day, I have no idea where we were when I tried to mail that postcard.  […]

Checklist for 60-Somethings

Don’t you “love” it when you forget to buy something at the grocery store? So often I get nine of the ten things I was supposed to buy, but there’s always that one item I don’t remember until I get home. “Seriously? You forgot the tomatoes? How am I supposed to make spaghetti sauce without […]

A Tale of Two Diets

Over the last ten years I’ve lost about 100 pounds. Okay, it’s actually the same ten pounds, gained and lost ten times. Blame it on the holidays, I guess. Sweet people sending me sweets. My wife’s deadly—the good kind of deadly—pecan pie. Hey, I’m not complaining. I love all that delicious stuff. But New Year’s […]

Don’t Regret Those Resolutions … Focus on Habits More Than Goals

I have no idea how many dieting books, fitness club memberships or getting-organized supplies are sold during the weeks just before and just after New Year’s Day…but I suspect it’s a big number. Something about a new year suggests a clean slate – a fresh opportunity to do it again, only this time get it […]

Christmas Thoughts on Giving, Money, and Time

At Christmas we focus on giving.  The next day, we turn our attention to time. We review the year that’s ending and preview the year just ahead. So, how about some year-end (and year-beginning) reminders about giving and time? 1. You can give time to your money. What do I mean?  We have this amazing […]

What Airplanes Can Teach Us About Money

In my financial planning practice, I meet with a lot of “Type A” entrepreneurs. Their number one question? “Couldn’t I be doing better with my money?” I always have to smile. These driven individuals are used to optimizing everything they touch—or at least trying to. If they have three rental properties today, they want to […]

Four Components of a Good Succession Plan

Though he was past traditional retirement age, he was living every businessperson’s dream. A healthy company. A strong management team. The freedom to come and go.  “Maybe it’s time,” he told me. “Time to pass on my business to my adult children—even though they’re not actually in the business. I’m thinking that if they’d just […]

On the Simple Act of Giving Thanks

Each Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of all the benefits that come from giving thanks.  In fact, Howard Hendricks used to recommend “Thanksgiving Therapy.” He suggested writing the phrase “I’m thankful for…” on a pad of paper, then listing all the specific reasons you’re grateful.  It’s a powerful exercise. Try it and you’ll discover—as I have—that Dr. […]

When the Finish Line Gets Moved

It was a 10k race, but at the 9k mark, I was gasping for air. My lungs were on fire. My legs were screaming at me to quit.  Except that I had only one more hill to go. If I could climb it—honestly, it looked like Everest—I’d be close to the final turn where the […]

6 Essentials for a Life of Wealth

In my last column we looked at the difference between affluence and wealth.  My simple definition of affluence is “your income relative to everyone else’s.” If you make $36,000, you qualify as an average Joe – you’re right in the middle of the income numbers for the rest of the country.  However, someone making $36,000 […]

Who is Really Rich – the Affluent or the Wealthy?

“We’re gonna be rich!” Don bellowed as he beat his fist against the steering wheel. He drove a white Lincoln Continental with burgundy leather interior. It was longer than most living rooms and at that moment was lumbering down I-55 from St. Louis to Jackson, MS. The windows were down and his heart was full.  […]

What If You Outlive Your Heir?

You want to leave your estate to certain people. But suppose they die first. What then? Ideally, you’ve spelled out your wishes—and contingency plans for scenarios like this—in a written will. If not—and assuming you never get around to writing a will—Louisiana (assuming you live here) will use its “laws of intestacy” to essentially create […]

About that Financially Irresponsible Person in Your Life

We’ve all got them. People in our lives who live in a chronic state of financial mess. When it comes to money, they habitually make poor choices. There’s the friend who overspends. Despite his big salary, he’s got even bigger debt. There’s the parent who under-saves. The sibling who comes to you annually for “just […]

About that Money You’ve Been Paying Social Security

“I wish I had all the money I’ve paid into Social Security. I’d be rich.” Over the years, I’ve had one or two (hundred) folks say something like that to me.  Recently I got so curious, I decided to run the numbers. On myself. (By the way, did you know you can go to the […]

Goldilocks and the Three Retirements

What exactly do you want out of retirement?  (I ask because when it comes to this topic most folks focus mostly on tools—pensions, 401(k) plans, Social Security, etc. Only a few think about goals.)  Many answer by saying they want be able to sleep till 10 or not have to dress up every day. I […]

The Many Expenses of Long-Term Care

Long-term care is expensive. And sometimes it costs a lot of money too. There may not be a great deal of cash changing hands as a result of someone’s gradually increasing need for long-term care, but that doesn’t mean a steep price is not paid.  And often, that price is paid by the healthy spouse.  […]

What If Money CAN Buy Happiness?

“Money can’t buy happiness…but it can buy cows. And cows make milk, and milk makes ice cream, and ice cream makes you happy.” This is the sort of wisdom you pick up in a Colorado bookshop while on vacation. Maybe it was the thinner air, but after I chuckled, I thought, “Wait a minute…that’s really […]

That’s What Friends Are For

Ask a friend. That’s what we typically do when we’re trying to make decisions in life. Need a new doctor? Ask a friend. Better accountant? Ask a friend. Romantic vacation spot? Ask a friend. New school for the kids? Ask a friend. Why do we do this? Do we honestly think our assorted friends are […]

Is Your Debt Destructive or Constructive?

Comedian Bob Hope once quipped, “A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove you don’t need it.” We chuckle, but it’s true. Lending institutions couldn’t stay in business long if they loaned money to folks who couldn’t repay them (with interest).  So banks are careful. They consider the risks […]

The Surprising Truth About Budgeting

Clients often ask, “Do I need to budget?”  When I reply, “Maybe, maybe not,” they look at me like I’m a weight loss guru who just offered them a cheese Danish. “Wait—you’re a financial planner! Aren’t you supposed to tell me to budget?” My experience is that only about 10% of my clients budget. And […]

How to Save Money

All the financial whizzes like to say, “You need to be saving money!” Maybe you’d like to, but you don’t know how. (If so, how’s this for a hook: You will by the time you finish this column!) First things first: Saving is a habit. Like all habits, it requires motivation and momentum. If you’ve […]

3 Ways to Avoid Wrong Business Priorities

In the Disney film Glory Road, a star basketball player at Texas Western University is on the verge of flunking out.  In desperation, the coach summons the young man’s mother. She marches onto campus and proceeds to turns her son’s world upside down. She even attends class with him and “volunteers” him to recite all […]

When Keeping Secrets is a Problem

Why are so many of us bad at keeping the secrets we should keep, but good at keeping those we shouldn’t? Like the financial secrets you’ve been keeping from your spouse. Gulp. Oh, yeah. Those. I’m convinced this happens because some financial realities are painful to face. And yet the pain of dealing with those […]

Tom Cruise and Your Financial Future

When the iconic Mission Impossible music starts blaring, we all know what’s coming.  A fuse has just been lit! The clock is ticking!  It’s up to Ethan Hunt (played perfectly by Tom Cruise) and his talented team of spies to save the day again (they’ve done it six times so far).  They’ve got two hours, […]

The Problem with Financial Plans Based on Sad Stories

“Don’t get a haircut!” That was my father’s reaction years ago when I told him I was about to have a professional photograph taken.  I was baffled. I had no more hair then than I do now. Why this odd advice? Dad proceeded to tell me about his own experience. He’d once had his picture […]

Some Surprising Thoughts on Debt

Some see “debt” as the foulest of all four-letter words.  “All it does is reveal a lack of discipline,” they insist. “All it does is cause major stress.” I agree it’s a bad idea to use debt to buy items that decrease in value over time. And, yes, indiscriminate borrowing often stems from a failure […]

More Than Fireworks and Hot Dogs

On this day 245 years ago, the Second Continental Congress signed a declaration that the 13 American colonies were no longer under British rule.  That feisty letter—which our forefathers sent “across the pond” to King George—effectively said, “As of today, we are free to build and become a different kind of nation.”  We call the […]

Stop Assuming and Start (Estate) Planning

Here’s a shocker: Forbes estimates that nearly two out of three Americans do not have a will. No clear instructions for survivors. No written record of “Here’s how I want my property distributed.” Even the “rich and famous” are part of this will-less majority. The artist known as Prince died without a will. So did […]

How Real Fathers Make Life Richer

On Father’s Day we honor the dads who make the world a better, richer place.  I should probably define terms. Some guys are “just-a-father.” That is, they made a strategic biological connection with a specific obstetric result. That’s it. Then they disappeared. The legacy of these “just-a-fathers” is grim. Did you know children in father […]

The Role Character Plays in Financial Success

In a celebrity culture like ours, the “rich and famous” get most of the attention. The freak athlete. The shrewd mogul. The talented entertainer. The mesmerizing author. The successful investor. The flamboyant reality star. Through some combination of genetic gifting, hard work, and dumb luck, these few lucky souls have managed to hit it big. […]

What To Do About Financial Fear

Here’s a fun, indoor thing to do on the next rainy day. Type the question “What do people fear most?” into your preferred search engine and look at the results. We humans are scared of all sorts of things: failure, change, heights, snakes, the dark, giving speeches, being alone, being confined in small spaces, being […]

Financial Success Requires this DISH

In my column last week I introduced the idea that the wealthy know a “secret” the rest of us don’t.  It’s the idea that success—financial or otherwise—doesn’t come because of a single grand action. Rather, it’s the result of a thousand small steps and smart habits. Perhaps you remember the nineties business book Built to […]

The Little Secret to Big Financial Success

Most folks are convinced the wealthy know some big financial “Secret” the rest of us don’t. Like, they went to “the right” school and met “the right” people. Or they heard about Tesla before anyone else did, or got in on the ground floor of Amazon. Or somehow, they cracked the code on those free […]

Living Within Your Means is an Illusion

Do you live within your means? If you answered yes, that’s a problem. Here’s why. Caleb and Jessica bought a new house last year and spent more than they planned. The expenses that accompanied their new home were more than expected.  “We are still living within our means,” they explained to me, “but we can’t […]

The Problem with Those “Average Returns”

An old joke says that if you keep one foot on a hot stove and your other foot in an ice bucket, on average you should be comfortable. That line always makes me smile. It underscores a reality in the world of markets and investing—averages can be both mathematically accurate and experientially awful.  Case in […]

Do These 3 Things When the Market is Soaring

The stock market is at an all-time high. Which is great, right? Your 401(k) has never been higher, and you’ve never been richer! But wait. “What goes up must come down,” right? If the market is soaring now, is a dip—or a crash—just ahead?  It’s a dilemma: Should we be content or concerned? Should we […]

3 Ways to Improve Your (Financial) Self-Image

When it comes to money, are you: (a) a financial wiz; (b) your own worst enemy; or (c) somewhere in between? In my 30+ years as a financial advisor, I’ve observed that by adulthood most people have developed a “financial self-image.” Maybe you’re one of those few souls who see yourself as good with money, […]

Is Your Financial Advisor Trustworthy?

Bernie Madoff died this week. Madoff was the architect behind the biggest Wall Street fraud in history. The former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market index, Madoff positioned himself as a self-made financial genius. He claimed to know how to avoid market fluctuations and deliver steady, handsome returns.  Famous clients like movie director Steven Spielberg, […]

5 Ways You Can Be Safer Financially

When my wife and I are on the interstate, nothing makes her more nervous than me passing an 18-wheeler. (In her defense, I’m not the one who would first feel the effects of a tractor-trailer swerving violently in our direction.) If she senses even the slightest movement our way, she ends up in my lap! […]

Will Your Retirement Income Be Enough?

How much income will you need in retirement? Here’s an eight-step plan for figuring that out. 1. Start with your current income. As an example, let’s assume you make $100,000 annually. 2. Assume some inflation. No one knows what inflation rates will be between now and your retirement. What we do know is that postage […]

3 Facts About Early Retirement

“Think I might be able to retire EARLY?” When I’m helping clients prepare retirement income plans, I often get this question.  It rarely comes right away. In fact, many are initially unsure if retirement will be possible at all. But once we’ve gathered the relevant data, estimated how much income they’ll need in retirement, and […]

The 6 Questions to Ask When Saving for Retirement

I get questions all the time about saving for retirement. Clients ask: How much should I be setting aside each month? How big of a ‘nest egg’ do you think I’ll need in order to retire comfortably? Will Social Security run out of money before I’m 65? Should I even count on that? What mutual […]

Making and Keeping Promises

Life is made up of promises, big and small. From marriages, to mortgages, to meals delivered on time, we depend on others—as they depend on us—to keep the promises that have been made. Take the young man who pledges to be faithful to his young bride “till death do us part.” That’s a promise he […]

Feeling Financially Out-of-Control?

“When this new bunch in Washington raises everyone’s taxes, what’s going to happen to the market then?” I get questions like this a few times each week. And my honest answer is “I have no idea.” Will our taxes be raised? Possibly. But since I’m not a prophet, I can’t say for sure—government tax policy […]

How Hard is Your Money Working for You?

Recently I spoke with someone who runs the computer network for a large company. When most employees started working from home due to COVID-19, this man was able to see what each worker was doing all day every day.  “I could save my company a million dollars,” he said. “I can tell who’s working and […]

What an Arctic Blast Can Teach Us

Didn’t see that one coming, did you? We’ve been so focused on a deadly pandemic and unceasing political drama that we missed the onset of…winter. You remember winter, don’t you? Normally in Louisiana, it’s that brief period between the Sugar Bowl and the Super Bowl. At least, that’s the way I remember it. Until this […]

Love Assurance

On Valentine’s Day, what could possibly be more romantic than flowers, chocolate…and life insurance? On second thought, let’s reserve February 14 for sweet notes, roses, and intimate dinners. Do the life insurance part on February 13 (or save it till the 15th). But definitely do it. Here’s why… Life insurance is love assurance. It demonstrates […]

Making Millions on Wall Street?

When you hear about someone making a fortune in the stock market practically overnight, don’t you sometimes think, “Why can’t that be me?” We saw it again in recent days.  In brief, a group of “wolf of Wall Street” types were betting against GameStop, the video game retailer. They were hoping to make millions when […]

Is Your Most Valuable Asset Protected?

In my first meeting with a new client, we typically do what I call a “data dump.” They bring all their financial information and dump it (sometimes literally) on my desk. Right now, I’m thinking of a particular young couple. They owned a business and had two young children at home. They were busy folks! […]

Stop Waiting for Perfect

The man told me he wanted to begin investing. He realized if he never invested his money, it could never grow. And if his money never grew, he’d never get to retire…at least not to the lifestyle to which he was accustomed. Ideally, the man said, he wanted the long-term growth available only in the […]

Backward or Forward – How Will You Live 2021?

Teaching your teenagers to drive is not for the squeamish.  (And all the parents said, “Amen!”) Years ago, I had a friend whose 15 year-old got his learner’s permit. Like every teen, he wanted to drive his parents everywhere. However, each time the boy got behind the wheel he would obsess over what was in […]

Optimism – The Rational Outlook for 2021

It takes a lot to be an optimist these days.  Just consider a handful of headlines from two national newspapers, one left leaning, the other right. These all appeared on the same day this week.  Pandemic Reshapes US Employment Across Industries Pandemic Leads Schools to Halt Ph.D. Admissions Airlines Aren’t Making It Easy to Use […]

Get Your Planning Right in 2021

The 1980s brought us cable TV, personal computers, parachute pants and mullet haircuts (powerful proof that not every “innovation” equals progress). The decade also saw the rise of the 401(k) plan.  Before the heyday of mullet haircuts, the phrase “retirement plan” referred to a pension plan. A pension was a social contract between workers and […]

Crisis Christmas

Do you get the feeling that it’s the coronavirus, not the Grinch, that’s trying to steal Christmas? I’m sure I don’t’ need to recite all of this year’s national and international economic disappointments that have come as a result of this pandemic.  For the unemployed oil field worker, the exhausted nurse or teacher, the farmer […]

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Sometimes when I ask people, “What are your financial goals?” they say things like: “Other than having enough one day to retire on, I’m not sure I have any clear financial goals.” After a pause they add, “That’s not a very good answer, is it?” That’s usually when I say, “Maybe if I asked better […]

Plan Your Journey

If you’re over 50, you may remember AAA TripTiks booklets. From AAA’s website: “In the days before Google Maps…or even the internet…a AAA agent would draw the route with a highlighter on a series of numbered maps, going through the route with the driver before they started. The end result, a guided route through a […]

Consumer or Contributor – Which Do You Want to Be?

The holiday season is advertiser season.  We see a parade of TV commercials and online ads showing us peaceful, thankful and content people. But they’re not real, are they? They’re actors, visions created for us by clever marketers, promising us the good life if only we’ll buy their product. Perhaps you’re not like the people […]

Thanksgiving Lessons in 2020

What a year. Coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins, COVID-19 has now infected some 12 million Americans and claimed more than 250,000 lives.  Race issues. Around the same time the coronavirus began spreading across the U.S., the death of George Floyd in Milwaukee triggered nationwide protests (some violent) over issues of race and policing practices.  Hurricanes. […]

Retire to What?

“Do you want to retire one day?” That’s a question I ask new clients. The answers I get are fairly predictable. Older workers or people with jobs they hate say, “You bet! How about yesterday?!”  People who enjoy their work say things like, “I might want to slow down one day, but I can’t imagine […]

Maintenance Always Costs Less

Why would anyone pay for an oil change?  Call me a weenie (and many do), but I don’t do my own oil changes. I know real men do, but I just don’t.  I used to go to one of those places that made you wait in their lobby, where you read dated issues of People […]

Is It Urgent or Important?

“I have an opportunity…” I can’t tell you how any of my client conversations start with that statement. “I have an opportunity to…buy into a business…buy some land…buy a house I’ve had my eye on for a long time.” Always these opportunities come with a timeline.  “I need to give them an answer…by tomorrow…by the […]

Lowest Price or Highest Value?

$37 million. That’s how much the Los Angeles Lakers paid LeBron James to lead them to their 17th NBA championship. Along the way he earned the championship MVP title as the Lakers celebrated their title in front of…well, nobody. Weird year. Was it worth it for the Lakers? Having not won an NBA championship since […]

The Truth About Financial Control

How much of your life is in your control? Probably a lot less than you think. But how you respond to this uncomfortable reality can have a huge impact on your financial health. Think for a moment about all you actually control. Did you, for example, determine the parents you have or where you would […]

How Secure is Your Social Security?

Some people collect baseball trading cards. Other people collect antique books. I collect Social Security statements. Mine. Yes, I am that boring.  The oldest one I’ve got dates back to 2003, so I’ve got almost 20 years’ worth of Social Security (SSA) statements. But they contain my work records all the way back to the […]

The Danger of Financial Fatigue

The smell of fresh cut grass in August still makes me want to run and hide. I get flashbacks of red-faced football coaches, whistles blowing, screaming encouraging slogans at me like, “C’mon, son…run! Harder! Faster!” During summer camp, these thoughtful men even had trash cans placed strategically about the field so we players could pause, […]

Get Right About What’s Wrong

Chris thought he had a stomachache.  So, like most young men, he considered his options and did the only sensible thing. He ate more.  Well, that didn’t help, so he bought the jumbo bottle of Pepto-Bismol. By the time the weekend was over, he was doubled over in pain and begging his wife to drive […]

Are You Ready for the Next Storm?

In one sense, Laura and Sally didn’t sneak up on anyone. Meteorologists helped us track both hurricanes from their births deep in the warm Atlantic waters to their tempestuous tromps through coastal cities and towns.  Laura devastated Lake Charles as she worked her way up the western side of south Louisiana. As I write this, […]

The Job You Should Be Working in Is …

Where should you work? If money is tight and job opportunities are in short supply, your answer might be “anywhere that will pay me!” While that’s not a terrible answer, it is also not an answer that’s likely to satisfy you long-term. Consider three mindsets that can help you frame your thinking about your career […]

Labor Day – Work is a “Get To”

I know an organization that frames the less-than-desirable duties of their employees as “get tos.” The idea is to change the mindset from negative to positive. Instead of seeing a duty as something you “have to do,” you change your viewpoint so that you see it as an opportunity for service, or something you “get […]

“I hate debt!” … Really?

“I hate debt!” That’s an oft heard declaration that erupts early in some of my meetings with new or prospective clients. Most of the time it happens as a large sheet of paper is pulled out of a folder, or a spreadsheet is opened on a computer. Whether computerized or penned, it’s a list of […]

If the Shoe Fits

If your feet hurt when you walk, get smaller feet, bigger shoes or go barefoot.  That’s both the predicament and the choice left to many retirees (and those anticipating retirement) today.  Their feet hurt. A.K.A., their expenses are larger than their income. If you’ve ever spent much time spending more money than you bring in, […]

Waiting on the Election

“I think I’m just going to wait until after the election.” I am hearing this response nearly every week from someone else afraid to make a decision with a financial impact. In my career I have lived through the elections of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald […]

Pay Attention to Your Costs … All of Them

“One one-thousandth of a dollar.” I said. “That’s not much is it?” I handed his phone back to him. He’d handed it to me to show me how low the expense ratio of his indexed mutual fund was. He pressed his lips together, holding back a smile. “I guess it’s my engineering training coming out,” […]

Retire Debt in Retirement

“Should I refinance my house and get a 30-year mortgage? Is that crazy?” She was nearly 65 and had a six-figure mortgage attached to her house. She was single and had a good income as a nurse. But as she looked ahead, she could see trouble coming.  “I make nearly $5,000 per month now, and […]

Perseverance Beats Perfection When Rehabbing Habits

“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” Winston Churchill’s advice still applies. If you find yourself having “blown it” once again financially, now is definitely not the time to stop. Now is the time to get back up, dust yourself off and redouble your efforts.  Chrystal and Tony are typical of people I’ve talked to […]

Doomsday Always Sells

“The signs are everywhere…” It was an ominous headline to an email that caught the attention of a client. “Is this something I should be concerned about?” Concern, worry and a buying decision to subscribe to an expensive newsletter was exactly what the email’s author was hoping to elicit.  The email’s author had “seen several […]

Giving as Gain

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Someone important said that long ago, but I think every generation has the opportunity to discover that truth in new and fresh ways.  But let’s start with the obvious…the math of giving doesn’t seem to work – at first anyway.  If I’ve got $100 and I […]

A Union Under Tension

Out of many, one. That’s what the “E Pluribus Unum” phrase stamped on those coins in your pocket means.  It is the aspiration of a hopeful nation, that out of a disparate population from all over the world, a union might be formed and maintained.  For many, our “union” seems tenuous and anything but unified. […]

Where is Opportunity?

“Where can I find a job in an economy like this?” He was young and thought of himself as more ambitious than most. He wasn’t going to be happy climbing up some corporate ladder.  “Where’s the best place for a go-getter like me to get the best opportunity?” I tried to break it to him […]

Black Swans: The Enemy of All Perfect Plans

“Didn’t see that coming!” A worldwide disease pandemic. An explosion of race related unrest across our nation. Oil prices going negative. A global financial crisis. A real estate bubble. The Dotcom bubble.  Pundits will blame someone for not seeing “it” coming. Consultants will charge a fee for helping you see it coming next time. And […]

Workers Worry About Money Today, Not Retirement Tomorrow

What causes the average Joe stress at work? Work, right?  Or maybe something about work – a bad boss, poor working conditions, toxic co-workers or maybe just Facebook being blocked on their work computer (“dang IT guys!”). Each year international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) sponsors an Employee Financial Wellness Survey. Their 2020 survey asked employees, […]

Financial Freedom

What is financial freedom? If you’re thinking “being wealthy” or “becoming financially independent,” I disagree with you. I know many wealthy, financially independent people who are anything but financially free. For them, money and wealth are a ball and chain, a never-sleeping slave master that makes them do its bidding. Financial freedom is not a […]

Failure … the Path to Success

As the class of 2020 Zooms across the stage to collect their virtual diplomas, may I offer some advice as you set off to find your pathway to success? Fail. Often. I didn’t say “be a failure.” Nor did I ask you to enjoy the experience of failing.  But if you want to find the […]

Are You Prepared to Live to 100?

What would happen if you lived to be 100? When Wayne was contemplating his retirement from public service, he didn’t want to retire from life. He was looking for an older man who had lived the last portion of his life in an exemplary way. Wayne was 61 at the time. Who looks for a […]

Coaches for the Win

“Moore, if your brains was dynamite, you couldn’t make a humming bird sneeze!” They don’t make ‘em like Coach Shaw anymore.  He “drafted” me for his high school basketball team off my ninth-grade playground. The only thing I had going for me was being over six feet tall and attending a small high school blessed […]

Which Job Do You Want?

The interviews are over. You’ve managed to make it through the gauntlet and emerge on the other side, ready to claim that new job. All that remains is for them to make the offer and you to accept. “We are pleased to be able to make you a job offer to become part of the […]

I’ll Retire with a Little Help from My Friends

About 10,000 people retire each day in America.  That means you and I probably know someone who had planned to retire just as the Coronavirus-caused financial disaster struck.  Based on my experience, most of those 10,000 had already made peace with the fact they would have to do without a few things in order to […]

Spring Cleaning … Where Do I Start?

How is it that when you have the most unstructured time on your hands, you get the least done? Now, if you’re a doctor or nurse tending to Coronavirus patients, a banker pushing out PPP loans or a grocer working overtime to restock the toilet paper shelves, this doesn’t apply to you. But waaaay more […]

What is Wealth?

What is wealth? Where does it come from? And is it easily destroyed? These are not academic questions unrelated to our daily if Coronavirus-interrupted lives.  In fact, your answer to these questions will drive how you respond during and after the worldwide pandemic. Is wealth the sum of all the money in all the banks […]

Freedom from Fear

Freedom.  It’s one of those things we as Americans prize very, very highly. In fact, Americans prize freedom above almost all else. In the past, we have proven that we will even die to ensure freedom for those we love. But we find ourselves living in a time when that precious gift – freedom – […]

Who C.A.R.E.S.? You Should

The money is about to start flowing. And not a moment too soon. The COVID-19 virus has delivered a shock to the world economy the likes of which has not been seen in a long, long time. Businesses are shut down and individuals are staying at home. A national economy that was humming on Valentine’s […]

Momma Cash

Sometimes, you just want your Momma. The safety of that soft touch, the secure hug, the serene voice, and the sentimental smell (even if it is that of meatloaf and Pine Sol). It’s Momma. And it’s safe. That’s what financial markets wanted these last few weeks. Momma. And for financial markets, Momma is spelled C-A-S-H.  […]

Coronavirus – Good Reason to Delay Planning?

Question: All the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus has me wondering how effective long-term planning can be during times like these. What do you think? Answer: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”  So said French philosopher Michel de Montaigne over 500 years ago…which just goes to show you worry is […]

Lessons from a Crisis

It isn’t the first time and it certainly won’t be the last. But we find ourselves in the midst of a worldwide health crisis – the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Among the many ripple effects of the disease, and the world’s desperate attempts to contain it has been a significant impact on financial markets. Markets don’t like […]

A Way to Get Better

“Do you want to get well?” It’s a question that seems to have an obvious answer, especially if you’re sick. “Of course, I want to get well! What kind of question is that?” Next comes the follow-up question, and here’s where you separate the curious from the serious. “Are you willing to do what it […]

Letter from Jack

“How wrong can you be!” It was a message scribbled on a blue post-it note, stuck to a worn and folded newspaper clipping. The clipping was of a column I’d written for the local paper about 15 months prior to the note being written. I came across this old bit of correspondence just this week […]

When Markets Get Sick

You’ve heard about that disease sweeping the world, right? It can cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue; sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Most cases are mild, but others are quite severe, even fatal in rare cases.  Around the world, nearly 1 billion people come down with this malady…9 to 45 million in the US alone. Between 12,000 […]

Too Much Money is Too Much Trouble

Too much money is too much trouble You can have too much money. I know you don’t believe me. I hear you out there saying, “Try me! Just try me!” Of course, “too much money” is not the malady facing most Americans. Credit card debt is at an all-time high (over $1 trillion) and student […]

Retirement Triple Play

There’s a reason football players come in all sizes. And, yes, as a matter of fact, this has a lot to do with your money…especially in retirement.  Whether you are a football fanatic experiencing the post-Super Bowl blues or someone who could care less about the sport, nearly everyone realizes football players come in large, […]

Talk is Cheap – Show Me the Love

What is love? And what does that have to do with money? A really smart guy once said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Well, if the treasure is money and the heart is love, then love and money go hand in hand. From one perspective, you could say that where […]

When is It Risky to Avoid Risk?

I know the speech. “Mr. Moore, this is all the money I have in the world.” She is clutching an investment account statement pulled from a tattered envelope. She has told me about the years of hard work she’s put in, saving as much as she could while putting three sons through college. Now she’s […]

Symbols are No Surrogate for Substance

I wonder how many patients gorge on fried chicken the day before their first cardiology appointment. I’ve had many people come to see me for financial planning and begin the conversation by “admitting” they just bought a new car. Or a new house. Or maybe a new boat. It didn’t take long to figure out […]

Money is a Mirror

Have you seen the latest fitness craze?  It’s a mirror. Actually, they call it “The Mirror.” This $1500 piece of technology combines video and live feedback technology to provide the experience of a one-on-one trainer in your home…only she’s really just in your mirror. It’s actually kind of spooky. There you are, standing in front […]

Developing Your 2020 Vision

Don’t look now but the 21st century is 20% done.  By this time last century, we’d fought a world war, built the Panama Canal, begun the Federal Reserve, started the income tax, given woman the right to vote and witnessed the birth of the first communist state. It was a busy 20 years.  Now the […]

No Substitute for Being There in Person

Sometimes there’s just no substitute for being there in person.  Can you imagine sending an employee, who reports to you at work, to your daughter’s school Christmas play? “Your father would have been here, but he had a super important conference call he had to take…” Delegation is a necessary skill and focusing on the […]

I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know

“I don’t know what I don’t know…” Craig had called me out of the blue. I’d known him when he was a college student, then a young single man. “Bachelor till the rapture,” he’d say about himself. Until he met Kathy. She was a single mom with a gentle but determined spirit and wiggly three-year-old. […]

Career Advice from Coach O

By now, you have the advantage of knowing the outcome of yesterday’s SEC football championship contest between LSU and Georgia. No matter the outcome, LSU surprised everyone this year with its high-powered offense, led by quarterback Joe Burrow. And leading the team onto the field Saturday was their barrel chested, gravel voiced, Louisiana loving head […]

What Do I Do with My Retirement Plan When I Retire? Part 2

Last week we began exploring the need to “begin with the end in mind” when it comes to retirement planning. If you’re just stuffing dollars into a 401(k), you have a retirement account, but don’t have a retirement plan. A retirement plan is not only a tactic of funding a future retirement, but also a […]

What Do I Do with My Retirement Plan When I Retire? Part 1

Begin with the end in mind. That sounds obvious enough, doesn’t it?  When I finish writing this column, I’m planning to drive for four hours. But not just anywhere. I want to arrive in Baton Rouge at the conclusion of my drive. I’m not going to just get in my car and drive. I intend […]

Stay at Home

All she ever wanted to do was stay at home.  When she and Craig first met and married, Anna chose a pretty traditional route for a woman of her generation. She stayed at home to focus her time and energies on raising their three boys. Though her boys each married women that chose to work […]

They Were the Pre-Internet Social Networks

If you are old enough to remember when yearbooks were more popular than Facebook, you were an adult in the pre-Internet era.  That seems like a long, long time ago.  Today we often refer to Facebook and other such websites as “social media” or “social networks.” The idea is that the Internet facilitates the interaction […]

Did You Forget Something?

We got to an LSU football game once, only to discover we’d left the game tickets on the kitchen counter (stop laughing…you know you’ve nearly done the same). That wasn’t as bad as the time we got to Disney World, four Magic Kingdom manic kids in tow, only to discover we’d done the same things […]

Vital Signs

What’s the first thing they do when you go to a doctor’s office? OK, well yes, they check to make sure you have insurance. But what else? OK, you got me. They make you fill out a clipboard full of information that you fill out every single time you go to the doctor’s office. My […]

Social Security: Attitudes Alter with Age

Wouldn’t it be nice to work at one of those places that offered big-time retirement perks? I mean the kind of employer that promises to send you millions of dollars over the course of your retirement. Guaranteed. You might be closer than you think. When it comes to retirement, attitudes naturally change as we get […]

DIY in the Kitchen and in the Retirement Account

“They’ll let you buy fresh dough and do it yourself,” Harrison offered. “You just get it in a big ball of dough, take it home and make your own. It’s cheaper!” I started thinking about flour all over the kitchen counter (and floor), chopping up dozens of ingredients, a hot oven and my spotty history […]

Inheritance: Is It a Burden, Barrier, or Benefit?

The only thing she had left of him was his estate. If she lost that, she would lose him. It became obvious in our first conversation that she wasn’t here to talk to me about stocks, bonds, houses, buildings, businesses, or timberland. She had inherited all of that from her father.  From a purely financial […]

Your Disaster Scenario

“If I have my mind, I can work.” “Great,” I answered. “Let’s test that theory out.” I opened my drawer and pulled out a hammer, laying it gently on the desk between us.  “Please place your hand palm down on the desk,” I said. “Your off-hand is fine. And please don’t move it…the hammer can […]

What’s Got You Stuck?

What’s got you stuck? Consultant Bobb Beihl tells of a time he was behind the scenes of an Arizona circus and started chatting with a man who trains animals for Hollywood movies. “How is it that you can stake down a ten-ton elephant with the same size stake that you use for this little fellow?” […]

Launching Tyler

When Tyler left, Melinda cried. She cried because he was a kind, thoughtful young man who reminded her of her own sons, whom she had also seen leave the nest. In the month or two he’d lived with us, he’d unconsciously worked his way into her heart. I also got a little misty-eyed…without being asked […]

One-Time Expenses are Rarely One Time

It would be a one-time expense.  He was not asking my permission. He was notifying me of a change I was now being tasked to make in his retirement plan.  He drove that change to our meeting. I had not previously thought of him as a tricked-out Escalade kind of guy, but there he was […]

From Vision to Provision to Victory

“That’s never going to happen.” She held a binder in her hands with papers, charts, and projections outlining the process of how she and her husband might gradually replace the income they each earned through working with income that comes from their accumulated assets.  Otherwise known as a retirement plan. “Now hold on a minute,” […]

Is Retirement Bad for You?

What if you found out retirement was bad for you? Would you reconsider it? Or at least the way it is traditionally done? Richard W. Johnson thinks so. He’s the director of retirement policy at the Urban Institute. His survey of studies done on the health of retirees suggests a number of downsides for retirees, […]

Water, Wills, and What to Say

Early in my career, I learned that water causes wills.  “Hey, Julie and I are going to Europe to celebrate her 40th birthday and we both decided we wanted to get wills done before we go…” It’s a phone call I get once or twice a year, either from a client or a friend.  Something about […]

Hidden in Plain Sight

“Why hasn’t anyone ever told me about this?” she asked. She was at the same time relieved, chagrined, and just a tiny bit angry.  Like many facing retirement, she had started later than she now wished she had and was facing the prospect of a significant lifestyle change. Sure, she could keep spending money in […]

Of Scams, God, and Good ‘Ol Boys

When a preacher tells you that your treasure should be in heaven, you might want to listen. But if one of them starts telling you that at least some of your treasure might be found in recently discovered Confederate government bonds, foreign exchange currency schemes, timber contracts, off-shore certificates of deposit or high yield hospital […]

Financial Wellness

Question: What is financial wellness? I am a human resources professional and financial wellness is a hot topic among my peers. The idea is that if we provide financial wellness training for our employees, they can be more stable and productive for their employers. That sounds good, but I’m not even sure how to define […]

Goal Setting: Aim at What You Require, Desire, and Aspire

Question: My wife and I are setting some goals with respect to our retirement and we have a question. Should we be pessimistic or optimistic about how things will go, both now and in retirement? I’ve run different scenarios and things can really turn out wildly different, depending on what assumptions you use. Answer: One […]

Mistakes When Working with a Financial Advisor

Question: I have been working with a financial planner for a few years and I’m not satisfied. It isn’t so much about the investment part. That’s been OK. But I just don’t feel like he knows I am alive. Is it too much to expect to be able to find someone who will take care […]

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