Blog

Thursday, September 29, 2022

In the part of the country where our offices are located, Monterey and Pleasanton, California, we have a high cost of living and a high tax rate.  Investors are continually trying to find new ways to save on taxes.  And...

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The end of summer and the start of the school year always seem to be a catalyst for conversations about college savings and where they fit into larger, long-term financial strategies. In particular, the 529 college savings plan, with...

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

People want freedom. It seems to be a natural part of our makeup. When I first meet clients and begin talking with them about their goals, they are sometimes fuzzy on the details, but they are almost always clear on the...

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

With inflation at 40-year highs, the Fed is aggressively hiking interest rates; but it's a tricky proposition: raise rates too much and many fear the next recession is right around the corner. Markets have been reflecting that fear,...

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Is Now a Good Time for a Roth IRA Conversion?We know that taxes are one of life’s two inevitables. So, the question is not if you will pay taxes on your retirement accounts, but when and how much. That’s where Roth IRAs...

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Friday, August 5, 2022

Michael Hyatt, the personal productivity guru, once said, “Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination.” As a recovering perfectionist, I know exactly what he means. Sometimes we want to wait until everything is perfect...

Friday, August 5, 2022

Q: My investment advisor contacted me last week to let me know he was going to be doing some “tax-loss harvesting.” He said the bear market had “opened up an opportunity to take losses” as if losses were a good...

Friday, July 22, 2022

Q: The bear market has been causing me some serious heartburn. Not only is my account losing money, but I am down more than the S&P 500, the NASDAQ and every other index I can think of. Given my losses, maybe I should just throw in the...

Friday, July 15, 2022

Sound advice and a good financial plan can help any of us navigate our life’s journey with greater clarity and confidence. This includes planning for the end of the journey. I know this can be an uncomfortable topic for many, but...

Friday, July 15, 2022

After the economic stress caused by the pandemic and 12 months of surging inflation, the debt burden carried by U.S households is rising. According to a recent survey by the New York Federal Reserve, U.S. households carry an average of...

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Every once in a while, someone will ask me about lending money to a close personal friend or a family member. They usually bring it up because they are conflicted about it. Some ask hoping I'll give them an excuse to say no, as in "I'm...

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Years ago, I had an epiphany as I read Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I recognized that by consistently applying correct principles, I could be an agent, making intentional choices about how I lived my life as...

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Q: I was planning to retire this year, but the stock market has me feeling nervous. Do you think it would be better for me to keep working until things settle down?A: Retirement is tricky business. Most people look forward to ditching...

Friday, June 10, 2022

Summer is fast approaching and that means timeshare traps are being set. I am sure you have seen them—unbelievable vacation deals where all you have to do is sit through a short “informational presentation.” We all...

Friday, June 10, 2022

Q: I want to learn about investing, but I always feel like financial people are trying to sell me something. Where can I get the information I need without having to worry that someone is trying to...

Friday, May 20, 2022

With the recent downturn in the markets, I have been getting a lot of questions about bear markets and how to best respond to them. Here are some frequently asked questions that might be helpful.Q: What is a bear market and how is it...

Friday, May 13, 2022

It can remember the past, plan for the future, and experience the present in ways that bring joy and meaning to our lives. But the human brain also has its limitations. Sometimes we simply do not think very well.Brain scientists tell...

Friday, May 6, 2022

Cal-Fire’s outlook for the 2022 fire season is not encouraging. Low precipitation and higher-than-normal temperatures mean we are likely in for a challenging summer and fall. Now is the time to prepare. A little planning now can...

Friday, May 6, 2022

There is a lot of wisdom in simplicity, especially when it comes to investing. You do not need advanced degrees and genius-level intelligence to be a successful investor. Mostly it requires common sense and a lot of discipline. Warren...

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

In 2009, Simon Sinek started a revolution. It wasn’t started with bombs or bullets, but with an idea, a TEDx talk, and a best-selling book titled, Start with Why. His idea was that good leaders inspire people to act by giving...

Monday, April 11, 2022

American consumers learned more than 40 years ago that inflation can be difficult to tame. You can’t fight it with words alone. (Remember Gerald Ford’s WIN buttons?) Fighting inflation takes action that is both decisive and...

Monday, April 11, 2022

Last week, I wrote about Paul Volcker’s battle to curb inflation more than 40 years ago. It took three years of relentless effort, and many more years of ongoing vigilance, but the Volcker Fed finally beat inflation....

Friday, April 8, 2022

The statistics on elder abuse are staggering. According to one estimate, 5 million elderly Americans are abused every year—often by someone they look to for care and protection. The National Council on Aging estimates that 1 in...

Friday, March 18, 2022

Q: I have a small side business that is really starting to take off. Someone told me that I should think about setting up a solo 401(k) plan in my side business to help boost my retirement savings. I already have a 401(k) through my...

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Q: Last year I purchased a variable annuity in my IRA. My insurance company recently sent me a statement reminding me that I need to take a required minimum distribution before year-end. I was shocked to discover that my RMD is higher...

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

If you are looking for another tax break for 2021, take a look at opening a Health Savings Account, or HSA. Next to getting employer matching funds in a 401k account, an HSA is the best retirement savings vehicle around.With an HSA you...

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

When I was quite young, I remember my grandfather telling me that there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. He meant it as a jest, but in a more serious vein, I would like to propose a third candidate for that group:...

Friday, February 18, 2022

A couple of years ago, Congress passed a law called the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” Act. It is an awkward name, selected with some malice aforethought, to fit the acronym the bill sponsors really...

Friday, February 18, 2022

Q: I am thinking of taking an early retirement package being offered by my employer. I am currently 57 years old, and I have built up a significant nest egg in my 401(k) plan. I have some money saved outside of my retirement accounts,...

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Most people don’t give a lot of thought to Medicare until they get ready to retire. However, if you are working and you get paid for it, you and your employer pay Medicare taxes on every dollar you earn. Over time, those Medicare...

Friday, January 28, 2022

The Federal Reserve is the most powerful financial institution in the world. In one way or another, its actions and policies touch your life on a daily basis. Here are some things you should know about this powerful, but poorly...

Friday, January 21, 2022

Q: When I began my financial plan last year, my planner suggested that we assume I will live to be 95. My family isn't known for its longevity, so I told her that seemed a little ambitious. She also recommended that I purchase an...

Friday, January 14, 2022

A year ago, I wrote a column titled “Confessions of a Bull Market Genius” in response to the stunning stock market rally of 2020. As you may recall “bull market genius” refers to the fact that almost anyone can...

Friday, January 7, 2022

The past year was phenomenal for stock market investors. The S&P 500 index rallied nearly 30 percent, while technology stocks soared even higher. If you participated in the rally, you have reason to celebrate. However, it’s...

Friday, January 7, 2022

Few things bring greater meaning to my life than using my time and resources to further the work of charitable organizations that align with my values. Monterey County is blessed with a large number of excellent nonprofit organizations...

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Q: After working from home for the past 20 months, my home office is out of control. I have piles of papers everywhere. Not only is it embarrassing, but it is also getting hard to keep everything straight. My main problem is that my...

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Several years ago, I read Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs. It was a fascinating book, full of interesting insights into the mind and character of one of the brightest consumer marketers of our...

Friday, December 3, 2021

I am often surprised by how little attention some people give to their retirement accounts. They don’t look at statements. They don’t remember who their beneficiaries are. Sometimes they can’t even tell me if their...

Friday, December 3, 2021

If you want to successfully save for retirement, you need to learn how to properly manage your retirement accounts. An annual review of your IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirements accounts will help you stay on track. Here are three...

Friday, November 19, 2021

Few things will have greater impact on your financial future than the decisions you make about how you save and spend money. However, sound financial planning also requires that you carefully develop your capacity to produce income. No...

Friday, November 19, 2021

Q: I recently heard that the U.S. Treasury is issuing savings bonds with an unusually high interest rate. Is that true? What’s the catch?A: No doubt you are referring to Series I U.S. Savings Bonds, otherwise known as “I...

Friday, November 5, 2021

Paying for health care is one of the biggest financial challenges many people face in retirement. Whether you are already enrolled in Medicare or anticipate one day being covered, here are some things you really need know, including...

Friday, November 5, 2021

Q: I’ve been reading more and more about the inflation in our economy. I’m trying to get ready to retire, but the growing rate of inflation has me worried. How can I protect my portfolio against inflation?A: Inflation is a...

Friday, October 22, 2021

Q: I have decided that I want to work with a financial advisor, but I am confused about how much I should expect to pay them. I looked at an online advisor and it looked pretty cheap. Then I looked at a fee-only advisor in town and...

Friday, October 8, 2021

Q: Your column on back-door Roth conversions made we wonder if I should use the Roth account in my 401(k) plan. My husband has been trying to get me to switch to the Roth for a long time, but I don’t know. He says we would be...

Friday, October 1, 2021

Congress is getting ready to slam the door on a popular retirement savings strategy—the so-called back-door Roth conversion. This is regrettable from a financial planning perspective because back-door Roth conversions are a...

Friday, September 24, 2021

Not long ago, my wife and I took advantage of a beautiful Saturday afternoon to visit art galleries in Carmel. As we walked past a fashionable men’s clothing store my wife suggested we pop inside to see if they had a pair of...

Friday, September 17, 2021

Q: I don’t know if it’s just me, but my paycheck doesn’t seem to go as far as it used to. The government says inflation is low, but I’m feeling a real squeeze. It is really as low as they claim?A: Welcome to the...

Friday, September 17, 2021

The ongoing saga of bitcoin continued this week as tiny El Salvador became the first country to officially recognize bitcoin as legal tender. Bitcoin celebrated its new official status by promptly plunging nearly 17 percent before...

Friday, September 3, 2021

One of the best parts of being a financial planner is helping people find meaningful answers to important life questions. Sometimes the questions are straight-forward such as: do I have enough to retire; when should I take Social...

Friday, September 3, 2021

Q: I have been working and saving for retirement for the past 50 years. My goal was to retire once I had a million dollars in retirement savings and I am almost there. I thought a million dollars would surely be enough to support...

Friday, September 3, 2021

Monterey Herald, 401(k)If you read the financial press, you have surely read that many Americans are woefully unprepared for retirement. Unfortunately, this is true. However, it is also true that retirement accounts hold a vast amount...