Snowballs and Avalanches

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With a national debt of $23.3 trillion dollars, you could say that debt is American as “baseball, mom, and apple pie.” Yet debt is a major source of existential and cultural angst, with multiple studies linking stress and both physical and mental health issues to the levels of debt carried by Americans. In 2015, the Federal Reserve even found that …

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

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The admonishment to not “judge a book by its cover” is usually one encouraging us to be better people. “Look past a person on their worst day or who presents poorly to see that they’re a human being just having a hard day. See the merit in every individual and get to know them better than they appear;” or some …

The Cost of Education

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If there’s one thing Americans can bemoan, it’s the cost of higher education. Whether it’s lower tuition at a community college or tuition in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars, Americans largely can agree that a good education is too expensive. Yet, a common financial planning challenge that comes up for families is not only how to pay for …

Death and Taxes

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There’s an old saying from Benjamin Franklin: “…nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Charmingly dour as the sentiment is, he’s not wrong about that when it comes to your financial affairs and the handling of your assets when it comes to moving on from this life. As a nation, we’ve experienced a disproportionate amount of loss in the past …

Becoming a Millionaire Next Door

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According to a fair bit of research and just plain anecdotal evidence, there are three controllable paths to becoming a millionaire in the United States: work in a high-paying profession, save and invest consistently over time, and own a successful business. While some smart aleck is likely to come along at this point and say “be born with rich parents”, …

The Making of a Ponzi Scheme

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On February 4th, the SEC charged three individuals and their investment firm, GPB Capital, with running a Ponzi scheme in the amount of $1.7 billion dollars. For scale, the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme was $64.8 billion, so while this scheme did not reach such a significant size, it is still the largest Ponzi scheme accusation made since Madoff’s conviction in …

The Games Won’t Stop

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If your experience with the markets lately has been an entertaining, if confusing one, you’re not alone. Last week, the market had another “never before seen” event, after members of the website Reddit banded together to buy as much Gamestop stock as they could afford. Reporting has been mixed regarding this, but there have been several constants. Most importantly, if …

On the Morality of Stock Buybacks

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In 2020 stock buybacks came under attack, and it was no surprise. The public was outraged to learn that airlines had collectively engaged in over $25 billion dollars in stock buybacks over the past decade. “How can companies making that much money suddenly not have the cash to operate?!” Was the question of the day, and a fair one at …

A Financial Planning Safari

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Greetings! Today we’re going on a safari of the assorted beasts and brokers that often can be confused by a layperson for financial planning. Financial planning is a rare and special beast that is still offered by the minority of those calling themselves financial advisors, planners, counselors, coaches, and so on. Within this particular landscape, there are many things that …

Tax Shelters and Tactics for 2021

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With a new year comes many new things: resolutions, car models, and of course, tax rules. In late December, Congress passed a stimulus package that also included a number of tax provisions that apply to many people in 2021. As financial planners, “Tax Alpha” is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal, and when providing financial planning, it …