New Book - Coming November 2010

New Book - Coming November 2010
Help! My 401(k) Has Fallen - And Must Get Up!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Raising Arizona (and Arizona State and Others)

OK, I know - cheap marketing gimmick to get you to read it. Sorry I don't have anything Nicholas Cage here. However this may be more valuable information than the movie.

Inflation affects everything - the price of bread, milk, gasoline etc. But one thing that seems to have gone up even more drastically is the cost of college. When I graduated from the University of Illinois in 1986, I left with about $3000 in student loans, which was easily repaid in a few years.

Today, student loans can reach $19,000 or more for a graduating senior from a public college. For
private schools that figure may be even higher.

Want to study law or medicine? For as long as I can remember (back to my finger painting days), those were the "good money" jobs. Both professions require years of post graduate education and loans can easily climb into the $100,000 range. Recently, I saw a young female med student on the news questioning President Obama about his healthcare proposal. Her concern was that at graduation, her total student debt would exceed $300,000 - yes that was not a typo. She wasn't sure if her future income would be sufficient to pay it back.

Really?? I think some thought should have gone into this before taking the loans. Its hard to blame either the President or his healthcare bill for that. Out of curiousity, I checked to see what a monthly payment on this would be. To pay off $300,000 in 12 years at 5% interest would require a monthly payment of $2775.00. Now you could take longer or the interest rate may be different, but this gives you an idea. Certainly its out of my ballpark.

Dave Ramsey always encourages his listeners to look at the opportunity cost of buying something - whether its a car, a flat screen TV, or even college.

What that means is - even if you have the money, what other opportunities might you be missing? What else could the money be used for? When it comes to college, can you really afford it if it means loading yourself down with debt? What is your re-payment plan going to be?
How likely is it to get a career in your chosen field of study that will allow you to re-pay the loan?

I'm not anti-college. I just want us to think and ask questions first before jumping in.

In the early days of the United States, colleges such as Harvard and Yale were primarily for the wealthy. As the country grew and times changed, state schools offered a wider range of programs and more people were able to attend college.

"No qualified student who wants to go to college should be barred by lack of money. That has long been a great American goal. I propose that we achieve it now." Former President Richard M. Nixon said this in a special message to Congress in 1970. A lot has happened in the past 40 years. Are we back to a point where college is only for the wealthiest among us?

As a Financial Advisor, I will say that college does require financial planning and disciplined saving. Flipping burgers for the summer will only scratch the surface.

In my next part on this, we will look at some solutions which can help with college costs.

You can contact me at and follow me on Twitter at You can also listen to me on Blog Talk Radio at

Friday, August 21, 2009

Top 10 Things About Being a Financial Advisor in 2009

This was something I came up with today, mostly while driving to an appointment.
Hopefully you find 1 or 2 of these funny!
Top 10 Things About Being a Financial Advisor in 2009
10. Mac & Cheese for dinner again?
9. IRA means "I Raided my Account"
8. Going to Networking Meetings = FREE Food!
7. My Healthcare Plan = Take 2 aspirin. If that doesn't work, take two more.
6. My vocabulary now includes words like "Tweet", "Re-Tweet", "Un-Friend" and "Blog"
5. Drycleaning means airing out the suit when its "dry" outside.
4. "Honey, I sold the kids on E-Bay."
3. I've got "followers" from Spain who promise I can make a fortune on the web.
2. Really starting to look at those "Take a Penny" trays literally.
and the Number One thing about being a Financial Advisor in 2009 is.....
1. Going to Facebook Anonymous meetings. "Hi my name is Dean. I'm a Facebook-aholic."
Have a Great Weekend! You can contact me for real financial advice at You may also follow me on Twitter at, and my web broadcasts at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If You Knew You'd Get a "B"

Soon, all the kids will be back in school. My daughter can’t wait to see her friends and show off her new outfits. Back-To-School time usually also means plenty of sales which should get the cash registers ringing in your local retail shops.

Since we are just getting started, it’s too early to think about report cards and grades yet….or is it?

What if you knew at the beginning of the year, that your grade at the end of the year would be at least a “B” and no worse – no matter what? Better still, what if you got an “A” in one quarter, and a “C” in the other quarters – and at the end of the year, you got to keep the “A” as your grade for the year?
If that were true, how would you feel about going to school? Would you be more relaxed? Would you want to learn more? Would school be more fun?
Well, GUESS WHAT!! I can’t do much about Johnny’s math grade, or Susie’s US History Course, but I can provide solutions which may improve your confidence in investing.
How can you do that, you ask? Variable Annuities can provide Safe Growth and Safe Income.
Recently, Leslie Scism of the Wall Street Journal wrote “Because of such guarantees, many holders of variable annuities actually saw their accounts increase 6% or more in value last year, when the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dropped nearly 39%.” in her article “Long Derided, This Investment Now Looks Wise”.

Currently, you can earn as much as 7% or more on your principal base when you aren’t using it for income. That means if you start with $100,000, by the end of the year, you would have $107,000 to draw income from later – no matter what happens in the market. (As long as you leave it there.) And it can grow tax-deferred until you begin to take it out.

What if your account does better than 7%? Also, what if it only does better than 7% for one quarter? Wouldn’t it be great to keep the best quarter and lock it in for the year? Well….you CAN!

What if you could do this every year while you are building your Nest Egg? What if you went into the school year knowing you would at least get a “B”….and might get an “A”?

Then when you begin to take income from your savings, you can take 5% from the nest egg you’ve built for the rest of your life. The check would go up or stay the same, but never go down. (As long as you aren’t taking more than 5%.) Would that be OK?

There are some drawbacks to a Variable Annuity, which Ms. Scism also points out in her article the most obvious being the cost of the extra protection. George Lambert also points this out in his article, “The Cost of Variable Annuities” in which he looks at the different types of protection – Growth Protection, Income Protection, and Death Benefit.

Another drawback is that when you consider investing into a Variable Annuity, you need to take a Long Term approach – like any other investment. Speak with a reliable advisor about whether or not it may be appropriate for you based on your time horizon and income needs at retirement. Early withdrawals may result in steep surrender charges, although many plans allow you to withdraw as much as 10% with no surrender charge.

The main advantage of course is taking the uncertainty over today’s economy out of the picture. And if you knew you’d get at least a “B”, wouldn’t you sleep better at night?

For more information on annuities, or other investment ideas, you may contact me at You may also follow me on Twitter at I am also hosting a weekly internet radio podcast at

Friday, August 14, 2009

Most Magical Place

Having 2 very young daughters, I’ve become quite familiar with the Disney Channel, but its amazing to think of how large this company is and how it affects our lives in many ways, known world wide for family friendly products.

This is NOT an opinion or endorsement of Disney Stock - simply a few interesting facts about its history. The Walt Disney Company (DIS) has been part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average since May 6, 1991.

The Walt Disney Company started in 1923 in the rear of a small office occupied by Holly-Vermont Realty in Los Angeles. It was there that Walt Disney, and his brother Roy, produced a series of short live-action/animated films collectively called the ALICE COMEDIES.

“Mickey Mouse” which still serves as the logo and mascot for Disney was originated in 1928, as one of the short animated films.

In 1937, Disney's innovative first full length animated feature, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, was released. Walt Disney saw a need to increase the size of his studio, and moved it to Burbank, CA. He was involved with all aspects of the design, even the animators chairs. More movies such as FANTASIA, BAMBI, CINDERELLA, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and PETER PAN were produced in the 1940’s and 1950s.

In 1954, Walt Disney had a vision of creating a Family Theme Park. Disneyland was completed in July, 1955. Disney World Magic Kingdom opened in Orlando, FL in October, 1971. To this day, Disneyland and Disney World are the standard for cleanliness, customer service, and family fun in theme parks. Sadly Walt Disney died in 1966, and did not see the opening of Disney World.

Today, the Disney entertainment empire includes Disney movies, the ABC family of networks, ESPN, the E! Entertainment Network, and of course the Disney Channel. Disney has helped launch the acting and musical careers of such recent stars as Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus, and the Jonas Brothers to name a few.

Disney issued its first public stock on November 12,1957. The stock closed on its first day at $13.88. It has split 7 times since then, the last split happened in 1998. One share of DIS stock over that time due to splits & spinoffs would be worth close to $6000 today.

For more information, you can contact me directly at and you may also follow me on Twitter at

Friday, August 7, 2009

Something's "Fishy"

All this talk about "fishy" comments yesterday got me to thinking.....
Another great American Fast Food chain is Long John Silvers. According to their website, , the restaurant was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island".
The first restaurant opened in 1969 in Lexington, Kentucky, as a response to other fast food chains which were becoming popular at the time - specializing in quick service seafood. The chain began as a division of Jerrico, Inc., which also operated Jerry's Restaurants, a chain of family restaurants which also began in Lexington, KY throughout the Midwest & South.

In the UK, fish and chips became a cheap food popular among the working classes in the second half of the nineteenth century. Deep-fried "chips" (slices or pieces of potato) as a dish, may have first appeared in Britain in about the same period. There was a mention of "chips" in Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" (1859) "Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil".

Earlier Long John Silvers restaurants were known for their Cape-Cod style buildings, blue roofs, small steeples, and nautically-themed decorations such as seats made to look like nautical flags. Most early restaurants also featured separate entrance and exit doors, a corridor-like waiting line area, food heaters that were transparent so customers could see the food waiting to be served, and a bell by the exit which customers could "ring if we did it well." Many of these buildings had dock-like walkways lined with pilings and thick ropes that wrapped around the building exterior.

Until its bankruptcy in 1998, Long John Silvers was a privately owned corporation. It was then acquired by Yorkshire Global Restaurants, which also owned A & W American Food Chains. In March 2002, Yorkshire was purchased by Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc. which had spun off from Pepsico, Inc. Tricon owned Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut worldwide. Tricon then changed their name to Yum Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM)
Until then, Long John Silvers had served Coca-Cola Products. Once the acquistion by Yum Brands was in effect, they switched to Pepsi. Currently, Long John Silvers has more than 1200 restaurants worldwide – and more than 200 additional locations in Yum Brands, Inc. multi-brand restaurants. Nearly four million customers each week "throw boring overboard".
This is NOT an endorsement or an opinion of YUM stock. From 1997, Yum Brands/Tricon has grown from $8.06/share to a high of $41.73 on April 30, 2008. Yesterday, August 6, 2009, YUM closed at 36.05.

For more investing information, you may contact me at . You may also follow me on Twitter at, or Blog Talk Radio at

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Real Thing

Recently, I've been thinking about what else to write about. We've covered a wide range of topics - annuities, tax-free bonds, mutual funds, the importance of savings, and 401(k)s.
Although I am licensed to buy & sell individual common stock, I strongly believe that most people should own them within mutual funds. There are a number of companies that have some very interesting stories though. One of them is Coca-Cola.
This is NOT an opinion of Coca-Cola's stock, or an endorsement - merely some history, which I hope you will find as fascinating as I do.
According to Wikipedia, , the first Coca-Cola recipe was invented in a drugstore in Columbus, GA by John Pemberton in 1885. Pemberton developed it as a non-alcoholic version of French Wine Cola. The first sales were at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, GA on May 8, 1886. It was initially sold as a patent medicine for 5 cents a glass at soda fountains. Many people at that time believed that carbonated water was good for your health. Pemberton claimed Coca-Cola cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, headaches, and even impotence (the first "Viagra"?).
Asa Candler acquired a stake in Pemberton's company in 1887 and incorporated it as Coca-Cola Company in 1888. Due to some controversy in ownership, Candler incorpoarted a second time in 1892 as THE Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time on March 12, 1894. The first outdoor wall advertisement was painted in 1894 as well in Cartersville, GA.
Although the company grew and even had a celebrity endorsement from baseball star and Georgia native, Ty Cobb common stock for Coca-Cola never went public until 1919.
In 1919, you could buy one share of Coca-Cola (NYSE - KO) for about $40/share.
However, the price quickly fell to $19 due to a sugar shortage. Times were tough due to World War I. I'm certain many people gave up on this investment, and lost out. Had they stayed invested over the long term, that ONE SHARE of Coca-Cola stock, with splits and dividends reinvested is worth OVER $5 MILLION TODAY!!
Coca-Cola joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average on March 12, 1987.
For more information, please contact me at You may also follow me on Twitter at

Monday, August 3, 2009

Caught In The Web

One of the truly wonderful things about being an Independent Financial Advisor is that it has really allowed me to open myself up and explore new and different ways of connecting with prospective clients.
I'm sure you'd agree that the past couple of years have been difficult for investors, haven't they? Difficult because of disappointing returns on your savings. Even if you don't consider yourself a stock market investor, you are discouraged with interest rates on your CDs and savings accounts.
However a dangerous side effect to all of this has been that many people have scrapped solid investing principles. They have become like ships without a rudder, not knowing where to turn, and fearful of trusting anyone or anything. Times like these are when we really NEED professional advice more than ever, wouldn't you agree? So where do you find good sound professional advice? Whom do you trust?
For someone like myself, I'm learning that traditional marketing methods - cold calling, mailers, and print ads have been less effective than usual in reaching out to others and making connections. Have you noticed that over the years, TV and Radio Programs include MORE ads and LESS programs?
Its like that old Wendy's ad (oops there is another one!) "Where's the Beef?"
We've become jaded and resistant to traditional marketing. Again, my belief is that people need professional advice NOW more than ever. For me, its also very important to connect with clients whom I can truly serve. A great client is one that we have established a bond of trust. They have shared their goals and dreams with me, and they are open-minded to my advice. When they hear my advice, they can easily see that I want to help them reach their goals, and my advice is truly in their best interests.
So how does one find "great clients" without traditional marketing methods that aren't effective?Using social media websites has been one solution. Writing this blog has been fun, and its allowed me to provide professional advice which anyone can use and benefit from.
Linked In ( is a great site to reinforce my professional side. It is my online resume and helps me to establish my credentials. I'm also very active in my local Chamber of Commerce ( This provides some great networking opportunities.
Twitter ( allows us to say anything to the whole world (in 140 characters or less). This is a good way to post notices for my blog or other articles of interest.
Facebook ( is an absolute blast, which has allowed me to show a more personal side, as well as professsional. And of course, all of these sites allow you to access my own website (, which serves as another excellent resource for retirement savings.
Most recently, at the suggestion of my friend, Brian, whom I've know since high school, I've also begun a weekly internet radio broadcast ( Brian has extensive radio experience and has been very helpful in helping me get started. This show has been a lot of work, but also fun to do, and certainly helps to set me apart from other advisors.
I've always been a believer in giving. What goes around comes around. My faith in God tells me that we will get throught this challenging time, and be stronger for it. Someone recently told me that God is never in a recession. Have Faith!
Please contact me at if I may be of service to you in any way.