Inauguration 2017

Today, Inauguration 2017, we witness the most divisive inauguration of our time, indeed since 1860. Yet this is so unlike 1860 when the nation was truly divided by an unconscionable practice which needed rooting out – yet drove the discontent in the electorate. Inauguration 2017 is borne of the most unlikeable candidates who yielded a President-elect whose brash, often offensive behavior creates deep dislike and distrust. Still, beginning today Donald J. Trump is our President, and everyone should hope for the best possible outcomes. Perhaps by focusing your energy on a single element of the Presidency the Country can come away better than we begin. I am most interested in the leadership element of this unusual Presidency.

Inauguration 2017: What will be the leadership style of Donald J. Trump?
Donald J. Trump has yet to follow a proven playbook in his drive to the Presidency. With his late night Twitter rants, relentless travel and off the cuff speeches he turned the process on its head. His failure to produce tax returns leaves the electorate blind as to his self professed business acumen, yet some things seem obvious: He is used to getting his way. He surrounds himself with his family. He does not react well to criticism. The Trump Organization is less real estate developer, more marketing machine. All this seems to indicate a command and control decision making style. This approach may work fine in a reasonably sized, family business, but the Federal Government is anything but this. Complex organizations with vast headcount and diverse areas of interest are far better led by leadership teams. The President is best served by choosing a capable, trustworthy team and letting them do their jobs.

Inauguration 2017: What to look for this Spring?
I think the first 100 days should be watched for evidence that this leadership team – The Cabinet – have agreed upon a clear direction and begun the work of translating that vision into actionable tasks. Whether this is a four year experiment or eight, the Trump Administration is best served by outlining a philosophical framework, garnering support from key stakeholders and driving to execution across the behemoth that is the Executive Branch – without undue check-ins with ‘dad.’ If we see this happen, we may actually make some progress during this term – progress we can all be happy with. That is what everyone should be hoping.

Getaway Special

We are into the New Year, with the inauguration just around the corner, and maybe it is time for a getaway special. With so much angst surrounding the inauguration, and so many celebrities committed to leaving the country, let’s look at travel. Perhaps you will be inspired regardless your political leanings. If nothing else, you may find some great ideas for 2017 and beyond.

Getaway Special: Finding the best deals…
Using the right tools can make a world of difference. These are worth a look. The 12 Best Travel Sites and Apps You Need Right Now
Maybe you just want to keep moving … seems there are plenty of ‘hot spots’ around the world these days. Staying mobile may improve your odds. How to Fly for Free on Every Business Trip

Getaway Special: If this is it for you, find a good landing spot…
Retiring offshore? Find a safe, cost effective destination with this list. Top 10 Best Retirement Countries for 2017
Then again, you may want to avoid the high profile city destinations. This list will help strike the right balance. Budget European City Breaks: Cut-price alternatives to Paris, London, Amsterdam and more
Wherever you choose, I bet you will want to stay connected. These tips will help keep you in the loop. 8 tech tips I learned while traveling abroad
If you really want off the grid, think private island. Your own coral atoll in the South Pacific

Getaway Special: Perhaps you are not ready to give up on the US just yet…
This is for you if you still love your country, but happen to share Meryl Streep’s take on the immediate future. These doomsday shelters for the 1% make up the largest private bunker community on Earth Luxury bunkers will protect 5,000 from the apocalypse – in style

Year-end Review

Most everyone is taking this week off from work, the perfect chance for a year-end review.

Year-end Review: Tune up your fiscal habits as we enter the New Year.
It is always good to start with the basics. Here you can check your progress and fine tune your approach. 2 Financial Resolutions You Really Need to Make Before the New Year
In a similar vein, but a longer to-do list, this has you checking fees and automatic savings. 9 Smart Money Moves to Make in January
While this may not be a year-end specific thing, you are not getting any younger. So, in the spirit of checklists, here is one for the must do pile. 5 Financial Steps You Should Take Before You Retire

Year-end Review: Do you think you are AOK on retirement savings?
If you have been reading along with each post you likely realize there is still work to be done. If that has not gotten through, or you have not been reading along, try this. My friend Ron Pressman gives a compelling, fact-based analysis of the US retirement situation. Please do have a look. The Retirement Savings Deficit in America

Year-end Review: Inasmuch as it is a week away for most, enjoy some diversionary things.
Who would not want to stay in the most beautiful places in the world? You may as well put some of these in your budget, while you are at it. The Most Beautiful Places to Stay in the World
Of course it did not end well for the old Czar, but boy did they live the high life. This one is really a flip through some unbelievable pictures. Life Aboard the Luxury Super Yacht of Russia’s Last Emperor
Google is full of surprises, and Google Earth and Google Maps are no exception. If you use them, you may be interested in these articles. Google Maps: 14 Hidden Features You Probably Didn’t Know Google Earth now has global Landsat and Sentinal 2 data from 1985 to 2016 and Google Earth Update Shows How Climate Change Has Morphed Our Planet

Christmas Medley

Christmas Medley, how can you resist naming this way? With Hanukkah and Christmas nearly concurrent this year, I am wish the very best of the holidays to everyone. No homework this time, simply things you may find interesting to steer the conversation out of a ditch in the coming week.

Christmas Medley: If you read one thing this holiday season, I implore you to read this.
The Jar
Christmas Medley: Do you like Rome or Game of Thrones?
If you do, you may like this new trilogy of books written by a historian with a love for the fantasy genre.  Epic Fantasy Meets Ancient Rome: An Interview with Michael Livingston, Author of “The Shards of Heaven” and “The Gates of Hell”
Christmas Medley: Fault me if you will, but do you like saving money?
You can never have too many money saving tips for airfare shopping. Plus, you can never be too up to date with your tactics. Here’s the latest from the Chicago Tribune. The best time to buy airline tickets and other travel advice for 2017
Maybe it isn’t all about saving money. Maybe it is about having the best possible experience. 9 travel hacks you’ll wish you knew all along

Christmas Medley: There must be a funny one in here to keep ready for a light moment.
Headline writing gone wrong … who needs fake news when you can have these goofs? Headlines Don’t Always Work Out the Way They Were Intended
Christmas Medley: Lists are fine, but with many of you off next week, here’s a good one.
So, you are off the week between the holidays, right? What will you be doing? The usual stuff, sure, but if you happen upon one of these, who’s to know? The cocktail-lover’s guide to 10 unforgettable, one-of-a-kind bars around the world

Successful Retirement

Just what is a successful retirement? Perhaps not having to work after you ‘retire’ is how you define it. More likely you are thinking about traveling, time with family, remaining healthy and active…good things. Fact is you should probably avoid the first thing before you focus on the others. Now, you may want to work in retirement, that’s fine. You may call it a ‘second act.’ Maybe you can truly devote your time and energy to a cause you support, or flip properties; more power to you. I think you can do everything right in your run up to retirement: saving more than you think you need right from the start, watching fees, being aggressive enough, etc. If you get the income side of the equation wrong, though, it can blow it all. This brings us back to a few recurring themes: longevity, expenses and withdrawal rates.

Successful Retirement: Just what do you need to do right to make it happen?
This author has put a lot of thought and effort into the right withdrawal rate. Fact is that longevity, fees and investment strategy are all important determinants. If you retire at 65, will you be retired for 40 years? For many of you, yes. That makes this article a must read. It is also a huge eye-opener (sorry). A ‘Safe’ Withdrawal Rate Highly Depends on Longevity and Asset Allocation
These may be repeats, but warrant repeating. The notion that a flat withdrawal rate will match reality is hard to fathom. This construct makes a lot more sense. You will slow down as you age, right? Then the medical bills will likely ramp up later, right? What is the ‘Retirement Spending Smile?’ and Retirement Spending Increases and Decreases Over Time
I really try not to annoy you with hard to read articles. This one makes some good points, but you have a short time to read it. So, keep reloading the page and work your way down. How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?
One thing is certain, your cost structure in retirement will matter. One way to effect that is moving to a lower cost of living. The 50 Cheapest Places to Retire in the US (I suspect my many NJ friends may not have considered Newark!)

Successful Retirement: As suggested above, it is not all about money. Keep your mind active.
And you thought it was a bunch of books. These 250-Plus Violins are About to be Owned by the US Government
Lots of you will make your way to NY City during the holidays. Maybe this is an interesting aside. Secrets of New York’s Grand Central Terminal (remember when that ceiling was black?)
You know this technology will make its way to your phone before too long. I can sure use it! NASA’s New Camera Is Straight from the Future with Incredibly Detailed Footage
This one is a warning that it is not that simple. Climate change is a controversial subject, and it takes more work than you think to understand. How did one volcano confuse scientists, ocean research?

Holiday Push

With Thanksgiving behind us we are into the Holiday Push. Hopefully you are closing deals at work. Holiday shopping is in full swing. You simply do not have time for this retirement stuff. Our regular readers know there is no time like the present to enhance your retirement. With the incoming Trump administration caution is likely the best watchword.

Holiday Push: Always keep doing the right things.
Doing the right things always start with watch your fees. How an extra 1pc investment fee will cost you 16 years of retirement income (don’t be fooled by the UK spin here, the math is the same!)
If you are a small business owner, a large business decision maker, or an employee interested in helping yourself and your fellow employees, consider this. Get Your 401(k) Fees Down Because Your Employees Deserve Better
In the spirit of the season, I’ll give you a contrarian position on fees, too … that is, sometimes active managers actually do earn their fees. Royce Special Equity Fund Earning It’s Fees
If you are in the income phase – retired already – then be sure you are generating income. You will find some interesting thoughts on that in these pieces: Despite Mistakes, a Dividend Growth Investor Retires Early, Part 1 Despite Mistakes, a Dividend Growth Investor Retires Early, Part 2 Good Grief, Don’t Jump Off This Dividend Machine High-Dividend Stock Yields 9%, Pays Monthly, 4 Dividend Hikes in 2016, More in 2017
This one is really interesting, if for no other reason than to understand how convoluted the oil and gas industry has become. Sunoco LP: a 15.2% Yield with Significant Upside

Holiday Push: In December we will ease off retirement focus and give you other valuable leads.
Stay alert, particularly during the holidays, to nefarious doings on your phone. What is spyware? How secret programs can see into your iPhone and record your calls
About that Taiwan phone call … what’s up? Donald Trump is aggressively provoking China. What is he thinking?
Do you realize that yesterday a milestone anniversary passed quietly by your door? Is it time to revisit the thinking behind the words? 20 Years Later, Greenspan’s “Irrational Exuberance” Has Become Even More Irrational

Thanksgiving Respite

The election is behind us, the rancor is dying down, and we are coming off the turkey high … time for a Thanksgiving Respite. That means nothing too heavy this week, mostly light reading.

Thanksgiving Respite: One heavy one – do yourself a favor, read it.
There was plenty to dislike about the election which just past. One thing that particularly irks me, though, is the lack of focus on the Federal Debt.  This Looming Crisis Could Ruin Many

Thanksgiving Respite: Miscellany to lighten up your long weekend.
Most of you likely listen to classical, if not, you should. Why Our Brains Respond Differently to Classical Music
If you are like me, you run your iPhone storage to the limit. Here’s a trick worth knowing. Instantly Free Up Storage on an iPhone by Downloading (then deleting) a Huge App
If you enjoy traveling and our National Parks, you will love this site. Browse & Download 1,198 Free High Resolution Maps of US National Parks
Speaking of traveling, I always advocate saving money on tickets. 4 Apps Airlines Don’t Want You to Know About
If you like completely useless information (perhaps even depressing), or fast food, this site is for you. These maps show how 15 fast food chains dominate in America
If you are a closet geek, or just like to prove things now and again, you will love this one. Microsoft co-founder’s academic search engine adds neuroscience

Thanksgiving Respite: One truly valuable tip for your weekend.
It is not all dumb stuff, here’s something you might need. iPhone update adds a hidden way to call police in an emergency

Retirement Status

With the election just behind us and year-end just ahead it is time to seriously consider your retirement status. Why not start with a behavioral check-up: are you doing the right things and enough of them? Follow that with a quick look at what a Trump administration might mean for your savings. If that scares you away – or the election did – by all means save money on your international flights!

Retirement Status: No time like the present to have a close look
First and foremost, don’t be overconfident. Americans have a dismal track record on saving for retirement. Do yourself a favor and stay on it.  Think you’re prepared for retirement? Answer these six questions.
We often focus on longevity here, a corollary to that is aggressiveness. Since you will be retired for a long time, you need to invest appropriately. The old rules may not apply. 60% of Americans Invest Too Conservatively for Retirement, Study Shows
Always be looking for good tips. 3 Fantastic Retirement Tips and Tricks
Then, of course, we really do not know what a Trump Presidency will bring. So, be cautious and look for opportunities. How Trump Could Change the Retirement Landscape An Unexpected $12 Trillion Hole Emerges in Donald Trump’s Plan to “Make America Great Again”

Retirement Status: Tips if you plan to leave the US now (Kanye, Miley, Whoopi, etc.)
You may as well leave on the cheap, and I have come across a whole lot of good ideas on how. Revealed, the Secret Travel Tips that Airlines Don’t Want You to Know
Here is Why Using Google Flight Track Can Save You Serious Money
Never book flights on Fridays – and eight other tips for getting cheap airfares
I’ve Accidentally Discovered a Way to Save up to 75% on American Tickets

Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day is one of those once forgotten, newly revitalized holidays I am glad to say has gotten some legs since 9/11/01. Our veterans, along with our Firefighters and Police, gained a new level of respect and admiration in the wake of the cowardly attacks that day. I will not delve into the Presidential election here, except to note that one of the pillars of Donald Trump’s rhetoric was to treat our veterans better. I hope his team holds him to that oft repeated refrain. Indeed, all three of these classes of people, proud servants of the general populace, deserve our respect, admiration and hearty defense.

Veteran’s Day: Just how many are we thanking today?
Your job today is to find a veteran and say thanks, literally. Depending upon where you look, it appears there are about 18 million vets out there … lest we forget active service, too!  The US Veteran Population
If you want to take a ‘deep dive’ into the data, here’s your best bet, e.g. MN has 369K vets and ME has 127K (latest data). National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics
Perhaps most interesting … and worth clicking through to from here … is a view of the demographics. Projected Veteran Population 2013 – 2043

Folksy Investing

I am always looking for the finest analysis to share, this week I turn to Folksy Investing. This article Getting Asset Allocation Right for Retirement struck me with how simple and folksy it was. No doubt Henry is a retired aeronautical engineer … or line worker … from Boeing, still his advice is simple. Sometimes I think it pays to go with what feels right.
Folksy Investing: Henry uses 105 as a baseline, how long will your retirement go?
It is a common refrain here, longevity is a giant variable in your retirement planning. Annuities can often help moderate that longevity risk.  Are You Missing Out on Guaranteed Income Because of These 5 Misconceptions?

We often talk about healthcare costs in retirement and inflation is a concern, too. In this low return world even low inflation can make a difference. Inflation is Coming Back – What Does That Mean for You?
Speaking of healthcare cost in retirement, here’s another good primer on that. Retirement health care estimates vs. reality
Finally, here is a nice summation of the risks you face, including the three we are focusing in on today. Navigating 5 critical retirement risks

Folksy Investing: Some more good tools and tips for your retirement.
We often highlight dividend stocks as a means of generating income. How will they fare in any downturn, though? You certainly don’t want to lose a whole lot of principal. 3 Reliable Dividend Stocks Yielding 7% or More
So how do you handle the ups and downs of markets? Your nest egg will vary in value over time, is there a way to account for that? Here is one idea. Ratcheting Up Retirement Spending
So what are the odds markets will correct? Who knows? Some say the election will do it, if Trump wins. Others say it is all ‘baked in’ already. Perhaps ask yourself are things as good as markets would indicate? Unemployment rate is 4.9%, but a more realistic rate is higher than that and The Story of Durable Goods is the Story of the (Global) Economy
This may be too little, too late, given the proximity of the election, but … The philosophy of Marcus Aurelius is supposed to make you be more resilient and at peace – here’s how to master it in 7 days
Speaking of the election, you may want these tips, too. A new travel app is offering the lowest flight prices we’ve ever seen and Surprise! This Cruise is Actually on a Luxury Yacht, and It’s Everything Anti-Cruisers Could Hope For

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