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Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Posted by caroleoh (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 3, 07 at 13:01

My husband owns his own company with another partner and several share holders. His ownership position is 41% of the company, so we have good income currently from the company through his salary and profit sharing checks. However, we also realize that the company is a huge part of our retirement funds and if it should run into hard times in the future due to a recession etc. we don't want to be too risky with our other investments.

My husband has a 401K type fund which he invests in to maximum limit. We have about $400,000 in a money market bank fund that is earning 5.12% interest. He is hesitant to move the money into a stock fund due to the current volatility of the stock market. I think it just makes him feel comfortable to have the money "in the bank" in case his company should fail, or we go into a recession etc.

I've been investigating funds and their associated returns and costs. It seems to me we could probably invest in a conservative fund and still be ahead 2-3% after paying the fund costs each year over the 5% we get with the MM, so I'm inclined to move the money into a stock fund.

We just can't seem to decide on a fund and pull the trigger to move the money. He seems to be happy with the 5% return offset by the lack of risk...Are we being too conservative? We don't need the money in the forseeable future.

Any recommendations on a fund or should we stay put in the MM?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Hi carole OH,

You sing from a different song-book than I.

I wouldn't dream of (ordinarily) having $40,000. in a M.M. fund, let alone $400,000.

With that amount of asset, if in addition to equity in a fairly stable company, I might have some in equity-based mutual funds, but I'd have a good bit of it in stocks that I'd bought directly.

The money market fund managers charge a lower Management Expense Ratio that the equity fund managers do, but if you have a substantial asset, it seems to me that you can provide your own diversification, which is much of the reason that many give for using mutual funds.

You could have $40,000. in one company each in 10 sectors of the economy.

You could have bought a share of Warren Bugffet's Berkshire Hathaway for $12.00 in '65.

And how much income tax would you have paid on the income that it produced in the meantime?

Some advisors say that he's never made a payout ...

... but they're wrong: Berkshire Hathaway paid 10 cents in 1967.

You'd have had no income tax to have paid on interest income from 1967 till now ...

... but now you'd likely have to pay capital gains tax on most of something over $100,000. for each of those $12.00 shares that you'd bought, 45+ years ago, should you choose to sell.

I bought bank shares 40 years ago for $4.00 and change per share, recently they could have been sold for $107. per, and then slipped about 20% to $87.50 or so, now have recovered some.

Originally paid about a dime dividend (heavily tax-advantaged in Canada, when earned outside of tax-deferred retirement account).

A few years ago was paying $2.00 per year, last year went up to $3.08, and just grew again to $3.48 annual rate.

Soon they'll pay me as much annually as I invested in the first place.

Also, I've been hearing in the last few days that a number of the money market fund managers have been investing in these funny bunny mortgage-backed securities that a number of financial institutions have been peddling in recent times.

Mortgages that may turn out to be a pretty spongey asset, when they go into default.

Check out your money market manager's holdings carefully, I think.

Congratulations on having achieved the situation which you have, by the way.

I figure that the way to learn how to do something is to watch those who do it well, then emulate them.

Do rich folks put their money into the bank?

No - they buy the bank!

They say that owning is better than loaning. Especially when the bank makes more on your money than you do.

Good wishes to you and yours.

ole joyful


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

So you would suggest investing in individual stocks vs. an indexed stock fund - I was looking at some of the Janus and Vanguard funds. We have a small brockerage account invested in a mutual fund that hasn't done all that well. This broker suggested perhaps Janus, American Fund, Franklin-Templeton or Oppenheimer.

I had heard some good things about Janus, but with everything, it seems to change monthly! I guess with the individual stocks it would be simpler to follow the return. We could probably just have the broker from the bank investment account purchase the stocks for us right?


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

I love olejoyful, but I DO NOT agree with his stand on owning individual stocks. If you are comfortable following the markets and keeping an eye on your portfolio, by all means go ahead and own individual stocks.

But if you are not a knowledgable investor, tend to panic whenever the media hypes the latest "crisis", and get your business news off the local paper headlines or from your favorite TV broadcaster -- then I think you are asking for trouble investing in stocks you know very little about, cannot identify which market segment they are in (for diversification of risk), and have no idea what their business strategies are or when they will change.

Pressure is on the Fed to loosen up, so I would expect over time in the next year to see the Fed gradually loosen up the pursestrings down to around the 4% - 4.5% level. They are worried, more rightly, about inflation in the economy than what is happening in the mortgages or on Wall Street today (or tomorrow, or the day/month/year after).

When that happens your return on the MMA will fall as well. Add inflation to that and you are only making barely over 3% right now, so your return will fall even further over time.

There is certainly nothing wrong with that feeling of comfort coming from a MMA/savings account, but how about reducing it somewhat? You can usually get the highest MMA rates as long as you have $100K in it, so why not take half of it and put it in a lifecycle fund at a good discount brokerage? They'll diversify it for you. In a good year they won't reach the dizzying heights an aggressive fund will, but in bad times they also won't be big losers, either.

Like olejoyful, I enjoy studying the financial markets. But I know I am in the minority, and few people are willing to spend the time I devote to reading about business and economics. Particularly if your DH's retirement is tied up in his company, you especially need to diversify your portfolio.

Frankly, if I were in your shoes I'd go find a good CFP and integrate both the financial advisory and estate planning side. Very often, advice that a spouse won't take can become more palatable when given by a neutral third party.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

I'd go find a good CFP and integrate both the financial advisory and estate planning side. Very often, advice that a spouse won't take can become more palatable when given by a neutral third party.

That is exactly what happened in our case. I couldn't get DH to make a number of financial decisions that I knew needed to be made. When our CFP talked to him, he listened. That is one very strong argument for using a CFP.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Other places to invest very conservatively are CD's and Treasuries.

Have you looked at Morningstar.com to see which mutual funds they like?

I'd be cautious about investing in funds or stocks right this moment. The economy is in flux. The housing and mortgage problems won't settle for perhaps two years. Nobody knows now if the current market is in a "correction" or something worse that could take longer.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

I have to agree with Ole Joyful that with a $400K portfolio I would definitely go mostly with equities. Presumably you have time working on your side. A US stock I hold is Pfizer, recent price $24.84 with a dividend of $1.06 for an annual payout of 4.67%. Pfizer is out of favor at these days but with that kind of dividend and the upside potential I could sit on such a stock for years with no concern. That is precisely what I did with a Canadian mining stock called Noranda. It was out of favor due to low metal prices at the time. I sat on that stock for years while it paid out a decent dividend. Noranda eventually merged with Falconbridge and then Falconbridge got bought out by Xstrata at a nice capital gain.
The Canadian bank stock Ole Joyful likes is known as CIBC. That is another stock I have a position in. A little while back the price doubled and I sold off half the shares. CIBC now forms about 4.5% of my portfolio.
I do hold my portfolio in a tax deferred plan Ole Joyful doesn't like but I can rebalance my portfolio without considering the short term tax hit. The tax deferred plan does influence my decisions such as going mostly with Canadian equities as their dividends don't get hit with withholding tax.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

If your advisor is recommending American Funds, that suggests that your advisor is being compensated out of the loads (i.e. sales commissions) charged by the fund. In which case, you are effectively the mechanism that the advisor uses to get the fund's commissions.

I think you would be better off looking for an advisor who is paid the same regardless of recomendations, because such an advisor will have the strongest incentive to give you good advice (so that you remain a customer) rather than to give the advice that will result in the biggest commissions.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Actually, American Funds is considered one of the best funds companies around. They are not cheap, though. One advantage of going with a fee-based CFP is that they can buy at NAV (Net Asset Value) for you. The discount brokers often hide their fees by charging you basis points on your fund or stock prices. As an example, Chuck Schwab (Charles Schwab & Co. founder, based here in San Francisco) is great to work for, the firm has a good solid service ethic, and I respect him a lot -- but he didn't become a billionaire by giving away brokerage services for nothing.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

I am skeptical about jkom51's comparison of fee-based financial planners and brokers. They're completely different beasts.

I'm also surprised to hear that it's possible to buy load funds without paying the load if you are using a fee-based financial planner--but frankly, it doesn't matter much, because if I were going to pay someone for access to a fund family, I'd be looking at DFA, not American.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

>>I am skeptical about jkom51's comparison of fee-based financial planners and brokers. They're completely different beasts. <<

Exactly! They are "different beasts" (BTW, I LOVE that phrase, very clever) but too many people don't know the difference. It's a very important one - a CFP is by law required to be a fiduciary for his/her clients. A broker is not. But some people don't need a fiduciary or a planner to hold their hands as they maneuver through the market. Some, however, do; and those types are better off with a CFP than a broker - assuming, of course, you can find a CFP you want to do business with.

>>I'm also surprised to hear that it's possible to buy load funds without paying the load if you are using a fee-based financial planner--<<

All I know is from my experience in working in an independent CFP office for 18 months, as well as hiring a different independent CFP for my MIL's portfolio, all purchases were and are done at NAV. Also, any commissions paid to the broker (CFPs must have a broker license, obviously) for certain funds, such as Redwood Mortgage, were fully rebated to the clients as standard policy.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

The problem I have with hiring an advisor, is I have to pay him/her a percentage to help make the decisions, and then I still have to pay the fund management fees on top of that.

I think that's where we get a little nervous with the amount of money we're investing. We could be talking $8-10,000 a year in management & fund costs before we even make a profit.

To further complicate things, my husband is actually a CFA and used to manage investment portfolios before he started his company, so he has the underlying knowledge to make the right decisions, it's just he's distracted with his company and hasn't focused in the last 10 years on what's going on in the stock market, other than reading what's the headliners...

I think we'll probably keep some of the money in the MM, and put the rest in a fund of some type, but that's where we really get bogged down - there's a gazillion different funds out there and every company's funds are postioned on their websites as profitable etc...

What I probably need to do is pick five funds and then find out what the upfront costs of the initial investment will be and the ongoing annual fees, and then compare to their 5 year return. Does that sound like a good first step? I'm thinking even this investment banker who is suggesting American Fund, Oppenheirmer etc. could/should provide me with this info if he wants me to invest in these funds?

Would anyone be willing to get me started by listing 3-5 funds that they feel are a solid investment?


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Get the current issue of Forbes magazine. It's their annual mutual fund rating issue. Even if you don't quite understand all the terminology, there's a wealth of information there.

>>The problem I have with hiring an advisor, is I have to pay him/her a percentage to help make the decisions, and then I still have to pay the fund management fees on top of that. <<

I don't think this is necessarily correct. Now granted, there is no set formula for how CFPs charge. However, we just met with my MIL's independent CFP firm to review the 2Q2007 results on her portfolio. The 1.45% annual fee charged by the CFP firm covers ALL fund management fees as well as the CFP fees.

Also, you need to be aware that everybody in the industry was anxious for the year 2006 to be over. The reason is during that year, the "dog year" of 2001 had to be included in the 5-yr averages, pulling the average annual yield down. Starting in 2007, the 5-yr averages went up considerably, because the Dow started roaring back up again in 2002. So actually, only those funds with 10-yr averages will give you an idea of how well the fund performed in both good AND bad years.

There is also a fascinating article in the same issue on Bill Gross, mgr of Pimco's Total Return Fund, the largest bond fund in the world. He's been sitting on 30% cash assets and is busy making hay in the market upheaval. Companies are having to pay huge point spreads to obtain liquidity (such as Chrysler and Ford notes nobody else wanted; they're paying Pimco 10.4% and 10.9%, respectively). It gives you a real insight into the world of institutional finance - fascinating!


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Caroleoh asks: "Would anyone be willing to get me started by listing 3-5 funds that they feel are a solid investment?
"

Two starting places that I like are www.fundadvice.com and www.coffeehouseinvestor.com; both of these sites have what seem like useful suggestions for building a simple portfolio that will do quite nicely.

Note: I have no connection with either of these sites. I am personally following a strategy that is close, but not identical, to that recommended by fundadvice.com.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

There can be a lot said for keeping diversity. I think it's a mistake to put all your eggs in one basket. The only way I survived the market dowturn in 2001 was thru diversity.

While the tax rate is lower now for married couples, you might want to keep the money in the MM. You can use the interest to invest in whatever you want. I'm in favor of mutual funds over individual stocks because it's managed for you. A stock portfolio needs to be watched and managed by you. If that is your only hobby, go for it. If not, stick to funds.

Someone mentioned Fed bonds. This would save you state taxes, if you live in a state with state taxes. Right now, they are around 4.5% so your 5.1% is a lot better.

You asked about financial advice. In 2000 I moved everything over to Fidelity Investments. If you have $50,000 invested with them, they give you a lot of tools to work with. They send you a retirement analysis that you fill out and then they gauge from that, and where your current investments are, and advise you on how to tune your investments for risk,longevity of keeping your wealth thru your old age.etc. Every year, you can go thru a performance tune up with them. They examine everything like monthly income over expenses, etc. It's very comprehensive. I can't tell you how helpful this is as the markets change. So maybe you'd get some good advice by talking with them. I think their advisors are very good. I retired in 2000 at a very early age, and if it wasn't for their guidance I might have had to go back to work!!!


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Thanks everyone for your advice. I will check out these sites and fidelity investments.

I think the reason we kept with the MM is because of the craziness of the business world - my husband's company is affected indirectly by the down turn in the construction industry and other market slow downs...It all trickles down hill. If homes aren't being built, home construction equipment isn't needed as readily, thus equipment orders are down, and then the parts needed to build this equipment isn't needed etc..etc..etc...

However, I do think we need to do something with at least a portion of these funds! Thanks again, for your suggestions.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Vanguard and Fidelity will do a free financial plan for you if you have this type of money invested with them.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Carol,

I found your post a few weeks ago on a search. For some reason, I keep thinking about your questions and the advice you got, and I finally decided to log on and comment.

Here are a few comments about your post:

1) You make a good point about being able to get better returns with mutual funds over a MM. 2-3% is very achievable. On the other hand, it is also quite possible to lose 2-3% - or more- with mutual funds. This is the trade-off between risk and reward that is inherent in investing. Typically fixed income investments, such as MM, T-bills, and government bonds are called "risk free" investments. Equities, such as stocks, and stock mutual funds are typically considered to be riskier. In general, the "riskier" the investment, the higher the rate of return.
2) You mentioned investing in a mutual fund. Another aspect of risk/reward is diversification. Again, in general funds that are spread among several different investments are at lower risk (Dont put all your eggs in one basket). Taking this a step further, risk is reduced more by making sure the different investments are sufficiently diverse. Some examples of diversity would be bonds vs. stocks, growth stocks vs. value stocks, US stocks vs. foreign stocks, etc.
3) Everybody has a different risk tolerance. Your husband seems to be very risk averse. You seem to be more risk tolerant. The level of risk is a personal decision that both of you must feel comfortable with.
4) I would like to suggest that you visit a website called www.ifa.com. This is a company of investment advisors that specialize in mutual funds by Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA). Im not suggesting you use DFA at this time. What I am suggesting is that you and your husband take the risk survey that IFA has on their website. It is free, and you dont have to sign up or give them your E-mail address. The risk survey is about 20 questions. The results give you an idea where you are on the risk taking spectrum. Based on the results, IFA will suggest one of 20 different portfolios that fit in with your risk tolerance. Again, I wouldnt necessarily suggest those portfolios for you, but they will give you a general idea of the types of investments that would be consistent with the level of risk you and your husband would like to take.

I may make a few people angry, but I need to comment about the advice you have been given:

First, the good advice.

1) I agree with much of what jkom51 says in the first reply. Although you probably dont need a CFP, it wont hurt as long as you can find a good one.
2) Chisue suggested treasuries and CDs. These can be good alternatives to MM, but you should research the advantages and differences.
3) Great advice f lphacat. American Funds are "load funds". That means when you buy them, a salesman gets a commission, usually about 5.25%. If you invest $400,000, you will LOSE $21,000 immediately. The big problem with this is that there are "no load" funds out there that will do just as good if not better, and you can get them for about $30 per fund. If you have 10 funds, that would be $300 verses $21,000. Too often an advisor who is recommending a load fund has his best interests at heart instead of yours. I wouldnt even consider load funds if I were you.
4) Alphacat also suggested DFA funds. He is correct; almost any DFA fund runs rings around American. They are all no load and have much lower annual fees as well. On a $400,000 investment, the difference in ER between DFA and American can run $4000 per year. With compounding, this is about $60,000 over 10 years that you are giving up.
5) The absolute best advice you got was f lphacat when he recommended you go to www.fundadvice.com. Go there and read every article, especially this one (sorry, I cant get the link to work, so I just copied the whole address) http://www.fundadvice.com/articles/buy-hold/the-ultimate-buy-and-hold-strategy.html. Paul Merriman gives great advice to folks. He is also a financial advisor who you might want to consider. I think he will work on a percentage of assets or I know he will give advice on a per hour basis (around $200/hr). This may be your best option. For about $400 you can get some really first rate advice on how best to invest. For disclosure purposes, I dont invest with Merriman, but I do read his site quite often. Also, for disclosure, all my IRA assets are invested in DFA funds.

Now for the bad advice:

1) The average investor has absolutely no business investing in individual stocks. If you put your money in 10 mutual funds you are invested in 10,000 stocks. Now if one of your stocks goes bankrupt, would you rather lose $40,000 ($400,000/10 stocks) or $4 ($400,000/10,000 stocks). This goes back to diversification. You just cant minimize the risk enough with individual stocks.
2) Dont bother going to Morningstar.com, or Forbes, or Money . Frankly I consider most of what they put out to be financial ography. They are trying to entice and tempt you with the "hot" stock, the " " stock, the investment that will make you filthy rich. But if you go back and look at last years "hottie" chances are it is a dog this year. For now, read everything you can at fundadvice.com. Another good site is www.diehards.org. That is a forum primarily by index investors. Go there and post the same message you put on this web, and you will get some fantastic advice (much better than I can give you).

Just a few more comments.

1) The best portfolio for you and your husband will probably be one that includes MM, bond funds, and stock funds. Again, your risk tolerance will determine the best portfolio for you.
2) One more article at fundadvice.com is this one. http://www.fundadvice.com/portfolio.html Merriman provides several suggested portfolios with different fund families such as Vanguard and Fidelity. Most of these funds are index funds. Some are managed funds, but all are no load with low fees.
3) Many people prefer index funds. These funds track an index such as the S&P 500 or others. They typically have lower fees than managed funds and studies show that managed fund usually underperform index funds over the long term. You can get a good explanation of this at fundadvice.com
4) You asked for a few good funds. Several are listed in the site referenced in #2 above.
5) Good luck with your investment .

Jeff


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

caroleoh,

Before you can be offered intelligent advice, one would need to know your investment horizon, roughly your projected retirement age minus your current age. If your horizon is 5 years, that is one answer; if your horizon is 25 years, a completely different answer.

Please heed this: there is no such thing as a riskless investment. It does not exist. Risk is an ugly tenant to every investment class, it merely wears different costumes. Contrary to popular belief, bonds, even US Government bonds, are not riskless. Bond risk can be great depending on maturity and issuer. And it is not limited to default risk. IMHO, MM have no place in a portfolio except for risk mitigation in a retirement or close to retirement portfolio.

The typical investor should ignore individual stocks. Everyone wants to grab the hottest stock or act on a tip they received at a dinner party. As Peter Lynch says, most people spend more time planning vacations than their investments... The best vehicle for individual investors are Exchange Traded Funds or ETF. They work like mutual funds but are traded like stocks. Moreover, expenses are lower than mutual funds. Most investors are better off in index ETF's. Why? The majority of mutual fund managers - the pros - do not consistently beat their comarative index. This is not a knock against the pros: it is simply difficult to do especially given all the rules fund managers must adhere to.


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RE: Move funds out of 5% Money Market?

Greetings, everyone.

A guy who writes in what I consider Canada's best personal money management magazine has followed a simple system of investing in equal amounts of 10 individual Canadian stocks, shifting once only per year, with carryover year-to-year running usually 60 - 100%, for 10 years, and back-tested another 10 years before that, solid, quality stocks, paying a good dividend.

Cheap fees to a discount broker to buy and sell - but don't expect any guidance. That's O.K. - following his system, or the parallel one in the U.S. doesn't require any.

Management expense paid to a mutual fund manager? Not a cent.

Fees to a financial planner? Zero.

The magazine costs $19.95 annual rate, plus tax - but one gets a wealth of other quality information, in addition.

He has a variation that uses only 5, or 4 stocks per year ... the one with 4 has been the highest gainer, by a small margin, but with much higher fluctuations: not for the faint of heart!

Management takes about 2 hours per year. No ongoing evaluations needed throughout the year.

His system was based on a similar well-known U.S. system, which he used as a basis for his evaluation.

The mutual fund sellers don't want to talk about individual stocks, because they can't sell them. Actually, almost all of them are legally proscribed from such a discussion: how many mutual funds' sales persons that you know have taken the Securities Course, that is required of stockbrokers? Much more complex.

He reported this past summer, based on the 20 year record, average growth rate of 14%. Much of the ongoing smallish income taxed at a lower than average rate (in Canada). With most of the income in the form of capital gain, which isn't taxed till realized.

In most cases where there was had been a substantial drop in one or two years, there was a substantial, frequently larger, rise in the year or two following.

Over the recent 10 years, the 10 stocks per year have covered a total of 23 stocks. It should be noted, I think, that in the Canadian situation, a number of the stocks are some of Canada's nationwide banks.

If one had chosen not to liquidate the stocks dropped at the end of any one year, but added the new one(s), instead, in a number of cases it would be one that had been included in earlier years. That would have meant basically one new stock per year, with three extra during the total period.

It seems to me that the deferral of the capital gain tax liability would have more than offset the temporary reduction in total return that one would have lost by dropping several of those stocks for a period, only to repurchase them in a later year. Evading brokerage fees going out and back in, as well.

I can't tell you the amounts of highest growth and loss, or in what years they occurred, but am planning on putting some work on that shortly and may be able to return with those figures, before long.

Not many mutual fund managers have been able to outperform the average annual mArket growth rate of about 8%, over extended periods - and that's the length of time that interests most of us, as we plan to be around for some years, yet. Very fewmutual fund managers, or even the market averages (not quite equalled by the Exchange Traded funds', due to their fee structure, even if they are low) have equalled this money adviser's 14%, averaged over 20 years.

And the mutuAl fund manAgers want about 1/6 - 1/5th of that growth ... and they get theirs, whether there is any gain or not.

As someone said, Bernard Baruch didn't get rich by giving away services free.

When I put my money into an asset where the number of invested dollars is guaranteed not to shrink ... there's a reciprocal guarantee: that number, apart from the rent on the money, can't grow, either.

And the value of each of those invested dollars has shrunk ... every year since about 1937: I was alive then, but most of you weren't.

So your partner in all of your financial affairs comes with that one question, and one statement, every year:

1. "How much did you earn this year?", and, in almost all cases,

2. "We want part of it!".

After you've dealt with that consumer of your cheese, there's the other rat to consider, called inflation.

That $10,000. that you lent to the bank 15 years ago would have bought a nice car ... but it won't now, when you take it out. Probably less than half of a similar car.

So after the tax is paid, you have to add some of the annual earnings to the principal, each year, to keep purchasing power intact.

You can keep what's left.

And ...

... don't forget ...

... the rats EAT FIRST!!

Have a joyous week, everyone.

ole joyful


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