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Should You Buy or Lease Your Next Vehicle?

By | The Friday Brief | One Comment

After 5 years as a proud minivan owner, my wife and I recently purchased an SUV. For simple trips around Raleigh the van was adequate, but with our frequent treks to see my parents in Florida combined with the taxing drive through the mountains of West Virginia to get to Emily’s family in Ohio, we needed something more reliable. Ultimately, after lots of research and finding a good deal on the vehicle we wanted, plus some email negotiations back and forth (all those articles you find online about how to negotiate the best price really work!), we settled on a

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The Right Tools and Experience

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

One of the joys of having our office at Five Points is the endless opportunity it provides to meet colorful people. Yesterday provided another one. About closing time, I heard some discussing the scene in our front parking as they headed out the door. Seems there was a guy with a flat tire, trunk open, busily tossing out stuff to uncover his spare and creating what looked like a yard sale of hunting and fishing equipment around his car. A few minutes later, when everyone was gone and the office was quiet, I wrapped up from my day and started

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The Piano Man

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

Good financial planning is the process of making smart financial decisions over and over again. With time, these smart decisions compound on each other and give you the freedom to do more of the things that are important you. Just for fun, here is a quick list of some of the financial decisions we’ve recently made in my family… • Updated our will and estate plan. • Bought a used car instead of a new one. • Added more term life insurance after our daughter Rhodes was born. • Switched to a new tool for budgeting. • Increased our contribution

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FOMO and Facebook: Why Diversification Matters

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

A couple of interesting things happened this week that led to this blog, but before I get to them, I want to start elsewhere. I did a very bad thing before I sat down to write this, which was to get on Redfin and look at homes for sale in our neighborhood. After about two minutes of perusing the listings I stumbled upon this one, which can most accurately be described as The Home of My Dreams, and also, Not Particularly Close to Affordable for me and my family. And do you know something? Seeing that–that the home I would

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Inflation, the Fed, and Markets

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

President Trump weighed in yesterday on one of the last truly apolitical federal institutions; the Federal Reserve. He bemoaned the possibility that their recent interest rate increases might derail his attempts to improve economic growth to what he believes is closer to its true potential – 3% and higher. However, the economists of the Federal Reserve believe that an economy picking up steam or one growing too fast will cause inflation to rise above their stated targets of 2% for inflation. The argument pits politics against policy as presidents win or lose on the strength of the economy during their

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The Second Quarter of 2018

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

The economy continues to plow ahead, despite the threat of trade wars and uncertainty of US trade status on this continent, Europe and Asia. For the year so far, stocks as measured by the S&P 500 and the Vanguard Total US Market index are up 4.7% and 6.3%, respectively. All of that return has come in the second quarter, which is the topic of today’s Brief. Possibility of an all-out global trade war and the threat of regulatory risks of technology companies, like Facebook and Google, drove the market down during the first quarter. But a meeting between President Trump and

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Declare Your Independence from the Pitfalls of Aging

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

We just celebrated our 242nd year of independence from the tyranny of King George’s taxes, tariffs, and regulations. A brave few representatives from thirteen British colonies signed their names to a document that would have resulted in their deaths as traitors to the Crown should their cause have failed. The document, our Declaration of Independence, begins with a sentence that reflects a level of passion and resolve that resonates deeply in our souls and indeed with all who hear it. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator

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401k Bombs and the Fall of GE

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In Barbarians at the Gate, a thrilling tale of the buyout of RJR Nabisco in the late 80s, there is an account of the development of a smokeless cigarette product called Premier that, while being ahead of its time in some respects, was also a complete disaster. From the very first test groups of people trying these “cigarettes,” no one ever liked the taste or smoking experience of Premiers, and yet, largely due to the blind optimism of RJR Nabisco’s CEO Ross Johnson, the company continued to push the product all the way to market, where it landed with about

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Planning and Social Security

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

This year, some 45.5 million Americans will receive $63 billion in retirement benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. Of these recipients 65 years or older, 50% of married couples and 71% of unmarried persons depend on Social Security for more than 50% of their income. Indeed, all of our clients’ plans depend, to some degree, on Social Security for future or continued funding of their retirement needs. According to the latest Board of Trustees report released in July of 2017, if nothing is done to address the problems, the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted in 16 years. To be

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3 Ways To Fail As An Investor

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s famed right-hand man at Berkshire Hathaway, is fond of using the phrase, “Invert, always invert.” While Munger is often credited with the origination of the quote, he is borrowing from 19th century German mathematician Carl Jacobi, who coined the phrase as a means to capture how he felt many difficult math problems were best handled: by turning them on their head and working backwards toward a solution. One way that you can apply this inversion technique is by looking at an outcome which is the opposite of what you want, and then figuring out what steps

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