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The Friday Brief

3 Ways To Fail As An Investor

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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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The Endless Immensity of You

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Allure motivates us far more than thought or logic. Abstract ideas just don’t change our behavior like longings and desires do. In his book You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith says, “We adopt ways of life that are indexed to such visions of the good life, not usually because we ‘think through’ our options, but rather because some picture captures our imagination.” He uses an excerpt from Exupéry’s The Little Prince to illustrate: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them

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Simplify For Understanding, But Maintain Effectiveness

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Isn’t it refreshing when experts make complex subjects understandable through stories or practical examples, without making us feel like we’re getting the dummies’ version? They seem to effortlessly guide us through what were before, mysterious mazes of confusion, with ease and clarity, and without a bunch of Latin, high-level math, or complex technical mumbo jumbo. They understand that we naturally and effectively learn through example, not abstraction and take no pleasure lording their knowledge over us. Rather their goal is to share the benefits of their wisdom and experience in a language and style that their listeners will understand and

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A Wealth of Decisions

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The most important requirement for creating and protecting wealth is good decision-making. Seems obvious, until we remind ourselves of our own costly financial missteps. And before you get too hard on yourself, consider the colossal ones made by major CEOs, almost on a daily basis (i.e. Facebook and Wells Fargo of late).   Good decision-making is not a natural thing. In fact, we must work against our natural human biases to improve the quality and effectiveness of our decisions. In their book, Decisive, brothers and professors Chip and Dan Heath lay out a process they call WRAP to overcome our

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Five Reasons to Review Your Income Tax Withholding

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An often overlooked but important part of tax planning is the amount you have withheld from your paycheck. Under-withhold throughout the year and you may end up owing taxes in April. Over-withhold and you may be needlessly restricting cash flow throughout the year. President Trump signed the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) into law on December 22nd, 2017. The new law lowers tax rates across the board.[i] The immediate impact is that roughly 90% of taxpayers have seen an increase in their take-home pay[ii]. Yet, due to the persistent complexity of the tax code and the ways in which

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Dis·in·te·gra·tion

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Disintegration: To lose unity, integrity, or strength by or as if by breaking into parts, as defined by Merriam Webster. Our social, political and institutional systems offer, on a daily basis, glaring examples of the debilitating impact of ‘breaking into parts.’ Self interest and promotion, two of our most natural traits since our beginning, are now amplified by social media to unprecedented heights, or depths, and with terrible effect. But today, we’ll focus on a more subtle, but equally costly aspect of disintegration at the individual or family level. It’s the idea of making important financial and life decisions without knowing

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A Very Important Purchase

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My son Cooper and I love to go to Ace Hardware in Seaboard Station. Usually we go to get something for a house project but I’ll admit we occasionally go just for the free popcorn and to watch the model train chug around the track suspended from the store’s ceiling. On our most recent visit, we bought something that I found to be particularly exciting. A $2 tire pressure gauge. What was exciting about the purchase wasn’t the actual item itself but the fact that it was the first thing that Cooper, who is 4 1/2, had ever purchased. About

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Life-Changing Work

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Yesterday, I had one of those wonderful opportunities to share life-changing news with a new client. I’ll call her Mary. During two prior meetings, Mary had shared how difficult her job was and how she would love to change to a less stressful and more rewarding job. She had proven herself indispensable to an employer that was in continual downsizing mode, heaping ever more responsibility and work on the survivors, with precious little  gratitude. We had not met in a few months because Mary’s dad had passed away and she had been busy settling his estate on top of all

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Rocky Road – Smoother Ride

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On January 26th, markets abruptly exited the smooth freeway we had grown so accustomed to for a rocky cross-country romp that may continue for some time. The uncertainty of trade wars, Federal Reserve interest rate tightening,  and possible inflation have replaced the confidence of tax cuts, a growing economy, and infrastructure spending. But this time, the bumps seem worse than usual. According to the pundits, the shock dampening effect of bonds, specifically US Treasurys, is no longer working.  Our 7-10 year Treasurys are down 2.4% so far this year, while stocks, as measured by the US Total Market Index, are

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Why Market Declines Are Met With Market Rallies

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Market volatility of late concerns more than tweets, who delivers your packages, and risks of trade wars. While the President’s comments via Twitter and from the podium have added to market uncertainty, the week’s economic data is rather quietly (as far as the media is concerned) telling a story of it’s own. Year to date, major stock averages are largely flat, but the ride has been anything but with swings as large a 700 points on the Dow or almost 3% in a day. These moves can be disconcerting. The headline drivers of the markets’ volatility, have included Facebook’s security

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