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The Friday Brief

Do you need a million dollars to retire?

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“The greatest show on television is Survivor,” is an opinion I hold dearly and would be happy to share with you, but anyway here’s an interesting tidbit about the game: Since the year 2000 when the show debuted in the U.S., the prize for the winner has not budged from it’s original amount of $1 million. For nineteen years and thirty-eight seasons it’s held steady, and I’d be shocked if it changed any time soon. (Just for reference, if you assume inflation of 2.5% over the last 19 years, the prize today would need to be about $1.6 million dollars to

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How Would You Rate Your Financial Well-Being?

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What if I asked you to rate your financial well-being on a scale of 1 to 10 — 1 being poor and 10 being excellent. How would you answer? Perhaps it would be helpful if we made an effort to first define financial well-being. There’s a good chance that we all have a slightly different definition, but I think it’s safe to assume that most people’s would include some of the following components. Freedom from worry.The ability to spend as much time as I’d like with family and friends.Knowing that I am on track to accomplish the things that are

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Lifestyle Leverage

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How often do you ask yourself, ‘why didn’t I do this sooner?’ We love to drive when our car is clean. Work seems more enjoyable when our work space is neat and orderly. Our homes were never so delightful to live in until putting them on the market for sale. If we fail to do the things that offer immediate reward to our lifestyles, then it’s no wonder why we resist investing our time in payoffs that are far down the road. We are procrastinators by nature, but the cost to our lifestyles is real and measurable. Charles Kettering reminds

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“How much do people spend on vacations?”

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As Jack reminds me almost daily, next week is his last in kindergarten which means summer is just around the corner. Soon we’ll all be packing our bags and heading to the beach (or elsewhere) for a vacation. As I was thinking about my family’s summer plans, I was reminded of a question a client emailed me a few months ago (Used with permission. Name changed.): “How much do people with about the same income as Charlie and I spend on vacation, groceries, home improvement, cars, etc. I’ve looked online and this varies a good bit. Wondering if you could

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What’s the point of giving your money away?

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Now that the 2018 tax season is over (unless you extended, but you know what I mean), we’ve gotten through our first official tax year of higher standard deductions, which, among other things, means for most people the relative value of each dollar given to charity has gone down for tax purposes. It remains to be seen whether or not the law change will negatively affect the generosity of Americans, but I would imagine it’s at least given some folks pause as they consider where charitable giving fits in with their financial situation. We wrote early in 2018 about a

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Consider Your Savings Account

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I started banking with my current bank almost 30 years ago. I chose NCNB because they had a branch a short walk from my dorm room. As a college freshman, proximity and the fact that they were willing to give me a credit card was about all that mattered. NCNB has a new name and has evolved to become one of the biggest banks in the country. My wife, Crystal, and I stay with them for several reasons. Their online banking offering is easy and intuitive, we have the ability to deposits checks on our phones and there’s always an

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How much should you tip? And other questions.

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In 1992, during the Barcelona Olympics (where the greatest basketball team of all time was assembled), Seinfeld began its fourth season with a two-part opening called “The Trip.” Like almost all Seinfeld episodes, there’s no point in me trying to recap what happens in those two parts–it’s a show about nothing!–but basically Jerry and George go out to Hollywood so Jerry can be on The Tonight Show, and so George can tag along for no reason. While there, they look for their friend Kramer, who somehow becomes implicated in a string of serial killings by someone nicknamed the Smog Strangler.

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The Trouble With Biometric Investment Monitors

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I mean this in the best possible way: You do not keep yourself alive.   The breathing, the movement of blood, the functioning of the kidneys and liver and all the rest–you and I have no role whatsoever in making it all work. The most we can do is keep ourselves from getting in the way of the amazing ways our bodies stay alive, and perhaps even slightly improve the current performance of some of our organs and systems through exercise and healthy eating.   Don’t get me wrong! Please do not get in the way of your body by what you

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Do You Have a Success-Type Personality?

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“Just as a doctor learns to diagnose disease from certain symptoms, failure and success can also be diagnosed. . . A person does not simply find success or come to failure. He or she carries their seeds around in his personality and character.” Dr. Maxwell Maltz In his 1960 groundbreaking book, Psycho Cybernetics, Dr. Maltz largely started the self-improvement movement, but his work was so much more than that. Writing in the early days of the computer age, he showed us how science and psychology were coming to understand how much like computers and servo-mechanisms the human brain and sub-conscious

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The Ugly Truth of “Failure to Launch”

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There’s a scene in the 2006 movie, Failure to Launch, where a couple is lamenting the fact that their adult son still lives with them. “The boy’s thirty-five years old!” says one. “It’s just not fair,” says the other. “We were good parents and now we’re supposed to be done!” If you’ve seen the movie, which I proudly admit I have not, you know it’s a satirical tale of a man in his mid-30’s who refuses to leave the comfy confines of his parents’ house. And why should he? He has no responsibilities, no bills, and nothing that threatens the

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