Wednesday, August 31, 2005


The tragedy of New Orleans demonstrates how ill prepared governmental resources (local/state/federal) are ready for a national emergency. While we have spent billions to protect AIR PORTS from terrorists we have absolutely no plans to deal with prospective national tragedies.

It did not take a rocket scientist to know that Katrina was headed for New Orleans and that the city was NOT PREPARED for a flood/storm. The storm was classified as a level 5 and the levee system was only designed for a level 3.

This same event could have been a wind storm, ice storm or blizzard, tornado, meteor, earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, or terrorist chemical attack.

What should we personally learn from this?

Every household needs to have the following:
- A realistic FAMILY PLAN to deal with various types of crisises (where should we meet? a Church, home, ) (what should we bring?) Everyone should be able to review the plan on a periodic basis. The plan needs to be adjusted for changes in the seasons. If you look on-line there are countless FREE downloadable booklets with valuable information.
- Transportation: If you must leave your home not only where would you go and HOW would you get there? Car? Bike? Cart? This affects what you can take with you, your security, and shelter issues.
- A survival kit LIST including: (bandages, perscription medicines, general medicines, sissors, knife, blankets, matches, paper, no battery radio and flashlight, string, rope, wire, spare clothes, personal sanitation articles, cash, flairs, plastic trash bag,duct tape and tarps, plastic closeable containers, POTs or PAN, some books or other amusements, pet supplies if you have a pet, hats, batteries for cell phone?, clean rags, swiss army knife, and canned (self-contained) food, energy bars, and water for at least 5 days.) Other adds on could include: inflatable mattress, copies of important papers: insurance papers, contacts number; local maps, bug spray, family treasures (pictures only). Having a bike would be a plus. What you can take will largely depend on the event, transportation options, and condition of your family members.
- Children may have special needs and you should judge accordingly. (diapers, medicines, etc.)
- A hand generator would be a real benefit.
- Warning! If your told to LEAVE - LEAVE. Things are only things, your life and health can never be replaced. You can't take it with you! Having an EXIT plan is also reasonable: Do you need to turn off the water, gas, electric?

- Each of your support groups should have similar plans.

A last thought: If you have something - someone with nothing will try to take it away from you. I am not advocating a "shoot-out" but you need to give some realistic preparation to deal with such possible unpleasant situations - they will occur.

Monday, August 29, 2005


A house, car, or many of your other worldly possessions require periodic review and maintenance.

Some years ago a neighbor paid over $10,000 for a backyard wood deck. For the want of a bi-yearly powerwashing and sealant the deck is now an unsafe rotting structure ready for take down.

My own deck is about 25 years old and looks like 5 years. It is amazing what difference a little routine maintenace can make.

The same can be said about changing your oil in your car, etc.


Friday, August 26, 2005


Yesterday my handyman told me he was looking for more work since his daughter fell down and had an $800 visit to the emergency room (all for 4 stitches.) It seem he did not have any health insurance for himself or his family.

Health Insurance is NOT an option in your family financial plan - it is a necessity. In the last two years I have had a cancerous kidney removed ($60,000+) and two veterbrae pads replaced in my neck ($25,000+).

My son-in-law last year was hit head on by a drunk driver resulting in a broken arm, broken leg, fractured hand, fractured sternum, etc. At last count his medical bills were over $145,000 of which the majority was paid for by his insurance. (And yes, the drunk walked away.)

Half of those declaring bankruptcy do so because of health problems or medical bills, according to research by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren. Even scarier: Three quarters of those bankrupted by medical bills actually had health insurance. It just wasn't enough, especially for those whose illness cost them their job.

Several friends have retired early and lost their company paid health insurance. Now they are struggling to pay the $6,000+ premiums for themselves and their spouse.
Make sure this is included in your preretirement family plan.


Sunday, August 21, 2005


The greatest gifts you can offer others are most often phrase, hugs, and other expressions of your love. These gifts return the greatest reward to all concerned.

Have you made your "gifts" today?


Friday, August 19, 2005


Prior to going out for dinner this evening I did a SEARCH for "discount coupons" (St. Louis) and "Restaurants." I discovered that one of our favorite local restaurants offered a $5.00 discount for over $20.00 purchase. I printed out 10 coupons since there was no expiration date.

The point is - you can save some serious money by searching the internet.

I also discovered a slew of coupons for local attractions.


Your time is the most precious resource you have. The average person only lives about 27,000 days (365x74 years).

When you give someone your TIME for any task you are giving them your LIFE. What a wonderful gift when freely given.


Thursday, August 18, 2005


One day I came into the bedroom and my wife was making the bed. Her face was written with unhappiness as I asked her what the matter was. She responded "I have been making the bed for over 30 years now and you NEVER help."

I guess I could have said " I mow the grass, paint the house, as my share" but instead I replied: "Your right, let me make the bed for the next 30 years."

Since that time we make the bed together - and peacefully.

It is not always what is said - but how it is stated - that creates lasting impressions and changes in behavior. In this case, both of us made positive changes in our behavior and feelings.

There is no value in winning battles and loosing the war.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005


There is absolutely no better way to decide a family at the time of death than to have no definite plan in the division of your estate (no matter how small it is.)

Over my life time I have watched various families decend into “family feuds” bickering over the family silver, jewelry, pictures, and even lamps - simply because it was not in writing. In fact, even in writing does not always hold up.

One of the simplest and most worthy suggestions that I have ever heard of in a will was:

“I commend my children to mutually agree to the divison of my household into even shares. In the event that they cannot agree to the division of the shares than I request the executor of this estate to sell all the estate contents at public auction and divide the monetary proceeds. I likewise would be very disappointed should it come to such a decision.”

Another interesting solution was to PASTE the names of the spoils on the back of items.

This reminds me of the wise parent who had one candy bar and two children. She handed the candy bar to the first child and asked the one child to divide the bar into two pieces. The second child was then given first choice of the pieces.


Sooner or later all of us are going to die. The expense of a funeral in 2005 is over $6,000. For many people this expense comes at at time of undue stress where logic does not take hold.

A friend of mind told me how she was still paying for her brother's funeral two years later when no one else in the family had any money to contribute. (And sadly, it is on a CREDIT CARD paying 18%+ interest.)

Unless there is a special religious reason you can obtain a cremation and a dignified funeral for under a $1,000 in most communities. See if there is a locat CREMATION SOCIETY if you live in a large urban region.

If you can pre-plan but don't PRE-PAY for such inevitable events.


If your like many people you allow a disproportionate of your money to lie dormant in a checking account. Most checking accounts pay virtually no interest (e.g. .02 tenth of a percent). Spend some time searching your local newspapers and locate a money market account paying (8/16/05) 3.25-3.50% interest. This should make you some spare change.

Note: some savings account/credit unions will pay more competitve rates than banks. My Credit union will even MATCH CD rates with any competing financial institution - saving me the trouble of moving funds.


Creativity is an important ingredient in your financial and career satisfaction. One of my most favorite definitions comes from a 1970's pop film called "Why Man Creates." The film is itself an example of creativity but one of the great lines is "What is creativity? Why it is looking at one thing and seeing another."

Creativity will conquer many of your problems if you "look" for solutions outside the "box."

Recently a young friend of mine said he wanted to save more money but did not have the income.

I suggested making a spreadsheet showing both his income and expenses and to decide where HE could see possible savings.

He told me that he had found a way to save a $105 a month ($1260 a year)
- Replacing soft drinks at lunch each day with lemon water = $40.00+
- Bringing his lunch 1 day a week = $25 a month
- Eliminating morning snacks 2 days a week = $15
- Eliminate eating out for a fancy dinner once a month = $30

What creative ways can you find to finance your life goals?


Which would you rather have? A good friend or $5000 in cash?



Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The other day a friend of mind for many years had a discussion of our extended families. He lamented to me that his wife was very disappointed in his new daughter-in-law because she never called her.

I shared with him the childhood song of Marlo Thomas "They drew a circle and drew me out - I drew a cirle and drew them in."

Sometimes you have to do the reaching and you can't let go until you succeed. Picking up the phone and sharing your concern, sending a card, or an invitation for lunch can have marvelouis returns.


Take time each day to do something good for the people who make up your circle of life. It can be nothing more than kind words or just a reminder that you care. Do this twice over for your children and never fail to tell them that you love them! Find some time to talk with your family members one-on-one and LISTEN to what they have to say.

These actions pay the greater return for everyone.

And remember, you can't take it with you!


It is importants to keep multiple backups of essential DATA (financial, family, instructions, etc.)

I strongly suggest that you keep information in a SAFE and in at least one other location other than home.

If DATA is encypted make sure that at least two people have the passwords but not access to the DATA.


If you are a collector of THINGS - collect only those things which give you personal satisfacton. Do not CONFUSE collections with INVESTMENTS. Collector THINGS are often hard to liquadate in a moment of need or call fall to the disposition of others who MAY or MAY NOT know the value or means of adequate disposal.

At a certain point in your life you need to concentrate more on the conversion of your life hobbies into more negotiable securities that anyone can use (i.e. cash or securities).

Also note that collections come and go in popularity. Remember Beanie Babies selling for hundreds of dollars each that now sell at garage sales for .25. (I recently purchased an entire collection of 100 mint beanie babies for $20 which still had the $5-8.00 price tags on them.)

You can however speculate with purchases that you think will become popular in the future is often better than trying to purchase a current trend. Remember Beanie Babies selling for hundreds of dollars each that now sell at garage sales for .25.

I recently purchased an entire collection of 100 mint beanie babies for $20 which still had the $5-8.00 price tags on them. for $20.00 I can give these to my grandchildren as "toys".

Several years ago I sold a collection of 75 metal lunchboxes from the 1960's-80's purchased as garage sales for $1200. I had purchased all of these prior to their popularity for perhaps $50 tops.

Not every speculation will make money but when they do.... it is fun!

And remember "The best things in life are not things."


ALWAYS ask for available discounts/coupons, etc. when investigating a substancial purchase.

Use the Internet to search for discounts prior to purchases.

Obtain organizational discount cards (e.g. AARP, professional groups, etc.) You can start AARP at age 50!

Even local services (e.g. tree trimmers offer a senior discount)


Friday, August 12, 2005


While a house is one of your largest financial investments often people pay excessive property tax simply because they to not check their assessment bill and/or do not protest the assessment.

Property assessment are generally based on the value of your house "compared" to similar houses that have recently sold of comparable value. Unfortunately that comparison is often made based on a computer program, a two minute drive assessment by a frustrated tax assessor, and comparison to TOTAL REHAB property in your neighborhood.

If your property is NOT the same as the local TOTAL REHABs used for comparison - then fight the assessment.

Take pictures of your property, collect the sales brochures of local COMP houses, and check-out on-line the sales of other houses in your neighborhood. Make sure you PROTEST and APPEAL the assessment.

This last year I was able to demonstrate in a logical presentation (with a spreadsheet) that my property was not worth the 39% increase but only 12%. I won the appeal, but my neighbor who did not appeal is paying 40% more than his previous assessment.



Wednesday, August 10, 2005

GOOD HEALTH PRACTICES increase the length and quality of your life.

Only 3 percent of lung cancers occur in people under 45, regardless of smoking status.

This year in the United States, an estimated 93,010 men and 79,560 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer and almost an equal number -- 90,490 men and 73,020 women -- will die of it.

Only about 10 percent of men and 20 percent of women with lung cancer have never smoked. (They are probably victims of second-hand smoke or genetic propensity.)

About 1 in 5 people are current smokers.”

Cash for the Hard Goods,
Cash for the Soft Goods..."
or The Economic Law of Grandpa Forrest

"If you can't pay cash for it - you can't have it."
(The only exceptions are for a very basic car or house.)

I have lived up to this law my entire life with great success.


The average American Family in 2005 has over $10,000+
in credit card debts.

Even if you pay $319 per month interest for the rest of your life
you will never reduce the $10,000 principle.

Credit cards purchases are for most people just another
form of addiction.

I watched a child cry in the store today until his mother
bought him what he wanted. That is just the beginning
of a life long set of "addiction" values.

And yes, the use of credit cards which are payed off monthly
provide YOU the FREE use other peoples money.

Credit cards can be useful tools to track
HOW you spend your resources. Likewise, if you use a
card with "rebate" dollars you can actually make money!
(e.g. Discover Card)

There are a number of credit card calculators that can assist you in understanding the severity of your situation. One example:


The second most important emotional and financial decision in your life is the raising of a family (children.)

This can be the most rewarding point in your life (or the most depressing). In either event it only begins at the point of conception and will end only at death.


to determine the financial consequences.

(And yes I love my children with all my heart and would not trade them for a billion dollars.)


Tuesday, August 09, 2005


A MOST important decision.....

The selection of your life mate is one of THE most important emotional and financial decisions you will ever make in your life.

There are no magic formulas in selecting a complementary mate. Sometimes a mate needs to be the YEN and for others the YANG.

Unfortunately, mate selection often has more to do with hormones than with logic.

Choose wisely.....and make it work!

PS - Look at your potential mate's family carefully. Remember that the prejudices and attitudes, financial habits, spiritual and work ethics were engrained on your potential mate for a lifetime. These trait do not mean your potential mate will be a CARBON COPY but it does reflect what they and you will have to aspire to (or overcome). KLF


Some AESOP favorites:

The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about,
chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by,
bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper,
"instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant,
"and recommend you to do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got
plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and
continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no
food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants
distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had
collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.


The Dancing Monkeys

A PRINCE had some Monkeys trained to dance. Being naturally
great mimics of men's actions, they showed themselves most apt
pupils, and when arrayed in their rich clothes and masks, they
danced as well as any of the courtiers. The spectacle was often
repeated with great applause, till on one occasion a courtier,
bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of nuts and
threw them upon the stage. The Monkeys at the sight of the nuts
forgot their dancing and became (as indeed they were) Monkeys
instead of actors. Pulling off their masks and tearing their
robes, they fought with one another for the nuts. The dancing
spectacle thus came to an end amidst the laughter and ridicule of
the audience.

-"Not everything you see is what it appears to be."-



The Frogs and the Well

Two Frogs lived together in a marsh. But one hot summer the marsh
dried up, and they left it to look for another place to live in: for
frogs like damp places if they can get them. By and by they came to
a deep well, and one of them looked down into it, and said to the
other, "This looks a nice cool place. Let us jump in and settle here."
But the other, who had a wiser head on his shoulders, replied, "Not so
fast, my friend. Supposing this well dried up like the marsh, how
should we get out again?"

"Look before you leap."



Hercules and the Waggoner

A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy
way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank
half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper
sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt
down and prayed to Hercules the Strong. "O Hercules, help me in
this my hour of distress," quoth he. But Hercules appeared to
him, and said:

"Tut, man, don't sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder
to the wheel."

The gods help them that help themselves.



The Goose With the Golden Eggs

One day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found
there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was
as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he
thought a trick had been played upon him. But he took it home on
second thoughts, and soon found to his delight that it was an egg
of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and he soon
became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy;
and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he
killed it and opened it only to find nothing.

Greed oft o'er reaches itself.



The Monkeys and Their Mother

THE MONKEY, it is said, has two young ones at each birth. The
Mother fondles one and nurtures it with the greatest affection
and care, but hates and neglects the other. It happened once
that the young one which was caressed and loved was smothered by
the too great affection of the Mother, while the despised one was
nurtured and reared in spite of the neglect to which it was

The best intentions will not always ensure success.



Sunday, August 07, 2005


If you think there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody. (Anon)


All the people who smile at you - are not your friend. (Overby)


Financial Advice - "The first rule of finance is to protect what you have - the second is to make it grow." Mary Erdoes-managing director at J.P. Morgan


It may be fun to watch and dream as players at the last table of make single bets of average peoples life income. But you have about the same chance to win the lottery as to sit at that table.

Your best chance of financial success to carefully manage "what you have." No matter what your income you can do better with your resources with a "consistent" and carefully reviewed plan.

Success does not happen in a day but it does require attention every day of your life. KLF


Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Financial: Once a year you need to make a serious financial review of all your utility costs. This past year I was able to renegotiate rates on my CELL PHONE (different program saving $35 per month) , CABLE FEES (Saving $30 per month), SBC CABLE feels (from $45 per month to $14.95), Trash collection fees (saving $5.00 per month), etc.

Likewise I changed my insurance agent (and agency) to double my coverage at approximately the same money.

Discounts: At age 55 you need to purchase an AARP membership. It is good for numerous discounts at virtually all hotels and travel offers.

It is exceedingly important to always ask for "Senior" discounts when making large purchases.