Related collections and offers
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Curly. Do you know what the secret of life is? Holds up one finger. This.
Mitch. Your finger?
Curly. One thing, just one thing. Stick to that one thing, and the rest doesn't matter.
Mitch. So, what's the one thing?
Curly. That's for you to figure out.
These lines are from the movie City Slickers, with Jack Palance as Curly and Billy Crystal as Mitch. At one time or another we have all had friends and relatives, advisors and strangers, give us some words of advice. Some we remember and carry with us our entire lives. Most we forget in a moment. Some advice is valuable. Most of it is simply wrong or just baloney. My main job is offering financial advice to clients, family, and friends.
Surely you can remember something that stuck with you from a parent or grandparent. Here are a few words of wisdom that I grew up with: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"; "Count your blessings, not your troubles"; "When the going gets tough, the tough get going"; "Keep your eye on the prize."
These phrases and little gems of insight gleaned from experience are important to us. They shape us and define us, especially when they turn out positively to provide us with strength, hope, or guidance.
When it comes to money, the proven, time-tested words of advice are simple: "Buy low, sell high"; "Location, location, location"; "Build shelter against a rainy day"; "When investors are greedy, be fearful.
When investors are fearful, be greedy"; "Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today"; "It's not how much you make that counts; it's how much you keep."
But is there just one thing? What do you think? If there was a verified formula for investing that produced a 10 percent proven return every year without fail, wouldn't most of us adopt it? If there was an unswerving, foolproof method for high yields, then you wouldn't need advisors like me. Is there one way to build a bridge, construct a home, carve a turkey, paint a picture, surf a wave? Not really. Investing is an art, not a science. Sorry, Curly, there just isn't one way to make money or keep it.
I had a relative who asked me the very same opening question at every family gathering: "What is the true meaning of life?" Sometimes I tried for a serious reply, and at other times I replied with a joke. After a variety of retorts went nowhere, I finally determined that the easiest way to answer was just to send the question back: "I don't know. What do you think?"
One day, as I was listening to the car radio, the Dalai Lama was appearing in town and being interviewed by a reporter. "So. tell us," the interviewer said to the Tibetan guru, "what is true the meaning of life?" My ears perked up. I cranked up the volume. Oh boy, here we go. I'm not going to miss this answer. My relative will really have something coming from me at the next wedding or birthday party. The Dalai Lama paused for a moment, then — and Mitch from City Slickers would love this — he said: "It's one thing. One word: contribution. If you contribute to people's happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life."
I have passed this bit of simple brilliance on to most of my friends and family. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to offer this truly insightful response to my inquisitive relative. She parted ways with the family through a divorce.
This book is my contribution to you. If these stories improve the quality of your life and bring you happiness when it comes to managing and investing your money ... then my efforts will be worthwhile. I will be happy that I have contributed to your financial success.CHAPTER 2
My three brothers and I go on a trip together each year to honor our father, who died of prostate cancer in 2001. We usually go scuba diving in a place like Belize or the Cayman Islands. We jump into some warm, clear ocean water and look at some undersea wildlife, play some cards, and catch up with each other and our families. One year, after the youngest of the four brothers finally became certified in scuba, we planned a dive at Tunnels Beach on the North Shore of Kauai.
Our newest diver was a little anxious on his first big adventure under water. He asked just about everyone he met on the island what it was like to dive at the place called Tunnels. One local resident told him: "Tunnels. Yeah, that's a great dive spot. Just watch out for all the sharks around there." Precisely what a new scuba diver wants to hear.
Terror and trepidation filled the next few days. My brother considered not going on the dive, but we insisted he set his fears aside and suit up.
Fortunately, we had the most wonderful dive master who knew exactly what to say and do. She simply and elegantly changed his perception about what was likely going to happen fifty feet down.
Once we arrived at the dive spot, the first question from my anxious brother diver was "What about the sharks out there?" The dive master responded, "Of course there are sharks out there. It's the Pacific Ocean. I've been on one thousand dives, and I can tell you that sharks are like dogs. You have your Dobermans, golden retrievers, and poodles. The poodles are so mild and harmless, they barely have any teeth. They are cuddly and curious. There are plenty of golden retrievers out there that just want to swim around and have fun. The Dobermans are rare around here, and they really have no interest in you. We are not food to them. We are simply in the same ocean together, and if we don't bother them, they won't bother us." Ah, some simple and visual perspective, especially easy to relate to since all four brothers are dog lovers.
Our walk-in dive spot, Tunnels Beach, is located near the foot of the mountain range made famous in the movie South Pacific. It is commonly known as Bali Hai. In the movie, the words and melody of the song "Bali Hai" are so beautiful that, for most people, they make a musical imprint that lasts forever. We geared up with regulators and tanks, fins, and masks. As we began to wade into the exquisite water looking at the famous mountains, our dive master began to sing: "Bali Hai will whisper on the wind of the sea. 'Here am I, your special island.
Come to me, come to me.'" She encouraged us to join in: "C'mon, you guys. Sing along with me. You know the song." We sang with her. It brought smiles to our faces and calmness to our demeanors.
What do you think happened next? About ten minutes into the dive, our dive master spotted a five-foot-long white-tipped reef shark with its tail poking out of a cave. She couldn't say it under water, but I'm sure that we all thought, Hope it's a golden retriever. She swam over and tickled the shark's tail. Out it came, circling us and checking us out, and then swam right back into the cave. The dive master motioned us closer and pointed at the tail. Each of us took turns touching and tickling the tail. When it came time for our new diver brother to swim up, you could see his eyes wide with wonder, not fear. He didn't look hesitant or nervous at all as he grabbed a bit of the shark's tail and gave it a wag.
What an amazing transformation! From having a heart-pounding fear of sharks for three days, he was now petting a wild white-tipped reef shark in a cave in the ocean. Just a few words and a song from the master changed everything.
So, when that fear comes along that relates to your money and investments, try to find some perspective.CHAPTER 3
THE SKY IS FALLING
"I'm really worried about the market. I see on the news that we are going to have a crash."
This is a very common feeling among many clients. Even the most sophisticated and experienced investors will have moments of doubt and trepidation. Remember, a main agenda of the news people is to scare you. They want to grab your attention so that you will watch, listen, and subsequently be a part of their advertising audience. Advertisers pay their bills.
Rupert Murdoch, father of the modern tabloid and once head of News Corporation, is reputed to have said: "Given the choice of watching a young man escort an elderly woman through traffic across a street or watching the car crash on the opposite corner, people will always watch the car crash." In the movie Up Close and Personal, the TV producer played by Robert Redford says to his newscaster, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, "If it bleeds, it leads." It seems to be a natural tendency for most people to tune in to disaster.
Whenever clients are anxious or nervous about their money, I usually tell this story:
A man is pacing around the bedroom at night. His wife is trying to sleep, but his pacing is keeping her up. "What's the matter, honey? Why don't you come to bed?" Her husband replies, "We have a loan due at the bank tomorrow, and we don't have the money for it." His wife gets the phone out and places a call. After identifying herself, she says, "Mr. Banker, I'm sorry to disturb you at night, but we have a loan due tomorrow from your bank, and we don't have the money to pay it." She hangs up the phone. Her husband says in disbelief, "Why in the world would you do that?" His wife replies calmly, "Well, now, honey, it's his problem. You can stop your pacing, and I can get some sleep."
As history has shown, patience with good investments pays well. It's rare if an investment grows and never falls back in price from time to time. It's true, of course, that century-old companies have failed and gone bankrupt. However, that's an infrequent occurrence. We have heard about the crash of 1929, which led to a Depression in the United States. We've had similar catastrophes more recently in the markets: the oil crises in the 1970s, the recession in the 1980s, the "tech wreck" in 2000, and the mortgage meltdown in 2008. Sometimes the news people get it right.
Many people who worry about bumps and depressions in their investments and sell them make their decisions too late. They seem to adopt the herd mentality and liquidate at the bottom when their nervousness finally takes over.
As markets rise and fall, it is best to stay calm and review your investments for their fundamental values and their exposure to volatility. The only formula we know that absolutely works in the world of investing is to buy low and sell high. So, keep the proper perspective, especially if the media proclaims that the sky is falling.
The week of my company's recent client appreciation event, the markets took a big slide. This is an elegant and fun party given to show our gratitude and "hug" our loyal clients and friends. Here's what I told 150 of our special clients and guests:
"Since the markets decided to pick this week, of all weeks, to pour some rain on us, let me take a moment to address the buzz before we have dinner and entertainment.
"Thank you to so many of you who were concerned that I was okay during this downpour. Not only was I okay, but frankly, I was rather ecstatic. I've been waiting for prices to come down for a long time, and this week they finally did. Everything was on sale! There was barely enough time to buy some good investments for all of you who wanted some. But I think we did. Remember Warren Buffett's favorite line, 'When investors are greedy, be fearful; when investors are fearful, be greedy.' So, what were most investors this week? Pretty fearful. So, we were being greedy.
"For you clients who've been with us long time, through the 1987 bank disaster with Mr. Keating, or the 2000 tech wreck, or the 2008 mortgage crisis, you already know that it doesn't pay to worry and to sell low. You know to turn down the 'noise' and the so-called media experts. You understand that good investments go up and down, and if you leave them alone, they usually grow nicely over time. You may have been concerned this week but not panicked. You know your investments will be back up again.
"New clients, welcome to some stormy surf. I can promise you that the ocean conditions will be glassy and calm again. The best that I can tell you is that we are being very careful with your cash. We use the coconut test I learned surfing in Hawaii. We throw the coconut in the ocean and we watch it — whether the current takes it right or left. We don't jump into high surf with both feet. We don't paddle out into big waves we can't ride.
"The economy is in great fundamental shape. Stay calm. Stay invested. Don't fight the fundamentals, and don't let the Chicken Littles and TV talking heads take you off course. If your account went up 20 percent last year and it fell back 5 percent like the S&P 500 this week, aren't you still 15 percent ahead?
"So, can we get to the food and the entertainment now?"CHAPTER 4
Like the rooms of many young kids, my room was usually a mess. There were clothes strewn everywhere, stuff on the floor — it looked like it had been tossed by burglars. Thanks to my mom, this disarray didn't last long. With four boys and a husband to care for, she was not about to be picking up after us. After several failed requests that I straighten things up and put my clothes in the laundry, she decided to take a different approach. She simply picked up my clothes and threw them in a bag and kept them hidden out of my sight. It wasn't long before I was out of underwear and socks. When I asked my mom about the missing clothing, she said, "If you don't put your things away where they belong, how will you find them?" My attitude soon changed about putting my things away. I've had the neatest rooms and closets ever since.
When it comes to finances, it can be easy to fall into being messy or disorganized. Unfortunately, there are more severe consequences than going sockless or "commando" for a day or two. You can damage your credit, lose important documents, or pay fines and penalties for being late. You can also waste a lot of time searching for information or worrying about money. Being properly organized and on top of your finances gives you more financial power and peace of mind.
One of my first investment clients would bring in a three-ring binder with him to our meeting. Everything was in tabs, three-hole-punched, and organized alphabetically. In response to any specific inquiry, the client would simply find the tab, open the section, and say, "Here it is. What would you like to know?" I'm still old school when it comes to recordkeeping, and I continue to use the three-ring binder for personal and business use. My Millennial and Gen X children tease me about it from time to time, and that's fine. This is the paperless digital age, so we can use the three-ring binder concept with our computer and smartphone by setting up a filing system and storing our data in the cloud.
As simple as it sounds, paying your bills on time is critical. Unless you are going to employ an outside bookkeeping service, you will be doing this yourself. There are many software applications for you to use to pay your bills in an organized fashion: QuickBooks is the standard today. I suggest making a list of all your regular bills, on paper or by spreadsheet, so that you can see easily how much you need to pay and which lenders, utility companies, and so forth have been paid month by month. You can establish an online direct payment from your financial institution, either manual or automatic. I recommend keeping your receipts by hard copy in an envelope by month or digitally. The rule of thumb for the IRS is that you hold on to all records for three years, but in some instances the IRS can go back as far as seven years for cost basis and expenses.
You should not allow anyone, except you or your bookkeeper, to have access to your accounts, distribute money, or pay your bills. I have one client who has told me, "I love to pay my bills before they are due, especially if I have the money!"
It takes discipline and commitment to become organized and to pay your bills on time. Like riding a bike, once you get the hang of it, you won't forget how to do it. Good organization will serve you well for the rest of your life.
Creating a monthly budget is important to having your financial "house" in good order. Budgets, income, and expenses are always changing, so expect constant fluctuations and remodels. Try not to cut things too close. Leave some room for emergencies and other unexpected expenses, and don't forget to put in a column for your taxes too.
You can organize your investments in the same manner. Set up a system listing your brokerage and bank accounts, real estate info, loan statements, insurance, etc. You can also include a separate file for transactions such as confirmations when you purchase or sell securities. Include a personal asset statement that lists your assets and liabilities. Update this statement every three to six months.
You should create a separate file for your estate documents. Your will, trust, powers of attorney, and real estate deeds, along with a letter of instructions, should be included in this file. Your attorney or financial advisor should have copies of these important documents.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Money Stories"
Copyright © 2018 Mitch Fisher.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 One Thing, 1,
Chapter 2 Perception, 4,
Chapter 3 The Sky Is Falling, 7,
Chapter 4 Organization, 11,
Chapter 5 Coach Wooden, 14,
Chapter 6 Do It Now, 18,
Chapter 7 Golf and Business, 21,
Chapter 8 Nine Promises for Investment Happiness, 25,
Chapter 9 Ben Franklin on Making Decisions, 27,
Media and Politics,
Chapter 10 Politics and the Twilight Zone, 31,
Chapter 11 Media Pundits, Experts, and Prognosticators, 35,
Chapter 12 Politics and Investments, 38,
Spending and Saving,
Chapter 13 Rock and Roll Living Large, 43,
Chapter 14 Lottery Winners, 46,
Chapter 15 Sister and Brother, 48,
Chapter 16 Too Frugal, 50,
Chapter 17 Planning Pays, 52,
Chapter 18 Costly Habits, Pets, and Hobbies, 55,
Chapter 19 Sometimes You Just Treat Yourself to a Pool, 58,
Chapter 20 Don't Be Shocked, 63,
Chapter 21 KISS, 65,
Chapter 22 Eggs, 68,
Chapter 23 Hard to Believe, 70,
Chapter 24 Bolt and Buffett, 72,
Chapter 25 Surfing, 74,
Chapter 26 Big Bets, 77,
Chapter 27 Focus - The Actor, 83,
Insurance and Annuities,
Chapter 28 Insurance Is Insurance, 87,
Chapter 29 Premium Financing, 91,
Chapter 30 Annuities 101, 94,
Chapter 31 Buying a Home, 99,
Chapter 32 Home Mortgages, 103,
Chapter 33 Paying Off the Mortgage, 106,
Chapter 34 Rental Real Estate, 109,
Chapter 35 Papaa Bay, 111,
Chapter 36 Choosing a College, 117,
Chapter 37 Paying for College, 121,
Chapter 38 The DMV, 123,
Chapter 39 Fishing and Coaching, 127,
Chapter 40 Blood Pressure, 132,
Chapter 41 Getting Old, 134,
Chapter 42 They Fired Me, 136,
Chapter 43 A Gift Is a Gift, 141,
Chapter 44 Involving Heirs, 143,
Chapter 45 Losing Your Spouse, 146,
Chapter 46 Pull the Plug, 149,
Chapter 47 When Heirs Receive Their Money, 151,
Chapter 48 Put Your Affairs in Order Now, 153,
Chapter 49 Memorials, 155,
Chapter 50 Choosing an Advisor, 159,
Chapter 51 Two Sides of Money - The Actress, 163,
Chapter 52 The Messy and Disloyal Client, 166,
Chapter 53 Unappreciative Becomes Appreciative, 170,
Chapter 54 Work as Contribution, 172,
Chapter 55 Tragedy, Security, and Loyalty, 174,
Chapter 56 House Calls and Heroes, 176,
Chapter 57 Colleagues Inside and Out, 178,
Chapter 58 Dancing for Great Service, 180,
Chapter 59 Meeting Expectations, 182,
Chapter 60 The Hollywood Bowl, 184,
About the Author, 201,