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The beginner’s guide to taking on the system

For years, annual stockholder meetings were enlivened by so-called “gadflies” who seized the microphone and castigated the CEO and selected directors. Caught momentarily like deer in the headlights, these victims would put up with it for just so long and then summon the guards. Better yet, they held the meeting in some godforsaken, out-of-the way location that discouraged attendance.

Do we want to revive a lose-lose health care system?

Before the Affordable Care Act, the most common cause of personal bankruptcies was the lack of insurance for health-related expenses. When insurance companies could deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, anyone with health problems was uninsurable and facing bankruptcy in the event of an accident or a serious illness.

Hospitals just spread the costs of unpaid bills out over their insured patients, and we all ultimately paid the bill in the form of higher insurance costs. For everybody, it was “lose-lose.”  

Staying happy while scaling the ‘wall of worry’

It’s safe to say that a vast number of American voters are disappointed with the way things turned out in the presidential election, but the news is not all bad. At times like this, I find solace in the Bobby McFerrin song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” One of the verses went, “In your life expect some trouble;
When you worry you make it double.” So let’s walk on the sunny side of the street.

While opportunity knocks, opportunism lurks

Life with my 100-year-old father has given me some insight into what caring for the aged means to the elderly themselves, as well as to the “sandwich generation.” The latter describes the baby boomers still paying for their children’s educations while taking responsibility for the care of their aging parents.

We have been lucky in my father’s case, because he and my mother were financially prepared for the substantial costs of nursing home care. But first-hand experience of managing these costs has taught me something about the opportunism that exists across the care industry.

Americans cashing in and losing out

What’s with America’s love affair with cash? We are now up to more than $17 trillion of the stuff sitting in CDs, money market funds and other short-term, near-liquid assets.

According to a Wall Street Journal study, millennials and Gen Xers have roughly 70 percent of their assets in cash. Baby boomers are not far behind, with 37 percent, and the “silent generation” is bringing up the rear with 33 percent.

Fond memories of the maternal mogul

This month completes 17 years of weekly columns as a “Retirement Planner” for the Bay Area Newsgroup collection of publications.  E-mails from readers each week introduce questions that offer grist for the mill of future columns, so I appreciate all of these responses.  It’s interesting to note, however, the number of these readers who cite the column I wrote about my mother as having been one of their favorites over the years.  Since newer readers may have missed it, I’ll repeat it just as it appeared in February of 2012.

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