Skip to main content
Home Working together to build your tomorrow

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.

Lessons from Othello and Wells Fargo

After a recent performance of “Othello,” the audience was invited to say what they thought Shakespeare’s play had to offer today’s society. A teacher sitting next to me offered this supposition: People who “play by the rules” get beaten down by a cynical society that has no compunction against sowing untruths to advance their selfish interests, often destroying lives in the process -- exactly what happened to Othello in this 400-year-old play.

Don’t simply wait for the bubble to burst

I couldn’t help but notice the amount of new highway construction I had to wait for on a recent trip to Klamath. Although inconvenienced, I realized that I was benefiting from the “shovel-ready projects” initiative that helped snap us out of the Great Recession.

These infrastructure projects involved borrowed government money, presumably, which made sense as a way to stimulate job creation here at home. They also took advantage of the low prices of petroleum, the main ingredient of blacktop.

Moving beyond astrology to predict the economic future

My mind wandered to the ’70s astrology craze recently and brought back memories of sun signs, moon signs, rising signs and all the dogma that described personalities and predicted compatibility among people based on their astrological charts. I was in good company back then, as Nancy Reagan was said to use a famous San Francisco astrologer for advice while she filled her role as the power behind the throne during her husband’s political career.

Making sense of the employment picture

Years ago, a Fortune magazine article bemoaned the fact that many assembly line workers in the automobile industry had insufficient reading skills. The literacy level was so low that instructions had to be presented in picture form — like so many comic books.

It was a sad commentary on the decline in the quality of education. Bill Walsh, the 49ers’ head coach at the time, made the point that cutting back on school sports and music programs removed the primary reason many kids stayed in school long enough to graduate.

Plenty of pitfalls awaiting state’s noble savings plan

In Great Britain, standard nomenclature for describing retirement plans is to refer to them as pension “schemes.”  The word “scheme” in the British context is in no way derogatory and conveys no sense of skullduggery the way it does in this country.

A new California law intended to increase employees’ voluntary retirement savings sounds good on paper, but the success of the state-run “Secure Choice” program will hinge on practical reality -- or rather, “the devil will be in the details.”

Real estate investing is seductive, but beware

When I taught skiing at Sugar Bowl in the late 1960s, the director was Alex Brogel, who had been a teenager in Germany during World War II.

Pressed into service as a bulldozer driver who worked to build Hitler's mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden, he had personal interaction with the detail-oriented Fuhrer himself, whom Brogel described as being "actually a pretty nice guy ... just a little crazy."

Candidates differ on where to find money for goals

What passes for daytime TV during my vacation is the broadband access to this summer’s political theater. I can’t recall being this riveted to the action since the summer of the Watergate hearings. Setting aside the sheer entertainment, I’m trying to gain a grasp of how these competing factions (whichever one wins) will impact the challenges of those of us still building nest eggs, or already spending them, in retirement.

Subscribe to