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A 'number' of ways to plan retirement

My analytical golfing buddy, Howard Fuchs, was prompted to wonder what might be a reasonably sized nest egg for a comfortable retirement. The same question has become the obsession of the popular press, and the answer has now entered the lexicon as "The Number." After careful study and tedious calculations, Howard concluded that "The Number" is whatever your wife has decided it needs to be.

Immigration plan waste of money

<p>A recent experience in the trenches of the retirement plan business reminded me of the roach motel ("You can check in, but you can't check out"). In this case, it had to do with the sticky wicket of a company that employed some illegal immigrants.</p><p>We performed our usual educational exercise of explaining to employees why a 401(k) was such a powerful way to accumulate value and gain a level of financial gratification.

The Beauty of a Cash Balance Buy-Out Tool

A skit on vintage Saturday Night Live episodes depicts a couple who insist on staying as dinner guests for an unreasonably long time after a party. In their hilarious efforts to prolong an evening of inebriation, they became known as "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave."

Today, many businesses -- especially professional firms -- have a sobering problem when it comes to older partners. It can be difficult enough to negotiate a sale of an owner's interest, and finding a way to pay for it is an even greater challenge.

Should you stash money overseas?

Grand Cayman Island, a British protectorate and the Switzerland of the Caribbean, about 100 miles south of Cuba, seems to reek of money, with a population of only 30,000 permanent residents and what seems like a fleet of new Jaguars, Porsches and Ferraris roaring around the narrow streets. My wife and I find our way to this paradise to visit our son, who is in veterinary school there.

Time to revisit tolerance for risk

With the market off 5% over the past few weeks, this could be a good time to revisit our tolerance for risk. Those of us who periodically check total values of our retirement accounts have been experiencing a smug sense of satisfaction over the past three years. Our values- assuming if we have stayed the course in stocks and didn’t panic – have returned to the levels reached at the height of the 1990’s boom. The system has worked and we have been rewarded for our patience and staying power.

Vote as if picking a money manager

"Unlike Arnold, I've taken real bullets," said Jackie Speier in a campaign speech recently as she runs for the office of lieutenant governor of California. Speier, as some may recall, was a young government aide gunned down in Guyana while investigating the People's Temple conditions. Speier survived to go on to a life of accomplishment in politics.

Health questions? Query a caddie

When I asked him about his experience of the British National Health Service last week, my caddie at Saint Andrews golf course in Scotland said, "It's a good system, but it doesn't work."

Monty Python couldn't have said it better. In the course of a week of golf, I made it a point to ask every caddie or walking tour guide about his or her experience with the government health care delivery system.

Why? Because to compete in a global economy, we will have to offer something similar in the years ahead.

Mutual fund firms should end conflict

Here's an idea that might put a stop to excessive executive compensation: Let's make it a crime for mutual funds investing in a company to also generate revenue from that company for performing investment advisory or retirement plan administrative services.

In other words, if a mutual fund family has funds investing in a specific company, they should no longer be allowed to generate any additional, unrelated source of revenue from that company.

A business relationship that sets up a conflict of interest should be illegal.

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