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Save your way into the millionaire club

Saving a million dollars will support a pretty eccentric personal lifestyle.

If you wanted to live on just the income for a while, you could expect to make about 6 percent, or $60,000, a year on your million dollars without dipping into the principal.

Life could be sweet -- and it could all happen well before "normal retirement age."

I have bumped some numbers around to illustrate how people in varying circumstances can generate that illusive $1 million sooner and easier than they think.

SEC to shine light on executives' pay

"Excrescence" is the word that comes to mind when I read about the $686 million we stockholders paid to one man -- Lee Raymond, the chief executive of Exxon Mobile -- over the past 13 years.

Coincidentally, the people of Alaska are now struggling to collect a final $100 million for the damage caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill 17 years ago. They have so far collected $800 million; this last $100 million is part of an agreement that left the final settlement open-ended.

Debate requires broad solution

The controversy surrounding immigration has me thinking about the ways that our immigration policy affects those of us who are retired or approaching retirement.

I'm sympathetic to those wanting to come to the United States because my grandparents arrived from Finland, landed on Ellis Island and promptly had all of their luggage stolen.

401(k) key to south-of-the-border retirement dream

To attend a family wedding and do some surfing, we flew to Costa Rica last week and landed at the town of Liberia, where the American CIA had built an international-class air facility back in the early 1980s. At that time, the United States needed a substantial airfield in order to secretly supply the Contras with weapons during the civil war in neighboring Nicaragua.

While on this trip, I was told that there are hundreds of CIA-funded airports throughout Latin America, built with our tax dollars to support various insurgencies.

Bush missed mark on Social Security

Joe Kelley stopped by my office recently to interview me for a paper he is writing on Social Security. Joe is a senior at a local high school, headed soon to a top college in California.

We talked about President Bush's statement in a recent news conference that his 58 percent increase (to $8.9 trillion) in the national debt was the result of the additional cost of Social Security and Medicare.

Someone needs to tell the president that Social Security is totally independent of the national debt.

Retirement planning woes? The system defies rational thinking.

If you're annoyed at retirement plan results enough to want to sue someone, the fiduciaries of the plan will need to be faced in court. Fiduciaries include the officers of your company as well as the trustees and advisers they have appointed to operate the plan. But, before calling your attorney, let me give you some free legal advice:

Monte Carlo concept can help navigate a 'perfect storm'

Television's steady drumbeat of James Bond reruns prompted me to think about Monte Carlo and the value of "perfect storm" simulations used in investment analytics.

When it came to naming one of the more sophisticated tools for managing money, the choice of "Monte Carlo" was unfortunate, because it conjures up the wrong image for an inherently valuable concept.

I dusted off my understanding of Monte Carlo simulations with a trip to Lafayette -- the Switzerland of the East Bay, so named because of its heavy concentration of money management firms.

Secret to investing success found in simple strategies

Resisting temptation is the single most demanding task for the "buy-and-hold diversified re-balancers" that make up the bulk of us successful amateur investors.

When we read those newsletters from all the managers that crow about how well their strategies have worked, the temptation to chase yesterday's performance is even greater. We start thinking about how much money we would have had in our own accounts if we had only listened to even one of those guys.

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