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Our CEO and Founder, Stephen Butler, writes columns and articles on the subject of retirement planning and investing.  His columns are syndicated in most of the San Francisco Bay Area newspapers.  Subject matter includes basic investment concepts and how they should be applied in the context of current financial and world events.  Over the past 16 years, more than 800 of his weekly columns have generated a loyal following among Northern California readers who benefit from his objective, insightful advice --- a counterpoint to the flood of self-serving advertising from the financial services industry.

Eroding fraud prevention in U.S. government is detrimental
Jan. 8, 2018

Forty years ago, I owned an interest in a local bar that immediately showed indications of getting ripped off by the manager and employees. I hired a moonlighting IRS agent whose day job involved hanging out in restaurants and bars to determine how much cash was not being declared for income tax purposes. After hanging out in my bar for just two nights, he reported that there were five different ways money was being stolen. The bar closed anyway soon after opening when someone got stabbed outside, but that’s not the point.

Advice for young adults on investing for a life of abundance
Dec. 28, 2017

A golden opportunity awaits children who are home for the holidays. Parents can’t help it. Their unsolicited advice just comes flooding out — like a dam has broken. Enter “Steve Butler — Retirement Planner,” whose traditional year-end advice, focused on young adults, just adds grist for the mill. So, listen up.

Money talks: Investors heap pressure onto companies over climate change
Dec. 22, 2017

When science-based reasoning fails to dislodge ideology and orthodox dogma, selfish interests and the exigency of just making money can be what it takes to jolt political intransigence.

2017 brought good tidings for the economy, but what lies ahead?
Dec. 15, 2017

The Disney character Uncle Scrooge McDuck must be happily swimming around in his money bin these days thanks to our economy in its record eighth year of expansion. While there is plenty to be anxious about today, most Americans can at least take some joy in the state of their financial affairs — a condition fundamentally attributable to we citizens having had the resources and leadership to preserve our financial system when it teetered on the brink back in ’08.

Why the cost of running our government is worth every penny
Dec. 7, 2017

French citizen Alexis de Tocqueville wrote the book “Democracy in America” back in 1835. To this day, it is still considered the best book describing the American political system and its social structure. The advantage de Tocqueville had was that he visited America and viewed our country as an outsider. Unlike us, he managed to see the forest in spite of the trees.

GOP tax plan could hurt homeowners, banks, real estate sector
Nov. 27, 2017

With all the discussion about the Republican tax reform efforts, I have yet to hear any concerns about how the increased tax on mortgage interest and property taxes might affect current property values.

The real estate industry is on board with its army of lobbyists trying to minimize the possible damage, but the emphasis seems to be the effect on homebuyers.

“Where are all the customers’ yachts?” The trouble with TIAA investment products
Nov. 20, 2017

The investment business is offering yet another example prompting us to ask, “Where are the customers’ yachts?” This is a reference to the famous question asked by a brokerage firm customer when he was shown the collection of yachts owned by brokerage firm founders.

This time around, the customers who should be asking the question are those in TIAA funds which command 40 percent of the retirement plan market for teachers, nonprofit employees and other participants in various 403(b) plans. These plans for nonprofits are comparable to 401(k)s.

Hornets’ nest: How the Republican tax-reform bill could affect middle-class Americans
Nov. 14, 2017

When I was about 8 years old, I thought it would be interesting to throw rocks at a hornets’ nest to see what would happen. The result was a wall of hornets that hit me in the face. My head swelled up like a basketball within a few hours, and with eyes swollen shut, I was sightless for about a week.

Not for the faint-hearted: Wild, potentially lucrative stock market ‘snap-backs’
Nov. 7, 2017

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons depicted a fortune teller looking into a crystal ball. To her customer, beside whom a Labrador retriever sat with a baleful look, the woman predicted, “I see a 10-foot retractable leash in your future.” Similarly, it calls to mind a mental image of our stock market, which could be approaching the end of its leash.

How could the feds slashing your tax-free 401(k) contribution cap affect you?
Oct. 30, 2017

To view the entire article on The Mercury News (a Bay Area News Group newspaper), click here.


As Republicans on Capitol Hill hammer out a tax reform bill, one controversial proposal would slash the annual amount Americans can sock away into 401(k) plans without being taxed until they retire. Do you have such a plan? Let’s look at how it would be affected.

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