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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.

Sound investing strategy trumps rosy forecasts
Dec. 22, 2016

About this time every year, investors are yearning to know what the coming year will bring in the way of stock market performance. Wall Street responds to this craving with rosy, positive predictions for obvious reasons — they want to keep existing customers and encourage the flow of new money.

Want to make money? Then stop fooling around
Dec. 16, 2016

A new book, “No One Ever Told Us That — Money and Life” is another winner from John Spooner who, back in 2001, wrote the best-seller “Do You Want to Make Money or Would You Rather Fool Around?” His latest effort is aimed at young people entering the workforce who can use some insight as to how the world works.

The beginner’s guide to taking on the system
Dec. 9, 2016

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.

Benefits of cooperative ownership can’t overcome greed
Dec. 5, 2016

Would society be better served if more businesses could be owned by their customers? A recent New York Times article prompted me to mull this over as I read an account of how some auto insurance companies, owned by their policyholders, pay out a significantly greater portion of their total premium revenue in claims to their customers.

Do we want to revive a lose-lose health care system?
Nov. 23, 2016

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’
Nov. 18, 2016

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.

Those things we take for granted actually do cost money
Nov. 11, 2016

The last line of “America the Beautiful” ends with the words, ”and crown thyself with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.” I thought about this as a good friend, originally from India, pointed out that the United States government is, hands down, the most successful organization the world has ever known.

While opportunity knocks, opportunism lurks
Nov. 4, 2016

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
Oct. 28, 2016

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
Oct. 15, 2016

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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