Tony Robbins enters the Personal Finance Book Business


New Book: Money: Mas­ter the Game: 7 Sim­ple Steps to Finan­cial Freedom

I have never read or fol­lowed Tony Rob­bins. He was too glib, too much of a sales­men, caters to the already wealthy and famous and his walk­ing hot coal story did it for me.

I have not read this book. But from what I read, he has writ­ten a good per­sonal finance book. Any well known fig­ure and book author who inter­viewed and writes what finan­cial giants John Bogle and War­ren Buf­fett have to say are on the right track for giv­ing sound finan­cial advice.


When I asked War­ren Buf­fett — what are the secrets to your wealth, he said it’s three things. He said:

No. 1, it’s being born in America.

No. 2, is good genes, so I live long enough, and

No. 3, it’s com­pound inter­est. Com­pound inter­est — peo­ple have no idea the power that com­pound inter­est really has.” [Steve says, exactly!]


John Bogle says: “Money: Mas­ter the Game will be a huge help to investors…Tony Rob­bins dropped by my office for a 40-minute appoint­ment that lasted for four hours. It was the most provoca­tive, prob­ing inter­view of my long career, a reac­tion shared, I’m sure, by the other souls with strong invest­ment val­ues and sharp finan­cial minds who pop­u­late this fine book. This book will enlighten you and rein­force your under­stand­ing of how to mas­ter the money game and, in the long run, earn you finan­cial free­dom.“
– John C. Bogle, Founder, the Van­guard Group and the Van­guard Index Funds.

Click here for the USA Today arti­cle on his new book.

Click Here for the Bogle­heads’ com­ments of Rob­bins’ new per­sonal finance book.

Rob­bins is donat­ing all of the prof­its of this book in addi­tion to a per­sonal dona­tion to feed 50 mil­lion meals to peo­ple in need this year through Feed­ing Amer­ica, a hunger-relief charity.

If any­body has read Tony’s book, please comment.

Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.

Trust and Leadership. Nelson Mandela and John Bogle.

trustClick here on our society’s prob­lem about lead­er­ship and trust. There is prob­a­bly not much that we already don’t know. But the author starts with the lead­er­ship model of Nel­son Man­dela. Who could pos­si­bly fill that great leader’s shoes?

Click here to read what John Bogle (The finan­cial world’s “Nel­son Man­dela”) says about lead­er­ship and trust in our finan­cial sys­tem and explains why Dan and I have our money in this great man’s com­pany, Van­guard, which he founded almost four decades ago.

IMO, John Bogle’s best book is Enough. It’s about as thought­ful and reflec­tive of this great man’s finan­cial, polit­i­cal and social think­ing as any of our con­tem­po­rary philoso­phers. Enough is must read about lead­er­ship and trust, the dire need for it in our cul­ture and an inspi­ra­tion for us.

What can we do? Plenty.

  • We can sup­port this great man’s legacy and earn a decent return on our pre­cious retire­ment sav­ings plan by open­ing a low-cost Van­guard account.
  • We can help oth­ers who are unde­cided about their finances.

Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.

Announcement: LAUSD 403(b) Vendors now linked to CalSTRS for objective information

Objective informationWhat is Objec­tive Information?

In the finan­cial world, noth­ing is more impor­tant than objec­tive infor­ma­tion. Peo­ple who approach you about sav­ing for retire­ment at your place of busi­ness, your class­room or union hall is likely NOT pro­vid­ing objec­tive infor­ma­tion. The words “guar­an­teed” returns and offer­ing “free” refresh­ments are clear tip-offs that the infor­ma­tion pro­vided is biased to a prod­uct or company.

Guar­an­teed returns are noth­ing more than exploit­ing your nat­ural fear of the uncer­tain stock mar­ket to sell you a costly insur­ance prod­uct that may not be in your best inter­ests. Insur­ance prod­ucts are com­plex with options and fees that an attor­ney would be hard pressed to under­stand. The sales peo­ple get a com­mis­sion and you get puny “guar­an­teed” returns that will not keep pace with infla­tion and can be reset by the insur­ance com­pany every year.

I was sold two hor­ri­ble fixed annu­ities and the returns dropped from 12% to 3%. I wanted out. Then I was pre­sented with $6,000 in sur­ren­der fees to get my money! I got screwed, but I got out and invested in mutual funds and have been happy ever since. I retired early with only 49% of my teacher’s salary that was replaced by my Cal­STRS pen­sion. The rest is from my 403(b) and after tax reg­u­lar savings.

Read my post “Are Insur­ance Prod­ucts Invest­ments?” Click here

Here is one way to Get Informed!

So, what is Objec­tive Infor­ma­tion? Cal­i­for­nia Teach­ers are very for­tu­nate to have web­site. shows you what objec­tive infor­ma­tion looks like. The fact that you are look­ing for infor­ma­tion rather than a sales per­son telling you with sales pitches is a major dif­fer­ence. You are proac­tive!

The fol­low­ing links will assist you to make an informed deci­sion. Cal­STRS is California’s teacher pen­sion sys­tem and it pro­vides objec­tive infor­ma­tion about all of the 403b ven­dors in Cal­i­for­nia schools.

Best of for­tunes! Steve

  1. Los Ange­les Uni­fied School Dis­trict Employ­ees ONLY Click here for LAUSD’s list of avail­able 403(b) ven­dors and links to Cal­STRS 403bcompare.

  2. Cal­i­for­nia PreK-12 Edu­ca­tors: Click here for 403bcompare and find your Cal­i­for­nia school dis­trict and look at your district’s avail­able vendors.

  3. ALL OTHER EMPLOYEES, both pub­lic and pri­vate com­pa­nies: Any­body who works can browse the ven­dors that you might have for your 403(b), 457(b) or 401(k) plan. For a list of all ven­dors listed, Click here for the direct link to (Please note that not all insur­ance or invest­ment com­pa­nies are listed).




Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.

Video Interview: Los Angeles Unified School District 457(b) Plan Design Award

Last sum­mer the Los Ange­les Uni­fied School Dis­trict won a Plan Design award for its low cost 457(b) plan. Below is the plan and a video inter­view of the his­tory of this plan by Sandy Keaton United Teach­ers Los Ange­les rep (in the mid­dle) Mariam Hiron­imus, LAUSD Ben­e­fits Man­ager (on the right) and myself next to the interviewer.

457bJPGClick on the link to see a ten minute inter­view by National Asso­ci­a­tion of Gov­ern­ment Defined Con­tri­bu­tion Admin­is­tra­tors which gave us the “Best Prac­tices, Plan Design” Award: Click here.

Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.

Book Review: “The Wall Street Jungle”

The Wall Street Jun­gle (1970)

by Richard Ney

I love books that expose Wall Street’s ways. My review is more his­tor­i­cal in how Ney’s great book fits with another giant who also took on Wall Street’s gam­bling habits, Jack Bogle, founder of the Van­guard Group and the cre­ator of the index­ing strat­egy. Richard Ney was ahead of many finan­cial authors and thinkers and should be given more credit for help­ing investors under­stand and address how Wall Street works for its inter­ests over ours.

This best­ing sell­ing book intro­duced trans­parency of the inner work­ings of Wall Street. He doc­u­mented with huge amounts of data how the insid­ers, the spe­cial­ists, make money sim­ply because they are in “the right place at the right time” with a “monop­oly of infor­ma­tion” about mil­lions of trades. Ney said the indi­vid­ual investor doesn’t have a fight­ing chance. We end up pay­ing for the spe­cial­ist short sell­ing, big block fees, spe­cial bro­ker­age incen­tives and a myr­iad of other hid­den and despi­ca­ble, but legal meth­ods which fat­ten Wall Street’s pock­ets. Con­tinue read­ing

Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.

Los Angeles Teachers & Employees Rate their Recent 403b/457b Investment Workshop. They Loved It!

Retire­ment Plan­ning Sav­ings Plans All Day Invest­ment Work­shop Results


LAUSD/UTLA 403b/457b Invest­ing Workshop

Sat­ur­day Novem­ber 15, 2014

Here were the work­shops presented:

  1. Rick Rodgers Keynote and Lunch time talk
  2. Art Wexler 457b Presentation
  3. Teacher Crys­tal Mendez’s Story, how she saved $160,000 by age 33.
  4. Retired Teach­ers Steve Schullo/Dan Robert­son (Finan­cial Jour­ney with 403b/457b plans). What hap­pened when they expe­ri­enced two of the biggest stock mar­ket crashes in his­tory and what they did to sus­tain their retire­ment plan.
  5. Q and A’s
  6. Infor­mal dis­cus­sions with presenters

37 out of the 50 filled out the eval­u­a­tion ques­tion­naire: ALL BUT ONE LOVED THE WORKSHOPS and the objec­tive infor­ma­tion pro­vided! Below is what they said about their expe­ri­ence:

1. Did today’s work­shops meet your expec­ta­tions? Why or why not?

34 said “YES” 1 said more or less and 1 said “boring”.

Detailed com­ments:

  1. Yes, although I’ve been two pre­vi­ous times, still learn­ing at the workshop.
  2. Yes, but I feel it just touched the surface.
  3. More or less. I have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ence between a 403 and 457.
  4. Yes, under­stand­ing of retire­ment investments.
  5. Not bad, very informative.
  6. Yes, I got a lot of infor­ma­tion about invest­ing 457b and 403b.
  7. Bor­ing, 3 or 4 pre­sen­ters pre­sented slowly and confusingly.
  8. Yes, I learned a lot and learned I need to learn more.
  9. Yes, Rick Rogers very knowledgeable/personable/organized.
  10. Yes, great workshop!
  11. Yes, very informative.
  12. Yes, it was very informative.
  13. Yes, I attended the con­fer­ence in the spring, just came today for a refresher.
  14. Yes, Iden­ti­fied ele­ments cru­cial in prepar­ing and plan­ning for retirement.
  15. It was great! Thank you so much!
  16. Yes, I am so new to invest­ments some ques­tions were answered.
  17. Yes, I think more inter­ac­tion would help main­tain attention.
  18. 1st time attend­ing. found info inter­est­ing and useful.
  19. Yes, learned dif­fer­ence between 2 dif­fer­ent kinds of investments.
  20. Yes, now I under­stand that I have more options.
  21. Yes, lots of use­ful infor­ma­tion and points of view from the presenters.
  22. Yes, good informed speak­ers. The impor­tance of investing.
  23. Yes, as always Mr. Rodgers is very clear in his expla­na­tion. Do we have some­one like him locally?
  24. Yes, it taught me more about the 457 (b).
  25. Yes, the infor­ma­tion was well presented.

2. What was the MOST impor­tant work­shop or infor­ma­tion provided?

Nine par­tic­i­pants said that Rick Rogers was great.

  1. Three said Q&A
  2. Three said each for Steve/Dan, Art’s 457b pre­sen­ta­tion and Crystal’s story.
  3. Two said, that learn­ing to use bonds as part of asset allocation.
  4. Three men­tioned infor­ma­tion about the 457b plan.
  5. Two wrote only one word: “DIVERSIFICATION!”

Other com­ments:

  1. It’s very good to lis­ten to peo­ple who have gone though the ups and downs of the market.
  2. Speech from Art (on 457b plan).
  3. Finan­cial prod­ucts available.
  4. Com­par­ing invest­ments and longevity, charts and risk vs. reward chart.
  5. How to take your money out at retirement.
  6. The dif­fer­ence between active vs. pas­sive funds and Tar­get date fund, front & back load to be checked in the prospectus.
  7. The impor­tance of invest­ing to sup­ple­ment the teacher’s pension.
  8. Clar­i­fi­ca­tion of fees and penalties.
  9. All the infor­ma­tion was impor­tant for me.
  10. Stock, mutual funds info.
  11. Types of invest­ment strate­gies and expla­na­tion of invest­ment tools.
  12. Rick was very help­ful. Please put it on the website.
  13. I learned to invest in the 457b rather than the 403b.
  14. Rick did a good job of out­lin­ing issues fac­ing retirees.
  15. Last time I attended, I was deter­mined to develop a bud­get­ing sys­tem. I had a spread-sheet pre­vi­ously, but I fre­quently went over bud­get. I researched Quicken and, but ended up using YNAB (you need a bud­get) and it has been very helpful.
  16. Rick was great. He gave a great overview. Very edu­ca­tional, infor­ma­tive and clear and direct.
  17. Fun­da­men­tals of invest­ing and info about 457b plan.
  18. Rick’s overview of investing.
  19. That I need to stop con­tribut­ing to my annu­ity account! and that I need to have a plan!
  20. I liked the infor­ma­tion Dan and Steve’s story pro­vide. They are detailed and good advice.
  21. Infor­ma­tion by Rick was quite valuable.
  22. How to invest in retirement.
  23. Under­stand­ing the dif­fer­ences between stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
  24. Really enjoyed every­one, but Rick was hilar­i­ous and infor­ma­tive. I really appre­ci­ate Art’s hon­est answers (not that any­one was dis­hon­est). I just know some things he said were very unbiased.
  25. It helped me plan my future. It pro­vided me with the best plan to put my money in.
  26. All of the info was important.

 3. What was the LEAST impor­tant work­shop or infor­ma­tion provided?

27 peo­ple left this BLANK! Almost all said every­thing was great!

  1. 4 men­tioned about too many per­sonal questions.

Other com­ments:

  1. Con­vinc­ing us of the impor­tance of invest­ing at the begin­ning since we are already part of the “choir.”
  2. The 457 pre­sen­ta­tion was OK, but still a lit­tle fuzzy on how it works/differs from 403b.
  3. I think Rick’s pre­sen­ta­tion cov­ered too many things. I hope thy are more focused and less info (Only one per­son said this).
  4. Info about credit unions/insurance.

4. What mate­r­ial and top­ics should be cov­ered in future invest­ment workshops?

       1. Three par­tic­i­pants men­tioned more in depth about mutual funds and the dif­fer­ence   between 403b and 457b.

      2.Two peo­ple wanted to know how much to save per month

  1. Two wanted hand­outs of Rick’s presentation.

 Sug­ges­tions for topics:

  1. ETFs
  2. Find­ing Fee Only finan­cial advisers
  3. Col­lege sav­ings plans, show more spe­cific exam­ples of how much I should be invest­ing every month.
  4. More case stud­ies of how indi­vid­ual teachers/investors have fared as a result of the deci­sions they’ve made.
  5. Move the podium to the side so we can see the presentation.
  6. Talk about the 457 vs. Roth IRA as an option.
  7. How to actu­ally enroll. I did, but I had to call.
  8. Exam­ples of portfolios
  9. More info on every typ­i­cal teacher-for exam­ple, not dwelling on accounts you should have.
  10. More info on mutual fund research and sug­gested read­ing. i.e. Bib­li­og­ra­phy or sources.
  11. Port­fo­lio selec­tion advice.
  12. Strate­gies and exam­ples of indi­vid­u­als with lower assets.
  13. Inter­net con­nec­tions so info is read­ily available.
  14. More on stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
  15. I would like to repeat this workshop.
  16. More detailed infor­ma­tion on late starters-how many (amount or %) to take out of pay­check, bal­anc­ing risk vs. age when start­ing invest­ing later in life.


  1. How to get more teach­ers involved?
  2. Rick Rodgers/need PPT hand­outs and font on his PPT was too small.
  3. Some­thing sim­i­lar to bagels, but not refined flour, please.
  4. Share bud­get sheet, more breaks.
  5. Small chunks, this is heavy stuff, takes time to process.

 5. How did you hear about this workshop?

  1. Friend or Spouse                                                                    Two
  2. UTLA or LAUSD Staff Meet­ing announce­ment                       Nine
  3. Social Media (Face­book, LinkedIn, Twit­ter, other: ________ (Nobody picked SM)
  4. United Teacher News­pa­per Ad                                              Twenty-two
  5. Other (please elab­o­rate), use back of form if nec­es­sary.    Two from Emails from the Coordinator.



Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.

Veterans Day Deals!

Tues­day, Novem­ber 11th is Vet­er­ans Day

Please Remem­ber the Vet­eran in Your Life.

imagesVeteransDayDis­counts and Free­bies
  Reported by Heather Sweeney

There are lit­er­ally hun­dreds of dis­counts avail­able all over the country.

• 2014 Vet­er­ans Day Restau­rant Offer­ings
• 2014 Vet­er­ans Day Travel & Recre­ation Dis­counts
• 2014 Vet­er­ans Day Retailer Offer­ings
• 2014 Vet­er­ans Day Events
• Giv­ing Back

Find offers in your area by click­ing on to Heather’s web­site: Click Here


Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.

Steve’s Book Review: “Who Really Cares?”

Who Really Cares: The Sur­pris­ing Truth About Com­pas­sion­ate Conservatism

by Arthur Brooks and James Wilson.

Data pro­vided some good points, but the method­ol­ogy and inter­pre­ta­tion was biased to the pri­vate enter­prise ideology.

This started off very inter­est­ing, but descended into a chance for the authors to rant. In the end it was not an incen­tive for non givers to change their behav­ior. In fact, that was not the pur­pose at all. It was to sim­ply sup­port a polit­i­cal point of view which in itself should be non political–giving to less for­tu­nate. What is equally puz­zling is to why bother with facts based on sci­en­tific method­ol­ogy when the audi­ence who would agree with this book is clearly anti aca­d­e­mic. Why bother with footnotes?

But I digress. I read “Who Really Cares” with great inter­est. It was rec­om­mended by the “Mil­lion­aire Next Door” author, Thomas J. Stan­ley, of whom my hus­band and I met at a finan­cial con­fer­ence. The Mil­lion­aire Next Door is one of my favorite per­sonal finance books and if Dr. Stan­ley rec­om­mended this book, I am going to read it. Mr. Stan­ley said that the book shows that giv­ing peo­ple are hap­pier than none givers. One of our Bud­dhist teaching’s cen­tral themes for reduc­ing suf­fer­ing is to help oth­ers, so I was intrigued and eagerly bought this book.

I would have not read this book had I known it was polit­i­cally and cul­tur­ally polar­iz­ing. How­ever, I am happy I read it and offer my observations.

This book shows with data from sev­eral sources who gives to char­i­ties and sum­ma­rizes the obvi­ous that peo­ple who give and vol­un­teer time to the less for­tu­nate are hap­pier than peo­ple who don’t. Con­tinue read­ing

Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.

Los Angeles Unified/Teachers Union Investment Planning Workshop November 15


Another great 403b/457b work­shop is sched­uled for Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 15 at United Teach­ers Los Ange­les Head­quar­ters. It’s another all day event with sev­eral pre­sen­ters includ­ing Dan and I with light break­fast and FREE LUNCH!

Dan and I will show and dis­cuss what we did to plan for our retire­ment as teach­ers. We will also dis­cuss the Emmy Award­ing win­ning PBS Front­line doc­u­men­tary: The Retire­ment Gam­ble, fea­tur­ing one of the par­tic­i­pants, our very own ele­men­tary teacher, Crys­tal Mendez! (Watch the first 3 min­utes to see her, but its rec­om­mended you watch the entire doc­u­men­tary). She will be on hand to talk about how she saved $160,000 at her young age (she just turned 34!).

  • Find out more about LAUSD’s Award Win­ning 457b plan!
  • Find out how to find a finan­cial plan­ner that doesn’t sell you any­thing, but looks after your best interests.
  • Find out how to diver­sify your port­fo­lio to reduce risk and increase returns.
  • Find out why insur­ance prod­ucts (annu­ities) are not appro­pri­ate for retire­ment planning.
  • Find out how the stock mar­ket can work for you, not against you. Cal­STRS invests in the stock mar­ket to pro­vide a decent pen­sion plan for all of us, why not you and I for our 403b or 457b?

Please join us and get informed. Years from now when you have retire­ment money in your 403b or 457b plan to sup­ple­ment your pen­sion plan, you can retire in com­fort and be grate­ful you attended. We hear peo­ple report that they wish they heard about this infor­ma­tion years ago. Don’t be one of those peo­ple. You have a rare oppor­tu­nity to get objec­tive finan­cial infor­ma­tion. Get informed now. Do NOT keep putting this off.

Please down­load this flyer for reg­is­tra­tion infor­ma­tion and please post it on your school site bul­letin boards and make announce­ments at all of your meet­ings: Invest­ment Work­shop Flyer

Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.

Iowa Took Courageous steps to Reform their 403b. Wish California was Courageous too.

Iowa Reforms Their 403b

In 2008 Iowa took steps to move from an “any will­ing provider 403(b) envi­ron­ment” to a com­pet­i­tive bid process. In Cal­i­for­nia just about every­thing else that school dis­trict need to run pro­grams is com­pet­i­tively bid by out­side con­tracts such as books, com­puter equip­ment, con­sul­tants, BUT NOT THE 403b. We tried twice to allow dis­tricts to com­pet­i­tively bid the 403b but the unions and the insur­ance agents and their lob­by­ists fought back.

Iowa rep­re­sents what col­lab­o­ra­tion among the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers can do to pro­vide a decent 403b with all PreK-12 edu­ca­tors (noth­ing like this has ever existed in Cal­i­for­nia to my knowledge).

State-Sponsored 403(b) Plan is a Win-Win for Employ­ees and Employ­ers – Saves Scarce Dol­lars for Edu­cat­ing Students

Now the National Tax Shel­tered Annu­ity Asso­ci­a­tion (NTSAA) is lob­by­ing for a return to a no-bid world: Tes­ti­mony of Christo­pher Degrassi Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, NTSAA

Orig­i­nal Iowa RFP for cen­tral­ized plan

Please click on “replies” below to view com­ments or “Leave a reply” to add one.