News & Updates

Open 403(b) Letter to CA State Insurance Commissioner

Posted by on 6:03 pm in Politics of Personal Finance | 0 comments

Open 403(b) Letter to CA State Insurance Commissioner

Why would a voter write to a state insurance commissioner? The Commissioner is an elected position, and he or she may not know that one of the most prolonged standing insurance codes is doing more harm and good. Insurance Commissioner Office does great things for consumers in regulating auto, home, business insurance coverage to make sure people get paid for losses. I am happy to pay hefty insurance premiums for my house, automobiles, umbrella, and earthquake protection. But there is one code led to my story in my book Fighting Powerful Interests that not only did not protect me this particular code ensures that I got ripped off. The insurance agent and the insurance company are not only allowed but protected by 770.3.

770.3 regulates the 403(b) because annuities are insurance products so these terrible products are regulated in the most obscene manner that very few people know. What in the world is so hideous about 770.3? 770.3 is ruthless, outdated and obscure from the hearts and minds of everyday teachers. 770.3 has been the target for reforming the 403(b) with k12 school districts for 15 long years. We failed, but it’s still fixable. If a handful of teachers started writing letters like the letter I wrote here to school boards, legal counsel, unions and their state representatives, the 403(b) retirement planning vehicle would improve immediately. Yeah, it’s a lot, but the appalling manner in which the current 403(b) system is carried out would make many salespeople in the 401(k) go to jail. We would simply like the 403(b) world with K12 to simulate the 401(k) world in the private sector in which fiduciary advice is required (fiduciary standards are binding by professionals to look after their clients best interests over their own). Insurance companies and their agents have no such requirements. They can say anything to get a sale.
There have been two efforts to update the insurance code that regulates insurance products that are overwhelmingly sold to our states K-12 Public school teachers. Both attempts were beaten back by a combination of the insurance industry which is expected, and California Teachers Association, which was not expected! Yeah, CTA thinks they can do a better job than CalSTRS Pension2. There will be more efforts in the future, but it’s going to take a lot of organizing and information to understand the problem that we 403(b) advocates are trying to do. This letter explains the problem in detail and lets the commissioner know that some of us are appalled at how the insurance code 770.3 is carried out in the classroom where insurance retirement products are sold. It is one of the most self-conflicted laws that ever was created which is so one-sided in the insurance industry advantage that it turns the storybook legend of David vs. Goliath upside down and glorifies Goliath.

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Announcement: Investment Workshop for Los Angeles Teachers

Posted by on 4:03 pm in Financial Education/Literacy, PreK-12 Educators | 2 comments

Announcement: Investment Workshop for Los Angeles Teachers

LAUSD Employees! Another personal finance workshop that you must attend. As will all of the past workshops offered, it is packed full of good information about how to invest and plan for retirement, use of CalSTRS’ 403bcompare.com, and how one of our colleagues used to be in the financial industry but decide to work with children. Read with participants said about previous investment workshops.

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Book Review: “The Wisdom of Finance”

Posted by on 4:25 am in Financial Education/Literacy, Successful Wealth Building, Women Investors | 0 comments

Book Review: “The Wisdom of Finance”

After reading Dr. Desai’s excellent book twice, I could still benefit from a book club discussion to comprehend the enormous challenges that “The Wisdom of Finance” takes on. Thus, I present an amateur review of a complex problem from a do-it-yourselfer (DIY) regular investor. But the implications of combining humanity and finances have never been greater. The world is changing, the financial industry and the humanities had better get prepared for this inevitable evolution.

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Steve’s 2nd Quarter 2017 Portfolio Report

Posted by on 9:12 am in Annual and per quarter returns, Financial Education/Literacy, Passive Investment Strategy | 4 comments

Steve’s 2nd Quarter 2017 Portfolio Report

Hi Readers,
I am sorry that I have not been writing many blog posts. As many of you know I am still grieving the loss of my husband, co-author, companion and the kindest, insightful and funniest person ever–Dan. But the good news is that I am making progress. After 1 year and 9 months, I am beginning to enjoy this club I never planned on joining–the single club. I have nobody to be accountable for and I can do whatever I want. It still hurts sometimes, but that is to be expected. Like most of us who lost a close friend or relative, we will never forget them. And that’s good.

Life has a way of throwing both small petty stuff that interferes with our routine, and huge blows occasionally. One can never avoid the pain or the discomfort but to anticipate by thinking and planning for the future is always a good idea, whether it’s a personal loss or personal finance. Through my bereavement group participation, seeing a counselor, writing in a journal and maintain a connection with family and friends, and making new friends have helped a great deal.

Similarly, disruptions, volatility and market crashes also must be planned. Like my grieving experience, I have also sought help for modifying my portfolio. I rebalanced and took some distributions from my portfolio with the assistance of Vanguard’s inhouse Certified Financial Planner. I took out money to fund my retirement such as helping my niece and my sister financially, buying a new wardrobe, new eyewear, throwing a party for friends and relatives, making donations to Palm Springs Writer’s Guild and the Dharmachakra Buddhist Center and Gilda’s Cancer Center for their support of the bereavement group I attend, and planning on a return trip to Vietnam in 2018. The Vanguard financial planner made some excellent suggestions for rebalancing my portfolio and carefully making distributions to keep my capital gains taxes at a minimum.

Look at my portfolio and how I constructed it for low costs, diversification, stock bond split, and best of all SIMPLICITY.

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Book Review: “Your Money or Your Life”

Posted by on 3:06 am in Beginning Investing, Financial Education/Literacy | 0 comments

Book Review: “Your Money or Your Life”

I have read many books on personal finance. The majority were about the quantitive aspect: the data, graphs, statistics, market history, types of stocks and bonds, and the skills needed to construct low-cost diversified portfolios. This book finishes the job by discussing the lesser status qualitative aspect: your thinking and your emotions surrounding money. Both aspects make valid contributions for the eventual, sometimes elusive goal of financial independence, and to be happy at your job and giving back to the greater good.

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Book Review: The Soul of Money

Posted by on 6:25 am in Consumer Finance, Donating to Charities, Financial Education/Literacy, Frugal Habits, Women Investors | 0 comments

Book Review: The Soul of Money

If you want a more emotional, personal, and passionate point of view of money, read my review of The Soul of Money by Lynn Twist. It is surprisingly similar to John Bogle’s Enough book. I have come to realize the when it comes to thinking about money, people who do not have it, think about it all the time, and those who have saved, invested and managed their money, can think of supporting causes that make this planet a better place for all of us. I have discovered that I have become a better person by discovering and learning the investment process.

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Steve’s Q1 2017 Returns of his Portfolio and “Dating”

Posted by on 6:31 am in Annual and per quarter returns, Personal Finance | 2 comments

Steve’s Q1 2017 Returns of his Portfolio and “Dating”

Yep, you read the title of this blog correctly. But first I apologize, as it’s been a long time since my last post.

Since the beginning of the year, my portfolio and my personal life are growing and changing. As you know, I have experienced the worst personal loss of my life for the last 1.5 years. Because of my work with a grief group, 1 X 1 with a life coach, and maintaining connections with family and friends, being single again sucks sometimes, but I have begun the impossible, dating! I had never planned to be single so soon in my retirement and in the most shocking way. So what am I doing differently? I put my personal profile on a couple of dating sites, and I have actually gone out on coffee, hiking and dinner dates for the first time in 40+ years! I am beginning to appreciate being free and single again. I can do anything I want, and I have the financial resources to do just that.

Besides my personal life going in a positive direction, this stock market continues to grow, and so does my portfolio. Take a look at how my investments performed, my asset allocation and my costs. It’s only one click away.

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7 Ways to Assist Your Parents

Posted by on 12:26 pm in Financial Education/Literacy, Retired Couples, Retirement Planning | 0 comments

7 Ways to Assist Your Parents

If you’ve got aging parents as well as children of your own to look after, you’re part of the “sandwich generation”. You may want to ensure secure future for both your parents and your kids, the stress of juggling these responsibilities can become overpowering. Retirement is becoming more expensive every day, but have your parents been investing for it?

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Updated Award Winning Los Angeles Unified 457(b) Plan

Posted by on 8:49 am in LAUSD Employees, PreK-12 Educators | 6 comments

Updated Award Winning Los Angeles Unified 457(b) Plan

When you think about greatness, we default to Micheal Jordan, President Lincoln or Albert Einstein. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s 457(b) plan may not appear to be great but when compared to the typical 403(b) plan, it is most certainly GREAT!

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Shrinking Middle Class and Federal Income Taxes

Posted by on 7:46 pm in Personal Finance | 0 comments

Shrinking Middle Class and Federal Income Taxes

According to the Tax Foundation, the richest Americans pay almost all of the Federal Income Taxes assessed by the IRS. Is this good news for us ordinary income earners? Well, perhaps not, as it is an indication of a severe decline in the middle class.

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