Monday, April 16, 2007

Why Uncle Leo Rumbles

After retiring, Uncle Leo was faced with the problem of too much time on his hands. Idleness led to all sorts of bad things, like: (a) actually watching daytime TV; (b) spending a lot of time cleaning cat litter boxes; (c) increased access to free food samples in supermarkets; (d) unbidden thoughts of participating in fantasy sports; (e) fewer excuses to avoid eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; (f) enough time to exercise; (g) discovering how late in the day the mail is delivered; and (h) taking mid-day naps on one's own time instead of an employer's. Faced with a future of more reruns, litter boxes, samples of fried kielbasa, exercise, fruits, vegetables, and unpaid naps, Uncle Leo sought refuge in blogging. Drawing on his career in the SEC's Division of Enforcement pursuing knaves, scoundrels and rapscallions in the stock markets and corporate America, Uncle Leo created this blog to make it easier for ordinary folks to save and invest for their retirements and for college expenses.

Saving for retirement seems difficult because you have to plan 30 or 40 years into the future. Many of us don't know where we'll be a year from now, so how can we plan decades ahead? To make things worse, financial planning, with its jargon and technicalities, can be confusing and intimidating. Often you have pay hundreds of dollars or more to get financial planning information.

At the same time, pensions are disappearing faster than rich folks left New Orleans before Katrina and Social Security has made so many head fakes toward the edge of a cliff that you start to wonder when it will take the plunge. So how will you provide for your retirement? Rich folks like to marry other rich folks, so that's not a high percentage play. Your back tends to stiffen as you get older, so dumpster diving isn't a great alternative. And the high levels of homelessness mean that the good panhandling spots are already taken. About the only option left is to save and invest.

Saving and investing are the primary subjects of this blog. We will take you through the process, step by step, in future blogs. If you have less than $100,000 in investable assets (meaning assets like stocks, bonds and cash, but excluding the equity in your home), you will find that many financial planners won't take you on as clients. You just don't have enough money to make it worth their while. But we provide our financial planning information free of charge to help ordinary savers and investors get started. It costs you nothing to stay with us, and maybe you'll learn something you didn't know. Of course, you can always pay for financial planning information if you want. Maybe you believe that anything that's free is worth what you paid for it (in which case you must believe that the Internet and its enormous resources are worthless). If you buy a financial plan, however, consider using us as a second opinion. Preparing for retirement is likely to be one of the biggest financial undertakings of your life, and getting a second opinion may well be valuable.