Wisdom on Wealth

Wednesday at 7:45 a.m.

Everyone has money questions, whether it's what to do about retirement, or how to invest for the first time. Each week, Byron Moore offers practical, down-to-earth advice on handling money; and shows that even though money is important, paying attention to it can keep it from ruling your life.

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If you’re one of those souls who get out of bed each day and can’t wait to get to work – good for you!

But even if you feel like you enjoy your work so much you can never imagine stopping – don’t for one second think that gives you a pass on responsibly planning your financial future.


Because there is a world of difference between “get to” and “got to.”

Right now you “get to” go to work. That’s as much a reflection of your attitude as it is of your circumstances.

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Whenever you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else.

Suppose you are thinking about buying a small lake house. The price seems pretty good, but something is bothering you. You still have some other credit card debt you haven’t paid off yet. The angel on your shoulder says take care of the debt, but the devil whispers that you’ve got to pull the trigger on this kind of thing quickly or someone else may buy it.

How do we know what’s right?

Well, we could agree to meet again in twenty years and then we would both know what the right decision was.

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I’m looking forward to this weekend – it will be one of those lovely three day weekends, this time to celebrate America’s birthday – 240 years old, to be exact. And while you lounge in your lawn chair or splash you feet in the water, waiting for those burgers to cook to juicy char-broiled perfection, the thought might just cross your mind…is the dream…the American Dream … still alive? The true American Dream? Yes, I’d say it is now alive more than ever. But -- the American Fairy Tale?

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Medicine used to be simple. If you lived in the old west, whether you got shot, fell off your horse or just ate a batch of bad beans, there was only one thing to do: go see Doc. Doc was the only physician in town and he delivered babies (at home), removed bullets (with help ample whiskey and another bullet to bite down on) and set broken bones (again, with the help of whiskey). And life expectancy then was about 40 years. Fast forward to today and there are doctors of every imaginable specialty and sub-specialty. But try to see “Doc” today, and he might be a little hard to find.

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Question: I am in my 50s and plan to retire within the next ten to fifteen years. What should I plan for with respect to health care costs? When it comes to healthcare costs after you retire, what can you expect? Well, for one - a lot of uncertainty. That doesn’t mean to throw up your hands and surrender. It just means that precision in this prediction is going to be hard to come by. We just know it’s likely to be a big number. Healthcare costs are rising at 7% to 8% annually, much higher than inflation.

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When a client asks me about insurance of any kind, I usually start with a question like, “If the event you are insuring against occurs, will you be the happiest you could possibly be with the decision you make today?” That usually elicits a bit of head scratching and a kind of “huh?” look… Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy insurance after the accident, natural disaster, sickness, disability or death occurs? Well, you can’t.

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Most conversations I have with folks about estate planning starts out with two goals: avoid taxes and treat everyone equally. As important as those two goals might seem in the beginning, I must admit they don’t exactly stir my soul. What do you want your grandchildren to remember you for? “Grandpa sure did avoid some taxes when he died, and he could divide by five, too!” I once worked with the family of a wealthy couple who had several children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.

CollegeDegrees360 / Flickr.com

If you’re a college student, or a parent of one, it got your attention when the state’s current budget crisis brought up the possibility that TOPS might be curtailed or even eliminated.

What would happen if the bottom drops out of TOPS?

Here’s something else to consider: if TOPS is either cancelled or curtailed, more than a few college students might get an education they hadn’t counted on. It won’t be an easy one, but it might just be okay, and it may be even good.

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My wife and I have each made a vow to keep each other out of the nursing home. While we'll do our best, we acknowledge that it might not be possible.

When a loved one needs long-term care, sometimes professional help is required. Having long-term healthcare insurance is a good way to take care of our loved ones when we can't. 

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Taking risks is part of life. That doesn't mean that all risks need to be high. When retirement is in the cross hairs, it's best to take the long, slow aim to reach your goal. D.B. Cooper's life offers a lesson on risk.