Thursday, January 29, 2009


Time to author another weblog! I have been thinking about this one for quite a while. I have been getting a lot of questions about what to do and what not to do in light of current economic and financial problems.

My family is calling; my friends ask me; and my past clients are calling me.

I don’t need to go into the details of what is going on as you can’t help but be familiar with everything. I commented on all this in an earlier blog dated September 16th, 2008. This writing will build on and supplement that article.

So what do you do? What do they do? What does anyone do? Well, the answer is: it depends! Not really an answer you say? This is like being a kid and asking my mother for something I wanted. Her answer was either “we’ll see” or “God willing”. Of course, both of these answers were her way of saying NO.

Back to the problem at hand. The answer is simple. But everyone has their own current situation and place in life and thus their own customized answer to the questions of what to do!

Let’s say you are in your 20’s, 30’s or early 40’s. You should be buying equities. Remember the saying: sell high and buy low. This is a good description of today i.e. buy low. Your overall asset mix should a minimum of 10% bonds in 20’s rising to 30% by 40’s.

If you are in your late 40’s and 50’s, there is the need to begin lowering the volatility of your portfolio by moving a larger percentage of the total into bonds or fixed income. For example, if you are in your early 50’s, maybe you should have 30% to 35% in bonds.

By the time you retire, you should have worked this bond/fixed income percentage up to at least 40%. Some might say 45% or 50%.

Annual rebalancing to your overall allocation targets is appropriate. I know, it is scary and the thought of putting money into equities now must seem crazy. But by using well diversified stock funds, you get the equity market exposure but don’t have the single stock risk.

So, what to do? It depends on your age and situation but in general buy low and sell high; staying diversified by using mutual funds. You might want to get some help from a FEE ONLY advisor.

Now, for what not to do. Did you think I was going to forget this part? How can you read about all the Ponzi schemes that have been discovered recently and forget about this?
The schemes are complicated and of course there are other frauds going on that haven’t been discovered yet. And, there are things that you shouldn’t do that are completely honest but maybe not good!

So, the bottom line for me is “don’t invest in something that you don’t understand”. If you don’t know how something works, then don’t buy it. For example, what about the 130/30 funds? Do you know how they work? Would you buy one if someone told you that they are designed to always make money by being “market neutral”? If you could be market neutral and always have a gain, who are the suckers who are always losing money? Come on; really, do you believe this?

What about hedge funds. Do you know how they work? Sure, they hedge their risk so that they too only make positive returns. Ok, why doesn’t everyone just buy hedge funds? Let’s all make money and no one will lose money! The market doesn’t work that way. For every winner, there has to be a loser. Which one are you? What about all the Madoff investors; are they the winners or the losers?

There is something to be said for plain vanilla “things” whether they be mutual funds or stocks or bonds. If it gets too complicated and you don’t understand how the sponsors can do what they profess to be able to do, then maybe they really can’t do it and they are just taking your money and hoping they will do well.

Let the buyer beware. Remember the words of P.T. Barnum; “there is a sucker born every day”. Don’t you be one of them!

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


These days it seems like everyone is into writing a book on dieting. The other night while visiting Barnes and Noble, they had a whole table of diet books and they were all new! Today in the Wall Street Journal, they had an article on the good and bad diet books.

Well, I am going to give you a bonus. Here is my book on dieting and it will only be an article and cost you nothing! Guaranteed to lose weight if you do what I say! What are my qualifications to write something like this? My wife would tell you that I have none. However, I do have opinions on things and am not shy about sharing them!And, last but not least, I have also dealt with weight as an issue and conquered it for the moment. However, it is like being an alcoholic; you can't let up, ever. You always have to fight the fat and be aware of what you eat and the amount of excercise you get.

Here we go.

Chapter One. Commitment.
Do you want to lose weight? No, I mean do you really want to lose weight? You have to be committed and willing to change your habits. You need to be willing to not eat the good stuff. For example, when eating your turkey sandwich for lunch, you can’t have the fries with it. Get fruit or nothing at all, not even the chips. You can’t get the fries and say you will only have a couple. None, zip, nada, zilch; you get the point. None means none. So, are you committed and ready to move onto the next chapter?

Chapter Two. What to eat for breakfast.
First of all, eat a good breakfast. This is the most crucial meal of the day and it should be nutritious. Get a lot of fiber here also. For example, I eat two eggs, two pieces of whole wheat toast (loaded with fiber) and a banana. I drink a glass of orange juice but drink two glasses and each is one half juice and one half water. Now I can’t even order juice in a restaurant because it always tastes too sweet! The fiber in the whole wheat toast will also help you have a good dump in the morning! A banana a day helps the “little men” in your colon to shovel the s*** out each morning!
This breakfast will carry you through until lunch although you can have a nonfat snack if you need one about 10:30. A couple fig newtons or low fat vanilla wafers are ok with a glass of water.
As an alternative, you can substitute the pieces of toast and eggs with a whole wheat bagel.
Fruit in any quantity is good and can be a substitute for anything.

Chapter Three. What to eat for lunch.
You can eat a sliced turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion. You can have some mustard on it if you want. You will notice that I did not say “with cheese” and I certainly did not say “with mayonnaise”. NO MAYO under any circumstances! This goes for any meal: NO MAYO. And in fact: nothing that is white and creamy on any thing that you eat for evermore! This stuff is loaded with fat so don’t ever eat it any more. The cheese is also loaded with fat so it is also a lifetime no-no.
You could eat a grilled chicken sandwich also but the same corollaries apply as to what to put on it and what not to put on it.
Again, you can eat a snack and have a glass of water about mid afternoon. Fruit is good anytime.

Chapter Four. What to eat for dinner.
You can have a salad with some grilled chicken or shrimp. The only dressing you can have is a non fat dressing. No cheese or creamy white dressing (do I have to say this again?). You can also have a piece of grilled chicken or fish or small steak or hamburger. Baked potato is ok but use salsa instead of butter and certainly no sour cream (remember the white and creamy rule?). Fruit and vegetables are good at any time as well.
That is it. There is nothing else on the menu at this point.
You can have a small snack about 8 or 8:30.
Let me make another point about dinner. Eat it around 6 or 6:30. The latest time you should start dinner is 7:00pm. Eating late only lessens the metabolism and lets the fat stay on instead of burning it off before you go to bed.
If you can take a walk after dinner, that is good.

Chapter Five. What to drink.
You will notice I have addressed breakfast: juice. Coffee is ok but use artificial sweetener.
For lunch, drink water or diet drinks. You are off sugared drinks forever. You get that? None, zilch, nada, zip. No sugared drinks any more!
For dinner, drink water or decaf coffee or other decaffeinated diet drinks.
With any snacks, drink water or anything with no sugar and no caffeine.
The only “good” thing you can have to drink is a beer or glass of wine from time to time.

Chapter Six. Exercise.
Yes, there is that word again. You thought you would or could get by with out seeing or dealing with this issue? No way Jose!
It is crucial that you get enough exercise. You have to jump start your metabolism and keep it going. That goes for any age. It can be done. I have done it several times.
It is the fire that burns all this stuff up. What is not burnt, the “little men” I spoke of earlier will deal with!
You have to exercise twice a day. Yes, once in the morning or at lunch and then once in the evening. 15 to 30 minutes each time. What should you do? As much as you can. Walking, running, lifting weights, swimming, elliptical or treadmill or stationary bikes etc. All these are good and will work.
But, they don’t work by themselves. You have to do it. And, you have to be dedicated and committed (yes, there is that word again) and do it every day two times each day!

Chapter Seven. Summary
There is nothing revolutionary here. It is all common sense. It is all dedication and will power and commitment. It is built on eating sensibly and stoking the metabolic fire with exercise and constant eating (of non fat foods).

My suggestion is to get a yellow pad of “post its” and put many of them around your home and office on the walls, desks etc. Write on each one of them the number of pounds you want to lose. Each time you are ready to eat a meal or do something, look at the number, let it burn in your memory.

Weigh yourself each morning at the same time. Right after you get up but before breakfast. I know other methods say to only weigh once a week but come on; you need constant feedback on how it is going.

Chapter Eight. Final summary.
The key words here are Committment and Discipline; Fat Grams; and Excercise. They are all important components of your fight. Fight the Fat is the motto!

So, that is it. Call me with any questions. Also call me and let me know how much weight you are losing.
I will look forward to hearing from you.