Month: May 2022

Social Security: Facts and Feelings

photo shows a stack of Social Security cards

We have written from time to time about the role of Social Security retirement benefits in your plans and planning. I have new perspectives on the process, based on my new status: I’m a Social Security recipient! 

I’ve got two interesting and useful lessons from my process so far. 

First, in my separate discussions with two Social Security Administration employees, a piece of misinformation emerged. A written summary of a telephone appointment contained a major error, one that would have had negative consequences if left uncorrected. 

Second, working through the actual numbers, the arithmetic favoring one start date versus another was not nearly as compelling as I expected. Claiming benefits is often talked about in formulas, as if it’s always straightforward. Nonmathematical factors—and feelings—should therefore be given due weight, it turns out. 

Because of the first lesson, I feel even more committed to join each of you as you go through the actual application process. The information is murky, humans can make errors, we can lose pivotal details in the mix… But I would love to try to help make sure the process comes out as you would like it to. 

The second lesson underlines something we’ve always believed: your situation, your feelings, your preferences and vision for your cash flow needs absolutely must be part of the equation. Nobody knows the date going on their death certificate, so there is no way to “prove” in advance the “best” time to claim Social Security. 

What will work out best for you in your real life? That’s the question. 

Social Security is a significant fraction of retirement income for most people, so taking some time to examine and explore options well ahead of time makes sense. We’re here for that. If you are within a few years of retirement, keep watching this space: we will keep discussing what options are available in more detail and how we might approach the choices. 

Clients, if you are ready to talk about your retirement plans and planning, please email us or call. 


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A Million-Dollar Retirement Idea

Wondering what it takes to retire early? It’s not a universal formula, but we can take the idea of accumulating a million dollars of invested capital as a decent proxy. How might the numbers shake out?


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Feel the Churn

Back in the snowbird chapter of my life, we learned that stormy weather—rough seas—washed a wealth of interesting shells up on the beach. Looking for shells was always more fruitful when the weather had been rough.

The world situation and our markets have been nothing if not stormy this year! War has few parallels as a human tragedy; the economic ramifications are widespread.

Some of our holdings have risen in price because of the disruptions: raw materials and miners and energy, for example. Others have gone the other way.

But overall, we’re pleased with how our holdings have behaved.

Just as rough weather washes shells up on the beach, we’ve found new opportunities in the rough markets. The other thing that turmoil brings us is the chance to rebalance—take some money off the top of things that have gone up, add to the bargains that emerge among our holdings.

While some are paralyzed by the commotion, we’re finding that our principles are serving us well:

  • We look for the best bargains
  • We own the orchard for the fruit crop
  • We avoid stampedes in the market

Clients, want to talk more about what this means for you? Reach out, at any time.


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Three Cheers for Larry!

Coincidence, good timing, good fortune… Whatever you call it, something wonderful happened to bring Larry Wiederspan into my life and later into our shop. Clients, three cheers for Larry as he closes a chapter working here at 228 Main.


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