Tuesday, October 28, 2014

PC (Political Correctness) Personal Financial Planning

Renaming: PC (Political Correctness) Personal Financial Planning

It depends on what the definition of is, is.
Bill Clinton

            Recently a personal financial planning commentator titled an essay ‘financial independence in lieu of retirement (and other phrases) that should be banished from retirement planning.’
            And while I agree that the emphasis on the success probability percentage in meeting one’s personal financial goals (in this particular instance financial independence/retirement) creates, by implication, an inverse failure rate, which scares the be Jesus (or if Jewish – the be Moses) out of clients.  (In addition, the ‘failure rate’ overshadows and ignores the probability of excess with fear).  The aforementioned said, I agree, in the context of the goal, the probability of adjustment of the goal (and the ability to adapt the standard of living style from passive resources) should also be examined and is generally overlooked.
My concern is benign spun personal financial planning pc corn-pone becomes a slippery slope of renaming: is becomes ‘it depends on what the definition of is, is’ (or worse ‘red lines’ become fading ‘chartreuse’ and or 4 Pinocchio’s (you can keep your doctor) to hide, minimize, and or rationalize failure (‘non-traditional success’ in PC terms). When reframing/renaming makes is into is not and is not into is – you get pablum snot and sanitizing poppycock like ‘it is what it is.’
 Reframing (silver lining snot) can easily become linguistic cover for failure, shortfalls, and the unspoken liquidation of assets to meet the cash flow requirements. (Planners love to speak of return on capital but shy away from the return of capital required – the liquidation – required to meet the cash flow requirements of a goal – preferring words like funding – rather than recognizing the goal as a liability to be funded and possibly liquidated (which means the client’s net worth (net worthiness???) may decline. Funding is preferable to the precise naming of distribution to meet the goal above and beyond rate of return as in fact ‘annuitization.’ (Annuitization is just not an instrument of insurance companies but in fact whether well done, conscious or unconscious what is done to fund a goal that requires distribution of the underlying capital – return of capital – for the ‘cash flow’ required. Instead of the doctor saying ‘this is going to hurt,’ we now hear ‘this may be a little uncomfortable’ even though it hurts like hell. And a personal note: short becomes vertically challenged (or my preference ‘compact).
So when ‘retirement/financial independence’ income is insufficient, planners suggest renaming retirement/financial independence cash flows (which in part masks the return of capital and conscious, unconscious and or half assed annuitization).
And yet I’ll stipulate that retirement cash flows, when distribution of capital is required, is more accurate but dissipation that may be necessary is personal financial planning PC’d away like the doctor telling you a procedure ‘may be a little uncomfortable’ even though it hurts like hell or being called ‘vertically challenged’ rather than short. (I, myself, prefer ‘compact’ at 5’5” on a good day).
Metaphorically, renaming, at the PC personal financial planning extremes, changes ugly into ‘under attractive’ when a two bagger is more accurate. And in personal financial planning, personal financial planning PC reframing becomes ‘don’t you miss going to work and the camaraderie or it’s not retirement but rewirement.’
The truth is a personal financial planning goal is in reality a liability to be matched by appropriate assets for funding – and the distributions are a variable annuity which we try to fix. We just hate having ‘less’ as ‘our worthiness’ in part – regardless of protestations to the opposite – to our ‘net worth.’
Less net worth – less worthy?
Thus the delusional pursuit of More and the fear of outliving our assets which also gets to a more primal discussion of what is underneath the goal.

Half truth; whole lies

Instead of parsing, reframing, renaming ‘the appellation of the goal/objective’ more useful would be to define and name the objective by payoff rather than the renaming, spinning, sanitizing , euphemizing and Lanny Davising the objective to cover shortfalls, failures, and the need, if applicable, for dissipation.
For example, really what are the desired rewards/payoffs of the name: estate planning? Typically, the payoffs are:
·         #1 Income adequacy for spouse, insignificant other etc
·         #2 Asset disposition according to desires
·         Reduction of taxes to allow the above in #1 and #2
·         Sufficient liquidity to avoid shrinkage in #1 and #2

As far as ‘financial independence’ (as in sufficient income/cash flow from passive sources to meet the desire level without active earnings) digging deeper to the why – the actual payoff may be (and should be recognized as such):

·         Becoming independent of one’s independent business
·         Healing personal financial anxiety (lowering Xanax™ dosage)
·         Not being dependent (eloquently stated as ‘not having to take crap’ or ‘having to kiss tuchass’  by several former clients when I was in practice
·         And My Favorite which is very real but politically incorrect:...wait for it….wait for it….FUability© (to those offended see the prior bullet point).

So yes, there should be an addition of probability of adjustment (actually adaptability quotient) as well as probability of failure and excess but renaming financial independence misses the point. Rather than renaming the objective, parsing or reframing it – better to get at the underlying payoff.
And that’s my SHTUP-U-ability© response.(1)

(1) The original definition of ENOUGH (1977: clientele realizable goal determination coordinated with orderly plans for their desired payoffs. Today, I define ENOUGH as: healing personal financial anxiety, puttin’ money in its place to connect to transcend to one’s signification.

Monday, October 27, 2014

More vs ENOUGH(sm) on Teddy Roosevelt’s Birthday 10/27

More vs ENOUGH(sm) on Teddy Roosevelt’s Birthday 10/27

Comparison is the thief of joy
Teddy Roosevelt

            More is a comparative – actually, if anything, ‘the’ comparative in the US.
            And even ‘let me cut off my brother’s head, so I can be taller,’ is never enough.

          More is a Sisyphusian delusion robbing oneself of joy

            More: ‘Bully! Or Bull?”

Who is rich? One who is ‘happy’ with what one has [Psalms 128:2]
 Ben Zoma in Ethics of The Fathers

            Ironically, More, Better, Now – has a habit of eventually becoming the ‘joyless’ – Less, Worse, Later.

            More--- The Bully
            ENOUGH(sm) – a ‘Personal Financial Life Planning Bodyguard©’
            Your choice.

Saturday, October 11, 2014



            Remember as a kid – keeping the lights on at bedtime (at least in the hallway)?
            Remember the comic strip of Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin (as well as his stuffed Tiger Hobbes) feared the boogieman under the bed (or in the closet)–and the boogeyman would talk back to them causing them even greater fright?
            Admit or not, at some point, most of us as kids wanted before going to bed the lights on in the hall and the door ajar.
            (I use to make rounds making sure my parents locked doors – not that I was anal retentive at 6 or 7).

You never get rid of shtick
Rabbi Henoch Dov Hoffman

            Nor Boogiemanitis©.
            Boogmanitis© just manifests taking on different forms from when we were 6 or 7 now to our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and especially 50’s on and is a sub derivative  in its personal financial planning emanating from the idolization of MORE believing it would keep the boogieman (risk) at bay along with lights on and the door ajar.
            (Note: MORE and MOREonic behavior, itself, is a derivative of the idol of acquisition examined in several prior posts).

Everybody’s doin’ it
Doin’ it
Doin’ it
Pickin’ their nose
And chewin’ it
Chewin’ it
Lamberton Elementary School Ditty about ‘Boogers’

            The problem: even having ‘Enough’ per personal financial planning life goals, still, solve boogieman number 1 and boogieman two is promoted (or boggieman #1 mutates into boogieman #2 bigger, more threatening and even if the potential problems (risks) are less probable in occurrence though high seriousness i.e. think a hurricane in Alaska.

            A story (names changed to protect the afflicted).
A wealthy individual ‘Paulie’ (never a client), with more, more, more than enough relative to his personal financial goals has always felt the United States was coming to an end. So 20+ years ago, Paulie bought land down under to eventually so as to become self sufficient. Finally, many years later, the land – his farm was complete with wind power, and many different crops coming in for the first time. And what happened upon this momentous – “I Shot The Boogieman” (think the song I Shot The Sheriff) occasion?
            The parrots wiped out the crops.
            Paulie went ‘crackers’
            Cream of the crops became cream of the crap.

What’s it all about, Boogieman(?)
(Apologies To What’s It All About, Alfie & Michael Caine)

            Boogiemanitis© has become hard wired reinforcing the never ending quest for MORE. The Boogiemanitis© strain may have even mutated into our genetics – passed through (like kidney stones?) from generation to degeneration. And yet, this self inflicted Boogiemanitis© (1) despite habituation has it payoffs, in particular, structuring time to avoid:

  • What next and finding meaning IN one’s life
  • Questions of faith and trust

And so Boogiemanitis© becomes synonymous with ‘RISK’ (real or imagined– as there is always another risk real or imagined Boogieman Jones in Boogiemanitis©) which fills these ‘avoids’ – whether under the bed, with the lights on or off, door ajar or closed – still pickin’ it and chewin’ it. (2)
Boogiemanitis© – It’s A Booger!

Unlike the rest of us, one unusual friend stated without ‘master of the universe hubris’, ‘whatever the situation (financially etc.), somehow I’ll figure it out (and survive).’
Go figure?
For most ‘go figure’ results in figure 8’s being the proverbial 8 ball of anxiety.
There may be inoculation (by faith and trust) but still there isn’t a cure for this boogiemanitis© which is acculturated by idolizing MORE as its savior – though there is never ENOUGH (or as John D. Rockefeller when asked, ‘what was enough’ he answered ‘a little more.’)

A story I’ve related several times.
            It’s harvest time.
            An elderly man depends on his one and only son to bring in the harvest. Just one week before harvest time, his son falls off his horse breaking his leg.
            The man’s neighbors ask, ‘who will bring in the harvest for you?’
            The elderly man, in faith, replies, ‘you never know. You never know.’
            A few days later the Cossacks (The Boogers) arrive conscripting all young able body men into their armed forces – except the elderly man’s son with a broken leg.
            You never know.
            You never know.

            Trust, is a belief that one won’t be betrayed. Thus, trust is an absence of a negative with the hope the other will ‘be there.’ But it is the fear of betrayal that is the breakfast of  Boogiemanitis© champions.  Faith, in contrast,  as this observer sees it, is gam zu la tova (this is the the best) even though it doesn’t appear so at the time as ‘you never know.’  
            The third leg for inoculation management of Boogiemanitis© is the realization of one’s own adaptability and resourcefulness.
            Part of the personal financial planning process is constructing balance sheets as well as running objectives versus resources analysis (to present value even with probability analysis). Assets (liquid, illiquid income producing, illiquid) are analyzed, matched and offset against objectives and liabilities and their time horizons. However, never ever in 20 years of practice and 41 years of writing has a client or reader suggested to me that their own adaptability and resourcefulness (which created the ‘net worth’(3) ((other than lucky sperm club members))with God’s blessing)  should be accounted for in the analysis. Certainly, my friend – consciously or subconsciously ‘figures’ his adaptability and resourcefulness in his calculations given his statement and by my observation of his exhibited behavior.
            As for others, not one in those 40 plus years has mentioned their adaptability and resourcefulness (other than bravado).
            Not once.

It is one thing to fight the dragon; another to slay the dragon; but the real trick is embrace the dragon (and make it useful)
(Someone’s Adage)

            We discount the recognition, belief and yes, trust, in our own adaptability and resourcefulness to lower the fever of Boogermanitis© (4) though not cure it as you ‘don’t get rid of shtick’ or Boogiemanitis©.’ (Boogidity, Boogidity, Shoot and miss, darn it).

            The great Rabbi Hillel was asked by a wise guy to explain all of Judaism while standing on one foot. Rabbi Hillel responded with the ‘silver rule’ (5), ‘don’t do unto others that which is unpleasant to you. The rest is commentary. Go study.’

            And the rest on Boogiemanitis© is commentary – GO FIGURE.

CHEWish on This©
(1).-I can just see the self esteem happiness psychobabbaltariat huckstering – medicalizing this as a condition as the cash cows of happiness and self esteem halaria wane)
(2).- Boogiemanitis© may be managed (but never cured) by altered states: vices, addictions, sports – kicking the Boogiemanitis© down the road till tomorrow. See the Shtup Fund’s™ Altered State© for prospectus and offering to get in on the potential profits from companies catering to Boogiemanitis©
(3) – “The Net” of assets less liabilities is referred to as ‘Net Worth’ as if one’s net worthiness is a function of this ‘netting.’ Yet no where on the asset (nor liability sheet) is acknowledgment of one’s abilities, adaptability nor resourcefulness as either assets or liabilities.
(4)- An exercise: list four instances of difficulties and next to each how you got out of the difficulty and may have even benefited by your adaptability and resourcefulness.
(5) – The silver rule preceded the golden rule