Exactly one month ago today, I returned from a 12-day trip to Uganda. While there, myself and a group of 15 others did water projects such as building a rainwater harvest tank and making and distributing bio-sand filters. The organization that hosted the trip was a non-profit based out of Boone, NC called Wine to Water. Their founder, Doc Hendley, received a CNN Hero award back in 2009 for the incredible work that he himself had done both in Darfur and Uganda. Doc has inspired thousands, myself included. The work they do at Wine to Water changes lives. In fact, it changes entire communities. They do real boots on the ground stuff, bringing clean water to those in need. They make an impact with what they do. And I’ve seen it first hand. (more…)
Why do we plan a vacation? Many, if not most of us, lay out meticulous plans to ensure that our trip goes smoothly. Doing so enables us to do all the things we want to do and see all the things we want to see. But what would happen if we didn’t create a plan in advance? Might a relaxing vacation turn out not so relaxing? Might a potentially great experience turn into a frustratingly negative one? Don’t get me wrong, I know some folks live for spontaneous adventure, but I can’t imagine too many of us like to travel without some sort of plan. By setting an itinerary or planning ahead many of the main aspects of your trip, you can have your expectations become a reality and help to minimize most travel snafus. We plan because there are rewards for doing it.
Now let’s move this idea of planning into the world of financial planning, or investment planning – whichever. I jokingly say that I help people plan for the longest vacation of their life … their retirement. But it’s true. And with most clients, we lay out a pretty meticulous plan. Coincidently, it’s well known in the financial planning industry that most people actually spend more time planning for vacations then they do planning for their own retirement. That’s unfortunate. I’m in my early (cough cough) 40’s and if you think I’ve got great confidence in Social Security footing my bills in retirement, think again. You better believe I plan.
The first thing to do when laying out a financial plan or an investment plan is to know what things can derail your plan. Taking the time to understand the many things that are out of your control, can be time well spent. Here’s a sneak-peek: interest rates, inflation, the stock market, the Federal Reserve, the bond market, corporate (more…)
Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death. No, this is not a review of Theater Charlotte’s dinner mystery entitled Wine, Chocolate & Murder (doors open at 6:30 on Saturday, February 15th), although I do hear that makes for a fun night out with your Valentine. This is going to be much more personal, and it’s my hope, that you will find it much more valuable. There is a social movement currently taking place which I think it is simply outstanding, and well worth discussing.
Are you familiar with TED Talks? If you are not, go to www.TED.com. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. It is a global set of live conferences (mini presentations) that promote “Ideas Worth Sharing”. You can find extremely interesting presentations, no longer than 10-15 mins. in duration, given by thought provoking individuals on a very wide array of topics. Its popularity has spawned other TED Channels, one of which is TED MED (www.TEDMED.com) solely focused on health and medicine. It is on this particular site that I came across “Let’s Have Dinner and Talk about Death”, presented by Michael Hebb back in April of 2013.
Michael’s underlying idea is to bring people together to “break bread” and “spark social change”, and in doing so create deep and meaningful engagement and profound relationships. The idea for Let’s Have Dinner came to him during a chance meeting of two physicians during a train ride from Seattle. It was revealed to him that 62% of (more…)
A farming almanac is an annual publication containing a guide for the coming year and a forecast of the times and statistics of events and phenomena important to growing. Farmers’ almanacs have been a source of wisdom, rooted in the core values of independence and simple living, for American growers for over 200 years. To help you plan for what lies ahead, we are pleased to bring you our Outlook 2014: The Investor’s Almanac. We hope our almanac will prove to be a trusted guide to the coming year filled with a wealth of wisdom for investors.
In the coming year, there are many reasons investors can return to the basics of growing and preserving their portfolios and spend less time gauging the actions of policymakers, including:
•After two “clean” lifts to the debt ceiling since 2011, which ensured any risk of default on Treasury obligations was avoided, we are unlikely to see concessions in exchange for a third increase in 2014—making a high stakes fiscal battle unlikely.
•The Fed is likely to begin to taper its bond-purchase program, known as quantitative easing (QE), early in 2014, signaling a commitment to reducing its presence in the markets and transitioning to a post-QE environment.
•Europe is emerging from recession, which means less need for direct life support from the European Central Bank or painfully austere fiscal policy as deficit targets are eased.
The economy and markets becoming more independent of policymakers while growth accelerates is likely to bolster (more…)
“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” That’s a quote from a pretty intelligent guy by the name of Albert Einstein. It is tough to challenge just about anything that came out of his mind, but it’s probably even tougher to measure what one actually takes out of this world. We spend a lifetime of taking out. But can one spend a lifetime of putting back (or giving back)?
In all truth, some seemingly can. Billy Graham comes to mind first, most likely because I’m in the middle of reading his new book. He has seemingly given his entire life, and continues to do so at 95 years young. Of course there is Mother Theresa and others like her, and there are the holy Saints. Santa Claus was a saint, and he was certainly a giver! There of course are many others, some who are known worldwide for their giving and their efforts to put back, like Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah or Bono. Some are legendary like the Carnegie’s, the Rockefeller’s and the Duke’s. But what about the majority of us? Do we put back our share? Or is there such a thing as giving enough? Most of us “give what we can”, right? But is there something that limits our giving? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks you to give? Money.
There is no doubt that money plays a key role in enabling charities to carry out their most important missions and forward their causes to a final level of positive impact, whatever it might be. But there is also giving time, giving talent, giving resources, giving introductions to others, giving knowledge, and giving love. Sometimes the last one, ‘giving love’ is all that someone who is really in need, needs. Knowing this, doesn’t it seem a little easier to (more…)
We have all suffered through (and many are still suffering through) the second worst economic downturn in our country’s history. “I Was There” and no one is even handing out the proverbial free tee-shirt. But there have been signs of hope, as the stock market has rebounded well off its 2009 lows, corporations are in much better financial shape, investors have delevered, and many economic indicators are still moving in the right direction (albeit at a much slower pace than most would like to see). The most stubborn areas can still be seen today in the housing market and the elevated levels continuing in unemployment. Add to that the US debt debacle, as well as European debt woes, slowing growth in the emerging markets, an S&P US rating downgrade and the media is once again having a feeding frenzy.
We are once again starting to hear the rumblings of the most overused financial term in the last decade … the infamous “Double-Dip”. Yet for the longest time, one would only associate that phrase with a trip to Dairy Queen, Baskin Robins, or maybe even these days Ben & Jerry’s or some newly launched frozen yogurt chain.
What’s the chance of a “double dip” recession? Statistically very slim, as it has only happened two other times in the last one-hundred years (and in both cases the circumstances were very different). But don’t pop the cork yet. (more…)
The phrase “impact investing” has become the lead moniker chosen to represent several purpose-driven or values-driven strategies that have evolved over the last two decades. Other names such as “sustainable investing”, “socially responsible investing or sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI)”, “corporate social responsibility (CSR)”, “environmental, social and governance (ESG)”, all seem to have been folded-up … Continue reading “Impact Investing: Performance, Purpose and Positioning”
“Conscious” Capitalism? An oxymoron it is not. It is a movement sweeping across the globe and growing in size, popularity and in the impact that it is having for those business leaders who embrace it. It, in my opinion, should become the standard by which businesses are evaluated for investment and judged in the court … Continue reading “Why We Embrace Conscious Capitalism®”
This is the first time that I’ve ever posted an article from someone else, but this particular article struck me. Maybe it’s because I still consider myself a fairly new father with a 19-month old and an “almost” 3-year old at home. Simply enough, I thought this was worth sharing. In fact I believe anything … Continue reading “How to Live a Beautiful Life”
Exactly one month ago today, I returned from a 12-day trip to Uganda. While there, myself and a group of 15 others did water projects such as building a rainwater harvest tank and making and distributing bio-sand filters. The organization that hosted the trip was a non-profit based out of Boone, NC called Wine to Water. … Continue reading “A Lesson from Uganda”
If #GivingTuesday wasn’t great enough on it’s own, Facebook ‘s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stole the show with an absolutely extraordinary pledge to give away 99% of his Facebook fortune over his and his wife Priscilla Chan’s lifetime. That amount, as it stands today would total over 45 billion dollars. This will be done … Continue reading “The Zuckerberg Impact”