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Showing posts from May, 2017

The investor's manifesto -- Specifics to planning for retirement

Year's ago my wife (who at the time was my girlfriend) was given a book by her father (who is now my father in law) called The Investor's Manifesto by William Bernstein.  When I first saw it I thought this looked like a cheap, garbage filled book, that you could buy at a Hudson News while waiting in LaGuardia.  Little did I know, that this book would essentially drive my financial plan for my family and I for the foreseeable future.

Full disclosure.  Like most financial books, advice, literature, it is best absorb when you read the entire text on your own.  What I will provide today is a brief synopsis of the book paired with some of my opinions.

The first thing to understand is that it is very difficult to pick individual stocks that will yield you a return.  More often than not we will most likely end up losing more money than making.  There are well educated and intelligent people on Wall Street who do this for a living, and even they can't get it right most of the ti…

How to Beat Napoleon: When Retreat is Not Defeat (Chinese Philosophy & The Good Life)

In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia. Facing the most powerful army in the World at the time, the Russians retreated. As they retreated, the Russian soldiers followed a scorched-earth policy, burning villages and crops to the ground. In so doing, the Russians forced the French into a dilemma. The French could either transport supplies for their soldiers over long distances, which was not easily done, or French soldiers could leave their camps late at night in search of food making them easy targets for capture by the Russian army. Despite dwindling troops, the French continued to advance into Russia and the Russians continued to retreat. The Russians even went so far as to evacuate the entire city of Moscow and set it aflame. When Napoleon marched into the empty city in the winter of 1812, his already reduced troops quickly starved or died of hypothermia. After six months, Napoleon's force of 450,000 (by modest estimates) had been reduced to less than a 100,000. Thus, the greatest ar…

The Essays of Warren Buffett

I have recently read the The Essays of Warren Buffett, which is a collection of his letters to Berkshire Hathaway's shareholders.  The book is arranged in a way so that the letters are not in chronological order, rather they are organized by topic.  For example: If the subject is corporate governance than the letters that pertain to the topic are categorized under that heading.

Before I go further, let me preface this by saying there is so much information in this book that in order to really appreciate everything you should have a basic understanding of finance and accounting, and that my post here will not cover all the topics spoken about in the text, but will only be siphoned down to the key components that I think are important to know.  In short, I recommend reading this book to get the full experience of what Mr. Buffett has to offer.  The Essays not only offers lessons about corporate America, but also teaches us lessons that are applicable to everyday life.

For those who …

Euphoria

Euphoria, by Lily King, has been written to much acclaim, including being the recipient of The Kirkus Prize and The New York Times Book Review's One of the 10 Best Books of the Year 2014. The book is loosely based upon the life of the famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead (Nell Stone), and her time spent in New Guinea, collaborating with fellow anthropologists and her second and third husbands, Reo Fortune (Schuyler Fenwick - Fen) and Gregory Bateson (Andrew Bateson). The novel is a fictional account of their complicated relationships with one another. Though it accurately depicts many details of Mead and Bateson's childhoods, it's ending, SPOILER ALERT AHEAD: veers strongly into the fictional when Fen kills Nell rather than lose her to Bateson. In reality, Margaret Mead died of cancer, not at the hands of her second husband.

Although the love triangle is sure to provide compelling reading, readers should not overlook some of the more problematic aspects of Euphoria. Most n…

A little bit goes a long way.

Recently I was involved in a discussion about retirement plans, and how many people were active contributors to their respective retirement plans, albeit a 401-k or 403-b.  For those who are not familiar with a 403-b plan, it is essentially the same thing as a 401-k but it applies to school workers, as well as people involved in non-profit organizations.

Anyhow, I looked online to find out what is the participation rate amongst employed people who participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan.  I was trying to sift through all the non-sensical websites and find information that was provided by either the IRS, Department of Labor, or some branch of government.  
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find what I was looking for, so I resorted to sites like Forbes and Financial Samurai to answer this daunting question.  According to Forbes and Financial Samurai, 32% and 38% of eligible employees participate in a 401-k, respectively.  So lets just find a happy median here and say t…

Visible Learning

So I recently completed an educational professional development program known as ALPAP.  I guess I should backtrack a little here.  So my name is Jason, and I'm an assistant principal in a New York city public school.  I received a school building leader license in the past 4 years, and because of that, I do not have a permanent certification.  For those of you in New York and are in education, you are probably aware that all current certifications or recent certifications are dubbed as professional certifications.  Therefore we are required to maintain X amount of professional development hours to maintain the license. The idea behind it was that people would be learning modern theory and would continue to do so throughout their careers.  The people who designed this system felt that once people procured their permanent certification they did little to nothing to improve upon themselves professionally.  Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but that is my understanding a…