Real Estate: A Wise Investment or Not?

The most popular and certainly the commonest way for a family to build up its assets over recent decades has been real estate. It has always been seen as a good investment over the medium to long term with mortgage rates generally low and growth almost guaranteed. Almost! The early years of this century saw growth that was with hindsight out of control. The crash inevitably came and property values fell with a surfeit on the market and too few buyers to sustain values. Recent buyers indeed often found themselves in negative equity which was unlikely to disappear in the coming years.

It is something that raises a number of questions in need of answers. Continue reading

Stand Up for Independence!


The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. Continue reading

Mutual Funds Capital Gains Distributions – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

How would you like to get a December bonus of ten or 20 thousand dollars? It can happen. It happened to us.

When you get your December broker statement showing the end of year dividends and capital gains – after years of saving and investing – it can be a real treat. Typically, the amount generated from the same funds or stocks year to year is fairly consistent, but there can be exceptional years. This year was one of those years.

Big capital gains payouts can be a good thing, a bad thing or an ugly thing. But first, lets level the playing field and explain a bit about mutual fund cap gain distributions. Continue reading

Holiday Time Splits Made Easier

Once you marry, you are blessed with exponential numbers of extended family members – all wanting your time and attention at holiday time.

Keeping your family’s well being and wealth depends in part on family members getting along with each other.  Trying to split time between family units at holiday time can be a major disruptor of your family’s well being.  No one wants to disappoint their Mom or Grandma at Thanksgiving, yet it is bound to happen occasionally. You just can’t be in two or more places at once.

Here are some of the dumber and funnier things that have happened to us when we or our family members tried to deal with holiday family time. Continue reading

Grandma Rie’s 2013 Money Camp – Part One

Grandma Rie's Money CampTeaching the next generation to successfully handle money and personal finances is normally a family responsibility. Although parents bear much of the burden to teach, train and model good personal finance, extended family members can also contribute.

Although my grown children do very well in the personal finance arena, they learned from us by osmosis, without any special or formal training by my spouse or I. When they presented me with grandchildren, I vowed that I would take an active part in teaching financial literacy to them.

As a result, I started a one week ‘Grandma Rie’s Money Camp‘ in 2011 and held our third annual one this year. Continue reading