Why personal finance is like dieting: there are no shortcuts

Nick Foy, CFP®
nick@greenwaywealth.com

Back at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Michael Phelps became known for more than just his historic gold medal accumulation: he also became known for his diet. During the training and the games, in order to keep up with the energy needed to perform at a world class level, he’d put down 12,000 calories a day.

Although he later admitted that the figure was somewhat exaggerated, the quantity of food he ate while training was still rather daunting:

Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise. Two cups of coffee. One five-egg omelette. One bowl of grain. Three slices of French toast topped. Three chocolate-chip pancakes.

Lunch: One pound of pasta. Two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread, plus energy drinks.

Dinner: One pound of pasta, an entire pizza, and even more energy drinks.

Olympic level swimmers burn between 3,000 and 10,000 calories per day, so all that intake was put to good use.

Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to be able to eat whatever you want, not exercise, and still lose weight?

Continue reading “Why personal finance is like dieting: there are no shortcuts”

What I’m willing to splurge on (or why financial advisors are boring)

Nick Foy, CFP®
nick@greenwaywealth.com

In addition to seeming like total fraudsters, lots of financial advisors must come off as boring putzes to most people who come in contact with them, like an effervescent nanny in a pin-striped suit firing off lists of do’s and don’ts to anyone who will listen.

What I try to encourage is a view of spending that lines up with what we know about the psychology of money, and what actually bring the most satisfaction. We’ll call it the High Value Splurge.

I’d like to consider myself a tightwad who understands value. Or, as the famous refrain goes: Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. I’m willing to spend on those things that will actually produce some long-term satisfaction, and unwilling to spend on things that won’t.

Continue reading “What I’m willing to splurge on (or why financial advisors are boring)”

It’s not what you know. It’s who you know, and what they know

Nick Foy, CFP®
nick@greenwaywealth.com

Over on Twitter, Anthony Isola of Ritholtz Wealth has been uncovering the vile world of teachers’ retirement plans, which are typically high-cost annuities being sold as appropriate investment options. His findings have been eye-opening for many, though unsurprising for me.

Continue reading “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know, and what they know”

It’s not how much $$ you make (at a certain point), it’s what you do with what you make

Nick Foy, CFP®
nick@greenwaywealth.com

Last week, I came across this chart and tweet:


Continue reading “It’s not how much $$ you make (at a certain point), it’s what you do with what you make”

When markets go haywire

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Nick Foy, CFP®
nick@greenwaywealth.com

Every once in awhile, and sometimes more often than that, markets go nuts. Investors (over)react to some random news, in an attempt to predict an inherently unknowable future, and everyone pays.

We call the market gyrations “volatility,” especially when the market goes down. I’ve noticed that when the market goes up, we don’t call it anything; we just go on about our lives as if markets going up is normal and to be expected, like Mr. Market owes us something.

But, how should investors handle the trepidation associated with markets and headlines that cause discomfort? Here are a few tips: Continue reading “When markets go haywire”

We bought Crocs for all of our clients (sorta)

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Nick Foy, CFP®
nick@greenwaywealth.com

Since 2002, Crocs (CROX) has sold over 300 million pairs of some of the ugliest shoes on the planet. Their strategy, it seems, is to embrace the ugliness, and design what many consider to be the most comfortable shoe they’ve ever worn, fashion sense be damned.

This approach has led to a bit of an online backlash over the years, as this (one of my personal favorites) Facebook group shows. The group has existed since long before Facebook became the web’s number one destination for middle aged women to sell essential oils and other various multi-level marketing products, and they do nothing to shield Crocs and Croc-wearers from their disdain.

Crocs - Shoe Continue reading “We bought Crocs for all of our clients (sorta)”

Ten years later – Three lessons from the front line

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Nick Foy, CFP®
nick@greenwaywealth.com

Last week marked the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which, along with the forced sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America, and the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, triggered the Dow Jones Industrial Average to plunge almost 4.5% that day. Two weeks later, an even bigger 7% drop signaled the spread of the financial crisis, as Lehman’s $613 billion in debt reverberated throughout the financial market. Their bankruptcy remains the largest in history.

Shortly thereafter, Washington Mutual was seized by the FDIC, and their assets were sold to JP Morgan Chase, and Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo.

Debt markets froze up, housing prices plunged, and individual investors faced countless sleepless nights as they watched the value of their portfolios deteriorate over then next five months, until the market bottomed out in early 2009. Continue reading “Ten years later – Three lessons from the front line”

You’re probably doing banking all wrong

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Nick Foy, CFP®
nick@greenwaywealth.com

The traditional brick-and-mortar bank is a relic of days gone by, like cable TV and Myspace. If you’re still using one, it might be time to reconsider your life choices, at least as it relates to the location of your checking and savings accounts.

Most of the people I meet with have accounts at either Bank of America or Wells Fargo. In Charlotte, I suspect a significant majority of people bank at one of those two behemoths. I’m assuming most people who have accounts there maintain them out of convenience: They think it’s too difficult to make a change, or they don’t understand how significant the advantages are to banking elsewhere.

Here are two reasons to consider switching to an alternative banking option: Continue reading “You’re probably doing banking all wrong”

Advisors Behaving Badly: Three Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed

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Nick Foy, CFP®
nick@greenwaywealth.com

Sometimes, investors are their own worst enemy. But too often, their “advisor” takes the cake.

Last week, the New York Times ran a story about an advisor at JP Morgan who rang up over $128,000 in commissions in a year, on an account worth just over $1 million:

“After about six months, she learned that the account, worth roughly $1.3 million at the start of 2017, had been charged $128,000 in commissions that year — nearly 10 percent of its value, and about 10 times what many financial planners would charge to manage accounts that size (emphasis mine).

The client has Alzheimer’s, and her 58-year old daughter was assisting her with managing the account and her day-to-day finances. The money was invested with what she considered to be a reputable firm, and she thought she was dealing with a trustworthy advisor. It turns out he’s not actually an advisor; he’s a broker who took advantage of a woman who couldn’t look out for herself, and a daughter who was doing her best to make good decisions on her mom’s behalf. Continue reading “Advisors Behaving Badly: Three Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed”