Driving Me Happy

Howard Rohleder

A former chief executive of a community hospital, Howard retired early after more than 30 years in hospital administration. In retirement, he’s enjoyed serving on several nonprofit boards, exploring walking paths with his wife Susan, and visiting their six grandchildren. A little-known fact: In May 1994, he was featured—along with five others—on the cover of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance for an article titled “Secrets of My Investment Success.”

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Driving Me Happy

Howard Rohleder  |  Dec 6, 2021

MY CAR EMAILED ME to say its tire pressure was low. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it this way: An email from Subaru was triggered by data uploaded from my 2020 Forester, all part of the automatic safety and maintenance technology built into the vehicle. The email confirmed the dashboard light indicating the same problem.
My frugal friends and I have had friendly debates about car buying. Is it better to buy a used car and avoid the instant depreciation when you drive off the dealer’s lot?

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A Difficult Choice

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 27, 2021

FEAR OF MISSING OUT, or FOMO, seems to be everywhere. We suffer it when we read about our friends’ fabulous experiences on social media. We can also suffer it when investing, as we fret that our friends are making more on their investments than we are.
My own concern in recent months, however, hasn’t been FOMO, but FOLB. No, it doesn’t roll off the tongue like FOMO. It’s my own invention—and it stands for fear of losing big,

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The Number

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 20, 2021

WHEN I WAS IN MY early 30s, I decided to determine “the number.” What would be enough money to allow me to retire, and what was the path to get there?
Personal computers were newly available, so I decided to work this out in Lotus 1-2-3. There was no internet to speak of. Investment companies didn’t have online calculators running Monte Carlo simulations that incorporated hundreds of possible retirement outcomes and spat out a most-likely scenario with a 95% confidence level.

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Lining Up Money

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 3, 2021

EARLY LAST YEAR, just as the pandemic was starting, we were looking to buy a new home in an area where houses sold quickly—but we feared selling our existing home would be far slower. In addition, home prices in the new area were substantially higher.
We had no first mortgage on our existing house and no desire to take one out for the new home. Still, we wanted to strike quickly if we found the right place to buy,

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One Step at a Time

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 3, 2021

IN MY LATE 20s, I found that I was 15 pounds heavier than when I was in high school. My cholesterol was over 200 and rising. I was huffing and puffing while mowing the lawn.
I didn’t like where this was going, plus I didn’t want to buy a new set of business suits. I decided that investing in my health was as important as investing for my wealth. If my health was shot by the time I retired,

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Meeting Demand

Howard Rohleder  |  Oct 30, 2021

OUR HIGH SCHOOL principal returned from a teacher recruitment fair and announced to the school board, “Tell your children or grandchildren: Do not get a degree in elementary education.” He went to the recruitment fair looking to hire some very specific specialty teachers for the high school. He mostly met new grads with credentials to teach elementary school—who were looking for jobs that simply don’t exist in our region.
Our superintendent explained that our region had several large,

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Managing to Profit

Howard Rohleder  |  Oct 25, 2021

THE GAMBLING TRUISM says you can’t beat the house. That brings me to a recent HumbleDollar article that discussed choosing either a Medicare Advantage plan or traditional Medicare with an accompanying Medigap policy. Almost two dozen readers weighed in with comments.
My two cents: Never forget that the managed-care companies offering Advantage plans are mostly for-profit companies that are publicly traded. The government’s purpose is to transfer its insurance risk to those companies.

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Gaining Perspective

Howard Rohleder  |  Oct 19, 2021

ON MONDAY, OCT. 19, 1987, stocks plunged more than 20%. I was relatively new to investing—and the crash shocked me. I realize now that, when you’re starting out, no matter how much you study, the trait you’re most lacking is perspective.
When I began investing, I approached a successful investor and asked for tips to learn about the market. Part of his advice was to watch Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser on PBS.

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Copycat Crime

Howard Rohleder  |  Oct 14, 2021

I WAS SITTING AT MY computer one lunchtime when an email popped up from one of my credit card companies, saying I’d just purchased nearly $12,000 of jewelry at a store in Toronto. Within minutes, I was on the phone to the card company.
I was quickly referred to the fraud unit. I told my story. The company credited my account, cancelled the card and mailed me replacements. Weeks later, I had to complete a form,

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On Your Way Out

Howard Rohleder  |  Sep 23, 2021

IMAGINE YOU PLAN to retire next year. What can you do beforehand to gain the most later on? Here are some ideas to consider before you log off at work for the last time.
If you’re retiring mid-year, increase your 401(k) or 403(b) contributions. Raise your savings enough to make a full year’s allowable contribution in the months you have left. This may be your last chance to put away tax-deferred money. I retired mid-year,

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Falling Short

Howard Rohleder  |  Sep 6, 2021

I SERVED ON a scholarship committee for a local foundation. We offered awards to college students entering their sophomore year. Our coordinator had the unhappy job of explaining to some students and parents that, even though their students had a full freshman schedule and passed all their classes, they didn’t actually have sophomore standing. How can this be? The answer is remediation.
Almost 24% of entering college freshmen at Ohio universities required remediation in English or math and 6% needed both.

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On the House

Howard Rohleder  |  Aug 31, 2021

WANT A CONSERVATIVE strategy that can help you prepare for college costs? Consider prepaying your mortgage.
In 1992, when my oldest was 10 years old, we moved to a new home. We opted for a 15-year mortgage at 7.625% with 33% down. With our son’s graduation set for 2000, we began to prepay the mortgage so the last payment would coincide with the month before he began his freshman year. Thereafter, the payments previously sent to the mortgage company were instead directed to the college.

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College or Plan B?

Howard Rohleder  |  Aug 30, 2021

WE’RE PROGRAMMED to believe that a four-year college degree is the only path to success. After spending several years on both a small-town school board and an economic development board, I saw the disservice that this belief is doing to many of our students.
Students and their parents are led to believe that everyone is taking a college prep curriculum in high school. There are indeed students who are actually preparing for college.

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After the Birth

Howard Rohleder  |  Aug 12, 2021

CONGRATULATIONS, your family has grown with the arrival of a first child or grandchild. As the celebration subsides, reality sets in: You want to do everything you can to pave the way for a secure future.
For new parents, the first step is to obtain two basic documents that’ll last a lifetime: a birth certificate and Social Security card. The hospital will start the process, but you need to be diligent. Is the name spelled correctly?

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Helping Mom and Dad

Howard Rohleder  |  Jun 14, 2021

LIKE MANY BABY boomers, my wife and I have watched our parents go from total independence to assisted living to death. We’ve been thankful that, at key moments, they made the difficult decisions themselves, without our prompting. These decisions included when to give up the family home in favor of moving to a continuing care retirement community, when to give up their car and driver’s license, and when to move to assisted living.
Our parents were organized and realistic people who trusted us to act for them in increasingly significant ways as they moved from one stage to the next.

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