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Walking Away

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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Walking Away

Howard Rohleder  |  Mar 18, 2022

IN PROFESSIONAL sports, superlatives are often overdone. Even the GOAT designation—greatest of all time—is sometimes applied prematurely. But love him or hate him, Tom Brady is arguably the GOAT among NFL quarterbacks and perhaps among all NFL players. For proof, look no further than his collection of record-breaking statistics, Super Bowl rings and most valuable player awards.
Could it be that he has added another GOAT designation with his epic fail at retirement? Brady reversed his retirement announcement from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after just 40 days.

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My Time to Claim

Howard Rohleder  |  Mar 14, 2022

I’VE FINALLY DECIDED when to claim my Social Security benefit. Along the way, I realized that calculating the ideal start date is easy—provided you can predict your retirement income needs (doable), your investment returns (hard), the inflation rate (hard), your future tax rate (hard), your date of death (hard) and what Congress will do in the future (impossible).
This particular financial journey began when I was preparing a recent blog post on the knotty issue of when to file.

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Valuing My Income

Howard Rohleder  |  Feb 8, 2022

READER COMMENTS on one of my blog posts prompted me to dig deeper into my thinking about asset allocation. A trip to the HumbleDollar archive led me to a Charley Ellis article where he emphasized that readers should incorporate Social Security, pensions and annuity payments into any analysis of their asset allocation and portfolio risk.
A guaranteed stream of income is clearly valuable. I knew this, but I had missed the obvious conclusion—that the net present value (NPV) of these income streams should be considered part of a portfolio.

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Final Act

Howard Rohleder  |  Jan 21, 2022

DESPITE WHAT’S SHOWN on TV medical shows, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be a traumatic procedure that has a low likelihood of success. Even if successful in immediately restarting the heart, the fact that it was necessary doesn’t bode well for long-term survival.
Some injuries or illnesses happen so suddenly that there’s little time to consider options. But for many, old age creeps up slowly or a serious illness drags on and worsens. This is the point where it’s helpful to have not just a living will and a health care power of attorney,

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Giving Directions

Howard Rohleder  |  Jan 12, 2022

IF YOU FIND YOURSELF with a loved one in hospital who can’t make medical decisions, it can be overwhelming, intimidating and emotionally charged. Decisions are needed and each family member is conflicted: What would I want? What would the patient want? What do I want for the patient? The result can be sharp family disagreements.
Death, the prospect of death or even thinking about death is so loaded with emotion that it can hinder our willingness to prepare.

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Pick Your Poison

Howard Rohleder  |  Dec 17, 2021

TRAVELING DURING the holidays? As we drive east out of Ohio and into Pennsylvania, we know to fill the gas tank before we cross the border. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania has the third-highest gasoline tax in the country, behind California and Illinois, and about 20 cents per gallon higher than Ohio.
All states have to balance their budget. But they take very different approaches. This provides 50 experiments in taxation—and those taxes influence our behavior.

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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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