Ken Begley

Ken Begley

Ken has worked for the IRS and as an accountant, a college director of student financial aid and a newspaper columnist, and he also spent 42 years on active and reserve service with the U.S. Navy and Army. Now retired, Ken likes to spend his time with his family, especially his grandchildren, and as a volunteer with Kentucky's Marion County Veterans Honor Guard performing last rites at military funerals, including more than 350 during the past three years.

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    Didn’t Make the List

    Ken Begley  |  May 2, 2024

    I’M A SUCKER FOR those “10 best” lists. But are they accurate?
    What if you had the best job in a poorly rated company? Would that be better than the worst job in a well-rated company? What if you move to a bad neighborhood in a well-rated city? Would that be better than an excellent neighborhood in a poorly rated community?
    You get my point. Even among the worst, you can find some real gems.

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    Road Less Traveled

    Ken Begley  |  Mar 26, 2024

    I HAVE A SIDELINE writing stories for a local newspaper. Every now and then, even in a small rural community, you’ll find folks who blow your mind. One such individual is a retiree named Junius R. Tate, who goes by J.R. and who spent his youth in Washington County, Kentucky.
    Tate hiked the Appalachian Trail, which crosses 14 states from Georgia to Maine and is roughly 2,200 miles long. It takes a determined hiker about six months to complete.

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    The Taxman Cometh

    Ken Begley  |  Feb 27, 2024

    FOR A FEW YEARS early in my career, I was an internal revenue agent for the IRS. I audited the tax returns of small businessmen, drug dealers, doctors, lawyers, a professional basketball player and everybody in between.
    That was 43 years ago, when the IRS was much bigger relative to the population. One result: A larger percentage of the population were subjected to audits.
    I saw and heard a lot. Some people would put dogs,

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    Broken Trust

    Ken Begley  |  Jan 9, 2024

    MORE THAN 40 YEARS ago, I was an agent for the Internal Revenue Service. During training, we learned about auditing individuals, corporations, subchapter S corporations, Schedule C businesses, partnerships and probably a few other areas that I’ve since forgotten. But there was one area we didn’t touch: trusts.
    That puzzled me, so I asked the trainer why. His response: “You aren’t smart enough to audit trusts.” He told me that how trusts operate might change drastically based on slight differences in wording.

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    Shop Till You Drop

    Ken Begley  |  Dec 12, 2023

    HERE’S A RECIPE FOR disaster: a good internet connection, plenty of storage space, lots of time on your hands—and credit cards.
    Impulsive shopping has a name, oniomania, and the above recipe makes it all too easy. If you have a credit card, research suggests you’ll spend significantly more than if you were paying with cash or a check. The availability of 24/7 online shopping makes it just that much worse.
    Here are eight signs—besides the pile of packages outside our front door each day—that tells me impulsive spending has reached our house:

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    Taught by My Parents

    Ken Begley  |  Nov 1, 2023

    MY DAD LIVED TO BE age 92 and my mom is going strong at 95. I was involved with my father’s care as he struggled with dementia, and I continue to assist my mother, who still lives independently.
    Helping an elderly family member? Here are 16 important lessons that I’ve learned.
    1. Don’t be blind. My dad started developing dementia five years before his cognitive ability totally fell off a cliff. No one in the family wanted to recognize his deterioration,

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    Doctor’s Orders

    Ken Begley  |  Oct 16, 2023

    HERE’S ONE OF THE most important lessons I’ve learned in retirement: Bad health will limit what you can do—or feel like doing—no matter how much money you have. Good health is the biggest determinant of how rich and fulfilling your retirement years will be.
    You and you alone are responsible for your health care. It’s not your spouse, your children, your friends or your doctors. It’s you. Nobody should have to beg you to see a doctor.

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    Friend Request

    Ken Begley  |  Sep 29, 2023

    HOW’S YOUR FRIENDSHIP account balance looking? I spent my life watching my bank account, and taking great pleasure as it grew and grew. I never cared much for what I could buy with the money, but I loved the feeling of security it offered.
    Friendships, meanwhile, took a back seat. That was pretty much normal for my family, and maybe it’s more normal for most folks than we like to admit. We have a tight little circle that includes family,

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    Learned in Uniform

    Ken Begley  |  Aug 23, 2023

    I SPENT ALMOST 43 years either on active duty or in the reserves for the Navy and Army. Yes, I’ve been around.
    The following is my list of the top 17 items—including some pertinent financial details—that might surprise those who have never served in the military.
    No. 1: Our primary mission is not to fight wars. Instead, it’s to be so big, so bad, so mean, so well equipped, so well trained and so well led that any potential enemy in its right mind wouldn’t want to fight us.

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    For Richer or Broker

    Ken Begley  |  Aug 14, 2023

    I’VE SEEN FINANCIAL advisors do great work and I’ve seen them do poor work. Which brings me to my late father’s experience.
    Dad was a heck of a small businessman. Starting in 1956, he and his partner sold and serviced radios, televisions, appliances and furniture. Forty years later, he sold the business to four of my brothers.
    By the mid-1960s, Dad had accumulated what was for him a small fortune. This was the time of the stock market’s so-called go-go years.

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    Nothing Saved

    Ken Begley  |  Jul 10, 2023

    THIS IS MY SIXTH STORY for HumbleDollar. You don’t know how happy you’ve made this old hick from Kentucky feel by taking the time to read my stuff, let alone comment on it.
    I’ve done and continue to do a lot of dumb things in my walk down life’s path. I hope to share most of them to give you something to think about and maybe avoid on your own. Today,

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    Don’t Go There

    Ken Begley  |  Jul 6, 2023

    I’VE MADE A LOT OF investing mistakes in my time. In fact, if I ever wrote a book on investing, the title would probably be Don’t Go There, It Sucks.
    I’m a Kentucky hillbilly and, yes, that’s hillbilly talk. Another local colloquialism is, “Careful, or you’ll end up like Scrambo Hill.” I don’t know who Scrambo was. But apparently, he resided around our parts at one time, and you don’t want to end up at the bottom of the barrow like him.

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    Why I Retired

    Ken Begley  |  Jun 30, 2023

    IT TOOK FIVE FALSE starts to write this column. Each time, I’d inundate readers with information. So, here’s a sixth try.
    Have you ever seen those questions to financial advisors on the internet that say, “I have [insert dollar amount]. Can I retire?”
    How the heck could the advisor give a reasonable response? To answer the question, it takes more than simply knowing how much you have in the bank. You need a lot of personal and financial information to make the decision to retire.

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    Making Their Own Way

    Ken Begley  |  Jun 20, 2023

    OUR FIVE KIDS SPENT a collective 24 years in college. All five have bachelor’s degrees, and three also have master’s degrees. The youngest graduated May 2023. Only one child qualified for non-merit aid—a $300 Pell grant.
    My wife and I didn’t give them money for college. We don’t live near a major public university, so four of the five had to live on campus. Here’s what prepared them for college and how to pay for it.

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    Loosening My Grip

    Ken Begley  |  Jun 12, 2023

    AS I WROTE THIS STORY, the word count kept climbing and climbing because it has more twists and turns than a detective novel. It was so long I was afraid no one would read it, not even my mother. So, here is a condensed version of what I wanted to say.
    The hardest transition for some folks as they reach retirement is to go from a saver to a spender of what they’ve saved.

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