Going Nuclear

Ken Cutler

Ken lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and has worked as an electrical engineer in the nuclear power industry for more than 38 years. There, he has become an informal financial advisor for many of his coworkers. Ken is involved in his church, enjoys traveling and hiking with his wife Lisa, is a shortwave radio hobbyist, and has a soft spot for cats and dogs.

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Going Nuclear

Ken Cutler  |  Aug 25, 2023

I BEGAN MY FIRST JOB out of college 38 years ago. A newly minted electrical engineer, I was assigned by Philadelphia Electric Company to work at its Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Delta, Pennsylvania. As a young child, I had visited the Peach Bottom Unit 1 Visitor Center, never anticipating that I’d someday return to the site as an employee.
My concentration in college was power engineering, so I fully expected to be working in the transmission and distribution side of the electric power business.

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Getting From A to B

Ken Cutler  |  Aug 18, 2023

DRIVE A BEATER. That’s what my coworker Neil admonished us to do. He explained that this was a key strategy on the path to financial freedom. Neil, as you might recall from one of my earlier articles, was the colleague who warned about the perils of funding a 401(k) plan.
All you really need is something to get you from point A to point B, Neil said, and consistently spending money on expensive cars simply meant you’d be forced to stay in the workforce longer.

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Worth a Read

Ken Cutler  |  Aug 11, 2023

DURING THE 1990s, I subscribed for several years to Worth, a financial magazine that targets high-net-worth individuals. I enjoyed reading articles that were, for the most part, geared toward folks in a far loftier tax bracket.
One article, in particular, stayed with me: “The Rise and Fall of Retirement” by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine, which appeared in the December-January 1995 edition. Pollan died in 2018. His daughter is Tracy Pollan,

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Picking My Pension

Ken Cutler  |  Aug 4, 2023

MY COMPANY SHIFTED in the early 2000s from a traditional defined benefit pension plan, with a formula based on salary and years of service, to a cash-balance pension plan. All new employees would be put in the cash-balance plan. Existing employees had a choice to stay in the traditional plan or move to the new plan.
A generous transition credit for the cash-balance option was offered to current employees. The transition credit was based on a combination of current salary,

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Planting Bad Seeds

Ken Cutler  |  Jul 31, 2023

WHEN I WAS A YOUNG engineer, I supervised a charismatic worker named Neil, who was a sort of pied piper to the younger engineers and technicians in our group. He was about 20 years older than us and loved to dispense advice like a guru.
His quirky advice usually had a financial component. For example, he recommended that we single guys marry women with curly hair, as that would save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the marriage,

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No Interest

Ken Cutler  |  Jul 24, 2023

THE HOUSE I GREW UP in was built in 1950 by my father, with some assistance from his best friend Joe, who was a master homebuilder by profession. After his work day as an accountant for a local hardware and lumber chain, my dad would head over to the job site and labor into the night.
My mom also provided some sweat equity, painting and even swinging a hammer at times. I was born in 1962,

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