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True to Form

Larry Sayler

Larry is the only person with a Wharton MBA who also graduated from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Clown College. Earlier in his career, Larry served as CFO for three manufacturing and service organizations. For 16 years before his retirement, he taught accounting at a small Christian college in the Midwest. Larry's brother Kenyon also writes for HumbleDollar. 

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True to Form

Larry Sayler  |  May 29, 2022

IS THE IRS NO LONGER able to provide basic services to the public?
When my father passed away, he left his financial assets in a trust for my siblings and me. A trust is a good estate planning tool, but there are some disadvantages. Among them: A trust has to file its own income tax forms.
My mother is the trustee. She uses a local CPA to prepare the tax returns for the trust.

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Super Old

Larry Sayler  |  May 26, 2022

FINANCIAL ADVISORS used to suggest a 20-year planning horizon for retirement. Now, most advisors say to plan for a 30-year retirement. From my own experience, I believe 40 years should be the norm, and 50 years isn’t unreasonable.
If we plan for the longest possible life expectancy, we’ll almost always die with money left over. That’s far better than the alternative—living longer than planned and running out of money.
People who live to 100 are called centenarians.

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Fries With That?

Larry Sayler  |  May 7, 2022

MY MCDONALD’S INDEX is the way I keep track of long-term inflation. I worked at McDonald’s in 1971 and 1972, while in high school. The menu was much simpler back then: hamburger, cheeseburger, Big Mac, fish sandwich, small and large fries, coffee, small and large soda, and shakes—one size only.
We didn’t have Quarter Pounders, chicken sandwiches, salads, lattes, mochas, frappes, smoothies, sundaes, McFlurries, super-sized drinks, meal combinations or Happy Meals. The food was not made fresh.

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Lack of Trust

Larry Sayler  |  Apr 28, 2022

RULES OF THUMB and conventional wisdom often serve us well. But we should make sure they’re truly applicable to our situation.
Like many parents, my wife and I prepared our first estate planning documents when our children were young. The estate planning lawyer suggested a so-called AB trust. If we’d taken his advice, when one of us passed away, half of our joint assets would have gone into an irrevocable trust. The surviving spouse would get the income from that trust,

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A Tentful of Lessons

Larry Sayler  |  Apr 20, 2022

I WROTE AN ARTICLE last month about five financial lessons I learned at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Clown College. But Clown College didn’t just offer financial lessons—it also offered valuable life lessons.
It was a topic I used to discuss with my students. For the last 16 years of my career, I taught college accounting courses. I encouraged the students to lead lives of reflection and learn from their experiences. I would share a short PowerPoint presentation,

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Get What’s Yours

Larry Sayler  |  Apr 14, 2022

AFTER THEY MARRY, some people discover their spouse has hidden debt. We had the opposite situation.
Several years after we were married and while living in Illinois, my wife got a letter from the New York Secretary of State saying she may be the owner of an unclaimed savings account in the town where she was raised. This was before the internet. We had no idea how New York found her. Neither my wife nor her parents remembered the account.

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Life’s a Circus

Larry Sayler  |  Mar 16, 2022

RINGLING BROS. and Barnum & Bailey Circus operated Clown College from 1969 to 1997. I attended in fall 1978 in Venice, Florida, home of Ringling’s winter quarters. Clown College was a one-semester, tuition-free, rigorous training program in clowning.
After completing General Electric’s two-year financial management program, I wanted to do something different. I applied to both the Wharton MBA program and Clown College. To my surprise, I was accepted by both. The decision was easy.

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Gifts With Interest

Larry Sayler  |  Mar 7, 2022

FOR 10 YEARS, my wife and I have given each of our four children $5,000 to $6,000 per year for them to put in their respective Roth IRAs. So far, we have given each of them about $60,000.
They were amazed a few years ago when their investment gains for that year exceeded our annual contribution. Today, their Roth accounts are now each worth about $125,000, so their cumulative growth—about $65,000—now exceeds our total contributions.

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Making a Difference

Larry Sayler  |  Feb 25, 2022

OUR FOUR CHILDREN are adopted.
After we’d been married several years, we were dismayed that my wife hadn’t conceived. Through testing, we found that we were both essentially infertile. As one doctor put it, “It’s good you are married to each other.” We decided not to pursue surrogacy, in vitro fertilization or similar options.
I thought our life was on an even keel until one day my wife asked, “When you get to be 65,

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