HI CHRIS, IT’S BEEN 45 years since we broke up, we’re now both age 78, and I’m winding down. I wanted to touch base and catch you up, but mostly let you know that I often think back on our 11 years as husband and wife, and how much I value the time we spent together. Sometimes, that period of my life seems far in the past, but other times it’s right on my shoulder,
I HAVE LONG ADMIRED my grandfather, John H. Watson, for chronicling the contributions to criminology made by his close friend, Sherlock Holmes, Esq. Since retiring from my psychiatry practice, I have similarly had the pleasure, if not the duty, to record the efforts of his grandson Sherwood to expose wrongdoing in the financial industry.
The more informed among you are no doubt familiar with my latest study, The Disappearance of the Load Fund.
WHEN I WAS GROWING up, my father would drag me to his office in lower Manhattan a couple of Saturdays each month. He always claimed it was to teach me “the value of a dollar.”
He was raised below the poverty line, and felt my mother spoiled me and that I needed to learn what it meant to work. I now realize he was right, but back then I thought he just wanted an audience who he could then impress with his business exploits.
“AMORTIZATION, STEVIE, amortization. When I make a mortgage payment, part goes to the bank, the rest comes back to us.” My father’s cigar flailed as he patted his back pocket. “Listen to a man who worked his way up through the college of hard knocks. Don’t be a jerked-up kid.”
Wearing a sharkskin suit, charcoal shirt and wide red tie that preceded The Godfather’s Michael Corleone, my father confused talking about himself with teaching me.
I RECENTLY HAD THREE retired men visit my psychology practice, each grappling with depression. Just as women face special challenges during their senior years, so too do their husbands, fathers and male friends.
Who hasn’t been seduced by those syrupy commercials where an elderly couple hold hands while walking a sun-kissed beach? Retirement is advertised as a magic carpet transporting us to a well-earned destination of meaning and frolic. But the reality is more complicated.
I’M NOT A MARKET addict. How can I be so sure? Because, on many occasions, I’ve been able to stop myself from trading excessively. Still, in July, the stars aligned to make me susceptible to another relapse.
A reluctant traveler at best, I was persuaded to accompany my wife Alberta to a 14-day writers’ conference in Upstate New York. I’m a confirmed introvert, so I groove on alone time. But 10 hours every day—while Alberta attended the conference—proved to be a challenge.
I’VE NEVER RENTED TO cats. The opportunity came my way recently via an email from my property manager. An elderly couple was interested in renting our flagship duplex, which would become available in August.
The prospects were smitten by the location near their church and grandchildren, and they seemed like a landlord’s dream. No undergraduate mayhem and no complaints from neighbors about beer cans strewn on the front lawn. They were also likely long-term renters,
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU wish for: Your kid may grow up to be too much like you.
Many parents do an exemplary job raising their children. The rest of us bumble along, knowing we aren’t perfect but praying we’ve been good enough. I believe I fall into the “good enough” category. But I also believe I went overboard expressing approval for the ways my son Ryan was becoming like me—or the person I once desired to be.
PERHAPS YOU’RE TOYING with seeing a therapist to help you cope with, say, the transition to retirement or the loss of a loved one. How can you get the best return for the time and money you’ll invest? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.
Early in my career, I was an academic psychologist whose area of specialty was the effectiveness of psychotherapy. I published many papers on the topic, and also presented several at the proceedings of the Society for Psychotherapy Research.
AFTER PENNY READ about lower stock market valuations abroad, she bought an exchange-traded index fund focused on European shares. She showed the article to her friend Peter, who purchased the same fund. But the next day, a large French bank reported difficulty meeting customer withdrawals, stoking fear of a bank run.
The U.S. stock market was down slightly, but European shares got clobbered. Penny was disappointed but believed the government would take steps to ease the crisis and vowed to stay invested.
WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA are part of every retiree’s investment vocabulary. I’ve certainly had my share of bloopers.
Too often, we writers stand up here and pontificate about our exploits, leaving readers feeling they couldn’t possibly do the same. With an eye toward leveling the playing field, I thought I’d divulge two of my biggest blunders.
Error of commission. Using the royalties from her husband’s high school Spanish textbooks, my mother-in-law Rose began to accumulate municipal bonds in the late 1970s.
WHEN I WAS ASSIGNED a high school essay on business morals, I asked my dad if he knew of any books on the topic.
“No, Stevie, I don’t. From what I’ve seen in New York real estate, it would be a very thin book.”
For more than 40 years, that cynical quip has haunted me, coloring my view of rental real estate. I’m not emotionally suited to being a landlord. But I wanted real estate as a stock market diversifier—and I was drawn to the benefits of combining rental income with stock market dividends.
WHEN WE’RE YOUNG, we simplistically view our family’s money journey as one long road with clear signs that tell us to “speed up,” “change lanes” or “get off.” It’s only later, as we gain wisdom, that we can discern how messy the journey is—and how each of us ended up turning onto a different street to pursue financial freedom in our own unique way.
By exploring the money stories of three family members, I have come to better understand my own financial journey.
IT WAS PROBABLY THE last time I would see my brother. I’m 78 and ravaged by a chronic but controlled cancer, a stroke warning and a stent. Rich is 74, with a health profile only a little less foreboding. Both of our parents died at 81.
Always cordial but not always close, we’ve worked through his resentment about how I abdicated my role as an older brother and my jealousy about his close relationship with our explosive father.
I’VE BEEN AN IMPOSTER all my life. In high school, I drove my silver Corvette Stingray into the teachers’ parking lot, revving the engine to announce my arrival. But once I came out from under my shades and joined the throng of students converging on the entrance, I reverted to the shy introvert walking tentatively with his head down.
From time to time, we all take on the role of great pretender to hide our fears of failure and humiliation,