During the 1970s as a marketing ploy and/or form of artistic expression, some country music performers took on an outlaw persona. Remember Willie and Waylon’s “Wanted: The Outlaws” album. David Allan Coe got there a different way; he became a country music star after doing time in prison. Each time I saw Coe at the Georgia Theater there were more bikers attending than college students, and we gave them plenty of room. Coe covered Steve Goodman and John Prine’s “You Never Called Me By My Name” and led the last verse with they had “written the perfect country and western song.” 



For some reason, last spring, Karin Stifler insisted on meeting me for lunch. I had no idea who she was but being charitable and cautious I made a date. She and her husband, being tourists, knew about The Red Bar but The Grayt Coffee House was new ground. 



We hit it off pretty well in Cheri’s place sharing financial planning ideas. She enlightened me to DFA Funds’ novel strategy to include immediate annuities in their 401(k) planning. Immediate annuities, not their variable or equity-indexed brethren, should be part of the retirement planning discussion.



Immediate annuities are not always appropriate but don’t dismiss them either. Many fiduciary (insert sarcasm emoticon) planners badmouth them simply because that means fewer assets to charge management fees. We talked about writing, mostly mine. To my chagrin, I later learned she writes for Marketwatch.com where she, like Goodman and Prine, penned a perfect Christmas story.



Late December columns should match the season. With the annual war on Christmas, scribes like me must gird for battle. After all, it is not just the season for rampant consumerism coupled with eating and drinking too much. Karin’s column linked finances with things money can’t buy like humor, gratitude, optimism and resourcefulness.



To paraphrase Coe if that ain’t Christmas, I’ll kiss your derrière.



In “The Secrets to Living a Rich Life,” Karin tells Pat’s story, a client who stared down multiple setbacks. Losing an adult child to cancer, a teenager to a drunk driver and facing widowhood at 50 would challenge even the most stouthearted. If you looked at her account statements, she was not “successful” but finances are only half of financial planning. Pat lives a vibrant life even after having to sell her home and family vacation property. Medicare and Social Security help along with a modest pension and IRA. Even as Pat grows older, she draws a small stipend as a “lab rat” in a dementia study. She volunteers in her building’s resale shop where profits offset rent should she be unable to afford it later.



I hope you enjoyed this Christmas story. 



Have another present; consider it a way to understand America’s financial situation.  Trillions befuddle me; likewise, they don’t mean anything to my friend Jerry Davis, an Oregon CFP/CPA. He simplified America’s expenditures and revenues by the same factor (.00000003 plus or minus a few zeros). Adjusted to numbers in my comprehension range, we bring in around $78,000 while spending circa $112,000.



The logical solution involves increasing income and decreasing spending. Take your ideological blinders off, both sides, and use your brain.  Merry Christmas! 



Buz Livingston, CFP offers hourly financial planning and fee-only investment management to clients along Florida’s Emerald Coast.  Contact him at 267-1068, Buz@LivingstonFinancial.netor www.LivingstonFinancial.net.