BUZ LIVINGSTON: California Dreamin’ notes from Newport Beach

Buz L.

Buz Livingston

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 04:48 PM.

Consider yourself lucky if you can wrangle an invitation to Cousin Johnny Martinez’s Thanksgiving repast; it would impress Tom Smith. 

His wife, Laurie, baked pound cake for me, a treat generally from overindulgent grandmothers/great-grandmothers. The following day we hiked Crystal Cove State Park to burn off excess calories. Fortunately, Crystal Cove did not face budgetary constraints that shuttered 25 percent of California state parks (hopefully temporarily). Crystal Cove’s spectacular views should remind even the most fervent libertarian, yes Virginia, governments do provide essential services, not replicated by the private sector.

 “Gurshall”, the Georgia Bulldogs duo, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, averages more than 150 yards per game or as far as our hotel is from Pacific Life’s (PIMCO) Newport Beach headquarters. I mention PIMCO simply because prudent retirement planners heed PIMCO’s Bill Gross’ “New Normal” warning.  While no one knows what future returns will be, it is folly to base your retirement plans on historical rates of return.  I was not the only shocked Barrons’ reader who delved into Amy Feldman’s Nov. 19 retirement special and saw her touting historical returns for retirees. Shoddy reporting from some parts of News Corporation’s empire does not surprise me but Barrons usually does better.  Historical rates of return are not as meaningless as the ACC championship but close.

For Thanksgiving we visited our California son and met his in-laws in waiting. Take the pending marriage as a time to revisit beneficiary designations for retirement plans, life insurance policies and/or annuity contracts. With young people delaying marriage, it is not unreasonable for young adults to have retirement plans and is critical to make sure the beneficiary designations are appropriate. Don’t trust your memory; review the designations. A client recently inherited a life insurance death benefit an ex-husband overlooked.


The One Percent Solution

With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror and Christmas shopping on the horizon, check out my good friend Jim Blankenship’s “Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row” website. Ingeniously Jim enlisted a baker’s dozen bloggers on his quest to increase America’s savings rate by 1 percent in 2013. One easy way would be to avoid a Christmas gift hangover. Eliminating a “modest” $3,000 credit card balance with a 16 percent interest rate saves $480 annually. With a median U.S. salary of $50,000, 1 percent is less than $10 a week so it’s not a gargantuan task. If the New Year brings a raise, then bank part of it. 

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