Friends, tourists and spring breakers, lend me your ear. 

Beach trashing must end. We do not want piles of garbage on our beaches nor do we want mounds of poop from loose dogs. Walton County gendarmes have their hands full since we do not promote spring break (wink, wink) taxpayers pick up the tab. New rules: Pick up your poop, use leashes and let’s stop burying our heads in the sand about spring break costs. Burying poop doesn’t count.

I took a stroll down memory lane. When I was a teenager, a war was winding down but most importantly the draft had ended. Student loans may be an issue, but trust me, induction notices rank higher. Fortunately, the draft stopped a few weeks after I registered. Ted Nugent and I were 4-F and 1-A, respectively, a highlight of my life. 

As I traverse middle age, things have certainly changed some for better, some for worse. But one thing remains — teenagers and young adults make foolish decisions. My mom outlawed us from Panama City Beach. With three sons, she knew temptation lurked. I grew up with 18 as the legal drinking age. Now you get locked up. As far as the trash in Miramar, in all the crowd shots I can’t find a trash barrel. Put some barrels where the crowds hang out and empty them more than once a day. 

Back when I was a teenager, IRAs didn’t exist and 401(k) plans were merely a tax dodge for company executives. You could put every certified financial planner in America inside a phone booth, remember phone booths. More importantly insurance companies could drop coverage for pre-existing conditions. With the Affordable Care Act (ACA), that concern has practically been erased.

Price is what you pay, value is what you get. A client of ours and a colleague’s client learned this lesson the painful way. My client, despite Fortune 500 company health insurance, ended up with $20,000-plus in uncovered medical expenses. Some folks can cut a check for 20 grand but not many. My colleague’s client has $200,000 in medical expenses … despite insurance. Consumers focus on premium costs but ignore what a policy actually covers. It’s not your fault either; evaluating health insurance boggles the mind. Medical costs are often cited as a major factor in bankruptcy filings.

Policies compliant with the Affordable Care Act cap out of pocket costs. The point of insurance is to protect against a catastrophe. You don’t buy auto insurance for oil changes or homeowners insurance to fix a broken window. Yes, my premium went up this year, but at no greater rate than it did when Barack Obama was Illinois’ junior senator. Even though our policies are non-compliant with the Affordable Care Act we will keep them; non-compliant doesn’t mean cancellation. Hopefully I can cover my deductibles until I win the Medicare lottery … good luck might just sting me.  

Logically, longevity is tied to health and in America access to healthcare is tied to money. Rural West Virginia and Iraq have similar life expectancies while in affluent Fairfax County, Va., life expectancies are much higher. The income gap is not the only one growing over the last few decades.  

Buz Livingston, CFP has a Blue Mountain Beach based fee-only, hourly financial planning and investment management firm.  For more information, visit or come by the office at 2050 Scenic 30A, M1-Unit 230, Redfish Village.