Phil DeMuth, Ph.D., is an advisor (http://www.phildemuth.com) and co-author of seven prior investment books. This book, by Mr. DeMuth alone, is aimed at affluent investors, but is full of valuable advice for all of us:
Thank you Phil DeMuth."I started Phil on some investment theorems: that you almost never beat the indexes (preached to us by the greatest friend the small investor ever had, John Bogle."-- Ben Stein
"To crash into the U.S.top 10% in 2010, your family had to have an income of over $107,024."
"Avoid Wall Street's wealth extraction machine and keep what you've got."
"To see money growing without you having to work and slave over a hot oven is glorious."
"In investing, ignorance is not bliss; it's disaster."
"In a competitive society, there are always people eager to climb over your back to get to the top of a greasy pole, and many people are only rich for a while before sliding down."
"Life is inevitably full of potholes, but when it comes to your finances, it is a minefield."
"The Great Depression was a school that taught that no matter how much you have, it can all be taken away."
"At an income over $60,000, more money evidently does not buy much more happiness."
"Rich people seem to worry about money as much as anyone else."
"No one works harder for his money than the person who marries it." -- Kip Hubbard
"Being charismatic will help open doors in almost any enterprise."
"A timeless rule for anyone starting a career come from Charlie Munger: "Work like you own the place.""
"Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19.6, result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20.6, result misery." -- Charles Dickens
"Let someone else keep up with the Joneses. They're miserable enough anyway trying to stay ahead of the Smiths. Being a show-off doesn't make people like you; it makes people hate you."
"'Save' is the sum of all financial planning wisdom in one word."
"The mistake of saving too much is no error at all compared to the prospect of being old and destitute."
"Because gambling is fun and saving is not. People like to speculate with their investments and skip the saving part. This doesn't work."
"Parents should contribute to Roth IRAs on behalf of their working teens, if any such teens still exist."
"Whatever you do, do not sit down with someone at a bank or a brokerage house or insurance office or retail financial service firm to puzzle out your financial future. All they will do is sell you the special of the day -- and make you the catch of the day."
"Costs are certain; investment returns are uncertain. The less you expend on money management, the more money goes into your pocket."
"Naturally, there is a price to self-management as well. For one thing, your advisor might be an idiot. Yes, I mean you."
"Vanguard founder John C Bogle (the gods cry out in anguish: where is this man's Presidential Medal of Freedom?) calculated that from 1983 to 2003, when the S&P 500 Index had a nominal return of 13% annually, the average equity fund only returned 4.8% to investors after accounting for underperformance, taxes, and inflation."
"Low costs also go hand-in-hand with investment simplicity, another enormously underrated virtue."
"One stupid mistake can cost you a lifetime of investment returns. That may not be a big deal when you are 25, but when you are 50 it could mean your retirement."
"The investor says to his adviser: 'Every year you tell me to do nothing. What do I need you for?' His adviser replied: 'Every year you need me to keep you from doing anything.'"
"Investors dream of beating the market through such largely futile means as picking stocks, funds, newsletters, gurus, market timing, etc., but they seriously under-utilize diversification because there's nothing sexy about it."
"In investing, you can take it for granted that there is no great return without a great risk behind it."
"Once you are in the market, the main investment risk is that you will freak out and commit financial suicide by going to cash in the middle of a downturn. Everyone has a breaking point. You may not know it until you get there."
"Most investment activity is a lot of churning that leads nowhere. -- This is why it is vital to know what strategy you are following and to understand it well enought to be strapped in."
"The market looks safest precisely when it is the most dangerous. There is not a morning when you put money in the stock market that you can't lose 20% that afternoon."
"The financial services profession has a large number of smart, dedicated professionals. It also has a lot of werewolves. Unfortunately, it isn't easy to tell them apart."
"It is not easy to get rich in Las Vegas, at Churchill Downs, or at the local Merrill Lynch office." -- Nobel economist, Paul Samuelson (A personal note: The best investment decision Pat and I ever made was to move our investments from Merrill Lynch to Vanguard)
"If you are going to hire an advisor, check them out. The Securities Exchange Commission keeps updated information on all these folks at: http://www.sec.gov/investor/brokers.htm.
"You want an advisor who is going to be using index funds rather than picking 5-star funds off a list and charging you 1% for the privilege."
"If you let your brother-in-law manage your money, and he screws it up (which he will, eventually), you are either going to have to grit your teeth and live with it to keep peace, or pull the plug and create family drama. Don't set yourself up for a situation like this."
"If you invest money, you are going to get bad news from time to time, and sometimes quite a lot of it."
"All you can control is strategy. The outcome is in the hands of the gods."
"The market has cut Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway's share price in half on no fewer than three occasions. There have been stretches for years when it has underperformed the market benchmarks by a wide margin."
"If someone posts sizzling performance numbers, we assume that there is a profound investment strategy underlying them. But it might be luck, or it might be reckless risk taking, or the data has been edited to present a misleadingly strong case."
"People who invest by performance numbers are chasing the train that's already left the station."
"No investment program is going to be as lucrative as paying off revolving credit card debt."
"When your friends tell you how much money they are making with their stock picks, be polite and do not laugh in their faces."
"401k plans amount to a disgraceful looting of the American worker by the financial services industry. The intelligent move for most young workers will be to review the plan offering with a magnifying glass, fund the stock fund with the lowest expense ratio, and then put all your contributions into that fund. By the way, it will be the S&P 500 Index fund."
"If your total 401k fees are above 2%, then just fund it enough to capture your employer match, if any. Take the money you otherwise would have put into the 401k and invest it at Vanguard or Fidelity or Schwab, where they will set up a systematic investment/withdrawal plan from your checking account."
"Do you have kids? Do you want them to go to college? Then you need to open a 529 plan the moment they are born and fund it to the limit you can afford. Encourage your relatives to make donations to your plan in lieu of sending cute baby outfits."
"Once you are within five years of retirement, your portfolio should reach its perigee: about 40/60 stocks/bonds."
"When you buy a life annuity, you join a risk pool: those who die young pay for those who live long."
"Imagine that you and your spouse retire at age 65. You can't plan on living to your average age; you have to plan for your maximum age. One of you has a 10% chance of living to age 95 and a 5% chance of living to age 99.
"When the stock market is racing up, people are comfortable with volatilty. They like risk and seek more. However, when the market crashes, they hate risk."
"If you sell your stocks when they are beaten down, it is the equvalent to a farmer eating his cow."
"If you have enough money safely invested to cover all your living expenses for the rest of your life, it doesn't matter if you work as a test pilot or mail carrier or if you work at all."
"Scientists and engineers are among my favorite clients.--They tend to do well investing on their own: they don't try to be cute, they completely tune out the Wall Street blather, and focus on low-expense, long-term, index-oriented strategies."
"78% of NFL players are in financial trouble within two years of retirement, and 60% of NBA players are in bankruptcy court within five years of leaving the basketball court."
"To Wall Street, those with high-net-worth are a livestock commodity: sheep to be shorn. The industry is a confidence game that offers them friendship and trust, but all the while simply transfuses assets from clients to itself while investors lie on the table etherized by the Wall Street doubletalk."
"Beware of anything that appeals to your sense of entitlement or superiority. Snobs are their easiest victims. If the offer comes in a large envelope embossed in gold lettering, incinerate immediately. Anything that smacks of exclusivity, that suggests that because of your supposed high net worth, they are going to put you in an exclusive club--run!"
"Hot managers are hot for a while and then (after they're famous enough for you to have heard of them) they go to room temperature."
"Charting is bogus. Graham and Dodd ridiculed it back in 1934, but in investing, bad ideas live forever."
"Newsletters and stock forecasts were comprehensively researched as early as 1933 and proven worthless."
"Nobel Laureate, William Sharpe, proved that Tobin's super-efficient portfolio was none other than the "market" portfolio, that is, the portfolio of all risky assets weighted by their price in the market."
"Give up picking stocks and find another hobby. Your choice is stark: you can spend a lot of time and money on investing with the likely result that you will underperform the market averages, or you can invest passively (which is also economical and tax-efficient) and harpoon better returns than four-fifths of investors per asset class that you invest in."
"From Warren Buffett to Robert Schiller to behavioral economists like Richard Thaler--all recommend that we invest the same way that efficient market theory does: passively, by buying a market index fund."
"Portfolios that require constant tending invite a lot of mischief and usually prove to be more trouble than they are worth."
"The diversified investor is always in the position of wishing he weren't. He wishes he had more of whatever has done well lately and less of whatever hasn't."
"The virtues of cheap, simple, and easy cannot be overstated when it comes to investing."
"The guiding principle of the bond side of a portfolio should be to stay out of trouble."
"Unless investing in closed-end funds is a specialty of yours, leave them to others."
"Apart from their high yields, there is little to love about preferred stocks, either individually or wrapped in an exchange-traded fund."
"If you have no bequests, and you want to extract the highest payout from your remaining money, consider buying an immediate inflation-protected annuity from a highly-rated insurance company once you are in your 80s."
"Whenever you see double-digit yields, you can dismiss the investment as too risky just on the face of it."
"Most people are better off buying bonds using mutual funds from Vanguard."
"The view that individual bonds are somehow safer because you get your money back if the are held to maturity is an accounting illusion promoted by bond salesmen."
"Which bond funds? A generic answer would be to divide the bond allocation between the total bond market index (VBMFX) and inflation-protected bonds (VIPSX). If you want tax-free income, you could substitute intermediate-term municipal bonds (VWUIX) for the total bond market."
"The best frauds do not seem fraudulent at all. -- Bernie Madoff is an obvious example. (By the way, he now advises his follow prison inmates to invest in index funds.)
"The bitter truth is, once you are high net worth, you wear a bull's eye on your back. Greedy, envious people want what you have, because it is a straighter crooked path to wealth than having to earn the money themselves."
"Nothing erases a fortune faster than divorce. Start by dividing your money in three: one for you, one for her, and one for the attorneys."
"The last thing you ever want to do is go to a 'seminar' advertising asset protection techniques, even if lunch is included."
"When you can afford to self-insure, self-insurance is always the cheapest."
"When you buy a vacation home that you also intend to rent, don't buy it in your own name. Put it inside a limited liability company (LLC)."
"The big picture window in your living room is like a Neiman Marcus catalog to a thief. At a minimum you owe it to yourself to download one of the home security checklists available on the Internet."
"The basic idea of the tax code is for it to be as complicated as possible so that politicians can sell exemptions in exchange for campaign contributions."
"There is general agreement that tax-efficient assets belong in taxable accounts and tax-inefficient asset belong in tax sheltered accounts. The guidence is that stock go in your taxable accounts and bonds go in your IRA/401k."
"Equities kept in tax-deferred accounts convert long-term capital gains into ordinary income upon withdrawal. Depending on your tax bracket in retirement, that may not be a good idea."
"Index funds have the lowest expenses and are the most tax-efficient, since they have the lowest turnover."
"If you have any year where you are not paying taxes, convert your IRA to a Roth up to one of the lower tax bracket limits."
"Health Savings Accounts (not to be confused with 'flex' spending plans) are the most powerful retirement savings vehicles because they are triple tax-free: deductible on the front-end, no tax on earning, and no tax on withdrawals used for medical expenses."
"Wait one year before selling appreciated securities so that capital-gains receive favorable long-term treatment."
"Comb through your holdings periodically for opportunities to harvest tax losses."
"Be wary of your local bank trust department.You can scarcely imagine what a mediocre job most institutional trustees do. Look very closely at Vanguard's or Fidelity's trust services instead."
"Thank you for spending your incredibly valuable time with me. I hope you found something in these pages to help you faithfully steward the bounty with which you have been entrusted."
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