Ask Money Man

Ask the expert all of your money related questions. Email your questions to and Money Man will email his reply. Questions of general interest will be posted on this web page. Your name will not be printed unless you say you want it printed. Your identity will always be protected.

Dear Money Man:

I appreciate you site, and thank you in advance for your
advice.  I am 31 years old.  Last year I bought a condo,
and have enjoyed my first year of tax deductions.  I am
just getting into a financial position where I can start
investing in stocks, bonds, funds, 401K, etc.  I am new to
the game and would appreciate some guidance.  

1) Please recommend a book for me to read that will teach
me what I should know, including the basics, about

2) Should I spend the $$ on a financial planner?  If so,
do you have any recommendations (California, Silicon
Valley)?  How much will it cost?


I recommend the writings of Jane Bryant Quinn. She has written not only about investing, but about consumer issues in general. Other authors give both good and bad advice, with no justification. Under these circumstances, it is difficult for a reader to tell which is which. Always demand justification in whatever you read.

I do not want to recommend a financial planner, because often they have motives other than your prosperity. Possible negatives of financial planners are:

1) He may be an insurance salesman who just happens to be a certified financial planner.

2) He may want you to buy stocks or a load stock fund, so he can make a commission.

3) He may be brilliant, but demand a commission of 1% per year of whatever you invest under his guidance. He may be a good choice, but how do you know how good he is until it is too late?

You would be wise to read up on the subject, as you plan to do, and be your own financial planner. Good luck.


Dear Money Man:

I am a 16 year old high school student and I went through 
your page and  you seem like a smart man, what should I do with my life. 
If I go to college what do you recomend I study?  If no college then 
what what?  I would like to become a stock brocker what do you think?
Please think out your answers thoroughly because my life is in your 
hands.  I want you to guide me in the right direction.  And I'm not afraid to 
work for my riches (in other words not looking for a get rich quick 

hope to hear from you soon...

Reply: If you go to college and pursue the right subject, you will earn much more than if you do not go to college. If you look at my web page, you will see a table of salaries for different careers. The category accountant best approximates your tentative choice of stock brocker. As you can see, accountants are near the top of the list.

Can you pursue a lucrative career without college? In general, no. Typically, someone with just a high school degree will make half as much money as will someone with a college degree in that field. For example, an engineering technician makes about half as much money as does an engineer.

By the way, your life is not in my hands. Your life is in your own hands. You should take responsibility for making the best decisions. This means learn as much as you can about your choices. Ask for proof (or at least a convincing argument) for what people tell you. You sound like you are asking good questions. I expect that you will do fine. Good luck.


Dear Money Man:

I lost my job two years ago (soon to be, hopefully, the subject of a major
lawsuit no doubt lasting a few years-outcome maybe 50/50 that I'll collect
$200+ grand). I'm 52, single white male with no known disabilities and what
used to be known as a mid to upper level manager (no real "skills", but
budget experience and a college degree) that previously earned $65 grand a

I just unexpectedly sold my house-settlement 7/15/98-and expect to realize
about $90,000 after paying off mortgage, loans, etc. (A neighbor had a
friend that really wanted to buy in my neighborhood). I also have about
$150 grand in a retirement account that I could get to if necessary.

I've applied for a number of jobs obviously without success and wonder if
I'll be loading packages for UPS at $8.50 an hour in future.

Just what the heck do I do now that I don't have any expenses, job or in
practice, any place to live. Can I "retire" to some Greek island? What
would you suggest? Many thanks.


You can make yourself more marketable by enhancing your work related skills. From your job interviews, you probably got the impression that the interviewer wanted someone with more talent. Do not simply conclude that your age eliminated you from consideration. Whatever these talents are, aquire them in college. Community college is sufficient.

For example, if you learn Fortran computer language and know how to use the "find" feature on your word processor program, you can solve the year 2000 problem. I am not saying to learn this particular skill. Learn the skills that you believe held you back in the past. Right now, you probably feel that your free time is a liability. Turn time into an asset. Good luck.



Dear Money Man:

I came across your home-page when I looked-up a search engine and typed
the search string" How to get rich quick" and your page "How to get rich
slow" turns up.

I live in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and bought my appartment last
year. Now I wander how did you pay your mortgage of in 6 years. I am
really curious. I wish I could do that too.

Please, what is the golden tip?

Kind regards,


How did I pay off my mortgage in six years? By doing what I discuss in my web site. Specifically:

I refinanced my mortgage and paid it down at every opportunity.

I avoided buying a new car during those six years. I could do this, because I previously bought a car that I knew I would love for a long time.

I avoided credit card debt.

I took employer sponsored graduate school courses to make me more proficient at work.

At work, I worked hard and earned large pay raises.


You were hoping for a golden tip, but to get rich you need an entire web site of tips. Everyone wants to get rich quick, because they do not want to put in much effort. Please put in the effort. It is worth it.



Dear Money Man:

What advice can you give me about Variable Universal Life Insurance.
Also, what are your thoughts about get rich quick schemes or build your
own business schemes which involve pyramid schemes like Amway or WMAS?


Variable Universal Life Insurance (VUL) is a term life insurance policy mixed with an investment. By mixing them, it becomes almost impossible to figure out if the insurance company is giving you enough return on your money. Therefore, the insurance company can give you a low return. Several years ago, the insurance industry offered whole life insurance, which when separated, corresponded to term life and a 1-2% return. The only good thing about VUL is that your return is tax deferred. I suggest that you buy term life (if needed) and put money in an ira, a 401k plan, and home ownership, all of which are tax deferred investments.

I do not like pyramid schemes, because then you are not creating wealth. You are just moving it around. Look for a way to get rich that makes society better off, too.



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Copyright 1996 Alacrity Research