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February 11, 2003:
you letting your hormones cloud your judgment and set you up
for a life of emotional and financial misery?
Valentine's Day is coming up this Friday and because it's the
most popular day of the year for marriage proposals, you might
want to do your best to avoid the emotional and financial
heartache that comes with making poor choices of the heart by
asking some pointed questions.
know...asking hardball personal questions can make
for an extremely uncomfortable and awkward-even
unromantic-evening...but then again, divorce
can be pretty uncomfortable, too...so which do you prefer?
Here's a few queries guaranteed to bring some deal-breaker
issues to the surface fast:
After we get
married, will you maintain contact with past lovers?
If we have two cars, who drives the newer
When we drive together, who gets the wheel?
Are you uncomfortable with women in
If one of us meets with unexpected success
or failure at work, how will it affect our relationship?
Is there something about you that you hope
I'll never find out?
Here's a fascinating tidbit of
insight about affairs of the heart, courtesy of a study
by the Diamond Cutters International trade group:
In 1988 they polled 200 brides and asked the
question: "Would you ever
consider trading in your engagement ring for a bigger and
better diamond?" 46%
said yes...and 54%
Fifteen years later the same women were
polled again; of those who said (back in 1988) that they were
willing to "trade up" their diamond:
81% are now
Of the sentimental types who said they'd never trade their
rings? 78% of those women are still married today!
of this study? People who are
"hard-wired" to upgrade their rings also may be
driven to upgrade their cars, houses and eventually, their
Romance-Related Bottom Line? Be willing
to ask some tough questions before you commit. There are a
slew of websites and books out there that will not only
provide you with a list of tough questions, but tips on how
to ask them. Here's some sites you may want to peruse to
see if you can mine a nugget or two of insight that may save
you [and your intended] future heartache:
your chances of succeeding in marriage to be better than your
chances of ever seeing a chain of Michael Jackson Day Care
Centers? Then play
show and tell before you get
married. Show and tell...as in everyone gets copies of their
credit reports and lays their financial cards on the table
early in the post-proposal/pre-marriage vows game.
Remember the five biggest factors that send people to divorce
Clash of values
Insufficient separation from family and...
[you guessed it]...money!
better think twice before you call in sick next time you've
gotta case of the sniffles, because it might end up costing
you your job! The good news? Many employers
are rewarding their employees with good health and attendance
with thousands in dollars of bonuses. The bad news? Missing
too much work due to illness-or at least the excuse of
illness-could end up putting you on the unemployment line! Take
two Tylenol and read all about it.....
might be smarter to pay a tax preparer to file your taxes
instead of biting on one of those IRS-inspired freebie
programs instead! Many of you have written to
tell me that you've already tried to take advantage of the
IRS' assorted free e-filing programs...apparently, they're
ain't all they were cracked up to be: Complaints include being
charged for services you thought we going to be free, to
either being too young or making too much money to qualify for
free tax return prep services. The
Los Angeles Times' Kathy Kristof had a pretty good article
about the 1040-related landmines and
the frequent problems popping up for taxpayers trying to
embrace our government's call to cyber-arms.
e-Filing Bottom Line? It might take the
IRS another (tax) year to get the bugs worked out to the point
that the process is as simple as they're touting this year.
You can still file electronically through any number of
qualified tax preparers or your own accountant, but I doubt
many of you will have the necessary patience or technical
expertise to get through the process as smoothly as they're
there's good news if you're in the 50+ bracket:
AARP is providing free tax preparation services to senior tax
payers on Saturdays at community centers around Southern
California. To find a location near you, call 'em toll-free: (888)
227-7669 or check
out their website for
you've had problems with your cell phone or other electronic
devices working properly in the cold weather, here's an easy
solution: Put the device under your armpit and
warm 'em up for a few minutes. The cold weather impedes the
LCD displays and can slash nicad and lithium battery
performance by as much as 90%. And speaking of cold
batteries: That old wive's tale that I naively believed all
these years? Storing batteries in your refrigerator will
prolong their life. Not so, Energizer-breath...it's just a
waste of shelf or drawer space in the 'fridge.
any money in the stock market? Here's what you need to know to
successfully sue your stock broker!
Did you know that if you sue your stock broker (statistically)
you've gotta 55-60% chance of winning? But beware of helpful
brokers! Yours may have set you up to lose a long time
ago...and you don't even realize it!
sure that you fill out all of the associated account-opening
paperwork when you open your investment brokerage account.
Why? Because when establishing a trading/investment account,
one of the key pieces of evidence that could be used against
you (if you decide to sue your broker) is that
all-too-critical "Investment Preferences"
information sheet. In theory, you are the one that's supposed
to fill out this questionnaire: It outlines what your
investing objectives are and should clearly define what your
appetite for risk really is.
here's reality for today's average neophyte investor:
Most brokers will go out of their way to help you fill out all
of the forms when you open your brokerage account-but before
you sign off on anything, make damned sure you
understand what it is that you're signing!!! Here's
why: Suppose you're retired and
want to invest in conservative stuff like tax-free bonds or
government securities. But instead your broker puts you into
high-risk positions like hi-tech or foreign or growth
stocks...or they "churn" your portfolio to generate
commissions and pad their paychecks. If you correctly stated
what your investment objectives were on the sign-up paperwork,
your case will be much stronger and you'll vastly improve
your chance of winning in the courtroom. However: If you
allowed your sleazy broker to fill out the paperwork (to fit
his or her own agenda and to your disadvantage) you've really
hurt your chances of fighting back and getting reparations if
they lose a bunch of your investment money!
Bottom Line? When you open any type of
account-especially any type of investment account-do not
sign off on the paperwork unless and until
you completely understand exactly what it is you're signing!
If necessary, take the forms home with you and study them on
your own time. Don't sign the line under pressure just because
you're sitting in someone's office.
you already have investment accounts open?
- First thing
tomorrow morning, call your broker and tell them you'd like a
copy of your Investment Preferences paperwork faxed or mailed
to you at once. Review what you agreed to when you
first opened the account...I don't care if it's been 10 years
or 10 days ago: Chances are pretty good you didn't know then
what you know now.
- Update your
Investment Preferences! And
put it on the calendar: You need to review and update this
information-and make sure your broker or investments advisor
clearly understands your wishes. Review this information at
least once a year.
Your willingness to
accept higher or lower levels of risk will change as the
events and circumstances of your life changes. Just like your
insurance needs will change as a result of marriage or divorce
or births or deaths or job changes or financial changes....all
of these things affect your appetite for risk and they ebb and
flow continuously...so update this information and make a
point of updating this information at least once a year.
only thing worse than finding out your spouse or significant
other is cheating on you is find this out right after you've
spent a bunch of money on them! Just in time
for Valentine's Day (and in the spirit of leveling your own
playing field of the heart) review all of Ben's
relationship-sobering notes and learn "How To Catch A
Cheating Spouse" right
you know how to raise hell effectively? I do!
This is one of the most popular sections of the
website...because it works!
Check out the Six
Steps To Effective Complaining...(and
don't come whinin' to me!)