What does conservative mean for older investors?

If you’re a certain age, or getting close to it, you might hear something like this: “Now that you’re older, you need to invest more conservatively.” But what exactly does this mean? For starters, it’s useful to understand that your investment preferences and needs will indeed change over time. When you’re first starting out in your career, and even for a long time afterward, you can afford to invest somewhat aggressively, in stocks and stock-based investments; because you have time to overcome the inevitable short-term market drops. At this stage of your life, your primary concern is growth — you want your portfolio to grow enough to provide you with the resources you’ll need to meet your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But when you finally do retire, and perhaps for a few years before that, your investment focus likely will have shifted from accumulation to preservation.

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Book review: How can ‘Superfandom’ work for you?

“Superfandom: How Our Obsessions Are Changing What We Buy and Who We Are,” by Zoe Fraade-Blanar and Aaron M. Glazer, 2017, W.W. Norton, $27.95, 336 pages. Collect them all. These three words put a smile on every marketer’s face and fear in every parent’s heart. “Collect them all,” as you may remember, was kid-code for “bug your parents until they buy stuff,” making you the envy of everyone in third grade. Your goal now: to capture that buyer’s obsession at the level you’ll see in “Superfandom” by Zoe Fraade-Blanar and Aaron M. Glazer.

Mental health compensation bill removes objective standards

The Vermont Legislature appears poised to pass legislation this session that will broaden workers’ compensation coverage of mental injury claims.
The bill, H.197, contains language that would create a presumption that a professionally diagnosed mental health condition arose out of the course of employment for a class of employees including police officers, rescue or ambulance workers, and firefighters. The bill also proposes to expand the ability of the rest of the Vermont workforce to file stress-related claims.
Providing stronger protections in the Workers’ Compensation Act for fire, police and rescue workers is based in sound logic. These people perform some of the most difficult, vital jobs in our society, and on occasion witness horrific scenes that affect them deeply. From an employer/insurer perspective, it is the other provision, generally broadening compensable mental injuries for all Vermont workers, that is troubling. It raises questions about where the line will be drawn.

Essential conversations about family wealth

How confident are you about your family’s finances? How often do you discuss money with your loved ones? According to the Family Wealth Checkup study by Ameriprise Financial, there’s a correlation between financial confidence and communication. While many families are discussing financial issues, they tend to shy away from diving deep into topics like inheritance and estate planning, leaving some family members with unrealistic expectations. Here are some tips to help you discuss money matters with your family.

Free yourself of some investment-related taxes

Tax Freedom Day generally falls on a day in the later part of this month. This is the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay off its total tax bill for the year, according to the calculations made by the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. So, you may want to use Tax Freedom Day to think about ways you can liberate yourself from some of the investment-related taxes you may incur. Of course, Tax Freedom Day is something of a fiction, in practical terms, because most people pay their taxes throughout the year via payroll deductions. Also, you may not mind paying your share of taxes, because your tax dollars are used in many ways — law enforcement, food safety, road maintenance, public education, and so on — that benefit society.

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Book review: The hard work behind the top dog

“Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?” by Alyssa Mastromonaco (with Lauren Oyler), 2017, Twelve, $27, 256 pages
Your boss is a VIP: a very important person. Nothing gets done without approval from the executive suite and nothing is unnoticed. There’s a finger on the pulse of your company at all times, which is probably how The Boss got to the top. And in the new book “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?” by Alyssa Mastromonaco (with Lauren Oyler), you’ll see what it’s like to work for a guy who’s more than just the president of a corporation. Born in the mid-1970s and raised in small-town Vermont, Mastromonaco says she was independent early on and marched to her own drummer, but wasn’t particularly political unless it was “cool.” Nevertheless, one summer between college semesters, she interned for Bernie Sanders and discovered what she wanted to do with her life.

New laws affect opioid prescribing practices

For several years now, we’ve heard both nationally and at the state level that we are living through an unprecedented opioid epidemic. As part of the effort to combat this crisis, the federal government has taken aim at opioid prescribing practices. In March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide best-practice recommendations for primary-care doctors. In Vermont, the Legislature passed legislation, signed into law in June 2016, which put in place a number of new regulations aimed at combating opioid abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 20 percent of patients visiting doctor’s offices with noncancer pain symptoms or pain-related diagnoses are prescribed an opioid medication.

Heidi Clute

Surviving family business transition nightmares

There are times when imagining the worst-case scenario helps you prepare most effectively for the best case. The transition of a family or closely held business is one of those times. Harvard Business School reports at least half of all companies in the U.S. are family businesses — and just over half of all publicly listed companies in the U.S. are family owned. But the most-cited family business statistic is from John Ward’s seminal study finding only 30 percent of firms survive through the second generation; 13 percent survive the third generation and only 3 percent survive beyond that. The Family Business Institute identifies a major cause as the failure to imagine and plan for worst-case situations that could dramatically affect not only ownership succession, but management succession planning and leadership development.

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“Extreme Teams” useful but hard to implement

“Extreme Teams” 2017, by Robert Bruce Shaw, Amacom, $27.95, 247 pages
No man is an island. He (or she) can’t do everything alone. We need help sometimes; a group of support, a posse with our best interests in mind. We often need a team to get things done, and in the new book, “Extreme Teams,” by Robert Bruce Shaw, you might learn how to assemble your best. At natural food store chain Whole Foods, employees work differently.