Who says History does not Repeat Itself?
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt.
People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
- Cicero - 55 BC
May 28, 2010
A client brought to my attention the web site www.SPOKEO.com. Go there and type in your name or telephone number or e-mail address and see what sorts of information has been aggregated into one place. You may be amazed if not horrified. Granted, to see your actual information someone would have to pay the subscription fee, $2.95 per month for an annual subscription, but look what they could find out about you: Your date of birth, address, what your house is worth, how much income you have, your net worth, your credit score and on and on.
All of this information may be legally obtained, but this is the first (probably not the only or last) site to aggregate all of your private information in one easily accessed place. Read what the Chicago Tribune has to say about SPOKEO.com.
You can remove yourself from the SPOKEO searches. First, search your name (don't forget spouses and children . . .) copy the URL for that search and go to their Privacy page - look at the bottom of the SPOKEO page. Enter the search URL, your e-mail address and their code. Go to your e-mail and click on the link they send you that verifies your deletion from their searches. Now, do the same with your telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. It is a bit time consuming, but worth it to remove yourself from this first and best/worst case of information aggregation.
Be prepared to do it again for other sites as they pop up . . .
A blog entry directed TO financial advisors
We, by the way, are REAL financial advisors . . .
Awhile back, I introduced the concept of a Secret Society that I called REAL Financial Planners. This was in response to the constant stories I was reading in the popular press about FAKE planners stealing people's money or giving self-serving advice. At the same time, I was meeting planners who act professionally, tell the truth, and just simply do the right thing. I keep meeting planners that I would hope my wife would use if I were gone. These are people that I would trust my mother's money to without question. Chances are you know them, too.
In the wake of the Goldman issue, people are again asking questions about the nature of advice and wondering exactly who can they trust. If you watched the Goldman hearing, it was clear that people can defend anything by hiding behind a technical definition of their obligation to someone who might think that they have his best interests in mind.
I know the Goldman case is complex. I know that the public needs to learn what a fiduciary is. I am glad that there are so many willing to take up that fight.
In the meantime, what if we all starting acting like fiduciaries regardless of where we work or what we call ourselves?
What if we actually put clients' interests ahead of our own, not because we have a legal obligation, but simply because it is the right thing to do?
In the current environment, REAL planners are remarkable (worth remarking about). When something is remarkable, word starts to spread.
The Society of REAL Financial Planners is secret because we need to do a better job of telling our story--the story of how our clients trust us because we are worthy of their trust, the story of how our clients worry less, watch less CNBC, and know that Jim Cramer is a circus sideshow.
Haiti Donations Eligible For '09 Tax Returns
January 27, 2010
People who give to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti can claim the donations this year under recently adopted tax provisions, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their 2009 return qualify for the special tax relief provision, which was enacted January 22, according to the IRS. Only cash contributions made to these charities after January 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010, are eligible. This includes contributions made by text message, check, credit card or debit card.
"Americans have opened their hearts to help those affected by the Haiti earthquake," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a prepared statement. "This new law provides an immediate tax benefit for the many taxpayers who have made generous donations."
The new law only applies to cash, as opposed to property, contributions, according to the IRS. The contributions must be made specifically for the relief of victims in areas affected by the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. Taxpayers have the option of deducting these contributions on either their 2009 or 2010 returns, but not both. To get a tax benefit, taxpayers must itemize their deductions on Schedule A. Those who claim the standard deduction, including all short-form filers, are not eligible.
The IRS noted that taxpayers need to be sure their contributions go to qualified charities. Most organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible donations are listed in a searchable online database available on IRS.gov under “Search for Charities.”
Some organizations, such as churches or governments, may be qualified even though they are not listed on IRS.gov, according to the IRS. Donors can find out more about organizations helping Haitian earthquake victims from agencies such as USAID at www.usaid.gov. Contributions to foreign organizations generally are not deductible, according to the IRS.