Author Archives: Gage Paul, CFP®, RICP®, EA

How to Handle the Certain Uncertainty in Investing

How to Handle the Certain Uncertainty in Investing

The Sky is Always Falling

I am sure you are familiar with the story of Chicken Little and the phrase, “The sky is falling!” In this tale, a chicken has a mistaken belief that the world is coming to an end. Versions of this story have been told for more than 25 centuries.

The premise of this tale is an imagined thought based on a perceived notion that the scenario, as in Chicken Little’s case, an acorn falling from a tree, signals that the end of the world is coming. And of course, it could be different this time, just as it is has been every other time.

I, by no means, want to downplay the severity of the current circumstances and the real impact it has on the individuals affected. The end of “your” world is no different from the end of the rest of the world.

I am being intentionally vague because events and circumstances will change. But fear, uncertainty, and doubt can always be found.

What can you do to deal with the uncertainty?

1. Turn Off The News

News platforms make money selling your attention to advertisers. These platforms must compel you to watch and then their advertisers must convince you to transact. The unfortunate truth is that showing a long-term optimistic outlook on things and preaching, “stay the course” does not tend to attract as much attention to viewers.

Therefore, that content doesn’t incentivize advertisers to purchase commercial spots since their intended audience is one with ‘problems’ so they target and attempt to sell their solutions to viewers. By not indulging in this form of media we can avoid the current issue plaguing the markets and focus on things where we specifically can control the outcome.

2. Confront Your Fears

Ask yourself, “What if X event were to happen?” Define the ramifications of this happening. What are the possible scenarios that could take place? Think through the worst-case scenario and the implications of that. This will expose what is behind your fears.

Then think of anything you could do to prevent the negative outcome if “X” were to happen. Is there anything you have direct control or influence over? Can your action mitigate the negative outcome?

Finally, if “X” takes place, what could you do to repair or fix what happened? Is this something you will be able to recover from or would the event result in a permanent loss?

3. Take Action (or not)

Often when we feel we don’t have control of a situation we lose our sense of self-efficacy. But if you can determine there are things you can do to have a positive impact, this will help you feel in control. Oftentimes, the best thing to do is nothing.

There is often nothing you can do to prevent “X” from happening but understanding this gives you the ability to exhibit courageous inaction.

There are countless platitudes about the uncertainty in investing I could use. In the end, you must try to do what Reinhold Niebuhr said and accept what you can not control, have the courage to change what you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference. No matter what happens you control your attitude in any given circumstance.

Feel free to email us at with any questions you have. If you would like to schedule time with us to discuss your specific situation click here.

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Portfolio Performance Secrets

Comparing Performance Kills Contentment

Investors often compare their portfolio’s performance to the market’s performance or worse, an individual company’s performance. The issue with this is that investors often are not invested 100% in U.S stocks.

They likely have a mixture of stocks, bonds, and cash in their accounts. As a result, a direct comparison of any time period would not be an accurate representation of their expected performance.

When investing and saving for retirement, we are not trying to get the absolute highest return we possibly can, we are trying to minimize the chance of financial ruin. Doing this could lead to underperformance relative to the market and your co-workers. But do not let this relative underperformance lead to the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) or discontent with your own situation.

3 “Enough” Questions to ask yourself

Am I saving enough?

We want to use investing as a tool to become incrementally wealthier over time. We never want to do anything that could jeopardize our financial future. With these conditions in mind, you often have to ask yourself questions about what is enough for you.

The amount you save is more likely to be within your control than future market returns. There is no universal “enough” as that will vary from person to person. If you are not saving adequately, you will become increasingly reliant on potential market returns to meet your goals.

Am I taking enough risk?

You invest as a means of reaching a desired future state. Investing involves risks and you cannot guarantee future performance based on past results.

If you are not able to sleep at night because of the fluctuations in your investment portfolio you likely have exposed too much of your portfolio to volatile assets.

When this is the case you will need to reevaluate your goals. Meaning you will have to accept the expected volatility required to give you the best chance of reaching your goals or you will have to adjust some aspect of your goals.

Are my investments performing well enough?

Instead of looking at your portfolio as a whole, compare the individual components to their relative benchmark. This way you have a true apples to apples comparison. From there you can determine if each investment is doing a sufficiently good job or a change needs to be made.

Any investment strategy that attempts to outperform its peers will likely have periods of time where it underperforms. The duration of underperformance can not be known in advance and judgment must be made as any underperformance continues for a significant period of time.

‘If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.’ (Sun Tzu, The Art of War). 

Everyone Has a Plan Until…

Our experiences shape who we are, especially when it comes to investing. We may think we can handle a certain level of volatility, but have a much different opinion once we experience it firsthand. Knowing what we should do and actually doing it are two different things.

Making a plan you can not stick to is not much better than not having a plan at all. Turning inward and asking yourself what you need instead of looking at others for reference and their returns can allow you to focus on what you can control and not worry about the things you can not.

Feel free to email us at with any questions you have. If you would like to schedule time with us to discuss your specific situation click here.

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What can you do with a 401(K) from an old job?

Do You Have an Old 401(K)?

When you leave your current employer, you may not be exactly sure what to do with the money in your former employer’s 401(K) plan. I have listed available options and detailed the factors to consider to help you make an informed decision.

The Options Available to You

  • Keep the money in your old employer’s plan (if allowed)
  • Rollover your assets into an Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”)
  • Rollover your assets to another employer-sponsored plan (if applicable) 
  • Take a distribution in cash from the plan 

Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages and should be considered carefully. This includes any applicable fees you will pay and all the features each option could provide you. Deciding to roll over plan assets to an IRA should reflect consideration of various factors, the importance of which will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. The following are general factors that you should consider when making your choice. 

Factors to consider for keeping your money with your former employer’s 401(k) plan:

Tax Deferral

  • Your money will continue to have tax-deferred status within the plan.

Additional Withdrawal Allowances

  • There is no federal tax penalty for withdrawals if you are age 59 1⁄2 or separated from employment during or after the year you reach age 55.

Low-Cost Investment Options

  • You have access to low-cost mutual funds or other investment options not available in an IRA, such as company stock, fixed annuity contracts, or stable value options. Also, you would not need to change your current investment strategy in the plan.

Protection from Creditors

  • Assets in a retirement savings plan such as a 401(K) or 403(B) are generally protected from creditors and legal judgments, while assets in IRAs receive more limited protections from creditors.

Deferral of Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s)

  • Your employer-sponsored retirement plan may offer this feature if you are currently working for the sponsoring employer, over age 72, and do not have a 5% or more ownership in the employer.

Possible availability of Company Stock as an Investment Option

  • If you hold company stock in your employer-sponsored plan, you should consider the tax impact of net unrealized appreciation.

Outstanding Loan Balances

  • If you leave your employer, you may be able to continue repaying any outstanding loan.
  • Alternatively, you may be required to repay the loan in full or have it become taxable. (Consult with the Plan’s Administrator to determine the consequences of any outstanding plan loan.)

Possible Plan Limitations

  • Accounts of inactive or retired participants may have limitations, such as restrictions on plan loans, you may no longer be able to contribute to the plan, or your old employer could change plans or plan provisions in the future.

Factors to Consider if you Roll Over Assets Into an IRA from a 401(K):

Tax Deferral

  • Your money will maintain its tax-deferred status. No taxes or penalties are applicable for direct rollovers.

More Investment Options

  • IRAs generally allow for a broader range of investment options, which may include mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks, and bonds.

Consolidation of Retirement Accounts

  • Combining all retirement plan accounts into a single IRA may make it easier to track your assets.
  • It also may make it easier to manage required minimum distributions required under federal tax laws.

Inability to Take Loans

  • You will not have the ability to take penalty-free withdrawals as a plan loan.

Limited Access to Monies Prior to age 59 1⁄2

  • Your access to IRA assets prior to age 59 1⁄2 will be limited to certain specific circumstances, such as first-time homebuyers and higher education expenses.

Potential Conflicts of Interest

  • Your financial professional may have a financial incentive to recommend an IRA rollover because of the compensation that he/she may receive when you transfer funds from an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
  • This potential conflict also pertains to situations where you are a participant in a plan and your financial professional is a fiduciary to the same plan.

Loss of Plan Options

  • You may lose certain options offered by your former plan, which may include, but are not limited to, guaranteed interest rates, death benefits, and protection from creditors (under certain plan types).

Potential Charges for Rollovers

  • There may be higher costs associated with a rollover and surrender charges could be imposed by the plan provider if the account included an annuity.

Additional Services

  • IRAs generally offer access to more client-related services, including investment advice and management services.

Factors to Consider if you Roll Over Assets Into Your New Employer’s 401(K):

Tax Deferral/Additional Withdrawal Allowances/Low-Cost Investment Options/Protection from Creditors/RMD Deferrals

  • If you move your assets into a new employer’s retirement plan, you may likely receive similar benefits such as these, as noted above.

Consolidation of Retirement Accounts

  • It may be easier to track your assets and manage your retirement plan accounts with all your money in one place.

Plan Limitations on Accepting Rollover Assets

  • Your new employer’s 401(K) plan may not accept rollovers and you must check beforehand.

Possible Limitations on Access to Funds Rolled into the Plan

  • Check with the receiving 401(K) plan to confirm the plan does not impose any restrictions on your ability to access or withdraw funds rolled into the plan.

Factors to Consider if you Take a Cash Distribution:

Withdrawals May Be Subject to Withholding, Penalties, and Other Charges

  • The withdrawal will be subject to mandatory tax withholding, as well as applicable tax penalties for early withdrawal (with limited exceptions) if you are under the age of 59 1⁄2.
  • You may also be subject to surrender charges or penalties assessed under the terms of the applicable investment.

Additional Things to Consider:

Plan Costs

  • Fees and expenses are factors that will affect your investment returns and your retirement income.

Types of Costs

  • Both employer-sponsored plans and IRAs typically involve (1) investment-related expenses and (2) plan or account fees.
  • Investment-related expenses may include sales loads, commissions, the expenses of any mutual funds in which assets are invested, and investment advisory fees.
  • Plan fees typically include plan administrative fees (e.g., record-keeping, compliance, trustee fees) and fees for services such as access to a customer service representative.
  • In some cases, employers pay for some or all of the plan’s administrative expenses.
  • IRA account fees may include, for example, administrative, account set-up, and custodial fees.
  • You should identify and understand all of the fees and expenses associated with your current retirement plan account, any new retirement plan into which you contemplate a rollover, and any potential IRA.


  • You should collect any and all documentation you have available in order to track what costs you currently pay.
  • Documents such as your plan’s “Summary Plan Description” or “404(A)(5) Fee Participant Disclosure” will give you this information and can be requested from your Plan’s Administrator or human resources department.

The Comparison of Services and Investment Types

  • The types of services and investments available to you in your current retirement plan and any recommended rollover may differ. Working with a financial professional could provide you with additional services such as customized investment strategies, cash flow analysis, financial planning, retirement planning, distribution planning, or other possible services that may not be available to you in your 401(K) plan.
  • You may also have access to investment types such as individual bonds, common stock, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or alternative investments that are not offered in your 401(K).

Hopefully, this was helpful and you feel more informed about the things you can do with the money in your former employer’s 401(K) plan.

Feel free to email us at with any questions you have. If you would like to schedule time with us to discuss your specific situation click here.

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When Should You Claim Social Security?

Social Security’s Role in Your Retirement

For many years Social Security benefits were said to be one leg of a three-legged stool consisting of Social Security, private pensions, and personal savings. With private pensions becoming less common, many people enter retirement with a stool that only has two legs.

Now more than ever Social Security benefits are the foundation upon which individuals can build additional retirement security through personal savings and investments. The percentage of retirement expenses of Social Security covers is not a fixed number and is determined by the age you begin taking benefits.

Deciding When to Claim Social Security

One of the most important decisions you need to make when building your retirement income plan is when to claim Social Security. The benefit you receive is based on an average of the highest 35 years of earnings in which you paid Social Security payroll taxes, as well as on the age when you claim benefits. 

Married couples have additional claiming options, including spousal benefits and survivor benefits.

Your benefit would be reduced or enhanced based on claiming Social Security at age 62 (the earliest age) or waiting until age 70. 

You can match up your year of birth to see what your full retirement age (FRA) is and the effect of claiming early or delaying claiming has on your benefit.

Source:  Social Security Administration

Not only does Social Security provide longevity protection, because benefits continue throughout your lifetime, it also provides some inflation protection and spousal protection.

For example, let’s assume you have a hypothetical $2,000 primary insurance amount (PIA) and were born in 1960 making your full retirement age 67. The chart below illustrates the change in benefit amount based on the age you decide the claim. In this example, the difference in annual benefits received at starting at age 62 and 70 is nearly $13,000 per year.

If you do choose to delay claiming your Social Security benefit to increase your monthly benefit, you must use existing savings to cover current expenses and “bridge the gap” between when you retire and when you begin taking benefits.

In effect, you are “buying” an annuity from Social Security with these savings and taking advantage of the best deal around, especially in today’s low interest-rate environment. 

Not everyone has the luxury to be able to afford to delay receiving social security benefits, but for those who can, it is a strategy you should strongly consider. Waiting to claim Social Security significantly will affect your own lifetime benefits, and could also impact surviving spouse benefits as well. Deciding when to claim your Social Security benefit is a nuanced decision with serious implications to your retirement income plan.

Feel free to email us at with any questions you have. If you would like to schedule time with us to discuss your specific situation click here.

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What Gage Learned from Riding Porcupine Rim

Adventure Calls

I was on vacation with my family in Moab, UT when I unwittingly decided to do one of the most challenging things thus far in my life.  

I want to start this story by noting I had some previous mountain biking experience in Ohio but am by no means a skilled rider. My brother, on the other hand, is a very experienced and accomplished rider who regularly goes to trails all over the country. 

Earlier in the week, we rode another trail in Dead Horse Point State Park. It was fun and not too challenging. This trail built up my confidence. I was ready to attempt a more difficult trail.  

It Would Be Fun, They Said

My brother rode a different trail, Porcupine Rim, earlier in the week. He completed it in about an hour. This seemed like a good step-up in difficultly for me and I asked him if he thought I could handle it. He replied with a yes. On a side note, Porcupine Rim is considered one of the most technical and dangerous rides in Moab, Utah. It is 14.7 miles long and is marked with a black diamond for its difficulty. The trail begins at an altitude of 6,803’ feet. Mountain bikers from all over the world are attracted to this trail.

I woke up the day of the ride still sore from the previous day. My brother said it would be a good idea if I use my dad’s bike instead of my own since his bike was a “top of the line” mountain bike built for trails like Porcupine Rim. As we were being shuttled up the mountain to the trailhead, I began to realize I was in over my head. We were going up the mountain on a road used only for 4X4 vehicles. The ride up seemed even too treacherous for my personal tastes. 

Once we were dropped off, my brother, noting my apprehension, said if I thought the trail was too difficult, we could exit at any point and call to get picked up. I set my doubts aside, knowing I had an out, and began the ride down.  The trail was much more difficult than I could have imagined! On top of that, my dad’s bike was set up for his height and weight and not my own. This caused the bike to not perform the way it should.

The Point of No Return

After multiple crashes and losing all faith in my riding ability, I asked my brother if we could quit the trail early and be picked up. He called for an early pick-up, and then checked the trail map to take us to the next exit.  To his surprise we were miles passed the early exits and at a point of no return.  I had to complete the trail. 

Knowing I couldn’t bow out early, my brother made some adjustments for me on my dad’s bike and we continued the ride. I am not sure if it was the adjustments he made to the bike or the fact that I knew there was no turning back, but the rest of the ride went significantly better. I did not crash again and actually began enjoying myself and taking in the amazing scenery. It took us (me) approximately 3.5 hours to complete the trail compared to the 1 hour it took my brother earlier in the week. 

My body felt like I had been involved in a serious car crash for the rest of the week, and needless to say, I did not do any more mountain biking in Moab.  

My Key Takeaways from Riding Porcupine Rim:

  • There are levels of difficulty that you cannot appreciate until after you experience them. Your ego could cause you to be overconfident in your ability based on what you have done before. Often things are not incrementally more difficult and that can make it challenging to judge how you will perform. 
  • Be humble or be humbled. 
  • Using “top of the line” equipment can’t make up for the lack of skill or experience needed to succeed at something. 
  • You will likely be surprised at what you can do when there is no alternative but to complete the task at hand. Your mind often finds an excuse for you to quit if quitting is an option.   
  •  Bonus: Always pack snacks because you never know when you will need a boost of energy.  

Let me know your thoughts or any questions you may have 

Below is a video of a rider much more skilled than myself on the trail.

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Why Your Retirement Income Should be Dynamic

Old Ceiling, New Floor

For most of an investor’s life, markets trend higher, savings accumulate, and investment portfolios climb. As this happens and the portfolio reaches new heights, the old ceiling becomes the new floor. As humans, we always want to be progressing. Seeing a number increase is an easy way to measure our progress towards a goal.

But there comes a time when saving will stop and spending will need to begin. Yes, markets will likely continue to trend higher over time, but it is very likely that the investment portfolio you have been growing for 30+ years could begin to decrease in value; both nominally and especially in an inflation-adjusted (real) sense. With this in mind, your portfolio could reach a peak you will never see again. Becoming comfortable with this process can be challenging. 

Historically, the majority of accidents on Mt. Everest do not happen on the way up but rather on the way down. There is a different skill set needed for asset decumulation as opposed to accumulation.  What got you to the peak will not likely get you down.

Generating Income Is Different Than Accumulating Savings

This is true with savings.  One could easily make a single decision on how much they are going to invest regularly and place that into a one investment fund and not change anything for years, if ever. This “static” approach is likely to be a successful saving strategy for most people.

In decumulation, using a static approach of a set dollar amount or percentage could lead to undesired outcomes, given the normal fluctuations in the market and changing spending needs. This same rigid consistency that was very beneficial when saving could become disastrous when spending.

Using a Dynamic Approach for you Retirement Income

As a result, we suggest using a “dynamic” approach that allows the flexibility to make changes to your spending as you go based on parameters you set out ahead of time. By creating these rules or “guardrails” it allows you to make adjustments as your needs or the market changes.

Questions to Ask in a Dynamic Withdrawal Strategy:

  • What are your income goals?
  • What is the initial amount you will withdraw?
  • Will you adjust your withdrawal amount in response to market fluctuations?
  • Will there be a “ceiling” or “floor” to your spending?
  • Will you adjust your withdrawals for inflation?
  • Where will your withdrawals come from?

Of course, this approach must be tied to your financial plan and investment strategy to make sure it is in alignment with your goals. Creating an income in retirement is an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring and adjustments. Western Reserve Capital Management is here to help you make those adjustments and adapt to the changing environment.

Feel free to email us at with any questions you have.

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Is Social Security Going to Run Out?

Every year the Social Security Board of Trustees releases a report on the status of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust, which pays benefits to retired workers and the survivors of deceased workers. According the 2020 report, 2021 with be the first year of negative cash outflows, meaning benefits paid will be greater than the tax revenues and interest income from the assets in the trust. These outflows will begin to exhaust the trusts reserves until 2034 when the OASI Trust runs out of money.  

What happens to the benefits paid by the programs if/when the trust funds are actually depleted? The answer is they can continue paying as much of the benefits as they can manage, simply using the ongoing tax revenues that are still being collected. And how much is that? 74%! This is a big contrast to the assumption that “bankrupt” actually means ALL benefits will cease and a drop-off 100% of the benefits instead of 24%. 

*Note – The impact of COVID 19 and the Payroll Tax “Holiday” were not included in the 2020 Trustee report. Both of these events will likely negatively affect the funding of the OASI Trust and likely accelerate its depletion. 

How did this happen?

  • Lower birthrates and lower immigration have reduced the numbers of workers paying into the program
  • People are living longer in retirement and are receiving benefits for longer.
  • Congress has been reluctant to introduce meaningful policy reform to address this issue
  • Low interest rates have reduced the income generated on the trust’s assets

Possible solutions

Increase taxes

  • Increasing taxes would raise the revenue going to fund benefits being paid. This could be done by raising the payroll tax rate, eliminating the payroll tax earning cap, or increasing the taxes on Social Security benefits.

Cut benefits

  • Reducing benefits would decrease the money flowing out of the system. This could be achieved by increasing the full retirement age, change how the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) is calculated, or using means-testing to reduce benefits to those with significant retirement assets or benefits.

Implications For Your Retirement

  • If you are already retired you are unlikely to see a change in benefits and any cuts will likely only occur to people who retire after reserves are exhausted.
  • If you are near retirement, you must decide if delaying social security is appropriate and consider the impact of potential tax changes.
  • If retirement is far away you can model the worst-case scenario of a 24% reduction in benefits and stay up to date on changes to the program as they occur.

Although there are pending issues that need to addressed, Social Security may change, but will almost certainly be there when you retire. MOST of the benefits paid out are funded from current tax revenues from current workers and the purpose of the OASI trust is to pay the difference. With this knowledge one must plan according and make decisions based on current information and be to adapt as new information arises.

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Think Strategically, Act Tactically  

What is strategy? 

A strategy is a plan to achieve your long-term goals under conditions of uncertainty. Your strategy outlines your path toward achieving your mission. Your strategy should involve research, planning, and internal reflection. 

What makes a good strategy?

  • It reflects your core values and is actionable.
  • It aligns daily activities and decision-making with your overall goals. 

What are tactics? 

  • Tactics are concrete steps that describe how you’re going to achieve your strategy. 

What makes a good tactic?

  • A good tactic has a clear purpose that helps your strategy.
  • It has a finite timeline where specific activities will be completed, and their impacts measured.

How they interact: 

Strategy and tactics should work together to achieve your goal. It’s much easier to adjust tactics and course-correct than it is to overhaul your entire strategy.

Measuring what matters:  

  • What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) you are using to determine the efficacy of your strategy?
  • Is there a benchmark to compare yourself to?
  • If your KPI is consistently lagging, what steps will you take to correct this?
  • Are your tactics being executed?
  • Is the person assigned the task doing what they need to do?
  • Are the tactics helping you execute your strategy and thus helping you to achieve your goals?   

How does this relate to your retirement?

Most people have a goal of having a successful retirement. They don’t really plan out how they are going to achieve this, but rather piece together tactics as they go. Without a long-term vision and KPIs to measure the progress you won’t know if you are on track or if you need to make course corrections.

This leads to reactions to short-term events that could lead to long-term outcomes that may not be desirable. We tend to find people who have a plan, follow a process, think strategically, and act tactically, more successful over time.

Success means different things to different people and when you set your own benchmark for success, happiness will follow.   

Feel free to email us at with any questions you have. If you would like to schedule time with us to discuss your specific situation click here.

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Making Good Investing Decisions

What Rabbits Can Teach You About Investing

Earlier this week while I was taking a walk in the field behind my home, I came across two rabbits eating grass. They were very close to each other and both were equally close to a brush pile. As I begin to walk past them, one sprinted into the nearby brush pile while the other stayed frozen in place. At that moment, I witnessed both flight and freeze responses. 

Rabbits are like furry calculators that rely on instinct to determine what they should do to receive the most favorable outcome, which is to survive an attack from a predator. Each rabbit came up with a separate answer to this problem, one ran away and the other froze.  

If I were a predator and did eat the rabbit that froze, did that rabbit make a bad decision or just get unlucky? Natural selection has a bias towards the outcomes that result in survival.  The rabbit who can survive the longest will have the most offspring and those offspring will carry on the same traits as their parents.  

Survivorship Bias in Investing

This bias towards survival exists in investing as well. We tend to look at only the successful companies and investors. We ignore the luck involved and chalk it up to skill. This business natural selection process chooses which traits appear to be successful in the past environment. It does not take into consideration the countless number of competitors that failed during this process or account for the uncertainty the future brings. Quite often, poor decisions that work out become good decisions in hindsight. The decision-making process is rarely considered. 

Did the rabbit who froze make a bad decision or just have bad luck? The rabbit’s brain must have determined inaction had the best rate of survival given what it knew at the time. 

Making Better Decisions

People tend not to take personal accountability for their own mistakes. This stunts their ability to move forward in learning how to become more successful. We tend to judge our decisions based on the results. If it’s a bad outcome, we assume it was a bad decision and vice versa. We ignore how much luck plays a role in the equation. 

In investing, you must make decisions based on incomplete facts. You must embrace the uncertainty and estimate the probability of various outcomes. We should have humility and take mistakes in stride. When things go wrong don’t blame others. Instead, analyze your approach and learn from your mistakes. This approach helps improve decision-making going forward. 

We must recognize the uncertainty inherent in life, understand our own behavior and biases and learn from them. It can also be prudent to seek unbiased advice to test your logic and get feedback when you are making decisions in a field that is not within your personal expertise. 

Which path will you choose?

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at    

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The Guide to Accessing Your “My Social Security” Account Online

Accessing your My Social Security Account Online

The Social Security Administration stopped mailing annual statements in 2011. Currently a Social Security statement gets mailed only to workers age 60 and over who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits and do not have a My Social Security account yet. These statements are mailed three months prior to your birthday. 

Why register?  

By creating your My Social Security account, you will have access to the following things: 

  1. Your Social Security statements. 
  2. Your estimated future benefits.
    • Your benefits are reported in today’s dollars meaning it’s what you collect if you were that age today. The actual amount will be in future dollars that are inflation adjusted. 
  3. Ability to review the accuracy of your Earnings Record.  
    • Social Security base is your future benefits off of your lifetime earnings, top 35 years. 
  4. Request a replacement Social Security card. 
  5. Prevent fraud by keeping track of your records and identifying suspicious activity. Stay on top of such activity and deter others from claiming your account. 

Once you start receiving benefits your My Social Security account will allow you to do the following: 

  1. Get instant proof of your benefits
  2. Change your address and phone number
  3. Start or change your direct deposit information
  4. Request a replacement Medicare card
  5. Get a copy of your SSA-1099 

In order to create an account, you must meet the following requirements: 

  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Have a Social Security number
  3. Have a valid US mailing address
  4. An email address  

Here is a helpful guide the Social Security Administration has created. 

On this site you can: 

  • See when you full retirement age is  
  • Claim your account so that no one else can 
  • Verify your earnings history has been reported correctly.  

Once you have created your account, we recommend you logon at least annually to verify your earnings history has been reported correctly.  Also, we recommend that you have any children or grandchildren over the age of 18 register for their account, as well. 

Social Security will likely make up only a part of the income you will need to replace in retirement. The remaining gap must be filled with your investment portfolio, pension benefits, annuities, and other non-retirement assets that produce income for you. Understanding Social Security and the benefits you are expected to receive is the first step in creating a solid retirement plan

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at

Social Security Administration contact information: 


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