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Care When Down "and" Up

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Posted in  AUM, Stock Market, Good And Bad Performance, High Costs

image description S&P 500 Historical Annual Returns

If you are not a client of TrueStar Advisors, here's a tip: Care when the market is down and up.

What does "caring" mean? It means you should care about how much you are paying your commission-based advisor, agent, banker, broker, and planner in both the good and bad times. But note that if you are paying a percentage of the value of your account each quarter, when the market is down, you're getting kicked worse than the percentage that the market is down.

Now, look at the chart. See the years where the market dropped? Those years are reflected as red, up years are green. When you think about it, really think about it by adding up all the money you've given to some financial salesman by way of AUM commissions, if you are like most people, you get mad when the market is down, but when it's up, you're okay with paying whatever. Right? Right. But it's not right.

Care about what you are paying in both the good and bad years, the difference will make the pain of the bad years a lot easier.

Distraction

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Posted in  Focus, 3M, Habits, Ignore, Aware

If you found this blog and are living paycheck-to-paycheck, you have to stop.

No matter who you are, what you are doing, your lot in life is not what others have is a meaningless excuse. Why? Because excuses will keep you in a mindset of failure. Consumer debt should be way down. Most people who want to work, are. Those who want extra money working part-time, are. And at the end of the day, if you are paying your bills, then you paid yourself, right? Seriously and no joke. You worked, got paid, spent your money, and you didn't add a dime to your investment portfolio. What the hell is the matter with you?

We are not another self-help, feel-good, motivational con-artist using the typical B.S. to sell insurance and complicated financial schemes. No, we're a true fiduciary-based investment advisor who is blunt, efficient, and effective. We are not going to sit down with you and feel your pain. Get over it. Get on with living life. Tough talk? Makes you mad? You want mommy? Oh for crying out loud, grow up, take the diaper off, and put your big boys on.

Nobody understands me! The anxiety I'm going through! I have no goals, direction, and I'm lost. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so what. "Oh, you're so mean," you say? Well yeah, and someone needs to kick you in the ass. Over 150,000 people died today worldwide. Did you? Nope. So shut the hell up with your complaining. You got a boo-boo, and you need a band-aid for your imaginary injury. Really? If mommy wants to keep coddling you, then you and mommy need a swift kick in the ass.

Life is about working, being productive, and making the most of the limited amount of time you have on the surface of this ball of dirt we call Earth. If you have to give the boot to family, friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers who are screwed up and screwing you up, just do it. Start by thinking. Turn off the phone, tablet, computer, television, radio, and everyone in the world. Now sit and think. Close your eyes or focus on the dead cockroach in the corner. But damn it to hell, just think. Be calm, relaxed, chill without doing drugs or alcohol and think.

"Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it." Henry Ford

This is not a typical blog post for TrueStar Advisors; however, of late we've witnessed and spoken often of the overwhelming number of people who have their heads in the sand, up their behinds, or in the clouds.

The 3M Lifestyle & Philosophy is like everything else we do, it's better, simple, and works. If you want to know more, become a client.

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Social Media Curse

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Will Facebook’s Grownups Please Stand Up

The social-media giant’s executives don’t seem interested in taking responsibility for anything.

Source: Allysia Finley, a member of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2018 6:56 p.m. ET

"Both Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg have sidestepped responsibility for Facebook’s alleged transgressions. “The reality of running a company of more than 10,000 people is that you’re not going to know everything that’s going on,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. Perhaps, but Facebook’s root problem seems to be that its leaders refuse to assume responsibility or control over anything."

"If Facebook executives don’t want to take ownership of what happens in their company or on their platform—if they would prefer to yield control to their workers, users and the government—then perhaps they should go."

Our Opinion

  • Social media is a curse that has caused damage in many ways, not just with personal relationships, but in business, religion, politics, and increased depression and mental illness.
  • I suspect a lot of depressed adults are explicitly depressed because of social media and I believe there will be more evidence forthcoming to support this.
  • The fraud that takes place on social media sites is massive but not indeed known,
  • From photo filters to fake friends, Facebook is just the place for those in need of delusional farce attention.

Facebook is for children, and so it makes perfect sense that children would be the minds behind it. How old was Zuckerberg when he started Facebook? Eighteen? It was primarily designed to facilitate interactions between teenagers. Of course in our society, which manifests the Peter Pan-syndrome increasingly by the day, and which is copied by lost souls around the world, Facebook has spread well beyond the children for which it was intended.

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Touch, Order, Last Mile, and Digitar

Before Amazon, there were plenty of mail order opportunities and the mail order behemoths we used have disappeared. Sears, Montgomery Ward, and J.C. Penny's all served a grateful and profitable segment of American society. In case you did not know it, you could order a house through Sears and it would be delivered to you for assembly by the Railway Express Company. These homes that by today's standards, would be called the newest thing as "Tiny Homes," were not special, they were just known as "Sears Housing Kits." But alas, the bureaucratic blinders by those who achieved their positions through mastering brown-nose folly are the sole reason why Jeff Bezos and others like him succeeded and traditional brick and mortar only stores are the latest kindling in the burn pit of once great companies.

The notion that brick and mortar stores are dead is as ridiculous. Those who said online stores were just a fad back in the late 90s when we experienced the first of many, and many to come, dot-com busts were wrong. Just like Steve Ballmer, who said the iPhone would never make it, closed-minded corporate pinheads can't help being, well, pinheads. We forecast as that's what we do, that Facebook will fall rather rapidly over the next few years. Why? Too much, too deep, too intrusive, too creepy, and as hard as this will be to accept by those who are over 50, too old. Yes, Facebook is old news, an old business model, and run by a bunch of old people. What! Yes. Facebook is run by a bunch of old people. In a moment I will continue with Amazon and the future of consumerism but bear with as I show you how Facebook is dying. Zuckerberg is 34 and Sandberg is 49; near dead by those who are between 15 and 25. But wait. 58, 73, 61, 51, 47, 66, and 51 are the ages of the remaining members of the rubber-stamp board of directors. These numbers are young by most traditional standards but for Facebook, which has experienced dramatic decreases in usage, engagement, retention, and acquisition, in a world of high-tech, high turnover, recency bias, and ageism as it seeks to maximize profits during a period of declining market share.

Now back to Amazon, the company that you are in bed with the devil when you agree to their distribution terms. The last mile is the most expensive mile for Amazon or anyone delivering anything, but that's changing. With Amazon Lockers in apartments, condos, business centers, convenience stores, and mailbox centers, the last mile is transferred to you and me. And why not. We're on our way home, Amazon Lockers are at the grocery store on the way home. Trher's a package to pick up and we need milk. Two birds with one stone, or the blending of digital and mortar into "Digitar." Digitar is mine, and I created the name but Amazon and others are executing it perfectly. As Amazon says: "Amazon Lockers are secure, self-service kiosks located across the U.S. Lockers allow you to pick up your package at a time that's convenient for you — even evenings and weekends. No more worrying about packages left at your door while you're out."

We feel we are doing the same thing. Our "Digitar" approach is this. We have a real headquarters, with real people, desks, computers, meeting rooms, chairs, lights, cameras, and someone to call "action." We've blended OLD School and NEW School into ONE School (that's another one of mine, so credit me when you use it). With ONE School there's only one way to do business. The TrueStar way, where you are the true star and we are the advisor. Where we follow the TrueStar Golden Rule, and where it's better, simple, and works.

Digitar is not a dinosaur but rather a new breed of business for the black, gray, white, and new collar worker and the retiree of all shapes and sizes.

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If only the U.S. Postal Service would think about "Postal Lockers." The revenue and approval would be out-of-this-world.

Amazon Lockers 1

Amazon Lockers 2

Amazon Lockers 3

Amazon Lockers 4

The Trade

Article headline image. Paul Truesdell on

Posted in  Fixed Annuities, Social Security Haircut, Pensions, Safety

This morning I was listening to an audiobook about the history of Germany. The author wrote, "...the people traded freedom for security." The context was the implementation of German Social Security under Bismark, which at the time was far beyond anything any other country had at the time. I stopped the audiobook, poured a cup of coffee, and sat down this Thanksgiving morning with a MacBook Pro to capture those six keywords: The people traded freedom for security.

This is a profound problem with mankind. Not only do investors trade freedom for security, but so too do the elderly, young, parents, and busy business owners. Who has time to do something half-way when that something is pretty darn important? It is logical, and entirely understandable, that a bit of freedom is given up to have safety and stability. We did this lock-stock-and-barrel after the highly unusual plane-based attacks on September 11, 2001. I could opine for hours about the unconstitutional powers given to the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, the President of the United States, key oversight members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and for that matter, everyone who carries a badge with arrest authority. But in times of concern, fear, and outright terror, based on fact or fiction, the reality at the moment is in the mind of the beholder and rash actions often take years, decades, and lifetimes to correct.

From a pure investment point of view, continue with me as I walk through the brier patch of Social Security, defined benefit pensions, and qualified savings schemes.

"To get something, you have to give something." I have spoken these eight words on many occasions. In the 80s, 90s, and 00s, I was a prolific public speaker, and upon reflection, I dare say that those eight words were spoken in front of fifty to seventy thousand people many, many times. The eight words would often be followed by these: "However, all things being equal, those who pay less have more." Now that makes sense. It's simple, and it works. From that combination of words, I would launch into why complex bundled financial schemes were mere ploys to line the pockets of the Wall Street Shysters with gold, silver, and diamonds. In essence, I have long campaigned, railed, lectured, and served as an expert witness on class actions and individual suits, about the evils of high-cost variable annuities, equity index annuities, and non-traded real estate investment trusts. These schemes, along with many others that I will not get into in this writing, are designed to pull the wool over the eyes of many gullible investors, seeking security in exchange for freedom.

Now let's go back to September 11, 2001. A day that many of us will not forget. A day that I was supposed to have died. Yes, that was the day I should have been killed while attending a conference in New York City with the Oppenheimer Group in the World Trade Center. Yeah, that's getting pretty real, isn't it? But a few months earlier, I chose to attend by satellite via an ancillary conference at the World Trade Center in New Orleans and take the family on a mini-vacation. Sidebar: There many "World Trade Centers." The number in the United States alone often surprises those I speak with when it comes up in conversation. All trade centers are organized through a little-known organization called "World Trade Centers Association," whose sole purpose is to facilitate world trade. Now back to the story. Yes, I lived and continue to be me because of luck. We could just as easily take in a play in New York City rather than Bourbon Street in New Orleans. But choices have consequences. Some things in life you can control and others you have no control over, what-so-ever.

Let's tie this together and connect the dots. Do what you like, are good and profitable at, and can control. If you are a client or have met me, you've read and heard these words repeatedly. If you are going to give up control, it damn sure better be worth it. Especially if the thing you are giving up control over is important to you, and money is one of those "pretty darn important" things in life.

  • Participation in Social Security is required, and you are forced to give up control over your money in exchange for the possibility of a retirement income.
  • Participation in an employer-based defined benefit pension plan is required, and you are forced to give up control over your money in exchange for the possibility of a retirement income. Note: "Possibility" refers to the fact that when you die, and you have not elected a spousal survivor benefit, or if your spouse has died, your pension stops at your death; which may occur before the pension begins.
  • Giving money to an insurance company in exchange for outrageously high commissions and ongoing costs that can easily reach 3.5% to 5% each year, in exchange for a weak sister promise is not good. A weak sister promise is one where the promise made carries such a low risk while the premium being charged is so high, that the only winner in the exchange is the insurance company. That is what most living and death benefit riders are when attached to many annuity contracts, are, "weak sisters."

We believe in being efficient and effective, simple, transparent, and concise. By doing so, we feel we do it better.

Like the Germans under Bismark and Americans under Roosevelt with Social Security, the Americans under Bush with Homeland Security, and Obama with Health Care, or with variable annuities, equity index annuities, pensions, or whatever a Wall Street or Political Shyster is pitching today, merely ask yourself this question:

How much freedom am I giving up, for what, and at what cost?

Give thanks this day for the ability to think, and...

Think about it.

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Holiday Fraud

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Never Ending

Within a few weeks, the junk charity mailings are now pouring in. Do not be a victim of charitable fraud.

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Simple Steps

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A few tricks to save a bit here and there.

  1. Eat right before you leave the house.
  2. Drink a large glass of water before going out to eat; see item 1.
  3. Make use of a local park and pinic once a month.
  4. Make frugal-minded friends and ghost those who are spendthrifts.
  5. Utilize your local library.
  6. Read one book a month.
  7. Get rid of cable TV.
  8. Make full use of OpenCulture.com
  9. Pick a week every month and live like you are flat broke by spending absolutely zero dollars from Monday to Sunday.
  10. Embrace the DIY culture.
  11. Turn everything off, tune completely out, enjoy the peace of being quiet, and think about it.

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Retirement Income

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A Silly Question

Which is better, investment X, Y, or Z?

I was asked the other day: "Paul, which is better for retirement income, an annuity, mutual fund, or should I stick with cash because of the market?"

My Response

  • Are you a client of our firm?
    • No.
  • Do you have $500 to give me?
    • No, why?
  • One more question, do you have an hour of time to spare?
    • No, I just want an answer. Look, man, you know stuff like this.
  • Yes I do. But I don't work for free. And if you ran into your doctor, standing in line at Starbucks, he's not going to examine you, diagnose your problem, and treat you here.
    • You know, you're an asshole at times. This is when I smiled, nodded, and walked away.

Three Points

One

Neither I or TrueStar Advisors provide free advice.

Two

Advice is based on knowledge and information of an individual, couple, or entity, willingly provided and without embellishment. The authoritative response is based on a combination of experience, education, wisdom, and common sense, all of which costs time, money, and effort to achieve and maintain; however, future actions are solely dependent upon the one asking the questions.

Three

Decisions with long-term consequences should not be made in haste, nor sourced from the comic inside a Cracker Jack box.

Key

When you become a client, you will have full access to Educate. Our discussion on retirement income involves audios, videos, documents, and takes time. Retirement is that time in your life when you no longer want earned income and will rely solely on contractual and/or unearned income. CUE is our acronym for Contractual Income, Unearned Income, and Earned Income. Those are the three key components of retirement income, and from there, it can be complex or simple based solely on your lifestyle and choices in life.

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The Home of Fixed Cost Investing

TrueStar Advisors, Inc.

The Ocala International Commerce Park

200 NW 52nd Avenue

Ocala, Florida 34482

212-433-2525

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Reset

Article headline image. Paul Truesdell on

Posted in  Government Pensions, Integrity, Verify, Trust, Elections

Trust But Verify

доверять, но проверить is a Russian proverb. The phrase became well known in English when used by President Ronald Reagan on multiple occasions in the context of nuclear disarmament.

##### America's Political Cold War

The United States of America is at war on a race, ethnic, cultural, technological, and economic basis. The denial that we are in the midst of the Second Civil War of the United States is childish. The consolidation of influence and manipulation of mass lemmings has fractured the nation in ways and depths that make us question the ability to recover with unity. At this time, we forecast the collapse of the union as we know it today, at 77% within 40 years. The reconstituted government will either be strong-man lead and centralized with regional authorities or balkanized into independent states with multifaceted ways of governance. Either way, the system today is broken and untrustworthy.

##### Unlocked Doors

Why do you lock your doors? Why do we have laws against trespassing? Why should one control and enjoy a piece of property above anyone else; the neighbor or passerby? Because you have rights, that's why. And the principles behind individual property rights also apply to public property rights. We are supposed to have a nation and government of we the people, not a government that governs the people. Frankly, what the hell is wrong with so damn many people today?

##### Reset

In my opinion, I see only one option to restore the trust and confidence in the electoral system: Reset. Start by wiping the voter rolls clean, establish a clean and concise federal law for federal voter participation, bifurcate national elections from state elections, and punish voter fraud severely. Severe punishment should include the following: A minimum mandatory ten-year prison term for anyone not associated with a political campaign, the permanent loss of all future voting privileges, and a permanent reduction in Social Security benefits of all type by 10% for the first offense, 50% for the second offense, and termination of all benefits for the third offense. As for those who are associated with a campaign as an unpaid volunteer or paid staffer, including the candidate, a minimum mandatory twenty-year prison term, the immediate loss of all voting rights, and forfiture of all Social Security benefits.

A Disgrace

The electoral process, system, and integrity is a disgrace to the nation, and it's not new. The bitching and complaining by Democrats and Republicans is endless, and it's more than old news. The time has come for rational men and women to join forces to call bullshit when bullshit exists. And if you think this is extreme, then you believe the business model of TrueStar Advisors is radical. You see, we're consistent in a world of inconsistency.

Why pay more because you have more, or receive less because you have less? And thus, why should one vote when one has no standing, diluting those with lawful status, and why should some be counted when others are not?

Hypocrites

I have no room for hypocrites in our organization, and we as a nation should adopt this as a philosophy as well.