You Should Own Your Own Email Address, Not Rent It

We all prefer being in control, don’t we? After all, it surely beats not being in control, doesn’t it (certain Shades of Grey personality types excepted . . . )?

Why is it, then, that so many of us cede control of our email existences by choosing to rent rather than own our email addresses? That’s a major relinquishing of control, isn’t it?

Here, as in most everything in life, there are smart ways and not-so-smart ways to do things, with, in this context, that spectrum defined, at the not-so-smart end, as “merely renting” your main email address and, at the yes-very-smart end, as “outright ownership” of your main email address.

We’ll take that spectrum up below, beginning with a merely-renting approach that is so very not-so-smart as to fall all the way into the category of being just plain ol’ dumb, and then moving on through various levels of renting that look more and more like ownership, until we arrive at the promised land of outright, unconstrained, all-encompassing ownership. So please do read on to see how smart or not-so-smart you’ve set up your email existence, and what you might want to do to improve it, OK? And thank you for your interest.

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The Plain Ol’ Dumb Way to Set Up Your Email Existence: Using the Email Address You Have with Your Employer as Your Only Email Address.

The worst way to set up your email existence is to use the email address you have through your employer as your be-all and end-all — as your everything-all — email address.

Two big problems (at least two . . . ) arise when your everything-all email address is owned by your employer.

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First Week of January Test (2015 Edition)

The other day, in the wee early hours of the Monday of All Mondays, subscribers to my email list received, just like clockwork (just like calendarwork?), their FWoJT email (their First Week of January Test email).

This year the Monday of All Mondays — I speak here, of course, of the first Monday of the New Year, when many of us first go back into our normal day-to-day routine following the holidays — fell (and for many it did indeed fall) on January 5th, but it can fall on pretty much any day in the first week or so of January.

On that Monday of All Mondays, many folks first saw their FWoJT email as they awoke to lift their heads from their pillows to grab their phones to scan their email notifications (that’s the very first thing many of us do now upon waking, yes?) and were reminded that, as happens every year on that very day, Friedman was advising them to just go there —  to just go ahead and, for a brief moment, ask themselves how it felt to be back in their day-to-day routines after the holidays.

Moans and groans (and worse) went up across the land, along with, from the lucky few who have reached their Exquisite Balance, a few wahoos and giddyup-doggies and sweet-[deity or non-deity of their choosing]-a’mighty-I-am-happy-at-lasts.

I hope you found yourself among the lucky few!

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If you haven’t the foggiest what I’m talking about, please take yourself back to that moment — role-play yourself back into the mind you inhabited at that very moment — and please read on, as The First Week of January Test email awaits you below!
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If You’re Self-Employed and Have Zero Employees, You Should Set Up an Individual 401k Plan Before the End of the Year

Many financial planners and tax folks are loathe to utter blanket statements, preferring to gravitate instead towards multi-asterisk’ed, highly footnoted, two-handed, somewhat-non-statement statements. And rightly so: whenever financial planning and taxation come together, you end up in an arena that is way too complicated and way too pernsickety to not lose something in the translation from highly customized and technical to general purpose and lay.

Nonetheless, here goes:

If you are self-employed and have zero employees, then
you should set up an individual 401k plan before year’s end.

These retirement plans — which are also called “solo 401k plans” or “self-employed 401k plans” and recently, in an apparent attempt to give them that Jobsian glow, sometimes even called “i401k plans” — are the bees’ knees for folks who work for themselves and have zero employees, so setting one of these up is just about always a good idea in that situation.

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Beautifully Designed 401k Plans: Rare as Hen’s Teeth

As a financial planner, I’ve seen many a 401k plan in my day, and I’m here to tell you that the vast majority of them are not pretty, while some are even downright ugly. Admittedly, that’s a mighty broad brush full of awfully harsh words, and I’d surely prefer to be la-la-la’ing about instead, all chipper, sprightly espousing what-a-wonderful-world bromides, but I feel irresistibly impelled to instead write of the truth I’ve seen. And that truth is that the typical 401k plan — in which a decent part of the wealth of most Normal Folks resides — falls quite a bit short of being beautifully designed.

Please allow me to explain.

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Language Fail in the Land of Financial Planners: The Smooshing Together of Financial Planning and Investment Advising

Hey kids! The FP50IBD for 2014 is out, and it’s a real humdinger!

What’s that you say? You’re wondering what that nasty looking little squirt and a half of letters and numbers all strung together in that first paragraph means, are ya?

Please allow me to introduce . . . er . . . translate it for you, as we take another trip into our continuing series, Language Fail in the Land of Financial Planners, and, in doing so, hopefully help you understand how the concepts of financial planning and investment advising became so thoroughly bollixed-up and so inelegantly hotchpotted.

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