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The Independent Investor: Dogs and Their Cars
By Bill Schmick,
04:50PM / Thursday, September 20, 2018
Pet ownership in America is well over 50 percent. Nine out of 10 of these owners view their pet as part of the family. As such, dollars spent on traditional pet ownership areas such as food, veterinary needs and boarding have expanded to include things like exercise and travel. For more and more Americans, that trend has grown to include what cars we purchase.   This hit home for me recently when my wife and I began discussing our next automobile purchase or lease. In times past, our decision may have been based on what vehicles provided the best fuel mileage or winter safety in snow and ice conditions. But this year, it was all about what car would be most appropriate for

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The Independent Investor: How Prepared Are You to Sell Your Company?
By Bill Schmick,
07:24PM / Thursday, August 30, 2018
If you are a small-business owner and are toying with the idea of someday selling your company, you should pay attention. Only one in five small businesses put up for sale result in a closing. How do you become one of those success stories?   Where I live and work, nestled in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, there are relatively few large companies. We are over-populated with "Mom and Pop businesses." As such, I meet and talk to plenty of these enterprise owners daily. An overwhelming number of these entrepreneurs have saved little or nothing towards their retirement.   Instead, they believe that at some point, someone would swoop in and buy

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The Independent Investor: Should You Bury Yourself?
By Bill Schmick,
01:05PM / Friday, August 24, 2018
In today's world, the idea that you should prepay, or at least set aside some money to cover your funeral expenses is gaining traction. Given the escalating costs of paying for a loved one's funeral, it is no surprise.   Most of us don't want to face it, let alone discuss it. In some quarters, it is "bad mojo" to consider planning for your death, so pardon me for bringing up such a squeamish (some might say ghoulish) subject.  But as your fiduciary in all things financial, I feel obligated to discuss prepaid funeral expenses.   This year, I was introduced to this concept when my Mom died. She was 93 years old, bless her soul, and had a

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The Independent Investor: Turmoil in Turkey
By Bill Schmick,
04:28PM / Thursday, August 16, 2018
Turkey, a country that represents about 1 percent of the world's gross domestic product, has suddenly become a cause of concern for investors worldwide. Both developed and emerging financial markets have plunged over the last week as that country's currency plummeted. Fear that this tiny country's problems could somehow spark a global financial contagion has everyone on edge.   Those fears are unfounded. There will be no "contagion."  What is happening in Turkey is truly a "Tempest in a Teapot" that bears little resemblance to the crisis in Greece several years ago. Yet, over the last week, Turkey's currency, the lira, fell to record

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The Independent Investor: Should You Pay Down Your Mortgage?
By Bill Schmick,
04:16PM / Thursday, August 09, 2018
The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, together with rising interest rates have changed the calculus in determining whether to pay down your mortgage or let it ride. Let's examine the pros and cons.   Over the last 10 years, as interest rates fell to almost zero, it made total sense to pay off your high-interest mortgage. At the very least, one could re-finance and save on monthly payments. This was especially true if your mortgage was in the last stages of a 30- or 15-year life.   At that point, the interest portion of the payment, (which is tax deductible) was minimal, while the principal payments represented the lion's share of the monthly bill. For those

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