MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics
Broken Dreams- A Retirement Plan Turned Upside Down
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 10:18 AM

This is a true story of a couple that planned on launching into retirement with high hopes, only to find their dreams dashed. It’s a story of betrayal, self-sabotage, unconditional love and the amazing gift of forgiveness and redemption.

On The Road to Retirement Planning
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, May 04, 2016 @ 09:30 AM

On The Road to Retirement... “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

The refrain "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there" was essentially a paraphrase of an exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Chapter 6 of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland: "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"


Do I Need to Adjust My Retirement Income Strategy in 2016?
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Dec 30, 2015 @ 08:52 AM


It’s been a so-so year for investors in 2015. Lots of volatility throughout the year with little upside performance to show for it. I believe the title of this recent article says it best: The Year Nothing Worked: Stocks, Bonds, Cash Go Nowhere

With the recent enhancements high frequency traders have made, volatility looks to be the ‘new normal’.

In 2014, the Ibbotson/Morningstar asset allocation models we use when constructing portfolios projected an estimated return of 7.2% for a 60% allocation to equities and a 40% allocation to fixed income. At our firm, this would be considered a moderate risk portfolio.

Now, heading into 2016, Ibbotson is projecting a 5.27% return for that same 60/40 asset allocation. For investors with 10+ years before retirement, while not good news, it’s not the end of the world as you’ll have time to course correct if needed.

Is Your Retirement 10-Years Away or Sooner?
Mark Zaifman   |    Fri, Oct 23, 2015 @ 01:51 PM

If your retirement is 10-years away or sooner, you'll want to read, Get What’s Yours - The Secret To Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solomon

One of the most overlooked elements of preparing for a successful retirement is deciding when to start drawing your Social Security. If you’re a married couple, the decision becomes even more complex.

Up until recently, the majority of people, usually by default, either started collecting Social Security at their full retirement age, early, at age 62, or waiting if possible until age 70. Simple on the surface right, three relatively easy choices.

Guess what. There are dozens of Social Security strategies that most people are unaware of. And remember, in the game of money, strategy is king.

Women & Money & the Fear of Being a ‘Bag Lady’
Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Jun 04, 2015 @ 05:36 PM
Fifty Shades of Financial Independence
Mark Zaifman   |    Fri, Nov 21, 2014 @ 03:01 PM

When you think about financial independence (FI), what comes to mind? What do you imagine your life would look like if working for money was purely optional?

This is a question that many of my clients have pondered deeply and thoughtfully and continue to evaluate and review. Not needing to work for money and wondering what to do with your life once you’re FI is, as they say, a ‘gold plated’ problem we should all be fortunate enough to have.

But with so many possibilities, so many shades of financial independence to explore and discover, such a new dynamic and reality to accept and embrace - the choice of how you design your life plan truly matters. And it matters just as much whether you reach FI in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or 70’s.

Whether you earned, saved, lived within or below your means and invested well on the road to financial independence OR you received a windfall from real estate appreciation like many of my Bay Area clients are experiencing, especially those living in Berkeley or Silicon Valley OR you inherited your FI, the road ahead remains full of exciting possibilities. So which path do you choose? What now becomes your life purpose, your dharma?

The Road to Retirement - 3 Tips for Taming Your Inner Hedonist
Mark Zaifman   |    Mon, May 19, 2014 @ 10:05 AM


Retirement Planning for Scaredy Cats
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Mar 25, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

Imagine you’ve just met a person that not only has a black belt in karate, but a third degree black belt to boot and is a well respected and nationally acclaimed sensei (teacher). You’re in awe of the practice and discipline required to achieve this level of martial arts mastery.

Yes + Yes = Retirement Planning Success
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Mar 11, 2014 @ 03:33 PM
Retirement Planning 101 - Learning the Art of Adapting to Change
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Feb 12, 2014 @ 02:37 PM

Think about how many years of your adult life you spend accumulating enough money in order to have financial security and the lifestyle you desire when you stop working for money. You do your best, save as much as possible, live within or below your means, fund your retirement accounts, maintain a low cost, well diversified investment portfolio, and then the big day arrives, and you say adios to your job, career or business.

Suddenly, all those years of saving and accumulating come to a screeching halt and instead of being in the accumulation phase, you now move into the distribution phase with your money. On paper, theoretically, this all makes sense, right? Your nest egg now needs to last your entire lifetime. No worries, right?

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