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Archive for February, 2010

So what makes a person happy? Researchers seem to agree that happiness is more a spin-off, a by-product, than something specific-ally pursued. So what are the most obvious precursors of happiness? Is it fame, instant lottery riches, dozens of serial lovers, international travel, becoming a suicide-bomber? (my hunch: the explosion cuts quickly into lasting happiness!)

Arthur Brooks, professor and author of Gross National Happiness, has studied the data at length. After sifting through the studies on most every theory, it’s easy to dismiss many false promises of happiness. For example, lottery riches seldom ever give long-term happiness. Almost 87% of lottery winners are broke in five years or less. They fall for unlimited (and grossly undisci-plined) self-indulgent and consumption. Then guilt takes over and leads to equally undisciplined charity to leaches ready to relieve them of their quickly fading riches. No lasting happiness here.

Neither are Hollywood stardom, politics or sports fame lasting sources of happiness. There is real temporary joy in a job well done, excellence and victorious accomplishment (ie the New Orleans Saints super-bowl victory!!!). But fame itself is usually far more a burden leading to depression, drug abuse and even suicide, than a source of lasting happiness.

So professor Brooks, what is it? Well, surprise, surprise the single most likely precursor to lasting happiness is Religious Worship. (Not yearly Hanukkah, Christmas or Easter attenders). Regular, serious worshipers are the highest and most likely happy people of the data. And second only to serious worshipers is Marriage. Yes married people confess to being far more happy than single people – by large percentages regardless of age or race. Is it not stunning that every sitcom has missed this for 30 years? When is the last time you saw a serious worshiping married couple as regular TV characters?

Another telling sign or indicator of real lasting happiness – Charitable Giving. That systematic charitable givers are far more happy than non-givers is a fact that shows up in the data over and over. Giving to a person or cause outside of yourself makes you happy – as does planning a generous and lasting Charitable Legacy. (Yes! I’m in the happiness business!!! :-))

So, if you are serious about upping the odds of being a happy person, do these three things: 1) become a Serious Worshiper, 2) Settle into a lasting Marriage, and 3) Become a Charitable Giver. Over and over again Professor Brooks shows the naked, embarrassing truth behind the facts – stingy, single, secular non-worshipers are simply not as likely to be happy people.[] (David E. Rockett, The Charitable Steward)

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Video Presentation #2: Stagnant Capital-Preservation Assets

Hi, I’m David Rockett, The Charitable Steward. This will be my second videos. These presentations (about 4 minutes each) lay out the beauty of my approach – each captured by a simple picture. We started with the place and usefulness of Term Insurance and you might want to watch it if you haven’t already. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG_p213EV8o

Picking up where we left off – your 20-Year Lever Term Insurance will run out between age 55-60, and your children are mostly grown and maybe gone. You have some assets and wonder if you have out-grown your need for Life Insurance. Or, you might just need to reduce your coverage from $1 million dollar policy when your children were young – to a short 10-year level Term Policy of only $250K. (at age 56 it would cost you about $518 annually or $46 monthly).

So let’s look at your assets. Chances are high at this point in your life you have an investment portfolio of some value. Look at this potfolio as a pie-chart. The Rule-Of-100 gives us a starting point for deciding how to divide things up. If you never risk your age to investment loss, then you just subtract your age from 100 and that tells you what you can risk. If you’re 35 – then you can safely risk 65% of your portfolio to investment loss in growth investments. This leaves 35% (your age) in safe, no-growth capital that you never subject to market risk. It’s over here in the Preservation-Of-Capital category.

The reason for this is natural. A 35 year old couple has more time to recover from a significant market loss. The reverse is also true for a 65 year old investor. He risk less , or 35% and perserves 65%. Of course, this just a guide and there are obvious exceptions. A 35 year old welder with three young children making $20 per hour,  might not take the same risk as a single, 35 year old tax-attorney from a wealthy family takes. So there is plenty room for variation. The Rule Of 100 just gives us a place to start.

For our purposes, consider the 60-year old who’s term insurance is just running out. His kids are all grown and he has a $1M portfolio. $400k growth investments are still at risk of market loss – but $600k are in no-growth assets designed to preserve capital. Now, my focus is NOT on the growth side. Let’s instead look closer at your Preservation-Of-Capital assets. Typically, these are M-Mkt Accts, CDs, various bonds, perhaps some Annunities, real-estate, even some precious metals. Remember, these are NOT growth investments. Your concern here is Captial Preservation, or emergency and future spending. These assts might mostly become Legacy-Assets, ultimately intended for children, grand-children, churches and your favorite charitable causes.

My unique proposition for most investors is that they add Single-Premium Life Insurance as a incredibly and useful tool for these assets. There are just too many solid benefits to ignor: 1) The interest-rate is above the CD and money market rate, often comparable to corp. bonds, 2) It is tax-deferred in the insurance contract – no 1099, 3) It is completely assessable for emergency/spending 4) It is safe in the right stong insurance company, and best of all 5) It has the Super-Sized Leverage of the life insurance contract!  But that, is the topic of our Third Video. Stay tuned — you will be amazed at what’s possible!

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