Sunday, February 26, 2006

Family Picture

Thought I'd post an updated picture of me and my family. Collin is now 4 years old and is a bundle of energy. He is having a great time in his new home and new neighborhood and has made many friends that he just has too play with all the time! Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 24, 2006

H&R Block Reports Lower 3Q Earnings Print: NEWS WRAP: H&R Block Reports Lower 3Q Earnings

So this is how they can promise such large tax refunds....they simply do the return wrong!!!

If H & R can't do their own return correctly what makes you think they can do yours?

In all reality you'll probably do fine at H & R Block, but stay away from those Refund Anticipation Loans...I just thought this was a funny story!


Trust broken, savings gone

News - Trust broken, savings gone - print version

I've been reporting on a ponzi scheme that happened up in Central and Northern California on my Teachers Advocate blog for some time now (, but it appears that tragedy has hit closer to home, this time in San Juan Capistrano.

Jeffrey Gordon Butler swindled nearly $15 million from investors, mainly seniors by promising high returns and using low cost Will & Trust services to gain access to seniors with money.

This is truly a sad case as over a hundred people have lost much of their life savings. A client of mine asked what was to stop me from doing the same thing, so I thought I'd lay out a few things that you can do to protect yourself.

1.) Verify that the person is licensed to do what he or she does. In this case a simple call to the National Association of Securities Dealers (, to the state insurance commissioners office, or the state department of corporations would have revealed that this individual was a fraud. Another way to verify this is by going to the Securities and Exchange Public website and searching for the individual or firms name. For example, if you put in my firms name (Meridian Wealth Management), my firm comes up and provides a complete disclosure.

2.) Verify credentials. This individual didn't have credential, but many planners do. You should first check out to see if the credential means anything (did they earn it over the weekend) and then verify that the individual holds that credential in good standing. I am a Certified Financial Planning Practitioner, or CFP and you can goto and search on my name and find out that I am in good standing.

3.) You should get statements from a known entity, not statements made solely by the advisor. I produce my own client statements, but they are in addition to the statements that come from Ameritrade and TIAA-CREF - two companies that are well known. This prevents the advisor from having control of the money and commingling your money with his. You can call the provider up at any time and verify that the money is in the accounts and you can go online and check it out. In addition, these firms typically have huge insurance policies that protect your money from fraud by the firm.

4.) Never hesitate to ask lots of questions, a good advisor has nothing to hide.

5.) If it sounds too good to be true.......well, you know.

6.) Never make a check out directly to the individual or his/her firm (unless it is to pay a fee), only make checks out to the Brokerage firm or insurance company.

That should be enough to raise red flags, don't let fraud happen to you. Your advisor should be an open door and have no problem disclosing everything.

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Beware of the "Growth Trap"

Beware of the "Growth Trap": The Future for Investors - Yahoo! Finance

Prof Siegel does a great job in this piece explaining why paying too much for a stock is detrimental to your long term returns. Which stock would you have rather purchased in 1950 - Standard Oil or IBM? The answer may surprise.

Read on...

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP

Monday, February 13, 2006

FORTUNE: A tale of two markets

FORTUNE: A tale of two markets - Feb. 13, 2006

Please read this article. I think it shows the major divide in thinking about the real estate market. I think the two quotes that are perhaps the most scary are the following:

"Fifteen percent is pretty much in the bag for Orange County in 2006," he says. "It's impossible for prices to go down this year." Gary Watts, Orange County Association of Realtors spokesman

"Yale's Shiller surveyed Orange County residents last year on what they expected home prices to do over the next ten years. The average expectation was a 23 percent return -- per year! That kind of unbridled optimism has caused buyers to stretch beyond their limits. Southern California has become a hotbed for "exotic" mortgages, such as interest-only loans."

The most dangerous phrase in the world uses the word "impossible" as its pretext. To say something is impossible is just plain stupid, regardless of who you are. I don't know where O.C. or national housing prices are going, they could go up or down 15% this year, but I don't know- nobody does. I think the probabilities would not be in favor of a 15% rise, of course history shows us that assets don't always adhere to fundamentals (NASDAQ 2000 anybody).

I really don't know what will happen with Real Estate, but I do know that you should be cautious when buying it and understand all the risks in advance before doing so and I also know never to utter the words "impossible" as they just may come back to bite me......

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP

Friday, February 10, 2006

The New Financial Aid Rules

The New Financial Aid Rules (Consumer Action: Personal Finance)

Parents with children who are beginning to think about college, this is an article to pay attention too. No major changes in student loans, but interest rates will be much higher than in the past few years, though loan limits have also increased.

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP

Thursday, February 09, 2006

30-Year Bond Sold for 1st Time in 5 Years

30-Year Bond Sold for 1st Time in 5 Years: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Talk about a good deal, if the goverment is smart they'll keep issuing 30 year bonds - 4.53% is less than you can earn in a 1 year CD. They yield curve is inverted - the question remains what that means.

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Reimers leaves investors mystified 02/01/2006 Reimers leaves investors mystified

Another update in the Plan Compliance Group Scandal. Nothing new, except now the SEC is investigating. It appears that the FBI, SEC, and two state AG's are invovled, though little has actually been released as to findings.

As expected, the investors and school districts hurt by Reimers are extremely upset and attempted to confront him at the Bankruptcy hearing. My hearts and prayers go out to these individuals and their families.

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP