Nancy: “Found six accounts my deceased mother-in-law had in Kansas via your unclaimed property link.”

Albert Fosha: “Your paragraph from the guy trying to get a small bit of unclaimed money back from Georgia struck a nerve with me. Last year I got a notice from Illinois (I now live in Washington State) that their unclaimed property office had an insurance dividend from my deceased father’s insurance. The value was around $250.00. And they sent detailed instructions as to what they needed in order for me to get it. After three tries — each time they would come back with a request for additional information, I sent them a letter telling them to keep it and give it to the deserving poor or whatever it was they did with these funds. The legal stuff they wanted would have cost almost as much as the claim. This was evidently what they were waiting for as I never heard from them again. In my estimation a bureaucrat is the lowest form of life on the planet.”

☞ I think maybe there are two kinds of bureaucrats. Those who deserve the negative image the term connotes — like the ones you encountered. And others — perhaps equally numerous — who do a good job and deserve some other nomenclature . . . perhaps, “public servants.” Down with the former (or give them the incentives and flexibility to think more creatively and do a better job), up with the latter!


Randy D.: “First you could help search for aliens with SETI. Now your computer can help fight AIDS in its spare time.”

☞ Check out Salon’s story or jump straight to fightaidsathome.org and get to work.”


Maura Murphy: “You forgot to tell Beth not to cancel her existing policies until the new one’s in place. It would be terrible to hear that the underwriters for the new term policy found that she had some uninsurable condition, and her old TERRIBLE but in force policies had already been cancelled.”

☞ True!


Gerry: “The stockbroker wanted to talk with me about some investments. I had been doing some reading, specifically, the newest edition of [a certain investment guide], so I had an idea of what I did not want to hear from him. Before I left my office for the appointment, the local credit bureau flyer arrived and, in perusing it, I noticed my broker’s name listed with a $7,000 final court judgement against him! Oh boy! I did not bring that matter up with him nor did he happen to mention it. But it was interesting that all he could offer me during the meeting were annuities, loaded mutual funds, unit trusts, and so on and so on; everything with high fees! I suppose a cynical person might think that maybe the broker thought this little gray haired lady would buy some of these gems and generate some good fees for the broker! Not on your life. I just said NO and referred to what I had learned from reading your book. Of course, he had a set, slick comeback (something about how financial writers just don’t understand annuities, etc). He also tried to dazzle me with charts and graphs and tax savings . . . blah, blah, blah. Had I thought to bring your book with me, I could have fended him off like Van Helsing did Dracula with the crucifix. (Sorry for the Dennis Millerism there!). Anyway, I found a good discount broker. I will settle with T-bills for now (thru Treasury Direct), see how the markets shake out and give myself some more time to figure out what I want to invest in.”

☞ Giving yourself time is a fine idea. People who invest because money burns a hole in their pocket generally regret it. But “seeing how the market shakes out” implies you may wait until it seems safe again. Often it’s when it seems safest — buoyed by general confidence — that it is riskiest. I’m beginning to sound like a fortune cookie.


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