JUST PLAIN TALK: There’s plenty to be thankful for at Thanksgiving

Buz Livingston
Buz Livingston

After this scorching summer, I am grateful for cold weather and that once again Walton County was spared hurricane damage. Anyone who thinks about riding out a hurricane like Michael should speak with people living on the east side of Saint Andrews Bay. The recovery from Hurricane Michael will be an ongoing project for decades. I appreciate hurricane panels but not the fact they get heavier with age.

While it gives me great joy to see the Georgia Bulldogs repeat as SEC East champions, I’m more grateful for my diploma. Without it, my life would be vastly different. When your kids come home from college for Thanksgiving, encourage them. A degree doesn’t make you any smarter, but it may open a door somewhere down the road that may not be on your radar today. Speaking of college, I’m glad tuition was reasonable then. It is stunning Congress specifically singled out student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy in 2005. Not to be “Debbie Downer” so close to turkey day, but student loans now total over $1.5 trillion, more than automobile or credit card debt.

I’m thankful for Spellcheck in Word and Grammarly on the web. If someone would invent “Dumb Check,” I would be set for life.

I am thankful John Bogle decided to market an index fund. It was not an immediate hit; instead, it was closer to a flop. I am glad he stuck to his vision; you should be, too. Remember Woody Allen’s quote, “Ninety percent of success is just showing up.” Keep plugging away; something good may happen.

Let me give a special Turkey Day shout out to Bill Bernstein, author, neurologist, and investment advisor. Bernstein once said he flew planes and helped kids who couldn’t walk, but retirement planning is “probably harder.” In his book, “The Birth of Plenty,” he makes the case that four things make prosperity possible. In Russia, now under Putin and formerly under Stalin, criminals and monopolists arbitrarily stole from innovators because property rights don’t exist. As with property rights, scientific rationalism is essential for economic growth. For centuries, religious dogma and state tyranny thwarted the scientific method indispensable for technological advances. Another leg supporting prosperity is easy access to capital markets. Efficient transportation and communication provide the final boost. Initially, it was river transport followed by steam power then railroads and today the internet. Unlike many investment advisors, Bernstein argues people should dial back their risk as they get older pointing out that stocks can be “nuclear level toxic” for retirees.

I am so thankful for the girls and boys who make the noise up and down the A; this area’s musical talent mesmerizes me. Thanks to the venues that support them, too.

I am thankful for my family, especially my wife, like a fine wine she gets better. As always, I’m grateful you read this far.

You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.