David Merkel Blog | Praise for The Moneyist | TalkMarkets
Founder, Aleph Blog
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David J. Merkel, CFA — 2010-present, I run my own equity asset management shop, called Aleph Investments. I manage separately managed stock and bond accounts for upper middle class individuals and small institutions. My minimum is $100,000. From 2008-2010, I was the more

Praise for The Moneyist

Date: Sunday, January 19, 2020 7:53 AM EDT

Picture Credit: Marketwatch.com ||

Quentin Fottrell takes your questions and answers them…

I sometimes read Quentin Fottrell as he answers tough reader questions at The Moneyist, a column at Marketwatch.com. In general, I agree with what he advises 90% of the time, and think he does it in an entertaining way.

I say this as one that generally doesn’t like advice columnists. Sometimes I think they do more harm than good.

As I read some of the questions and answers in his column, I note several patterns.

  • Remarriage (after divorce or death of a spouse)
  • Divorce even without remarriage
  • Bad Communications, often intentional
  • Greed
  • Laziness
  • Various and sundry “Miss Manners” -type questions that are related to money

I want to give my own take on these issues.

Let’s start with the simplest of these — bad communications. The person with the assets doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of others, so he doesn’t reveal the full truth of what he is planning to do with them, stringing everyone along until he dies. The explosion happens after his death, when everyone fights over what they thought was theirs.

Bad communications on money can spoil many marriages. It is better to have frank conversations about money with your wife or husband than to leave them in the dark. Marriage is a joint venture — communications have to be frequent and loving if you want to succeed.

Then there are second marriages. After death of a spouse, it is simpler. Take a simple approach — yours, mine, and ours. Children from prior marriages can take a fixed share of the past prosperity immediately or in trust, or opt into the shared prosperity of the new family.

With divorce, it is harder, because the ex-spouse still lives and can advocate for his interests.

Laziness and greed are relatively simple issues. Limit your dealings with them to the minimum, and as much as possible, let the consequences for their behavior fall on them. Don’t bail them out until they genuinely want to change.

Finally, the heart of manners is treating others the way you would like to be treated.

  • Learn to forgive
  • Avoid greed of your own.
  • Realize that good family and friends are worth more than money
  • Don’t sponge off of others.
  • Be honest and courageous. A little pain now in being honest with someone that you are offending will save others a ton of pain later.
  • Above all, look out for the best interests of others. In a limited sense, that is what it means to love.

Anyway, kudos to Quentin Fottrell — keep answering the hard questions. Where I get opportunity, I will answer similar questions.

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