Weekly Update 3/25/13 Albuquerque

I had a speaking engagement in Albuquerque, New Mexico last week, where I delivered a presentation based on research conducted by my colleagues, Beth Allen and Chris Leone, on the topics of working in retirement and Social Security optimization strategies. My talk targeted an audience of financial advisors from around the country who are eager to understand how to maximize Social Security benefits for their clients.

Let’s face it: the 2008 market plummet could not have come at a worse time for Boomers, many of whom were perched at the precipice of a comfortable retirement, but are now faced with dwindling savings and the prospect of working well into their sixth decade. Now more than ever, it is vital for retirees to understand the impact of Social Security and strategize when to begin collecting benefits. Tomes have been written on the topic, but I will attempt to clarify the most basic principles in future Updates. However, for the moment, please allow me to digress onto more pressing matters.


Phonetically, it sounds like it should be spelled al-buh-kir-kee. I asked over a dozen people, and no one even came close to spelling it correctly. It must really be a drag living in a city where people can’t write the address on an envelope without looking it up in the dictionary. In our twitter and instant message-obsessed world, we already live in a grammatically defunct society as it is. Imagine the butchering that Post Office employees must see on a daily basis!

So I decided to look up the origin of the name. Apparently, it comes from Iberia and the Moorish “Abu al-Qurq”, which means Land of the Cork Oak. It is true there are many large cork oak plantations in parts of Spain and Portugal, so I guess Albuquerque = Land of the Cork Oak.

I did a little more research on odd-named cities. How would you like to live in these tongue twisted destinations?

· Puyallup, Washington

· Natchitoches, Louisiana

· Ypsilanti, Michigan

· Talliaferro County, GA (is pronounced Tolliver County.)

· Cudahy, WI

· Gloucester, MA (where a friend of mine resides)

· Woolloomooloo, Australia (Try to quickly say Woolloomooloo three times!)

This little bit of investigation is known as “toponymy,” the study of how places are named. When I learned this, I came across the word “metonymy,” which is a figure of speech that takes the name of one thing and applies it to another. An example of a metonymy is counting heads—which refers to counting people.

My metonymy of the week is income drain.

My personal household income drain is Nordstrom’s (or it’s so-called discount store, The Rack) because of my wife, Marea’s, daily contributions to the chains bottom line. As the economy continues to rebound, and the mall goers of the world flock back to shopping, the stock (JWN) is worth considering. Nordstrom is currently selling at $53.32 and offers a 2.3% dividend yield.

Other solid income drains in my household include TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods. All three “discount chains” (saving me loads of dough) are subs of TJX, a stock I must and do hold in my portfolio to help offset the monthly Amex and Visa bills. TJX is currently selling at 46.62 and the stock generates a 1% dividend yield. A more conservative approach to the above mentioned individual equity positions is to increase exposure to the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY).

By the way, the four most frequently looked up words on Merriam-Webster.com over the past four months are pragmatic, disposition, touché and lastly, didactic.

Happy Easter.

Happy Passover.

The Update is written by Chris Leone and Ron Mastrogiovanni.

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