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Retirement Learning Curve

A few years ago I started leaning toward finding equities that delivered a decent dividend. Now that I read S/A every day I feel like I know what I'm doing and feel comfortable with dividend growth.

It was not always thus.

At times I have felt the need to invest with the advice and direction of professionals.

The letter came in the mail, offering a free dinner and presentation of financial advice for someone nearing retirement. In brief, the food and wine were great, the talk was interesting. Sam offered a free consultation to discuss each person's particular needs.

AT this first meeting Sam got to know my wife and myself. We then were invited to a second free meeting. We discussed how much I had invested. By then, I was fully invested in nothing but dividend payers, but lacked a plan. Sam suggested we needed multiple streams of income to assure our money would last. The first thing Sam said at the diner was that he was a fiduciary and would work on a yearly fee and help do all types of financial planning. What could go wrong?

We agreed to pay him $1260 for the first year's advice. It was at the next meeting that we learned that Sam found the only investment that made sense was a variable annuity. He also told me I could sell all the equities I currently held to fund the annuity. His mistake was telling me I would owe no capital gains tax on any of those profits as long as the money went to the annuity. After checking that tid bit of information I fired Sam.

Another financial expert wanted me to pay 1 1/4% of my entire holdings for him to invest my money in mutual funds. Let's see, 1 1/4% plus close to 1% to the mutual fund would reduce my nest egg by at least $200,000 over a 25 year retirement. I now feel more than comfortable with a daily read of Seeking Alpha.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Additional disclosure: not writing about a specific stock