I received mail from my high school reunion committee (I don't remember having any input as to who's on the committee), but I have been alerted that in a few weeks, I will be able to attend my 50th high school reunion. Yes, I said 50, the AARP minimum enrollment age. My eyeballs began to tear, my arthritic knees began to crack, I lost the hearing in one ear, and I began to drool, although in good conscience it might have been the dark chocolate pudding with whipped cream I have been thinking about, courtesy of the better half.


Fifty years, folks, count 'em. I'd rather not.


Now, what does this have to do with financial planning? Stay with me on this. According to the committee, a third of the boys (I went to an all-boys school in Philadelphia), are considered "missing" in that this erstwhile committee had no idea what happened to them, another third were deceased (now that's a bitter pill to swallow), and half of the remaining third weren't interested in any such reunion. I side with that latter group because the last time I attended one of these reunions (at 25 years), the group picture taken reflected that two of the classmates were unidentified; in other words, no one knew who they were. Guess who was one of them?


So, the committee, in its infinite wisdom (I emphasize only the word infinite), came up with a weekend in Philadelphia that had a price tag attached to it that was mindboggling. If I went alone, I would only have to mortgage my house to pay for it; if I took the better half, I would have to sell off a few grandchildren.


I didn't bother to respond. You know what happens when you do that? I get another letter in the mail on fancy letterhead showing the class seal and now advising that in view of the fact that "several" of the classmates (probably considerably more than several) weren't able to attend all of the events planned, it was requested that the committee break down the cost of the weekend among several events and allow participants to sign up for only some of these events. "Because we want to maximize attendance, we are complying with these requests." Did they think they were going to get away with something?


Perhaps this school should have learned from the Master about charging for reunions. At the same time, I received a reunion letter from my graduate school (actually, it's the North American Reunion) because Oxford doesn’t force you to travel to England but will have reunions wherever you reside. New York is one of them. Right from the get-go, they broke the weekend events down into specifics so that you pay for whatever it is you want to attend. The only free event was going to the registration desk.


Now, what does this have to do with financial planning? People want to know what they are paying for, and they like specifics. One of the best financial planners around tells me that when she sits with a client to go over plans, she breaks down the cost factors, explaining what parts of a program may cost. It used to be that planners took commissions on what they sold such as insurance, but more and more have moved to a fee-based arrangement where they charge the client for work done on a specific plan. For example, the cost for doing this is xxx dollars. If you want this done too, it's yyy dollars. And should you decide to include this, then it's zzz dollars.


So, the bottom line here is that I probably won't go to my high school reunion but probably will go to the college one because I just liked the way they did things. One showed Class and the other showed Crass.

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