I just realized that this is my 130th column in this weekly series on WebCPA. This means that I have penned 130 pieces on financial planning.

Over the past number of years, my financial planning specialty and contact with many of the preeminent financial planners and advisors in this country has yielded some interesting results. Many people believe that in order to benefit, you have to be a financial advisor or specialist or planner. Not so. All you have to do is keep your ears open for what they are saying. Actually, I benefited from the experience of all those I have been put in contact with… so much so that I altered my own game plan a few years ago.

First thing I learned was not simply what asset allocation meant but how it should be applied. As of now, I have interest in the Big Five: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and commodities. To break this down, I have value-appreciated property in both New York and in Florida. As to mutual funds, I rearranged my 401(k) plan so that instead of having all the money in one basic mutual fund, I diversified bringing in a wide range of funds, actually 10 in all. The results? Rather staggering. In the past year, even with the mutual fund scandal and the depressed stock market, I realized an extremely healthy return on the investment.

In the bond market, I selected a New York tax-free municipal bond that yields 10.50% on average, throws off a nice dividend, which I reinvest to buy more stock, and over the past three years, has tripled in value.

On stocks, I finally deep-sixed all those fancy stocks with strange sounding names that I got as "tips," offered by sources such as my sons and neighbors in favor of stocks of products or services that I use and like. I've experienced a steady, solid growth. After all, I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I don't simply invest in a particular discount store; I shop there regularly.  As for tech stocks, I got rid of many of them following the bust, taking my losses on the 1040, and retaining only two that are just starting to climb upwards, albeit admittedly a long way from home.

And to round it all up, I went into commodities in the nature of gold. When stocks go down, gold goes up. When the dollar tanks, gold goes up.

So, I listened quite well to those financial planners and advisors around me and you know something? They were right on the money.

And finally, I make sure the tree in back is fed only with Miracle Grow.

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