Something for the Ladies:

Finally, something for the ladies. In answer to the incessant letters, we have tried to come up with items of interest and help to the feminine gender. Your positive comments will be appreciated.

Every woman should be ready to take care of herself. Most of the nation's poor are older women. The time to prepare for this is when you're young, like now.

If you're attractive and single, the best financial plan would be to marry the right man.  In my own experience, recently, my son got married to a very lucky gal.  Not only is Jonathan a good looking boy, he's a skilled worker on both the physical and executive side and he has plenty of money and is getting more all the time.  Now that is what I call a financial plan.    

However, if you're married to a good provider, keep your thumb on his pulse.  My wife was married to a  wealthy man who went sour in later years.  Fortunately, she moved on with me.  God knows, she could've been out on the street.  

Now, what the hell does all this have to do with jewelry? a lot.   If you've got a good guy and it makes him happy to buy you stuff, have him buy you stuff of consequence:  significant diamond jewelry, upscale everything, the right emerald, the right watch.  If you enjoy these things, you'll have the status and satisfaction of being able to wear them forever.  Queen Isabella, after all, by saving her jewelry, was able to finance Columbus's trip to the new world.  Boy, where would we be if she wasn't a jewelry freak? (or a queen?)

As I am typing this, it reminds me that I hired a fine gal who I met because she was selling her jewelry. she is married to a lovely man who, though he tried, did not buy the right stuff.  Stay out of retail stores.  If it's in a mall, get lost.  

A very safe bet, if you're buying a significant amount of jewelry, is getting the jeweler to commit to what he'll buy it back from you for should a time of financial crisis arrive.  This is hard to do.  Most jewelers do not even have the feel for fine jewelry or the volume of business that they could make such a commitment.  At Capetown, we do this often with good reason: exceptional jewelry is not easy to find. The reason that we can do this is that our needs for exceptional gemstones, pearls, signed jewelry, etc. is so great that if, three or four years from now, somebody wants to sell the piece back, we haven't made that much profit on them that we can't buy it back and make a few bucks back again.  

 All day long, we interview a constant stream of people who are coming to sell their wares: ugly mundane shit.  We try to qualify them on the phone so as not to embarrass them on the phone when they come in. 

So, girls, guard your husbands accordingly.

One of my clients, Maria Bartiromo wrote this article, and I felt it would helpful to pass it along:

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As if losing loved ones wasn't painful enough for the victims of the September 11 attacks, soon after the shock of the atrocities, a new devastation set in for many of the widows: money worries. "My husband was our financial planner. He decided where to put our money," one grieving widow told me. "And he did it so well."

Like her, many wives of successful men across America have never had to deal with financial matters. But today, with job losses mounting, the Enron scandal's exposure of problems with corporate accounting, and the possibility of terrorism still looming, the need to be prepared for anything could not be more apparent.

The first steps:  Tell your spouse you want to have a say in family finances. "Be a part of the planning process," says Lisa Caputo, president of Women and Company, and investment firm specializing in women and their money. "The first step is getting a financial plan together," adds Barbara Raasch, a partner at Ernst & Young, LLP, in charge of wealth management. "Make sure you have an understanding of how much money comes into the house, what is going out, and how much investable income you have."

Next, you and your spouse should interview a handful of financial planners to see who best fits into your investing plan. You want to find someone who understand what you are trying to accomplish. Don't be afraid to tell him or her that you are a beginner and you don't understand everything. But never take one person's word as gospel, and do not blindly put money into stocks that you really do not understand.

Have at least some assets in your own name: It is important to have some assets in your name, both jointly, in the case of major assets like residences, and individually, in the case of IRAs and other investments. As Raasch says, "Even if you're a stay-at-home mom, if you have contributions in your own name, it forces you to take an interest." Aside from that, from a credit standpoint, you will want to have your own profile when it comes time to check on your rating. Make sure you are familiar with your state's laws when it comes to assets. Some states, such as California and Texas, recognize certain assets as community property as opposed to individual property. Know what is considered his, yours, and both of yours.

Set aside emergency funds: Many money managers say that you should have the equivalent of at least three to six months of household expenses on hand in case of emergency. Raasch also recommends putting that money in both names as well as in your children's, so that it can be accessed quickly and easily if you are not there. You can keep the money in a liquid account, such as a money market or a savings account.

Allocate your investment money: After you have taken stock of the money you and your spouse have to work with, your next steps will depend on a few things. First, your age. The younger you are, the more risk you can take on, say, by owning technology stocks versus more conservative investments like bonds and money market accounts. Next, decide what you need the money for. Are you trying to invest and make money to buy a house in two years? Or is your goal to send your child to college in ten years? Your goals will dictate how conservative you need to be with your investments. Don't forget that you know much more about what's hot and what isn't than anyone else in your home. Who knows better than you what your kids want to eat and to play with? Who knows better where all of the household money goes? If you see a company doing well, call up its investor-relations department and ask for its financials: the annual report, balance sheet, and income statement. Then, on the web, visit a site like Quicken to check earnings growth, and compare it to the S&P 500. One easy way is to find companies that are growing faster than the rest of the market, which is represented by the S&P.

Insurance and wills: Christine Fahlund, senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price, adds, "Don't forget about life and home insurance, as well as a will. And don't let your spouse decide the type and amount of insurance left to you. Look into how much you can both afford according to your budget, and make it a priority. Do not get a more expensive car and skimp on life insurance." Raasch says that the rule of thumb is to have, between your assets and insurance, thirty times your annual living expenses, to guarantee that you'll be financially independent.

Diversify 401(k)s: Don't put all your eggs in one basket, as many Enron employees did, only to lose everything. Keep no more than 25 percent of your portfolio in your husband's or your company's stock.

Dear friend-

I hope that some of our philosophy and hints for living are a help to you in your daily life. If not, I at least hope that you found some amusing, and were not bored. We have gotten enough calls, and letters to validate these passages. If you have read enough and are ready to move on, that is ok. Get your checkbook and click here to visit out main menu. Hopefully by now you have realized that we are a different kind of company.

My very best regards,

Carl Kenneth Marcus

PS. Remember: proper nutrition, get plenty of sleep, exercise, drink lots of water, and spend some money on yourself! Life is not a dress rehearsal. Shalom.