Special Note: This is Roger Michalski, publisher of Eagle Financial Publications. You may have noticed that Skousen Cafe is a day early this week. That is because I wanted everyone to know that today is Mark Skousen and his wife Jo Ann’s 50th wedding anniversary. Please join me in congratulating them on 50 incredible years. If you’d like to send them a personal congratulations, email Skousenmark23@gmail.com.
Exactly 50 years ago, my wife and I were married in Provo, Utah.
Back then, I had a lot of hair. Now, fifty years later, I look quite different. My Jo Ann still looks the same, beautiful as ever!
Together, Jo Ann and I have enjoyed quite a ride, living in Washington DC; the Bahamas; London; Orlando; New York, and now California. We have five children and eight grandchildren.
We’ve written books together, traveled the world, taught at major colleges and universities, co-edited Forecasts & Strategies and started FreedomFest and the Anthem film festival.
In 2019, Jo Ann and I hosted a Saturday morning breakfast at FreedomFest in Las Vegas, and spoke on the topic, “Investing for Two: How Couples Can Successfully Manage their Finances.”
Jo Ann spoke first. I asked her to write up her notes. Here is her message:
Partnership Investing: Using Comparative Advantage to Create a Diversified Portfolio
By Jo Ann Skousen
When I spoke at investment conferences years ago, men often asked me this question: “How can I convince my wife to be interested in investing?”
I soon realized that what they really meant was, “How can I get my wife to agree with me?”
Too often, talking about family finances becomes a one-sided discussion. If it’s hard to agree on where to go for dinner, it’s even harder to agree on where to put your money. But the beauty of investing is that it’s more like a vast food court than a prix fixe restaurant. There’s more than one way to do it right. You don’t have to eat sushi if you prefer tacos. As long as you have the same goals and underlying values, you don’t have to agree on the details.
I’ve always been pretty good with money. Even as a young girl, I kept track of everything I spent and evaluated my expenditures every month. I might have regretted an impulse purchase once, but I didn’t make the same mistake twice. I never borrowed money, and I always had savings for unexpected extras. My parents trusted me with their household budget from the time I was 14.
When Mark and I were first married, couples tended to have one shared checking account, and if a woman bought something on credit, her husband paid the bill. Having been completely autonomous with money my whole life, I knew this was not going to work for me.
‘Divide and Conquer’
We had a family meeting about how we would manage our money, and quickly established two checking accounts and two credit cards. I would be responsible for one, and he would be responsible for the other. Next, we discussed our savings goals and how we would invest our money. Mark and I have different risk tolerances, so it would have been easy for him to take over and do all the investing. And if that had happened, he would have been the man asking some other investment speaker, “How can I convince my wife to be interested in investing?”
The answer is simple: people are interested in what they are actively doing. “Assign your wife a portion of the family savings,” I used to tell them. “Nothing engages you as much as experience!” And if she gets it wrong? “Give her time, and give her encouragement. She’ll get it right.” And women did! Before long, women were not only investing, they were becoming investment managers and financial writers.
Here is what Mark and I have discovered over the years: You don’t have to agree to be successful investors.
In fact, a couple’s differences become their strengths as they develop a more diversified portfolio.
Seven Tips for Partnership Investing
The first step is to discuss common goals and values and come to an agreement on basic money management philosophy. Ours looks something like this:
- No consumer debt. Pay off all credit cards every month.
- Save 10 percent of everything you earn, and pay yourself first.
- Discuss large purchases together.
- Decide what “large” means.
- Divide budgeting responsibilities and decide who will pay which bills each month.
- Keep track of expenditures and have a budget review meeting periodically to make sure you are on track with your goals.
- Then — let go. Trust each other. If the family goals and values are being followed, don’t judge or criticize the choices your partner makes.
How to Create a Well-diversified Portfolio
Everyone knows how to create a well-diversified portfolio, right? It’s called an investment pyramid. Conservative investments provide the broad base, moderate risks fill in the middle and speculations create the little cap on top. The shape of your pyramid should change over the years, with a tall skinny pyramid early on when you have plenty of income-earning years ahead of you, and a fat squatty pyramid as you move into retirement and time has run out on making up a big loss.
Can you see where this is headed? Divide and conquer!
People have different personalities, interests and comfort levels. That’s a good thing. Different approaches can lead to successful, well- balanced outcomes. So, the next step is to evaluate each other’s strengths and risk tolerance, and invest accordingly.
“A Viennese Waltz Down Wall Street”
Are You a Conservative Turtle or a Speculative Hare?
For example, I tend to be a conservative investor. I don’t like risk, even if it means settling for a lower return. My investment account has had a lot of mutual funds and insurance products over the years. Mark is more of a risk-taker. He loves the thrill of the chase and the bragging rights of doubling his money, even if it means losing some money along the way. He likes to find individual stocks and companies with good stories.
We discuss our results from time to time, but we don’t compete, and we don’t blame. We are on the same team, so his successes are my successes, and his losses are my losses. Since I don’t make a big deal over the occasional losers, he feels comfortable talking to me about his investment choices. And since he has a good track record, I’ve become more comfortable with moderate risks. Together, we have created a well-diversified portfolio.
The best example of combining our risk aversion and risk tolerance for a successful partnership happened several years ago, when an investment Mark had purchased for pennies zoomed up to over $13 a share. We decided to sell, and I cheered him for the great speculation. And then I sat him down and said, “We’re going to pay off the house with half the profits.” And we did. Owning that house free and clear has given us the freedom to accept opportunities and pursue interests we could not have enjoyed with a large mortgage to satisfy. It has also provided the broad conservative base for our investment pyramid. Speculative investing meets conservative saving = financial freedom.
Of course, no portfolio could be complete without some gold in it. Our biggest risk with the happiest result was the unlimited partnership we created 50 years ago when we each said “I do.” As we celebrate our Golden Anniversary today, we are thankful for each other and for the best dividends of all: a posterity that numbers five children and eight grandchildren and counting — and will continue to pay dividends into the eternities.
Want to know more?
At this year’s FreedomFest, we look forward to meeting you all and discussing in more detail how to achieve financial success as individuals and as husbands and wives.
Won’t you join us in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 12-15? Below, we have a special “50th Anniversary” special to encourage you to come.
20th Anniversary of Eagle Publishing My Newsletter
I’m pleased to announce that 2023 is the 20th year of my partnership with Eagle Financial Publications. The following financial editors at Eagle Financial Publications will be at FreedomFest this July — Jim Woods, Bryan Perry, George Gilder, Dave Phillips, Roger Michalski, Paul Dykewicz and yours truly, as part of our three-day investment conference. Stop by our booth.
I am thrilled to announce that “The Twin Towers of Finance” will speak on “The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned After 50 Years 0n Wall Street: What Works and What Doesn’t.” They spoke at FreedomFest at the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, and now they have returned for an encore appearance that you won’t want to miss.
I consider these two professors THE pioneers in finance: Jeremy Siegel, the Wizard of Wharton and author of the classic “Stocks for the Long Run,” and Burt Malkiel, Princeton economist and author of the classic “A Random Walk Down Wall Street.” Both have just released their latest editions. I will be interviewing these two legends.
Other financial experts for this year’s big show include Louis Navellier, Alexander Green, Steve Forbes, David Bahnsen, Jeffrey Hirsch, Addison Wiggins, Van Simmons and Dave Phillips.
All in all, we will have over 200 speakers this year. There’s something for everyone. If you haven’t been, you are in for an unforgettable experience.
Steve Forbes says it best, “FreedomFest is my favorite conference. I attend all three days. I wouldn’t miss it.”
Special Discount Code for Subscribers to Skousen CAFÉ
Good News! In honor of our 50th anniversary, I’ve arranged a special code to get $77 off the registration fee at FreedomFest. Use code EAGLE77 when you register at https://freedomfest.swoogo.com/memphis2023. Or call Hayley, at 1-855-850-3733, ext. 201.
Note: The first 200 subscribers who sign up for FreedomFest will receive autographed copies of the latest edition of Jeremy Siegel’s and Burt Malkiel’s books at no extra charge!
Good investing, AEIOU,
Here are some more details about our big show in Memphis:
THE Annual Gathering of Freedom Fighters
My wife and I started FreedomFest, “the world’s largest gathering of free minds,” back in 2007, because we realized that we were losing the battle of freedom. To reverse the tide, we needed to meet together once a year to learn, network, socialize and celebrate liberty.
As Ben Franklin famously declared, “We must all hang together, or we shall surely hang separately.”
We all live busy lives focusing on our businesses and personal lives, but can’t we gather together once a year for three to four days to change the world for the better?
Thousands are saying yes!
We are now in our 16th year and growing in influence and excitement. This year we are meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, July 12-15. Here is our latest announcement:
You Nailed it!
Vernon Smith Wins the Inaugural Doti-Spogli Free EnterPRIZE
As part of my duties as the newly endowed Doti-Spogli chair of free enterprise at Chapman University in California, I’m in charge of awarding each year a prize to an individual who has best promoted free enterprise.
The winner receives an Adam Smith statue and five gold coins worth $11,000.
This year’s winner is Vernon L. Smith, the Nobel-Prize-winning economist at Chapman University. We gave him the prize last Thursday.
We filled the room with students, faculty and friends of Chapman University. Jim Doti (former president of Chapman) and Dean Henrik Cronqvist presented the Adam Smith statue and the five gold coins. Ron Spogli had a conflict and was unable to attend.
Of the five coins, I gave Vernon a rare 1927 Double Eagle, which I obtained from Van Simmons, my favorite coin dealer (David Hall Rare Coins). Van also supplied me with a 1912 gold Double Eagle that I gave to Milton Friedman in New Orleans back in 1999. Both men were born under the gold standard.
Vernon and his wife Candace seemed deeply moved by the 1927 double eagle and the entire ceremony. Afterward, I interviewed him with 20 questions about economics and life. One was, “I understand you have a contract with your wife to live to 106. Why 106?” He said he had an uncle who lived to be 105, and he wanted to beat him. It got a big laugh. Overall, Vernon was in his element and in fine shape for a man who is 96 years old.
One of my first questions was, “Given that your mother was a card-carrying member of the American Socialist Party; you voted for Norman Thomas in 1948 and your first college teachers were Keynesians Paul Samuelson and Alvin Hansen; how did you end up a free-market economist?”
He answered: “The study of economics made the difference.”
Vernon Smith’s Favorite Economist: Adam Smith!
Notice in the photograph above that Vernon is wearing an unusual Adam Smith tie. He is a big fan of Adam Smith (no relation), and was quite pleased to see that I had made Adam Smith, the founder of free-market economics, the hero and protagonist of my book “The Making of Modern Economics.” (Adam Smith is on the cover.)
In my book, every economist after Smith is ranked either for or against the Adam Smith classical model: limited government, free trade, sound money and balanced budgets.
Vernon Smith is highlighted in a couple of chapters, especially his contribution to experimental economics, where he demonstrated that competition is very strong even when there are only a couple of dominating firms.
On page 30, I have a cool photograph of Vernon Smith, Eamonn Butler and me dedicating the Adam Smith statue on July 4, 2008, on High Street in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In the Washington Times, Richard Rahn wrote that he considers my book, “The single best book ever written on economics.”
John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, has read it three times, and says, “It’s fun to read on every page” because I liven up the book with pictures, anecdotes and easy-to-understand concepts in economic life. I even have music to go with each chapter.
Chapter headlines are fun too, such as “It All Started with Adam”…“Marx Madness”…“Out of the Blue Danube”…”The Keynes Mutiny”… and “Milton’s Paradise” (about Milton Friedman).
It’s now in its fourth edition, published by Routledge. It’s won several awards, including the Choice Book Award for Academic Excellence, and was rated #2 best book in economics by a writer from the Ayn Rand Institute, just behind Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.”
You can buy the book on Amazon, but it’s much cheaper if you buy it through www.skousenbooks.com for only $35. I pay the postage and autograph each copy.