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Tuesday, 20 January 2015 17:17

Dream Date

Last Saturday Ralph and I decided to go to the Festival of Chocolate. We really had no idea what to expect, but what we found was better than even I could have imagined; we stumbled on to, what could only be described as, a teenage boy’s dream date. First, the festival took place at the Miami Auto Museum. So sprinkled amongst the booths of chocolatiers, was a very interesting collection of autos from classic and contemporary cinema. Candy and cars, already much more than we could ask for. 

Published in Sapient Salesman
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 16:57

Tasty Turkey Burgers

This recipe yields three juicy and very beef-like turkey burgers. However, it's a transcription of a fluid process and therefore I ask that you forgive the fact that the measurements include 'handful' increments. Just remember, cooking is as much art as science; I'm sure your hands are the perfect size. 

1lb Ground Turkey (85% lean; don't use breast only, we're going for juicy here)
1 tbsp Cajun Spice Burger Blend - Zesty Bayou Blend
2 handfuls of finely diced onion (or 1 handful each of onion and green bell pepper)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed 
3 slices sharp cheddar
3 Hawaiian Buns 
Sliced fresh tomato
Burger condiments to taste

Combine all ingredients well. Divide into three balls and smash them into patties. Let patties sit on counter until they achieve room temperature. 

Preheat a cast iron skillet to 375 degrees. Place burgers in skillet and turn heat down to 50%. Let sit without disturbing until cooked meat begins to climb up side of the burger. Flip. Cover loosely for a couple min. Remove cover, kick heat back up to 60% until any condensation boils off.

Place cheese on patties. Cover again and turn off stove. When cheese is melted uncover and let rest in pan for a minute or so. 

Serve hot. 

Published in Recipes
Monday, 12 January 2015 21:54

Cover Photos

I’ve spent the last decade carefully honing my morning ritual. Sure there have been some changes - Miami’s climate prompted me to trade the fleece Jets blanket I affectionately call my ‘thinking cape’ for a pair of focus flip-flops - but the core process has remained the same. I wake up, wander about a bit, and check my newsletters email account while the coffee brews. Most of the time there’s nothing worthwhile - just a bunch of bogus deals and cliche coupons - but lately I’ve come to really enjoy the stock photos that are circulating... and their unintended implications. 

Published in Sapient Salesman
Tuesday, 06 January 2015 17:35

The Flood

Inside the kitchen sink Ralph installed a metal shelf. I don’t know what they are called, but trust me you’re familiar with the device − the grid-looking thing that keeps the dishes from sitting directly on the sink bottom. Anyway, I got to cleaning the other day and realized the sink’s surface could really stand a cleaning. Lazy, as usual, I figured it faster to just fill the sink with a little hot water, a splash of bleach, and some dish soap and let science do the scrubbing for me. So I plug up the drain, flip on the faucet, and head outside to see what Ralph is up to.  

Published in Sapient Salesman

The following is an analysis of the merits of taking your Social Security benefits at age 62 vs. age 66. This discussion assumes two conditions: that you stop working at or before age 62, and that you have an IRA investment account that is funded from an IRA, 401K, or lump sum distribution from a pension plan.


Let me introduce a little history into our conversation, Social Security was enacted in 1935 with a retirement eligibility age of 65. The average life expectancy at that time was just under 60 years for a man and 64 years for a woman, so the government really didn’t plan to pay benefits to most people. Therefore the plan to fund the benefits to recipients with the contributions of the active participants probably made some sense. (By the way, if you research what they call this type of funding today, pyramid scheme, and Ponzi are the most often mentioned). Fast forwarding to today, in 2015 the average life expectancy is 76 for males and 81 for females, so you are doing your government a disservice by retiring early and living too long.


Let’s get back to the topic at hand, if you take your Social Security at age 66 you receive a full benefit, but you need to fund your retirement for the four prior years from your IRA account. If you elect to receive Social Security benefits at age 62, they are reduced by 25% but your IRA account is not diminished by the  amount of the reduced benefit for four years. Also note that at lower income levels Social Security Benefits are not taxed, while distributions from IRAs are taxed as regular income. Everybody’s individual case is unique from the perspective of actual dollars and tax rates, but the ratios and the forward looking projections are the same for everyone. I list the calculators, in the appendix, that I used and invite you to run your own numbers.




Age 66 benefit: $16,000 yr / $1,333 mo.                   Age 62 benefit: $12,000 yr / $1,000 mo.


The difference at age 66 is $4,000 yr. or $333 mo., but what does that do to your IRA? There are three answers to this question;

  1. I put the money under my mattress and it earned nothing.

  2. I left it in my IRA and it earned 5%.

  3. I left in in my IRA but I would have had to pay a 10% income tax when I withdrew it.


The answers are;

  1. $48,000 reduction in my IRA

  2. $52,775 reduction in my IRA based on a 5% return on investment in my IRA over 4 years.`

  3. $58,050 reduction in my IRA based on the rules in B. and with the 10% income tax.


So, I took my Social Security early, but now I’m 66 and I have a benefit shortfall of $4,000 yr or $333 mo. how long will those dollar amounts listed above last covering the difference?

  1. 12 years, or until I’m 78

  2. 21 years, 8 mo, or until I’m almost 88.

  3. 26 years, or until I’m 92.


I don’t recommend option A, unless you’re a man not planning to exceed today’s life expectations. But no matter which model you like, you are better off taking your benefits at 62. Here’s the final benefit, all calculations with the dollars in the A, B, and C categories are inheritable, Social Security is not. So if you pass prior to age 78, 88, or 92, some of that money is passed on to your heirs.


I took very conservative estimates for return on investment (5%) tax rates (10%) and my calculations are from reputable websites. The “how long will my money last” calculations are based in reverse mortgages, and all interest based calculations are based on quarterly compounding.







Compound Interest Calculator - INVESTOR.GOV  an SEC website

Annuity Tables - FINANCE.YAHOO.COM   Look for spending calculators

Social Security Rules - SSA.COM


My assumptions for return on investment rates were based on the table below:


ROI Table.gif

Published in Sapient Substitute

Erin Wilson is the author and publisher of the Sapient Salesman

A "sapient salesman"?

 A sapient salesman is tasked with being a psychologist, technologist, empathist, humorist, conversationalist, and a dozen other “ists” in the course of practicing their salescraft. Most people can’t wear that many hats, and these tidbits are designed to minimize your millinery mandates. Read more

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