How To Survive a Retirement: The 3 Questions.

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In the AMC’s hit drama “The Walking Dead,” where the world is overrun by rotting corpses with a desire to feed on the living, there’s something even greater to fear.

The survivors.

negan two

Staying alive in a post-apocalyptic society appears to bring out the worst of what’s left of humanity. People are ruthless killers. Strength in numbers is the best defense, yet poses an interesting dilemma.

One wrong move, one bad decision, and you’re history.

Just like that.

Sometimes, overcoming the most complicated of challenges comes down to the obvious. Nothing’s perfect however complexity fosters confusion which can shift focus, divert your attention. And when your enemies, especially within, outnumber you, it’s only a matter of time before.

Well. You know (it isn’t good).

negan three

The good guys devised a simple screening method.

An initial shield to determine if strangers they encounter are worth entry into their community.

Three questions.

questions

Let’s see how you do. Will you pass or fail?

Are you team material?

Or are you best left alone to fend for yourself?

How many walkers (corpses with an appetite for the living), have you killed?

To safeguard others, a survivor must be willing to take out the undead (a shot or blow to the head does it). Plain and simple. If your zombie kills are minimal or non-existent there will be doubts about your contribution to the survival of the group.

How many people have you killed?

Unfortunately there are instances when tough decisions must be made for the sake of self-preservation.  Best the number of walkers taken out exceed the number of people otherwise you may become a victim yourself.

Why?

Tread carefully. The reasons for taking out the living best be because of personal survival. Or request. You see -There are sad instances when victims of zombie bites would rather die honorably, in their control, rather than expire from the disease they carry.

They would rather not wake up. Walk around.

zombies walking

As I ponder the power of simple questions, whether in fact or fiction, I have come to realize how most situations, no matter how serious, can be broken down to three questions you ask yourself or others ask you.

When it comes to preparing for retirement, there are so many differing rules, theories, planning tools –  in my mind I need to consider retirement similar to a zombie apocalypse.

Sort of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

If today, you could clear all the noise, reduce retirement planning to what concerns you the most, what you need to do to protect yourself – What three questions would you ask?

As I work with individuals to formulate personalized retirement strategies, three questions emerge consistently. As a matter of fact, it’s rare when one of these queries doesn’t arise.

Once you strip out the confusion, target the basics.

Focus comes down to three main concerns.

Random Thoughts:

A confident retirement comes down to the money coming in to a household.

Cash flow is everything.

Question #1: How much spendable income may I have on a monthly basis post-tax to keep me, or me and my spouse comfortable for 20 years? Simply put, how much can I have?

Why 20 years?

Let’s face it. The odds of becoming a centenarian are as slim as the dead coming back to life. OK, not that slim but infrequent enough to understand that age 100 shouldn’t be a default setting for retirement plans.

Everyone I counsel is asked to complete the thorough, thought-provoking life-expectancy calculator exercise at www.livingto100.com.  Eight out of ten outcomes come in between 80-85 years old. Women average longer life expectancies at 83-86 years old. Per calculator results, men rarely live past 84 years old.

Thought leader Dick Wagner and author of the new book “Financial Planning 3.0,” in a recent interview with the Journal of Financial Planning, stated “financial planning is very, very young as a profession. If you believe that 1969 was the first year for the profession, then we’re into our 47th year. That’s not very many years if you compare it to other authentic professions.”

So who are we as advisers to indiscriminately assume that retirees are going to live to 100? I’m not sure why I see this occur so often. Maybe it feels safe. Perhaps it’s CYA. Regardless, it’s inaccurate.

Candidly, even if the profession were a thousand years old, longevity analysis would remain a slim, educated guess at best. I am 100 percent certain however that establishing retirement income plans to conclude at age ‘unrealistic’ is an exercise in disappointment. People won’t adhere to goals, milestones they find impossible to achieve.

Please plan for reality. Not fiction. A reach to age 100 will most likely lead to unsuccessful plan outcomes. You won’t feel secure enough to retire or you’ll wait too long thus placing the quality of life in retirement, in jeopardy.

If you believe, based on family longevity and state of health, that there’s a great probability of living to 100, by all means, don’t ignore preparing for the possibility.

The topic is challenging and uncomfortable to discuss. It requires acknowledgement of our own humanity.

A seasoned adviser doesn’t overlook or dance around the topic of longevity. He or she should handle the conversation with grace and honesty. After all, we are all going to die (and hopefully not return to life like in The Walking Dead).

It’s something we all have in common. We don’t seem to like to think about it happening before age 100, especially when it comes to retirement planning.

In the same interview financial futurist Dick Wagner continues his thoughts on the financial planning profession:

“The mission and purpose of financial planning is to work with individuals and families and their personal relationships with money and the fearsome forces that it generates. There’s something about ‘fearsome forces’ – it’s terrifying. I mean, it’s a quintessential challenge of the 21st century: just try to survive with this money stuff. People do something that’s really hard, which is to anticipate their needs of the last 20-30 years of their lives. Now how do you do that? You have no idea what your health will be, you have no idea what your date of death is, you have no idea how long you can continue to earn a living.”

Financial planners deal with plenty of their own fearsome forces. One source of angst is to have straightforward, yet sensitive discussions; balance the thin line between a portfolio and human life because as Dick Warner lamented, there are plenty of unknowns.

Take it from me – we’re not fond of zombies in the planning process but they do exist.

Before you look to have a retirement plan completed, take it upon yourself to go through a life-expectancy calculator. Sit with the outcome for a while. Do the results make sense?

Once you’re at peace with the information, share it with your financial planner. Incorporate it into your analysis. You’ll both be in sync. You’ll tackle fearsome forces together. The synergy will lead to reasonable goals, follow up and fulfillment.

Question #2: Will Social Security be there for me?

The assumption that Social Security is a dying social program, regardless of the generation, runs pervasive. Don’t underestimate the importance of properly integrating Social Security into your retirement arsenal. For the majority of Americans, this is their sole income for life.

So, let’s clear up several misconceptions.

According to financial planning thought leader Michael Kitces in a recent voluminous Kitces Report on the topic, the Social Security system is often considered “going broke” by 2034. At that time it’s believed the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted.

Most planning clients have a difficulty believing the funds will last that long. Per the analysis, the majority of benefits will still be paid through tax revenues on workers paying payroll taxes at that time.

Social Security recipients usually receive Cost-Of-Living Adjustments each year. An added bonus to an income you cannot outlive is inflation protection. Unfortunately, COLA is not in the cards for 2016 (a rare occurrence), however overall, Social Security remains the best lifetime income deal available to the masses.

It’s best a retiree in good health plan to wait until at least full retirement age (66, or 67) or possibly later to apply for Social Security. By the time I’m consulted for formal retirement planning, many recipients have already applied for benefits early – at age 62, in fear of not being “grandfathered” into the system and losing future benefits.

Unfortunately, unless a household is cash-strapped or a recipient’s health is poor, there’s rarely a reason to apply for Social Security before full retirement age.

Starting early will have a lasting impact to monthly payouts. For example, a person with a full retirement age of 66 who started Social Security at age 62 would experience a permanent 25% annual reduction in benefits.

When I began my career in financial services during the great bull market of the 80s and 90s, the numbers worked out favorably for a Social Security recipient to apply for benefits early and invest the difference.

Since the year 2000, this strategy has been less effective. Over the last sixteen years I’ve witnessed improving life spans, people working longer and unattractive returns on investment assets, which has made Social Security a formidable hedge against longevity and adverse portfolio conditions.

In addition, Social Security has become a stealth, forced ‘savings’ program for a majority of households stressed to save for retirement in the face of rising college costs, financially caring for elderly parents and adult children, underwater mortgages and chronic underemployment.

For most recipients, waiting until age 70 to take advantage of an 8% delayed retirement credit is a smart strategy. In a majority of cases a retiree should seek to postpone Social Security, enjoy a permanent 8% bump in benefits, along with annual COLA (Cost-Of-Living-Adjustments).

Question #3: What should I be afraid of? I don’t really know.

This retirement game is unfamiliar territory. You’re outside the safe or familiar zone (which in The Walking Dead, is a dangerous place to be). Don’t be shy. Nothing is off limits. After all, this is a new experience. You’re not an expert (yet) at this next life phase.

Why not ask a tenured planner what you should fear? Better yet – ask friends and associates who have been retired – what did they find scary about this new world? What had they overlooked? What are the mistakes they’ve learned from? What were their greatest oversights?

There could be enemies hiding in plain sight (it’s tough to trust anyone in a world overrun by zombies), that may be overlooked because you’re too close to the situation.

Frequently I receive questions about fear in retirement. They usually have little to do with money. Ostensibly, information regarding Social Security, healthcare costs in retirement and other crucial topics, is widely available. A comprehensive retirement plan will cover all important financial concerns as well.

What’s difficult to find because a person needs to live it to learn it, is information on how emotionally challenging it is to navigate from the accumulation side of the household balance sheet to the distribution mindset – The new reality where a retiree must depend upon his or her assets to survive. Being outside the protective walls of a job or career is rarely discussed in financial planning circles.

From my experience, it takes at least a year for a retiree to gain comfort with a change in lifestyle, a satisfactory portfolio withdrawal rate, a new purpose for a life away from the office.

Never lose sight of the power of simple questions.

If they can keep the survivors of a zombie apocalypse alive.

Think about what they can do for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Ways The Living Are Dead With Their Money.

A version of this writing appears in Nerdwallet, NASDAQ.com & YahooFinance.com.

Zombies have gone mainstream in pop-culture due primarily to the popular cable television show – AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Wandering corpses are scary. Financial dead zones are equally frightening.

wandering zombies

There are situations that corner money in a dangerous place.

The habits are so stealth you may never calculate how many dollars were bled or lost.

There are indeed occasions when the living are dead with their cash.

Random Thoughts on how to protect yourself and avoid financial ‘zombie traps.’

Bank fees can chip away at the flesh and blood of net worth – Moebs Services a leading economic research firm in a recent study discovered that overdraft revenue for banks, credit unions and Thrifts was an astounding $32.5 billion for the year ending June 2015. That’s the highest level since June 2010.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau registered approximately 410,000 complaints from December 2011 to June 2015. What’s amazing is that out of them only 1.6% were attributed to overdrafts. Consumers lost billions in fees by overdrawing accounts, but rarely took issue with a median $27 dollar fee for protection. Talk about bleeding dollars!

To avoid or minimize this zombie trap link-up a savings account or credit card to your checking. For an average charge of $5, money will transfer automatically to cover.  You can actively opt-out of a bank’s automatic overdraft program, too. Even better – Consider institutions with no overdraft fees. Google Nerdwallet and check their list of banks that won’t bloody you with overdraft charges.

Don’t ignore 401K allocations.  Your company retirement account is a potential dead zone. Once money is invested, there are two potential, lethal bites to net worth. First, there’s a tendency to build a stealth overweight in company stock whether it’s through payroll contributions or employer match.

The danger arises when 15% or more of your liquid assets are tied up in one investment and it underperforms or worse – drops dramatically in price, as witnessed in the energy sector over the last year. To manage risk, once (if) the stock allocation becomes monstrous, or 15-20% of the total value of a retirement account, protect yourself and trim it back to less than 15%.

Second, there’s a tendency to invest and forget: In other words, employees rarely review, alter or rebalance holdings. Money requires attention to deflect a zombie pitfall. Set aside 30 minutes every 3 months to ensure investment selections still fit your tolerance for risk, sell (take profits) from what’s performed the best, and determine whether you’re comfortable with your overall mix or asset allocation. Consider using the services of a Certified Financial Planner to provide an objective analysis of current investments and specific recommendation changes.

Minimum credit card payments. According to Nerdwallet, as of October 2015, U.S. household average credit card debt is $16,140. In zombie environs, this balance would be considered a herd. A group of living dead that moves as one, like waves. They overwhelm everything in their path.

So, if the minimum payment is roughly 5% of the balance (plus interest) at an interest rate of 15% (U.S. median), it would take close to 11 years to pay off the balance (assuming you stop using the card). Yikes. Talk about dead money!

In addition, you would incur $5,327 in interest charges. Minimum payments are not adequate weapons against herds. You’re going to need more firepower. Consider special deals that come with balance transfer offers, use liquid savings (which currently pay close to zero), or call the credit card company and ask for a lower rate – I’ve witnessed people negotiate attractive rates and save thousands.

Stealth, recurring charges. They are the most horrific. They’re like zombies in the fog. You won’t notice until it’s too late. Recently, after a close examination of my credit card statements, I discovered a quarterly payment of $9 dollars to a forgotten newsletter. I’m ashamed to say this had been going on for TWO YEARS. I bled money for 8 quarters!

Think about the recurrent payments you haven’t cleaned up because they’re a nuisance or frankly, you don’t remember. Debits for subscription periodicals you no longer read or membership fees for services you rarely use. This living dead walks among your credit balances. Just look.

PRINT (no online review) and closely examine your credit card and checking account statements at the minimum on a quarterly basis. Be proactive to battle the fog zombies. Call vendors to not only stop future debits but to reimburse you for services you haven’t used. I did. They rebated four quarters of charges.

Paying extra on a mortgage. Borrowers love to pay extra on their mortgages. It feels good. Like a cure that protects against lethal zombie bites. It isn’t. Most homeowners will stay in their residences for 5 years (not 30). Making larger payments is money taken from the life blood of liquidity. The additional cash has the potential for greater and higher uses like reducing high-interest debts, building emergency liquid reserves, bolstering investments that will be needed to generate retirement income. Unless you plan to remain in a house for 10 years or longer, paying extra only makes sense if you have adequately funded investments or completely paid off debts.

Overlooking important employer benefits. Benefits enrollment season is about to begin. Annually, I observe employees make mistakes that leave their futures up to chance. For example, they fail to take medical coverage or feel disability insurance isn’t required since “nothing bad is going to happen.”

There are hazards that have potential to wield long-term damage. A serious illness or a disability without adequate insurance coverage leaves you exposed to unrecoverable financial shocks. It would be like fending off a bunch of ravenous zombies with a plastic teaspoon.

It’s smart to accept when you’re outnumbered. To survive, transferring risk to a fighter with great resources (like an insurance company), is a money-smart way to live.

The dead can devour money.

They have an appetite for poor financial decisions.

Now you know how to detect and destroy them.

And live a zombie-free, financially less-frightening life.

zombie comic

The Zombie Way: 7 Life Lessons From The Living Dead.

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Zombies have been taking over your city whether you realize it or not.

It’s been happening for decades.

zombie city

Good enough reason to keep your doors locked, people! Not that locked doors help for long. After all, a mere few zombies can turn over cars so bolted doors and measly plywood over windows buys you just enough time to say goodbye to the loved ones.

night barrage

Sooner or later you’re on the menu.

Zombies are so white-red hot right now; these decaying, staggering masses or the deadest of “us,” easily steal attention away from popular (yet horrific) headlines from the likes of a very living Kim Kardashian stripping down or Lindsay Lohan losing her top at a nightclub. Who wants to see a naked zombie exposing her breasts (except out of macabre curiosity?)

Well, I do! But that’s just me.

zombie butt

The living dead have risen in prominence. Taken their rightful place. Gnawed their way to the top.

For decades their popularity has ebbed and flowed yet their presence has never truly decayed. And now they’re everywhere you turn. It’s the zombie time to shine! Albeit they’ve lost a healthy glow shared by their breathing cousins but it doesn’t matter.

I don’t see zombie popularity diminishing in the near future.

As economic conditions remain strained and public unrest persists, the fascination with these rotted maggot shells lives on. Several investigations exist to prove my case. I won’t bore you with them.

I’ll share my own rationale behind zombie fever. Also why I’m scared of them and admire them at the same time.

First, think about this:

They don’t fret over paying electric bills, meeting mortgage payments or college tuition
costs. The days of anguish over the daily money monkeyshines of the living are gone! Surviving takes on a totally different perspective.

How we relish those with reckless abandon who can just chase and bite, stagger and gnash like rabid animals.

The Government has even been known to send dead people unemployment and social
security checks but they have no need to cash them. I’m jealous. The mortal coil
of everyday fiscal obligations is broken. We are envious of the financial freedom. Who
wouldn’t be?

Zombies are brazenly wasteful and they don’t care!

It gets me frustrated. If the living dead are so ravenous why do they take no more than two bites of prey and move on? There isn’t an endless supply of warm bodies to nosh on.

nom nom nom

The undead need to do better with food handling. What about all those starving zombies in China? Even when they decide to dig hard and tear deep through a victim zombies don’t appear to be eating. They play with their food (in this case elbow deep in intestines, organs and other nondescript red slimy entrails). If I enjoyed my food this much as a kid I would have been in enormous trouble with the parents.

zombie with intestines

Perhaps I’m missing the point.

Maybe zombies don’t require sustenance. Now that I ponder, why would an animated rotting corpse need nutrition? Could it be they bite primarily to propagate the undead population?

They don’t appear to be very friendly to each other. I don’t witness any bonding among zombie hoards that convinces me they derive any benefits from increasing the undead population through procreation. I witness no hand holding or team work. They don’t even trip over each other.

Zombie French kissing seems wrong, too. Some don’t have tongues.

zombie tongue

In the AMC hit television series “The Walking Dead,” a believable explanation for the
genesis of said program title emerges.

At least it allays some of my frustrations over the deliberate waste of the fresh walking food supply.

In the Season One finale “TS-19,” the sole remaining doctor at the Center for Disease
Control (gingerly insane although very sage from a lethal combination of: Isolation, shooting his wife known as test-subject 19, and acceding to the awful truth
that there is no cure for the afflicted), outlines findings as a zombie zealot, I find plausible.

Dr. Jennings explains:

“The disease invades the brain like meningitis (ok I heard that’s bad).

The brain stem is restarted. Gets them up and moving (makes sense to me).

Most of the brain is dark: Dark, lifeless, dead. The frontal lobe, the “you,” the human part
is gone (it does appear that way).”

I’ve concluded (I think), animated dead folk are indeed ravenous.

They don’t possess the human or humanity (what’s left is a tiny spark of light at the base of the brain) to make the most of preserving the food source.

Dr. Steven Schlozman, a psychiatrist, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and author of the book “The Zombie Autopsies,” would agree with Dr. Jenner’s conclusions and sizes up zombie appetites in a further professional manner perhaps because he never lost a loved one to a zombie nibble:

“The ventromedial hypothalamus (in the brain), which tells humans whether they’ve had enough to eat, is likely to be on the fritz in zombies, who have an insatiable appetite.”

I sort of admire how “walkers” (what zombies are called on “The Walking Dead,”) can be wasteful (and eat whomever they want) without any repercussions. No weight gain.

Damn them. Damn them all even more than they’re already damned. Jealous.

Zombies don’t need to exercise and it’s inevitable they’re going to lose weight without
much effort. I so hate them for this. As a matter of fact even though Hollywood never
seems to get it, if survivors can wait long enough, hunker down. The dead are literally going to rot.

It’s not like they’re embalmed or preserved. They’re sauntering about through
the harshest of elements. Eventually they’ll be dragging around close to the ground. Clumps of harmless, fermented flesh if you’re patient enough. You can then brazenly walk up and do a step and squash on what’s left of a head. Simple.

My boots are ready!

Zombies don’t poop. They’re no longer human, therefore they can’t blow up the economy, housing, stocks, banks,the currency, gold, or whatever else financially related. It would be a relief not to be bothered with reading all the financial publications that consume me.

Since zombies don’t experience fear, avarice, lust and all other very human vices I can’t foresee how they could fuck up the economy any worse than we can. My belief is corporate America is ingenious enough to eventually replace living employees with the undead at a moment’s notice.

They don’t require wages, benefits, time with family or friends.

Can you see the writing on the wall here?

Zombies no longer feel torment, guilt, revenge, passion, regret. They don’t hold baggage from parents who messed with their heads.

No cheating spouses or backstabbing friends to fret over. No Viagra (they’re stiff enough). No looking to slice up the boss (unless it’s for the purposes of eating.) Bliss!

Zombies can’t run no matter how some movies mess this up. I have a major issue with this one and I’ve studied zombies since I was ten years-old. This is purely an exploitation move created by film makers to make audiences feel more vulnerable and scared. No thank you. I’m scared enough by the staggering, original kind.

zombie running

Dr. Schlozman would back me up big time here. The good doctor in his book takes his
zombies seriously. As a matter of fact, when the zombie apocalypse finally arrives, survivors must find a way to the doc. His extensive study will be invaluable.
These primal hollows of our living selves just cannot run. Done.

From Doc Schlozman’s “The Zombie Autopsies,” the wisdom flows freely like blood from a gaping bite wound:

“Slower degenerative processes in the cerebellum explain the initially intact gait of the
infected, even though they all become increasingly unbalanced with time.

That’s why they hold their arms out in front of their bodies: for balance and increased coordination.

They just want to remain upright, on their feet. But the process continues, the cerebellum degrades, liquefies. Virtually all late-stage ANSD humanoids ambulate via crawling.”

AH-HA!

See? Running zombies are an abomination! Listen up movie-makers! I prefer my zombies slow, staggering and overwhelmingly off kilter. I’m a purist.

FYI – ANSD stands for: Ataxie Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome. The
internationally accepted diagnostic term for zombiism. Thanks again Dr. S.

Zombies should stink to high heaven so why don’t victims smell them coming from at least
half a mile away?

I once went an entire week without bathing in 1989.

That’s after sex with two different women, eating several boxes of Entenmann’s orange-swirled chocolate Halloween cupcakes, ten Big Macs and washing it all down with large cups of coffee laced with heavy cream.

entenmans cupcakes two

I recall plenty of female nose crinkling and waves of disgust. Good thing I didn’t leave the house.

You rarely see disgusted looks on the faces of the living. I never heard once in a zombie movie.

“I can’t handle the smell of these walking maggot bags.”

“My eyes are watering from the stench of these fuckers.”

“I’m going to vomit from the ungodly odors these dead things throw off.”

Well, to pay homage to the terrific writers of “The Walking Dead,” like Nichole Beattie (who also has great hair that frames a perfect brain) there have been various references to puke, puking and zombie dead-body odor peppered throughout episodes.They’re passionate about authenticity unlike most who cater to us zombie zealots.

I salute them.

I passionately believe my teachers and friends – The Altuchers (James, Claudia), Kamal Ravikant, Srini Rao, prosper from personal tribulation and help alleviate the suffering of others.

I wondered: Can these sages learn from the behavior of the undead? I believe so.

The dead providing life lessons sounds strange, but I’ve been humbled by the dead. Their teachings sit deep in my frontal lobe.

In many ways, those who have passed are by my side more than ever. They might as well be walking alongside me in following dark shadows.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson over the last two years as I’ve studied zombies:

Hey asshole: Get out of the grave you’re still alive!!

grave hand

What caused me to living die? What causes you to living-die every day?

Working for corporate America (I affectionately call “Corpse America”) was a living death. Every day the corporate overseers would concoct creative ways to squash my spirit. I was under the cancerous thumb of a bloated financial services firm that lost its ethics and I was rotting away. Fast.

zombie suit

There was less time being productive and more mental resources wasted on complying with draconian-like rules and impossible sales goals that were progressively getting worse.

I felt powerless, sick, listless, diseased. I was passively allowing my brain to go dark.

I was able to fight off the corporate infection for years. Then I couldn’t battle any longer.

My immunity for bullshit broke down. I gave zombie-ism permission to wash (bleed) over me. Limbs went limp. The stamina and passion for my business was draining fast like black blood from a gaping neck wound.

I loved the clients and co-workers but felt truly powerless over my destiny. I was bleeding respect for myself and for the first time in years, the confidence in my skills was drained. I was frightened all the time and the dead were closing in on my space.

No matter how much wood I nailed over the windows they just. Kept. Coming.

Was I the only one who felt like this? I don’t know. I could see the light fade
from the eyes around me. Others were going to allow their souls to flee the mortal cavity.
There were the kids, or the mortgage, the car payment or the necessary financial
support for the stay-at-home spouse. Everyone was overextended.

Surrender felt like the only option. It was like exposing your most important parts willingly to a nasty zombie bite.

Ongoing bad health habits sooner or later, are a coffin filler.

In 2006, my idea of diet rarely strayed from a cheeseburger with a side order of donuts followed by another cheeseburger and six more donuts.

That was 50 pounds ago. I managed to do enough damage to my organs in one year to end up with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol level approaching 280.

I was so out of shape even a zombie-like stagger would have put me out of breath. Having diabetes scared the zombie out of me. The thought of going blind or losing a limb was more than I could live with. Dead man walking (on one leg) was not going to happen!

I changed  overnight. Oh I’m not perfect, but the disease was a blessing in disguise. I needed something frightening to jump start me.

It worked.

Think about it: What will jump start you to take your health seriously before it’s too late?

Big debt is a flesh biter. Excessive debt levels are a lethal weight on your shoulders and will suck the living life (and death) from you. Whether it’s your household or a government, too much debt is a brain drainer. Oh, you’ll still be able to walk around but dead inside you will be.

It’s worse for your situation than for most governments since you can’t create your
own money (well legally anyway). Too much debt in any form will have you unbalanced
and rotting in no time.

Media overindulgence, especially television, zombifies the frontal lobe. I hate to feel this
way since I know so many terrific media people. It’s just that television especially pseudoreality (not real reality because who wants to watch that?) campy talent and political drivel all eventually erodes the stuff that makes you “you.”

Just monitor and limit your intake.

Writing and reading for at least an hour a day keeps my frontal lobe in a less gelatinous
state. Find what works for you. Even playing a board game might help. Not
Sudoku. I’m convinced zombies created that game. Sudoku players fill out every Sudoku puzzle in every magazine at every doctor and dentist office. It spreads like
chicken pox. Stay away!

Syble Solomon, creator of Money Habitudes™ writes about how the television virus
attacks and tempts you to spend money:

“More subtle are the images of what is
“normal” that are created in most television
shows and movies. Usually people
are well dressed, have great accessories,
drive nice cars and live in up-scale comfortable
housing with expensive furniture and beautiful kitchens. You rarely see anyone
paying for anything on TV or in the movies.”

 

You ever see that fancy apartment on the TV show “Friends?” How did those losers afford it? You begin to believe that’s normal! It’s NOT. Unless the women were high-end call girls working overtime. Then it’s a possibility.

What knowledge you can gain from the walking dead. See? There’s so much.

You’re not the shuffling soulless yet. Be thankful for that. The zombie inside captures
your glance in mirrors. It so desires to permanently deprive you of all the colors
that make you warm and human. It will win if you let it. It works to tempt you.
Even though it feels like you’re dead sometimes, of course you’re not. The nice thing is there’s a cure for your zombie transformation. You can come back.

I know how some of the stuff I wrote about earlier can fry you from deep inside – the
job, the bills, the spouse, the boss, the debt.

Then there’s the receding hairline, the erectile dysfunction. How do you handle this?

Discover ways to restore faith and revive the soul. Search out, step back and document the humans, actions, things that keep you alive and grounded.

It’s healthy to be wasteful once in a while. Put the zombies to shame.

I’m not alluding to tossing crisp, new $20 bills from the sunroof of a moving car (I
tossed a Shania Twain CD from a moving vehicle once). I’m not even referring to
willfully taking a teasing bite out of a filet and discarding the rest just for kicks.

I allocate one day a week (usually a Saturday because I’m a horrible creature of habit,)
to partake in completely wasteful (occasionally disgusting) activities and lovingly
simmer in my own juices.

I take my time closely examining the latest edition of Maxim Magazine, an occasional Playboy, Men’s Health. I eat Chinese take-out in my underwear, indulge in endless Three Stooges episodes on DVD. I strive for a zombie-like state of non-awareness. Is that a word? You get the picture (I’m sorry).

Decompression is a good thing. My theory is that naked zombies really comprehend this chilling out thing. I admire free spirits (living or living dead). Unfortunately, there’s a real scarcity of nude zombies in movies and television. It’s blatantly pitiful (NB, can you work on that?).

The undead have been stalking society long before they became mainstream. They’re
equal opportunity, infiltrate all races and cut a bloody swath across political lines.

They gain attention when economic conditions deteriorate or improvement is anemic.
They pop up during times of social unrest. Since the last recession, the most severe in
decades, zombies have been downright frenzied.

When things are good, we’re making money or generally less turmoil exists in the world, zombies are pushed aside, beaten down. Mocked. Contained.

As much as I love them because I enjoy scary thrills, I long for the days when zombies are disrespected again.

I don’t recall zombies so relevant and overwhelmingly popular as they are today; I’ve been keeping track of their ebb and flow since I first bug-eyed watched the black and white cult classic film “Night of the Living Dead,” by zombie Master Muse George A. Romero, on a crappy plastic encased thirteen-inch black and white TV. 1973.

romero Romero: The Zombie KING.

In 1968, the year “Night” was released, the Vietnam War was released, the Vietnam War was raging, civil rights protests were grabbing headlines and Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

The film cost a grandiose $114,000 to make which even then for a movie was a pittance of a budget. It has grossed over $30 million worldwide. What a return on investment!

Romero created a controversial stir by featuring a black man, unknown stage
actor Duane Jones, as the brave and resourceful hero while most of the men (white) in
the cast were blowhard, wishy-washy or backwoods white folk.

Romero also plays up the contemporary theme of government distrust as dead
body brains are “activated” (allegedly) by radiation expelled from the explosion
of a space satellite, the “Venus Probe.”

Throughout the film, there are shots of military officials (actors) fleeing from television news cameras all the while denying the connection between the radiation and the returning dead who make a meal out of the living.

The bitter irony of the movie is how Ben (Duane Jones) solely survives the night of ghoul attacks by locking himself in the basement of an abandoned farm house only to be shot in the head the next morning by a white member of a sheriff’s posse as he’s mistaken for one of the remaining zombies roaming the countryside.

I remember watching. Scared to death, frozen. Shocked. I recall muttering the words:
“This really sucks.” I hated the ending but I understood the point Romero was trying to make. Well, I think I do. Back then, I interpreted the messages through my warped mental screen. I still believe my interpretation holds up.

First, why bother to survive a zombie hoard if you’re going to be shot in the head by
your own people (the living kind) anyway? What a waste.

Second, make more noise and scream actual words like the living (not guttural grunts like the dead) if you see a posse out a window! Ben, Ben, Ben. You were too quiet. I understand you just went through hell and you’re bit dazed but if it’s me I’m screaming like a sissy living, defecating human who just soiled his Fruit of the Looms!

Third, based on the social turmoil of the 60’s, I think Romero sought to use the film to
convey messages about the futility of the Vietnam War (conflict) and the tragic assassination of MLK, Jr. Go ahead fight the good fight, be honorable, stick to your convictions, but understand there is still a great risk. The hero can indeed fail or die. I hated how Romero killed off Ben at the end (I know I mentioned that, already).

Fourth, an interracial couple holed up in a farm house (even when the female is young,
blonde and completely unresponsive) doesn’t mean sex is definitely gonna happen. Huh?

Not when Ben is around! I was wondering when he was going to rip off Barbara’s (played by a very blonde actress named Judith O’Dea), clothes but all he did was comfort and protect her. Well, he did knock her out with a hit in the face but it was perfectly understandable. She was unhinged after watching her brother become zombie brunch. Like the opening of a porn flick, yet BEN stays out of trouble. 

Even after she clawed at her scarf saying “it’s hot in here, hot.” NOTHING. Ben,
you helped me understand what being a gentleman really means. Can you imagine
if Romero had Ben have his way with Barbara?

gentleman

Talk about controversy in 1968!

And…

Like their walking brethren, the financial decayed are here to stay!

Banks – With many banks domestic and global, systemically risk averse and making
thinner profits they seek to bleed you but instead of teeth you’re getting bitten by fees – higher checking account fees, debit card usage fees, fees to talk to a person, wire transfer fees, monthly maintenance charges.

Forget that. Fight living death by fees!

Consider switching to an online bank as long as you’re comfortable with lack of a branch location to walk into. I haven’t used a brick & mortar bank in years.Good riddance.

Check out the best online banks and checking accounts at www.nerdwallet.com.

Make sure the bank you choose is covered by FDIC and you don’t breach the coverage limit which is $250,000 per depositor.

Also, banks currently are not required to play by the rules – due to suspension of accounting rules whereby assets on the books are not priced to what the market would actually pay for them, there are banks that most likely are insolvent (or dead) yet still alive!

Plainly, if it wasn’t for the suspension of this rule called “mark to market,” poor performing banks with liabilities exceeding what assets are worth, would have been truly dead a long time ago and not still occupying a location near you.

When I was ten, mom would leave me home alone on Friday and Saturday nights until she found out my babysitter and her girlfriends were dancing naked in front of me during late-night TV’s Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.

What did I know? I was pre-occupied with covert G.I. Joe missions. I never minded the
nude dancing. I’d glance over once in a while. It looked fun and free. I was scared to be
alone on occasion but mom needed her boy time I guess.

I owned the most extensive G.I. Joe collection in the neighborhood until my mother
made them disappear one by one. She was like a sniper/kidnapper the way she picked them off along with my other toys.

Especially cool were the Joes with fuzzy hair and beards. I never really embraced the Kung-Fu Grip line of brave soldiers for some reason.

gi joe hair

We recently moved to a second floor apartment adjacent to a stairwell. The halls on weekend nights were lively, especially after midnight. Kids making out, the occasional marital fight spilling out, enriched with curse words bouncing off hallway walls, outright screaming.

I can still remember the first time I watched “Night of the Living Dead” on an ABC Saturday evening late show. The idea of zombies was sort of goofy to me before then. I believe I watched Scooby Doo trip one up on morning television. To me they were clunky cartoon relief. In black and white, late at night and thirsty for blood, zombies gained more of my respect. Scooby Doo was either brave or just a dumb ass.

It was that  damn, dead woman at the top of the stairs. The devoured face. That eyeball staring at me, piercing me through an old RCA Television screen.

top of stairs

My perception of zombies had changed. Forever. They haunted me from that moment.
If I would have known how popular they were to become, I would have given up on this
money management business a long time ago. There was a fortune still yet to be made exploiting the undead.

According to the blog “24/7 Wall Street”, zombies are worth over $5 billion to the economy. Costumes, movies, novels, comic books, video games, television shows. All serious business.

From cult following to popular mainstream, the dead overpower the compensation of any cadre of top U.S. corporate CEOs who now make 400x what you do.

Oh no, I’m convinced. Zombies are here to say. Let’s review the lessons.

Random Thoughts:

1). Zombies represent our human weaknesses and loss of control over our environment. During periods of economic distress, their popularity festers. Fear of loss, lack of confidence, subpar gainful employment are prevalent today and will be as we slowly emerge from a housing, financial, credit, banking crisis atomic blast.

2). The living dead represent the vulnerability that lives deep inside our guts. It’s the human condition pushed to extremes. It’s the threat of loss. The loss of our ability to be human. A test under severe pressure. Up against the wall, you find out who you truly are.  At this time, many of us feel vulnerable in our jobs, with our incomes, our relationships. In these times, zombies demand our full attention.

3). Understand what rots you. Stuck in a cubicle overseen by mindless middle management bosses, abrupt changes to your income, excessive debt, negative people, bad health choices. Hell, you think zombies are scary? Try to have an intelligent conversation with your boss. See if he or she can think independently from the infection swallowed daily from the corporate “stink” tank.

4). Political turmoil stirs the zombie hoards. Didn’t George A. Romero effectively teach us this lesson? There exists less faith in our leaders regardless of political party. Uncertainty allows the walking dead to herd, gain strength in numbers. In certain states, they may be allowed to vote. I’m not sure.

5). The economic system is still rotted and dragging dead feet. Five years after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and the economy is still shuffling slow like a zombie in the August Texas sun. Below average economic growth, structural underemployment, first-time homebuyer malaise, below-average or non-existent employee wage growth, real median household income off 7% from 2008. This isn’t a healthy state of affairs, everyone. Actually, it’s fucking disappointing.

6). Corporations are now zombie factories. Especially the publicly-traded ones. Hey, as a money manager I love how corporate leaders hoard labor, work current employees to exhaustion, utilize financial alchemy like purchase back stock shares to boost earnings-per-share and stock prices. As an employee herding in a work force where labor is plentiful, where an individual can be replaced at any time by someone willing to accept half the pay, I would fight like hell to get out before the zombie infection takes me and I’m gnawing on an arm by moonlight.

arm gnaw

7). It’s acceptable to go brain dead on a schedule. We’re an overworked society; people don’t take vacation anymore. Americans fear for their jobs when they take time away from their technology to be with their family. Set aside a few hours every week to indulge in a guilty pleasure. Hell, eat a pizza in your underwear. Drip salsa on your shirt and suck it off. Whatever.

1:00AM: The hall outside my apartment was especially loud. During commercials I checked the peephole but saw nothing. Then, from out of nowhere, it sounded like a sledgehammer at the front door:

BOOM BOOM BOOM!

I couldn’t breathe. I was paralyzed. I hit the red shag face down. I sought to go deep believing if I was part of the carpet, I couldn’t be discovered.

I belly crawled to the kitchen to knock the red Bell Telephone Trimline off the hook.

Thank god for extra-long pigtail phone cords. One tug and the receiver would be mine.
Stay calm. Hit the neat little lighted buttons for 911. Brooklyn’s Finest would arrive quickly to save me from the zombie with a weapon.

red trimline

Then it stopped. As fast as it started the pounding stopped. The banging went dead. On
my television I saw hero Ben lighting a corpse on fire using a makeshift torch. Was I going to need to take notes? I could use a G.I. Joe as a torch. I bet that fuzzy hair would go up quick.

I was hesitant to call the police now. I was upright. I walked slowly back to the sofa facing the television. It was eerily quiet outside.

I crawled to the front of the apartment and looked underneath through lit-sliver between door and floor. Nobody. Nothing. No sound except for a heart pounding in my ears. I stayed pinned down. Not blinking.

And Ben died. Shot through the head. Just like that.

The next day I discovered there was an arrest close by. The ex-babysitter’s boyfriend had broken into several apartments. Items were stolen. Supposedly he was looking for a place to hide and thought he could take refuge in my apartment. He thought the babysitter still had a standing appointment with me.

That was the first and last time I was glad a young woman wasn’t around dancing naked in front of me.

That was the first and last time I was glad about a decision my mother made.

Fire the babysitter.

bad babysitter

 

 

The Deputy Comes Full Tolle: 4 Ways to Step Back to the Present.

“We let go of all if it & nobody dies.”

Let’s face it.rick grimes four

Rick Grimes has come to know his truth, especially as of late.

Slammed into what is. Punched out of what was.

Confronting rage in attack mode from within and outside fences will shower demons all around you. The confrontation will startle you into where you must be right now. It’s a trigger of sorts. A switch in your head that the primal core of survival, clicks on.

You choose to fight. Stand up for what you believe.

Or.

You fall apart.

Go insane.

Full steam down the road to nothing. The path with no light and a dead end. The gate closes. Locks on you. You can hear it. You shouldn’t travel this place, but it’s too late. The snap in your head is just too loud to resist.

You’re.

Steadfast. Blinders on.

Nothing left.

Die alive.

An alkaline spray fills your mouth, your throat surrenders.

Now you’re chewing on rust.

Liking the taste.

Before who you are drains.

Into blackness.

If you fail to accept the present and fall to the prison of the past, you’re doomed to make the same mistakes.

“Not after Woodbury. Not after Andrea.”

And Philip Blake fades to black.

Forever.

governor gun He was too far gone.

From the inner core of what made him human, humane, the former Georgia lawman had fallen in and out of inhumanity.

An old man believed perhaps a deputy was too far gone.

Until.

The stagger. A right foot. A step back. There it was. Did you see it in the mid-season finale? The empathetic-driven acting of Andrew Lincoln. 

To step back from the fence. I’m sure many didn’t notice. It was just a subtle move. A motion.

But it was important.

It motivated me enough to write this blog post.

It was raw acceptance of what is. Full engagement in the present.

Because we’ve all stepped back when an outside element so threatening shakes us. Erupts from a place inside so deep you can’t describe it.

change

It was a jolt, the shock of the blade. Ready to steal another from his inner circle. From a place behind the heart. Deep.

The moment Rick Grimes knew what he needed to do, to say. The moment he stepped back to push forward into the present. A re-focus on actions, not the outcome. A focus on what he was meant to do, to be.

governor sword

The deputy had indeed arrived (again).

“We all…can change.”

And it caused an old man to smile…

The thought of sacrifice rolled over the aged, former farmer.

Herschel knew. His work was done. And not wasted.

Rick understood the power of what was going down.

He’s shed blood. Lots of it: Those he cherished have bled. Young and old.

Too many times.

He’s mercifully released the living from walking death; others, he let them wander – a rotting stagger penance in-between life and eternity.

dead girl

“Everyone who’s alive right now.. Everyone who’s made it this far..

We’ve all done the worst kinds of things.

Just to stay alive.”

rick grimes five

The former deputy has been there – rotted in the mind.

Memories that linger and rattle like diseased bone. The past gripped Rick’s brain. Poisoned icy tentacles – the old bloodlines have long shriveled. He won’t let them die.

They walk through his head.

I understand.

You do it, too.

zombie lori

Rick allows the past to possess him; it controls his thoughts, guides his actions.

Until the moment.

The devil arrived – forced a response.

When all he’s counted on – the fences, defenses, were suddenly close to annihilation.

the gov kill them all Kill them all!

Everything you care about is in jeopardy.

There’s imminent danger of losing everything, including yourself.

It’s at that point, you change.

Live or you die.

Or die and you live.

Grasp for the black or the light.

It’s time to choose.

Think..

rick grimes two

What will you focus on right now to stay alive?

What stimulus initiates a bold action?

Anger from the past. Anxiety over what’s ahead.

“But we can still come back.”

How does one die to live again? To come back?

The Deputy decides.

“We get to come back… I know.”

Random Thoughts:

1). What will force you into the present? For me: Step back, then a tumble. A corporation I dedicated 14 years of time and blood turned on me, worked me out. The loss of a close friend. Financial distress, physical challenges, choked me into the present.

I gasped for air.

I felt myself go under. I went below surface.

Inside a mental steel trap I never thought I would be.

I found myself eating, sleeping, breathing less.

Saddled with nightmares for the hour a night I did manage to sleep.

For more than a couple of months in 2013, I died.I was walking but I was gone. I contemplated an exit to complete the circle. Thought it would bring relief.

I sought escape. Isolation.

I reached out to teachers: The Altuchers, a Ravikant. God, Buddha, John R. Cash.

rick grimes three

I wanted out of my skin. My diseased brain.

I was exhausting every resource fighting and resisting what was happening to me.

All the resistance caused further damage.

And.

Just as I was about to give up. 

A force out of nowhere slayed my demon.

governor death

A sharp sword of words pierced me.

“If you think about it, how much time do we spend in our heads wishing things were another way, beating ourselves up, beating others up, crafting a different past, wishing for a different future? All of this resistance. All of this pain.”

Kamal Ravikant.

As I feel the warmth and light on my face in 2014, I know the roads traveled to get to the present were indeed for the best. I don’t seek to look back at what’s caused me to begin to live again.

For you? The step back into the present will come from a pain so strong it will feel like your soul has been scorched. Whatever that is for you, you’ll know.

Keep an open mind, it may arrive out of nowhere.

Like a tank at a prison.

What a blessing it will turn out to be.

Although at first it will appear a curse.

dont look back Carl, don’t look back!

2). What actions will you focus on right now to stay alive? The present is all you have. The rest is ego. Vapor. Heavy mist that burns away. Are there words you can share that have the potential to alter someone’s path, make a positive impact, create laughter? What small action can you take after reading this, to choose yourself? Can you do it every day? How can you shed ego to face and release who you are? How much pain will it take to wake up? Everybody’s thresholds are different.

3). Do you fight or relent? Can you accomplish both? Try not to fight the change, it’s gonna happen anyway. Your ego will do anything and everything to hold on. Even if it means killing you to do it.  All the fight. The wear and tear. Just decide now to let it go. Make the decision. You’re facing the enemy today: It’s you. From that point, you can step back and then move on. Otherwise you’ll be stuck for a lifetime in blackness.

4). Be present in your financial footsteps. Every financial action you take now generates a ripple effect throughout your entire household balance sheet. The path of light when it comes to money is to control what you can – avoid ongoing credit card balances, don’t miss out on a company retirement plan match on contributions (this happens often), don’t compare (and beat) yourself to others who may appear to be in better financial shape than you are.

Friends (strangers) like to remind you how they have better stuff, more money saved, great investments that return more than the market.

Be skeptical.

Human nature motivates us to value something more simply because we own it. It’s called the endowment effect.

We’re also fraught with overconfidence when it comes to interpreting the returns on our investments.

To be truly aware, understand that people “embellish” to impress. It’s never too late to begin good financial habits. Comparisons to others will deter and frustrate. You’ll be stuck in an ego-driven, negative financial mindset.

You’re not too far gone.

No matter how old you are. 

And no matter how little you think you are.

Never underestimate your true bold nature.

To survive.

And prosper.

kids

What lessons learned – out of love from others – will come in handy right now?

To get your head straight.

“If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. As soon as you honor the present moment, unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”

Eckhart Tolle

And a loved one, perhaps an old soul.

Smiles just for you…

Somewhere.

herschel smile

The Tolle of the Governor: 6 Steps to Rebirth.

“Been on the road a couple of months.”

“By yourself?”

“Yea.”

“Where did you live before that?”

“I was in a town.”

“Were the monsters there?”

“No.”

“It was safe. Full of good people.”

“What happened?”

“He just – lost it.”

“Who?”

“Man in charge.”

“I barely made it out alive.”

Brian Heriot aka “The Governor – Philip Blake.”

governor beard

As you rip from the past, forge a path to the present, there’s a good chance the man in charge will unravel.

Actually, it’s guaranteed.

There will be.

A tumble, a spiral down, to discover who you really are inside.

And burn out what’s haunting your sleep.

Because fire cleanses.

Extinguished fires leave imprints.

Black stains scar foundations.

governor burn three

I’ve learned to fear and respect fire of the mind. 

You won’t notice change; at the surface you’ve built high fences. However, underneath, today’s thoughts are directing steps to a place you must go.

Actions will eventually get you where you need to be.

First you’ll stagger.

Over time, your gait will firm.

Deeper strides begin.

You don’t look back any longer.

Perhaps you’ll change your name to a person who was loved once.

brian heriot

Take on a new identity.

Not an issue. Whatever it takes. You do it.

Because a free mind can’t be shackled.

And ego is loosening the grip.

Yep: To gain a second chance at life you must die first. A piece of you must pass. In the worst case, an organ will be sacrificed. An element of your sanity, or stamina go to black.

You’ll fight until exhaustion.

Thrash.

Until death overtakes you.

You understand (finally).

There’s no other choice.

If you want to survive.

An enriched life dwells in acceptance, not resistance.

“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” — and find that there is no death.”
Eckhart Tolle

When my father was in the care of hospice and dying one cancerous internal a minute, I wanted to accelerate the process somehow. I thought of insidious ways to fast-track his departure. There was red behind my eyes. I couldn’t understand why he needed to suffer.

I didn’t want to understand then how we all must suffer.

To climb to higher places.

Grow.

I was mad at dad for leaving. I hated how I held his hand for ten hours and for five of them it felt like gripping flesh ice.

He always did the opposite of what I thought he should.

As the man in charge he drank too much, womanized too much, worked too much.

Holy shit.

As the man in charge you do it, too.

Rain blood on the closest ones.

Splatter some on yourself.

And it never.

Washes off.

The man in charge forced rules you lost interest in a long time ago but still followed; you couldn’t understand why you carried them with you for so many decades.

Maybe the space felt comfortable even though it worked against your spirit.

It’s the clash. A battle. Between past and present. Ongoing.

And in acceptance you admit.

Finally.

You were indeed, the man in charge.

Suckered, duped, stupid, evil, resentful.

All you.

Good or bad. That was you for a time. A system-based creation from endless approval of others and false control – courtesy of ego.

Because you couldn’t control outcomes. You couldn’t accept the rejection, the change, the spin of the earth, until damage was done –

It’s not fight or die.

It’s fight, THEN die.

Your inner self, perhaps who you were as a child, was a pale light in the distance that eventually got snuffed out.

Realize..

You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
Eckhart Tolle

And a new man in charge emerges.

Out of the shatter.

Wakes up reborn.

Carrying new rules.

Stripped of ego.

Steeped in humanity; seeded from insanity.

New choices.

A higher self.

Rebirth.

And so it was for Philip Blake.

And so it can be for you.

Random Thoughts:

1). Be re-vulnerable. Look – I created a word. Crash through the high walls. Allow vulnerability to live again. You’ll need to practice. High fences just don’t fall. You’ll need to consciously drive through them every day. I’ve learned to be open to and aware of those around me. I’m more charitable. I direct my anger toward evil entities. I drop people who suck my energy. I hug my daughter from somewhere beyond my heart.

vulnerable governor

2). Become re-acceptable. Of yourself. Who you were before you lived for the approval of others who held the power, but little substance. Through nurturing your own self-acceptance, you will become accepted by others. At least the “right others.” As Srini Rao writes and teaches in his best selling new book – The Art of Being Unmistakable: A Collection of Essays About Making a Dent in The Universe –

Accolades, awards, recognition and validation may never come. In addition, ironically, when you finally stop giving a shit about them, they seem to come in abundance. Be your own gatekeeper, tastemaker, and connoisseur of what matters. Do not choose yourself so the gatekeepers will choose you.

3). Seek re-energy. Living in the past saps energy. The present creates passion, excitement. It’s full of oxygen. Focus on a present moment. No matter how small. Step into it. You’re not your parents, your co-workers. The past does not define who you are right now at this moment.

“Awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. … The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, your purpose, is to bring that power into this world.”
Eckhart Tolle

4). Relish replenishment. Sure, investing is sexy. Financial media touts sexy all the time. Sell Apple, buy Tesla. Nothing sexy happens without the boring act of saving money, replenishing financial coffers. In the new year, increase your savings rate by 1 percent. Haven’t started? That’s the past. This is the present. Begin an auto-savings plan today. Now. Direct at the minimum, 1 percent of your take home pay into a savings account.

5). Cherish those who re-new. Who are the people who renew and revive you? You need more of them. You need to appreciate and fight for those who renew your spirit. Those you love. No matter the disagreements. If I love someone I tell them. Why hold back? Life is too short (especially in a zombie apocalypse).

family

6). Know when to re-unleash hell. It’s inevitable. Sometimes you will need to fight the enemy. You also need to know if you’re the enemy. Focus energies on what’s required to overcome obstacles. Roll a tank over your ego. Occasionally, that’s a challenge for The Governor.

Although he does try.

He’s got some work to do.

Noted.

governor tank

Look up.

A pale light glows brighter.

Dark clouds fade.

Self-redemption is yours for the taking.

Accept the past. You can’t change it.

It’s a prison.

Accept the present. It’s yours to take.

Now.

Step.

“Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.”
Eckhart Tolle

World War C (Campy): Zombieland Rules to Survive By.

I just read about Max Brooks, the writer of “World War Z” and son of Mel Brooks and Anne B. The fascination with zombies never ceases. It’s been with me since 1973. Every now and then I can feel a  rotting biter close by.

I never miss an opportunity to see the living dead: Return of them, Day of, Dawn, Shaun, a couple of “Night” remakes and ostensibly, the comedic genius of Zombieland.

As I’ve been watching Zombieland lately, I realize how incredibly clever this movie remains, although like Max Brooks and other “zombie zealots” I do not dig nor do I want to believe in, the fast zombies. The ones who can run faster than me scare me the most. Zombieland is four years old and the wit is timeless.

Years ago, I created several rules of my own to survive a zombie holocaust. Little did
I know we all would find credible guidelines in action on the big screen. I should have
turned my love for those decaying creatures into something lucrative a long time ago but no,

I wanted to work with money.

That’s such zombie thinking! This zombie biz brings in like $6 billion a year. Not too shabby for rotting, maggot-infested moving corpses.

Anyway..

The character Columbus in Zombieland was always prepared. He was a meticulous planner.

A young man I respect. A geek for bleak times. A man-boy I’d be honored to travel alongside on blighted, zombie-infested highways. Why? Because not only was Columbus (nicknamed after his hometown, Columbus, Ohio), smart. He was funny. He was a fatalist with a passion to get laid, he had an irritable bowel (been there). He always accepted the dark, yet underneath was a flame of once was. A desire to live. A desire to see a hot brunette naked. Sigh.

columbus shit

Columbus was so human in zombie-infested world. 

So in honor of you, Columbus and the opening of the movie “World War Z” I present the money rules of Zombieland (which are also worthwhile to consider while some of us prepare with alacrity for the zombie invasion. Apocalypse overused lately):

Rule #1 Cardio: The new breed of zombies doesn’t saunter (thank director Zack Snyder who brought back speed from the dead with his respectable remake of Dawn of the Dead). They run. Fast. You must stay in tip-top shape to survive in Zombieland. If you’re overweight in Zombieland, well, you’re done. Just done. 

fat zombieland

Take note of the humor of Zombieland as soon-to-be chubby victim is chased by zombie stripper with dollars secured in panties! Brilliant. So brilliant. Love you guys. 

Saving money takes incredible endurance. Your ability to save is going to take some sweat (and blood, possibly tears). To compensate for lower future investment returns, your  savings discipline will need to be robust for another decade. And as long as you’re attempting to be steps ahead of the “running” dead, aerobic exercise is just plain good for you.

Based on credible studies you’ll need to command a pot of money in excess of $250,000 in today’s dollars to fund healthcare costs in retirement.And we’re not even talking how much you’ll need if you spend three years drooling all over yourself in a swanky assisted care facility.

Why not work harder now to combat high healthcare expenses later? Preventative action through exercise and a clean diet will pay off regardless of whether a zombie rising occurs or not. So..

Remember:

cardio

Rule #2 Double Tap: In Zombieland, this is the “insurance” rule; one shot usually isn’t enough to kill a zombie. Be on the safe side and insure the dead is dead by taking a second shot. Contact your insurance company and double-check coverage especially home and auto to make certain you’re covered in case of disaster. Check out the insurance hub at http://www.bankrate.com. Information about homeowners and auto insurance can be found at http://www.iii.org, the Insurance Information Institute.

Investigate an umbrella insurance policy which is an extra layer of protection against lawsuits resulting from damage to someone else’s property or injuries in case of accident. It can also protect you from false claims such as libel and slander. For roughly $400 annually, the coverage is downright cheap and worth a look. Think of it as extra bullets. And in Zombieland, you can never have enough bullets.

Rule #3 Beware of Bathrooms: Ok – a tough one you think, however this is really an overarching statement about being stuck in an awkward position at the worst possible time. You don’t want to be caught on the bowl when the living dead target you!

Don’t get caught with your pants down when emergencies arise. Make sure to maintain
six months of living expenses in a savings or money market account. Just as I always wear a belt so it’s tougher to get the pants down, I recommend six months as a bare minimum to be safe.

Three months of emergency savings as a rule, is a financial zombie that must be shot in the head. There still remains a good chance that your new job will pay less than the one you lost, so an adequate buffer is mandatory.

Rule #4 Seatbelts: Taking creative routes, stopping short, driving fast? It’s all normal in Zombieland and occasionally in Financialworld too. When it comes to investing, your
emotions are driven by fear and greed. They’ll take you on a breathtaking ride more often than you think.

Successful investors learn to manage their emotions. In disciplined doses you must be strong and sell into greed and buy into fear. The seatbelts of rules and disciplines will keep you secured.

As Zombieland’s Chairman Ben Bernanke roils every asset market, you just don’t feel safe. Gold is a shit storm, bonds are down, stocks are down. Cash appears to be the only automatic weapon with endless bullets available.

During these times in markets you feel like you’re standing in a parking lot. Naked. Coated in BBQ sauce. Holding a sign above your head that spells out “EAT ME.” Oh, and you’re screaming at a hoard of zombies to come and get it.

Sit with your financial pro now. Or find one who can help you outline specific portfolio buy and sell guidelines and master the greatest enemy of investment returns – YOUR BRAIN. And zombies LOVE BRAINS!

zombies eat brains

Rule #5 Travel Light: Zombies seemingly pop up anywhere-they’re eerily stealth. In Zombieland you don’t want to be lugging all kinds of junk when you need to be nimble at all times.

When it comes to money be sensitive to investment, credit and insurance expenses. Make certain to read the fine print and realize all choices have expenses. The key to success is to know what you’re getting for the hard-earned money you spend or invest.

For example, term life insurance is a lot cheaper than variable life; maintaining or using a credit card is convenient however realize you’ll pay on average 16% interest for the luxury. Fair and lighter fees mean more money in your pocket over the long term.

Rule #6 Don’t (DO) Be a Hero: Columbus eventually realized that sometimes you need to be a hero in Zombieland. Be sensitive enough to know yourself and realize when you must admit a mistake, change a rule and move on. It’s never too late to change a bad behavior.

According to several academic behavioral finance studies, most investors will hold on to
losing investments way too long and sell winners too quickly. Men especially have a difficult time admitting mistakes and changing strategies. Being close-minded to new ideas or holding on to losing investments until they “return from the dead,” is a sure fire path to bloody future returns.

Rule #7 Limber Up: Before working through an unchartered or questionable area it’s best to warm up. In Zombieland a pulled muscle can slow you down and before you know it you’re on the menu!

People I meet and many I talk with are seeking some form of investment to get them rich quick. It all sounds exciting but getting rich quick is a sexy fairy tale destined to pull the money muscle right out from under you. There is no excuse for homework and discipline. If you dig deep enough into get-rich quick schemes they’re surprisingly easy to unravel.

Rule #8 When in Doubt Know your Way Out: Perhaps one of Columbus’ best. You must have an exit strategy when entering a building in Zombieland. Precious time can be wasted by surprises or attempting to unblock an exit.

Know your rules of exit before you own any investment. Individuals should check their
investments at least semi-annually as they ebb, flow and change and occasionally not for the better.

It’s important to also make certain your beneficiaries are updated on company retirement plans, IRAs and life insurance policies to make certain those you don’t desire to receive the assets, are removed. You wouldn’t believe how common it is for ex-spouses to be unintentional recipients of assets you meant for others. And this shit is ironclad. Once you die, the wrong people will receive your money.

Rule #9 The Buddy System: It’s crucial for a friend to have your back to clear an area or help you out of a sticky undead situation. There’s nothing wrong with having another set of eyes to help you review your financial situation as long as the person is qualified, objective and has your best interest in mind. Heck, as long as the person you confide in has your back it’s worth gaining an opinion, right?

Oh, and if you do hire a professional it’s important to understand how they receive payment and divulge any conflicts of interest up front. Ask the critical question: “How do you get paid?” You want specifics.

Rule #10 Check the Back Seat: Heck, it’s necessary to do this whether the living or dead are hiding back there! Your financial situation must be able to withstand unwelcomed surprises.

A disability can devastate a financial plan, even if it’s short term in nature. Do not overlook the need for disability insurance coverage; don’t be tempted to play the odds. Most companies will provide short and long-term disability coverage as part of a benefits package. Consult your current insurance professional and secure coverage as
soon as possible.

Random Thoughts:

I write a lot. I keep a red Moleskine notebook with me all times. Yesterday, I wrote,spilled out the answers to these five questions. Happy to share them with you. Because at the end of the world, you want to make sure you have your shit in order emotionally. No regrets.

Here we go. But before we do that..One more Zombieland photo:

zombie clown

God I hate clowns. Zombie clowns? I can’t even go there.

1). Who would you say “I love you” to first in case zombies rained down on your neighborhood? My girl Haley. So why wait?  If you love someone tell them. Today. Now. Wake them up. They’ll be pissed off but do it. A zombie drop is scheduled in your vicinity, within the hour.

2) What would you take with you in case you needed to leave in a hurry? I keep with me an old letter. Almost 20 years old. It was written about my dying dad. From his doctor at the time. It explained how amazed this doc was at my dad’s mental ability to fight the cancer eating him alive at the time. “I never had a patient fight for life like this. I am in awe of him.” I’m thinking I would need to read this frayed note. Many times.

3). If you had to pick a female to be stuck with during the World War Z, who would it be? Hands down – Maria Molina from Fox News. I’m not even going to discuss or argue with you over this. It is what it is.

maria molina three

Sigh.

4). What are you grateful for in the present? Like it’s one year into Zombieland, you’re behind a barricade. What are you missing? I’m missing the smell of cinnamon, conversation with several close friends, anything written by James Altucher, a triple-cheeseburger from Red Robin. Live in the now. Step back and consider the texture, smell, presence of what/who you appreciate. I think I’ll have a milkshake today.

5). What would be your last words in the case (it’s inevitable) you become a buffet item at a zombie Golden Corral? I was thinking something funny like “I hope you die from all the fat you’re eating,” or just an “oh shit!” I need to work on this one. What would be your last words if you knew you were going to die today? The words you use will shape the reasons you’re still alive.

You’re not dead.

You’re not zombie chow.

Act every day like the dead are coming and you’ll live more than ever before.

zombie lady

A Sign of the Times: Ten Reasons to Envy the Undead.

Zombies are overwhelming your metropolis. No, no, not politicians and bankers.

Real live (dead) zombies!

Zombie one

Ok, not as spooky as politicians or bankers (especially the central banking types), but you get the picture.

Someone I admire, he’s like a Socrates for our times,suggests that zombies represent a world of pervasive loneliness. I love this man to death but I sat there puzzled, thinking:  I still don’t comprehend the zombie loneliness theory as they do tend to stagger together in groups. In the blockbuster TV show “The Walking Dead,” the living “living” coins this behavior as “herding.” The living dead herd. Who knew. That’s a form of bonding, no?

Good enough reasons to keep your doors locked, people!

Not that locked doors work for long. After all, a mere few zombies can turn over cars; bolted doors and flimsy plywood nailed over windows buys you just enough time to say goodbye to loved ones. Let’s face it: Sooner or later you’re a food source. I was told that by a senior-level executive at one of those big box home improvement stores that most plywood is now exported from China. Chinese plywood = balsa wood? I don’t trust it.

zombies and windows

Zombies are so white hot-popular right now; these decaying, staggering masses or the dead­est of “us,” easily steal attention away from the likes of a Kim Kardashian or the pinkish-hue of a Lindsay Lohan. I could be a bit off base about Lindsay. Her antics can easily draw attention away from zombies depending on the severity of the wardrobe misfire or an occasional sexy bikini wedgie (thank you, TMZ).

The living dead have risen in prominence. And this time the uprising could be permanent.  For decades their popularity has ebbed and flowed yet their presence has never truly decayed. Now they’re everywhere you turn. It’s the zombie time to shine!

I’ll occasionally catch myself darting an eye over my left shoulder when in a public place because I’ve grown downright zombie paranoid. In this economy, I should be more concerned about the living seeking to steal my wallet but since I believe a zombie apocalypse is now imminent, I continue to be increasingly living-dead aware.

I’ll list the rationale behind my deep-seated zombie fever and why I so envy them:

Random Thoughts:

1). They don’t fret over making ends meet.  As a matter of fact, their ends are sort of decomposing, falling apart. Zombies don’t fret to pay the cable bills, meet mortgage payments or deal with brain-rotting college tuition costs. The days of anguish over the daily money monkeyshines of the living are gone! Surviving takes on a totally different perspective. How I relish those with reckless abandon who can just chase and bite, stagger and gnash like rabid animals.

The Federal Government has even been known to send dead people unemployment and social security checks but they have no need to cash them. I’m jealous. The very mortal coils of everyday fiscal obligations are broken. We are envious of the financial freedom. Who wouldn’t be?

2). There’s a thrilling bon vivant nature about the undead I admire. Zombies are brazenly wasteful and they just don’t care!  Again, I’m envious.  If the living dead are so hungry why do they take no more than two bites of prey and move on? It’s not like there’s endless supply of warm bodies to nosh on. Humans don’t grow on trees.  Has anyone seen what’s happening to global demographics? We’re all aging. It’s only a matter of time before there are more living dead than living.

The undead must do better with food handling. What about all the starving zombies in China? Even when they decide to dig hard and tear deep through a victim, zombies don’t appear to be eating. Looks like they’re playing with their food (in this case elbow-deep in intestines, organs and other nondescript red slimy entrails). If I played with my food with such passion as a kid, I would have been in enormous trouble.

Again I reference the best cable show out there – In the AMC hit television series “The Walking Dead,” a believable explanation for the genesis of said program title emerges. At least it allays some of my frustrations over the deliberate waste of the fresh, walking food supply.

In the Season One finale “TS-19,” the sole remaining doctor at the Center for Disease Control (gingerly insane yet very sage from a lethal combination of: Isolation under­ground for an extended period, shooting his wife, test-subject 19, in the head once-her usefulness as an infected under observation concludes, and conceding to the awful truth that there is no cure for the afflicted,) outlines findings I find plausible.

Doc Jenner explains:

The disease invades the brain like meningitis (OK – I heard that’s bad).

The brain stem is restarted. Gets them up and moving (makes sense to me).

Most of the brain is dark: Dark, lifeless, dead. The frontal lobe, the “you,” the human part is gone (it does appear that way).  

TWD writers are so damn smart.

I have concluded (I think), animated dead folk are indeed ravenous. They just don’t possess the human or humanity (what’s left is a tiny spark of light at the base of the brain) to make the most of preserving the food source.

I’m cutting the dead some slack. Although I’m sure if they cornered me I wouldn’t be shown mercy. My physical trainer says I’m very “fatty,” so my succulence would be too much for all those walking brain stems.

Zombie two

Dr. Steven Schlozman, a psychiatrist, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and author of the book “The Zombie Autopsies,” would agree with Dr. Jenner’s conclusions and sizes up zombie appetites in a further professional manner perhaps because he never lost a loved one to a zombie nibble:

“The ventromedial hypothalamus (in the brain), which tells humans whether they’ve had enough to eat, is likely to be on the fritz in zombies, who have an insatiable appetite.” 

It’s clear to me now.

3). Zombies don’t require exercise and it’s inevitable they’re going to lose weight without much effort. I so hate them for this. As a matter of fact, even though Hollywood never seems to get it, if survivors can survive long enough, hunker down, the dead are literally going to rot. It’s not like they’re embalmed. Well I guess some are – I’m sure, even preserved, staggering corpses ostensibly succumb to harsh weather elements.

I sort of admire how “walkers” (what zombies are called in “The Walking Dead,”) can be wasteful (and eat whomever they want) without any repercussions. Damn them. Damn them all even more than they’re already damned.

Give it time: The weight loss will be deadly. Zombies should be dragging around close to the ground like clumps of fermenting flesh if you’re patient and resourceful enough to stay alive. Then go ahead. Leave your hiding place, brazenly walk up and do a step and squash on what’s left of a head. Simple. My boots are ready! Although stomping on zombie cranium “feels” too much like exercise to me.

And what about those quick sort of disturbing athletic zombies in movie director Zack Snyder’s respectable remake of “Dawn of The Dead?”  I stubbornly refuse to relent to running zombies. These primal hollows of our living selves just cannot (should not) sprint.

From Doc Schlozman’s book “The Zombie Autopsies,” the wisdom flows freely like blood from a gaping bite wound:

“Slower degenerative processes in the cerebellum explain the initially intact gait of the infected, even though they all become increasingly unbalanced with time. That’s why they hold their arms out in front of their bodies: for balance and increased coordination. They just want to remain upright, on their feet. But the process continues, the cerebellum degrades, liquefies. Virtually all late-stage ANSD humanoids ambulate via crawling.” 

AH-HA! See? Running zombies are an abomination! Listen up movie-makers!

I prefer my zombies slow, staggering and overwhelmingly off kilter. Like me on a Friday night. Hey, call me a purist. AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” gets it right. Again!!

FYI – ANSD stands for: Ataxie Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome. The internationally accepted diagnostic term for zombiism. Thanks again Dr. S. Feel free to steal this for your next cocktail party. 

running zombies

4). Zombies don’t seek to bathe. And the living don’t seem to care! C’mon – Zombies should stink to high heaven. So, why don’t victims smell them coming from at least half a mile away? I once went an entire week without bathing in 1989. That’s after parent-basement sex with two women, eating several boxes of Entenmann’s orange-swirled icing and chocolate Hal­loween cupcakes, ten Big Macs and washing it all down with large cups of coffee overwhelmed with  heavy cream. I recall plenty of female grimaces followed by waves of disgust. Good thing I barely left the house back then.

You rarely see disgusted looks on the faces of the living who meet up with the rotting side of us.

How many times have you heard the following lines in zombie flicks?

“I can’t handle the smell of these walking maggot bags.”

“My eyes are watering from the stench of these fuckers.”

“I’m going to vomit from the ungodly odors these dead things throw off.”

Not many.

Well, to give further credit (yet again) to the writers of “The Walking Dead,” there have been various references to puke, puking and zombie dead-body odor peppered throughout episodes. They’re passionate about authenticity unlike most who cater to us zombie zealots. I salute them.

5). Zombies don’t discriminate. They’re equal opportunity biters, infiltrate all races and cut a bloody swath across political lines. They gain greater attention when economic conditions deteriorate or improvement is anemic. Sure, they seem to pop up during times of social unrest. Since the last recession, the most severe in decades, zombies have been in a downright frenzy to take over the world.

6). The undead have been around longer than you have. I envy the staying power. Although, I don’t recall them as relevant and so overwhelmingly popular. And I’ve been keep­ing track of their ebb and flow since I first bug-eyed watched the groundbreaking black and white cult classic “Night of the Living Dead,” by zombie Master Movie Maker George A. Romero, on a yellow plastic thirteen inch black & white TV in 1973.

In 1968, the year “Night” was released, the Vietnam War was raging, civil rights protests were grabbing headlines and Martin Lu­ther King, Jr. was assassinated. It cost a grandiose $114,000 to make which even then for a movie was a pittance of a budget. It had grossed over $30 million worldwide.

Romero created a controversial stir by featuring a black man, unknown stage actor Duane Jones, as the brave and re­sourceful hero while most of the men in the cast were blowhard, wishy-washy or backwoods white folk.

Romero also played up the contemporary theme of government distrust as dead body brains are “activated” (allegedly) by radiation expelled from the explosion of a space satellite, the “Venus Probe.” Throughout the film, there are shots of military/government officials (actors) fleeing from television news cameras all the while denying the connection between the radiation and the returning dead who make a meal out of the living. For gosh sake I thought I saw Eric Holder running from a reporter.

The bitter irony of the movie is how Ben (Duane Jones) solely survives the night of ghoul attacks by locking himself in the basement of an abandoned farm house only to be shot in the head the next morning by a white member of a sheriff’s posse as he’s mistaken for one of the remaining zombies roaming the countryside.

I remember watching: Scared to death, frozen. Shocked. I recall muttering the words: “This really sucks.” I hated the ending but I understood the point Romero was trying to make. Well, I think I do. Back then I interpreted the messages through a warped mental pre-teen siphon. Actually, I still believe my interpretations hold up.

I wondered:

First, why even bother to survive a zombie hoard if you’re going to be shot in the head by your own people (the living kind) anyway? What a waste.

Second, make more noise and scream actual words like the living (not guttural grunts like the dead) if you see a posse out a window! Ben, Ben, Ben. You were too quiet. I understand you just went through hell and you’re bit dazed but if it’s me I’m screaming like a sissy living, defecating human who just soiled his Fruit of the Looms!

Third, based on the social turmoil of the 60’s, I think Romero sought to use the film to convey messages about the futility of the Vietnam War (conflict) and the tragic assassination of MLK, Jr.

In other words: Go ahead fight the good fight, be honorable, stick to your convictions, but understand there is still a great risk. The hero can indeed fail or die.

I hated how Romero sacrificed Ben at the end (I know I mentioned that, already).

Fourth, an interracial couple holed up in a farm house (even when the female is young, blonde and completely unresponsive) doesn’t mean sex is definitely gonna happen. Huh? Not when Ben is around!

I was wondering when he was going to rip off Barbara’s (played by a very blonde actress named Judith O’Dea), clothes but all he did was com­fort and protect her. Well, he did knock her out with a hit in the face but it was perfectly understandable. She was unhinged after watching her brother become zombie brunch.

Even after she clawed at her scarf  – “it’s hot in here, hot.” NOTHING. Ben, you helped me understand what being a gentleman really means. Can you imagine if Romero had Ben have his way with Bar­bara? Talk about controversy in 1968! Today, Ben would be in hot water for placing a slipper on a white woman. DID YOU SEE WHAT HE DID? A MINORITY WITH A FOOT FETISH LIVES AMONG US. 

Ben and barbara Night

You sure do get to see the best (and worst) in people during times of disaster. THAT was the true message in Romero’s classic to me.

I still vividly remember the first time I watched “Night” on the ABC Satur­day evening late show. The idea of zombies was sort of goofy to me before then. I believe I watched Scooby Doo trip one up on morning television. To me they were clunky comedy relief. In black and white, late at night and thirsty for blood, zombies gained more of my respect. Scooby Doo was either brave or just a big dumb dog.

It was that dead woman at the top of the stairs. It was that devoured face. It was the eyeball staring, piercing me through an old rabbit-eared RCA television screen. My perception of zombies had changed. Forever. They haunted me from that moment. If I would have known how popular they were to become I would have given up on this money management business a long time ago. There was a fortune still yet to be made exploiting the undead.

night woman top of stairs

OK, enough of that. Next. 

7). These ghouls laugh at our complacency with money. Actually I believe it’s a gaping, black-mouthed sort of bloody drool they mock us with.  If they could, walkers would indeed chuckle at the jaw-dropping (and on occasion zombies are missing a jaw) willingness for many investors to remain with financial firms that don’t treat them as they deserve to be treated. Not enough communication, too much conflict of interest, high fees which eat up returns. I hear the complaints consistently and then inquire about or suggest a course of action.

All I receive is a zombie-like glazed over milky-white pupil stare. Fight the zombie of complacency!! Seek an objective, fee-based registered investment adviser. Check out the following blog entry from Clarityfinancial, LLC on the right questions to ask your current or prospective financial adviser.

How to Grill a Current or Prospective Financial Partner

Read more. Perfect segue to push my book, but I don’t want to appear self serving.  It’s too ghoulish. However, order Reformed Broker Josh Brown’s tome “Backstage Wall Street.” There’s lots of meat in this (for the living). Josh’s has a gift to communicate. His writing so sharp, the information delivered so lethal, it’ll slay the evilest of complacency corpses. Want the true story about what motivates your broker? Then..

Order Josh’s Book!

8). Zombies seem to get along just fine without technology.  It’s like when they die, then eventually rise again, they have a keen sense of where the next two-legged meal happens to be hiding. No GPS required. No Google Maps. I also like how the living dead don’t feel the pressure to create some retweetable bon mot along with clever hashtags for it – #holdinginmyliver #thatguytastedlikechicken #wheredidIleavemyseveredhand #birdnestineyesocket.

9).The ultimate revenge: Zombies may eventually be hired by large corporations.  The time is almost near. Employees of large publicly-traded organizations are burning out, dealing with lowest wage increases (if any) in decades in the face of some of the fattest profit margins in years. It’s all about the shareholders now. As a money manager I love it. As an employee I abhorred it.  So it’s only a matter of time before you as an employee are replaced by the living dead. Makes perfect sense. They won’t need to be paid,  just fed entrails.

No benefits, no vacations, no sick days. No more being pissed off over hiring workers in emerging and frontier markets as they no way could compete with a zombie workforce. Hey, you no longer need an HR department either (hell I don’t even know why they exist as they appear to be human and resourceful exclusively to the executive level).

In Romero’s classic “Dawn of The Dead,” the zany scientist was making progress  teaching “Bub” the zombie how to perform simple tasks. And that was over thirty years ago. Imagine the progress we would make with today’s technology. Stick ’em in a cubicle. When they desiccate, just scoop what’s left, discard. Replace. And no 401(k) rollovers to worry about either. Or pensions. Oh wait, what’s a “pension?” I’m thinking corporate R&D spending will be focused toward “Bub Projects.” Don’t laugh. You’re a bub away from replacement.

It’s all about the profits and share prices. You’re an expense to corporate America. Don’t think so? Read on:

Shareholder value is ruining America

10). Zombies compel me to examine the fate of the human condition. Why do they fascinate some of us? Do they represent how primal we can become?  Why did the first nude zombie turn me on? I’m just not intellectually gifted enough to interpret all this. Truth is I just want to enjoy being afraid.

nude butt night

Leave it to George Romero to feature living dead butt. In 1968. Not bad, right? Admit it.

Perhaps my smart friend was right. Maybe zombies do represent loneliness, our lost ability to communicate, the hunger for human warmth, the need to fortify when conditions feel out of control.

Or perhaps, we just plain like to be scared.

Don’t overthink.

Just go with it.