Wed02102016

News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by pla...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

Getting a charge  out of the Volt

Getting a charge out of the Volt


Courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be driven up to 50 miles on the power stored in its batteries.

Just five years ago, we wondered in this column what the power supply would be for the car of the future. Gasoline, diesel, electric ba...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

PYT 'Gets Famous'

PYT 'Gets Famous'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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Small-business owners ignoring retirement

I wrote an article earlier this year about how much we need to be saving for retirement. It turns out that small-business owners are among those most at risk. A recent AP report posted by MarketWatch shared the stories of a number of business owners who simply ignored their own futures and focused almost entirely on developing their businesses. Many viewed their companies as their nest eggs, planning to sell them to fund their retirement. Is this a wise strategy?

Kari Warburg Block didn’t even think about saving for retirement until she was unable to get a loan for her fourth business. The banker wanted to examine her personal finances, believing that people who handle their savings and investments well would also do a good job running companies and be good credit risks. Block had never taken money for her retirement out of the companies she had previously owned. As a result, the banker denied the loan. Block found herself not only without any retirement savings, but also with future prospects constrained.

She’s not alone. Of the small-business owners surveyed by American Express, 73 percent said they’re worried about their ability to save for the lifestyle they want to maintain in retirement. A study by the Small Business Administration found that only approximately one-third of owners had contributed to their individual retirement accounts in 2006, and only 18 percent had a 401(k).

How much can you lose?

I have personally known many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs over the years. What sets apart the successful ones from the unsuccessful ones is not, as one might surmise, having a great idea or being especially talented or even being in the right place at the right time. The key success factor is knowing how much they can afford to lose before making the decision to invest in a new business.

That may sound trivial, but it assuredly is not. I’ve found that entrepreneurs who were able to identify and stick to their limits were the ones who, more often than not, successfully rode out the downturns. Rather than raiding their retirement savings to prop up their businesses, they would liquidate the businesses, learn from the failures and start working on the next one, all the while supporting themselves using their savings. Their finances weren’t tied up in a single entity.

Small-business owners are naturally sanguine about the prospects for their businesses.

Michael Maher, co-owner of a clothing retailer in San Francisco, is using his own savings to start and build the company.

“We’re plowing all our money back into the company for the most part and taking a nominal salary,” he said.

And Maher believes that a company he runs is a better investment than the stock market.

“I am investing money in a business that I think is viable and that I control instead of investing in something that I don’t control,” he said.

But there are many factors beyond a business owner’s control. Take 2008. The plunge in lending to small businesses, together with the slowdown in both business and consumer spending, forced many owners to liquidate personal assets like bank accounts, stocks and mutual funds to keep their companies afloat. When you concentrate most of your assets in a single investment such as your business, you can easily be left with nothing should it collapse.

How can you determine how much you can afford to lose in a startup business? That part’s easy. It’s all about planning for your future.

For more information, see the column I wrote on this topic several months back (“Are we saving enough for retirement?” March 27).

Los Altos resident Artie Green is a Certified Financial Planner with Cognizant Wealth Advisors. For more information, call 209-4062.

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