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News

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Two candidates have filed to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 election. The water district, established in 1929, oversees and protects water resources in Santa Clara County....

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Schools

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Woolfolk, assistant principal at Los Altos High, teaches a leadership course for Associated Student Body leaders.

Suzanne Woolfolk – new assistant principal at Los Altos High School – said she is happy...

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Community

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival


Courtesy of Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
The petting zoo is a highlight of the Los Altos Fall Festival. This year’s event is slated Oct. 4 and 5.

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its 23rd annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oc...

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Sports

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High halfback Sean Lanoza looks for running room against Burlingame in Saturday’s home opener.

The opening drive of Saturday’s game against Burlingame couldn’t have gone much better for the Los Altos High fo...

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Comment

Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From ...

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Special Sections

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul S...

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Business

Longtime banker readies for retirement

Longtime banker readies for retirement


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank o...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

Pear builds wonderful 'House'

Pear builds wonderful 'House'


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Betsy Kruse Craig portrays Trish in the Pear Avenue Theatre production of “House,” which closes Oct. 5.

Mountain View’s Pear Avenue Theatre is staging an unusual theater-going experience – producing two plays...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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