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News

Police stress need for low speed in school zones

Police stress need for low speed in school zones


Town Crier File Photo
After two recent accidents involving cyclists and motorists, police urge caution – on both sides.

After two recent incidents of vehicles striking student bicyclists, Los Altos Police urge residents to exercise caution whe...

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Schools

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students line up to check books out of the library in the new Grizzly Student Center at Gardner Bullis School.

Gardner Bullis School opened its new Grizzly Student Center earlier this month, introducing a lea...

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Community

Home improvement workshop scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 29)

The County of Santa Clara is hosting a free informational workshop on 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road.

The workshop will offer ways single-family homeowners can increase their homes’ energy efficiency. Eligible i...

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Comment

Off the fence: TC recommends 'yes' on N

The Town Crier initially offered no position on the controversial $150 million Measure N bond on Tuesday’s ballot. But some of the reasons we gave in our Oct. 15 editorial were, on reflection, overly critical and based on inaccurate information.

We ...

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Special Sections

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little e...

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Business

Local realtors scare up money for charity

Local realtors scare up money for charity


Photo courtesy of SILVAR
Realtors Gary Campi and Jordan Legge, from left, joined Nancy Domich, SILVAR President Dave Tonna and Joe Brown to raise funds for the Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation.

Los Altos and Mountain View realtors raise...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

DAVID S. NIVISON

DAVID S. NIVISON

David S. Nivison, 91 years old, and a resident of Los Altos, California since 1952, died Oct. 16, 2014 at home.  His neighbors had recently honored him as the “Mayor of Russell Ave., in recognition of 62 years of distinguished living” on that ...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

ECYS opens season Sunday

ECYS opens season Sunday


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
The El Camino Youth Symphony rehearses for Sunday’s concert, above.

The El Camino Youth Symphony – under new conductor Jindong Cai – is scheduled to perform its season-opening concert 4 p.m....

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Spiritual Life

Christian Science Reading Room hosts webinar on prayer and healing

Christian Science practitioner and teacher Evan Mehlenbacher is scheduled to present a live Internet webinar lecture, “Prayer That Heals,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Christian Science Reading Room, 60 Main St., Los Altos.

Those interested ...

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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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