little fish..big pond.


Dryer sheet aficionado
Feb 15, 2006

I must admit that after several hours of reading the plethora of topics in this (most excellent) forum...I'm a tad bit intimidated.

Math was never a skill I honed and the ease in which so many of you throw numbers around is gut-wrenching. Reading thru some threads, once, twice and thrice, I find myself asking; am I really this dumb?

Just wanted to say hi and while I have some urgent questions, I'll try to figure out their proper designation prior to starting a new thread. Mahalo. ;)
Welcome nomo-aloha. Don't worry, there are plenty of posts where I provide clear evidence of my inability to use math, so you are not alone. :) And no one will mind if you use this thread to start out asking your questions.
nomo-aloha said:
Math was never a skill I honed and the ease in which so many of you throw numbers around is gut-wrenching.

What most people really need isn't math. It's common sense. If you've got that, you're ahead of most people. Math is easy to explain, common sense isn't.
Thanks for the welcome!

"Common sense is none to common".

I think it was Mr. Frank Zappa that coined that expression.

Sadly, upon reading "my story", I think the consensus will agree I have lacked both math skills and common sense. I am currently trying to muster the nerve to post my embarassing dilemna. Don't want to get royally flamed, nor do I want to depress the masses.

I'm in trouble. Possibly big trouble.

And don't worry about the math at all. You can skip over most of it, or ask for it be spelled out. I aced math through school, but didn't need it for my work and lost it. It hardly matters. The main principles are key, and then so much of the rest is variable for each of us. Keep in mind some of the math stuff is the former engineers here doing some therapy. ;) We're all cool about it, most of the time. ::)........ :D

Aloha, nomo-aloha.
I think you will find this forum is one of the better places to start your planning.
Lots of helpful people, and don't worry about the math.  These days having a plan is far more important than crunching the numbers.  The internet will do most of that for you.
nomo-aloha said:
Thanks for the welcome!

"Common sense is none to common".

I think it was Mr. Frank Zappa that coined that expression.

Sadly, upon reading "my story", I think the consensus will agree I have lacked both math skills and common sense. I am currently trying to muster the nerve to post my embarassing dilemna. Don't want to get royally flamed, nor do I want to depress the masses.

I'm in trouble. Possibly big trouble.

No better place to spill it, IMO. Lots of us (all?) have done stupid things, criminal things, irreparable dmage, etc. If nothing else, you can benefit from others' experiences. Plus we have posters who are or were doctors, lawyers, financial planners, engineers, gummint workers, social workers, duct cleaners (heheh), etc. There must be somebody here who knows (intimately) what can be done in whatever your situation is, plus dozens of us who don't know anything but will still chime in anyway. :D

We also have two members with 170+ IQ's both of whom are the Smartest Man in the World.
Welcome, nomo!

Anyone who quotes FZ is ok in my book... 8)

Spill away, and we'll all respond with meaningless, off-topic, wisea$$ed remarks our collective wisdom... :uglystupid:
LOL...Thank you all for the support.....and I can definately use advice provided by the "smartest man in the world".. both of them. ;)

OK, here goes:

Me? I'm not the smartest man in the world. Perhaps that awareness has been my saving grace. Because of factors beyond my control, I was forced to drop-out of highschool 30 years ago.
Nobody knows this other than my parents and siblings. I am now 46 and despite my dirty little secret, most view me as an educated professional.

I'll get to the point, I took over our (suffering) family construction company about 15 years ago. Not patting myself on the back, but I turned it into a fairly successful operation. 50+ employees and profitted between $500,000 and $1,000,000 for about 5 years.

Despite living a good life in Hawaii, I didn't have much overall enjoyment in my young life. I didn' get to go on to school with my friends and really sought that atmosphere and opportunity. I became semi-depressed and consequently started spending like a rockstar. I developed a bad gambling habit ($250,000 per year) and eventually lost my wife and kids. I acept full responsibility for my actions and have always supported them, financially and emotionally. We remain close....even though they are in another state. :(

Losing my kids (now 15 and 16) was the final straw. I do not party, rarely socialise and have not placed a bet in 3 years. I re-dedicated myself to the company and brought on a couple family members to do the administrative tasks I was not experienced in. With competition here in the islands VERY heavy, I took one more "gamble" and abandoned the company model. I started a new, but related service and it took off.

Suddenly I was back on top. My plan was to stay healthy, focused and in the black. My motivation was in getting my kids a better life (education) than mine. They are very bright and deserve such an oportunity. In fact...they are both star athletes and on the national honor roll. My daughter has been contacted by Eileen (?) Ford about a modeling career.  All appears well....but

I invested everything in new equipment for this new operation. Everything was going great and everyone was making money again....then I blew out my back in an accident at home. I have had MAJOR sciatica despite two surgeries. I even had to hire a driver to get from job to job. I decided to force myself to undertake office duties that I always loathed ie, bookeeping. It was at this time that I discovered my new partners (family!) had tore thru my money like gangbusters. Taxes were not paid and i remain in serious jeopardy of losing the company.

As I started this post: I'm not the smartest guy in the world. I cannot take legal action for a couple different reasons. Blackmail being one. I did however circle the wagons immediately and paid off the state and IRS of all back taxes and penalties. I paid over $150,000 in credit cards and that again to my suppliers. Because of my injuries....these people, mostly friends, failed to tell me that they were not being paid. This is what allowed so much damage to occur. I just didn't know what was going on.


1)My back is still messed up.

2)I have minor stock investments....maybe $10,000, I lost about $100,000 in 2000 and remain gun shy.

3) No 401K

4) $600,000 in real estate equity

5) $300,000 after tax in the bank earning zilch.

Not only has the company suffered greatly...but I am jaded. I don't think I can go thru this rebuilding process again.I am down to 5 employees and they are about to jump ship.

This is getting very long (I apologise) but I was hoping someone could help direct me to a first step. Shall I seek a financial advisor / planner? In all honesty, this whole thing has caused me a bit of paranoia. I am having a very hard time trusting anyone with the money i have left and may not be making much more. It is clear to me....(and friends) that depression is getting the best of me. I am typically very optimistic and I am having a hard time with these new found emotions. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, if anyone is sill awake.

Thanks in advance.
Wow :eek:  So other than that, how are things going?
The first thing that jumps out at me is that despite all you have said, I don't see any specific  goals regarding your financial future.  Are you ready to hang it up and retire?  Or, are you looking to use to cash in an accumulation mode?

One obvious step you should take is to get that 300K into a money market account.  It is safe and will earn you ,say 4.2%   That's about a $1000 per month compared to zilch assuming zilch is under 1%.
Thanks for trusting us with this very frank and difficult story. I never lost anywhere near this amount of money, but I did lose a business because I was embezzled by an employee who had also implicated me in some shady situations.

I too was depressed, angry and scared.

It seems that instinctively you are doing the right thing. Make sure there is an airway and a heartbeat. Then treat shock and stop the bleeding. When you are safe from the law the IRS and from those who have been harming you, take a little time off to figure out your next step. The paranoia may be the best thing to ever happen to you.  :) I would avoid any long term commitments of any kind, except what you are forced into by the situation you are in. And resist these!

Lastly, I assume you have  good accountant and lawyer – if not, get both!

uhem...That folks was a very emotional post for me.. I will try to tighten it up here:

The "real estate equity";

I have a condo worth $400,000 free and clear (more or less). Maintenance fees are $400 per mo.

I have a piece of land worth $400.000 and I owe $200,000 on that. I think my payments total about $1500 per mo.

I have $300,000 sitting in the bank, doing nothing...but I have been comfortable with that in the event I needed it for the company. I don't hink I need it in the bank anymore.

Here's the real dilemna I have: The company still has great potential. Someone better than myself could probably profit close to 1 million per year. I have about $300,000 in new equipment and decent contacts.

The last 3 years I have had sales of of $700,000, 800,000 and 2005 brought in about 950,000. I do not feel I will do so well this year.

I wonder if I should'nt sell this thing before it starts going downhill? One problem with the operation is the fact that I am basically the company. The license is in my name and I don't know about how that would transfer over. I know similiar models that have it can happen..I just don't know how.

I did contact a broker that told me such an operation is worth only 1/3 of the years gross revenue. That sounded like much to me. Anyone know about selling companies?

Also..I am prepared to sell the land if necessary. I feel like the real estate market here has leveled off and maybe, in my situation, I should be in something else.

I would also consider moving out of Hawaii. It is too expensive here and frankly....too many bad memories.

That's why I

Thanks again.
justin said:
We also have two members with 170+ IQ's both of whom are the Smartest Man in the World.

You forgot the women. :D
Sorry JPatrick and Haha...I was typing that last post when you replied. Thanks for both of your tips and my last post might have better answered your questions.

I will definately look into a money market, Jpatrick. Any advice on where to get started?

Haha...I am sorry to hear you too were robbed. the fact that m family did this to me is unbearable. They were WELL taken care of...apparently they harbored some bad feelings for me...but I have no idea why and they cannot explain what I ever did to make them feel this way. Despite my gambling and other indescretions, I never intentionally hurt anyone.

That is why my business succeeded...and so rapidly. I was always up and up. It's just too much to even grasp. They have some petty stuff on me that can really hurt my current relationship as well as my relationship with my ex and kids. Nothing illegal...just not stuff I want to get around (the gambling is part of it).

One problem I have is my lack of education. I don't know how to do anything other than what i do now. I have no computer skills, either. A bigger problem is nobody really knows this and I am ashamed. I have always been very proud and while not arrogant, definately confident. I know there are many (competitors) that would like this information so they could bury me.

Luckily, I have zero legal problems. But if I don't do something quick...the cost of being in business, while NOT doing any business, here in Hawaii will eat me alive.

Thjanks again.
nomo-aloha said:
Luckily, I have zero legal problems. But if I don't do something quick...the cost of being in business, while NOT doing any business, here in Hawaii will eat me alive.
Thats an interesting fact about business isn't it.  You can't stop doing business and generally you can't be content to stay the same size. It's grow or die.

As far as the money market there are many and the yields and terms vary somewhat.  I use Fidelity Cash Reserves (FDRXX) which currently yields 4.13%.  This is taxable as dividends and you can get a check writing feature where you can write as many checks as you want so long as they are for minimum $500.  These accounts are not insured, but no one has ever lost a dime in a major MM account.
It is a good way to generate some monthly cash and still have access to the money.
Something I was trying to remember earlier and kept drawing a blank.  A couple of Coronas and I've got it.

Have you considered asking SCORE for some advice regarding your business challenges?
I'm sure you've heard of them, but if not, they are groups of retired execs who will assist you in your business basically as consultants.
There are chapters everywhere.
Why not check it out.
Thanks for the advice and the link, JPatrick. I have never heard of Score. Checked out their site to find I drive past their Hawaii branch almost daily.

Almost seems to good to be true...people helping people...what's up with that? lol. I am going to e-mail them (first) when I can think of a less dramatic way to pose my question.

You are's sink or swim when owning a business. Especially over here where my monthly overhead could feed small countries. That's why I think it's time to ge out. Trying to sustain my operation under these circumstances will likely drain what little cash I have left.

Problem is...if I can't get a decent price for the operation, I have no options. Even if I liquidated everything...I'd have only $900,000. Certainly not enough to survive after learning the 4% rule.

This money market you mention, you say it's not insured but there is zero risk. Definately zero risk? Do I just send my money to E-trade and buy the fund using the abbreviation you provided?

I hate to put all these questions to you and was hoping for more of a response. I think my situation may have scared away the average forum participant, lol.

Thanks're a good person.
nomo-aloha said:
This money market you mention, you say it's not insured but there is zero risk. Definately zero risk? Do I just send my money to E-trade and buy the fund using the abbreviation you provided?
SCORE has been around forever.  They helped me 15-16 years ago with a marketing problem I had.  Not a big deal,  but they opened the door to some new thinking.  Sure made me look good until I found other ways to screw up. 
Now about that zero risk----they've been zero risk "so far", but I don't do guarantees :-\ I guess you could do E-Trade, but calling 1-800 Fidelity would be easier, or  No branch office in Hono, which is a surprise.  My DW has serious money in this MM and I sleep quite well at night, or it could be the Corona ;)

I would imagine you will get more replies tomorrow.
Let us know how you are progressing.
Jeez, nomo, what a story. I think that what you choose to do tactically really depends on what you want out of life. Until you figure that out, any suggestions we give you may or may not be useful. Based on what you have said, I'd guess that you are ready to liquidate stuff and clear out of Hawaii, but that's my surmise and it doesn't sound like you have had time to think much about where you want to go TO (as opposed to FROM).

It sounds like you need to be done with the business, since you are not physically up to growing it/running it. I'd imagine that the sale of the business will take some time and effort and in the meantime you need to keep it going and healthy to close the sale. SCORE could probably help you with the business, and I would seek out a business broker and find out what you have to do to market the business. IIRC, trombone al recently sold a small business and dory36 used to be a business broker, so perhaps they could offer you some insight.

If you are serious about liquidating the land, you'd better get started marketing it. Land usually takes a fair bit of time to sell.
Check out Vanguard Federal Money Market (some slight state tax advantages) which yields 4.19%. I've got a good bit of money there. Vanguard also has a Prime Money Market account yielding 4.24%. Both produce "dividends" which are federally taxable as ordinary income. May give you an extra 0.1% more than Fidelity. But Fidelity and Vanguard are good places to look for money market funds. They are nearly risk-free. Both companies will do everything they can to make sure your money market fund won't lose value, but your funds aren't FDIC insured.

As to computer literacy - have you considered taking computer classes? It sounds like you are smart enough to run a business and turn a profit. You can probably handle computers too. Check out your local library or community college to see if they have introductory classes. Learn how to use Word and Excel. You already know a lot of the basics - how to turn it on, what a "mouse" is, what the internet is, etc. You just need to learn the material you need to know. You don't have to learn programming or networking if you're going to work in an office environment.

If you don't want to run the business anymore, maybe you can sell it, relocate to the mainland, and get a job at a construction firm doing office work (due to your health condition). Construction estimator? Construction administrator or inspector? Building materials purchaser? It may be a pay cut from your current business. But it sounds like you've got a bit of wealth already built up.

Just my thoughts...
Good morning guys.

I must say I feel slightly better already. This, as you can imagine, is something I pretty well keep bottled up... I know that's not healthy and it felt good to spill my guts. Thanks for the ear (eye?).

I do definately want to off the business. My back is messed up but my mind is too. My customers and remaining employees deserve better....some have been with me since the start (15+ years).

Thanks for that phone number JPatrick.

Brewer, thanks for the reply...the good news with land (It's acually just a lot in a subdivision) over here is everybody wants it. I have approved plans for a gorgeous house so that should entice a buyer. It usually takes a year to get a house thru the planning commision here. It's crazy. You mentioned a couple members that sold small business', should I e-mail them or what is the proper protocal? Maybe I should start a seperate thread?

Justin...thank you as well. I have seriously considered the computer classes. Man, it's funny how fast time flies and how much things change. I clearly remember thinking ; Computer?? What's the chance of me actually ever owning a computer? They were about the size of a Toyota then. LOL. I really do need to get it figured out. You mentioned word and excel...would it make sense to try to learn web designing or the sorts? my thoughts are that, with my back situation, I may be stuck at home frequently. Is that like tons of schooling or does it even pay?

I am considering, upon liquidation, a move to somewhere like Panama pr Thailand. It would be great if I could subsidise my savings with a 'work from home' type operation. Any thoughts?

Thanks for the replies and thanks for the forum. I do feel better and more capable of making a sound decision. Whether that happens or not is a nothing story, lol.
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