The Wise Cracks Blog by Dan Otter



Financial Time Capsule: Bogle and Warren

A core summer goal of mine was to organize and purge our garage and my office. So about two weeks ago I began going through every shelf and cabinet, and seemingly every nook and cranny in these two spaces. Much of the work was boring and mundane. My latest Audible book (No Oridinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II) helped pass the time.

On a side note, even the most mundane jobs like emptying the dishwasher are less awful when an Audible book or podcast is paired with Bose noise-cancelling headphones. On another side note: Wow, the U.S. was a pretty racist country in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Kearns Goodwin details race issues that were truly cringeworthy; especially the sad irony of preparing to go to war with Adolf Hitler while having barred Jewish European refugees from entrance into our country. Last side note: Eleanor Roosevelt and Francis Perkins (first female U.S. Cabinet member) were truly impressive. 

Anyway, organizing and purging can be boring. But this endeavor can also be like unearthing a mini time capsule. I found several items of note to those interested in financial issues. In order of oldest to newest.

My First Mortgage Statement (1990)

This was for a home my late wife Julie and I had purchased in June 1990 in Corona, California. Notice the interest rate of 7.95%. Believe it or not, but that was once considered a pretty favorable rate. In fact that was a teaser or introductory rate. Under terms of that first loan our rate could not exceed 13.95% or be less than 7.5%. The rate actually rose to 9.95% by October 1990. It soon began to drop and eventually fell to 7.5% by January 1992. 

First Mortgage Statement

Note from John Bogle (2002)

On a true whim, I sent Mr. Bogle a copy of The 403(b)wise Guide, the book I had co-written with planner Scott Dauenhauer, CFP (note: the book is currently out of print but Scott and I are planning to republish in the near future). To my true amazement the father of the index fund sent us the following:  

Bogle Note (2002)

Another Note from John Bogle (2005)

Just to see if the first time was pure luck, I sent Mr. Bogle a copy of my new book Teach and Retire Rich. A few weeks later, I got the following:

Bogle Note (2005)

Letter from Elizabeth Warren (2005)

I had recently read The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers & Fathers Are Going Broke, the book Ms. Warren wrote with her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, and thought my new book Teach and Retire Rich might resonate with her so I sent her a copy. A few weeks later, I got the following:

Warren Letter 2005

As you can imagine organizing and purging soon got boring again. As much as I was enjoying No Ordinary Time, I had hit the organizational wall. But then I found a copy of John Bogle’s Don’t Count On It! Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, “Mutual” Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes. He had given it to me when I met with him at Vanguard’s campus in December 2010. I opened the cover to see the following:

Bogle Book Inscription (2010)

And so I did. And so does the 403(b) reform movement.