Transcript: Segment 1
Paul Winkler: Anne and Arlene are here with me.
We’ve got 4th of July topics. I think we need to be talking 4th of July topics, especially when we have our resident proud, incredibly proud, Arlene being here.
Arlene Brown: Don’t make me emotional.
Paul: Yeah. I think it’s impossible not to make you emotional because that’s how you’re built and it’s a good thing. So, there are a lot of things that I want to talk about in today’s show and what I really want to spend a lot of time on. Ladies, Anne and Arlene. I want to talk a lot about financial freedom.
I think it’s something… People almost think many times that it’s just unattainable. We just can’t go there anymore. It’s not possible. And maybe those days are gone and with what we have seen over the past, I’d say twenty years.
You go back twenty years and that was a time of great euphoria. People were really, really excited, and then you go through some bumps in the road and then people start to doubt that financial freedom is possible. So I want to talk about that. I think it’s entirely possible, number one. Number two, twenty years ago was an important time horizon for me because that’s when I started this show.
I started the company, we started the show, and the investment strategy that I wanted to teach here on the radio was one that was just not being taught anywhere and is still not being taught anywhere. Primarily for reasons that have nothing to do with its efficacy, whether it works or not. It has everything to do with marketing. And I think that’s one of the things we want to break people free from. It’s just the marketing aspect of things, but also talk about the financial planning aspect of things.
Financial planning is this concept, which is great at its core. The idea that you actually sit down, and you really think about your future and you do something called income smoothing. Well, maybe we’ll talk a little bit more about what income smoothing is, and the concept of it, because it’s a great visual for understanding how to get your financial life in order and what your financial life ought to look like from beginning.
When you invest, it’s a lifelong decision.
So I want to talk a bit about that and just some of the things that can be roadblocks to getting in the way. Arlene, tell us a little bit about what it… To you, being in America, you’ve always been this really, really proud person of your heritage, of this country, and what it means to you. What are some of the things that come to your mind?
Arlene: What is American Dream? July 4th? What are you talking about?
Paul: You know, independence, July 4th. You had a family. Tell a little bit of your story. Just talk about where you come from and some of the history.
The American Dream
Arlene: Well, July 4th is a very big, big, big celebration in the Philippines because it’s actually Philippine-American Friendship Day before it was changed. It’s no longer a national holiday in the Philippines, but growing up, that was a big thing. And it was really a big celebration in our town because we are near where MacArthur did his, “I shall return or returned.” So July 4th is a very special day. And when I came here, it’s doubly special day because it’s July 4th, American independence, and then independence basically in the Philippines as well—or Philippine-American Friendship Day.
Paul: When did you come to America?
Arlene: Twenty-six years ago. 1994.
Paul: I’m curious about something. I’ve never asked you this before, but I’m curious about something. When you first got here now, you spoke English well.
Arlene: It’s so funny because English is taught in the Philippines. I spoke English, yes. But spoken English and written English are two different things. So when I came here, I had this thick accent.
I think about that. I can’t even… My beginning is very, very humble, but let’s step back and…
Paul: I’m going to get there. I want to get where you’re wanting to go, but I want to know this first. You spoke English fairly well. You could speak it. And it was hard to understand you. What is one of the things that you had to learn in becoming a US citizen?
Arlene: Oh, I practiced World history and American history, but I read American history before I came here. Because my grandfather said that, or my father said that you can’t go to United States with an empty head. That’s a literal translation, meaning you have first to have education. You have to finish college first, that’s what it means. But the literal translation is you can’t go to the United States with an empty head.
Paul: Yeah. But you needed to understand the background of the country, what we stood for, what we went through, the struggles, the challenges, the wars, and the challenges to the way of life.
Anne: Now, Arlene, you mentioned you lived near where Mr. MacArthur returned. Am I right in remembering that in World War II, the Philippines was lost and MacArthur had to leave. And then he came back. And so was your family… Did they talk about that whole aspect of World War II?
Arlene: All children were sequestered, and all the old people will take turns telling their stories about World War II. How good America, how good the kindness of the American heart and “made in America” is the greatest thing. Anything that is made in America is a great thing. So it’s like it’s this beautiful thing that I never… That’s why until now I have this unfettered optimism about America, or I could not think of any negative… I’m not a Pollyanna, but I don’t think any negative things about America or Americans, because it was put to me as “how great the American people, how kind.” Even if MacArthur left, but because he returned. And the way was taught to me: “Look at MacArthur, be true to your words, just like Douglas MacArthur.”
Anne: So he was the general in World War II, for those who aren’t that familiar.
The Spirit of Optimism
Paul: Right, right. And you know what’s fascinating to me is, I’m listening to that and I’m thinking about, you’re talking about America and just the American spirit. I was reading something this week and one of my great passions is studying psychology and just psychological issues, and I was reading something about Americans in general, and it was fascinating that around the world, they were just talking about how different.
One of the things that makes Americans very, very different is optimism.
It’s almost a feeling that there’s no way we can’t overcome whatever is put in front of us, which is very unusual worldwide. It’s a very unusual attitude.
Anne: I totally agree with that. So in my opinion, if Americans don’t succeed at something, it’s because they didn’t try, because it’s not like we do not have all of the opportunity and the equipment and the military and the money and everything that we would need to accomplish the goal.
Paul: And this was a podcast. I was trying to think of where I heard this, and it was a podcast. It was just talking about the attitude that we have, which is just so different. When we are faced with… And the guy was going around the world and he was looking at various countries around the world and looking at the issues and the demographic issues, and with all of the things that we have going wrong here in America and all the negatives, it’s so much better than the vast majority of the rest of the world. You look at some of the things out there. I was reading an article on China, and I was absolutely shocked at the issues and how profound the issues are in that country.
And this person’s literally saying the collapse is imminent. And I don’t know if it’s to that degree, but if you listened to the regular media, you would never have heard anything like that. And they were talking about the leaders are just trying to grab what they can while they can. And it was just going from that country and what’s going on in Germany, what’s going on in France, what’s going on in South America. He was going through South America and talking about what was happening there. And it was just fascinating.
But he was talking about what we have going on here. And, demographically, we’ve got a couple issues, but when we look at, for example, Millennials and people say, “Oh my goodness, Millennials.” He’s going, “No, it’s actually a saving grace.” Because it’s a huge group of people, almost as big as the baby boom generation.
And that will be where the future is. And when you’re a younger person, you’re typically going to be a little bit immature. And you think about what we were, and it’s so hard to think back what you were like when you were in your twenties and just the level of naivety that you may have had back at that point in time. And I know I certainly did.
And you know, my son will say, “Oh my goodness, this is what’s going on. This is what’s going on with your brother.” And I’ll go, “Look, buddy, I was the same exact way when I was his age.” And he’ll go, “Oh, okay. I feel better.” He’s always looking at his younger brother and going, “Oh my goodness.” No, no, no, it’s normal. Or he looks at some of the same issues that he deals with and he’s gone, “Oh my goodness. I can’t find something I like to do.” And I was like, “Look, when I was your age, I couldn’t find anything I liked to do either. Don’t get overly concerned about it. You got time.”
And the reality of it is, we as a nation, we just are filled with people that are optimistic and we are always looking at How can we improve? How can we overcome the challenges in front of us and what can we do to move forward and make this place better and better and better? And we have these roadblocks along the way, a little garbage that happens.
Yeah, sure. So, that’s one of the things that I look at. And a lot of times what happens, we try stuff and it fails miserably. And I look back at my history, going back to the 1970s and 80s, and just the things that have been tried that have failed, and we forget about them because they didn’t work.
We tend to remember the things that do work, and we always think that we’re going through something we’ve never been through before. And the reality of it is there’s nothing new under the sun. Solomon said that coming up on 3000 years ago. So from that standpoint of, Arlene, just America and…. I love it that you still have that same optimism. You still see the same opportunity because so many people don’t see that opportunity.
Arlene: And I believe that my next purpose in life is to help people reclaim that American Dream, that concept. That it works, that it’s there, it’s alive. There’s Gallup data that shows that 7% of Americans believe that the American Dream is dead.
Paul: 7% think it’s dead or 7% still think it’s still alive?
Arlene: No. 7% believe that it’s dead.
Paul: Okay. That’s not too bad. Only 7% believe that it’s dead.
Arlene: Yes. But 28% believe that the American Dream is under serious threat, but still there’s hope. While 27% say that it’s alive and well, while 37% it’s alive, but under threat. But then if you ask another question that says, “Do you believe that the American Dream can be achieved by anyone in United States if they work hard?” The answer is only 69% said yes, while 31% said no. So that 31%, we need to convince them that if you work hard, that the American Dream is alive.
Paul: And I think that’s the group of people that… Right now, there are a lot of changes that I see coming about, just based on what I’m seeing. And I think that part of what is going to happen, what’s going to come out of all this tumult that we’ve been going through, is that group of people that feel like they’ve been left behind are going to be reached in some way. Because I look at it and I go, Wow. As I get older, Arlene, I’m like you, where I’m looking at it and saying, This is what I want to do going forward.
Paul: This is a group of people and I think that’s all we’re going to do on the show today. I want to talk a little bit about, okay, so how do you get there? How do you achieve freedom? What are the things that you need to be thinking about from a financial planning standpoint, from an investing standpoint, from just how do you handle your money? Because your money is a big part of the American Dream. It’s always is because it’s part of what makes it possible. It’s kind of the engine.
Money is just a tool to help you express what it is that you value.
So let’s do this.
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