How an Offer You Hope to Refuse Can Increase Your Power

Strengthening your best alternative is the surest way to increase your negotiating power. This concept may seem counterintuitive; after all, our best alternative to the current deal is the offer we anticipate turning down. We hope, instead, to fashion the deal currently being discussed into one that best meets our needs and interests. Why work […]

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Alternatives Power the Best Negotiators

Before studying negotiation, I thought of “alternatives” and “options” as synonymous. To students of the process, though, these two words mean very different things. Options are all the ways a deal can be structured. Should you pay up front or over time, include the plantings or take them along, repair the fence or lower the […]

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The Best Use of Your Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits form an important part of your overall retirement planning. Even the most skilled financial planners, though, have different understandings of how best to utilize this important resource. Some ways of thinking about, and deploying, social security benefits may be wiser than others. For many people, the “highest and best use” of social […]

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Please Don’t Take Your Social Security Benefits Early

A conventional wisdom has developed, among those who study the matter, that waiting to claim benefits is the better course for those deciding when to start receiving social security. There has been some pushback, though, and lately a spate of articles has urged people to consider claiming early. For example, this one suggests that “smart […]

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Economic Science, Sales-Based Nonsense, and the Vast Gulf Between Them

Economists know a great deal, yet, for some reason, most Americans invest as if that knowledge did not exist. The financial world is full of scientifically established truths that fly in the face of much that Wall Street sells. The situation calls for both careful study and great caution. Investing at this historical moment may […]

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Shouldn’t Education be Tax Deductible?

The first day of school is an exciting time. Everyone remembers the mixture of promise and trepidation while waiting to find out what the new school year will bring. What is my teacher like? (What are my students like?) What will we be doing? Who are my new classmates? What wondrous (or boring) new things […]

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Patience Is a Valuable Negotiating Asset

Among the most powerful items in a negotiator’s toolbox is the ability to wait. Of course, the habit and mental discipline of patience is probably an advantage in most areas of life. It tends to be overlooked in negotiation, though, and so is worthy of some further consideration. For many years, I worked with a […]

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Legal Duties of Financial Advisors

For half a dozen years or more, a great political battle has been waged in Washington. At stake has been the level of duty owed clients by their financial advisors. As I have indicated in previous posts, it is a very big deal. To the astonishment of many, under current rules the vast majority of […]

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The Folks Who Handle Your Money Owe You Something

The various advisors, brokers, banks and financial services companies all owe you something. It isn’t money or recompense that you should expect from them. Rather, the folks who handle your money owe you a set of attitudes and behaviors that indicate professional service instead of salesmanship, arms-length-transactions, or profiteering. Let’s get specific. Everyone who has […]

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Cooperation vs Competition

An important question arises almost invariably whenever we think hard about the concept of negotiation. Are cooperative or competitive methods the better road toward optimal outcomes? Professors Lax and Sebenius have referred to a version of this quandary as the negotiator’s dilemma. Most scholars and thoughtful practitioners eventually conclude that good negotiators must adopt some […]

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