Don’t Ask Don’t Get

By Fritz Schafer, with contributions by Chris Schafer. January 5, 2017.


“Don’t Ask, Don’t Get” – This was one of Michael’s favorite sayings.  What did he mean by this?

Michael had a way of finding out what exactly he could get that was above and beyond the norm.  One fun example is when he went to a restaurant he would normally be able to substitute a side that he wanted for the one that was on the menu.  But there are several much more important examples with clients, here are a couple:

We recently recommended additional life insurance for a young couple with a young child.  We were surprised to see that the premium for the husband for $250,000 death benefit was slightly less than the premium for the wife for $150,000 death benefit.  Naturally we called the insurance company and asked “How can this be?”  They replied that they have a break point at the $250,000 level.  So we asked if the wife could amend her application to $250,000 death benefit?  They agreed and she ended up receiving an extra $100,000 in death benefit for less premium.  “Don’t Ask Don’t Get.”

We have clients who had some medical issues and asked for an extension on their tax return.  They always file both their personal tax returns with their trust tax returns.  However, they did not realize the extension for the trust tax return was an earlier date than the personal tax return.  After filing their returns they received a penalty notice for the trust.  We spoke with their CPA who advised they to pay the penalty, but send with it a letter of explanation on why the return was inadvertently late.  A few months later we got a call and they were pleasantly surprised to receive a refund of their penalty!  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Get.”

Maybe the most important example of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Get” is Social Security.  Deciding when to take your social security is a big decision and can have ramifications throughout one’s retirement.  Now the social security administration can answer many of your questions about your individual social security benefits, and if you are married your spousal benefits as well.  However, they are not able to answer questions relating to your overall financial plan.  Even if they had the time and you were to give them all of the pertinent information, their administrators most likely do not have the proper credentials and licenses do give out individual financial and investment advice.  However, you still need to ask them many questions, and if you need help ask many questions of a qualified financial advisor.  In some cases, it may mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars over your retirement income lifespan.

At first I was going to write “This blog does not relate a whole lot to marathon running.”

But when I thought more about it I realized, I have learned quite a bit by asking advice from other runners.  For instance, I don’t worry about stomach cramps anymore because I know how to prevent them and get rid of them if I do get them.  Also, I know what to do if I get shin splints, or if my knees start to hurt, all from advice from other runners.

But I will say this:  When you are training hard for a marathon there are days that that you just don’t feel like running anymore.  One way to keep you motivated is to run with friends.  Most runners enjoy running with others, and are more than happy to arrange their schedule to meet up with you.  If you are supposed to meet someone at, let’s say 5am and you know they would be very upset if you did not show up, it motivates you to get out of bed when the alarm goes off.  Getting out of bed is half the battle.  Running with a friend at 5am, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Get.”


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