This one time, in Vegas…

This one time, in Vegas…

I’m a terrible gambler. It must be a control (or lack thereof) thing. That’s why I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve played any form of casino game but the experience I want to share this week seems super relevant what’s been going on in markets these past weeks.

Many years ago, the company I worked for sponsored a trip to Las Vegas for all the managers and our families. This was my first visit to Vegas and my first exposure to casino gambling. Of course, me being me, I went right out and bought a book, “How to Win at Blackjack.”

I studied it religiously for weeks and forced my family to endure hour after hour of blackjack “practice” around our kitchen table. I knew when to hit, stay, double-down and split and I had a general idea about how to keep track of how many face cards had been played. When the day finally came for the big trip, I could hardly contain my excitement. I was ready!

That first night in Vegas, after the kids were tucked into their beds upstairs, I walked the casino floor feeling more than a little intimidated. Finally, I found a five-dollar minimum blackjack table (yeah, definitely no “high-rollers” here), laid a hundred-dollar bill on the table and began to play.

Maybe it was the brilliant lessons from the book or the hours of practice or more likely it was just pure Vegas style beginner’s luck, but for whatever reason I started winning – and winning and winning. My winning streak went on for hours and the chips just kept piling up in front of me. Somewhere around 2 AM I realized I had turned my $100 into over $1200. I was elated!

Suddenly a thought occurred to me. I reached up to the table, took two one-hundred-dollar chips and slipped them discretely into the little coin pocket in my jeans.

Somewhere around 4 AM my luck began to turn, and I called it quits and headed for the hotel room with almost $900 of chips in my pockets! I drifted off to sleep with a big smile as sweet dreams of my new career as a high-stakes gambler danced in my head.

I was antsy during our business meeting the next day and even antsier during the “formal” dinner afterward. I couldn’t wait to get back to those tables to rake some more easy money! Finally, by 10 PM, I was seated once again back at the same table I played the night before. Here we go, show me the money!

By mid-night, it was over. I was broke. Head hung low; I made my way back to my hotel room. Well, hey, at least I had a lot fun going broke!

The next morning as I packed my suitcase preparing to check out and head to the airport, I heard a soft thump as I folded up the jeans I’d been wearing two nights ago. Then I remembered.

I dropped down to my knees looking around where the sound had come from and sure enough, there they were. The 2 one-hundred-dollar chips I’d slipped into my coin pocket that first night. “Ha!” I shouted, a triumphant grin on my face as I raised the two chips between my fingers into the air. My wife just rolled her eyes.

At the cashier window a few minutes later, I took possession of two, crisp, one-hundred-dollar bills in exchange for the chips. I had to smile a bit as I put them in my pocket. After all the studying and learning. After the emotional roller-coaster ride of pure elation when winning and humiliation when losing, I was on top of the world.

You see, I didn’t really even think about the hundreds of dollars I lost the night before; after all it was just house money. Thanks to those two chips I had the instinct to set aside and protect, I doubled my money in Vegas! 

Moral of the story: After this historic 11 year+ bull market, chances are you’re up quite a bit in your retirement and investment accounts (even with the recent extreme volatility). Is it time to reach out and take a couple of chips off the table for safe keeping?

You do know that’s totally possible, right? It’s even quite easy (and painless) to do. At the end of the day, it might just be the best move you’ve ever made!

The two files below landed in my inbox today. Quite compelling! Give me a call or send me a text at 360-281-6495 or an email to I’m always happy to discuss and review your options…

AE 3 Bears , AE Protect Assets 

Asset management and investment Advisory Services offered through Guardian Pointe Private Wealth Management LLC., a SEC Registered Investment Advisor Firm. Headquartered at 1024 E. Grand River Ave Brighton, Michigan 48116 / Toll Free 844-944-1044.  John Ensley is an Investment Advisor Representative of Guardian Pointe Private Wealth Management LLC. J-Ensley Financial LLC and Guardian Pointe Private Wealth Management LLC. are separate entities and are not affiliated.



Are bonds safe?

Are bonds safe?

A prospective client recently shared with me that she called a financial advisor at one of the large brokerage houses where she has an IRA account. She told him she was concerned about a downturn and that she did not want to lose any money in IRA. His recommendation? “You should reposition some of your money to bonds.” What really struck her is that he said as if it was an absolute “no-brainer” that left no room for further discussion! 

If you watch TV or read financial articles in the mainstream media, you know just how often the importance of equity investing is touted. Recently, I saw a frequently run commercial from a major mutual fund and ETF provider. In the ad, they promoted that “asset allocation as a key to successful wealth accumulation.”

They said a proper asset allocation was 60% in equities and 40% in bonds, adjusted slightly for age, risk profile, and current market dynamics and expectations.

Another rule of thumb you may have heard about is that suggested stock exposure should be the number 100 minus your age. Using this generalization, a 70-year-old prospect should have 30% of their money in the market.

This is the “financial wisdom,” people are exposed to every day. This “wisdom” is doled out as if it were the gospel truth itself. Is it any wonder that so many investors believe bonds are the safe alternative to equities?

After all, bonds have been enjoying a 25-year bull market, what with the historic drop in interest rates. As interest rates have fallen over the past several decades, investors have enjoyed the opportunity for gains in principal. Bond prices improved as rates fell. So, it’s easy to understand how someone might assume bonds have little risk.

Are interest rates likely to go up in the next five to 10 years, or stay the same, or go down?

Well, they can’t go down much further! We’re already close to zero percent. And with our need for increased social services (due to our aging demographic) and our increased national debt (it’s at record highs), doesn’t it seem logical that rates are more likely to go up than to stay level or fall?

Many investors fail to realize that bond prices and interest rates are inversely correlated. That is, as interest rates go up, bond principal values go down. And the opposite is true, too. When interest rates go down, bond principal values go up. 

If we don’t understand the basic relationship between overall interest rates and bond principal values, aren’t we likely to unknowingly expose ourselves to more risk?

On the next page is a chart you may find useful. This information about the relationship between interest rates and bond principal values creates a clear picture about how repositioning assets away from bonds to a truly safe money strategy makes so much more sense than the non-sense touted in the media!

The chart shows that the longer the bond duration, the larger the impact on principal.

As the chart shows, a 1% increase in interest rates can result in a loss of 7.8% (or more) of the principal of a 10-year bond. A 2% increase in rates translates into a loss of about 15% (or more) of the principal of a 10-year bond. The longer the yield to maturity, the greater the risk.


Typical Percentage Change in Bond Principal Values as Interest Rates Change 

Years to
of the

As Interest Rates Change by 1%, Bonds Typically Move in the Opposite Direction By …

As Interest Rates Change by 2%, Bonds Typically Move in the Opposite Direction By …

















 In addition to the changes in values noted above, fluctuations in bond values are affected by three other factors:

  1. The lower the coupon yield of the bond, the larger the impact.
  2. The lower the quality of the bond, the larger the impact.
  3. Zero coupon bonds generally carry the largest risk of all bonds.

Individually held bonds are not affected by interest rate movements if they are held to maturity but individually held bonds may have a risk of their own.

They may be subject to being called. If a bond is called, it’s typically because interest rates are down, and the issuer of the bond (the borrower) can borrow money at a lower interest rate. When an issuer calls a bond, they are buying back the bond. If you then try to reinvest the money (while you’re in this lower interest rate environment), you likely will not be able to earn as good a rate as you had on the bond that was called. This is known as reinvestment risk.

So, what are the alternative?

Here are three Safe Money Alternatives for Guaranteed Growth Without Unnecessary Risk

  1. Recurring premium whole life insurance. As you pay your premiums, your underlying cash values increase. Over time, the compounding of these increases (especially when dividends are paid) can significantly add to your wealth.
  • You also benefit from ease of access to your funds if you need the money, and at extremely competitive interest rates. As you approach or enter retirement, you can withdraw money on a tax-free basis.
  • It’s great knowing that when you access money in your whole life policy, every penny can be yours – without the need to share it with the IRS (under current tax laws), as you’ll do with tax-deferred products.
  • When you pass away, your beneficiaries will receive a tax-free death benefit of everything that’s left in the policy. 
  1. Annuities. Fixed yearly rate annuities, guaranteed multi-year rate annuities, and index annuities are all good safe money alternatives.
  • When you follow the rules, the insurance company guarantees you will not lose money in any of these three types of annuities. Annuities have strong guarantees, based on the claims-paying ability of the insurance company. Many annuities offer the opportunity to earn significant interest, and some annuities also give you valuable living benefits, such as helping pay for nursing home benefits and chronic care expenses.
  • Some annuities may be accessed tax-free (like a Roth IRA). Others grow tax-free, but withdrawals are taxed (like a 401(k)). The tax treatment of an annuity depends on whether it is a qualified or a non-qualified annuity.
  1. Single premium life insurance. This may be an excellent vehicle to consider. You make a one-time payment and, depending on your age and health, your death benefit may typically run at least two times your premium; So, if you put in $50,000, your death benefit could be $100,000 or more.
  • Should you pass away, your beneficiaries would receive the $100,000 – typically twice (or more) the amount of the premium you paid.
  • With a properly structured policy, your cash value in the policy can equal the one-time premium you made, within just a few years.
  • These policies may carry important long-term care and chronic illness benefits which may make them even more valuable, depending on your age and circumstances. 

It’s important for all of us to challenge the “conventional wisdom” of Wall Street! Bonds and bond funds may subject you to more risk than you want and conventional advisors may lead you believe they are “safe.” Understanding how much risk you are carrying; you’ll be in a better position to manage that risk in ways that may better suit your objectives.

Using true safe money alternatives, including life insurance, annuities, and single pay life insurance, to round out your portfolio and lower the financial risk you’re exposed to; may just be the most sensible thing many investors can do at this moment in time.


What We Do And How We Do It

What We Do And How We Do It

As a fiduciary financial advisor, we ask a lot of questions and listen very carefully to your answers. Clearly understanding your most important objectives, dreams and concerns is our top priority. The more we understand you, the better we can apply all the processes, tools, and financial products at our disposal to help you design a financial plan that fully supports your best interests and maximizes your economic opportunities.

What We Do

Your life is made up of many parts, so when it comes to your dream of living your life to the fullest every day from now until the end, you need a holistic, comprehensive approach to make it a reality. That’s what we do. We listen, we learn, and we understand, using what we learn about your life as the foundation for your financial plan.

Our comprehensive design process will help you peel back the layers to reveal your most important needs, wants, and fears. You won’t find any cookie-cutter solutions here. We employ cutting-edge financial tools and products from a wide range of financial service organizations to design strategies that maximize efficiency, control and safety. We strive to make these strategies a perfect fit for your unique circumstances and use them to meet your needs, deliver your wants, and neutralize your fears.

Who We Serve

As I see it, our approach can work for anyone, but it’s certainly not for everyone! While we can help any individual, couple, or family planning for their financial future, we really love working with those who don’t just want to build a good retirement strategy but desire to design an amazing life!

Why Clients Choose Us

As a fiduciary financial planner, we do things differently. Our clients are tired of traditional financial advice and want a different option. We believe our clients choose to work with us because we tailor our strategies to accomplish exactly what they want, while their best interest as our top priority, all without taking unnecessary risks.

Our Goal For You

More than anything else, we want your life to be filled with amazing experiences and no regrets. On the surface, financial planning seems to be about money, rates of return, and risk tolerance, but in reality, it’s not. It’s really about time and experience. Time is the only asset any of us really ever own. Our goal at JEnsley Financial is to empower you to fill your time with the quality experiences you most want. If you’re ready to experience financial security, without taking unnecessary risks, call 360-281-6495, email me at, or book an appointment online for a free consultation!

About John

John Ensley is a financial professional who is dedicated to empowering his clients to achieve all their financial objectives without taking unnecessary risks.

“Nobody appreciates insurance enough…”

“Nobody appreciates insurance enough…”

I came across an article a while back that I found remarkable. It was a summary of an interview with former FED Chairman, Alan Greenspan, written by Tyler Durden of A link to the article is below.

There are several remarkable statements attributed to Mr. Greenspan that I want to focus on in this post.

The insurance industry as we know it – or at least the actuarial mathematics that underpin it – got rolling when two Scottish ministers in the 18th century devised a fund that would take care of their widows, and the actuarial methods they used were pretty spot on and have not really changed that much since. Insurance,” Greenspan said, “is really nothing more than saving for a rainy day. And insurance, by its construction, is a major form of savings for this country.”

“The whole structure of the industry is the mechanism by which you’re converting consumption into savings,” Greenspan said, “and the only way the economy can grow is to save.”

“Insurance,” he noted, “is the most formidable mechanism we have to save as a society, and the economics of insurance have not been given proper weight by economists in how they look at the world.”

Isn’t it interesting that one of the most famous central bankers in all of banking history is talking about saving as the ONLY way the economy can grow? Aren’t central bankers constantly trying to get us to save less and consume more?

Isn’t it also interesting that he calls insurance “the most formidable mechanism” to save? Not banks, not the stock market, not real estate, just plain, old fashioned, insurance. Saving and Insurance – strange bedfellows for a central banker to be sure…

What Mr. Greenspan’s comments underscore is that he understands a few things that the vast majority of the general public do not:

Savings = Capital. When we consume less than we produce, that difference is called savings. Those savings become a pool of capital that we can put to work to increase what we produce, otherwise known as “growth.” Properly deployed capital (savings) is the only way a society, an economy, a country, a business and even your own family can grow economically.

Debt cannot replace capital. Debt gives us the ability to consume more than we produce while maintaining an illusion of short term growth. But eventually, the interest on that debt eats up everything we can produce. Saving – consuming less than what we produce – is the ONLY path to real growth and prosperity whether you are a country, a business or a family.

The banking system (including the stock market) is a system based on debt. When we deposit a dollar at a bank, the bank uses our dollar to create about 9 new dollars out of thin air and then loan those newly created dollars to borrowers. It’s called fractional reserve banking. It’s the real reason a gallon of gas cost 24 cents in 1957 and about $3 bucks in 2017. An increase in the currency supply is the cause of the disease called inflation. Rising prices are just the symptom of the disease. A debt based, inflationary system, is not a suitable place to hold or deploy capital (savings).

Insurance is a system based on actuarial science. When we pay a dollar in insurance premium, it is still just a dollar to the insurance company. Insurance companies cannot create dollars from thin air. They cannot inflate the currency. They are not inflationary. Instead, they use actuarial science to deploy their dollars to produce more for their policy owners or shareholders (and the company) in the future. It’s a text book definition of saving. This is what makes it a “formidable mechanism” for saving – it is science based and non-inflationary.

The fact is that many savvy families and businesses have known for nearly two centuries that a properly structured insurance contract can be an excellent repository for savings – and the accumulation of capital. If you are feeling like maybe Mr. Greenspan knows something about insurance that you missed somehow, maybe it’s time to look into it?

Schedule a free, no obligation, analysis today!

Source: Tyler Durden Zerohedge Article 9 11 2014

Parkinson’s Law, Victim or Master?

Parkinson’s Law, Victim or Master?

Congratulations! You finally got that raise or promotion or landed that new job. Now, will you be a victim or a master of Parkinson’s Law?

Sadly, there are many victims and few masters but the good news is that just becoming aware of Parkinson’s Law can put you on the path to mastery.Parkinson's Law

So, what the heck is Parkinson’s Law?

Parkinson’s Law comes to us from British author and satirist Northcote Parkinson. The original version stated that “work will expand to fill the time available for its completion.” This version of Parkinson’s Law explains why we always seem to complete a task at or very close to the deadline for its completion. Essentially it says; to increase efficiency, set shorter deadlines.

The version of Parkinson’s Law I want to focus on here states that “expenses will rise to meet income, unless vigorously resisted!”

If you’ve ever gotten a raise, a promotion or a new job where you made more money and within a very short period of time realized that your budget was just as tight as it was before, then you have experienced being a victim of Parkinson’s Law.

stock market crash and financial crisisHave you heard about lottery winners who won millions but are broke within a couple of years? They are also victims of Parkinson’s Law.

Lots of victims, very few masters! So how does one master Parkinson’s Law? The key is to “vigorously resist” it. In other words we have to break Parkinson’s Law and that is not an easy thing to do!

Just like setting shorter deadlines to increase efficiency of time, we have to set rules to limit the expansion of expenses to increase our financial efficiency. To prepare for the next time you get that raise, promotion, new higher paying job or any other kind of financial windfall, decide right now what your limits will be.

Maybe your rule is 50%. You will take 50% of any increase in income or any windfall and immediately put it into your savings bucket. The other 50% is yours to spend! Or maybe your rule will be 80% – 20% or 75% – 25%. The specifics of your rules are less important than setting your rules now, well in advance of the raise, promotion, new job or windfall. It just makes good sense, right?

This is what it means to “vigorously resist” Parkinson’s Law. This is how you become a master of Parkinson’s Law and not a victim of it. If you follow this super simple guideline, you find yourself magically becoming wealthier and more financially empowered as the years go by.

Once you’ve mastered Parkinson’s Law, the next big decision you have is where all that money you are saving should live. Savings account? CD? 401K? IRA? Under the mattress? There are so many options and so many opinions out there it can be difficult to sort out what to do.

That’s where I may be able to help! Give me a call or send me an email – I’m always happy to discuss your options. 360-281-6495 or