Five Questions for Don McNay

Don MaNay is a financial columnist, a Huffington Post contributor and an expert in the field of structured settlements. 

Don’s financial guidance is refreshingly straightforward, filled with good common sense, and geared towards a Main Street audience.  His most recent book is titled Wealth Without Wall Street: A Main Street Guide to Making Money. 

We had an opportunity to speak to Don about his financial practice and his most recent book.  

Annuity Digest: You have written several books. How is Wealth without Wall Street different from your previous books and why did you decide to write it now? 

Don McNay: This is my third book. The first was about Kentucky’s Governor and the second was about lottery winners. This is the first “straight on” personal finance book I have written.  It’s ironic as it is the field that I have been involved with for 29 years but I have a different perspective than most East Coast centric commentators. The combination of working in Richmond Kentucky, the epitome of Main Street and being appalled at some of the things going on in Washington and Washington compelled me to air my thoughts. Also, after a lifetime in the financial field, I have advice and perspective that I wanted to share. 

Annuity Digest: Wealth without Wall Street offers five broad categories of financial advice. What would you consider to be the single most important piece of financial advice for “Main Street” Americans? 

Don McNay: Get Rich Slowly. That is the title of a section of my book and the best advice I can give. A lot of the financial crisis was brought on by people on Wall Street and Main Street wanting to make money quickly and not looking long term. One of the reasons I have always been a fan of lifetime immediate annuities is that they assure people don’t run out of money at an older age and that they have a flow of money they can absolutely count on. I quote from an out of print book called Get Rich Slow which preaches the concept of diversification and long term thinking. 

If someone has a steady income, a long term view, little or no debt,  and do not have their eggs in one basket, they can weather the ups and downs of the economy.  

Annuity Digest: What, in your opinion, is the most common financial mistake made by Main Street Americans? 

Don McNay: Allowing easy access to credit to justify overspending. One of the things that came out in my research is that people will spend dramatically less money when they pay in cash instead of a credit card.  The same holds true when they purchase a car, a house, or use a student loan to finance an education.  One of the reasons I try to get people to get rid of their credit cards is the same reason that I don’t want junk food in the house when I am on a diet. There are too many possibilities for temptation.   

I keep running into 30 year olds who have $20,000 in student loans,  $20,000 in credit card debts,  an upside-down mortgage and a car that is usually worth less than the outstanding loan. They put themselves in a position to never get out of debt, at a young age. 

Annuity Digest: Does the average investor need a financial advisor, or does it make sense for people to take the “do it yourself” approach?   

Don McNay: I talk about that indirectly in the book from the perspective of how my mother and sister died without wills which caused a horrible problem for the survivors. Also I talk about why I buy life and health insurance from another agent even though I am licensed to do it myself.  I want someone who is studying their field all day, every day. I have a bias towards specialists who really study their craft. Playing golf with me won’t get me to do business with you.  Showing that you are a real expert will. 

Annuity Digest: What advice do you have for the average person who is considering an annuity, and is this advice similar to what you provide to your structured settlement clients?   

Don McNay: I am a big fan of annuities, especially immediate annuities.  They are one of the most overlooked tools in the financial marketplace.  I make a living selling annuities but I chose that profession because I like what an annuity does. After 29 years, I am seeing the positive results of people who were able to achieve their financial goals with annuities. I have had several people publicly thank me for having their money in an annuity instead of the markets.  

The main reason I like annuities is to keep people from blowing through their money.  If you look at any study of people who get large sums of cash,  be it lottery winners, injury victims,  inheritance,  professional athletes etc, a large percentage blow through a lump sum in five years or less. Annuities are a control that keep that from happening.

Annuity Digest: Thank you Don.


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The following links to a video from financial columnist Don McNay. The video provides a great explanation and a useful way to think about immediate annuities.

Just copy and paste the link into the address bar of your browser.