Monthly Archives: October 2014

How much do you know about…Money?

October 20, 2014

1. What percentage of dollar bills carry traces of cocaine?

A. 10%.
B. 90%.
C. 50%.


2. Each penny costs _____ to manufacture.

A. 1 cent.
B. 5 cents.
C. 2.4 cents.

3. Paper money was first used in:

A. France in the 17th century.
B. China in the Tang Dynasty.
C. America in the 18th century.

4. The word “buck” for paper bills comes from:

A. Early America trading elk and deer.
B.  An old English term.
C. The Netherlands.

5. The only woman to have appeared on a US currency note is:

A. Martha Washington.
B. Geraldine Ferraro.
C. Amelia Earhart.

6. Which organization was created during the Civil War to combat counterfeiting?

A. Secret Service.
B. Treasury Dept.
C. Federal Civil Service.

7. Credit cards were used for the first time in the U.S. in:

A. The 1920s.
B. The 1950s.
C. The 1890s.


1. B – 90% of bills contain traces of cocaine.  Drug traffickers often use coke-powdered hands to move cash, and many users roll bills into sniffing straws; the brushes and rollers in ATMs most likely distribute it through the rest of the money supply. Also found on bills: fecal matter. A 2002 report in the Southern Medical Journal showed found pathogens — including staphylococcus — on 94% of dollar bills tested. Paper money can reportedly carry more germs than a household toilet. And bills are a hospitable environment for gross microbes: viruses and bacteria can live on most surfaces for about 48 hours, but paper money can reportedly transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days.

2. C – 2.4 cents.

3. B - Paper bills were first used by the Chinese, who started carrying folding money during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907) — mostly in the form of privately issued bills of credit or exchange notes — and used it for more than 500 years before the practice began to catch on in Europe in the 17th century. While it took another century or two for paper money to spread to the rest of the world, China was already going through a fairly advanced financial crisis: the production of paper notes had grown until their value plummeted, prompting inflation to soar. As a result, China eliminated paper money entirely in 1455 and wouldn’t adopt it again for several hundred years. Another not-so-well-known fact: the word cash was originally used to describe the type of round bronze coins with square holes commonly used in the Tang Dynasty, called kai-yuans.

4. A - The word “buck” as a reference to money dates back to days before paper when Americans traded animal and elk bucks for goods and services.

5.  A - The only woman to have ever appeared on a U.S. currency note is Martha Washington. She was on the $1 Silver Certificate in 1886 and 1891 and on the back of the $1 Silver Certificate in 1896.

6.  A - The U.S. Secret Service was originally created on July 5, 1865, during the Civil War to fight counterfeiting, which was a huge problem. By the end of the war, between 1/3 and 1/2 of all U.S. paper currency in circulation was counterfeit.

7.  A – Credit cards were first used in the 1920s. Hotels were the first to offer cards to their customers to pay for their hotel stays. Soon department stores and gas companies offered their own cards. However, the credit cards could be used only at the business that issued them. When Diner Card arrived in 1950s, it was different in that it could be used at different restaurants and hotels. In 1951, some banks began issuing credit cards that could be used at different places.


WIH Receives Important Donation

October 20, 2014


Yvonne Victery recently made a very significant donation to the Women’s Institute of Houston. A long-time participant at the Institute, Yvonne wished to express her appreciation for the many classes she has taken and to honor literature professor Dr. Terrance Doody, who has been part of the faculty for 30 years (for information about Dr. Doody, click here).

According to Alida Webb, Executive Director of WIH, few people realize that the WIH is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. “Unlike most nonprofits, we receive no funds from any local, state, or federal agency.” says Webb.

Therefore, tax-deductible contributions such as Yvonne’s and those of other individuals and corporations- large or small- are not only appreciated but represent a necessary source of funding for WIH programs. Gifts like these help the WIH carry on the tradition of offering a wide variety of classes in the humanities and liberal arts to the Houston community of adult learners so that WIH can always be the place “where excellence in education continues.”

To learn more about the Women’s Institute of Houston gifts and donations program and/or to make a donation, click here.


Smart Financial Planning in an Era of Upheaval

October 20, 2014

coinsEarlier this year, WIH professor/financial planner Bill Frisco was listed as one of the 2014 Top 400 Advisers by the US Financial Times (the main rival to theWall Street Journal). Founded in Britain in 1888, the US Financial Times is an international newspaper that places a special emphasis on business and economic news. Inclusion in this list is based on analysis of assets under management, their growth rates, years of experience, compliance record, and industry certifications. Bill Frisco’s upcoming class “Coping And Surviving In A New Financial World: Current Estate And Tax Laws” offers essential information on navigating our finances in a changing – often chaotic – financial period. We visited with Bill to find out more.

WIH Reporter
: What is the most important thing we need to know about your upcoming class?

Frisco: I am excited that the class will cover all of the important aspects of financial planning.  A board certified estate planning attorney will discuss ways to reduce estate taxes, and the best strategies to pass assets to your heirs and charities.  A CPA will help you decipher all the new tax law changes and discuss strategies to minimize your income taxes.  I will discuss how these areas impact your investment decisions.  In addition, I will review retirement income distribution strategies, ways to improve your income portfolios, and strategies to reduce risk in your investment portfolio.

WIH Reporter: What can you tell us about today’s economic environment?

Frisco: This current environment is truly different.  In every asset category, there is risk.  There is risk in cash (i.e. the return on safe liquid accounts is less than inflation). There is risk in stocks, commodities, real estate, and especially bonds because of the historically low interest rate. Ten years ago, clients would ask me “Bill, what is a safe investment I can put my money in?”, and I could always find one area that had very little risk.  Today, I just cannot do that.  This means that individuals need to be diligent in globally diversifying their investment portfolios in stocks, real estate, commodities,  and bonds, and they need to periodically re-balance their portfolio based on the current economic environment.

WIH Reporter: What are some of the most challenging issues you have come up against in working with your clients?

Frisco: For me, the most challenging and yet rewarding financial planning experiences always involve working with someone who has recently lost a loved one.  These planning situations are always highly emotional and very difficult because in most cases the surviving spouse is not familiar with their investments and is not knowledgeable about managing an investment portfolio.  My first goal in these situations is to always listen to all of their concerns, fears, and major issues.  The next step is to educate the individual in areas that impact them the most.  I have learned over the years that the most effective way to reduce anxiety in individuals who are dealing with their investments is to familiarize them with the benefits and risks associated with each investment.  The final step is to develop a financial plan or road map based on their risk tolerance and objectives.  It is very rewarding for me to watch the positive changes that occur in individuals as they work through this process.

WIH Reporter: What should we look for in a financial adviser?

Frisco: A financial adviser should be knowledgeable, experienced, and above all have a high degree of objectivity.  In addition, a financial adviser must be a great listener.

WIH Reporter: Many of us don’t know that you have been a pilot for many years. What lessons can be learned by comparing flying to investing?

Frisco: I have flown many type of different planes from sea planes to gliders.  Flying is very similar to investing. In flying as in investing you will make mistakes.  The question is how quickly can you correct them?  My first flight instructor, who now flies jets for Delta airlines, told me “a mistake is not an error unless you fail to correct it.”  Down here, it is easy to procrastinate and put off decisions.  Up there, you are trained to correct things immediately before they become disasters.  It is always better to make a larger number of smaller corrections than to wait and make one big correction when sometimes it may be too late.

(Bill Frisco’s 5-week class, “Coping And Surviving In A New Financial World: Current Estate And Tax Laws” takes place on Thursday, October 23 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. For more information about the class, click here.)