Archive for the ‘Tips and Reminders’ Category

Tax Advantages of Donating Appreciated Stock to the Ruth Institute

November 19th, 2014 Comments off

appreciated stockHere is a unique way to help the Ruth Institute. If you have stock that has appreciated in value, you may be able to donate it to the Ruth Institute and receive great tax advantages for doing so. The general idea is that when you donate appreciated stock to a charitable organization, you can write off the stock on Schedule A at the market value, and you don’t have to pay capital gains on the gain (neither does the charity). For example, according to the Wall Street Journal:

You also can give appreciated stock to charity. If you’ve held it for more than one year you may take a charitable tax deduction for the market value of the stock, and neither you nor the charity has to pay capital-gains taxes when the stock is sold. The combination can result in a bigger deduction (and more tax savings) for you and a bigger gift for the charity than if you sell the stock, pay the taxes, and donate the net proceeds.

Sandra Block at has this to say about it:

If you’re in a charitable mood, consider donating appreciated securities — stocks or mutual funds — instead of cash. When you give $1,000 in cash, you get to deduct $1,000, and that saves you $250 in the 25% bracket. (Any state-income-tax savings are gravy.) 

But let’s say you have $1,000 worth of mutual fund shares that you bought more than a year ago for $500. If you sell the shares, you’ll owe $75 in tax on the profit, even at the preferential 15% capital-gains rate. But if you donate the shares, the charity gets the full $1,000 (it doesn’t have to pay tax on the profit when it sells), you avoid the $75 tax bill, and you still get to deduct the full grand. It’s a win-win-win situation.

For those who would like a more concrete example, Wells Fargo Advisors has a chart with examples from two different tax brackets. Click here to see it.

If this sounds like something you would like to do: first, speak to your tax advisor about it to make sure this fits with your tax and other financial goals. After doing so, call our office at (760) 295-9278 for more information. Thank you!

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Dealing with a Guilty Conscience: A Modest Proposal

September 12th, 2014 Comments off

We talk about some very sensitive issues at the Ruth Institute: sex, abortion, divorce. I have noticed that sometimes, peoples’ reactions are all out of proportion to what we actually said.  Many times, I have wondered to myself, “What accounts for this extreme reaction?”

Without jumping to an overly broad conclusion, let me suggest that sometimes, the answer is A Guilty Conscience.  The person is reacting, not to what I said, but to some deeper, more complicated feelings.

When I reflect on my own situation, I can definitely relate to this. A Guilty Conscience is almost intolerable. We humans desire to think well of ourselves.  This fact of the human condition should be observable to anyone.  When we do something that violates our own moral code, whatever that may be, we feel bad.

That bad feeling, I submit, could be the very thing that helps us do a course-correction. We change our behavior so we don’t have that bad feeling.  That is how it works with the body, after all. We burn our fingers on the stove. We instantly pull back. We learn not to touch hot stoves.

But in the moral order, we are more complex. We do indeed withdraw from a moral wrong. But we do not necessarily do an automatic course-correction.

Sometimes, we withdraw by avoiding the topic altogether.

We medicate ourselves with substances, activities and busy-ness. We change the subject. And, always a favorite tactic: we blame someone else. We blame the person closest at hand, a family member for instance.  We blame the person who told us that we had done something

Five Minutes: That's All I'm Asking

Five Minutes: That’s All I’m Asking

wrong or hurtful.

There are a number of problems with this strategy. 1. It isn’t the truth. 2. We keep doing mean and stupid stuff and 3. We are impossible to live with.

So let me make a suggestion to try out, the next time you feel a tinge of guilt.

Set a timer for five minutes. Sit with the feeling for five minutes. Do not medicate the feeling away with a substance or an activity. Do not lash out at the person or situation that prompted the guilty feeling. Do not make excuses or offer explanations. Do not change the subject. Do not attempt to reassure yourself with the idea that there is no such thing as right and wrong.  If you really believed that, you would not be pricked by the idea that you might have done something wrong.  You could swat it away like a fly, an annoyance, nothing more.

While you are sitting there with the thought that you have done something against your own value system, allow yourself to feel your imperfection, your incompleteness, your finiteness. And just repeat this phrase. “I am not perfect. I am not God. God is God. Being imperfect is part of being human. I am perfectly imperfect.”

See if these affirmations help you address the underlying problem for which you feel guilty. Five minutes. That’s all I’m asking.

When the timer goes off, go ahead and do whatever you think best.

The Ruth Institute is dedicated to Inspiring the Survivors of the Sexual Revolution.  Join the conversation by Liking our Facebook page. 


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Tip #3 from “101 Tips for a Happier Marriage”

September 4th, 2014 Comments off

Remain in solidarity with the other person, especially when he or she is suffering or struggling. Love sits by the bedside, even when it is painful to watch.

"till death do us part"

“till death do us part”


Be present and available to your spouse when they are going through a challenging time. It might be frustrating to listen to your spouse complain.  It might be sad to watch them in pain. Sometimes we feel helpless because we want to DO something. But remember: your presence communicates to both of you, your commitment to the relationship.

That is Tip #3 from 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage. 

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Dear Bob: Letters to a Hopeful Marriage Apologist

July 18th, 2014 Comments off

Note: I get many letters from people asking for studies or quick answers to defend marriage to their friends. I get so many of these requests, I decided to put together a set of standard responses. I hope this series will be helpful for more people than those particular individuals who have written to me. With some time and study and practice, anyone can become a Marriage Apologist within their own sphere of influence! 

Dear Bob,

Anyone can become a Marriage Apologist, including you!

Anyone can become a Marriage Apologist, including you!

Thanks for your note. I am so glad that you feel motivated to explain the truth about marriage to your friend.  I am eager to enlist you in our campaign for “one man, one woman, for life!”

I am sorry to say, however, that I cannot just give you a list a studies “showing gay marriage is bad for society.”  First off, such studies don’t exist in the form that you are asking about. And second off, your friend is unlikely to be persuaded by such empirical evidence anyhow.  But you probably guessed that already!

Let me give you a few first steps. First: educate yourself about marriage itself. If we don’t know what marriage is, and why it is good for society, we won’t have a clue as to the significance of a gender requirement.

( And BTW, I suggest that you avoid the term “gay marriage” and similar terms.  Our position is that there is no such thing as “gay marriage.”  We should not argue about whether “gay marriage is good for society.”  That already accepts your opponents’ terms of debate. But I digress.)

As a first step in educating yourself, I suggest studying Love and Economics. You can do this two ways. If you are a reader, you

Listen to Ruth Institute podcasts.

Listen to Ruth Institute podcasts.

can buy the book from the Ruth Store and read it. If you are a listener, you can go to our podcast page and listen to this recent talk that I gave to about 150 law students. I think it will be a good level for you, reasonably sophisticated, without assuming Read more…

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Transformational marriage

July 16th, 2014 Comments off

Very interesting article over at Ethika Politika, called “Choosing Transformational Marriage,” by a young lady named Elizabeth Stoker Bruening.  She makes the point that we are all so freaked out over whether we stay married or get divorced and how we feel, that we overlook the transformational nature of marriage itself.  She observes that the raft of “quick fixes” to prevent divorce or create happiness:

already mistake the nature of the institution. In the ‘romantic’ view, marriage … was only ever a declaration of love; the deluge of media mediating on how to restore affection, satisfaction, or interest to a marriage is evidence of this

"till death do us part"

“till death do us part”

sense of divorce as the inevitable outcome of weakened sentiments.

Yet, all these projects intend to manipulate marriage to better serve one’s own purposes, while … marriage is better thought of as a purpose to be served, in which the long story of love unfolds.

Marriage lasts wherein the couple allow themselves to be transformed by it, and faithfully commit to that transformation, re-orienting the way they relate to one another and the marriage itself by willful habitation to the virtues of charity and kindness.

I agree with Mrs. Bruening that the best view of marriage is to see it as a purpose worth pursuing, rather than as a vehicle for Read more…

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Take Dr. J’s One Week Challenge: Perform a Sarcasm-ectomy

July 5th, 2014 Comments off

I hear more stories of messed up families than you can imagine. A lot of pain in the family can be traced back to trivialities that add up:  misbehavior or indifference or selfishness.

The bad news is that families destroy themselves over trivialities. The good news is that trivialities can be changed!

By whom? By you, yes you! You have the power to make positive changes in the life of your family.

Sarcasm: to tear flesh like dogs. Don't be a vicious dog.

Sarcasm: to tear flesh like dogs. Don’t be a vicious dog.

So I am going to give you this challenge for this coming week: remove all forms of sarcasm from your vocabulary. The word “sarcasm” comes from a Greek word meaning, “to tear flesh like dogs.”  There is never a good time to tear someone’s flesh.

That is my challenge to you. For one week: no sarcasm.

To get the most out of this challenge, observe these simple rules.

  • Keep this our little secret! Do not tell anyone in your family what you are doing. Just quietly do it.
  • Resist the urge to correct someone else, or to retaliate. Those behaviors defeat your purpose. (Closely related: do not send this post to a family member and tell them they need to do it. Even if they are the most sarcastic person you know. You go first!)
  • When someone is sarcastic to you, or when you otherwise feel the urge to be sarcastic, picture yourself taking that feeling into your hands, and putting it up on a very high shelf. “Yes, Desire for Sarcasm: I see you up there. I’m in charge of you: you are not in charge of me! I am not taking you down off that shelf!”

Are you up for it? I am betting you can improve the quality of your family’s life THIS WEEK, RIGHT NOW!

At the end of the week, send me a note, telling me how it went. I will send you a free gift!  And, I may feature your comments on this blog. Send your note to

Your friend,

“Dr. J”

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute

PS: We don’t do comments on this blog. But you can “like” the Ruth Institute’s Facebook page, and post comments there!



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