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Philosophy meets finance in adviser's book

You might expect a financial adviser to say that the last week of the decade is a good time to count your money. Ron Rogé believes it is an even better time to count your blessings.

Rogé, chairman and chief executive of R.W. Rogé & Co., a Bohemia-based investment advisory firm, is the co-author of "The Banker and the Fisherman: Lessons in Life, Wealth, and Happiness for the 21st Century."

The book, which is as much about philosophy as it is about finances, is a collection of essays written mainly by Rogé.

As an example of the book's philosophical musings, Rogé asks readers to pretend they only have one year to live. Would money and possessions have the same importance as they do now? Rogé believes most of us would stop worrying about wasting money and instead concentrate on not wasting time.

But since most of us expect to see 2011, the book also offers financial advice to make the next decade more secure. High on Rogé's list: Get out of debt.

"When you have debt, you're not free," Rogé says. "You're beholden to someone else." He notes that a lot of boomers are careening toward retirement age carrying a heavy burden of debt.

Many have taken equity out of their homes and have added years to their mortgages. He blames the monetary excesses of this soon-to-end decade that have left some lenders and borrowers on the brink of disaster.

Rogé says the lessons of this decade mean everyone should have an "emergency fund" with liquid assets to cover three to six months of living expenses.

This can help mitigate the effects of a personal crisis such as losing a job or a financial meltdown such as last year's when you might not want to dip into a portfolio that is sinking.

As for those expecting the return of double-digit per year appreciation in house prices, Rogé says real estate corrections are long and painful. Housing prices on Long Island have fallen more than 20 percent since 2007. "It's probably going to take 10 years to get that back," he says.

Rogé offers several free downloadable tools on his Web site, rwroge.com. Among them are Excel spreadsheets that can help you figure out your net worth and an Income and Expenditure work sheet that will let you know if you're spending too much.

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