Monday, April 13, 2015

Saving Money Is NOT the Most Crucial Thing to a Financially Successful Retirement

Saving Money Is NOT the Most Crucial Thing to a Financially Successful Retirement

Dont get me wrong at all. Working hard and saving as much money as you can toward your
retirement is not an inconsequential step in ensuring that youll have a financially comfortable life during your golden years - so by all means, go ahead and sock away as much as you possibly can. And then some more!

However, the fact that a lot of well-meaning retirement investors seem to be missing, in my opinion, is that you must first make sure that your particular investment vehicle of choice isnt going to bleed your money away.

Of course, who would set out to do that? Invest your hard-earned retirement money in an account that wouldnt bring you the best possible outcome? That is precisely the reason you must separate the act of saving money from the efficacy of the particular savings vehicle you choose to use for the purpose of growing your contributions.

View your investment account as a container into which youre storing your nest egg. Before you even begin making contributions into itas well as on an ongoing basis once you do start contributingensure that it doesnt have any big holes which may come in many forms, including things like unreasonably expensive/unwarranted commissions and fees or inefficient underlying investments.

So heres the point Im trying to drive home: You should by all means save money, and do so diligently. But before you write those investment checks, make sure that the containerinto which they are to be stored is intact in mint condition.
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Want real, fact-based information that will give you the financial serenity you're seeking? Contact us so that we can help you to evaluate your current situation and make a plan that you can live with. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Is Your Actively Managed Mutual Fund Performing Up to Par?

Is Your Actively Managed Mutual Fund Performing Up to Par?
When it comes to the stock market, the past six years or so have been pretty great. But according to a study commissioned by S&P Dow Jones Indices, if you own an actively managed U.S. equity-based mutual fund, more likely than not your portfolio hasn’t seen any measurable growth - or at least nowhere near what the stock market has actually returned.

I believe the study’s findings give investors who own actively managed mutual funds something serious to consider because, generally speaking, the whole idea – and for that matter, the purpose and selling proposition – for owning an actively managed fund (as opposed to their passive/index counterparts) is to get returns that are superior to what the market generates. Not to mention that you generally end up paying a bit more in management fees to own an active fund.

One cannot and should not lump all actively managed mutual funds together in such a generic manner. So I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t get yourself one, or as many of them as you’d like if that is, in fact, what you believe will lead to your financial promised land. However, it is worth noting that to date there hasn’t been any definitive proof to the contrary that actively managed mutual funds generate superior returns, compared to index funds.

As an investor, you’ll want to make sure that if you’re going to pay a fund manager “extra money” to help you “beat” the market and get you far superior returns, that you do, indeed, end up getting your extra money’s worth. The findings of this study seem to be adding to the considerable body of evidence in favor of owning low-cost index mutual funds.
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Want real, fact-based information that will give you the financial serenity you're seeking? Contact us so that we can help you to evaluate your current situation and make a plan that you can live with. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Treat Your Retirement Savings Like Your Health - Get an Annual Checkup!

Treat your retirement savings like your health - get an annual checkup!

Setting aside money toward your retirement in some sort of account is a step in the right direction. But much more than that is necessary to ensure you’ll be set for the long run. You must also make sure that the specific investment vehicle you are using is, indeed, delivering the results required to turn your contributions into the income you’ll need during retirement.

That makes sense, right?

Just because you are making contributions into to a 401(K) or some other account doesn’t, in and of itself, necessarily mean that your retirement is all set. For all you know, your portfolio may be headed in the wrong direction. In fact, even if your account’s balance seem to be increasing from one statement to the next, you could still be moving in the wrong direction. You wouldn’t want to get all the way to retirement, years later, only to discover that you got the short end of the stick, would you? Not to mention that by then it might be too late for you to fully recover.

So, on a scale of 1 to 10 — ten being the most — how much attention would you say you are really paying to whats happening with your retirement savings?


Obviously money and health are not the same, but let me attempt to draw an analogy. It is wise to ensure that you keep up with your annual health evaluations, even if you feel great and healthy, simply because feeling great — or even believing that you are healthy — doesn't necessarily mean everything is going great in your body, health wise. You should view your retirement in the exact same light, and get an independent confirmation from a trained, qualified, and honest advisor annually.
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Want real, fact-based information that will give you the financial checkup you need to be sure your retirement account is doing what it needs to do for your healthiest financial future? Contact us so that we can help you to objectively evaluate your current situation and make a plan that will yield the results you want. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Buyer Beware: A Traditional IRA Could Be Your Worst Tax Nightmare

Buyer Beware: A Traditional IRA Could Be Your Worst Tax Nightmare

Tax season is once again upon us and, among other things, it's that time of the year that experts give us so-called tax saving strategies. Of course there are some great ideas that may end up benefiting you, but in my humble opinion which is based on real-life experience with real people facing real situations some of these tax saving strategies may, in fact, end up doing the exact opposite and instead cost you big time in the long run.

One of the notoriously popular yet equally dangerous strategies is encouraging everyone to fund a traditional IRA in order to savemoney on your tax bill. Sounds good, but will it really save you money?

While it is true that contributions to traditional IRAs are deductible, and the gains you make during accumulation years are not currently taxable, that's not the end of the story by any measure.

The more compelling story is what happens down the road when you begin accessing money from your traditional IRA during retirement. Every single cent of that money will be subject to income tax at whatever tax rate is in effect at that moment in time and who knows where tax rates are headed?

As I explain in greater detail in my books 5 Mistakes Your Financial Advisor Is Making  and Is Your 401(k)  a Trap?, the indisputable fact is that with a traditional IRA, you are simply making a decision to pay taxes in the future, which would be a good decision only if you knew for a fact that your tax rate would be much lower than it is today, something I think we can both agree that even the President of the United States doesn't know not to mention that he cannot honestly promise anything in this regard. So, in effect, its a complete gamble.

Heres the piece that seems to allude the so-called experts. Even if today's tax rates do not change, there's still the real possibility that you'll end up paying more taxes when you retire, simply because you'll most likely have fewer deductions and exceptions than you enjoyed during your working years. For example, your dependent children will likely be adults by then, your mortgage would likely be paid off or almost paid off, and youll no longer be making deductible contributions into a 401(k) or your traditional IRA. All of which will imply one thing a potential increase in your taxable income, even though your gross income may have dwindled. Talk about the perfect storm for getting clobbered by taxes.

This is something I see happen to real people in real life every single day. I'd like to suggest a very simple way for you to test the potency and also the shortsightedness of this strategy. Find someone whos retired and followed this kind of advice and ask them how their tax situation is panning out in retirement. Are they actually saving money on their taxes? Also ask him or her if, given the chance of a do-over, he or she would go the same route.

If you are really looking to reduce your tax bill in the long run, you may need to look beyond a traditional IRA. Hopefully you are hearing me loud and clear.

Happy retirement.
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Want real, fact-based information that will give you the whole picture, rather than assuming the IRA is your best option? Contact us so that we can help you to objectively evaluate your current situation and make a plan that will yield the results you want. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session.

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's crucial that you know where you stand financially BEFORE you retire!

It's crucial that you know where you stand financially BEFORE you retire!

A recent post by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College regarding the findings of an HSBC retirement survey points to the troubling trend of folks coming up short, in terms of their retirement readiness i.e., not having enough money to maintain their lifestyles throughout retirement.


While this isn't surprising news, given the fact that every single piece of research in recent years has basically arrived at the same conclusion, what caught my attention and hopefully yours, as well is that of the startling number of folks who find themselves in this predicament, about two out of five said they did not realize that their preparation had fallen short until it was far too late"

Let me remind you that we are talking about real people with real lives and not a single one of them intended to spend their retirement this way.

But why is this happening?

Maybe they had the wrong investment portfolios. Or perhaps they didnt save nearly enough.

Personally, I don't believe that any sane person will intentionally drop the ball when it comes to their retirement nest egg. Obviously, there may be several legitimate as well as illegitimate reasons we often find ourselves on the wrong side of our retirement financial dreams. However, in my humble opinion, most investors never take the time to answer some very simple but crucial questions that will ensure they wont end up in an unintended predicament:

Will your retirement portfolio be able to provide the needed resources to support your lifestyle? How, exactly, do you know whether your investments are headed in the right direction or not?

Keep in mind that the folks referenced in the HSBC study had substandard portfolios all along but didnt realize it until it was far too late. Maybe they were too busy? Maybe they had unskilled financial advisors. Are you really paying attention and getting the best results you possibly could for your hard-earned money?
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Want real, fact-based information that will give you better results than relying on your intuition? Contact us so that we can help you to objectively evaluate your current situation and make a plan that will yield the results you want. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Intuition Is Really Bad for Your Investment Portfolio

Intuition Is Really Bad for Your Investment Portfolio

Obviously, I cannot claim that intuition is flat out bad. I am aware that our creator gave it to us for a reason. But based on what I know and have actually witnessed in my years of being in the trenches with folks as it relates to investing and retirement planning, I can unequivocally tell you, without any restrictions whatsoever, that it’s not the best idea to use intuition for building your investment portfolio.

In fact, I have seen it destroy folks’ livelihoods, firsthand. Just this past week, I met with someone who, in her own words is really disappointed and scaredabout the outcome of her investments over the past 20 years. For two decades, she’s been diligently investing, expecting that she would be fine for retirement. All of a sudden, she finds herself at the crossroads of retirement, now realizing that her efforts have yielded terrible results.

My question was how she and her advisor had made decisions surrounding which funds to invest in - the stocks and bonds mixes, and why. Her answer: “I just picked those funds that I thought would do well. My advisor showed me the options, and I chose the ones I thought where good funds, based on the performance history. Then, from time to time, we switch funds when they don’t live up to my expectations.”

That should sound pretty normal and familiar. Isn’t this exactly how most people are investing today? But here is the problem. It is a surefire way to go broke in retirement. And that’s simply because making decisions this way is based purely on instinctive feeling, rather than facts and conscious reasoning. Contrary to what you may think or even believe to be true, investing shouldn’t be a guessing game because 9.5 out of 10 times, you are bound to guess incorrectly.

If you don’t know exactly why your portfolio is arranged the way it is, your expected return overtime, and the level of volatility associated with it, I am afraid that you are on a very slippery slope.


Would you expect a good medical doctor, mechanic, plumber, or any other professional, for that matter, to deliver good results purely based on intuition (as opposed to meticulous, conscious reasoning based on provable science)? Of course not.

So do you have a justifiable, realistic basis that explains the composition of your investment portfolio? Or has it all been left up to intuition – whether that of your financial advisor or yourself?

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Want real, fact-based information that will give you better results than relying on your intuition? Contact us so that we can help you to objectively evaluate your current situation and make a plan that will yield the results you want. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Do You and Your Financial Advisor Have the Right Expectations about the Stock Market?

Do You and Your Financial Advisor Have the Right Expectations about the Stock Market?

The stock market on recent days can be described as a anything but smooth for most investors. And that's somewhat understandable, because we all want to experience the continued growth of our investments.

Most advisors, on the other hand, are scrambling to manage clients emotions vis-a-vis encouraging them to hang in there. Isn't this all too familiar? Of course it is. Its precisely what happens every single time the market enters undesirable territory.

But is this what investing in the stock market is supposed to be? An uncomfortable, highly emotional rollercoaster journey that has you living on the edge pretty much the whole time?

I believe that investing in the stock market shouldn’t be a nerve-racking ordeal. But in order to free yourself from what basically amounts to unnecessary drama, you must adhere to the scientifically proven investing approach that dictates three simple rules:

1: Avoid stock picking and focus instead on capturing market returns by building an efficient, diversified portfolio with a risk level you can live with.

2: Understand that the market will always fluctuate! Sometimes it will go up and sometimes it will dip. There’s nothing that you or anyone can do about it.

3: Use the market’s volatility to rebalance your portfolio and move on with your life.

As simple and logical as these proven rules may sound, failing to adhere to them could end up costing you countless moments of sleeplessness and unnecessary panic. 
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Want help making and KEEPING your financial resolutions? Contact us so that we can help you to  objectively evaluate your current situation and hold you accountable to make the changes you want to make. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session