Monday, July 27, 2015

My Feedback on Ron Paul’s America Destruction Commercial

My Feedback on Ron Paul’s America Destruction Commercial

It’s all over the place, so you’ve probably already seen it. Former congressman Ron Paul appears in a commercial warning us about the coming "inevitable" total collapse of the American dollar – and with it, civil unrest and martial law. In fact, in his own words – or more appropriately, those of Stansberry Research, the outfit for which he is the spokesperson – this coming crisis will be “infinitely worse than the crisis of 2008”… and, of course “stocks and bonds will crash.”

To sum up both the short TV commercial and the entire 54-minute supposed warning, everything is basically going to grind to a halt and it’s going to be cataclysmic. But of course there’s a solution. Your family can survive this next crash if you buy Porter Stansberry’s America 2020: The Survival Blueprint publication for $49.50 or thereabouts.

Now here are my two cents on this.

All the commercials on TV and elsewhere seem to be suggesting that this apparent warning is coming from the former Congressman. However, when you visit the site to which the ad directs you, there’s a disclaimer – a.k.a fine print – at the bottom of the page notifying you that “Ron Paul is the spokesman for Stansberry Research, LLC.” I wonder why the commercial doesn’t make this connection up front, rather than burying it in the fine print. Could it have something to do with the fact that Porter Stansberry’s firm has a notorious reputation for making, quite frankly, outlandish claims about the destruction of our economic system and way of life that turned out to be full of hot air?

If my memory serves me, which I believe it does, this was the same outfit behind the claim that
America will totally collapse back in 2011. We are now more than halfway through 2015. The last time I checked, we are still here, in the United States of America. And we still have our economic livelihoods intact, for the most part. Now Stansberry’s firm want us to buy even more of their stuff?

As for former Congressman Ron Paul lending his credibility to this kind of message, this is a free nation, so he should go ahead and knock himself out. Personally, I will not be spending my 50 bucks or so on this so-called Survival Blueprint. I think that’ll get me couple weeks’ worth of my favorite vanilla chai latte. You draw your own conclusions.

All my best.
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Want an independent assessment to confirm that you are on the right track when it comes to saving for your retirement, including the money you will leave to your heirs? Come in so we can help you to  objectively evaluate your current approach. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session

Monday, July 13, 2015

Should You Get Out of the Stock Market Now?

Should You Get Out of the Stock Market Now?


Are we at the beginning of a stock market Armageddon that will grind everything to a halt? In the wake of the hoopla surrounding the situations in Greece, on the one hand, and China on the other hand, many investors are wondering whether now is the time to head for the exit. If that’s you, I don’t blame you at all. Heck, I would be scared too, just listening to some of these so-called “market experts” (notice the quotation marks) tell the rest of us without crystal balls what to expect.

So should you pull out of the stock market now, as some are suggesting? Obviously that is a crucial question – the answer to which, in my opinion, lies in one basic and indisputable fact about the stock market:

No one on the face of this planet – including your favorite media money guru, financial advisor, pastor, or member of Congress – can predict exactly where the stock market is headed. I'm sorry if you thought otherwise, but the stock market isn't a predictable thing. As an investor, you must understand this fundamental fact in order to maintain your sanity as you invest your hard-earned money. The only predictable thing about the stock market is that it will fluctuate – sometimes it goes up and sometimes it dips.

While it is true that certain events do impact the market, no one can actually predict the specifics of those events, let alone the extent to which they might impact global financial markets. Keep in mind that all these “experts” offering their interpretations of what is going on in Greece and China (or any other event in the past or future, I might add) come after the fact – as in, at the end of the trading day, week, month, quarter, year, decade, etc. Who couldn't come up with the perfect analysis of what happened after-the-fact? On Main Street, we call it Monday Morning Quarterbacking for a reason.

Take the past several days, for instance. One moment Greece and China are pulling the stock market into another crash. The very next moment,  the market is back in the green because Greece and China aren't that big of a deal. Seriously?

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not implying that you should just throw your money into some stock portfolio and hope for the best. There is such thing as an efficient stock portfolio that is built based on sound principles, including recognizing that the market will indeed move up and down due to situations and circumstances beyond your control. I believe it behooves every investor to have a carefully crafted and properly diversified global portfolio, with true negatively and/or low correlated asset classes. And then to re-balance it when necessary.

Interestingly enough, there's overwhelming agreement in the financial planning community that this is precisely what a prudent investor should be doing. But in reality, most so-called financial advisors seem more focused on selling the next hot mutual fund or stock, rather than on keeping investors focused on the fundamental principles.

I don't know what the end game will be in Greece or China. However, this much I can tell you. When investors panic, they tend to make the wrong moves with their portfolios – and some pay for those mistakes for the rest of their lives. The fact is that whether Greece, China, or any other country goes down or not, if you don't have an efficient portfolio and a disciplined advisor, any significant hit could destroy your wealth.
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Want an independent assessment to confirm that you are on the right track when it comes to saving for your retirement, including the money you will leave to your heirs? Come in so we can help you to  objectively evaluate your current approach. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session

Monday, June 29, 2015

We Can Expect to Live Longer, But Our Money Must Last Longer, Too!

We can expect to live longer, but our money must last longer, too!

Good news! You more likely than not can expect to live a much longer lifespan than in previous
generations. That's the conclusion from the latest mortality tables released last October by the Retirement Plans Experience Committee of the Society of Actuaries. According to the updated tables, a 65-year-old male alive today has a life expectancy of 86.6 years, two years longer when compared to the 2000 mortality tables. It gets even better if you are female because a 65-year-old female today has a life expectancy of 88.8 years, an improvement of 4.2 years over the 2000 tables.

So we can expect to be around much longer, enjoying our golden years and spending time with our loved ones. On the other hand, that also means that now, more than ever, the need to make sure you have enough savings to last through your lifetime is crucial. How fun will it be when you have to face the ordeal of outliving your savings?

Just how much will you potentially need throughout your retirement years? Well, the answer to this question depends on each individual’s particular set of circumstances and could be best answered by a competent retirement adviser. But let me give you some generic insight.

Let's say you are the typical 65-year-old male and you live through age 86.6, as suggested by the latest mortality tables, and you require just $2,000 a month ($24,000 a year) to supplement your retirement income. Without accounting for any adjustment for cost of living increases, that comes to approximately $528,000. For the typical female spending 24 years in retirement, that amount will be $576,000. What if you needed $2,500 a month instead? You’d be looking at approximately $660,000 and $720,000 for the typical male and female respectively.


It is important to point out that these numbers are just averages. So in all likelihood, some folks will fall below them, but others will exceed them. My wish and prayer is for you to exceed them and live a long, healthy life. But keep in mind that it is up to you to make sure that you take the necessary steps to be ready financially. Hopefully I have given you the motivation to act and make sure that you are headed in the right direction.
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Want an independent assessment to confirm that you are on the right track when it comes to saving for your retirement, including the money you will leave to your heirs? Come in so we can help you to  objectively evaluate your current approach. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session

Monday, June 8, 2015

You Could Eliminate Taxes from Your Social Security Benefit Checks by Shuffling Your Other Income

You Could Eliminate Taxes from Your Social Security Benefit Checks by Shuffling Your Other Income

Yes, it’s possible to collect every last penny of your Social Security retirement checks, completely tax free. But that depends on “where” your other income is coming from.

As the principal of a retirement planning practice, I can confidently tell you – without the need to reference any formal study – that one of the major issues on the list of every single retiree who consults with us is finding ways to reduce the enormous tax bill they face, year after year.

You obviously understand why this is such a huge thing. Who wouldn’t want to keep as much of his or her money as possible, especially in retirement? Personally, I think there’s a much bigger issue at stake, because the overwhelming majority of the folks I’m referring to here don’t consider themselves to be in a higher income bracket, by any measure. So why in the world will paying too much taxes even become an issue? Let me answer it this way: it is one of those “mysteries” that most folks have to literally experience to believe.

The unfortunate truth here is that more and more unsuspecting folks are meeting a nasty surprise as they enter their retirement years. Many Americans seem to be under the mistaken impression that just because they expect to have less income in retirement, their tax bill will shrink, too. It would certainly be great if that were, in fact, the case. But it’s not, at least based on what I see happening in real life, to real people, every day.

One huge blind spot, for lack of a better word, surrounds the way Social Security retirement checks are taxed: in general, if one-half (50 percent) of your Social Security benefits, plus your other countable (note the keyword countable) sources of income amount to more than $25,000 (if you’re single) or $32,000 (if you file jointly with your spouse), up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefit checks may be subject to taxes, on top of and in addition to your other taxable income.

I certainly haven’t met everyone out there, but I’m fairly confident that single folks with the $25,000 base threshold or couples with the $32,000 base threshold wouldn’t consider themselves candidates for paying taxes on their Social Security retirement checks – until they literally experience it.

Here’s some great news! The IRS formula that is used to determine the taxable portion of Social Security benefits does not count income from certain specifically designated sources/accounts. So, in simpler terms, there’s the possibility that by simply reshuffling “where” or “from which account” your non-Social Security income is coming, you may be able to completely skip the tax on your Social Security benefit checks.

Really? Yes, really!

Our latest special report, Skip the Tax, breaks down the rules and also provides suggestions about how you can position yourself to reduce to the bare minimum – or wipe out altogether – any tax from your Social Security checks. You are welcome to grab your complimentary copy HERE.
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If you'd like to learn more about how to reduce your tax bill in retirement, visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session with a seasoned financial professional with a proven track record who can help you create the financial future you desire.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Keep Your Emotions from Interfering with Your Investment Decisions

How to keep your emotions from interfering with your investment decisions 

A lot has been said about the need to keep emotions out of your investment portfolio simply because, as we all know, emotion-based decisions almost always breaks all the rules of sound judgement. This, in turn, leads to poor choices/actions and ultimately disastrous results.

 I believe there is a lot of truth to that hypothesis and have, in fact, witnessed this first hand over the course of my almost two-decade career working with hundreds of folks: whenever emotions lead the way, bad choices usually follow.

What makes things even worse for us in todays technologically advanced age is that we have access to all sorts of information and can always find some article, TV show, blog post, or radio guru that supports our emotional leanings.

So how do we bridge the gap as investors? How can we avoid making investment decisions based solely on emotions?

Here’s the thing. I don't think it is humanly possible to keep one’s emotions entirely out of our investment decisions. We are always going to be human. I mean you turn on the TV or hear on the radio that a certain stock is raising the roof, and that is just the beginning. Your next move is likely to get your advisor on the phone to demand that you get in on that “hot action.”

But there’s a rather simple approach to getting around this issue. You must work with an experienced advisor who knows what he or she is doing to devise an investment strategy you can live with based on your specific individual objectives. This is crucial, because it is where you set the rules of engagement, so to speak. Prior to investing even a single penny, you should sit with your advisor for an objective, neutral assessment of your investment strategy. Ask as many questions as you need to so that you understand all the likely possibilities, as well as defining the variables that may cause things to change.

Going forward, it will be your advisor’s job to hold you to that operating strategy when your emotions come calling. Absent of such clearly defined “rules of engagement,” a news segment about today’s hottest stocks may mean it’s open season on your investments, making them subject to your emotions and vulnerable to some less-than-optimal decision-making.
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If you'd like to avoid falling into the trap of investing by emotion, visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session with a seasoned financial professional with a proven track record who can help you create the Rules of Engagement to see you through to the financial future you desire.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Is It Time to Swap Your Financial Advisor for a Financial Coach?

Is it time to swap your financial advisor for a financial coach?

Obviously when it comes to financial planning – and retirement investing, in particular – no one sets out to fail. We all want the same outcome: to be successful by making as much money as is humanly possible so that we can live the golden years of our dreams. So how is it, then, that only a tiny minority make it to this promised land in reality? The vast majority fail miserably, missing the mark by terribly wide margins.

Of course, one could cite a myriad of explanations and causes for this unfortunate situation. Personally, I believe the reasons most often cited are just symptoms of one main underlying cause. So let’s dig deeper and get to the actual root cause.

Most so-called financial advisors allow their clients to dictate how their portfolios should be allocated, down to the minutest details. On top of that, clients may call any time to mandate changes to their underlying asset mix, and most advisors willingly comply. I understand how, as an investor, this may appear as giving you control over your hard-earned money, but that’s not what this is about at all. If your advisor is letting you dictate all the details, you are on a very slippery slope.

Here’s why. As an investor, in 9.9 out of 10 instances, you’re bound to react based on something you hear or see in the media or read in a magazine or on a website – and this tendency is more rampant in today’s information age than ever before. You get excited and want to make changes to your portfolio that you perceive to be advantageous. While this is an understandable natural tendency, when it comes your investment portfolio, it is precisely the wrong move and the surest way to destroy your wealth.

This past week, one of our clients reminded me of an interesting encounter we had some years back. He wanted to change his portfolio allocations to include something that was being discussed everywhere in the media at the time as THE thing to do to hit the investment jackpot. In my professional opinion, it was a bad move so I refused to do it. Of course, he was free to move his portfolio elsewhere, and I’m pretty sure it would have been easy enough for him to find an advisor who’d do whatever he wanted. Long story short, seven years later, he thanked me for taking a strong stand to protect his investments. In hindsight, the move he wanted me to make would have been a very expensive mistake with devastating consequences to his retirement income.  

Situations like these are the reason you need what I term a financial coach instead of an advisor who will just go along and let you do whatever you perceive to be the right thing, even if it breaks the rules of prudent investing. What, exactly, is the role your financial advisor is playing? Helping you to make prudent decisions and preventing potentially destructive behavior? Or just making you happy by doing whatever you perceive to be the right move?
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If you're ready to swap your financial advisor for a seasoned coach with a proven track record who will give you guidance to help  you achieve a secure financial future, visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A noteworthy tax lesson: Less Earnings, More Taxes – what NOW??

A noteworthy tax lesson: Less Earnings, More Taxes – what NOW??

April 15, the dreaded day of reckoning for millions of American taxpayers, has come and gone. For Ms. J.R., this year being the third year into her retirement, it was particularly brutal, as her tax bill skyrocketed far beyond anything she could have imagined. What was particularly mind boggling to her was the fact that she’s not making nearly as much income in retirement compared to her working years, and yet her tax bill “keeps going up.” 

To paraphrase her two-minute-plus passionate voice message, “I need to come in and see you right away to look over my stuff because something is not right somewhere.” Her cousin, D.W., who has been our firm’s client for more than six years, suggested she contact me and followed up with a call of her own to stress the urgency of J.R.’s situation.

And, in many ways, I do understand where they are coming from. After all, how many of us wouldn’t think something was terribly wrong when someone who makes more than $32,000 more in income per year than you do, with pretty much the same tax profile in terms of exemptions/deductions, has a lower tax bill than you do? No, that wouldn’t be cool, would it?

I personally returned Ms. J.R.’s call the same afternoon, and we set an appointment for the following morning. Lo and behold, her income is significantly lower than her beloved cousin (by more than $32,000), yet to her surprise and greatest disappointment, I couldn't find anything wrong on her tax return. Of course, she didn’t like that news one bit.

Here’s the simple explanation and the point I hope to drive home for millions of American taxpayers: Although Ms. J.R.’s cousin made significantly more than her, and they both have pretty much the same situation in terms of tax deductions/exemptions, Ms. J.R.’s “taxable” income was much higher than her cousin’s. In other words, although D.W. brought in way more money, most of her income is considered “nontaxable.”

As I explain in great detail in 5 Mistakes Your Financial Advisor Is Making and also in Is Your 401(k) a Trap?, under our tax code, we pay tax only on taxable income. So instead of simply thinking and assuming that because your income might be lower when you retire you’ll automatically have to pay much less in the form of taxes, you’d be wise to work with a financial advisor who knows what he/she is doing to make sure that you are effectively shifting your income from the “taxable” column into the “nontaxable” column of your tax return. This is exactly what we helped D.W. accomplish successfully over the past six or so years.

Of course, Ms. J.R. now wants a plan of her own that will help her turn things around for the better. Who wouldn’t like to keep more of their hard-earned money? The great news is that we can help Ms. J.R. make that essential shift.
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If your tax burden is much higher than you think it should be, based on your new income in retirement, contact us so that we can help you to evaluate your current situation and see if you may be able to turn things around. Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session.