Monday, April 29, 2013

The Problem with GENERALIZING When it Comes to Your Retirement Future

The problem with GENERALIZING when it comes to your retirement future

Among the myriad things that might cause you to miss the mark when it comes to achieving your retirement goal, the one we might least expect – and yet which is extremely dangerous – is generalization. Yes, generalization! Way too many of us tend to generalize when it comes to our retirement finances.

But, as I often echo to the financial professionals who attend our continuing education classes, there’s a very good reason we call this enterprise personal financial planning, as opposed to group planning.  As elementary as this may seem, I can’t even begin to tell you how often I witness this phenomenon play out. And I’m not blaming you – the retirement investor – because, quite frankly, we have been trained to perceive things in that light: such-and-such financial product is either good for you or bad for you, period! And we say this about every single one of them. Meanwhile, nine out of 10 times, all such pronouncements amount to is someone’s opinion, which I think we both know is a rather simplistic and unfortunate way to approach, of all things, your retirement finances.

Obviously, there are bad and good financial moves and products. No question about that. However, arriving at that conclusion should depend on a specific product’s profile. So although your brother Jim or coworker Mary may have had a terrible experience with his or her 401(k), you may be hurting your financial future by generalizing and simply branding all 401(k)s with the same label.

Again, this may seem elementary and pretty obvious, but it is more common than you’d imagine. Even many so-called, self-acclaimed financial experts – those who should know better – are guilty of this ridiculous trend involving dubious generalizations.

Now here’s some simple advice that may help you avoid becoming a potential victim of this terrible phenomenon in the jungle we know as financial planning. First thing, step away from all the self-serving marketing noise, because not all financial products – even of the same kind – are created equal. Then, consult with an honest, experienced professional – someone you can actually hold accountable if it turns out that he/she steered you in the wrong direction in pursuit of their interests, rather than yours, or did not do the thorough job you expected.
It’s your financial future, no one else’s. Be sure to get the best professional advice for your situation. Call us today at  877.656.9111 or visit us on the Web to schedule your no-strings-attached consultation!

Monday, April 22, 2013

PBS’s Frontline is Breaking the Mold to Rescue Retirement Investors

PBS’s Frontline is Breaking the Mold to Rescue Retirement Investors
Mark your calendar! This coming Tuesday, April 23 at 10 p.m., the award-winning PBS program Frontline will air what I believe is a must-watch show for every single retirement investor in America. The program, which Frontline is calling “The Retirement Gamble,” seems to be an attempt to caution the investing public about certain flaws inherent in many 401(k) plans that may actually serve to prevent, rather than ensure, a financially comfortable retirement. 

Personally, I am thrilled that Frontline is taking this giant step by being the "odd one out" in this respect. Finally, someone in the prime media is willing to pay attention to the minority view about 401(k)s, something I have spent the greater part of my career talking about. In fact, a few years back, I wrote a book titled Is Your 401(k) a Trap? in which I challenge the seemingly "grounded" yet misguided conventional wisdom that 401(k)s are the best retirement planning vehicles for American workers. 

My book is not so much of a witch hunt expedition - because that's simply not my style - and the information I present, which is supported by facts, IRS rules, and real-life evidence, proves beyond a doubt that many retirees would be far better off using investment vehicles other than 401(k)s to plan for their retirements. 

Obviously, I haven't seen the entire program, but from the trailers I've seen, I expect that those watch it will walk away with some "holy anger" and, hopefully, begin to demand real answers to some key questions, like: 

  • Why aren’t the majority of so-called financial advisers pointing out these things? 
  • What are other options – alternatives – to 401(k)s?
  • Why are they still telling folks to jump on the 401(k) bandwagon without any sort of due diligence?
  • How do these options stack up against 401(k)s, in an apples-to-apples comparison?
  • Is my employer’s specific 401(k) plan a good deal for my retirement needs?
Quite frankly, isn’t this how serious retirement planning is supposed to look in the first place? Instead of millions being told to simply sign up for their employers’ retirement plan, however inefficient they may be?

My book specifically answers these questions, as well as several other critical ones. It also walks you through the other options that many financial professionals somehow are unable or unwilling to discuss. You can pick up a print or Kindle version from Amazon, or iBooks. If you use any other e-reader, you can get a compatible electronic version, too.

Here’s a quick  snippet from a recent interview I gave about this issue:  

Call us today at  877.656.9111 or visit us on the Web to schedule your no-strings-attached consultation!

Monday, April 15, 2013

BEWARE! of this IRA Tax Trap

Every year, right around tax time I receive numerous calls from seniors who feel trapped by their IRAs: they were “sold” a rosy tax situation, but in reality, are being clobbered by taxes. 

Of course, IRAs are not necessarily bad. However, it behooves you to carefully (and realistically) consider IRS rules and how they may impact you down the road before investing in anything. Unfortunately, many so-called retirement advisers either fail to consider the tax consequences of IRAs, or quite frankly, don’t think it is that important.

Here's a two-and-a-half minute rundown of what many fail to consider:

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Hidden Lesson for Homeowners and Financial Advisers from Stockton’s Bankruptcy

The Hidden Lesson for Homeowners and Financial Advisers from Stockton’s Bankruptcy 

News of the official approval of Stockton, California’s bankruptcy has been center stage this past week. Judging by the media coverage so far, many see it only as the story of the most populous American city ever to enter Chapter 9 bankruptcy. However, this event contains an underlying important financial lesson for American homeowners and the financial professionals who advise them.


As we are told, the city of Stockton finds itself in this unfortunate situation because of the housing crisis. Apparently, the bulk of Stockton’s revenue comes from property taxes levied on homeowners, but due to plummeting real estate values, recent revenue has fallen short.

Stockton city officials unfortunately failed to understand – or took for granted – a fundamental and incredibly important financial lesson: It is not prudent to plan financial sustenance around the assumption that the value of a house – or any other piece of real estate – will remain constant, or increase, for that matter.

This is just basic common sense which you probably already knew. I’m afraid, however, that millions of American homeowners are making the same mistake, to some extent, by basing their future financial sustenance – retirement income in this case – around a similar assumption about the equity in their homes.

In fact most folks would even argue – wrongfully – that the safest means of supporting one’s income needs in retirement is by building equity in your home. Of course, we all hope that over time the value of our houses increase so that we can build more equity. But that’s a dangerous proposition around which to base your livelihood, isn’t it? The result that impacted Stockton could also affect you – what happens if the value of your home decreases through no fault of your own?

Hopefully, this critical lesson will become apparent to the millions who may be ignoring reality or, quite frankly, are being led astray by unrealistic financial advice. If you'd like to manage your equity based on solid, realistic, factual, and savvy ideas, you'll be interested in my book, Savvy Strategies for Turning Your Mortgage into a Goldmine. 
Call us today at  877.656.9111 or visit us on the Web to schedule your no-strings-attached consultation!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Incredible “Claim Now – Claim More Later” Social Security Strategy

The Incredible “Claim Now Claim More Later” Social Security Strategy

Maria and Carlos are your typical hard-working middle-class couple. Maria decided to take an early Social Security almost four years ago at age 62, for a reduced payment of about $750 a month. Had she held out, she would have reached her full retirement age (FRA) this year at age 66, when she would have received around $1,000.  

Carlos, on the other hand, decided to continue working until he turns 70 in order to receive the highest possible monthly Social Security benefit check, which is projected to be about $2,100 – meaning he would receive about $1,600 today at age 66.

The incredible thing that this energetic, youthful-looking duo didn’t know is that they are perfect candidates for a Social Security windfall, now that Carlos is reaching age 66, his full retirement age.

“Claim Now, Claim More Later” is one of many Social Security strategies that I explain in my complimentary report, “Secure Your Future.” This approach allows a spouse who’s reached his or her FRA to claim spousal benefits without impacting his or her own benefit accruals. To qualify to use this strategy, you must be married, both spouses must have accrued enough credits to qualify for Social Security in their own right, and the spouse that uses the strategy must have reached his/her FRA.

Carlos is, therefore, the perfect candidate: he’s about to be 66, and Maria earned enough work credits to qualify for her own benefits. The incredible thing is that by claiming as Maria’s spouse, Carlos’ own benefit accruals will not be affected in any way. Yes, he will still earn his delayed retirement credits through age 70 as he plans. So, in effect, this strategy is essentially giving him about $500/month over the next four years until he switches to claiming maximum benefit of about $2,100/month on his own record.

The other great thing about this strategy is that although Maria’s benefit is reduced ($750 vs. $1,000) because she applied early at 62, Carlos’ spousal benefit is still based on half of $1,000, not $750. And since Carlos is at his FRA, he does not have to worry about losing any portion of his monthly benefit because of his work earnings under Social Security’s earnings cap restrictions.

Until I sat down with them, Carlos and Maria had no idea anything like this was even possible – which leads to the larger question of how many of us are leaving valuable Social Security money for which we qualify on the table?  
Would you like more information about "Claim Now Claim More Later"? Download a complimentary copy of Secure Your Future! Call us today at  877.656.9111 or visit us on the Web to schedule your no-strings-attached consultation!