Monday, September 29, 2014

You Have a Choice – Have that Tough Talk before Your Family is Left in Ruins

You Have a Choice – Have that Tough Talk before Your Family is Left in Ruins
Today, I’d like to open that proverbial box. The one that sits at the back corner of the room and, for one reason or the other, most of us either don’t get to talk about or don’t want to talk about. What if you were suddenly gone from the face of this planet and your family (or those for whom you are financially responsible) had to manage on their own – beginning tomorrow?

Okay, don’t freak out. This isn’t a fun discussion for me, either. Given that I was born and raised in the West African nation of Ghana where discussions of this nature are a full-blown taboo subject, this isn’t something I’d naturally like to bring up. However, we both know, or at least we should know, that failing to address the possibility of us not being around tomorrow isn’t going to keep anyone around for even one more nanosecond than we’re supposed to be, is it? Of course not!

I don’t expect you to be thinking or talking about death every day. But I strongly believe that if you have a family – wife, husband, and/or children who depend on you financially – and you’re really serious about taking care of them to the best of your abilities, you must address the issue of making sure that they will have the financial resources necessary to continue life as they know it, should the unthinkable happen to you. Pardon me, but there’s just no other way for me to sugarcoat it.

Of course, you are being responsible by working and making sure that your family has a comfortable life today. And just like me, you intend to be around till a very ripe old age to see your great-great grandchildren. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that, and I pray you get exactly that. However, that still doesn’t change anything about the real possibility that we could be gone tomorrow. Then what happens to our family’s way of life? Will your children be able to afford the college you dreamed of and are currently saving money for them to attend? How about the roof over their heads? Losing a loved one is terrible enough, but having to endure a financial lack on top of that is one thing I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Unfortunately, however, it happens every day to unsuspecting families.

Yes, it’s important. I’ll take care of it soon. After all, nothing is going to happen to me or my spouse.

I don’t know exactly how to label that thought: denial, carelessness, or plain old arrogance? I recently met a widow who’s now living on public assistance because she had to give up the family home she lived in with her late medical doctor husband. She told me the subject of death never came up in the 18 years they were together, because in their culture, such a discussion is frowned upon. I certainly do respect my culture – and yours, too. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that cultures consist of some great things, some so-so things and, let’s face it, some pretty ridiculous things, too! I’m sure that if the late doctor had known precisely how long he had to live, he’d have put things in place to prevent the financial ordeal his wife is facing today, wouldn’t he?

OK, I Get It. I have some insurance coverage through my employer.

That’s great. But how much exactly will your loved ones need, and how close is it to what they will receive? Will that check be enough to take care of your family’s day-to-day expenses in the case of yours/your spouse’s demise? Here's another story: Wife dies suddenly. Husband knew she had coverage at work, but wasn’t exactly sure of the details because in the part of the world they come from, talking about this stuff is a bad omen. In fact, he said, just raising the subject might be perceived as wanting to profit from your spouse’s death, so people just don’t bring it up. Come to find out his late wife’s coverage was an “accidental death policy,” but since her death wasn’t accidental, the family receives nothing. I’m pretty sure this lady loved her husband and their three children and wouldn’t want them to suffer financially. But isn’t that’s exactly what’s happening now?

Obviously, I don’t know your particular situation. Here’s what I know: I cannot make you do anything that you don’t want to do. You’re the boss of your life! But at least I’ve made my point. Now, I hope you’ll do what you know in your gut must be done. I wish you all the best!
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 or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary session

Monday, September 15, 2014

Are Your Retirement Decisions REALLY the Best Ones for You?

Are your retirement decisions REALLY the best ones for you?

One of my favorite all time statements happens to be this one by Will Rogers.  
And I must say, from all of my years as a front-row eye witness into the retirements – and by extension, lifelong decisions – of so many families, Will is right on target. As it pertains to retirement planning, the actions you take to invest your nest egg generally reflect what you believe to be the best possible decisions. I can’t think of any sane person who’d even settle for the second best choice in this situation. But what if what you believe to be the best decision turned out not to be so? Then what?

Almost on a daily basis, I meet folks who thought they were doing the “right thing” with their retirement money, but as it turned out, they weren’t – and they have horrible results to show for it. These are well-meaning folks just like you and me who worked hard all their lives, controlled their spending, and saved/invested their money along the way.

Here’s the point I want you to take away from this discussion. Hard work and socking money away all your life are great virtues that are well worth pursuing. But – and that’s a but I’d like to really emphasize – you could still end up exactly where you didn’t want to be if you ignore another crucial piece of the puzzle that seems to elude so many of us: the right investments! You can work hard and save all the money in this world, but the wrong investments will eventually rob you of the lion’s share of that money.

So do you know exactly where your nest egg is invested? Do you know the fees associated with your account? Keep in mind that most of those fees may not show up on any of your statements. Whose advice or direction are you following regarding your investment decisions? How accountable is that person for the advice they give you? Does he or she have real-life success stories, when it comes to delivering the kind of results you are hoping to achieve?

Hard work is great. But you don’t want to end up wasting your years of effort, do you? If you’d like to explore how well your current retirement plan is really working for you, I offer you a complimentary independent evaluation of your current investments. Simply call my office at 877.656.9111 or schedule your complimentary session here

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Great Social Security Myth

The Great Social Security Myth

I may not know you personally, but without any reservations whatsoever, I’m certain of this about you: When it 's time for you to begin collecting your Social Security benefits, you’d prefer to collect in a manner that will give you the most money possible. Or, if you’re already collecting benefits, it’s a sure bet that your choice is to ultimately bring in the maximum possible benefits over your lifetime. Am I correct?

Obviously, I can’t think of any situation in which someone knowingly intends to leave even a single penny on the table when it comes to, of all things, their Social Security checks. But here’s the thing. Are you certain that you are collecting or have a plan to collect Social Security in the way that will best maximize yours and your family’s lifetime benefits? How do you know that? Or perhaps you think it’s the responsibility of the Social Security Administration to make that happen for you?

If you’re thinking that the Social Security Administration will help you to arrive at the approach that will be the most beneficial to you and your family, you’re mistaken. That’s not only a myth, it’s completely disallowed. Under Procedure GN 00203.004 of the Social Security Administration’s Operations Manual, employees are specifically prohibited from rendering any advice. Period. In fact, that same Procedure even goes further, preventing employees from asking applicants (that would be you) “leading questions; i.e., worded in such a way as to suggest the proper or desired answer.”  Notice that this is a direct, word-for-word quote from Social Security’s Operations Manual.

Yes, I know. That’s both weird and ironic, because how in the world are you supposed to know the best strategy? As I explain in this free special report, while there are indeed many strategies to help boost your Social Security benefits, actually far beyond what most people are aware of, one of the best things you could ever do for yourself and for your family is talk with an experienced financial advisor who is well-versed in this area. This is crucial if you are to take full advantage of the benefits due you! Let me emphasize, though, that while there is no shortage of financial professionals, some with fancy-schmancy titles, in my experience, only a handful actually have the knowhow to help you in this regard. So please be forewarned.

Wouldn’t Social Security automatically pay your highest benefit?

Generally it’s true that when you apply for benefits, you will receive the highest benefit due you. But that is precisely the thinking that can cause you to end up leaving other money for which you qualify on the table. Let me use Donna’s case to illustrate. About to turn 66, Donna feels great, looks great, and intends to wait until age 70 to begin collecting her maximum retirement check, which will be about $2,600/month. This is a decision she came to after talking with her financial advisor, and also visiting and speaking with someone at Social Security to confirm the estimated payment.

So far everything looks normal – but here’s the issue and what happened after Donna’s chance encounter with yours truly. Donna also qualifies for benefits today, based on her ex-husband’s record. And we’re talking $1,400 /month ($16,800/year). Collecting this today will not change anything in terms of the $2,600/month she has coming to her at age 70. Wait, it gets even better than that – she doesn’t need her ex’s consent to collect this money!

Why didn’t her advisor and/or the person at Social Security tell her that while waiting, she could be collecting an additional $16,800/year? My guess is that, like many other advisors, he simply doesn’t know about it. As for Social Security, their job is only to pay you the highest benefit you can collect at any particular time. Remember from earlier that they are prohibited from offering advice. Donna’s divorced spouse benefit of $1,400/month does not come into the picture because it’s not her highest benefit option. Could you see how in actuality things can get rather tricky?

Long story short, we helped Donna file a “Restricted Application” so that she can begin collecting her $1,400/month over the next four years while waiting for her own retirement benefits to hit their maximum. The point here is that had it not been for her chance encounter with me, she would have left a whopping $67,200 ($1,400/month for 4 years) on the table without even knowing that she’d done so. And I must also mention that Donna’s ex-husband and his new wife will not be affected in anyway by her collecting this benefit. So no worries if you find yourself on that side of the story.

Are you sure about what you and your financial advisor are planning in this regard? Are you aware of all of your possibilities when it comes to maximizing your Social Security income? Download your complimentary copy of my special report, and then call me at 877.656.9111 to schedule some time to chat about your retirement finances in general.