Monday, December 28, 2015

Bond Mutual Funds Aren’t Built to Prevent Losses – You Can Still Lose Money

Bond Mutual Funds Aren’t Built to Prevent Losses – You Can Still Lose Money


Many are the myths that surround financial planning, but one of the most unfortunate and, in my opinion, potentially damaging is the notion that bond mutual funds are safe from value dips. As in, bond funds are the “safe place” to be when you don’t want your portfolio to lose any money.

About a week or so ago, I met someone at a social event who was at the least confused and at best disappointed because his bond portfolio has lost close to 15 percent in value within the past two quarters, since about July. His frustration seems to be more related to his understanding, however wrong, that bonds are the place to go to when you are looking to avoid the value dips usually associated with stock mutual funds – which was precisely what he intended and thought he was doing.

Obviously, he’s now learned the hard way that this truism wasn’t true. But he wasn’t the only one who believed this – so do many other weal-meaning, hard-working folks out there. Actually at the event where I met this gentleman, most of the others in our conversation circle believed this myth to be true: that bond funds are safe and won’t lose money.

How is such confusion possible?

I think the confusion seems to stem from the notion that government bonds are safe investments, and so, by implication, bond funds must be, too. While it is true that government bonds have virtually no default risk (meaning, you’ll get back your original investment at maturity), default risk isn’t the only risk associated with bonds. The other type of risk, which is fairly common and does occur frequently, is market risk. This has to do with declines in the price/value of a bond when interest rates rise. It happens when you try to sell a bond before its maturity date at a time when interest rates are higher than when you originally bought it. I must mention, additionally, that other kinds of bonds (e.g., municipal and corporate bonds) do carry default risk.

Without getting too technical, here’s the thing you must understand about mutual funds (including bond funds) in general: your fund manager has the authority to buy and/or sell whenever he or she sees fit. So if your fund sells bonds before their maturity at a time that interest rates have risen, compared to when those bonds were originally purchased, you’ll lose some value. That’s just how things work. And it is also very important to remember that you, as the individual investor in a bond fund, do not get to make the call regarding when the fund buys and/or sells its holdings.

The best way to mitigate some of this risk is to invest in a fund that holds high-quality short-term bonds. High quality to protect against default risk and short-term to combat market value rate swings.

All my best to you and yours in 2016!


________________ 
Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation with a financial professional who has your best interest at heart and who is willing to ask the tough questions to help you make a plan that will get you where you want to go. Youll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If youre ready, were here to help. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Is Your Investment Portfolio Ready for the (Inevitable) Bumpy Ride?

Is Your Investment Portfolio Ready for the (Inevitable) Bumpy Ride?


If any portion of your portfolio is invested in equities, you may have noticed that the past several months have been pretty chaotic, to say the least. Naturally, as an investor, you’re somewhat concerned, worried, or even straight-out scared. Is this the beginning of the end, as has been predicted by some for years? Should you head for the exit? Or maybe you should buy gold or silver.

Like many, you, too, are probably trying to find that proverbial “sweet spot” of investing where none of this back-and-forth will affect you. That absolute portfolio that will not experience any of these drops in value but will only skyrocket quarter after quarter and year after year. The only reason that no one has been able to precisely articulate anything like that is simply because it doesn’t exist. At least not on any stock market in the history of humankind, to date.
                                                                                                                                       
By the way, I’m not trying to be sarcastic or fault you for believing or having such expectations as an investor. Just like you, I would prefer not to see my equity portfolio drop in value for even one day, if that were possible. But the thing is that it’s not realistic, or even possible, based on what history has taught us.

So irrespective of what you hear in the media or from some sales guy or gal who’s just interested in lining his or her pocket, it is a fact of investing life that the stock market goes up and down – and when your portfolio contains equities, it will, by design, follow that pattern.

However, that is not to say that all equity portfolios are equal. Far from it. There is such thing as an efficiently diversified portfolio that is built based on the level of volatility you can stomach. A portfolio that is carefully and specifically crafted to help you cope with movements of the various asset classes, something that is bound to occur, as nothing can prevent it from happening. But when those “ugly” moments happen, an efficient portfolio, by definition, should be rebalanced.

By extension, there are also very poorly diversified portfolios that are just based on what’s “hot” at the moment but without any real planning. Based on my observation in professional practice, it seems that, sadly, this is where the vast majority of folks tend to fall. While in the moment it may sound appealing – exciting, even – that you are somehow going to “beat” the market and avoid its natural down moments, you need to be reminded of the fact that the evidence to date shows that no one has been able to accurately and precisely predict where the stock market will be headed tomorrow. 

So it really comes down to what you believe to be realistic. Investing in a manner that recognizes the unpredictable nature of the stock market or investing like it is possible to predict and beat the market. Your call…
________________ 
Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation with a financial professional who has your best interest at heart and who is willing to ask the tough questions to help you make a plan that will get you where you want to go. Youll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If youre ready, were here to help.

Monday, November 30, 2015

How to Protect Your Budget and Skip the Financial Headaches this Holiday Season

Protect your budget and skip the financial headaches this holiday season


Well, it’s official. The holiday season is once again upon us. Among other things, it’s shopping season, as we prepare to give gifts to our loved ones. As tradition goes, this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. However, according to the evidence on the ground, the vast majority of us find ourselves at the end of the most wonderful time of the year up to our eyeballs in financial regret of one form or another. This is typically the result of spending more money on gifts than we expected.

If you are among the millions of folks who keep exceeding your spending targets, year after year, and are looking for a fix, you might want to consider implementing these two suggestions.

First, understand that a gift is supposed to be a token and not the recipient's literal dollar value.

Obviously, this is something you already know. However, I think we need to remind ourselves of this fundamental truth from time to time, especially during the holiday season. It seems that, as a society, we are gradually moving away from this basic gifting tenet toward a view, however subtle, that the more expensive the gift, the more “acceptable” – and, quite frankly, they better you are, as the giver. That belief couldn’t be further from the truth.

Of course, I’m not implying here to avoid giving gifts you consider to be expensive. If you can afford to pay for them without creating an unnecessary burden on yourself after the fact, go ahead and knock yourself out. But that doesn’t change the fact that giving a gift should not place any unwelcome financial burden on you. Based on my experience in counseling folks over the years, I can tell you that this notion is at the very root of many of the financial nightmares that surround the holiday season.


Second, make a “cash list” instead of an “item list.”

More likely than not, you’re like most folks and have some form of shopping list. But it doesn’t seem to help much, in terms of keeping your overall expenditures within your expectations. You are probably going about it this way: you make a list of those to whom you intend to give gifts. You may or may not already have specific items in mind for certain people on your list. Then, of course, you do your absolute best to shop for the lowest possible prices for those gifts.

That is the wrong approach, because although you may be hoping to spend a certain amount, somehow you’ll end up way beyond that. To guarantee you’ll spend what you intend to spend – avoiding the risk of overspending and all the excess baggage it brings – include a “cash column” on your list, where you specifically indicate how much money you intend to spend on each individual. This way, you will select gifts that meet your cash targets, instead of the other way around, choosing gifts first and trying to juggle your budget to match them.

Happy shopping. And all the best this holiday season!
________________ 
Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation with a financial professional who has your best interest at heart and who is willing to ask the tough questions to help you make a plan that will get you where you want to go. Youll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If youre ready, were here to help. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Misleading Piece of Financial Advice from Kiplinger's

Another misleading piece of financial advice from Kiplinger's


A little over a week ago, I saw an article titled “6 Ways to Avoid Outliving Your Retirement Nest Egg,” authored by Kiplinger’s Kathy Kristof. This single statement caught my attention – in a rather negative way – because it highlights what I believe is a very serious problem with many in the financial press: making generic statements that do not accurately reflect what’s out there in the real world. This, in turn, leads unsuspecting readers to draw conclusions and make decisions that are equally wrong, with potentially dire financial consequences, to say the least.
 
Under the sub-header “Buy an Annuity,” the author’s concluding paragraph said this, among other things:
“Be aware that generally if you buy an annuity and are run over by a truck a month later, no residual goes to your heirs. …”
Quite frankly, that is simply nowhere near what “generally” happens when folks buy most annuities. Rather, it’s very far from it.

Indeed, there is a specific kind of immediate annuity contract that works that way; it has a life-only payout and no refund option. However, that is only one specific variation in an entire class of immediate annuity contracts. On the other hand, there is also a slew of immediate annuities with life payout AND refund options that pay you for life, in addition to guaranteeing a specific refund payment to your heirs upon your death.

Besides, it is worth noting that there is a whole other class of annuities called deferred annuities, which make up the vast majority of annuities on the market today, in which case – to borrow Ms. Kristof’s analogy – if you were to be run over by a truck a month later, all of your money would be returned to your heirs.

So even if you inserted the word “immediate,” so that the statement read, “Be aware that generally if you buy an [immediate] annuity and are run over by a truck a month later, no residual goes to your heirs,” it will still be inaccurate. 

The only way I can see that statement serving a useful purpose and properly informing Ms. Kristof’s readers to make educated decisions – which I’d like to imagine a publication such as Kiplinger’s to be all about – would be if it said something like this: 
Be aware that generally if you buy an [immediate life-only] annuity [without a refund option] and are run over by a truck a month later, no residual goes to your heirs.
I’d like to state for the record that I’m by no means rooting for or against any particular kind of annuity, or any other product for that matter. Not at all. Here’s what I’ve always rooted for: Putting out the right factual information so that folks can make good decisions. But can you see how easily you can be misinformed by statements like these? So much so that you might take an action that could affect you for an entire lifetime, and even beyond? That’s my whole point!

So, my dear friend, don’t make decisions surrounding your financial future solely based on what you read in the press. Talk with an independent financial advisor with a proven record and a fiduciary obligation to put your best interest ahead of everything else. Then carefully weigh your options so that you can make the best possible choices that specifically work for you.

I wish you the very best.
________________ 
Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation with a financial professional who has your best interest at heart and who is willing to ask the tough questions to help you make a plan that will get you where you want to go. Youll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If youre ready, were here to help. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

What Will Your Heirs Do With the Inheritance You Leave Them?

What will your heirs do with the inheritance you leave them?


When it comes to the future and money, the story of life generally goes something like this: you work hard, plan ahead, and make sure to save as much money as you possibly can toward your retirement so that you can have a smooth, financially stress-free life down the road.

Sure. That’s definitely part of the process, but in my humble opinion, it’s only half the story. The other equally important – if not more crucial – aspect of the process involves what will happen to the inheritance you will leave behind. I’m literally referring to the money you will leave behind to your beneficiaries.

So here’s the question: When it’s all said and done and you depart this planet, will your hard-earned money be used in a manner that reflects your values and expectations?

If you expect your inheritance to be used in a more tangible way to further the lifestyle of your loved ones, be sure to articulate those expectations over the course of your life. More importantly, take the time to impart your values, ethics, and core beliefs on your loved ones now, while youre still here, instead of just writing their names on the beneficiary forms.

In my practice over the years, I’ve come to notice that the overwhelming majority of folks have very specific desires, expectations, and visions they hope to impact with the inheritances they will leave behind to their heirs. Unfortunately, however, many haven't made those expectations clear to their beneficiaries. They’re just hoping that the inheritances will be put to good use.

As the evidence and my experience show, when folks don't have clear conversations with their heirs about prospective inheritances, those heirs tend to spend their bequests frivolously, so to speak. But then again, that shouldn’t be too surprising, should it? 

On the one hand, you could argue that its a gift, so your beneficiary should use the inheritance as he/she sees fit. Not to mention that you literally won’t be around to see what happens. If that’s your thought, you’d be absolutely correct. The point I’m trying to get across is just to make sure you’re okay with that – or start talking NOW!
________________ 
Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation with a financial professional who has your best interest at heart and who is willing to ask the tough questions to help you make a plan that will get you where you want to go. Youll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If youre ready, were here to help. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Are You Ready to Pull Back the Curtain on Your Retirement Savings?

Are you ready to pull back the curtain on your retirement savings?

Obviously saving any amount of money for your future is a good thing and definitely a step in the right direction. No question about that.

However, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me that just socking money away in your 401(k) or any other sort of retirement savings vehicles doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll hit your intended target unless you also take other deliberate steps. In this particular instance, it’s the deliberate step of ensuring that you are actually saving enough.

Far too often, I run into folks who have been saving for a lifetime but with such a huge gap between their intended output – in terms of what they expect to get out of their accounts – and their actual contributions. In almost every single instance I can recollect, when I inquire as to how they came up with the amount of their contributions over the years, the answers seem to suggest no deliberate planning of any sort.

Of course, at the end of the day, the situation on the ground as your life evolves will impact what you are able to do – or not do, for that matter. But the point is that we all need to know, depending on our specific circumstances and intended targets, how much it will take to get there. Just so we are clear, I’m not suggesting that you simply save more money. For all you know, based on your situation, you may be doing just fine or even be ahead of target. On the other hand, however, the opposite could be true – you may be way behind and not even know it. Unfortunately, that latter scenario seems to be norm for most folks.

Here’s the thing: not knowing whether or not you are saving enough, or by how much you are off or ahead, isn’t going to make anything better. It can only make things worse. Irrespective of where you are in life, I’d suggest you get to know – through deliberate planning, instead of the rule of thumb or your feelings – what you are facing and what it will take to get there.

My very best to you.
________________ 
Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation with a financial professional who has your best interest at heart and who is willing to ask the tough questions to help you make a plan that will get you where you want to go. Youll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If youre ready, were here to help. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Is Your Financial Advisor Watching You Break the Rules of Prudent Investing for Fear of Losing Paychecks?

Is your financial advisor watching you break the rules of prudent investing for fear of losing paychecks?


Do you have the kind of financial advisor who’ll always tell you what’s right and refuse to see you make moves with your portfolio that are imprudent, based on your circumstances? Or is your advisor of the breed – I’d even dare to say it’s where most advisors fall these days – who lets his/her clients make all the decisions regarding their portfolios, even down to specific asset class combinations, when its appropriate to rebalance, and everything in between? Personally I think thats a terrible – and incredibly unfortunate – mistake.

Now, dont get me wrong. Im by no means suggesting that you simply go hand over your hard-earned money to some guy or gal in a suit, sitting in an air conditioned office, and completely back off without any input whatsoever. Truth is, I wouldnt do that with my own money, so why would I expect you to invest that way?

But here’s my point. As an investor, you must have clear and specific input and expectations regarding what you want and do not want, for that matter, when it comes to your portfolio – things like how much volatility you can live with, etc. Even if youre not that specific, a good financial advisor must and will have a thorough discussion with you in order to understand at the deepest possible level your core vision, desires, concerns, and expectations so that he or she can help you put together the best possible portfolio to get the job done. In the end, you should know exactly why your money is invested in a certain way, what you can expect – both good and bad – and when and how changes are to be made. As a matter of fact, isn't this the exact reason financial advisers are paid in the first place?

Now contrast that with what seems to be the norm today, where the investor tells the advisor specifically what to buy or when they believe they should get in or out of specific investments. Let’s face it, most of this is based purely on emotions whipped up by what’s going on in the media.

Of course, I get it. The money belongs to the investor and he or she may decide to invest it as he or she pleases. But think about it. Would you prefer a doctor who lets you, as the patient, decide the exact prescription and dosage you should be taking?

Could it be that these so-called financial advisors who are leaving every decision completely up to the client are so concerned about maintaining their paychecks that they will do whatever makes the client feels good and happy? Are they so worried that the client might go somewhere else that they’d let them do whatever makes them happy in the moment, even if it could end up destroying the very wealth they’re trying to grow in the long run? Or it is that these advisors do not want to be held accountable for the very thing they’re paid to do, guiding clients to invest prudently, according to their specific circumstances?

Then again, if you skip the initial step I mentioned earlier and invest without having a clear-cut understanding of where you are headed and what you can expect, isn’t this the natural progression?
________________ 
Visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation with a financial professional who has your best interest at heart and who is willing to ask the tough questions to help you get where you want to go. Youll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If you're ready, were here to help. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Life Insurance Debate: Forget Everyone Else and Go with Your Guts

The Life Insurance Debate: Forget Everyone Else and Go with Your Guts
It’s my tradition during September, Life Insurance Awareness Month, to dedicate one of my columns to that subject. So let's talk about it from the standpoint of asking, “Is it really necessary for you to purchase life insurance?” and also address some of the reasons that folks who should purchase life insurance give for not doing so.

First, do you even need it? I know that there are several consumer schools of thought out there on this very issue, but throughout my years as an advisor in professional practice, I have arrived at what I like to refer to as the common-sense approach to money management.

In this particular instance, here’s how I’d put it: Life insurance simply pays money, upon your death, to someone you designate. Period. So, do you have someone or several folks who will still need the financial support you are presently providing, in case the unthinkable were to happen to you?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Am I telling you to go spend money on some life insurance which, in all likelihood, you might never end up using? Of course, you're probably going to live a good long life, but it's not as simple as that, is it? Personally, I think we should see life insurance premiums as not being about us, but as a representation of our commitment and responsibility to take care of our dependents financially. Just so we are crystal clear, I am not advocating running out to buy life insurance. Not at all. Instead, I want you to do what you feel in your gut is right for your family.

Now here's the thing I like to point out. Unfortunately, just as with many other things in life, there are some unscrupulous life insurance agents who are more focused on selling only whatever they have to offer so they can get paid, without regard for whether it's really appropriate to your specific need. However, the good news is there are also some decent, honest agents out there who can help you get exactly what you need to take care of your responsibility to your loved ones, so don't let the unscrupulous ones hold you back.

I wish you the very best of luck and a healthy long life with your family.
________________ 
If you'd like help to be sure your portfolio is properly diversified,  visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation. You'll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If you're ready, we're here to help. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Stock Market Probably Isn’t Going to Destroy Your Wealth – But This Certainly Will


The Stock Market Probably Isn’t Going to Destroy Your Wealth – But This Certainly Will

Let me admit right off the bat, the headline may sound a little out of the norm from what you may have heard, read about, and probably even come to accept about the stock market, especially in recent days. But take a deep breath and consider these fundamental truths.

First of all, it’s important for those of us who choose to invest in the stock market to remind ourselves of the reason that we made that decision, instead of investing in, say, a CD at our local bank or some sort of fixed annuity or any other alternative investment. At the very core of that decision must be the fact that the stock market is, by far, the greatest known wealth creation tool in the history of mankind, bar none. Nothing else legitimate even comes close.

But that is not all. We also know, without any shadow of a doubt, that the stock market – since its inception – has never moved in a vertical straight line. Things would be pretty nice and much, much easier if that were how it worked, wouldn’t you say? However, that’s not how it works. In fact, did you know that your financial advisor would face regulatory penalties if he/she were to give you the impression that your stock market portfolio could only go up? The simple reason for that being that such a suggestion would be misleading and set unrealistic expectations.

Here’s the normal thing about the stock market: sometimes it goes up and sometimes it dips. The other crucial thing to understand is that no financial advisor – or anyone you’ll see in the media, or anywhere on this planet, for that matter – can tell you exactly what the market is going to do next. Yes, no one knows!

The problem, in my humble opinion, is that most investors do not have prudent stock portfolios. They just buy something that sounds, looks, or feels good, without really making sure that it’s properly diversified to help them weather the storms that may come along. Although no one on the face of this planet can predict the future movements of the stock market, there is such a thing as an efficiently diversified portfolio that is custom-built to your investment temperament so to speak.

Here’re some recommendations to think about. If you don’t think you’re up to all these ups and downs, you should probably not be investing in the stock market at all. And I’m not trying to be sarcastic or anything here. If, on the other hand, you believe that over the long haul you’d be better off investing some of your money in the market, please make sure you talk with a financial professional who can help you to build an efficiently diversified portfolio with a standard deviation (amount of volatility) you can live with, and don't be surprised when the down moments come, because more likely than not they will.

And the most crucial thing of all is to make sure your advisor is someone who’ll keep you on your toes to stay the course with discipline. What does that mean? When the market tumbles, as it did in recent days, and panic sets in, does your advisor cave and do whatever you want done? Or does he/she remind you about the basics and see it as an opportunity to re-balance your portfolio?

Finally, whatever you decide to do, I hope you don't take your investing advice from Jim Cramer.
________________ 
If you'd like help to be sure your portfolio is properly diversified,  visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation. You'll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If you're ready, we're here to help. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

The ONE Inherited 401(k)/IRA Mistake that Could Be Your Worst IRS Nightmare

The One Inherited 401(k)/IRA Mistake that Could Be Your Worst IRS Nightmare

As the proverbial saying goes, “life happens.” And as part of the natural progression of life, sooner or later, we are all bound to lose someone near and dear  – and that person may have listed us as a non-spouse beneficiary of his/her 401(k), traditional IRA, or another kind of qualified plan.

 No, Im not trying to suggest what you should do with your inheritance. That will be totally up to you. However, if you intend to roll over money left to you in a qualified plan by someone other than your spouse, you must tread cautiously. And thats because the manner in which you go about it could land you in some very hot waters with the IRS.

Let me use this recent case involving one of our clients to illustrate my point. She recently lost her mom, of whose IRA she was the beneficiary. The custodian of the IRA sent her a check made out in her (the clients) name and explained to her that insofar as she deposited it in an IRA within 60 days, she would avoid having to pay taxes on the entire check, come tax time.

While that may sound like a pretty standard thing, it’s completely wrong, untrue, and inapplicable in this situation. The so-called “60-day-indirect-rollover” rule does not apply if you are a non-spouse beneficiary. What’s more, there’s no exception under the Tax Code – Section 408(d)(3)(c) – for non-spousal beneficiaries who accept checks made out in their names, even if you turn around and deposited it into an inherited IRA the very next moment.

So, but for the fact that my client has a pretty sharp advisor who knows what hes talking abouthey, its OK for yours truly to take some credit every now and thenshe would have been set up for a very nasty surprise come next April 15th when the IRS came knocking: that she would have to pay tax on her entire inheritance check. 

It was pretty obvious to me that whoever gave her the erroneous information was unfamiliar with the IRS rules, so I got on the phone with the custodian to get the situation sorted out and have a new check issued directly to the new custodian.

In a nutshell, heres what you should keep in mind. If someone other than your spouse leaves you money in a qualified plan and you intend to spread the tax burden over the longest possible time allowed by the IRS, your ONLY option is a direct-custodian-to-custodian rollover. And by the way, you should probably get yourself a pretty darn knowledgeable financial advisor, too!
________________ 
If you are ready to have a real conversation about how to start planning for your future  even if you haven't saved a penny yet  visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation. You'll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If you're ready, we're here to help. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Are You in Denial About Your Retirement?

Are You in Denial About Your Retirement?

According to the 51-page Retirement Security Report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), as recently as June 2015, among households headed by someone age 55 or older, about 29 percent don't have a retirement savings of their own or any form of employer pension. Just to reiterate, these forks have absolutely no savings whatsoever, anywhere.

And the situation is not much better among those 55+ households who do have some form of savings. On average, those between 55 and 64 have about $104,000 in savings, while those between 65 and 74 have about $148,000 saved for retirement. These balances translate into a monthly annuity payment of $310 and $649, respectively.

No matter how you look at it, these are very grim scenarios.

Of course these folks knew all along that they weren't going to keep working forever, even if that was what they were somehow hoping to do. In fact, I’d even bet that every single one of these well-meaning folks never intended to enter their retirement years in total financial disarray.

So what happened?

Obviously, there could be a million and one reasons why these folks are in the bind they find themselves at the latter end of their lives. But what you must realize is that although they intended for the best and hoped it would play out just as they wished, hoping and intending weren’t enough because they didn’t back them up with the right amount of action.

So how much importance do you attach to your retirement planning? Is retirement even that crucial to you? Do you have a specific plan in place to measure your progress in this regard? Or you are simply saving a little here and there and hoping that things will just turn out OK?

While most of us would agree that retirement planning in one of the things that should be at the top of our to-do list, unfortunately the evidence in real life, as seen by the GAO report I referenced earlier, proves otherwise. A staggering number Americans are increasingly relegating retirement planning to the bottom of their to-do lists and are not taking it seriously enough. I’m hoping you hear this message loud and clear, because the last thing you want to be is a broke retiree.

Happy retirement.
________________ 
If you are ready to have a real conversation about how to start planning for your retirement  even if you haven't saved a penny yet  visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation. You'll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure retirement, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If you're ready, we're here to help. 

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.
________________ 
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.
________________ 
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