Personal Finance Blog for Retirement and Investment Advice

Dalbar 2016 Report: Many Investors Haven’t Even Kept Up With Inflation

The latest report from DALBAR reveals the harsh reality about the actual returns stock market investors have been getting for the last 30 years.

Would it surprise you to know that many investors haven’t even been able to keep up with inflation for the last three decades?

Many investors haven’t, according to the 2016 Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior.

Here are the facts about actual long-term investor returns

The average investor in asset allocation mutual funds (which spread your money among a variety of classes) earned only 1.65% per year over the last three decades!

These investors didn’t even come close to beating inflation, which averaged 2.6% per year.

The average investor in equity mutual funds averaged only 3.66% per yearbeating inflation by only 1% per year. (Was that worth the roller-coaster ride and sleepless nights?)

And the news just gets worse: The 3.66% return investors in equity funds got over the last 30 years was about two thirds less than the return of the S&P 500 index over that period!

Pity those who invested in fixed-income funds. They only managed to eke out a .59% annual return, significantly trailing inflation and getting only a tiny fraction of the return of the corresponding benchmark.

Of course, if you’re investing in a tax-deferred account like a 401(k), IRA, or 403(b), you’re also paying hefty fees, AND you’ll have to pay taxes when you start taking income. And that can easily wipe out another 30-50% of the meager returns you managed to eke out.

All of which makes it abundantly clear that if you have much of your hard-earned savings invested in the market, you’re only fooling yourself if you believe you are growing real wealth in the Wall Street Casino, when the reality is that you may be digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole you may never be able to climb out of.

The Conclusion of This New Report is That…

The results consistently show that the average investor earns less – in many cases, much less – than mutual fund performance reports would suggest.”

After decades of analyzing investor behavior in good times and bad, DALBAR concludes that, “Investor behavior is not simply buying and selling at the wrong time, it is the psychological traps, triggers and misconceptions that cause investors to act irrationally.”

Among those psychological traps and triggers, they cite:

  • Loss Aversion – expecting to find high returns with low risk (yeah – and I’ve got a gold Rolex watch I’ll sell you for $10…)
  • Optimism – belief that good things happen to you and bad things happen to others
  • “Herding” – copying the behavior of others even in the face of unfavorable outcomes

If you’re sick and tired of rolling the dice in the crazy-making Wall Street Casino, there is a proven alternative…

The Bank On Yourself method has never had a losing year in its more-than 160-year history.

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The Bank On Yourself strategy gives you an unbeatable combination of advantages, which include guaranteed growth, safety, liquidity, access, control of your money, plus numerous tax benefits.

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Yellow-Button-FREEanalysis-trans

What’s In “The Big Black Book of Income Secrets”?

If you receive emails from investment advisory services, you may have gotten a sales pitch for The Big Black Book of Income Secrets from the Palm Beach Research Group.

The promo promises you’ll discover “30 unique income tools” in The Big Black Book of Income Secrets.

The offer entices you with a “risk-free 60-day trial subscription to the Palm Beach Letter.” If you’re not satisfied before the two-month trial is up, you’re told you can get a refund and keep the book and some “bonus” reports that are included in the offer.

To find out if The Big Black Book of Income Secrets lived up to its promises, we signed up for the “Platinum Subscription” for $99 for the first year, which comes with additional “bonus” reports.

Three weeks later, the book arrived, containing 22 (not 30 as promised) strategies, with a cover letter from the Publisher, Tom Dyson, explaining that we could log into their website to access the reports we signed on for and back issues of the Palm Beach Letter. (I guess for $99, they can’t afford to mail you hard copies of the reports.)

The First Red Flag in The Big Black Book of Income Secrets is “Income For Life”

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Do You Have As Much Saved for Retirement As the Average Person?

How do you think you compare to other people when it comes to how much you’ve saved for retirement?

The results of a new survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) reveal some surprising insights into America’s preparedness for retirement.

Read on for the highlights of the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey and a 6-Step Action Blueprint to make sure your money lasts as long as you do…

The survey revealed that 54% of all workers report less than $25,000 in household savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home.

That includes 26% who say they have less than $1,000 in savings.

10% have between $25,000-$49,999 saved, 10% have between $50,000 and $99,999 saved, and 12% have between $100,000-$249,999.

And how many have saved $250,000 or more? Just 14%.

Are people close to retirement any better prepared?

[Read more…]

The Ticking Tax Time-Bomb of Conventional Retirement Plans

One of the biggest selling points of 401(k) and IRA retirement plans is that the money you put into them isn’t taxed right away. Bring out the bubbly to celebrate, right?!

Not so fast.

First of all, some people – hopefully not you! – mistakenly believe money placed into these retirement plans is “tax free.” It isn’t. It is “tax deferred,” meaning that you will pay tax on that money when you withdraw from your retirement plan down the line.

Deferred taxes might sound good, but deferring your taxes is like putting off a visit to the dentist. The problem compounds and will only get worse.

Deferring taxes creates a dangerous potential tax time bomb because you don’t have the answers to two critical questions…

First, what will the tax rates be when you retire? And what will they be 20 or 30 years later?

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Is Your Money Frozen in Your Retirement Plan?

One of my biggest beefs with government-controlled retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, 403(b)s and Roth Plans, is the total lack of liquidity. The money you’ve socked away in your conventional retirement plan is about as solidly frozen as the iceberg that sank the Titanic! And because of this, if your financial ship hits rough waters, you might end up sinking as well.

Here’s the critical question: How quickly and easily can you get your hands on all the money in your retirement account if you need it before age 59½?

We all know life happens. Cars break down. Roofs need replacing. A tough medical diagnosis can create mountains of unexpected bills to pay.

Every year many participants in employer-sponsored government-controlled retirement plans make early withdrawals for a number of reasons. And every year, the IRS collects penalties related to those early withdrawals.

In fact, in the last year for which statistics are available, the Internal Revenue Service collected $5.7 billion dollars in penalties from Americans who took out $57 billion from their retirement funds before they were supposed to. [Read more…]

Who’s Got Control of Your Retirement Plan?

Do you remember playing with that kid in the neighborhood who set up a game, and then changed the rules as the game went on to suit himself? Just like those games, you’ll never come out winning with your retirement plan if someone else sets – and constantly changes – the rules!

Here’s one of those inconvenient truths: When your retirement savings are in a government-controlled plan sponsored by your employer, your employer can change the rules at any time. And so can the government.

Despite the mass of paperwork your employer handed you when you first began your retirement plan, your employer’s retirement plan rules are not set in concrete. Employers can change their rules, even in midstream.

For example, not too long ago, IBM decided to change its retirement plan rules. Up until that time, IBM gave employees their 401(k) match with each pay check. But some smart bean counter pointed out that Big Blue could save a bundle if they waited to give the match until the very last day of the year instead of throughout the year.

So what’s the big deal?

[Read more…]

What Infinite Banking and Nelson Nash Missed

I am infinitely grateful to Nelson Nash for introducing me to the Infinite Banking Concept®. It’s a very powerful concept that brings to the table Nelson’s life-long study of the Austrian School of Economics.

In this article, I described what Nelson got right about this concept, and my own life-changing experience of how it lets you “Become Your Own Banker.”

However, here are several things in his ground-breaking book that I take issue with, and that have caused unnecessary confusion for readers…

1. His first book, Becoming Your Own Banker®, was copyrighted in 2000.

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What Nelson Nash and Infinite Banking Got Right

My introduction to Nelson Nash and the Infinite Banking Concept® was a major turning point in my life.

Up until then, I was a business-building consultant to financial advisors. The advisors I coached were always bringing financial products and strategies to my attention, and over the last 25 years, I’ve investigated more than 450 of them.

Unfortunately, most turned out not to be worth the paper they were printed on.

Finally, one financial advisor asked me if I had ever heard of Nelson Nash, and the book he wrote, Becoming Your Own Banker: The Infinite Banking Concept.

I had not, but it sounded very intriguing, so I called and talked to Nelson and ordered a copy of his book. [Read more…]

Who’s the Bozo Administering Your Retirement Plan?

When you have a plumbing issue, you call in a qualified plumber, right? When you need a medical procedure, don’t you want a qualified doctor? When you go to get your car fixed, aren’t you going to hand it over to a qualified mechanic?

So why would you turn your retirement plan over to an unqualified administrator?

Wait! You didn’t know that you’ve placed your hard earned retirement money in the hands of someone who very likely doesn’t know what they’re doing? It’s one of the common retirement planning traps I’ve been covering in this blog.

According to SmartMoney magazine, 90% of the country’s 401(k) plans are watched over by people who “need no special qualifications and no investing expertise or experience.” [Read more…]

How Hidden Fees Are Sabotaging Your Retirement Plan

In my first blog about costly retirement planning traps, I explained how conventional retirement plans put you in jeopardy of losing money you absolutely cannot afford to lose. Just because all the other lemmings choose to dive over the cliff, doesn’t mean you have to!

Now let’s look at the gremlins of conventional retirement plans that are decimating the nest egg you’re trying to build: FEES.

Do you even know how much you’re paying in fees each year for your retirement account? If you’re like most Americans, you don’t have a clue. The Employee Benefit Research Institute found that only half of 401(k) plan participants even noticed the fee information stuffed in the 14-page disclosure (that requires a magnifying glass to read and 3 years of law school to understand).

And almost no one makes any changes to their plan if they do read the fee disclosures.

Most folks just don’t think fees are all that important. Or, they think they’re unavoidable – sort of like death and taxes.

Wrong on both counts!

[Read more…]