Personal Finance Blog for Retirement and Investment Advice

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”

Income for Life is Palm Beach Letter’s flagship “secret.” And the book devotes all 34 pages of Chapter 1 to it.

The Income for Life chapter, written by the Publisher, Tom Dyson, claims it’s…

The Most Underground Income Investment I’ve Ever Seen”

And Dyson notes, “The only way you’d ever hear about it is if you stumbled onto it by accident.”

Really?!?

I’ve spent the last 15 years popularizing this strategy under the name “Bank On Yourself,” and writing not one, but two New York Times best-selling books on the topic!

In addition, Bank On Yourself has been featured on thousands of major websites and publications, including Bloomberg Businessweek, Associated Press, Yahoo Finance, Fox News and AARP. I’ve been interviewed on the topic on every major TV and radio network.

As a result, our surveys show that around three out of every ten people in the U.S. have heard of Bank On Yourself. Depending on how sassy I’m feeling, if I talk to someone who says they haven’t heard of it, I’ll ask what rock they’ve been hiding under.

And certainly some of the other strategies in The Big Black Book of Income Secrets are not “secret,” either.

How “secret” are strategies like reverse mortgages (you may have even seen me on TV as a spokesperson for a major reverse mortgage company), rental real estate, various types of annuities and making money from your skills by posting your services on websites that match people looking for freelancers with people offering services?

But the Palm Beach Letter is a marketing machine that can afford to hire the very best sales copywriters whose job it is to get you hooked on paying for their investment advisory services, so they can sell more products and services to you at higher prices (some of their services sell for up to $5,000 a pop) the moment you take that first bait.

That’s why their initial offers start as low as $4.95, or $49 or $99. (Palm Beach Letter is part of Agora Publishing, one of the most successful, profitable newsletter companies around. I was Editor-In-Chief for one of Agora’s publications for a year, and got an insider’s look at how they work.)

You could pay $10 to get my latest best seller on this strategy OR you could learn everything you need to know about it for FREE. Just download a free chapter from my latest book and a free Special Report here.

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I did see some stock-picking strategies in the book that I wasn’t familiar with – more on that in a moment…

We’ve already established that many of the strategies in The Big Black Book of Income Secrets are not really secrets. But what about the accuracy of the information contained in the book? Can you count on the information you’ll find in it?

That’s the Second Red Flag in The Big Black Book of Income Secrets

For example, I quickly skimmed the chapter on reverse mortgages, since I’m very familiar with them, and on page 139, they tell you to “get advice from a counselor (a free service).”

You’re required to get counseling from an approved service for most, if not all, reverse mortgages. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the cost for this required housing counselor session runs about $125. The fee is waived, however, if your income is less than twice the poverty level.

And in chapter 7 on Multi-Year Guaranteed Annuities, they claim that advisors don’t bother selling them because the commissions are so low, averaging “1% or less.”

So we did our own research and could find just one company paying only a 1% commission on a 3 year annuity, but that company didn’t pay the highest rate. And on the 5 year annuity, the commissions ranged between 2.25%-4%, not the 1% or less claimed in the book. Again, the lowest commission product didn’t pay the highest rate.

Maybe those are nit-picking points, but the information Palm Beach Letter provides on Income for Life (most popularly known as Bank On Yourself, which I am intimately familiar with) has some serious inaccuracies that I’ve written about on this blog.

Over the last few years, Palm Beach Letter has used other names to describe and promote this strategy, to keep it mysterious, so that people feel compelled to pay for their publications, in order to find out what the “big secret” is.

I wrote about this when they were promoting it as the “Secret 770 Account.” In that article, I discuss four things Palm Beach Letter got wrong about this strategy, such as claiming you receive a “contractually guaranteed minimum growth rate of 4%.”

That’s both inaccurate and misleading, as I explain in my article on the 770 account.

When promoting this strategy as the 770 Account lost steam, they renamed it. Read what I wrote about “President Reagan’s Secret 702(j) Retirement Plan” for details.

So, for these reasons, I have a hard time putting full faith in the rest of the information in The Big Black Book of Income Secrets.

What About the Stock Picking Strategies in The Big Black Book of Income Secrets?

Let’s take a look at Chapter 10 on “The 3-Minute Money Primer,” about “how to earn safe income with options.”

In this section, they introduce you to the “COIN proprietary screening method,” which lets you “make trades in just three minutes,” once you learn how to do it.

They then give you a list of 30 “elite stocks” to use for potential trades – all household names like American Express, Google and Wal-Mart – and then show you “three simple steps” to use to narrow down the list.

Then they give you guidelines to use to narrow down the list, such as the P/E ratio should be cheaper than the market’s P/E ratio, and why you should consider buying a stock after a damaging news story appears about it.

Then they walk you through 12 steps to track the 30 elite stocks on Yahoo Finance. And once you’ve narrowed the field down to three stocks, you’re given 6 metrics to use to compare the stocks, such as time in trade, cushion and open interest.

Now you’re ready to make a trade.

WHEW!!! It’s enough to make your eyes cross!

You really have to wonder what percentage of the Palm Beach Letter’s subscribers actually use these strategies

I’m guessing it’s a pretty small percentage.

It also appears to contradict what Tom Dyson claims on page 27 that they “hate complexity. One of the rules [we] established when we first started was we’d never recommend anything we couldn’t understand and explain in simple terms.”

The Palm Beach Group provides a lot of testimonials for its strategies, but each only contains a first name and last initial, which shoots a big hole in their credibility. Most people who are happy with a company’s services are fine with using their full identity. Check out the success stories from happy Bank On Yourself customers here to see what I mean.

There are several multiple-step strategies covered in the book, like the 3-Minute Money Primer.

So, is The Big Black Book of Income Secrets right for you? It depends. If you like and will actually implement multi-step stock picking strategies, and are okay with the possibility that there may be some inaccuracies and misstatements, the book does cover strategies that, for the most part, are safer than many strategies you typically hear about.

But if you do sign up, be prepared for a barrage of emails designed to get you to spend more money on the Palm Beach Letter’s many services.

And if you want the straight scoop on the Income for Life Strategy, and access to the most highly trained and knowledgeable network of advisors qualified to help you implement the strategy properly, you’re in the right place.

Get a FREE No-Obligation Analysis from an Authorized Advisor

It’s easy to find out what your bottom-line numbers and results could be if you added the Income for Life or Bank On Yourself strategy to your financial plan. Just request your FREE, no-obligation Analysis.

You’ll get a referral to one of only 200 advisors in the U.S. and Canada who have met the rigorous requirements to be a Bank On Yourself Authorized Advisor. They’ll structure your plan correctly to maximize the growth of your cash value and show you how to potentially add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your lifetime wealth, simply by changing the way you make major purchases. They’ll also answer all your questions. Take the first step here:

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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?

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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…]

The Movie You MUST See If Your Money is in the Market

You probably already know – or at least strongly suspect – that Wall Street is rigged. And not in favor of the little guys and gals like us.

But this blog post should lay any doubt about that to rest…

Let’s start with the movie you must see if you have any money invested in the market (or need a reminder of why you yanked it out in the first place).

The Big Short is based on the New York Times best seller by Michael Lewis. The main characters are played by Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell.

the-big-shortIt recounts the story of a handful of Wall Street traders who (ultimately) made a fortune by betting against the mortgages that caused the housing bubble… and subsequent crash and Great Recession. [Read more…]