Are we living in the United States of Amnesia?

It was announced last week that Americans’ wealth reached a record high, thanks to a surge in the value of stocks and homes.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but here’s a news flash: You haven’t made a penny in the stock market!

torn paper

We’ve been here before…

Just like those glowing reports about how much Americans’ wealth had ballooned prior to the last financial crash, the new reports are pure fiction. Until you sell your assets and lock in your (hopefully) gains, you have nothing more than a bunch of eye-popping numbers on paper. Those numbers repeatedly sucker many of us into believing we have real wealth and financial security when we do not.

There’s a big difference between paper wealth and real wealth. Do you remember the go-go years of the dot-com bubble? I do. My husband Larry and I got into checking our retirement account almost every day because it was growing that fast. Yahoo! Some weeks we’d see such an enormous jump that we’d high-five each other shouting, “We’re rich! We’re rich!”

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Money and Investing IQ Contest Results

The results of our “Test Your Money and Investing IQ” blog contest are in – once again proving that we have a lot of smart subscribers!

But some of these questions about key money and finance basics tripped up some of our readers – almost no one got all five answers right. Making financial decisions without knowing the correct answer to even one of these questions can easily shave six figures or more off your lifetime wealth.

So I urge you to pay close attention to the correct answers below. You’ll also find a list of our six contest winners at the end of this post.

Here are the correct answers given by readers to the five questions…

Question #1: If you finance a $30,000 car through a finance company, your actual cost for the car is the money you spend on it, plus the interest you pay, less the value of your trade-in at the end of your loan repayment period.

If you pay cash for a car, what’s your actual cost for the car?
Finance major purchases like cars through Bank on Yourself method to save and make money

Answer: Joe Goldsmith pointed out what many people with alphabet soup after their name don’t get – that “paying cash for the car is just another form of financing.”

John Nicholson summed it up succinctly: “If you pay $30,000 cash for a car, your actual cost is the money you spent on the car, less the trade-in value at the end of the period, plus the opportunity cost – the loss of interest that the $30,000 could have earned.”

Perry Blouin went on to calculate the enormity of the total loss you could have over 40 years because of this “opportunity cost.” And Valerie Coffman noted, “If you use a Bank On Yourself policy (to pay for the car), you make money as if you never took it out, and you make money on yourself when you pay it back. Awesome!”

As Eric pointed out, “with Bank On Yourself, you accumulate the $30,000 and when it comes time for your vehicle purchase, request a check from the insurance company, receive it within 48-72 hours and then be ready to negotiate with the car dealership.”

Using your Bank On Yourself policy to pay for major purchases also gives you access to money on your terms rather than someone else’s. You can pay it back on your own schedule without worrying about bill collectors, late fees or black marks on your credit report. It beats financing, leasing or even directly paying cash for things by a long shot.

To find out how much more lifetime wealth you could enjoy – simply by using the Bank On Yourself method to make major purchases versus the other options available to you, request a FREE no-obligation Analysis that will show you your bottom-line results. I think you’ll be amazed!

Unlike stock marketing, Bank on Yourself method does not rely on sale of asset to deliver profits

Question #2: If you have a $20 stock and it goes up by 40%, how much money did you make on that stock? (Hint: This is about a key financial principle, not a math question.)

Answer: The talking heads on Wall Street NEVER get this one and do their best to make sure you don’t figure out the blindingly obvious answer to this question!

As Ruth noted,

You don’t make any money until you actually sell your stock.”

Likewise, it makes me crazy when people talk about how much value their home has lost since the real estate bubble burst. You don’t have a REAL gain (or loss) until you sell an asset and lock your profits in.

Which is in stark contrast to the Bank On Yourself method. The gains you receive each year (guaranteed and predictable) are locked in the moment they’re credited to your policy. As for losses… well, there aren’t any. This is based on an asset class that has increased in value every year for over 160 years!

Question #3: According to Morningstar, Inc., the top-performing mutual fund for the last decade (ending December 31, 2009) enjoyed an 18% annual return.

However, the typical investor in that fund wasn’t so fortunate.

What was the annual return of the typical investor in that top-performing fund? And why was their return so different from the return reported by the fund?

Answer: Only one person – Raymond Trembath – nailed the shocking correct answer to this question (no one else came even close), and he also noted the reasons why:

“The typical investor in the best performing mutual fund of the last decade lost 11% annually, even though the fund itself rose by more than 18% annually. The reason this could happen is that all mutual funds are legally allowed only to advertise the results of their ‘buy and hold’ investors, in spite of the fact that long-term mutual funds tend to be held for less than half a decade!”

Doesn’t this typify the smoke and mirrors that the Wall Street Casino uses to pull the wool over our eyes?

If you find it hard to believe that the results mutual funds report could be so different than the results the investors in those funds get, I urge you to read the article supporting this from the Wall Street Journal.

The ultimate financial security blanket

Did you know that the Bank On Yourself wealth-building method has NEVER had a losing year? Used by Walt Disney and J.C. Penney, it has stood the test of time for more than 160 years.

To find out how you can grow your nest-egg safely and predictably, even when stocks real estate and other investments tumble… and how much money you could have – GUARANTEED – on the day you plan to retire, request your FREE no-obligation Analysis and Recommendations now.

You’ll also get a referral to a Bank On Yourself Authorized Advisor who can help you find money you didn’t know you had to fund your plan.

	mutual funds and investment experts are human too and sometimes make mistakesQuestion #4: What percentage of mutual funds, financial advisors and investment advisory services underperform the overall market? And why?

Answer: Nick H. hit this one spot on when he said, “80% per Hulbert Financial Digest.”

And it’s not just because of the fees they charge. It’s because all the “experts” are humans, too, and are “predictably irrational,” buying and selling at the wrong times.

Question #5: You could have $10,000 in a mutual fund that reports an average annual return of 25% for four years… and at the end of the fourth year end up with only the $10,000 you started with.

How is that possible?

Answer: Doc Youngblood’s little story was such a great, entertaining explanation of this, I decided to include his response in full:

“How is it possible to have $10,000 in a mutual fund that reports an average annual return of 25% for four years… and at the end of the fourth year you end up with only the $10,000 you started with?

The key to the question’s answer is hidden in this short, simple story, but hidden in plain sight for those willing to see.

And the story? You’ll like this I promise—no animals were hurt during its filming.

rubber duck in a sea of cashImagine we are duck hunting and I shoot. I miss by a foot behind the duck. So I quickly aim and shoot again. I miss by a foot in front of the duck.

By the law of averages, I hit a bulls eye. By the law of dinner, my plate is still empty.

So, if your mutual fund reports an average annual return of 25% for four years, does that mean you’ve got more money in your account?

Let’s play:

Year One: Year Two: Year Three: Year Four:
Starting balance: $10,000 Starting balance: $20,000 Starting balance: $10,000 Starting balance: $20,000
Change: +100% Change: -50% Change: +100% Change: -50%
Ending Balance: $20,000
(woo-hoo!)
Ending Balance: $10,000
(ah well, at least I didn’t lose my initial investment)
Ending Balance: $20,000
(hmm. . .it’s like déjà vu)
Ending Balance: $10,000
(can anyone say, “spinning my wheels”?)

Four years later you still have a $10,000 balance. But not once did the rate of return equal 25%. Here’s the percent change for each year: 100-50+100-50. So we add that up (100%) and then we divide that by four years to show our average rate of return is 25% for four years.

Wait! A 25% average rate of return is supposed to be a great thing, right?

Follow the cash in the example above—did the cash increase? The numbers above show one scenario with a 25% average rate of return and ending up with exactly the same money you started with.investor hiding from reality

However, 25% annual compound interest is a great thing. Take a look:

Year One: $10,000 becomes $12,500 at 25% compound interest.
Year Two: $12,500 becomes $15,625
Year Three: $15,625 becomes $19,531.25
Year Four: $19,531.25 becomes $24,414.06

Were you like me and confused about the two definitions? It’s very common to confuse them AND to assume that the average rate of return is a linear type of activity, one year after the next being the same. Average rate of return and compound interest are not the same.”

(For the record, you’ll find no smoke and mirrors when you see the bottom line numbers and results you could get when you add Bank On Yourself to your financial plan.)

Now for the list of our six contest winners…

There were so many insightful answers that it was hard to pick out only six winners. (All are being notified by email.)

The best entry, picked by our Bank On Yourself team, is Doc Youngblood, who wins a $100 Amazon Gift Card! (Doc – I guess you can tell your wife she was right!)

And the two runners up, who’ll get their choice of a $25 Dining Gift Certificate or a personally autographed copy of my best-selling book, Bank On Yourself: The Life Changing Secret to Growing and Protecting Your Financial Future, are:

1. Eric

2. Raymond Trembath

k on Yourself Test Your Money and Investment IQ contest winners and their prizesThere were also three winners who got at least one question right, who were randomly chosen to win prizes. The winner of the second $100 Amazon Gift Card is Robert N.

And the two randomly chosen winners who’ll get their choice of a $25 Dining Gift Certificate or a personally autographed copy of my book are:

1. Carl Schoner

2. Rita

Thanks to everyone who participated in this blog contest. You are all winners for thinking – and seeing – through the conventional wisdom about money and finances that has cost so many people so much in lost money, lost time and broken dreams.

Bank On Yourself Round-Up for week of July 13, 2011

Here are short summaries of three of the most interesting and thought-provoking items that have crossed my desk this week.  Enjoy… and tell us what you think!roundup

Would you be prepared if you suffered a 30% pay cut?

A shocking new report reveals that the average person’s pay levels off when they’re in their 40′s.  After that, about all you’ll be likely to count on will be cost-of-living adjustments to keep pace with inflation.

That will come as a real surprise to many people who assume their pay will continue to rise as they get older.

And if you lose your job while in your 50′s, you’re likely to remain jobless longer than when you were younger, according to the report.

Salary CutRead this sobering and well documented article from the Wall Street Journal.1

What’s your best self-defense?  When planning for retirement, assume the only salary increases you’ll get will be cost-of-living adjustments.  And identify a worse-case scenario – such as a 20% pay cut during your final ten years in the workforce – and try living on that income and putting the rest into savings.

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Bank On Yourself Round-Up for Week of June 9, 2011

I hope you enjoy these short summaries of three of the most interesting and thought-provoking items that have crossed my desk this week…

roundup

Brave new world of financial planning?

Can a new blood test tell you how long you’ll live?  And if you knew how long you would live, would you change your financial life?

A blood test showing how fast people are aging will go on sale over the counter in Britain later this year.  It measures the length of your “telomeres,” structures at the tips of your chromosomes.  Scientists now believe these are the most accurate measure of how quickly you’re aging.

Financial planners say the test could add more science to their practice.1

As one financial planner noted…

From a financial point of view, it would be great information to have.  But from a psychological standpoint – that’s a hard question.  I don’t think I would want to know.  I think it would make me depressed.”

How would you feel about knowing when you’re likely to die?  And how would your financial decisions change as a result?

Tell us in the comments box below…

New Research:  Most Americans in deep financial hole

The financial status of American households may be even darker than we thought, according to a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.2

Some of the highlights (or should we say “lowlights”) include:

Bank On Yourself Round-Up for Week of June 3, 2011

roundupHere are summaries of four of the most interesting and thought-provoking items that have crossed my desk this week…

Forbes Magazine Shocker:  Why your 401(k) isn’t what it’s cracked up to be!

A stunning article appeared in this week’s Forbes.1 Here are a few of the revelations you absolutely must know about, if you participate in a 401(k):

  • On average, participants in small plans (which includes 90% of all employees) pay 1.9% in fees annually!
  • Even paying fees of just 1.5% could wipe out one-third of your nest-egg
  • In spite of all the noise about “fixing” the 401(k) through new disclosure rules that will be going into effect, they “could cause some 401(k) services to get even more costly.”

 

Why you need an 8-10% annual return just to break even in your 401(k)…

It’s all documented in this 401(k) exposé I co-wrote with Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Dean Rotbart. You owe it to yourself to have the facts!

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Bank On Yourself Round-Up for Week of May 25, 2011

Here are summaries of four of the most interesting and thought-provoking items that have crossed my desk this week…roundup

Is a “look out below” stock market crash looming?

By some key measures it is – corporate profits have only commanded as large a share of national income twice before – in 1929 and 2006, and those years preceded the past century’s two worst  financial collapses.

Knowledge is power, so I encourage you to read this article on The Invisible Stock Bubble1 from SmartMoney.com.

Want to eliminate market risk from your financial plan?

It’s easier to do than you might think. Find out more about an asset class that has increased in value every single year for over 160 years.

Pamela Yellen interviewed on NPR:  Teach teens how to manage money

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Beware the "Behavior Gap": Interview with Carl Richards

I’m delighted to share this fascinating interview with Carl Richards with you.  Carl writes a weekly essay for The New York Times “Your Money” section and has been a Certified Financial Planner for 15 years.  His witty sketches have appeared in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Morningstar and The New York Times.

Carl Richards

Carl Richards, the Behavior Gap™

Over the years, he noticed that the actual real-life returns the average investor gets are dramatically lower than the return of the average mutual fund.  He named this phenomenon the Behavior GapTM and began devoting his energy to explaining why the Behavior Gap exists and what constitutes smart investor behavior.

Carl recently shared his surprising insights, tips and strategies with me in an audio interview.  I hope you’ll listen to it today – I know you will find it very helpful!

You can listen to the interview by pressing the play button below, or you can download the entire interview as an Mp3 and listen on your own player or iPod…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can also download a transcript of the interview here.

Here’s what you’ll discover in this interview…

  • Why 80% of all actively managed mutual funds and investment advisors underperform the overall market
  • The #1 biggest mistake individual investors make over and over again… and why most will keep making it
  • The keys to being a smart investor
  • How to determine if you should be investing in equities at allfear-greed-cycle-high
  • The real key to happiness (it isn’t what you might think!)
  • How to practice “radical self-awareness” so you control your money rather than letting it controlling you
  • Why happiness is directly related to how much you focus on the things you can control
  • How to increase your wealth and happiness by focusing your energy on three things you do have control over!

You can listen to the interview by pressing the play button below, or you can download the entire interview as an MP3 and listen on your own player or iPod…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can also download a transcript of the interview here.

Improve Your Financial Picture…

To find out how much your financial picture could improve if you added Bank On Yourself to your financial plan, request a free Analysis. If you’re wondering where you’ll find the funds to start your plan, the Bank On Yourself Authorized Advisors are masters at helping people restructure their finances and free up seed money to fund a plan that will help you reach as many of your goals as possible in the shortest time possible.

Retiring Boomers' Savings Fall Far Short

“The 401k generation is beginning to retire, and it isn’t a pretty sight.”

That’s the conclusion of a recent Wall Street Journal study.1 But the most shocking revelation is just how big the gap is between how much retirement income people will need to maintain their standard of living… and how much they’ve actually saved:

Many have less than one-quarter of what they’ll need

And how are they dealing with this challenge?

Facing shortfalls, many are postponing retirement, moving to cheaper housing, buying less-expensive food, cutting back on travel, taking bigger risks with their investments and making other sacrifices they never imagined.” 1

Sad Baby BoomerLike Carol Dailey, who is continuing to work at age 71 because her 401(k) took a hit in the 2008 market crash.  She also cut back spending for entertainment and food, and is substituting boxed wine for the ones she used to enjoy from her favorite vineyards.

Her financial advisor is planning to help her be able to retire by shifting her assets into riskier investments that can “return 10% a year.”

Hmmm… I wonder if that’s the same financial advisor who advised her on where to invest her money prior to the 2008 market plunge?

If people could take more risk, and do it successfully, why haven’t they been doing that all along?

Isn’t that the classic definition of insanity?

How much more evidence do we need to know that 401(k)’s and “doing all the right things we were told to do financially” aren’t working?

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Wall Street Journal Exposes Stock Market Myths!

A very revealing article appeared in the Sunday, July 25 edition of the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Ten Stock-Market Myths that Just Won’t Die.”

Maybe you don’t quite believe what I’ve been saying for years.  This article confirms exactly what I’ve been trying to tell you…

WSJ 10 Stock-Market Myths That Just Won't Die

This article is must-reading for anyone who’s been scratching their head and wondering…

If what they say about the long-term returns you should be able to get in the stock market is true, how come I’m not rich?!?

Please pay particular attention to…

Myth #1: “This is a good time to invest in the stock market”

Myth #2: “Stocks on average make about 10% a year”

And the article author’s insight into Myth #10: “Stocks outperform over the long term” is priceless.

I’ve quoted many sources confirming what this Wall Street Journal article says.  How many more sources do you need to hear it from, before you request a free Analysis that will show you how much your financial picture could improve if you added Bank On Yourself to your financial plan?gambling with your financial future and start knowing how good it could be!

Dow 36,000? What were they smoking?

Ten years ago this week, the book, “Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market” was published.dow_36000_1

It became a best-seller. And, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Lessons of a Bull Market That Never Happened” (9/20/09):

Back then, the only people subject to sustained derision on Wall Street were those who dissented. Anyone who warned that shares might disappoint was ignored. The few predicting a crash — let alone two — were considered cranks.

Yet, in spite of the current stock market rally – one of the steepest in history – the Dow is STILL below where it stood in September 1999!

How many times during those years were your hopes raised, only to be dashed again and again?

Wall Street has some “dirty little secrets” they don’t want you to know about, but I reveal them all here.

Interestingly, one of the authors of that book recently said he still believes the Dow will hit 36,000.  Meanwhile, there’s some guy now predicting the Dow will go down to 1,000!

What do YOU think will happen… and why? You can voice your thoughts below…