Personal Finance Blog for Retirement and Investment Advice

How to Rescue Your Retirement from “Black Swan” Events that Can Scramble Your Retirement Plans

Did you see the coronavirus pandemic coming?

Did you anticipate the disruptions to travel, schools closing, major events being canceled, quarantines, cities and states declaring states of emergency, employees told not to come into work, and chaos at stores as people panic to buy necessities?

Did you expect the Saudis and Russia would start an oil price warprecisely as panic over COVID-19 was reaching a fever pitch – causing crude oil prices to collapse in the biggest one-day move in 30 years?

Did you see it coming that investors would wake up on March 9 drowning in so much fear that panic selling in the market caused a “circuit breaker” to trip and halt trading for 15 minutes, to hopefully allow panic to subside?

You most likely didn’t anticipate any of these things happening now. They are all “Black Swans” – events that come seemingly out of the blue and that you could not foresee or guard against.

It’s been a heart-stopping wake-up call for investors who had become complacent after an 11-year bull market, believing the market only goes up. We’ve learned this lesson the hard way before…

The Stock Market is a Beast You Can’t Predict or Control – It Never Has Been and Never Will Be

It wouldn’t be so scary if it weren’t for the fact that most Americans have very little savings outside of the market, according to the Federal Reserve.

This leaves many people worrying over just how badly their retirement plans have been scuttled.

And we don’t even know if the market sell-off we’ve experienced so far is just the start of a look-out-below plunge, as happened in 2008 and 2000. Could it turn your 401(k) into a 201(k)? Who knows!

The government is looking at ways to stimulate the economy now, such as a payroll tax cut. That will goose the market – at least temporarily – but it’s not going to cure the coronavirus. It’s not going to get people to jump on planes. And it’s not going to make the Saudis and Russia play nice.

And why should the price of oil or an epidemic have any impact on your retirement savings anyway?

We are in uncharted territory and no one truly knows where this mess we’re in will end up.

As you know, the classic definition of insanity is to continue to do things the same way with an expectation of different results. How much of your hard-earned dollars do you want to throw down the hope-and-pray hole?

Life has plenty of uncertainties and unpredictability without adding the worry of whether your retirement savings will be there when you need them, don’t you think?

So if you want to enjoy consistent, predictable growth of your nest-egg every single year, no matter what’s happening in the market or the economy, you must take action today.

The Bank On Yourself strategy gives you an unbeatable combination of advantages, including a 160-year-plus track record of positive growth and has never had a losing year. It bypasses Wall Street, is highly regulated, and is backed by a multi-layer safety net.

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Don’t let your inaction turn your retirement dreams into retirement nightmares.

Get a referral to a Bank On Yourself Authorized Advisor who specializes in safe-money and guaranteed lifetime income strategies…

Read this Case Study: How to Enjoy a Guaranteed Lifetime Income and Reduce Your Taxes in Retirement.

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Three Ways to Protect Your Heath and Wealth from COVID-19 Coronavirus

On February 21, a director for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) told reporters that health officials are preparing for the COVID-19 coronavirus to become a pandemic, saying, “It’s very possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen.”

The Director noted that the “day may come” where we have to close down schools and businesses like China and other countries have done.

The coronavirus is now spreading rapidly in countries outside of China, including “first world” countries like Italy.

Stock markets around the world have been plunging. And if this situation continues to deteriorate, we could easily be entering a prolonged recession and could see the long-overdue major stock market crash I’ve been warning you about.

The Coronavirus is a “Black Swan Event”

A “black swan event” is an event in human history that was unprecedented and unexpected when it occurred. The 2008 financial crisis is considered to be a black swan event, as is the dot-com bubble of 2000.

And we all know how badly those events ended. [Read more…] “Three Ways to Protect Your Heath and Wealth from COVID-19 Coronavirus”

Are You Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’? Americans Are Spending Money They Don’t Have and Hitting Record Debt Levels

Total U.S. household debt just surpassed $14 trillion for the first time ever, and credit card debt hit a new record, as well. These scary debt stats come from the latest report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

As economist Heather Boushey noted… “In the abstract, more debt signals optimism. But in reality, families are using debt as a mechanism to pay for things their incomes don’t support.”

The optimism comes in because the stock market can’t seem to stop hitting new records, and the economy is prospering, so it’s time to spend, spend, spend – even if it’s money you don’t have.

Then the reality sets in as 8.36% of credit cards are now delinquent. Almost 5% of auto loans are at least 90 days overdue. And at least 12% of student loan borrowers are delinquent or in default.

For the moment, let’s ignore the fact that most people have forgotten that the balances in your market-based retirement accounts are “paper” – not “real” – wealth which will vanish with the next market crash.

Let’s focus instead on the lessons most people have forgotten from the last debt crisis. Americans were feeling flush from rising stock market and real estate values, and they were in hock up to their eyeballs.

Then the Bubbles Burst and…

[Read more…] “Are You Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’? Americans Are Spending Money They Don’t Have and Hitting Record Debt Levels”

The New “Magic Retirement Savings Number”: $3 Million or More

If you’re like a lot of people, you may have a goal of saving $1 million for retirement.

After all, that would make you a “millionaire” and should give you a comfortable retirement lifestyle, right?

Not so fast, according to a number of retirement planning experts cited in an article last month in Fortune magazine.

It’s time for a dose of reality, the experts say: You now need to save $3 million – or more – to enjoy a decent retirement lifestyle.

Here Are 3 Reasons Why $3 Million is the New $1 Million When it Comes to Saving for Retirement…

Reason #1: That $1 million number was never adjusted for inflation or corrected for today’s low-interest-rate environment.

[Read more…] “The New “Magic Retirement Savings Number”: $3 Million or More”

Case Study: Enjoy a Guaranteed Lifetime Income and Reduce Your Taxes in Retirement

Tom Justice is a 59-year-old chemical engineer who has three major concerns about his retirement plan…

His first concern is about outliving his retirement savings

He’s read the statistics and knows that in spite of experiencing the longest bull market in history, the average 65-year-old will outlive their savings by almost a decade, according to the World Economic Forum.

Tom doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of savings recommended by many experts. According to the “Rule of 25,” you should have 25 times your total annual expenses saved by the time you retire if you don’t want to run out money.

Tom wants to live on at least $100,000 a year, which means he needs at least $2.5 million saved up. And that’s a far cry from the $750,000 he’s managed to save in his 401(k)… and it’s all invested in a stock market that he knows is past due for a major market crash.

Tom’s second concern is he believes tax rates can only go up over the long term

[Read more…] “Case Study: Enjoy a Guaranteed Lifetime Income and Reduce Your Taxes in Retirement”

Pros, Cons and Why the SECURE Act WON’T Make Your Retirement More Secure

The SECURE Act of 2019 is supposed to help more Americans save for retirement. The new legislation will have an impact on retirement plans – and not all of them are good.

In December of 2019, Congress passed H.R.1994 – the SECURE Act of 2019 – which contains the most sweeping changes to government-controlled retirement accounts – such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and IRAs – in more than a decade.

The SECURE legislation – which stands for “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” – put into place several provisions supposedly intended to strengthen retirement security.

Not surprisingly, the financial services industry spent many millions of dollars lobbying Congress to ensure passage.

So is the new legislation in your best interests? Is the SECURE Act really likely to increase your retirement security?

[Read more…] “Pros, Cons and Why the SECURE Act WON’T Make Your Retirement More Secure”

Four Helpful Tips for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions to Spend Less and Save More

It probably won’t come as a surprise that the two most common New Year’s financial resolutions are to save more money… and to spend less.

And it also should come as no surprise that most New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned by Valentine’s Day – if not sooner!

So I thought this would be a great time to give you some tips to help you stick with it.

Let’s start with tips for spending less money because if you don’t spend less, it’s very difficult – or impossible – to save more.

Tip #1 for Curbing Spending: Get the Right Budgeting Program

I know, I know! The moment many people even hear the word “budget,” they get turned off because the word conjures up “deprivation,” just like the word “diet.” But hear me out… [Read more…] “Four Helpful Tips for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions to Spend Less and Save More”

3 Reasons Why the Money in Your 401(k)/IRA Doesn’t Belong to You

If you get regular account statements, you probably know the approximate current value of your 401(k) and/or IRAs, so please write that total down now.

Do you think all that money belongs to you?

It doesn’t… and what people find most surprising is how little of your account value actually does belong to you.

3 Reasons the Money in Your 401(k) Doesn’t Belong to You…

Reason #1: You May Not Be Fully Vested

[Read more…] “3 Reasons Why the Money in Your 401(k)/IRA Doesn’t Belong to You”

Conscious Spending: How to Live a Richer Lifestyle Without Busting Your Budget

Ben Simon, a college student at the University of Maryland, founded an organization called the Food Recovery Network that organizes campus dining halls to donate left over food to hungry Americans. Ben noticed how many billions of tons of food are wasted each year by restaurants, caterers and other food providers.

He believes that, especially in this country, we don’t need to produce more food to see that everyone is fed. We simply need to stop wasting the food we have.

And so it is with many of us and our money.

Rather than increasing the speed of our hamster wheel to make more money, most of us would do well to figure out how to waste less.

Too many of us spend on items that give us very little in return: no lasting satisfaction, joy, or value

[Read more…] “Conscious Spending: How to Live a Richer Lifestyle Without Busting Your Budget”

The Wall Street Journal Podcast Interview with Pamela Yellen: The Biggest 401(k) Mistake People Make

I was just interviewed again by the Wall Street Journal for an episode of their “Your Money Briefing” podcast.

The episode is described as, “Financial security expert Pamela Yellen explains why employees should take control of their 401(k) retirement investments and not rely on their employer to invest for them.”

In this eye-opening interview I discuss:

  • Why it’s very likely that your 401(k) money is in a Target Date Fund (TDF) – even if you didn’t authorize it or request it – and three reasons that should concern you
  • 98% of all employers use TDFs, and 90% have it as the “default option,” which means they automatically put your money there unless you specifically direct them to do otherwise – and almost no one does
  • Near retirement? You’re not protected! TDFs are supposed to dial back risk as you near retirement, but in practice, that hasn’t happened. In 2008, some TDFs designed for participants expecting to retire in two years lost as much as 40%!
  • How the shockingly high fees of TDFs devour your hard-earned savings
  • The dangers of having your retirement savings in a one-size-fits-all financial vehicle
  • How to quickly and easily do your own research to compare the mutual fund options your 401(k) offers
  • How to protect your retirement savings from market volatility and ensure a guaranteed income for life

[Read more…] “The Wall Street Journal Podcast Interview with Pamela Yellen: The Biggest 401(k) Mistake People Make”