Personal Finance Blog for Retirement and Investment Advice

Is Your Personal Balance Sheet – Your Financial Snapshot – Giving You a True Picture?

A balance sheet shows you at a glance what you own, what you owe, and what the difference is. The difference is your “net worth” – and the greater your net worth, the more you’re in a position to meet life’s financial uncertainties.

A balance sheet for John and Jane Doe, showing assets including $300,000 in retirement savings; and showing liabilities.
Figure 1. A Simple Balance Sheet
It’s called a balance sheet because your assets minus your liabilities always equals – balances – your net worth.

If you owe more than you own, your net worth is a negative number, and that’s an early indication of possible financial problems or bankruptcy in your future.

Here’s a simple balance sheet. See Figure 1. We see that John and Jane have added up the fair market value of their major possessions – their house, car, furnishings, cash in the bank, and retirement savings – and have total assets of $570,500. But when we subtract what they owe – their first and second mortgages, car loan, student loan, and credit card balances – their net worth (the cash they could come up with if they sold everything) is $369,000.

A balance sheet for John and Jane Doe, showing assets including $300,000 in retirement savings; and showing liabilities.
Figure 1. A Simple Balance Sheet
It’s called a balance sheet because your assets minus your liabilities always equals – balances – your net worth.

That’s the snapshot taken on December 31. A snapshot taken a month later could look different. The loan balances might be smaller. That would make John and Jane’s net worth a little larger.

Many personal finance software packages make creating a balance sheet quick and easy. Most financial planners will suggest you create a balance sheet at least once each year to track your progress toward financial independence.

Your personal balance sheet can tell you a lot, but it may not be telling you everything. When it comes to calculating the net worth of retirement accounts, your balance sheet can be extremely misleading – and not in your favor.

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Why Your Personal Balance Sheet May Not Accurately Reflect Your Net Worth

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Let me show you why having $300,000 cash value in a properly designed dividend-paying whole life insurance policy is much, much better than having $300,000 in a traditional IRA, 401(k) plan, 403(b) TSA plan, Thrift saving account, or 457 plan.

On your balance sheet, any of those traditional retirement accounts would be listed as an asset worth $300,000. Again, see Figure 1.

But all your traditional retirement accounts (except for Roth accounts) have a significant income tax liability lurking inside of them. You’ve deferred paying income tax on the money you used to fund those accounts, but you haven’t escaped paying the tax. You’ve just postponed it. And whenever you take money out of your traditional retirement account, you’ll owe income tax on every dollar you remove.

Remember that Uncle Sam is your partner!

It’s fair to say that whatever you have in your retirement account, you co-own with your Uncle Sam.

On the other hand, the equity (the cash value) of your whole life insurance policy is growing tax-deferred. And that growth is available to you in most cases income tax free, unlike the tax-deferred growth of an ordinary retirement account. In addition, all the cash value can be yours without the payment of income taxes (under current tax law). And when you die, the policy’s death benefit will be paid to your beneficiaries, again free of any income tax.

A balance sheet for John and Jane Doe, showing assets including $300,000 in retirement savings; and showing liabilities including $75,000 in deferred taxes.
Figure 2. Balance Sheet Showing Looming Taxes
This balance sheet reflects the taxes you must pay your Uncle Sam as you withdraw your retirement savings. Don’t overlook those!

So how can you say the money in your retirement account, whose income tax liability has simply been postponed, is worth the same amount of money you’ve built up in the cash value of your whole life insurance policy?

You can’t. If you have $300,000 in traditional retirement accounts – and if you want your balance sheet to be accurate – your balance sheet needs to have another item on the liability (“What I Owe”) side, called Deferred Income Taxes. If you’re in the 25% tax bracket, that liability is $75,000. See Figure 2.

A balance sheet for John and Jane Doe, showing assets including $300,000 in retirement savings; and showing liabilities including $75,000 in deferred taxes.
Figure 2. Balance Sheet Showing Looming Taxes
This balance sheet reflects the taxes you must pay your Uncle Sam as you withdraw your retirement savings. Don’t overlook those!

Deferred Taxes Can Reduce the Net Worth Shown on Your Balance Sheet

What does that $75,000 liability do for John and Jane’s net worth? It reduces their net worth by $75,000.

A balance scale showing $300,000 cash value in a life insurance policy "outweighing" $300,000 in a traditional retirement plan.
Figure 3. Which is worth more?

To keep things simple, let’s say you’re in the 25% tax bracket. That means that you owe 25% of the value of your $300,000 retirement plan to Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam gets $75,000. You only get $225,000.

But if the $300,000 were the cash value of a whole life insurance policy, not a traditional retirement plan, you could typically get your hands on the cash income tax-free, under current tax law.

Your Favorite Uncle gets $0.00, and you get the entire $300,000. Which would you rather have?

A balance scale showing $300,000 cash value in a life insurance policy "outweighing" $300,000 in a traditional retirement plan.
Figure 3. Which is worth more?

Your Family May Get Stuck Paying Some or All of Your Deferred Taxes

If you die before you’ve withdrawn all the money from your traditional retirement account, what’s left will go to your beneficiaries – and Uncle Sam will look to them to pay the income tax you owe. In addition, your family may have to pay estate tax on your retirement money they inherit.

Your Life Insurance Cash Value Increases the Net Worth Shown on Your Balance Sheet

What if you had a Bank On Yourself-type cash value whole life insurance policy? Well, first, you wouldn’t have that liability called Deferred Income Taxes, because there aren’t any!

Second, you’d have a cash value that is an asset (something you own). In this example, your cash value is $300,000.

A balance sheet for John and Jane Doe, showing assets including $300,000 in life insurance cash value; and showing liabilities.
Figure 4. Balance Sheet Showing Life Insurance
This balance sheet reflects the value of your life insurance policy cash value as an asset.

To make your balance sheet more accurate, you need to add an item to the asset (“What I Own“) side, called Life Insurance Cash Value. See Figure 4.

Now compare Figure 1 with Figure 4. The numbers on both balance sheets are identical. Figure 1 shows your retirement savings of $300,000, while Figure 4 shows your life insurance cash value of $300,000.

But remember, we showed earlier how Figure 1 shows an incomplete snapshot of your liabilities – what you owe – because it doesn’t include the taxes you’re going to have to pay on your retirement savings as you draw the money out of your account.

Figure 2 shows the whole picture, including both your retirement savings and the taxes due.

And Figure 4 is a much better-looking balance sheet than Figure 2, because with life insurance, you can arrange your cash value withdrawals so there is no income tax due, under current law.

A balance sheet for John and Jane Doe, showing assets including $300,000 in life insurance cash value; and showing liabilities.
Figure 4. Balance Sheet Showing Life Insurance
This balance sheet reflects the value of your life insurance policy cash value as an asset.

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When your family inherits your traditional retirement account, they’ll owe taxes on the money

And it should go without saying that when you pass away and your family inherits what’s left in your retirement account, they’ll have to pay income tax on the money. But if you have a life insurance policy, your beneficiary will receive the death benefit of the policy – which could conceivably be three or more times greater than the cash value – with no income taxes due, under current law!

Without updating your balance sheet – by adding a deferred tax liability if you have traditional retirement plans, and by adding a life insurance cash value asset if you have cash value life insurance – your balance sheet simply isn’t giving you the whole picture.

Bank On Yourself-type life insurance policies don’t have hidden taxes to lower your net worth. They do have cash value that raises your net worth! To learn more about Bank On Yourself, get our Free Special Report, 5 Simple Steps to Bypass Wall Street, Beat the Banks at Their Own Game and Take Control of Your Financial Future. See how you can improve your balance sheet with Bank On Yourself!

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Get instant access to the FREE 18-page Special Report that reveals how super-charged dividend paying whole life insurance lets you bypass Wall Street, fire your banker, and take control of your financial future.

A Third Problem with Your Balance Sheet: Your Assets – Even Your Retirement Account Values – Are Only Estimates

Your balance sheet shows the estimated worth of your assets if you could sell them today at fair market value. Your balance sheet does not tell you what they would be worth if the market tanks, or even if it soars. It can’t! It’s not a prophet – even if it does help you determine your “profit”!

For that reason, take your balance sheet with a BIG grain of salt. We’ve had two market drops of 50% or more since 2000. Could it happen again? I’m not a prophet either. But I certainly wouldn’t bet against it.

The Right Kind of Life Insurance Policy Can Make Many of These Tax Issues Go Away

Bank On Yourself-type life insurance policies are high cash value whole life insurance policies, which give you significantly greater cash value, particularly in the early years, than traditional whole life insurance policies – without losing any of the tax advantages.

You’ll sleep better at night with assets that are guaranteed – like the high cash value life insurance policies preferred by Bank On Yourself Authorized Advisors. Using the Bank On Yourself strategy, you can know what the minimum guaranteed cash value of your policy will be on the day you retire, and at any point along the way.

To find out more, request a FREE, no-obligation Analysis. You’ll receive a referral to an Authorized Advisor (a life insurance agent with advanced training on this concept) who will show you more reasons why adding a Bank On Yourself-type life insurance policy to your retirement strategy may be a very good idea.

The Stock Market Never Goes Down Any More? (Really?!?)

What was until recently an unloved bull market has now reached the point of “euphoria,” and investors are “having a hard time imagining a decline,” according to Morgan Stanley.

After all, what’s not to love about a bull market that has only two directions – up… and up faster?

It’s being called a “market melt-up,” and the main fear people now have is of missing out.

Those caught up in the euphoria – and the fear of missing out – might want to consider the following:

  • The S&P 500 is trading at 2.3 times its companies’ sales – a smidgen below its dot-com peak
  • Price-earnings ratios have only been higher for 1% of the stock index’s history
  • The cyclically adjusted price-earnings ratio is higher than before the crash of 1929, and higher than at any moment in history except right before the dot-com crash

Those of us who experienced the pain of the dot-com meltdown in 2002 and the financial crash of 2008 hope that the market will never become that irrationally exuberant again.

Back then, people justified their exuberance with the mantra that “this time it’s different.” [Read more…] “The Stock Market Never Goes Down Any More? (Really?!?)”

Why You’ll Need $500,000+ in Retirement for Medical Expenses Alone

Retirees spend more than a third of their Social Security benefits on out-of-pocket medical costs, on average, according to a new study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Even after factoring in other sources of income, medical spending still took a huge bite – 18% – of seniors’ total retirement income.

A 65-year-old couple retiring now will need $275,000 to cover out-of-pocket health care costs during retirement, according to a study by Fidelity.

The news gets even worse, however, because these numbers do not include the cost of nursing home or home health care.

That can range from $40,000 a year for home health aides… to over $85,000 a year for a semi-private room in a nursing home, according to the Genworth 2017 Annual Cost of Care Survey: Costs Continue to Rise Across All Care Settings. And if you prefer a private nursing care room, you’ll have to cough up almost $100,000 a year.

Ignore the likelihood of needing long-term care services at your own peril: At least 70% of people over age 65 will require long-term care services, and more than 40% will need nursing home care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Based on the average cost of a nursing home room and the average length of stay – which is 2.8 years – you would need over $250,000 to cover a single stay. [Read more…] “Why You’ll Need $500,000+ in Retirement for Medical Expenses Alone”

Savings Rate Falls to 10-Year Low

Americans are saving much less and spending more – even though their real disposable incomes are unchanged.

The savings rate just fell to a 10-year low of 3.1%, according to the Commerce Department.

What’s most worrisome to economists is that savings rates below 4% occurred before the last two major market crashes, as people felt what turned out to be a false sense of security, due to rising stock prices and/or home values.

Looks like it’s déjà vu all over again…

I recently wrote how the current bull market is the second longest in modern history. If it manages to last until summer, it will become the longest-running bull market at 9½ years.

A bull market has never made it to its 10th birthday.

In addition, historically, the longer a bull market lasts, the harder and deeper it crashes.

Which indicates the optimism that’s caused Americans to save less and spend more is misplaced. And, to take a line from the movie Grease, that means a lot of people are cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

The vast majority of Americans have little or no savings outside their retirement accounts, according to the latest Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. [Read more…] “Savings Rate Falls to 10-Year Low”

Nobel Economist Warns of Irrational Exuberance in the Stock Market

Richard Thaler, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in October of 2017, observed…

We seem to be living in the riskiest moment of our lives, and yet the stock market seems to be napping.”

Thaler has made a career of studying irrational and temptation-driven economic behaviors.

The current bull market is the second longest in modern history. If it manages to last until August 22, it will become the longest running bull market, at 9½ years.

No bull market has ever made it to its 10th birthday.

Which brings me to a very simple, but profound question…

What Happens When a Bull Market Ends?

[Read more…] “Nobel Economist Warns of Irrational Exuberance in the Stock Market”

Federal Reserve Survey: Your 401(k) and IRA Won't Give You a Decent Retirement

If you’re counting on your 401(k) or IRA for retirement income, I have some bad news for you…

A new analysis of the Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances by the Center for Retirement Research demonstrates that 401(k) plans are destined to fail millions of Americans.

The Federal Reserve survey is updated every three years, and the latest one reveals that, in spite of the long-running bull market and an improving economy … the typical couple nearing retirement will only receive $600 per month from their 401(k)s and IRAs combined.

That $600 a month is not indexed for inflation, so its purchasing power will decline over time.

And that $600 a month is likely to be the only source of income people will have to supplement Social Security because the typical household has virtually no other savings outside of its 401(k) and IRAs.

The Retirement Savings Shortfall News is Even Worse for Younger Workers with 401(k)s

[Read more…] “Federal Reserve Survey: Your 401(k) and IRA Won't Give You a Decent Retirement”

Older Folks Say it's Not Fun Getting Old When You're Worried About Running Out Of Money

Record numbers of Americans older than 65 are working today, and millions are doing it by need, not by choice.

Too often, the work these folks find involves back-breaking, menial labor.

Many people are entering their golden years with alarmingly fragile finances, according to a recent article in The Washington Post.

And polls routinely show that most older people are more worried about running out of money than they are of dying. They lament it’s not fun getting old.

Thanks to a massive shift from guaranteed lifetime pensions to you’re-on-your-own-good-luck-with-that 401(k)s and IRAs…

People are forced to guess how long they might live and budget accordingly, knowing that one big health problem or a year in a nursing home could wipe it all out.”

[Read more…] “Older Folks Say it's Not Fun Getting Old When You're Worried About Running Out Of Money”

Five Retirement Investment Alternatives to Your 401(k) Plan

With something as vitally important as your retirement security, you need to be aware of 401(k) problems. And you have to ask yourself, “Do I really want to have to deal with all this? Are there good alternatives to 401(k)s?”

Let’s take a look at the drawbacks to 401(k)s and good alternatives to them. The 401(k) drawbacks include:

  • Unpredictable market performance, which means the very real possibility of losing a significant portion of your nest egg
  • Rules and limitations which can cripple your options and lock your money in a virtual prison
  • Fees, both visible and hidden, which can devour one-third or more of your hard-earned money in the plan
  • Tax deferral, which can siphon off another one-third or more of your income during your retirement years

Four Major Issues You Face When Planning for Retirement: Safety, Restrictions, Fees, and Taxes

Safety comes down to risk versus reward. Great potential gain brings with it great potential loss.

Investopedia sums up risk and reward this way: “Investing requires a degree of risk, and the bigger that risk, the higher the gain should be.”

The bigger that risk, the higher the potential gain should be—and the greater the potential loss will be.

What will you do if you don’t have enough to live on because of lackluster performance, restrictions, enormous fee, taxes on your income—or a major crash just before you planned to retire?

Will you work until you’re too ill to work, or you need to quit to take care of a relative, or you’re replaced by some kid one-third your age? (Nearly half of all retirees are forced to retire sooner than planned for just these reasons, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.)

Will you go on welfare or be shuttled back and forth between your children? Will you live under a bridge?

You can’t afford to lose your retirement nest egg, any more than you can afford to lose your next paycheck. And if you can’t afford to lose it, you can’t afford to risk it.

Yet government-controlled plans assume you want to invest your money in some endeavor with the hopes of making a profit. But investing, by its very definition, includes the concept of risk.

And the investment doesn’t need to be sketchy to involve risk! Investments in companies as “solid” as Blockbuster Video … Borders Books … Pan Am Airlines … Sharper Image … Enron … Polaroid … even Bethlehem Steel … have led to the downfall of millions of investors who thought they were being cautious, wise, and conservative.

Trillions of dollars have evaporated from 401(k) plans due to market fluctuations alone.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is blunt about the risks of investing:

All investments involve some degree of risk. If you intend to purchase securities—such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds—it’s important that you understand before you invest that you could lose some or all of your money. Unlike deposits at FDIC-insured banks and NCUA-insured credit unions, the money you invest in securities typically is not federally insured. You could lose your principal, which is the amount you’ve invested. That’s true even if you purchase your investments through a bank.”

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Rules and Regulations That Strangle Your Access to Your 401(k) Money

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Government-approved retirement plans have more strings attached than Pinocchio before he became a real boy. It’s like your money is locked up in a maximum-security prison where someone else calls the shots—and you barely get visitation rights!

Contribute to a 401(k) plan and you’re contributing to a plan that tells you the maximum amount you can put in.

Your plan will also dictate what you can and cannot invest in.

You’ll learn that you can only borrow a relatively small amount, and you must pay it back on a strict schedule—or you can’t borrow at all.

These restrictions may seem normal, but not if you know the alternatives.

The government tells you how long you must wait to access your 401(k) plan money—your own money! You’ll pay penalties for taking virtually any distributions before you’re 59½.

Uncle Sam will tell you when you must access your money, and how much you must withdraw (and pay taxes on) each year. You’re forced to start taking distributions when you reach 70½—whether you want to or not.

Don’t get suckered into believing you control the money in your 401(k). Your plan is only tax-deferred because the government created it that way. And what the government created, the government controls.

The government can—and does!—change the rules any time it wants! The prison warden has your money under lock and key, and while your money’s in the slammer, he can impose any new restrictions or regulations he comes up with—and you have no recourse.

Do all retirement planning strategies come with those kinds of rules and restrictions? No! There are alternatives that we’ll discuss soon.

The Fees You Pay with a 401(k) Plan Compound Against You

Virtually every investment plan and most savings plans have fees or potential fees of one kind or another.

In 401(k) plans the compounding of fees works against you. It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose in the stock market, your stockbroker or the advisor managing your money will still get paid.

The impact of 401(k) fees is colossal. According to an exposé on 60 Minutes, fees “can eat up half the income in some 401(k) plans over a thirty-year span.” Yikes!

You really do need to know in advance exactly what effect fees will have on your balance. But just try to find out from your plan administrator or financial planner!

The Truth About 401(k) Plan Tax Deferral

Whoever talked you into starting your 401(k) probably told you what a great advantage tax-deferral is. “You can deduct the money you put into your 401(k), and it grows tax-deferred. You don’t have to pay taxes on your growth each year!”

If you bought into that, you’re in good company. An overwhelming number of Americans—and Canadians, with their registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs)—are in the same boat you’re in.

Many folks haven’t stopped to consider that when they retire—or when they’re forced by the government to start withdrawing from their 401(k) plan—they’ll pay income tax at the going rate on every single dollar they withdraw.

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Get instant access to the FREE 18-page Special Report that reveals how super-charged dividend paying whole life insurance lets you bypass Wall Street, fire your banker, and take control of your financial future.

They’ll pay tax on the money they originally contributed, because the government let them deduct that money from their taxable income. Now Uncle Sam is holding his hand out, palm up. And in his other hand, he’s holding a club.

And when folks withdraw from their 401(k) plan, they will also have to pay taxes on their earnings.

All those taxes were deferred—postponed—not cancelled!

Here’s what that could mean to you:

Let’s assume you’ve retired and you need $70,000 in retirement income annually to maintain your lifestyle and do some traveling.

If that income is from a 401(k) plan and you pay an average tax rate of 25%, your retirement plan will have to throw off $93,333—not $70,000—every year. You’ll need that extra $23,333 every year just to pay the taxes on your 401(k) income.

But tell me this: if your retirement plan could throw off $93,333 per year, wouldn’t you rather spend that extra $23,333 enjoying life more, rather than feeding Uncle Sam?

Why not pay your taxes up front while you know what they are, and then have income with no taxes due in retirement?

Get Your FREE Report!

Get instant access to the FREE 18-page Special Report that reveals how super-charged dividend paying whole life insurance lets you bypass Wall Street, fire your banker, and take control of your financial future.

A Review of Some 401(K) Plan Alternatives

If you don’t like heavy-handed government-controlled plans, broaden your horizons. There are methods of saving for retirement that don’t depend on unpredictable market performance … that have very few, if any, government restrictions … that tell you in advance what your minimum account will be at retirement (and any point along the way)—after fees … and that don’t have any of the pitfalls of the tax-deferral trap.

Not every 401(k) alternative offers every one of these advantages. But there is one that does. It actually offers more advantages, as you’ll see. Let’s look at the five common 401(k) alternatives.

#1 IRAs and Roth IRAs as a 401(k) alternative

IRAs are like other government-controlled plans, with one exception: Roth IRAs. You fund a Roth with after-tax money (unlike traditional IRAs), and you can withdraw money from your plan in retirement without paying taxes, subject to various regulations and controls.

#2 Municipal Bonds as a 401(k) alternative

Municipal bonds are debt securities issued by government entities to fund day-to-day obligations and finance capital projects such as building schools and highways. Generally, the interest on municipal bonds is exempt from federal income tax.

#3 Gold, silver, and other commodities as a 401(k) alternative

Commodities are basic goods used in commerce. Examples are gold, beef, oil, lumber, natural gas, iron ore, crude oil, salt, etc.

#4 Real estate as a 401(k) alternative

Real estate may be raw land, or it may be improved with buildings, farms, homes, and so forth. You receive income from renting or leasing the property, and you may realize a gain when you sell it.

#5 Dividend-paying high cash value whole life insurance as a 401(k) alternative

Using life insurance as an alternative to a 401(k) plan may seem odd. But it’s not to the hundreds of thousands of individuals, families, and businesses, who are doing it every day. The cash value component of a dividend-paying whole life insurance policy can be used during the insured’s life to provide a guaranteed, predictable retirement income, and for other purposes.

Which 401(k) alternative is best?

What’s the best 401(k) alternative? The comparison chart below will help you decide.

Comparing 401(k) Plans with Alternatives

Does the plan …
401(k)s & 403(b)s
IRAs & Roth IRAs
Muni-cipal Bonds
Gold & Silver
Real Estate
Dividend-paying whole life insurance
Give you guaranteed, predictable growth? N N N N N Y
Lock in your principal and growth, even when the market crashes? N N N N N Y
Give you control of your money or asset without government restrictions and penalties? N N Y Y Y Y
Give you tax-free retirement income? N Only Roths Y N N Y
Let you use your money or asset without penalties or the possibility of incurring a loss, however and whenever you want? N N N N N Y
Let you use your money or asset, yet still have it grow as though you didn’t touch it? N N N N N Y
Allow you to fund your plan every year, without limits imposed by the government? N N Y Y Y Y
Finish funding itself if you die prematurely? N N N N N Y
Tell you the minimum guaranteed value of the plan or asset on the day you expect to tap into it, and at any point along the way? N N N N N Y

 

To learn more about a properly-designed dividend-paying whole life insurance strategy as a 401(k) plan alternative, and to find out what it can do for you, request a FREE Analysis. You’ll receive a referral to an Authorized Advisor (a life insurance agent with advanced training on this concept) who will prepare your Analysis and answer all your questions about the concept.

Congress Considers Axing Your 401(k) Tax Deduction

Congress is considering proposals right now to take away the tax advantages of your 401(k).

To help finance the tax reforms being proposed, Congress is eyeing axing the up-front tax deduction for 401(k) contributions. And one proposal would also change the tax-deferred nature of 401(k)s by imposing a 15% tax on your annual gains.

Why would Congress consider tinkering with the tax benefits of such a popular program as the 401(k)?

For the same reason that notorious holdup man Willie Sutton gave for robbing banks:

Because that’s where the money is!”

The current taxation of 401(k) plans was estimated to have cost the federal government more than $90 billion in potential tax revenue last year alone, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. [Read more…] “Congress Considers Axing Your 401(k) Tax Deduction”

The Perils of Pamela Yellen

Dale Carnegie wrote,

If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Vintage Movie poster, “The Perils of Pauline—The Abduction, 6th Episode in 2 parts”—from 1914

Did your grandmother ever tell you about The Perils of Pauline? The Perils of Pauline was a 1914 series of feature films about an energetic and naive young woman who traveled the world, running into mayhem and misadventures.

Vintage Movie poster, “The Perils of Pauline—The Abduction, 6th Episode in 2 parts”—from 1914

Sounds kinda like the script of my life.

This is Chapter Three of my untold story. You can read Chapter 1, The Elephant and the Circus, here. And go here to read Chapter 2, about The Ugly Halloween Mask.

Launching My New Career

Where were we? Oh, yeah. So, I had hauled myself across the country and found a coach, Somers White, who helped me design a fabulous business plan. The teensy weensy problem was that this brilliant plan required me to do the one thing that terrified me the most. No, I’m not talking about parachuting out of an airplane while blindfolded. In my mind, this was something far worse.

My personal source of terror was speaking in public. [Read more…] “The Perils of Pamela Yellen”