72% of Americans Are Stressed About Money – Here’s How to Break Free of It

If you’re feeling stressed about money thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and shutdown, you’re not alone.

72% of Americans report feeling stressed about money within the last month, according to a new survey by the American Psychological Association. It doesn’t help that 35% of Americans can’t last even one month on their savings, according to the July 2020 Retirement Confidence Index.

So how did we get here… and what can you do about it?

Among the many bits of wealth-killing conventional financial “wisdom” is the recommendation that you have an emergency fund equal to 3 to 6 months of your household expenses.

Almost every financial “expert” parrots this advice, even though millions of Americans were out of work for more than a year in the last major recession!

So here’s a 3-step plan to move towards a financially stress-free life…

Step #1: Start Working Towards a Safe and Liquid Emergency Fund Equal to Two Years of Your Household Expenses

[Read more…] “72% of Americans Are Stressed About Money – Here’s How to Break Free of It”

From “Bank On Yourself is a Scam” to “This Can Work for Everyone!”

Dan Proskauer is a technology executive for a major health care company who heard a radio ad for Bank On Yourself in 2009 that caught his attention. At that time, the economy was in a deep recession, and the stock market was plunging.

For several years, Dan had felt frustrated because he’d been doing all the “right things” he’d been taught to do with his finances… but those “right things” were failing him – and most other Americans – miserably.

Having been burned numerous times by following the conventional financial “wisdom,” Dan was understandably very skeptical of Bank On Yourself. It sounded “too good to be true.” In fact, it sounded like it must be a scam!

(I recently interviewed Dan about his 11-year journey with Bank On Yourself, and you can click here to skip to hear the interview and/or read a transcript of it.) [Read more…] “From “Bank On Yourself is a Scam” to “This Can Work for Everyone!””

Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Cracks in 401(k) Plans

I’ve written extensively about why more and more experts are warning that the 401(k) is an experiment that’s failed, and why the man considered to be the “father” of the 401(k) says it’s a monster that should be destroyed.

But the pandemic, shutdown and resulting economic downturn have exposed dangerous cracks in the 401(k) system. I’ll explain three of them here and show you how to protect yourself…

New 401(k) Problem #1: Companies are Suspending Matching Contributions

Tens of millions of workers have already been affected, and more companies have announced their plans to suspend the 401(k) match.

That’s a real blow for employees who’ve come to think of the match as “free money” and assumed it’s a perk that won’t be yanked with little warning.

But the reality is that the employer match isn’t really “free money” at all. According to a study by the Center for Retirement Research, for every dollar an employer contributes to your 401(k) match, they pay 90 cents less in salary to men and 99 cents less to women!

Translation: For every matching dollar you’re given, you really only receive 10 cents or less in total compensation. [Read more…] “Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Cracks in 401(k) Plans”

How to Be Financially Prepared for Any Emergency or Black Swan Event

By definition, an “emergency” is an unexpected and difficult or dangerous situation which happens suddenly and requires quick action to deal with it.

The unexpected doesn’t wait around for you to get your act together. But does that mean you can’t be prepared for an emergency… even one as devastating as the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown?

Are you willing to play a little game of the imagination and find out?

What if you were forewarned two years ago that in March of 2020…

  • We’d be in the grips of a pandemic and there would be a shutdown of virtually the entire economy
  • Tens of millions of people would lose their jobs and you could be one of them. And many others would have their hours and pay cut
  • The government would step in and provide stimulus, but it could take a month or two or more until you receive it
  • Your charge card limits could be reduced or even canceled without warning
  • Stock market volatility would return with a vengeance and your plans for retirement could be upended for years or even a decade to come
  • People of any age could be debilitated or even die after being infected with the virus

If You Had Been Warned of This Two Years Ago, What Would You Have Done Differently?

[Read more…] “How to Be Financially Prepared for Any Emergency or Black Swan Event”

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”

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”

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”

Can You Answer This Critical Question About Your Retirement Plan? (Most People Can’t)

Here’s the most critical question you must be able to answer about your retirement plan…

Do you know what your retirement account(s) will be worth on the day you plan to tap into them?

If you’re saving for retirement the way most people do, you couldn’t answer this question if your life depended on it!

And When You Get Right Down to it, Your Life Does Depend on it!

Here are three reasons why… [Read more…] “Can You Answer This Critical Question About Your Retirement Plan? (Most People Can’t)”

The Wall Street Journal Podcast Interview with Pamela Yellen: Why You Won’t Work as Long as You Planned

I was recently interviewed 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 most people stop working earlier than planned, and offers safe investment tips to reduce the chances of running out of money in retirement.”

In this interview I discussed: [Read more…] “The Wall Street Journal Podcast Interview with Pamela Yellen: Why You Won’t Work as Long as You Planned”