Episode 2: Shattering the Mirror of Erised

In our second episode, Shattering the Mirror of Erised, SuperBOYs use powerful incantations – also known as facts and logic – to fight the mighty spell cast by Aunt Bizarro and her Mirror of Erised.

As our story opens, we come upon a celebration of all good cheer.  Our revelers, mostly senior citizens, are toasting the news that in 2012, their Social Security benefits will rise for the first time in three years.

And a woeful trio of years it’s been.

Beginning in 2008, many Americans lost as much as 40% of their retirement funds in the stock market rout.  Home values plummeted and have yet to rebound.  Energy costs – particularly gasoline, cut deeper than ever into disposable income.  Rising out-of-pocket medical costs remain unrestrained.  And inflation, although mild, shaved even more spending power from those 65 and older.

So no wonder Aunt Bizarro and her blind-faith minions are throwing a party.

The 2012 benefits increase “underscores the importance of Social Security as the only guaranteed, lifelong and inflation-adjusted source of retirement income for most Americans,” cheers Nancy LeaMond, an executive vice president with AARP, the vast propaganda bureau that masquerades as a friend to those 50 and over.

…For millions of American seniors already suffering in this economy and facing years of rising costs, shrinking returns on their savings and no cost-of-living increases, today’s…announcement lets them know there’s some relief around the corner,”

-chimes in Max Richtman, the ebullient president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

[Read more…] “Episode 2: Shattering the Mirror of Erised”

The Six Founding Members of SSH4TT – A League of Evildoers With an Unending Appetite for YOUR Money

Who are the six masked forces of evil who plot to devour your money? We reveal them here!

Stocks: Octohussy

Queen of Wall and Broad. She expulses barrels of ink (both liquid and digital) to project an image of herself as necessary, advisable, even compassionate.  All the while, her eight arms are reaching into every pocket and financial orifice of her prey, extracting their wealth, peace of mind and dreams for retirement.  Octohussy has no backbone or moral compass whatsoever.  She’ll contort, however necessary, to put the squeeze on her victims.Ramsey Orman Vise

Social Security: Aunt Bizarro

The sinister, sick-minded, grey-locked sister of Uncle Sam, and a first cousin of J. Wellington Wimpee (below).  Adorning herself in the American flag, she promises to protect the elderly and the ill – holding their money in her lockbox until they need it.  “I’ll gladly care for you in the future, so kindly hand over your earnings today,” she demands with a stone-like smile.  The lockbox, of course, is nothing but a dark void.

Home Equity:  Skyresh Detritus

High Admiral of SSH4TT.  Luring financial voyagers into his nest – well disguised as a cozy hearth – Skyresh binds them with promises of great wealth and flexibility, all the while chomping away at their financial foundations and opportunities.  Unwary investors check in, but few are lucky enough to check out undigested.

401(k)s:  Bokor

[Read more…] “The Six Founding Members of SSH4TT – A League of Evildoers With an Unending Appetite for YOUR Money”

Peace Of Mind Analysis Results

The Peace of Mind Quotient Categories and Recommendations

Once you’ve taken the Peace Of Mind Quotient Self-Assessment, you’ll find our recommendations below on how to use your score to help guide you when making critical financial decisions.  (Learn why knowing your Peace Of Mind Quotient is important.)

Men (and Women) of Steel

You have nerves of steel.  Compared with us and most people we know, you’re from another planet. [Read more…] “Peace Of Mind Analysis Results”

Turn Off the News and Ignore the Economic Naysayers: You Are Not a Statistic

The numbers alone can be overwhelming.

Everyday, we are bombarded by news reports – and those who parrot them – reminding us of how dire our economic circumstances are.

Daily Reminders

Consider how demoralizing it is to be constantly reminded that your chances of finding employment – or holding onto the job you still have – dwindles if you have outdated skills, live in certain regions of the country, belong to specific ethnic groups, or have passed your 40s?

Look at the high percentage of fellow citizens who are out of work, or awash in credit card debt, or underwater on their home mortgage, or reliant on food stamps, or lacking adequate health insurance, or holding too little savings (especially if they lose their jobs or face a crisis), or likely will have to live as paupers in retirement.

If you fall into some or any of these categories, why even bother to get up in the morning?  After all, your fate is not your own. You are but a leaf on a raging river, being carried along by forces too strong to resist.

Although millions of Americans, sadly, do subscribe to such can’t-do thinking – and no doubt money misery does enjoy plenty of company – these “helpless” victims of the economy are absolutely wrong.

They are not a statistic and should never think of themselves as such

They are individuals, blessed with free will and living in a country where opportunity remains one of our most abundant natural resources.

Proud Americans
We can heal what ails our country’s economy – beginning one citizen at a time

Personal creativity, willpower, persistence and a commitment to do whatever it takes to succeed are far more reliable social safety nets than unemployment insurance, supplemental nutrition assistance (food stamps), Medicaid or Social Security.  Moreover, they are all well within our absolute individual control.

If you (or a family member, friend or neighbor) are out of work, your unemployment rate is 100%.  If you find a job, or create one for yourself, your unemployment rate drops to zero.

It really doesn’t matter what percent of the population was in the same boat with you when you determined to place your fate squarely in your own hands.

What matters is your commitment and diligent efforts to get out of the boat on your own and serve as a shining example of how others can follow your lead.

We can heal what ails our country’s economy – beginning one citizen at a time.

Top 16 Investing and Savings Myths

All the statements listed below are common financial myths.  Accepting any of them as fact could lead to costly financial missteps…

See how many of these common beliefs you already recognize as flawed and which ones you have yet to unmask.

Unmasked Myths

As you may discover, what we’ve been taught by mainstream money experts and well-intentioned friends and family isn’t always accurate.

The Myths:

  1. Over time, the stock market has consistently proven the best and most reliable investment vehicle for the vast majority of Americans
  2. Investors need to accept risk and volatility in order to generate meaningful profits
  3. Home ownership and appreciation is a reliable vehicle for protecting and growing your wealth
  4. 401(k)s make effective investment vehicles, if only because your employer matches your own contributions
  5. Your 401(k) plan administrator must be a licensed, professionally trained and carefully screened financial expert
  6. The fees you pay for your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement funds have only a trivial impact on your ultimate returns
  7. You will not require as much income when you retire as you need now, especially since you’ll qualify for a lower tax bracket
  8. It is never possible to know with any certainty the value of your retirement account at intervals down the road, because market fluctuations are unpredictable
  9. Wise retirement planners recommend you aim to make your retirement income last to age of the average American life expectancy, currently 77.9 years
  10. Always defer taxes as far into the future as possible, especially when you wish to accumulate a larger retirement nest egg
  11. People of modest income can’t possibly set aside $1 million or more for their retirement
  12. Before you can begin saving for the future, first you have to dig your way out of debt
  13. Paying cash is the ideal method of purchasing big-ticket items, such as cars and vacations
  14. Effective savings and investing strategies are too complex for amateurs.  Only professionally trained money managers consistently succeed
  15. If you follow the advice of mainstream financial experts and don’t stray, your nest egg will be safe and grow large over time
  16. To receive quality, personalized attention from highly trained financial representatives, you have to already be wealthy, or close to it

7 Ways You Can Build Your Wealth Through Better Health

By Pamela Yellen and Dean Rotbart

Lose weight, buy a new car.  Spend a half hour exercising at least three days a week, take a luxury cruise.  Reduce your stress at work and at home, remodel your kitchen.  Quit smoking, sock away a couple hundred thousand dollars for retirement.

How sweet life would be – and what a great motivation to stay or get healthy – if we all received  such direct benefits from investing more effectively in our health.

out for a walk

The truth is, while there isn’t a cruise awaiting us at the end of every jog, the lifetime returns that better health deliver are real, sizeable and far more reliable than any money you risk on the stock market or other trendy investments.

out for a walk

A good, strong heart may be priceless to you and your loved ones.  But there is also a financial benefit that you can count in terms of a longer and more productive work life, and fewer doctor, medicine and hospital bills.  What you don’t spend or lose tending to your sick self can really be better used for life’s many pleasures – including building a secure retirement nest egg.

There are library shelves full of advice on how to get healthier.  Here are seven of our favorite tips that don’t require a Herculean effort or cost a fortune.  But each will immediately set you on a better path to wellness:

1. Get more sleep. Not a bad way to kick off your new healthy lifestyle.  Most of us short-change our sack time to crowd in more and more activities and chores.  The price we pay?  High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and impaired concentration.  Try for at least 7 or 8 hours each night.

2. Got milk? If not, get some.  More precisely, get some extra vitamin D, ideally 800 to 1,000 international units (IU) daily.  A single glass of milk will deliver about 125 IU.  You might also try cheeses, yogurt, salmon, almonds and fortified orange juice.  A lack of vitamin D is linked to osteoporosis, depression and chronic fatigue, among other common symptoms.

3. Chill out. People who live stressful lives suffer more heart attacks and strokes.  Beating stress needn’t be painful.  Go for short walks.  Take mini-vacations by listening to your favorite music on a break.  Take up yoga. Throw darts.

4. Get a pet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that pets can lower both your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  Petting your dog or brushing your cat has a calming effect on both of you.  Moreover, pets increase the likelihood that you’ll get outdoors more and socialize with other pet owners – both activities that the CDC says are good for your health.

Eat less salt
Eat less salt

5. Lose the Salt Shaker. None of us need extra salt in our diets.  We’re already showered with the sodium crystals contained in the packaged and restaurant foods we consume.  Experiment with the many varieties of salt-substitutes if you otherwise find your meals too bland.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that high-salt diets cause 150,000 premature deaths in the U.S. each year.

6. Wash Your Hands More Often. Handshakes, stair banisters, elevator buttons, door handles and a million-and-one other objects that we come in contact with routinely are breeding grounds for germs and the infectious diseases they can bring.  Carry a pocket-size container of hand sanitizer for those times when soap and water are unavailable.

7. Stop Speculating on Wall Street. Okay, so this is blatantly self-serving.  But entrusting your life’s treasure to the ups-and-downs and further-downs of the stock market really can shorten your life – or at the very least, squash your enjoyment of it.  Just ask anyone of the tens of millions of Americans who saw 40% to 50% of their wealth evaporate in a flash during the stock and real estate crashes of 2008 (not to mention the crash of 2000) how many years of aggravation those disasters cost them!

The cure: Substitute a Bank on Yourself plan for your mutual funds or stock portfolio and sleep better at night, afford a new pet, take a sunny vacation (and soak in some natural vitamin D), eat quality packaged foods and at restaurants that don’t need to salt their food to make it taste great, buy hand sanitizer by the case, and wave goodbye forever to your investment stress.

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 Professionals 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.

Money for Teens: One Savvy Author’s ‘Idiot’ Advice

Nearly a decade ago, Susan Shelly wrote The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Money For Teens.  The paperback was and continues to be one of the best read, most widely recommended texts on the subject.

A lot has changed for and about teens since Idiot’s was originally published in April 2001, as Shelly noted during a recent telephone interview.  The changes work both for and against adolescents.

teenager shopping on laptop
teenager shopping on laptop

As an example, teens today can do comparison-shopping on the Internet to identify the best brands and prices – a big plus.  But the Internet also enables kids to indulge in nearly instantaneous impulse buys: money enters and exits their bank accounts electronically, no wallet required.

Regardless of how teens avail themselves of today’s on-demand financial tools, the core principles of personal finance success – such as consistently saving a little now to accumulate a lot later – remain timeless.

Among Ms. Shelly’s 2011 recommendations:


To help teens be more thoughtful with their money, make sure they have financial responsibilities.  Whether it is paying for their own smart phone or covering the incremental costs of adding them to your auto insurance policy, let teens learn the lessons of paying for at least some of their own consumption.  Kids should know how much money they have and where it is.


Just like adults, Shelly says, some children are better savers than others.  But all teens should be encouraged to avoid impulse purchases. Shelly says she would encourage any teen bent on making a significant purchase to wait a week to see if he or she will still want the item as badly.  Ask teens to consider whether what they are buying is really worth it?


A part-time job and/or the launch of their own entrepreneurial business is helpful.  “I think that is very important, especially in times like these, that teens feel they are contributing to their family by being more self-sufficient,” Shelly advises.  Ideally, young adults will build their earnings to the point where they no longer need or ask for an allowance.


It would be wise to assist teens in pooling enough money to manage their own small portfolio of funds to be placed in select savings and investment vehicles.

Instead of buying kids traditional birthday, graduation and special occasion presents or gift cards, parents and other relatives should consider providing cash, stocks or other savings instruments. Having their own financial portfolios will not only help teens accumulate wealth – it will give them the opportunity to learn the dos and don’ts of successful money management.

7 Steps To Set Your Teens On a Lifelong Path to Financial Success

Here is a list of 7 steps that you can use to help prepare your teens to be financially successful and responsible adults.  Feel free to adapt these suggestions to your individual family dynamics.

teenager mowing lawn
To truly value money, teens need to
earn their own income

1. Start Bank on Yourself policies for your teens (if you have not already) and/or help them purchase their own policy.  You can get a referral to a specially trained Bank On Yourself Professional who will work closely with you to customize a plan that’s designed specifically for your family.

2. Share details of your own Bank on Yourself policies with your children and review both your and their policies every six-months.  Show them how you are utilizing your policies to predictably retain and grow more of your own money without paying interest or exorbitant fees to banks, brokerage firms and others.

3. Expose your teens to your full family financial picture – including what you earn, what you spend, what you borrow, and how you invest and save.  You may wish to have your children participate by writing checks, reconciling accounts and helping to set and monitor your family budget.

4. Put your kids to work. To truly value money, teens need to earn their own income, whether through outside jobs, entrepreneurial ventures or by getting paid for family chores.

5. Don’t forget charity.  Encourage your kids to set aside a regular portion of their earnings and income for a good cause, be it church or other worthy nonprofits.  Such gifting will be returned to them many times over in terms of the character it builds.

6. Paint a vibrant picture of your adolescent’s fiscal future – one free from the money worries that envelop so many young adults and their parents.  Help teens formulate their own vision of what a life of financial self-reliance and freedom will mean for them.

7. Allow kids to make mistakes and even fail when it comes to managing their own finances.  Few adults get it right the very first time, either. Remember, we all learn a great deal from our mistakes.

When it Comes to Money Management, Grandma & Grandpa Knew Best

When It Comes To Money Management, Grandma & Grandpa Knew Best

As detailed in the accompanying article, Sure-Fire Results: How Old Sensibilities Are Proving a Potent Balm for Modern Personal Finance Ailments,Tim Austin is one of the nation’s most-respected and leading proponents of revisiting the financial playbooks of our grandparents and great-grandparents.

When It Comes To Money Management, Grandma & Grandpa Knew Best

Using the following core principles, Austin’s clients have reversed years of debt accumulation and money struggles, allowing them to pay for their children’s college educations, repay all bank and credit card loans, and save safely and effectively for retirement.

Here in a nutshell is what Austin advises:

  • Whole life insurance consistent with the Bank on Yourself strategy should be a cornerstone of every family’s financial planning
  • Save at least two years’ worth of anticipated expenses before investing a single dime in risk-bearing instruments
  • Set aside 30% of gross income, then budget your lifestyle around the remaining 70%.  Ideally, keeping spending to only 50%, or even 40%, of gross income
  • Put 20% of gross income into short-term and mid-term instruments, including whole life policies, certificates of deposit, money market funds and savings accounts.  Save 10% of gross income for retirement in multiple whole life policies, added strategically over time, and designed for income replacement
  • Avoid all bank, credit card and installment credit.  When possible, buy cars, major appliances and even pay for your mortgage with cash, or by self-financing through a Bank on Yourself-compliant whole life insurance policy

    [Request a free Analysis and find out the bottom line numbers and results you could have if you added Bank On Yourself to your financial plan]

  • Teach your children, even at an early age, about the wisdom of saving, spending and investing with a 1940s and 1950s sensibility
  • When you buy a car, hold onto it as long as it remains mechanically sound.  Only purchase a new car when you are left with no choice.  The same approach should apply to other major capital expenses
  • Teach your children, even at an early age, about the wisdom of saving, spending and investing with a 1940s and 1950s sensibility
  • Stop thinking of a home as an asset.  Moreover, stay longer in fewer homes – or even a single home, thereby greatly reducing total interest spent on mortgages
  • Teach your children, even at an early age, about the wisdom of saving, spending and investing with a 1940s and 1950s sensibility