Record-High Credit Card Debt Promises Problems for Many

According to the Federal Reserve, credit card debt in the U.S. is at its highest level ever. In December 2018, credit card debt was $26 billion higher than it was just three months earlier.

Americans over age 60 hold nearly one-third of all credit card debt in the country – and they’re seeing their accounts go delinquent at an increasing pace.

We’re not surprised. Eighteen months ago, we at Bank On Yourself bemoaned the fact that household debt at the end of 2017 was at a then all-time high of more than $13 trillion. Now credit card debt is poised to overtake auto debt as one of the “big three” consumer debt millstones (after mortgages and student loans).

Carrying significant credit card debt can cause serious problems

Living with a large balance on your card(s) can be like trying to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope: You hope and pray nothing goes wrong.

What could go wrong while your cards are maxed out? [Read more…] “Record-High Credit Card Debt Promises Problems for Many”

How Complex Is Dividend-Paying Whole Life Insurance?

Some financial advisors say whole life insurance is complicated, and that “you should never invest in something you don’t understand.” … Then they try to sell you stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and EFTs that most laypeople can only begin to truly grasp!

Dividend-paying whole life insurance is so simple an average 10-year-old can understand the concept in 10 minutes. We’ll prove it to you now …

The Simplicity of Dividend-Paying Whole Life Insurance

The concept behind a dividend-paying whole life insurance policy is extremely simple. It’s based on five easy-to-understand ideas:

1. Your Risk Is Minimized by the “Pooled Risk” Approach of Insurance

This timeless concept is at the foundation of all forms of insurance. In its simplest form, policy owners pay an insurance company a relatively small sum of money in advance. This is called a “premium.” In exchange, they are covered for a potentially much large expense later. In this case, they receive an agreed-upon amount to cover the costs and loss of income related to the death of the insured, which is called the “death benefit.”

2. You’re Guaranteed to Have “Level-for-Life” Premiums with a Whole Life Insurance Policy

[Read more…] “How Complex Is Dividend-Paying Whole Life Insurance?”

The Most Important Lesson Learned from the Government Shutdown: Americans’ Finances are Fragile

The longest U.S. government shutdown in history laid bare an uncomfortable truth: Americans aren’t saving enough and the majority of us have no rainy-day fund to protect us when the inevitable you-know-what hits the fan.

More than 70% (!) of all types of employees at all income levels surveyed live paycheck to paycheck and said they’d have difficulty meeting their financial obligations if their paycheck were delayed for just one week! That’s according to the 2018 “Getting Paid in America” Survey by the American Payroll Association.

This explains why, after missing just one or two paychecks, we heard so many heart-breaking stories from government workers who weren’t being paid or were furloughed. For example… [Read more…] “The Most Important Lesson Learned from the Government Shutdown: Americans’ Finances are Fragile”

How Much Money Do You Need to Save for Retirement?

People need to save between 10% and 17% of their income if they plan to retire at 65 but are putting away only 6-8% of their income, according to a new study by the Stanford Center on Longevity. That’s only half of what they should be saving.

What percent of your household income are you saving? It’s important to be brutally honest with yourself because a shortfall of the magnitude most Americans will experience means more than just not being able to live the retirement lifestyle you dreamed of. It may mean…

  • Having to choose between putting food on the table and the medical care you need
  • Not being able to afford to pay for heating and air conditioning
  • Having to rely on the charity of your children
  • Foregoing travel and even life’s little luxuries

I doubt you worked hard all your life so that you can scrimp and sacrifice just to get by in retirement.

Fully 60% of U.S. households are at risk of not having enough money to make ends meet in retirementeven if they cut back to spending just 75% of pre-retirement levels – according to a 2018 study from the Center for Retirement Research.

The Rule of 25 for Determining How Much You’ll Need to Have Saved

[Read more…] “How Much Money Do You Need to Save for Retirement?”

October 2018 Was Among the Most Volatile Month for Stocks in 118 Years

October was one of the most volatile months for the Dow since 1900. Back then, we were hopping on the first electric buses in New York City and enjoying a new kind of sandwich called a “hamburger” in New Haven. And, we were piling onto an early “Loop the Loop” roller coaster on Wall Street.

Fast forward to October 2018… and enter the Zero-G Inversion Coaster. The Dow fell by over 1,000 points in two days. The S&P 500 dipped in and out of correction multiple times. The Nasdaq plummeted 700 points mid-month, soared over 300 points the next week, and then tumbled back down over 500 points toward month-end. It comes as no surprise that the Fear Index also hit a 3-month high.

It wasn’t Halloween that spooked the markets last month…

Investors had plenty to fear with trade wars, tariffs, rate hikes, Fed policy, underwhelming earnings, slumping housing data, and political partisanship run wild. And as the sugar high of tax cuts, low interest rates and low inflation wears off, there’s a pervading sense that we’ve reached some sort of flashpoint.

What keeps economists up at night? One very sobering question:

What if This Economy is “as Good as It Gets”?

[Read more…] “October 2018 Was Among the Most Volatile Month for Stocks in 118 Years”

Setting the Record Straight on What Bank On Yourself Is – and Isn’t

There are a lot of misconceptions about the meaning of Bank On Yourself. Some folks think it’s just glorified whole life insurance. Others think Bank On Yourself is merely the name of a book.

So, the Bank On Yourself team has created two separate articles. The first explains what Bank On Yourself is, and the second explains what it is not.

What Bank On Yourself Is

Our article on What Is Bank On Yourself? explains that Bank On Yourself is a safe wealth-building strategy – one that puts you in charge, by showing you how to fire your banker, bypass Wall Street, and take back control of your finances. That’s the meaning of Bank On Yourself in a nutshell.

But the article also discusses the benefits of the Bank On Yourself concept. We explain that Bank On Yourself is also the name of our company, and the words “Bank On Yourself” are in the titles of two New York Times best-selling books by Pamela Yellen.

What Bank On Yourself Is NOT

[Read more…] “Setting the Record Straight on What Bank On Yourself Is – and Isn’t”

Why You’ll Lose Money in the Market Even When You Invest Rationally

In his 1865 poem “If,” Rudyard Kipling famously wrote, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs … yours is the earth and everything that’s in it.”

That’s a big “if” at the moment. Let’s face it; few people are “keeping their heads” right now.

We’re drowning in a reactionary stew where everything from an exchange of ideas to a “taper tantrum” seems to cause a convulsive panic in the stock market.

And even if you don’t lose your head, you can STILL lose your money! Here’s why…

Admittedly, October has always been a devilish month for Wall Street. Black Tuesday was October 29, 1929. Black Monday was October 19, 1987. And the crash of 2008 happened on October’s doorstep on September 29, 2008,  when the Dow dropped over 777 points. On October 10 of this year, the Dow dropped 832 points – the third-worst point drop in history.

These are the days of falling acorns and Chicken Littles! It’s in this climate – despite historically low unemployment, robust GDP, and soaring consumer confidence – that 800-plus point sell-offs are even possible.

The problem is not just the prevailing concerns about high debt, trade wars, and rising interest rates; it’s the collective uncertainty and reactionary group-think over which we have no control.

Contagion Has Become the Wild Card Enemy of Wealth Accumulation

[Read more…] “Why You’ll Lose Money in the Market Even When You Invest Rationally”

Flat Earthers and Blind Faith Stock Market Bulls – What Do They Have in Common?

They are the ultimate conspiracy theories – the beliefs that the earth is flat and that economies are not cyclical.

The Flat Earth Society (a movement that is active and growing today) finds the notion of a horizontal earth far more plausible than a round planet perched on an axis. To their members, gravity is an illusion and objects are not pulled down, but rather continually accelerate upward.

Adopting this notion requires one to reject all prevailing scientific wisdom and research. And despite centuries of empirical evidence, some Flat Earthers believe that one could literally walk off the end of the world.

Those who think the current bull market will continue to rise without a crash or major correction are equally illogical. Despite generations of economic theory, Blind Faith Bulls have sunk most of their net worth into equities on the unquestioning belief that stocks will climb unabated.

Flat Earthers and Blind Faith Bulls Share a Common Suspension of Disbelief…

[Read more…] “Flat Earthers and Blind Faith Stock Market Bulls – What Do They Have in Common?”

Inside Mayer Rothschild’s Secret Counting House: How to Live Like the Rich Do

Ah, to be of the privileged and cultured class – butlers, trust funds, planes, yachts, and race cars. What’s it like to have all that money? Dudley Moore, in the 1981 film Arthur, a comedic flick about a cavorting socialite and heir to a massive fortune put it most succinctly – “It doesn’t suck.”

Wealth Doesn’t Just Happen

While it certainly helps to inherit millions, according to Forbes, an astonishing 67% of the world’s billionaires, made it on their own. And the majority started out as either middle class or downright poor.

Likewise, most of America’s wealthy didn’t win the lottery or inherit their money. Many current millionaires have earned their fortunes in tech, finance, fashion, and media, while prior affluent generations took advantage of the rapid advancements of the industrial revolution by investing in railroads, oil, steel and land.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild, the founder of one of the world’s most storied banking dynasties, was an orphan from a Jewish ghetto in Frankfurt. He went to work at 13 with little formal instruction in money or finance and taught himself the intricacies of collectible coins.

John D. Rockefeller, the oil tycoon and America’s first billionaire, grew up middle class. His father was a traveling salesman who sold a tonic and elixir called “Rock Oil” that he claimed cured cancer. The younger Rockefeller went to work at 16 as a bookkeeper earning 50 cents a day.

The forefathers of these influential families shared common traits of hard work, discipline, and principled investing.

Their rise to power and prosperity was neither haphazard nor accidental. Rather, it was part of a careful plan that involved the strategic growth and preservation of wealth

[Read more…] “Inside Mayer Rothschild’s Secret Counting House: How to Live Like the Rich Do”

When Will the Next Market Crash Occur… and What Will Cause It?

I recently promised to answer two questions we’ve been getting…

When will the next market crash happen? And what will cause it

As the physicist Niels Bohr noted,

Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

But here are five things we do know…

  1. Last month we entered the longest-running bull market in history, at 9½ years
  2. No bull market has ever made it to its 10th birthday
  3. The second-longest bull market was the dot-com-fueled rally of the 1990s which caused investors losses of nearly 80% when it flamed out
  4. While there’s no guarantee this bull market will crash before it hits its 10th birthday in early 2019, we do know that, historically, the longest-running bull markets go out “with a bang, not a whimper”
  5. As the experts who study behavioral finance note again and again, we humans have an enormous capacity for forgetting the lessons and pain of past crashes, and most people will be as woefully unprepared for the next crash as they were for the previous ones

Let’s Look at What Will Cause the Crash…

There are a number of things brewing that might trigger the next collapse. Take your pick: [Read more…] “When Will the Next Market Crash Occur… and What Will Cause It?”