Wall Street Journal Study: 40% of Pre-Retirees Will Have to Reduce Their Lifestyle

A new study by the Wall Street Journal confirms it: Many Americans will have to trade their “golden years” for a retirement filled with scrimping and sacrifice.

Pre-retirees aged 55 through 70 today are the first generation that was “left on their own” to prepare for retirement, according to Alicia Munnell, Director of the Boston College Center for Retirement Research.

As pension plans that provide a guaranteed income for life disappeared, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs and similar government and employer-sponsored plans replaced them.

It’s an experiment that has failed many. According to the Wall Street Journal, for Americans approaching retirement age…

“Their median incomes, including Social Security and retirement fund receipts, haven’t risen in years, they have high debt, are often paying off children’s educations and are dipping into savings for aging parents.

“Their paltry 401(k) retirement funds will bring in a median income of under $8,000 a year for a household of two.” [Read more…] “Wall Street Journal Study: 40% of Pre-Retirees Will Have to Reduce Their Lifestyle”

How Your Credit Score Affects Your Life – Another Reason to Fire Your Banker

I just got something in the mail that made me madder than a mosquito in a mannequin factory.

It ought to tick you off, too, and give you some really good reasons to fire your banker. Here’s the scoop…

I just got a bill from our auto insurance company – one of the biggies which shall remain nameless, for now.

They informed us that our premium was jacked up because of information they got from consumer reports.

Specifically, they cited information they obtained on li’l ole me (gasp!) about my “percent balance to high credit for bank revolving accounts reported in the last 6 months.”

Yeah, I know it sounds like gibberish, but here’s what really ticked me off…

I show people how to fire banks and finance companies and become their own banker! [Read more…] “How Your Credit Score Affects Your Life – Another Reason to Fire Your Banker”

Read These Bank On Yourself Reviews from Actual Clients

These Bank On Yourself reviews aren’t based merely on theory. They report the actual results of Bank On Yourself clients.

Bank On Yourself is a financial strategy based on high cash value dividend-paying whole life insurance. Bank On Yourself-type policies enjoy guaranteed growth and are carefully designed to create maximum cash value and flexibility. This allows policy owners to take loans against their life insurance policies while still experiencing the same growth on their money – just as if they hadn’t touched a dime of it!

Here are the Bank On Yourself reviews of two of our hundreds of thousands of happy Bank On Yourself clients …

Steady Growth of His Savings Replaces a Rocky Ride for Bank On Yourself Reviewer

Dan Proskauer is an engineer with a graduate degree from Cornell University, the highest-rated engineering school in the Ivy League. Dan works for a major healthcare company, and he holds three U.S. patents.

Dan is a sophisticated investor. He lives below his means, and he’s disciplined about saving for the future. But after the financial crashes of 2000 and 2008, Dan realized he had nothing to show for decades of saving and investing his hard-earned money and “doing all the right things.” [Read more…] “Read These Bank On Yourself Reviews from Actual Clients”

The Financial Shock that Can KILL You

Middle-aged Americans who experience a major economic blow are more likely to die during the years that follow than those who don’t.

That’s according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Shockingly, those who experienced a devastating financial loss – called a “wealth shock” – have a 50% greater risk of dying early. And it doesn’t matter how much money you had to start.

How likely are you to experience a wealth shock?

About 1 in 4 people in the study have had a wealth shock, averaging a loss of about $100,000. Often it was a result of a drop in the value of retirement investments or a home foreclosure.

Some shocks happened during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Some happened before or after that.

But it didn’t matter if the economy was good or bad – a wealth shock still increased the chance of dying early.

The findings suggest a wealth shock is as dangerous as a new diagnosis of heart disease, says Dr. Alan Garber of Harvard University. Another expert noted that,

We should be doing everything we can to prevent people from experiencing wealth shocks.”

[Read more…] “The Financial Shock that Can KILL You”

Will Your Money Last as Long as You Do?

Too many people determine how long they think they’ll live based on arbitrary factors.

And nearly half of pre-retirees and retirees underestimate how long they’ll live by five years or more, according to surveys by the Society of Actuaries.

That’s a big problem when it comes to making sure your money lasts as long as you do.

And very few people surveyed understand how variable life expectancy can be: Whatever the statistics say is the average life span for someone of your age and gender, you have a 50% chance of living longer than that age.

In other words, planning for living to an “average life expectancy” is a recipe for disaster!

By age 65, men in average health have a 40% chance of living to age 85, and women have more than a 50% chance.

And if you’re healthier than average, well now you’ve got a 50% chance of living to age 85 if you’re a man, and a 62% chance if you’re a woman.

Of those turning 65 today, 25% will live past 90, and one out of 10 will live past 95, according to the Social Security Administration.

What if you’re the lucky one who hangs on until 100 or longer? You don’t know for sure, do you? But just how “lucky” will you feel if you can’t provide for yourself in those final years?

My 95-year-old mother-in-law lives in an assisted-living facility in Arizona. When her husband died, she got a life insurance settlement and has been receiving a nice pension payout every year. [Read more…] “Will Your Money Last as Long as You Do?”

How to Pay Zero Taxes in Retirement – Without Being Broke

Do you have money in a tax-deferred retirement account such as a 401(k), IRA or 403(b)? If so, you’re sitting on a tax time bomb.

I’m going to reveal the tax traps you face and show you how to move toward a 0% tax bracket in retirement (legally!) – but not by doing it the way most people do it, which is by being broke!

Conventional wisdom says, “Maximize your contributions to tax-deferred plans. Your money compounds without being reduced by taxes, and you’ll end up with more money during retirement.”

But like much conventional wisdom about personal finance, it’s not true…

The Society of Actuaries says if the tax rates are the same,

It doesn’t make any difference whether [the taxes] are taken away from you at the beginning (tax-exempt) or at the end (tax-deferred). It’s the same fraction of your money that is left to you.”

But most people look at their savings and think it’s all theirs. You may have forgotten you’ll owe Uncle Sam the taxes he let you defer all those years – on every penny you’ve put in and every penny of growth.

And according to Boston College’s Center for Retirement director, Alicia Munnell,

It’s a very big deal when people realize they only have two-thirds or three-quarters of what they thought they had.”

If the tax rates are actually lower during your retirement, you might come out ahead by deferring your taxes. But where do you think tax rates are headed long term? You must consider what tax rates might be during a retirement that could last 30+ years.

Most people we talk to think taxes ultimately must go up due to the aging demographics of our country and our unsustainable national debt. (Recently the debt passed $21 trillion for the first time.) If tax rates do go up, and you’re successful in growing your nest-egg, you’ll simply end up paying higher taxes on a bigger number. [Read more…] “How to Pay Zero Taxes in Retirement – Without Being Broke”

7 Warning Flags and Financial Risk Factors We Face Today

You know people have gotten too complacent about investing in the stock market and what it takes to grow real wealth when…

  1. People bragging about becoming 401(k) millionaires and posting their balances on social media has become a “thing” (remember when everyone from the company executives to the janitor were bragging at the water cooler about being real estate millionaires, just before the last crash?)
  2. People start to think they can actually retire comfortably on $1,000,000 (you can’t, because the IRS will take at least 25% – 33% off the top, and you’ll need $500,000 just to cover out-of-pocket healthcare and long-term care costs in retirement)
  3. The personal savings rate fell to its third-lowest on record at the end of 2017
  4. Consumer spending is rising, and more of it is being fueled by debt (the last quarter registered the second-largest percentage increase in charge-card debt in a decade)
  5. Inflation is taking a bigger bite out of Americans’ paychecks (real average hourly earnings of 80% of employees fell by half a percent in January – its fifth decline in six months)
  6. Hundreds of major companies have price earnings ratios that are higher than during the height of the 2000 and 2007 bubbles
  7. For a decade now, central banks have pretended they can print up prosperity (which they’ve done at a magnitude beyond imagination… and we’re supposed to have blind faith that they know what they’re doing)

[Read more…] “7 Warning Flags and Financial Risk Factors We Face Today”

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. [Read more…] “Is Your Personal Balance Sheet – Your Financial Snapshot – Giving You a True Picture?”

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”