5 Financial Myths that Are Destroying Your Wealth

The problem isn’t so much what people don’t know, the problem is what people think they know that just ain’t so.”
— Will Rogers

Remember when you were absolutely certain about something that turned out to be false? Like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Or how about the witch that hides under your bed waiting to attack so you have to flip the light switch then spring into your bed before she gets you? (Okay, maybe that one’s just me.)

In honor of National Financial Literacy Month, let me just debunk a few “things you know that just ain’t so”:

1. You’ll come out ahead by deferring your taxes, and that’s one of the prime benefits of retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs

[Read more…] “5 Financial Myths that Are Destroying Your Wealth”

Why a Little Financial Information is Dangerous

Just cuz you’re following a well-marked trail doesn’t mean that whoever made it knew where they were goin’.”
— Texas Bix Bender

I respect people who are self-educated, and I respect people who continue to educate themselves about various topics, even after they’ve finished their degrees. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden used to say, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that really matters.”

That said, a little financial self-education can go a long way – toward completely destroying your financial future!

Why? Because when you cobble together your financial education with bits and pieces of advice you see on the internet, read in articles or hear on TV, you’re not really building a strong foundation of financial literacy. It’s like that old story of the 12 blind monks and the elephant. Each monk felt a different part of the elephant and used just that part to figure out what the whole animal looked like!

So one blind monk tells you to pay off all your credit debt ASAP, while another tells you that you need to build up a rainy day fund. One insists that you max out your 401(k), while another says to secure your future by paying off your mortgage. And the blind monk standing at the elephant’s tail thinks the economy stinks – so you need to get yourself a stash of precious metals!

When it comes to personal finances, you really need to see the whole elephant

[Read more…] “Why a Little Financial Information is Dangerous”

The Checklist: What You Need to Know Before You Commit to a Financial Product or Plan

People are quick to dispense advice on any subject, regardless of their qualifications. Most people don’t even distinguish between ‘opinion’ and ‘knowledge’. That’s why you must.”
— Dan Kennedy

Your Uncle Vinnie corners you at the Sunday barbeque: “You got to get on board! It’s like buying into Microsoft in the ’80’s.” Your dentist tells you to open wide and “You gotta check out this once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s the mother lode!” Your golf buddy swears she’s found the “ultimate tax shelter.” Your advisor calls with an exciting new financial product “that will get you 15% plus annual returns with little or no risk!”

Whatcha gonna do?

Hey, I’ve spent 25 years investigating over 450 financial products and vehicles. The research was intense and required sleuthing skills that probably qualify me for CSI. I can tell you that, though these products were sparkly and seductive on paper, 99.9% of them didn’t stand up to scrutiny!

I’m guessing you don’t have the time or inclination to put in that kind of effort. But to protect your family’s financial future, you need to get answers to at least a few basic questions before you (and your money) jump in: [Read more…] “The Checklist: What You Need to Know Before You Commit to a Financial Product or Plan”

It’s National Financial Literacy Month – Do You Know Your Financial IQ?

April is National Financial Literacy Month, and here at Bank On Yourself, we’re doing our part to give Americans the knowledge and skills they need to make smarter financial decisions.

As President Obama noted in a 2011 Proclamation supporting National Financial Literacy Month, “We must strive to ensure all Americans have the skills to manage their fiscal resources effectively and avoid deceptive or predatory practices.”

And the Senate resolved in 2012 that “increased financial literacy empowers individuals to make wise financial decisions and reduces the confusion caused by an increasingly complex economy.”

Wow! I think “complex economy” may be an understatement!

So we’ve put together a quick 20-question quiz here that increases your understanding of the most critical things you need to know about managing your money, investing, and planning for a secure retirement. [Read more…] “It’s National Financial Literacy Month – Do You Know Your Financial IQ?”

Bank On Yourself Round-Up for Week of June 9, 2011

I hope you enjoy these short summaries of three of the most interesting and thought-provoking items that have crossed my desk this week…

roundup

Brave new world of financial planning?

Can a new blood test tell you how long you’ll live?  And if you knew how long you would live, would you change your financial life?

A blood test showing how fast people are aging will go on sale over the counter in Britain later this year.  It measures the length of your “telomeres,” structures at the tips of your chromosomes.  Scientists now believe these are the most accurate measure of how quickly you’re aging.

Financial planners say the test could add more science to their practice.1

As one financial planner noted…

From a financial point of view, it would be great information to have.  But from a psychological standpoint – that’s a hard question.  I don’t think I would want to know.  I think it would make me depressed.”

How would you feel about knowing when you’re likely to die?  And how would your financial decisions change as a result?

Tell us in the comments box below…

New Research:  Most Americans in deep financial hole

The financial status of American households may be even darker than we thought, according to a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.2

Some of the highlights (or should we say “lowlights”) include:

Be Smart: Ignore All The Financial Experts…

Ignore All The Financial Experts Who Advise You to Scale Back Your Expectations and Lifestyle

The chorus of gloomy financial experts is singing a ballad of restraint.  They warn that we all must adjust ourselves to a “new normal,” in which we lower our expectations and scale back our lifestyles.

The supposed villains are many and include: persistent high unemployment; the devastated real estate market; rising energy and food prices; record budget deficits; the possibility of a double-dip recession; international turmoil; and, well… you name it.

You have no choice, caution the pessimistic gurus, but to swallow:

  • Earning less on your investments and savings for the foreseeable future
  • Downgrading your current lifestyle to make up for the loss of investment returnsReduce Your Expectations
  • Having less income at your disposal due to rising prices and the threat of inflation
  • Getting socked with higher tax rates as the U.S. Government struggles to close its budget gap, and cash-strapped states and cities do likewise
  • Pushing your retirement out – perhaps indefinitely
  • Living on less if you do eventually get to retire (that is not only less than you live on now – which these downbeat advisors have always claimed is a retirement must – but less even than “the less” they were already advising you get by on just a few years ago)
  • Sticking with the financial counselors who have been at your side all along because they remain your best source for guiding your future financial planning

To all of these bitter pills, we can only respond… B.S.

[Read more…] “Be Smart: Ignore All The Financial Experts…”