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The Crystal Ball

Every so often we get asked by our clients or prospective clients which direction the market is going to go. This is always and entertaining question to get – and some of our “regulars” already know the answer. Having a bit of a sense of humor (albeit dry sometimes) I’ll joke with clients and tell them that the day they handed out crystal balls in my investment class, it was the one time I called in sick – and you only get one chance at the coveted crystal ball. Thus, I forever lost the opportunity to predict the future of the markets. Darn. Inevitably, clients laugh and understand the joke – and take away the underlying theme of the jocularity – that we can’t predict the future, especially in securities markets. But this doesn’t mean we can’t plan ahead. So why do we invest? Why do we save for retirement? […]

A Money Back Guarantee

  You’ve heard the saying before that there are a few guarantees in life: death and taxes. I’d also like to add another: guaranteeing yourself a rate of return. I get asked this question frequently, usually by someone who’s a conservative investor or someone looking for a “sure thing”. This is what I tell them and I am telling you. Call this your money back guarantee. For the majority of readers, this will come into play as most of you have debt in some form or another. Whether it’s your mortgage, automobile, boat, credit cards, college, many Americans have different amounts of debt all at different interest rates. Typically, your consumer debt (credit cards) is going to have the highest interest rates. Here’s how to guarantee yourself a rate of return: PAY DOWN YOUR DEBT. By paying down your debt you will be guaranteeing yourself the rate of return equal […]

How Financial Advisers Get Paid

  As you begin your search for a financial professional it’s going to be important to know how the particular professional you choose will get paid. It will also be important to ask questions not only in regards to their compensation, but who actually pays the adviser.  There are generally three ways in which financial advisers and planners get paid. Commission:  An adviser that’s paid on commission generally gets paid based on the underlying product they sell. Commission rates vary depending on the product sold – anywhere from 5% to 50%. Term Life insurance for example, will have roughly a 40% commission rate on the annual premium for the first year. Whole Life insurance is generally 50% the first year. The difference being Term Life may have an annual premium of $1,000 where Whole Life may have an annual premium of $5,000. It can be difficult to be objective when an adviser can make $2,500 versus $400 […]

Why You Need an Emergency Fund

You may or may not have heard that it’s wise to have an emergency fund. Even if you’ve heard it, you may not be aware of what it means and why you should have one – and more importantly why you need one. An emergency fund is just that. It’s money set aside for a rainy day, an unexpected bump in the road, or for a real emergency or an expense that you haven’t specifically planned for. Examples of those unexpected expenses (borderline redundant – I know) include a car accident, disability, storm damage to your home, losing a job, being a victim of theft, etc. So what makes up an emergency fund? Generally, a good place to start is to have a goal of at least 3 to 6 months of non-discretionary living expenses put away in a relatively liquid account such as a savings, checking or money market […]

Why Hire a Professional?

Throughout our lives as different life events happen and the need for help arises we have the opportunity to rely on ourselves to get the tasks done, or entrust in the skill and expertise of a professional. Very often there’s a fine line as to what we’ll bother doing ourselves or to whom we’ll hire and delegate the job. For mundane tasks, the tasks that we know we can do ourselves with little to no effort, it’s second nature for us to roll up our sleeves and get the job done. Examples of this include washing the car, cleaning the house, balancing the checkbook, bandaging a small cut, and doing the dishes. It’s rare that we’ll “contract out” these tasks as they are very limited in the expertise needed to get them done, and from a frugality standpoint, most of us are willing to accept the trade-off of doing the […]

Pay Yourself First

One of the first steps to saving is to get yourself on an automatic pay plan. You’re going to learn to pay yourself first. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a minimal amount. What does matter is that you are going to pay yourself first. This concept is found in the book, The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Classon. Consider yourself the first bill you have to pay. Here’s how you can apply this to your life: First, one of the easiest things you can do is take a portion of your paycheck and stick it right in the bank, right away, the day you get paid. One of the best ways I know of to accomplish this is through the genius of direct deposit. If your employer allows it, have your paycheck directly deposited into your bank account each and every payday. Some employers even allow a […]

C’mon America! Add 1% More to Your Retirement Savings This Year!

My fellow financial bloggers and I have come together to encourage an increase in retirement savings this year.  Since many employees are going through annual benefit elections right about now, it’s also a very good time to consider increasing your annual contributions to your retirement savings plans.  Small steps are the easiest to take, and the least painful – so why not set aside an additional 1% in your retirement plan in the coming year? The list below includes a boatload of ideas that you can use to help you with this increase to savings.  I’ve heard from several more bloggers who are going to put their posts up soon. If you’re a blogger, see the original post for details on how to join the action: Calling All Bloggers! Listed below are the articles in our movement so far (newest are at the top): From Dana Anspach: Can You Spare […]