Monday, January 20, 2014

More than money can buy...

Robert Laura wrote this article for the Retirement Project with retirees in mind.
I think it should be a list for young and old.

A Sense Filled Retirement
When it comes to retirement, the biggest threat many retirees face in losing one or more of their senses. With that in mind, I have assembled a short list of things retirees can set out to see, hear, smell, taste and touch to help give their new found time and flexibility in retirement some specfic direction. A sense-filled bucket list if you will.

East Coast Sunrise / West Coast Sunset
Broadway musical
Arlington’s Changing of The Guard
Your family’s photo album
Renaissance area painting or sculpture
Championship sporting event
Words on the page of a great classic book like Moby Dick

A baby’s laugh
Live performance of Beethoven Symphony #9
Roar of Niagara Falls
Crashing ocean wave
Muscle Car or Jet Engine
Your own breath
4th of July Fireworks Grand Finale

Cognac / or a fine wine
Fresh squeezed OJ
Chicago style pizza
Fresh grilled bacon cheesburger
Chilly hot dog with everything
Fresh campfire S’mores
Fresh blueberry pancakes (none of that just add water complete mix)

Silk bed sheets
Snow ball
A heartbeat
Bubble wrap
Dangling your feet in water
Baby hands and toes
Warmth of a camp fire

New car
Newborn baby
Fresh cut grass
The air after it rains
Freshly ground coffee
Rose bush
Fresh bread or chocolate chip cookies baking

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Make the most of your 401k, 403b, IRA.

I found this article in the Employee Benefits Newsletter. The author gives great suggestions but assumes the most important one - automatic savings. It makes no difference what we are saving for as long as we have a goal and put it on automatic pilot. Then we no longer have to think about it and definitely eliminates the guilt if we lose track or forget.

1. Contribute as much as you can.
Remember, we all need to average at least 13% in contributions to our 401(k) accounts each year if we are to retire without reducing our standard of living. Since most of us don't contribute anything close to that amount, advise participants to consider increasing their contribution rates by at least 1% every time they get a raise. Increasing contributions gradually when participants experience a salary increase minimizes the impact of additional 401(k) contributions on take home pay.

2. Grab all of that free money.
Most 401(k) plans have a company matching contribution and, believe it or not, most participants don’t contribute the amount necessary to receive the maximum employer match. As a result, they leave free money on the table. Quick, what is the best performing investment in any 401(k) plan? Of course, employee contributions that result in a company match! In most plans the company match is dollar for dollar up to a certain percentage — resulting in a 100% immediate return on investment.

3. Consider target date funds.
Most participants are too busy to manage their 401(k) accounts properly. As a result, many only look at them in times of stress (think crashing markets). The decisions some make at those points aren’t necessarily helpful in achieving a comfortable retirement. The experts believe 75% of all plan participants should invest 100% of their account balances in target date funds. Professional management can help participants avoid making bad decisions in times of stress.

4. Set goals.
Not enough of us do this. It’s hard to discipline ourselves to save when what we are saving for is ambiguous. It is easier for participants to set meaningful savings goals if they know whether they are going to travel, relocate to a warmer climate or continue to work in retirement. Even if their retirement turns out completely different from what they had planned, having goals now makes the future seem more concrete.

5. Don't take withdraws or borrow.
Plan loans are one of the worst investments participants can make. Amounts borrowed are double-taxed and the rate of return on borrowed funds (a loan is one of the investments in a borrower's account) is equal to the interest rate on the loan. Remember the S&P 500 returned nearly 32% in 2013! Withdrawals permanently remove assets from participant retirement accounts.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Any new task you hope to accomplish or goal to attain, reading good material will get you closer. Financial jargon looks like English, sounds like English so why don't you understand what it says?

You could pick up a medical report and read the words but because you are not familiar with the terminology, you will not comprehend the meaning. Reading a book on personal finance will help you become familiar with the terms of personal finance.

You could borrow a book from the library or download one from Amazon. Take your time reading, and reread some paragraphs. Use post-it tabs to mark important passages. Keep in mind, it's not rocket science.

If reading a book feels too ambitious, buy a personal finance magazine. Do not buy a subscription at first. Just buy one magazine and read each ad and every article at least once. This will help you become familiar with the words, terms and, eventually the concepts.

Listed are six books suggested by John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Funds. John is very down to earth; a man of the people and the little investor.

Pick just one! Review them on Amazon to find the right one for you.
The Intelligent Investor
By Benjamin Graham

A Random Walk Down Wall Street
By Burton Malkiel

Unconventional Success
By David Swensen

The Four Pillars of Investing (my favorite, an easy read)
By William Bernstein

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
By Charles MacKay

The Bogleheads’Guide to Investing
By Larimore, Lindauer and LeBoeuf

A classic, not on Mr. Bogle's list and another favorite of mine:
Making the Most of Your Money Now
By Jane Bryant Quinn

A book for women of a certain age which I have not read is
Hot Flash Financial
By Wendy Weiss

Nobody cares about your money as much as you do!
Be $ smart. Read.