What Are Annuities and Do They Make Sense for You?

You may have heard of annuities before, and wondered what are annuities and whether should you invest in them. Annuities have a reputation, and to a lot of finance people it isn’t a very good one. It’s a fact that an awful lot of financial advisors (not to be confused with annuity salesmen) don’t recommend them or even like to talk about them very much. They are more likely want to talk to you about investments in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds for growing your wealth. They’ll also talk about participating in a 401k plan to combine with your Social Security benefits, pension, and brokerage accounts for your retirement program.

Annuities can be confusing and have a pretty bad rep. But you should understand what annuities are before deciding on whether they're right for you.

That may be a good plan for many people. But it is wise to consider an annuity or at least feel that you have examined them and understood what they are and why you’d use them before you rule them out. For some people, it can be a real complement to their financial security and retirement plans. And that raises the question, “Do they make any sense for you?” Continue reading

10 IRA Mistakes That Can Screw Up Your Retirement Plan

For an amount of money like $5,500 a year ($6,500 for those over age 50), all of us have an awful lot riding on an IRA. According to the Investment Company Institute, Americans had over $24.6 trillion dollars socked away in total retirement assets with $7.5 trillion in IRA accounts as of the second quarter of 2016.  That makes IRAs the biggest place that people have parked their money for retirement in the country. In addition to direct contributions, a lot of that money has come from rollovers of retirement assets from previous employers’ accounts.

IRA accounts are a popular way to save for retirement, but you need to beware of these 10 IRA mistakes that can derail your savings.

Opening an IRA account seems like it’s a fairly simple thing. You go to a bank or you can pick a brokerage firm or a mutual fund company (even online), fill out a few forms, and then move some money into the account. But, there are a lot of things that can go wrong when and if you stub your toe in the IRA process. It can wind up costing you a lot of money, and that is the money that you are counting on for your retirement and that can screw up your “golden years” if you’re not careful. Continue reading

Track Your Financial Health with These 6 Vital Signs

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When you go to the doctor, they check your vital signs like blood pressure and temperature to make sure you’re healthy. But what about the vital signs for your financial health? These numbers tell you if you’re financially healthy (or not!) and can give you goals to shoot for.

Just like your doctor measures your vital signs to check your physical health, you need to track these 6 vital signs to monitor your financial health.Over time I’ve learned the hard way that I have to go to the doctor and get checked out or else my health suffers. It’s the same with your money. If you don’t pay attention to your financial vital signs, you’ll be headed for disaster. Continue reading

The Stock Market: Should You Invest in It?

I’m not going to claim that I’m an expert on the stock market despite the fact that I spent years advising people and helping them invest their money while I worked for several large banks. In fact, I don’t think there is anyone that can really claim to be one. Yes, I know that there are some people who claim to be experts. They advertise that and even have some monetary results offered as proof that they are. But in my humble, non-expert opinion, advising and successfully picking stocks in the market is very difficult. It’s a high risk maneuver at best, and I’ve actually compared it to gambling in my past writings.

If you're wondering, "should I invest in the stock market?", then read on for some considerations before you decide to invest.

Having said that, I will have to admit that some people who gamble actually can win big. While the stock market isn’t exactly spinning a wheel and hoping it lands on “jackpot”, it is a guessing game where you can educate yourself and then make a “smarter guess” than the wheel spin might offer. So you may be asking yourself, “should I invest in the stock market?”. Here are some facts to consider. Continue reading

Investment Pornography – Bulls and Bears and Brexit, oh my!

If you listen to the investment experts you see on the business networks like CNBC or Bloomberg to get advice every day about your stock portfolio or potential investment strategies, you’re likely to find in a space of an hour or so a complete jumble of advice. After hearing it, it may cause you to want to heave up your lunch or even worse, pull a blanket over your head and wait until it’s all over!

Investment Pornography - Bulls and Bears and Brexit, oh my!

That’s primarily due to what I call, are you ready…“the bullish bear, I think here’s what to expect or it may be something else, voice of sanity and a really good guess strategy” theory. Let’s face the facts, many of these “experts” have no more idea than you or I do especially if they’re working every day on TV and radio for a paycheck. After all, wouldn’t they be investing their own money and making big bucks with all of that so called knowledge and forecasting? While there are a few key rules in investing and growing your money, a lot of what is spouted each day is what is known as “investment pornography”. Continue reading

5 Old-School Savings And Investing Concepts That Still Work

Today’s guest post was sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services.

The world of investing is rapidly changing. We have seen the global economy rise and fall, with housing and stock market crises taking up headlines.

5 Old School Savings and Investing Concepts That Still Work

Even so, many tried-and-true concepts of saving and investing still provide the most stability for investors. In fact, you should brush up on at least five old-school financial concepts as a first step in securing your financial future. They may not represent a new model of thinking, but they’re all safe ways to protect your hard-earned money. Continue reading

Retirement Realities That Will Shock Your System

When you are in your 50’s and are thinking about your retirement and all the pleasant thoughts of having your time be all your own, you may be in for the shock of your life! I tell you this so that you react now and don’t wait a minute longer to prepare yourself for the retirement realities that may be just around the corner.

Retirement Realities That Will Shock Your System

Even if you are 40, or even 30 something, and you think retirement is a goal that is close at hand for you, you should know more about what waits in retirement that perhaps you think can’t or won’t happen to you. For most of us, 50 is a toll booth that stands between you and the path to a financially happy retirement in the sense that it’s a mile marker and it’s up to you to make sure you have your “easy pass” ready to meet the toll collector. It’s not too late to reach into your pocket for the exact change and make sure that you don’t have to get off the road and travel the long way towards your peace and contentment. Continue reading

Financial Literacy: A Review of “High School Money Hacks”

Every April since 2003, the United States has recognized and celebrated National Financial Literacy Month. It was called for by a joint resolution in congress and is one path to educating the citizens of our country about the importance and real necessity of developing a working knowledge in mastering the language, principles, and actions of finance.

Financial Literacy: A Review of "High School Money Hacks"

But nowhere is it more important to begin that education than with our youth. High school financial literacy is more important than ever before. There are many levels of education and responsibilities that kids come in contact with that can be the inspiration and key to their developing a full understanding of the principles of financial education. I recently read a book that I think can really help both student and parent in that quest. Continue reading

How Much Does 1% Cost You?

Last week, I wrote about How to Avoid Those Annoying Fees. But some fees can be even worse than that, robbing you of huge savings for retirement, as Michael from Stretch A Dime explains in today’s guest post.

The first thing I would suggest for you to do is login to your retirement savings account (IRA, 401k, or any other type) and check the expense ratio of the funds you have your money invested in.

If you don’t pay careful attention, 1% can cost you very dearly on your retirement savings count. Let me show you…

How Much Does 1% Cost You? Continue reading

How to Cash in an Extra $5,000 in Savings This Year

Please welcome back fellow blogger Anum Yoon for today’s guest post.

We all want to save money. Unfortunately we live in a society that constantly encourages us to spend. Whether it’s the need to keep up with the Joneses or just maintain the lifestyle we’ve become used to, we all find it hard to give up the things we love.

How to Cash In an Extra $5,000 in Savings This Year

If you’re willing to make some minor concessions, you might just find ways to put back a bit of extra cash without compromising your lifestyle. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Continue reading