January 30, 2015

Toxic For-Profit Colleges

With high student loan debt burdens making the news, it's important to distinguish non-profit (whether public or private higher education) from profit-making institutions who exemplify so-called "free enterprise" gone amok which, according to a U.S. Senate report, result in: 

  • Staggering investment of tax dollars
  • Sky-high tuition 
  • Predatory recruiting
  • Too many students leave with debt, but no degree
  • Billions in taxpayer dollars diverted to marketing, executive salaries, and profits
  • Gaming the regulatory system to maximize profits
Read the details in the Harkin report summary:  http://www.help.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=45c8ca2a-b290-47ab-b452-74d6e6bdb9dd
Borrowing to invest in your human capital to enhance your future earning power (along with making you an educated adult) can make sense. But For-Profit colleges are often a poor choice. Consumer Due Diligence is strongly recommended. For-Profit institutions are often toxic for taxpayers as well as for students.

January 25, 2015

Focus on retirement INCOME rather than the "number"

Rather than fixating on a specific $ goal (aka the "number"), investors nearing retirement (ages 55-64) should focus on the amount of income their investments will be able to generate in retirement based on current inflation, rates, of return . Check out Blackrock's CoRI™ calculator http://www.blackrock.com/cori/cori. It's a simple to use tool that shows how much annual income your investments can generate. While it is limited to the assumption that one retires at age 65 and lives an average lifespan (and most readers of this blog are likely to live longer than average), it is a useful tool. Check it out. 

January 21, 2015

Why Active Management is a Bad Idea

USU employees are being offered the opportunity to have their 403(b) retirement investments actively managed by Fidelity... for a "small" fee. Just say NO to active management! Despite Fidelity's slick marketing campaign, all the research evidence confirms that active management DOES NOT pay off. For evidence on why active management is a costly idea that only enriches the manager and not the investor see: How to Win the Loser's Game, a research-based documentary in 10 short segments that includes interviews with the greatest minds in investing. See:

How to win the loser’s game https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwkjqGd8NC4

January 20, 2015

Personal Finance Questions, Realities & Myths

February 26, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. EST (10-11 am Mountain Time)
This University of Florida Extension Webinar will discuss frequently asked financial questions and expose some urban legends. Register at http://bit.ly/faq2015

Where to Turn for Financial Advice

Where to Turn for Financial Advice
A webinar presented by the University of Florida Extension Service
February 25, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST (10-11 am Mountain Time)
We will discuss how to evaluate different types of financial professionals, the meaning behind their professional designations, and the ways they arecompensated.  We will also provide resources for free, reliable and non-commercial financial information.  Register at http://bit.ly/finpro2015

Tax Prep Webinar

Personal Income Tax Preparation and Filing
Provided through the University of Florida Extension Service
January  29, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST (10 am - 11 am Mountain Time)
An IRS representative will discuss options for free tax filing, provide information about tax credits & deductions, and demonstrate IRS tools to help you with your return. Register at http://bit.ly/taxprep1

Send your Utah income tax refund straight to your UESP account

If you, like most Americans overpay your income taxes, when preparing your Utah income tax return, send your refund to your UESP accounts by checking part 5 on the last page. It's a great way to force yourself to save for post-secondary education. For details see: https://uesp.org/pdfs/Inserts/UtahTaxRefund2014.aspx If you aren't already saving for higher education for yourself, your children, or grandchildren... Get With IT! Go to UESP.org and set up an automatic monthly contribution today. For more info just type in "college" in this blog's search box.

How to Tell if Your Retirement Nest Egg Is Big Enough

If you are nearing retirement or already there... "This Calculation Might Prompt You to Take Some Winnings Off the Table—Before It’s Too Late."  William J. Bernstein is a very highly regarded investment expert with an engaging writing style so go ahead and read what he has to say about asset allocation in light of the almost 6 year old bull market: 
"During past bull markets, many Americans nearing retirement fleetingly acquired a nest egg adequate for later life. Then, as quickly as that nest egg came, it went—leaving behind regret, sleepless nights, and in the worst case, panic selling near the bottom that eliminated any possibility of recovery.
This happened in the late 1990s, as the tech-stock bubble produced a blizzard of paper millionaires that melted away faster than a cherry snow cone in August. It happened in the mid-2000s, as Americans grew ever more comfortable with stock-heavy portfolios and with treating their home equity as an ATM, only to be savaged by the worst financial crisis since the Depression.
And it will happen again. In March, the current bull market will be six years old. It might run an additional six years—or end in April. Regardless, the lesson from financial history is clear:
When you’ve won the game, stop playing." Read the full article at:

7 Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving More Money in 2015

Great research-based advice to stay on the right track in 2015:
1. Use Inertia to Your Advantage
2. Keep Your Eye on One Prize
3. Focus on the Future
4. Ignore Raises and Bonuses
5. Make it Contractual
6. Keep Impulses from Undoing Your Budget
7. Force Yourself to Feel Guilty     
Read the details by Susie Popick at: http://time.com/money/3658298/how-to-save-more-money/

The Best Online Tools for Retirement Planning and Living

Wow! This Wall Street Journal article is a real keeper with links to excellent resources for retirement planning all in one place. "Apps and Websites Offer Help With Budgeting, Social Security, Lifestyle Planning and Other Essentials."
What Will You Do in Retirement?  LifePlanningForYou.com, which offers a free series of introspective exercises.
Longevity Forecasting:  Search for “Vitality Compass” in the “Live-Longer” section at Bluezones.com. "In addition to life expectancy, the calculator can forecast healthy-life expectancy, defined as the age someone will reach before being diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes or cancer. As a result, it can provide insight into the number of years a person might pay higher health-care or long-term-care expenses. It also offers tips for living longer."
How Much to Save: "Even with a realistic estimate of life expectancy, it’s virtually impossible to figure out how much to save for retirement or how long a nest egg might last without first knowing how much you’re spending and on what. Several programs, including Mint and Yodlee’s MoneyCenter, can put together a budget for consumers based on their past spending patterns and alert them when they are in danger of exceeding past thresholds."
Retirement Income Planning: "When planning retirement, saving money is half the battle. The other half: figuring out how to generate a steady paycheck throughout retirement."
Social Security Planning: "The tricky part is knowing when is the best time for each individual to start collecting. A growing number of online programs aim to help users peg the optimal claiming strategy." Financial Engines offers a free calculator: http://corp.financialengines.com/individuals/retirement-readiness.html
Medical Care
Estate Planning
End-of-Life Care
This article is a terrific resource for all age levels, whether planning for yourself or assisting parents or grandparents. Check out:
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