May 29, 2015

Who needs life insurance? Advice to young adults

As long as you each are able to support yourselves and you have no kids (and no mortgage) you don't need life insurance. Very few young adults become uninsurable. Note that one company might deny coverage while another company will sell the same person a policy. See: (note the author is a certified financial planner which lends credibility).
How do I guarantee future insurability with a term policy?
What factors might supplement replacement income?
Note the important role Social Security plays in replacing income. Early in my career I had a student who was a widow with 4 kids under the age of 6. Her husband was killed in a vehicle accident when they had 2 toddlers and she was pregnant with twins! They had no life insurance. Luckily he had worked long enough to be covered by SS so she and the kids received SS survivors’ benefits. Very few insurance sales people will even mention SS Survivors' benefits as part of the process of deciding if you need insurance and, if so, how much.
SS Survivors Benefits  "The younger you are, the fewer years you need to work. But no one needs more than 10 years of work to be eligible for any Social Security benefit. Under a special rule, if you have worked for only one and one-half years in the three years just before your death, benefits can be paid to your children and your spouse who is caring for the children." Each of you should set up an online Social Security account:
If you decide to buy life insurance read:
Life Insurance Buyer's Guide (but note the publisher is the industry)
New York State Life insurance consumer info:
Do either of you have life insurance as an employee benefit? Sometimes you may have 1x your annual salary in insurance as a free benefit. Can you buy cheap life insurance as an employee benefit? By buying through your employer you are part of a group plan which does not require a health check (or only if you want to buy a really high amount of coverage).
Also consider that the surviving spouse would be the beneficiary of retirement accounts and other assets.
If you had a mortgage that you need both incomes to pay and want to be sure the surviving spouse could afford the mortgage if one of you died, then you might want to buy term life insurance policies.
Life insurance salespeople use scare tactics to try to sell guaranteed renewable whole life insurance because they earn much higher commissions on whole life policies than on term policies, not only when they first sell you the policy but for years afterwards if you keep paying premiums. So the sales person will really push whole life. 
You might be better off funding Roth IRAs.

May 26, 2015

Identity Theft Resources

The Federal Trade Commission has launched which is the federal government’s one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process.

May 19, 2015

Political Short-Sigtedness Undermines Retirement Security for Americans

"Politicians, most brokers, and financial firms don't pay attention to really long-range forecasts anymore because there is no money in it for them. Professional retirement planners, however, have to consider long-term effects to better prepare people for saving before retirement and spending during retirement. They have to worry about time spans of 20 to 70 years."
"A few years ago, there was some attention to the long-term obligations that the government has for Social Security, Medicare, government pensions and welfare programs of various sorts. Those unfunded obligations amounted to over $100 trillion." According to Henry Hebeler, "The short-term focus is destroying our retirement."
Until voters demand better from politicians, short term decisions for political expediency will continue to favor the rich who fund political campaigns.  Read more at

Rental Rates Rising Among Retiring Boomers

"A fully paid-off home—once a quintessential part of the American dream, is becoming far less popular among a new generation of retirees. In lieu of the stability and security home ownership (supposedly) provides, more and more retiring Baby Boomers are choosing the convenience and flexibility of apartments and condominiums."
"In fact, a recent study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that rental rates steadily increased among seniors aged 55 to 75 from 2004 to 2013, and that the 75 and older crowd was the only group to see it drop. What’s more, many if not most of these older renters are former homeowners. A survey of apartment managers actually found that 29 percent of Americans transitioning from home ownership to renting were between the ages of 50 and 65."
Maybe it's time to re-think the importance of homeownership...

Toll-Free Securities Helpline for Seniors

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has launched the toll-free FINRA Securities Helpline for SeniorsTM to provide older investors with a supportive place to get assistance from knowledgeable FINRA staff related to concerns they have with their brokerage accounts and investments.
Senior investors can call FINRA's new toll-free FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors (844-57-HELPS or 844-574-3577) from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, and get neutral, knowledgeable assistance with:
  • understanding how to review your investment portfolio or account statements;
  • concerns about the handling of a brokerage account; and
  • investor tools and resources from FINRA, including BrokerCheck®.

3-Step 15-Minute Retirement Plan

Stop fooling yourself. You don't need a Ph.D. in finance to set up a sensible retirement investing plan. Just follow the prudent advice of Walter Updegrave, editor of
Step #1: Pick a savings target.
Step #2: Settle on your investing strategy. 
Step 3: Do an initial assessment. 
Read the details at 

Financial Planning in the Shadow of Dementia

"Over 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease."  Writer Karen Wittwer describes a resource for families available from Transamerica, in partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. The Caregiver’s Guide to Financial Planning in the Shadow of Dementia "explains what actions to take during the three stages of decline, including how to create an initial financial plan; confronting the leading symptoms of caregiver stress, and how to manage them; and the important topics to discuss when creating and managing a loved one’s financial plan, including sections on how to ask the right questions of financial advisers."
Available for free download at:

May 18, 2015

Find a Job With Good Retirement Benefits

Trying to invest for retirement without the help of a generous employer is like Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology, who was condemned to repeat the task of pushing a boulder up to a mountain, only to see it roll down again… over and over… forever.  But young adults starting their careers can make astute decisions about where to apply for positions. “How to Find a Job With Good Retirement Benefits” by Emily Brandon, provides great help about what types of employers are likely to provide pensions, robust 401(k) plans and other pertinent advice at:

May 10, 2015

10 Tricks to raise your retirement living standard

By Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff
1. Work longer, retire later.
2. Move to a low tax state
3. “Downsize” the housee.
4. Increase to 401(k) contributions
5. Contributes to an IRA.
6-8. Make strategic choices when claiming Social Security retirement benefits.
9. Contributes to a Roth, not a 401(k).
10. Annuitize half of your retirement assets.
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