August 3, 2017

Time to leave Wells Fargo after one more scandal

It is LONG past time for consumers to leave Wells Fargo Bank after one more revelation of customer mistreatment to enhance the bottom line. This time the bank has admitted charging  570,000 of its customers for auto insurance that duplicated coverage they were already paying for, causing financial strain that resulted in many to lose their vehicles. The bank is offering an apology and refunds of overcharges but this is little comfort to people who lost their vehicles and had their credit rating damaged by Wells Fargo executives lining their own pockets.
This latest scandal of consumer abuse comes on top of last year's sales scandal where bank employees were coerced into opening 2.1 million accounts using ficticious info or unauthorized customer info, according to Emily Glazer in The Wall Street Journal (7/29-30/17). Also reported by The New York Times. The insurance Wells Fargo forced on its customers was more expensive than the coverage the vehicle owners already had paid for on their own policies.
Wells Fargo customers need to wake up and leave their bank for another bank or a credit union!

July 13, 2017

3 Retirement Calculators

The Squared Away Blog from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College recommends 3 free retirement calculators. Check out the blog and their recommendations at:

June 29, 2017

How to Protect Your Retirement Savings From a Crash

"Since the market hit rock bottom about eight years ago, it has been steadily improving, and investors have seen skyrocketing stock prices and annual returns. Unfortunately, those spectacular averages won't last forever, and the investment pros have some pretty pessimistic predictions for the future," according to Katie Brockman writing for The Motley Fool.
"So what can you do to protect your retirement savings in the event that the market crashes?"
1. Check that your investments are aligned with your risk tolerance
2. Don't invest anything you'll need within five years
3. Eliminate as much debt as possible
4. Prepare for the worst


June 23, 2017

Treasury Securities—3 Ways to Lend to Uncle Sam PODCAST

Do you know the difference between Treasury bills, notes, and bonds? Listen to a 6 1/2 minute podcast from FINRA to learn about treasury securities. FINRA has lots of other podcasts to inform you about financial affairs. Check out:
Lots more podcasts at:

A negative view of reverse mortgages

Economist Laurence Kotlikoff offers an alternative to a reverse mortgage for the house-rich and cash-poor senior homeowner. He is not a fan of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, or HECM. "An HECM sounds like a great financial product. It lets people 62 and older, many with little if any financial assets, tap into their home equity to get either immediate or monthly cash payments to help pay bills." Kotlikoff objects to the high fees and potentially high variable interest rates that lender charge on HECMs. As an alternative he suggests that a senior homeowner take out a mortgage and use the funds to buy a life-time annuity. If you are considering a HECM, read his opinion at:


June 22, 2017

Paid credit card late fees recently?

"Credit card companies usually set small-dollar minimum payments, so there’s really no excuse for incurring fees for late card payments."
"Yet many consumers fail to pay on time. In a new study, British researchers found a no-brainer solution that is highly effective: setting up automatic payments of our credit cards."
"The researchers started out with a different premise: that customers might learn, over time, to prevent maddening late fees after having to pay them numerous times. The researchers roundly rejected this after following nearly 250,000 U.K. credit card holders over two years.  When it comes to late fees, we do not learn from our mistakes."
"What they noticed, however, was a clear distinction between card holders who incur late fees regularly and those who don’t or who stopped incurring the fees.   Setting up autopay 'all but eliminates the likelihood of future [late] fees,' while the probability remains “persistently high” (about one in five) among people who did not, they said."
It's a no-brainer. Set up autopay for your credit cards!
Thanks to the Squared Away Blog:

June 21, 2017

IRA or Tattoo? Tattoo or IRA?

"What's an IRA?" the young person planning to get a tattoo might ask.
A tattoo is forever, following you into retirement. How many future retirees will look at their sagging tattoos and wish they had saved more for retirement?
How much are you spending on tattoos that provide no economic return while claiming you can't afford to contribute to an Individual Retirement Account? When I see people with extensive tattoos my first reaction is: "bet they aren't saving for retirement!" You can start an IRA with as little as $100 to open an account. Check out Schwab mutual fund company's target retirement index funds.

June 19, 2017

7 Retirement X-Factors for Your Nest Egg everything you need to know to plan for retirement is available on the blog post by Joseph Hogue, author of the PeerFinance101 blog: 7 Retirement X-Factors for Your Nest Egg. It's never as simple as accumulating X times your salary or other "rules of thumb." Check out:

Financial decisionmaking decline in older adults

 A recent study confirms that seniors become more confident in their ability to make financial decisions at the same time that their financial knowledge and decision making skills are declining... an ominous combination.
Senior Citizen Stock Photography
"Although episodic memory and financial literacy score decline at roughly the same rate after age 60, confidence in financial decision-making ability remains relatively unchanged with age. The percentage of overconfident respondents with high self-assessed ability and low objective literacy scores increases from about 10% in the 60s to higher than 30% among respondents over 85."
The likelihood of being overconfident with one’s financial knowledge increases with age. Each year of age after 60 increases the likelihood of having high confidence and low financial literacy scores by 7 %. Higher levels of education are associated with a much lower likelihood of overconfidence, as are being male and white."
"Recognition of diminished investment skills may increase demand for annuitization or the delegation of important financial decisions to a trusted advisor. However, our study finds that, in aggregate and within all financial decision-making domains, advanced age increases overconfidence in
financial decision-making abilities. The largest marginal effects are within the investment and insurance topic areas."
Similarly, "older drivers generally do not perceive a decline in their driving skills despite a predictable deterioration in sensory ability with advanced age."
Researchers Finke, Huston, and Howe: Old Age and the Decline in Financial Literacy, published in:
Management Science. Abstract available at:

Photo © Max Blain | Dreamstime Stock Photos

10 Retirement Mistakes Baby Boomers Are Making

Senior Friends Taking Photo Stock PhotosTo avoid these mistakes, check out:

Photo © | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Deciding when to retire... lots of factors to consider

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"If you're in your 50s or 60s, deciding when and how to leave the workforce for good is one of the most important decisions you'll face during the rest of your life. You'll want to consider and balance many factors when making a thoughtful choice. Fortunately, help is available from the Society of Actuaries (SOA), which recently published a brief titled "When Should I Retire?" It's part of the organization's "Managing Retirement Decisions" series" according to Steve Vernon writing for Money Watch." Check out the details at:

Photo © | Dreamstime Stock Photos

June 13, 2017

5 Steps to take before you retire

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1. Make a financial plan that starts with a budget.
2. Determine how much you can safely withdraw from savings.
3. Identify which retirement sources to use when.
4. Set your asset allocation.
5. Figure out how to pay for medical costs.
Get the details from Margaret Price, writing for Investors Business Daily at:    

Understand Key Concepts: Return and Rate of Return

When evaluating investment options or assessing the performance of your current investments, two concepts are key: return and rate of return. In this podcast, we explain both and how to use them to get the most out of your investments. Listen | 4 min. 45 sec.

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Medicare Primer

Most people should sign up for Medicare during the three months before their 65th birthday to avoid costly penalties, even if you are still working and covered by health insurance through your employer. Failure to sign up at the right time can result in a financial penalty for the rest of your life (to discourage people from waiting until they really need care and failing to pay monthly premiums). But Medicare part A is free so be sure to sign up. Read the details from The Motley Fool at:
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May 18, 2017

Don't be put off by high sticker price of private colleges

"Phillip Levine is breaking down a barrier: the well-founded fear among low-income and even middle-class families that an elite liberal arts college is out of the question."
Levine, a professor at Welleseley College, "designed a calculator to estimate how much an individual applicant will actually pay, after plugging in his or her family’s unique financial data, such as income, house value, mortgage amount, etc. – and the calculator is way easier than filling out a FAFSA form." Check out the details at the Squared Away blog:

Analyze My Divorce Settlement

"Analyze My Divorce Settlement calculates how each spouse will fare financially under any proposed divorce agreement entered into the program.  This software gets to the bottom line—how much each spouse will have to spend  based on the details in a specific divorce agreement. For households and professionals." Visit to learn more.

Are Indexed Annuities Really as Good as They Are Made to Sound?

"Some of the hottest selling financial products currently being sold are called indexed annuities.  They are often promoted as a way to potentially earn double digit returns with no downside risk and no risk of outliving your money.  The insurance reps and supposed advisors that sell them often prey on people’s fears of stock market crashes, unstable economies and rising taxes.  Anytime someone tries to scare you into making a decision or evoke strong emotion to compel you to do something you should BEWARE.  Additionally, if something sounds too good to be true it usually is.  Our experience with talking to those who have purchased indexed annuities as well as some of our own research has led us to conclude that in most cases the returns are usually lower single digit returns comparable to a bond return.  Additionally, the lack of liquidity and flexibility in accessing funds in the annuity often proves inconsistent with many retiree’s income needs.
For more information on this subject we have provided links to two articles that go into greater detail about indexed annuities.  The first is a FINRA Investor Alert.  FINRA is a not-for-profit organization authorized by congress to protect America’s investors and to make sure the industry operates fairly and honestly.  The second is from Fidelity Investments, which operates a brokerage firm managing a large family of mutual funds and provides fund distribution and investment advice along with retirement services, life insurance and wealth management."
FINRA Investor Alert – Equity-Indexed Annuities: A Complex Choice
Fidelity – Indexed Annuities:  Look before you leap
Thanks to Networth Advisory Group for this post. Check out their website and blog:

May 16, 2017

How to Create a Retirement Plan in 15 Minutes

Writing for the Motley Fool, Wendy Connick explains that this 5 step process "will work for the majority of savers to ensure that they have enough funds for a comfortable retirement."

Step one: Set aside 15% of your income
Step two: Put your retirement savings into a tax-deferred retirement account
Step three: Put the money in a target date fund
Step four: Check in once a year
Step five: Enjoy your retirement
Get the details at:
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