Tag: Individual

Personal financial planning is important for a number of reasons. It helps you to understand your current financial situation, set goals for the future and develop a plan to achieve those goals. It can also help you to manage your money more effectively, reduce your overall financial stress and build your financial confidence.

There are a number of different aspects to personal financial planning, and it is important to consider all of them when developing your plan. These include budgeting, saving and investing, retirement planning and insurance.

Budgeting

Budgeting is a key part of personal financial planning. It involves setting up a system to track your income and expenses, so that you can see where your money is going. This can help you to identify areas where you are spending too much money, and make changes to your spending habits.

Saving and investing

Saving and investing are important aspects of personal financial planning. They can help you to reach your financial goals, and provide you with financial security in the future.

There are a number of different ways to save and invest your money. These include setting up a savings account, investing in stocks and shares, and buying property.

Retirement planning

Retirement planning is an important part of personal financial planning. It involves thinking about how much money you will need to live comfortably in retirement, and making sure that you have enough money saved to reach your goal.

There are a number of different retirement savings plans available, including pension plans, 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

Insurance

Insurance is another important aspect of personal financial planning. It can help to protect you and your family financially if you are ever faced with an unexpected event, such as an accident or illness.

There are a number of different types of insurance, including health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care insurance.

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The best CD rates can be found at a variety of financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders. When shopping for a CD, it’s important to compare offers from multiple lenders to find the best rate.

What is a CD?

A CD is a certificate of deposit, a type of savings account that typically offers a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account. CDs have a fixed term, meaning you agree to keep your money in the account for a set period of time, typically anywhere from six months to five years.

What are the benefits of a CD?

The biggest benefit of a CD is the interest rate. CDs typically offer higher interest rates than savings accounts, which can help you grow your money faster. Additionally, CDs have fixed terms, which can help you better manage your finances and reach your savings goals.

What are the risks of a CD?

The biggest risk of a CD is that you may not have access to your money for the entire term. If you need to withdraw your money before the CD matures, you may incur a penalty. Additionally, if interest rates rise during the term of your CD, you may miss out on the opportunity to earn more money.

How do I choose the best CD for me?

When choosing a CD, it’s important to compare offers from multiple lenders to find the best interest rate. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the term length and whether you want a traditional CD or an IRA CD.

What is the difference between a traditional CD and an IRA CD?

A traditional CD is a savings account that is offered by a bank or credit union. An IRA CD is a type of retirement account that is offered by a financial institution. Both account types have fixed terms and typically offer higher interest rates than savings accounts.

The biggest difference between a traditional CD and an IRA CD is that an IRA CD is tax-deferred. This means that you won’t have to pay taxes on the interest you earn until you withdrawal the money from the account.

Which is better, a traditional CD or an IRA CD?

There is no definitive answer to this question. It depends on your individual financial situation. If you’re looking for a place to save for retirement, an IRA CD may be a good option. If you’re looking for a higher interest rate on your savings, a traditional CD may be a better option.

What is the best CD rate?

The best CD rate is the rate that is best for your individual financial situation. When shopping for a CD, it’s important to compare offers from multiple lenders to find the best rate.

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Investors are well aware that financial markets go up and down.  That is the essence of business and economic cycles.  What is difficult for individual investors to master is how to act in the face of market advances and declines.  Unfortunately, most people become very tolerant of risk and increase their exposure to the stock market when the market is advancing.  Similarly, they avoid risk and clip their exposure to stocks when markets are declining, or after a large correction.  It is human nature and “recency bias” that create this visceral response to market perturbations.  Recency bias occurs when investors believe that the most recent performance of their investment portfolios will continue indefinitely in the future.  It is just one factor that results in investors consistently underperforming the stock market.

Brad M. Barber  and Terrance Odean, in their 2011 study “The Behavior of Individual Investors,” conclude that individuals routinely underperform benchmarks through 1) selling winning investments and holding losing investments, 2) being heavy influenced by most recent past returns (repeating investment behavior that coincides with pleasure and avoiding behavior that is painful), and 3) holding undiversified portfolios.

Dalbar studies have also shown that most individual investors typically trail the market rate of return, and they typically do so by a fairly wide margin.

The message from Dalbar since its first study in 1994 is that investment results are more dependent on investor behavior than fund performance and that mutual fund investors who tend to buy and hold are more successful than those who attempt to time the market.

Investors who attempt to time the market are often acting irrationally out of fear of a potential loss.  Stocks and investment funds happen to be the only assets that people buy less of when they become less expensive. Let’s think about buying food at the supermarket, if the price of steak rose considerably, you would be more inclined to reduce your purchase of steak or buy something else, but if the supermarket suddenly reduced the price of the steak by 30%, you would stock up.  However, you do the opposite when it comes to stocks and other investments.  The stock market can foster a gambling mentality.  When you are on a roll you hate to stop, but that is exactly when you should cash some chips in.

So how does an investor counteract the tendency to time the market and invest based on most recent results?  Rebalancing is great way to fight the effects of recency bias.  Rebalancing to your target asset allocation is a mechanistic and unemotional way to fight these counterintuitive emotions.  I sometimes get an odd look from my clients when I suggest that they rebalance after a market run-up.  “Why would I want to do that, the market is hot?” might be a typical comment.  But that is exactly why rebalancing is so important.  It removes the emotions, market noise, and other extraneous factors, and reminds the investor of their original financial plan and goals.

The best value-added proposition a financial advisor provides is to set the target allocation and then monitor and adjust it based on the client’s personal goals and life events.  The asset allocation is set within the investment policy statement and the portfolio is rebalanced yearly, or as needed, after large market advances or declines.  The asset allocation is revisited periodically, at least every 3 years, and is adjusted in response to a client’s retirement goals, change in health or marital status, or market valuations.

Rebalancing in this way, will not only help the client attain rates of return closer to the respective benchmarks for his or her portfolio, it can actually be a source of additional return.  In a recent article in Financial Planning magazine, “Portfolio Rebalancing: Get It Right,” Allan Roth underscores the incremental benefit of rebalancing.  His analysis shows that “over the past 15 years, the portfolio that stuck to its allocation earned 1.54 percentage points more each year than the average portfolio that tried to time asset classes.”

Rebalancing is just one area where advisors add incremental return and why it is essential for our clients to commit to the annual review and rebalance exercise.   Emotions can be hard to control, let your re-balancing take them out of the mix, so you can maximize your long range returns.

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It’s clearer than ever that finances have pla[censored] , and still play, one of the most important roles in the evolution of society and individual behaviour. Nevertheless, when it comes to actually managing finances, each and every one of us has his/her own individual approach. Therefore, is some are savers, other are spenders, and others are somewhere in between. This continuum can be perceived as a paradigm that is used to frame differences in the way people approach money. However, as different as money is perceived by every person, there comes a time when money accomplishes the same function: tax. Of course, this short yet torturing word hasn’t come alone in our lives but accompanied by many friends: income taxes, property taxes, business taxes, tax returns, capital gains taxes, sales taxes, and the list may go on indefinitely. The bad news is that everyone is subject to taxation, be it an organization or company or an individual.

What does subject to income tax exactly mean? It only means that people and companies must report their income and calculate their tax on a regular basis. Certainly some non-profit organizations can be exempted from tax. In this case, they have to file a return; if they fail to meet certain criteria, their tax-exempt status could be revoked. Moreover, a general definition would state that tax returns are required for self-employment including business partnerships, controlling company director, ministers of any religion, persons who possess significant incomes from untaxed savings and investments or from big properties and so on. As expected the amount of taxes you owe is directly connected to your income which means that people who earn more income have higher taxes than those who earn less. Tax rates must be paid throughout the year or to be more specific, on a pay-as-you-go system. Nevertheless, the tax system doesn’t hosts only negative aspects, it also offers benefits and facilities as well. Thus, to turn this situation in your favour, it is essential to take control of your tax situation. Needless to say, calculating your tax return isn’t as easy as it may seem on a first contact, particularly if you already have an overwhelming schedule on your hands. Thus, the best allay you can have in this situation is a specialized financing company and implicitly, an experienced Steuerberater.

The services of this type of companies can be customised to meet your particular case and ultimately, to accomplish your requirements and needs seamlessly. Moreover, these experts can also represent you before Tax Authorities during assessment procedures. To complete this image, most of these companies have extended their expertise area to other major financial fields such as insurances. Thus, in order to support their customers and their future financial situation, these companies offer direct access to a proficient versicherungsmakler who uses free-of-charge analysis and independent insurance comparison tables to indicate ideal insurance offers. The best part is that technology hasn’t limited its intervention only at financial software and techniques but it has continued its series of advancements by offering full access to information, online financial services and sources.

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Individual who own to their deficit salary which mostly doesn’t help them till their payday. So at this situation is good for the individual to go for some financial service where they easily arrange the funds for managing the various expenses. But many times it is miniature hard for the applicant in availing this due to their financial report contains poor credit tags. So for this it is good for the individual to go for the payday loans for bad credit. Through this individual on the same day can easily avail the money without any credit check or any other hectic formalities.

At times when the bad creditors want the money on the urgent basis for them this scheme has been created of. With help of this individual can easily strike their sudden expense which comes to them without any prior notice in advance. It is meant for those individual who are suffering with the bad credit scores such as bankruptcy, arrears, delays, insolvency, foreclosure, CCJ, IVA etc .with help of this the immediate can be easily acquired by the individual at the time of the desperate need of money.

Weekend payday loans no credit check is short term monetary solution which endows small financial facilities that range from £100-£1500 for duration of 14-31 days. In this individual if want to extend the reimbursement duration can do it as per their convenience by paying some scant fees to the lenders. Individual to borrow money from this should be having regular source of income for the last six months, age should be 18 years and more, should have the permanent citizenship of UK and should be having valid checking account In this individual who are interested to get fund do not require to submit any collateral against the money with the lender that makes it an affordable scheme for the individual who are tenants and non-property holders.

In this one can be able to arrange funds through the instant text loans UK via internet. This is not only easy but also fast. In this the applicant by filling a simple online application form that will not tackle much time by which also the precious time of the individual also gets saved. The individual effortless can easily apply for it without including any surplus costs. The application form is to be filled with the information like their name, age, gender, amount required, monthly income etc which is then submitted online to the lender .the lender which verifies it and if get confirmed that the form is files correctly will transfer the fund required by the borrower directly to the bank account.

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Investors are well aware that financial markets go up and down.  That is the essence of business and economic cycles.  What is difficult for individual investors to master is how to act in the face of market advances and declines.  Unfortunately, most people become very tolerant of risk and increase their exposure to the stock market when the market is advancing.  Similarly, they avoid risk and clip their exposure to stocks when markets are declining, or after a large correction.  It is human nature and “recency bias” that create this visceral response to market perturbations.  Recency bias occurs when investors believe that the most recent performance of their investment portfolios will continue indefinitely in the future.  It is just one factor that results in investors consistently underperforming the stock market.

Brad M. Barber  and Terrance Odean, in their 2011 study “The Behavior of Individual Investors,” conclude that individuals routinely underperform benchmarks through 1) selling winning investments and holding losing investments, 2) being heavy influenced by most recent past returns (repeating investment behavior that coincides with pleasure and avoiding behavior that is painful), and 3) holding undiversified portfolios.

Dalbar studies have also shown that most individual investors typically trail the market rate of return, and they typically do so by a fairly wide margin.

The message from Dalbar since its first study in 1994 is that investment results are more dependent on investor behavior than fund performance and that mutual fund investors who tend to buy and hold are more successful than those who attempt to time the market.

Investors who attempt to time the market are often acting irrationally out of fear of a potential loss. Stocks and investment funds happen to be the only assets that people buy less of when they become less expensive. Let’s think about buying food at the supermarket, if the price of steak rose considerably, you would be more inclined to reduce your purchase of steak or buy something else, but if the supermarket suddenly reduced the price of the steak by 30%, you would stock up. However, you do the opposite when it comes to stocks and other investments. The stock market can foster a gambling mentality. When you are on a roll you hate to stop, but that is exactly when you should cash some chips in.

So how does an investor counteract the tendency to time the market and invest based on most recent results? Rebalancing is great way to fight the effects of recency bias. Rebalancing to your target asset allocation is a mechanistic and unemotional way to fight these counterintuitive emotions. I sometimes get an odd look from my clients when I suggest that they rebalance after a market run-up. “Why would I want to do that, the market is hot?” might be a typical comment. But that is exactly why rebalancing is so important. It removes the emotions, market noise, and other extraneous factors, and reminds the investor of their original financial plan and goals.

The best value-added proposition a financial advisor provides is to set the target allocation and then monitor and adjust it based on the client’s personal goals and life events. The asset allocation is set within the investment policy statement and the portfolio is rebalanced yearly, or as needed, after large market advances or declines. The asset allocation is revisited periodically, at least every 3 years, and is adjusted in response to a client’s retirement goals, change in health or marital status, or market valuations.

Rebalancing in this way, will not only help the client attain rates of return closer to the respective benchmarks for his or her portfolio, it can actually be a source of additional return. In a recent article in Financial Planning magazine, “Portfolio Rebalancing: Get It Right,” Allan Roth underscores the incremental benefit of rebalancing. His analysis shows that “over the past 15 years, the portfolio that stuck to its allocation earned 1.54 percentage points more each year than the average portfolio that tried to time asset classes.”

Rebalancing is just one area where advisors add incremental return and why it is essential for our clients to commit to the annual review and rebalance exercise. Emotions can be hard to control, let your re-balancing take them out of the mix, so you can maximize your long range returns.

Read Full Article

Can We Still be Smart Investors?

Any other week would be a better one in which to write a financially-themed article. While this article will be in the November issue, the context from which I write is immediately following the announcement that the House of Representatives voted NO on the Bailout plan. We all know that this sent the stock market tumbling, causing many people to feel fear— perhaps the first real time in our generation’s adult life (except maybe some from the dot com bust but that was “fun money” before we had families!!).

While a revised Bailout Plan will likely pass and a few more banks may fall by the time this is published, the events of the past few weeks have made many people question whether or not they are handling their money the “smartest” way.

As a fee-based financial planner who does not manage portfolios, I cannot recommend individual stocks or funds to buy and sell. Nor do I think that will help the families with whom I work at this juncture. I can, however, help you take a macro-perspective on what is smart for you and your family.

“Smart” begins with the basics:

  1. What is your family’s vision and what are you creating?
  2. What is your relationship with money? How do you handle fluctuations? How anxious are you?
  3. What are your financial goals? When do you need the money?

VISION:

You’ve heard me say it time and time again if you read my column with regularity. What is the life you want to create for your family? What does it look like? How do you define success?

Are you living in a hillside cottage with a large yard or do you have an apartment with a home in Tahoe? Do you pick a new country to visit with your children every year? Do you want to settle into a community where you will root for the next 20+ years? Do your children walk to the locale public school or will they be attending a private school?

The vision you create for your family trickles down to the types of investments you make also called an investment vehicle (such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds). Before you can decide into which vehicle you will invest, you need to know for what you want the money.

YOUR MONEY PERSONALITY:

A fascinating area of financial planning is how people relate with money. This alone can fill pages upon pages of articles and keep me reading for weeks (I am endlessly intrigued by this topic). At the very fundamental level, you have to know what is commonly talked about in the financial planning world as your “risk tolerance.” I find that concept hard to grasp, so with my clients I like to hear more about what keeps them up at night. What makes them anxious?

Is it any negative movement in a 401k or is it not having enough money in cash in a savings account? Do they ride out the drops like the one on Sept 29th with grace and ease saying “it’ll come back” or “this is expected” or do they run for the bank and hide their money in their mattress? Everyone is different and understanding your level of anxiety with investment fluctuations is an imperative input factor to deciding how to invest.

YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS:

Taking your vision and translating it into financial goals is where I find the financial planning process helps the couples with whom I work the most. This makes the softer airy vision a dollars and cents reality. Smart investing requires that you know:

The amount the goal will cost
The Time horizon over which you are investing (that is, when do you need the money)?
The amount of money you are starting with for the goal
The amount you are contributing along the way

All of these factors will let you know what the return you need for your money will be. To say that another way, it will tell you how much you have to make each year on the investment to reach the goal. And different investment vehicles offer different possibilities for returns. Holding investments in cash will probably stay within a few % points, while stocks can jump all over the chart — in both directions. To get higher returns, you also will take on higher risk. The return you need combined with your personal tolerance for fluctuations will determine the investment vehicle.

For example:
If you already have $100,000 that you want to put toward a home down payment in one year, you only need a very conservative investment vehicle. Keeping that cash in a money market account would give you the best assurance that your money will be there when you want it.

I see many clients who come to me with next year’s house down payment in stocks or equity mutual funds. Perhaps that is how they built up the money or maybe they just like to participate in the market. In a week like the ones of late, however, a portfolio may drop 10%, making a $100,000 down payment now a $90,000 one. For the exceptionally daring individual, this may be okay, but as a financial planner, I advise people to match their investment vehicles with their time horizons.

If you want access to your money soon, keep it in a cash-equivalent vehicle. This way the market can jump all over the place and you can rest assured that you have what you need when you need it (caveat from the recent events: up to the FDIC insured limits of $100,000 – or more if you set up a certain kind of account designed to expand this limit) . The longer you have before you need the money, the more fluctuations you can likely tolerate. So while you may not be thrilled that your 401k invested in a mix of mutual funds, for example, has decreased, you will likely have more tolerance if you do not need the funds for another 30 years.

PARTNER FOR SUCCESS:

Granted there are those among us who will feel compelled to switch to other asset classes if ours are not performing just because of their personality and risk tolerance. Whether or not this is the smart way to go depends on your personal situation only. To help you handle the next bump, I encourage you to be prepared to act with knowledge and not emotion. The best way to do this is to partner with a financial professional who can help you ride out these rough times and stick with a “system” that works for your anxiety level and your goal achievement timeline. With a plan in place, you can approach the times when everyone else seems to panic with the desired calmness that comes with real knowledge of your own smart investing strategy.

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Many studies show that Americans are woefully behind on their savings for retirement.  In fact, according to the 2018 EBRI annual survey, roughly 60% of all workers surveyed have less than $25,000 saved for retirement. But things might not be as bad as they seem. 

A recent study by risk management firm Towers Watson attempts to debunk the magnitude of the retirement crisis in America.   The authors suggest that most retirees will be better off than predicted, since they don’t require as high a replacement ratio of preretirement income, as what is commonly recommended. They argue that the often quoted rule of thumb that retirees will need to fund 85% of pre-retirement income annually, may be too high.  In reality, retirement cash flow needs change over time.  As retirees age they move through the “go-go” years, the “slow-go” years, and then the “no-go” years.  We spend far less than we anticipate at the end of our lifecycle, due to diminished mobility and health.

In addition, the savings cycle is variable.  People will forgo savings early in their career, but ramp savings up substantially in the latter stage of their working years to make up for lost time.

I was recently asked to comment on the Towers Watson study by reporter Mandi Woodruff for an article in Yahoo Finance.  My instant reaction to this story was that individual investors have to take these rule-of-thumb numbers with a grain of salt.  The data on annual retirement savings is flawed (as the Towers Watson report points out).  For example, it does not include the value of pensions, real estate, or closely held businesses.  It also does not include the value of transfer payments and other governmental programs, so the resulting data set is incomplete. We cannot draw conclusions based solely on this data.

Gauging retirement readiness should be done on an individual basis.  More importantly, as a financial planner who specializes in retirement planning, I know that simple tools or rules of thumb are crude at best.  They are like applying blunt machetes in a surgical procedure.  They are not going to result in the precision that is needed for each individual’s situation.

The best way to approach retirement planning is to work from the bottom up and determine the clients’ specific personal cash needs and requirements over the balance of their lives.  Quick on line calculators and rules such as multiple of final income or spending as a ratio of income can’t possibly apply to everyone.   These repeatedly quoted prescriptions for success insinuate that the planning process is static and deterministic, when in fact, it is a dynamic process based on many fluid assumptions and variables.  The ever changing-nature of a client’s personal life, tax laws, financial markets, etc. require that the plan is periodically updated.

Instead of a rules based approach, each client should be evaluated in a highly customized and holistic way.  That is the essence of true financial planning.  It’s not just about investments anymore. It is about how a person will fulfill their dreams and what money can do for them during their lifetime.  It is about career planning, lifestyle planning, legacy planning, tax planning, and cash flow planning.  More importantly, it also encompasses the “x factor” of a client’s behavior towards and attitudes about money in his or her life.

While many in the field of finance are touting the trend and threat of robo-advisors, holistic retirement planning lends itself far more to the human touch. Since many Baby Boomers are entering the distribution phase of their financial life, customized financial planning is becoming more important than ever.

Proper financial planning starts with an in-depth conversation with a client to better understand what makes him or her tick.  It requires listening, attentiveness, and is done best when there is an ongoing relationship with that client.  It is not a one and done event.

A detailed retirement plan projection often requires the client answering the following questions:

  • What are you needs, wants, and bucket list items in retirement?
  • When would you like to retire and how will you phase into the new lifestyle? Will you still want to engage in part time work once you quit your job?
  • How will you spend your free time?  What might a typical day look like?
  • How often will you be travelling and where will you go?
  • How often will you be connecting with friends and family?
  • Do you want to leave money to heirs or a favorite charity? How will gifts to kids and your charities change upon retirement?
  • How healthy are you and do you have a history of longevity in your family?
  • How much are you willing to save in order to achieve an early retirement?  And conversely, how much are you willing to cut spending before and after retirement, in order to retire early?
  • What are your plans for your home? Will you relocate?  Will you keep your second home?  Will you need any major improvements done? Will you downsize?
  • How often will you buy cars and other vehicles?  How much will you spend on each vehicle?

These questions not only help to determine annual and overall cash flow needs, they also can help assess behavior around money as well as risk tolerance.

I often use the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle.  Each client walks into my office and figuratively drops the pieces of their life puzzle on my table.  Each puzzle picture is uniquely different.  It is up to the client and me to put these pieces together to develop a vibrant picture of their future retirement years.

While I think these rules of thumb to assess retirement readiness are not adequate, there are some principles that are highly correlative to retirement readiness.

I suggest that if clients are serious about wealth-building they should save at least 15% of their salary throughout your career and that should limit wealth in personal real estate to no more than 25% of your total assets.

These principles encourage strong savings mentality, keep debt to a minimum, and reduce exposure to a low return asset class (personal real estate).  Living below one’s means is a successful way to build wealth and a good lifelong habit.  A strong savings rate helps protect against longevity and poor investment returns, as well as having to heavily tilt retirement savings to the back end of a career–which makes the investor more susceptible to market corrections in the years just prior to retirement.

Finally, the personalized, holistic approach to retirement planning addresses the significant challenges that savers have with regard to retirement planning.  Having a planner that fully understands these risks and properly accounts for them will help the client feel more confident about his or her prospects for retirement.  For example, if the planner assumes conservative investment return assumptions, accounts for higher healthcare cost inflation, adjusts Social Security benefits to account for some reform, assumes a relatively long life span, and the clients still have a high chance of success, they will feel more confident about their upcoming retirement.  The peace of mind that is achieved through the financial planning process is something that a rule of thumb or quick on line calculator won’t necessarily provide.

While the savings statistics for Americans suggest significant shortfalls in retirement, working with a planner to determine how to maximize financial opportunities like Social Security and pension maximization, tax reduction strategies, and maximization of their human capital, is essential to preparing for a successful retirement.  Ideally, the process is started as early as possible to improve a retiree’s chance of success and ensure that their unique vision of  retirement is realized.

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Although many people want to retire comfortably, saving the funds needed to do so can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies that people can use to increase the odds that they will be able to save the money they need in order to retire.

Saving Is Important 

Building a cushion of savings is important so that people have a safety net, and they also need these funds if they want to invest. By using some straightforward tips to save, they will hopefully have some added motivation to put more way.

Spend More Effectively

One way to increase the fraction of your income that goes into savings is to spend more effectively. People can make improvements by reviewing their expenses and identifying alternatives that are cheaper and are not substantially different. Once these items have been identified, people can use the extra funds generated to pay for things that are more important to them.

If an individual has more than one brokerage account, he can consolidate these accounts so that the higher level of assets provides them with services that are either cheaper or better.

Don’t Wait for the Perfect Plan 

Many individuals fail to take action because they are holding out for the perfect plan. The drawback to this is that the longer they wait to improve their habits for spending and saving, the more money they will end up throwing away.

This principle also applies to investment plans, in that people fail to invest simply because they do not feel they have the perfect plan established. A lot of individuals do not invest because they are worried about making mistakes, but a plan is needed for retirement to be realized.

Continuous Refinement Is Key

Even if an individual has worked out a plan that he considers to be ideal for his situation, assets, goals and tolerance for risk, this plan can become outdated. Technological advancements provide individuals with more options over time, and new investment vehicles are always being created.

When possible, people who are saving for retirement should review their plans in order to see where improvement can be made. There are many investment mistakes that can be made, and people need discipline to ensure that their investment plans do not fall off track.

Savings are important, especially in the face of dwindling pensions and widespread concerns about the prospects for retiring. The doubts that many individuals have about their ability to retire were reflected in a recent Wells Fargo poll, in which 75 percent of respondents predicted that they would still be working during years that people usually use for retirement and an additional 25 percent said that they planned to retire no earlier than 80.

Could you retire in your 30s?

This article by Andrea Coombes for MarketWatch covers the story of a young couple who decided to retire early.  No, they did not retire at 60, or 50, or even 40.  They decided to quit work in their 30s.  Their goal was to amass roughly 25 times their annual spending.  They reasoned that if they could live simply and frugally, on roughly $25,000 a year, they could aggressively save enough to retire from their demanding jobs in the technology industry.  This would allow them to both be active in raising their 8-year-old son.

Retirement is a math problem.  How you live before and after retirement is part of the equation.  If you can live on a very small budget, you can possibly retire early.  One rule of thumb is to accumulate savings of roughly 25 times your living expenses. In their case, they paid off their home and reached the $600,000 target, so they decided to take the plunge.  They now live primarily off their investment income and temporary jobs they take, as needed or as desired, for extra income.

This story underscores that in order for people to decide when they can retire, they need to know two things– how much they realistically need in terms of living expenses and how committed they are to saving aggressively to reach their goal.

It ultimately depends on your cash flow, which is the lifeblood of the financial plan.  You need to enhance your awareness of what is coming in and what is going out.  How much money do you really need to live on in a year’s time?  How much of your salary are you saving? (My guess is that this couple was saving well over 25% of their gross salary annually.)  How motivated are you to reach your retirement goal?  Since this couple had visualized and articulated their plan to retire early they had a burning and shared desire to accomplish their goal.

Unfortunately, procrastination and a tendency to focus on current wants and needs as opposed to future plans can derail the best intentions.

Many workers think that as long as they save the maximum amount in their workplace retirement plan, it will be enough to provide sufficient income in retirement.  But it really depends on their annual spending.  For example, a professional couple spending $400,000 a year will have a hard time obtaining adequate income from a $2 million retirement plan once they retire.    Remember, too, that a $2 million IRA or 401K is not totally available for income.  You need to take the after tax amount into consideration.  Two million dollars at a 32% tax rate (federal and state) would only be equivalent to $1.4 million.

Furthermore, in order to ensure that your funds will last you 30 years, you should probably only withdraw roughly 4% of the total, which would be $80,000 before taxes and roughly $55,000 after taxes.  That is a large drop in income for someone who is used to spending several hundred thousand dollars a year.

Many of us will also need to save after tax dollars, as well as contribute to our retirement plans, in order to provide adequate income as well as flexibility regarding taxation of withdrawals in retirement.  Since this couple retired so early with significant funds, it is likely the bulk of their savings was in after tax accounts.  This helps minimize the tax impact of any withdrawals from their savings.

In the end, it all comes down to a trade-off between your lifestyle now and your lifestyle in retirement.  If we delay gratification now, we can meet our future goals.  If we want to live a simple lifestyle, it will likely be easier to retire early.  If we have large spending needs in retirement, we will need to save more or retire later in life.

It will be interesting to see how this couple continues to navigate their frugal journey, especially as expenses rise over time.  Their child will likely want to engage in sporting activities, hobbies, video games, and attend college.  The future may also bring unexpected medical and long term care expenses.

Plus, there are definitely downsides to such an early retirement.  I am not sure a life of leisure would be suitable for most young people, as achievement, socialization, and other benefits from working can be beneficial to one’s physical health and emotional well-being. Furthermore, if a worker remains out of the work force for even just a few years, his skills may become irrelevant, such that he becomes unemployable.

I admire the couple’s ability to save and reach their goal and wish them much success in their endeavor.  I hope that in the long term their “hiatus” works for them.  My guess is that this couple will eventually decide to go back to work.  Saving for 10 to 15 years so that you can live possibly the next 70 years seems like a tough math problem to solve.  But adhering to these principles can help us all manage our own retirement math a bit better.

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It is a generally accepted view that the services sector will continue to employ more people at the expense of other industry sectors.  And it’s not just the most likely scenario painted for  – developed, industrialised countries all over the world are moving towards being service-based economies.

So, from the point of view of job security, the service sector is where anyone planning their next career move really ought to look. However, there is more to career choice than job security. Don’t get me wrong – job security is important, but it shouldn’t be your sole motivator. Finding a vacation you like should be top priority. After all, you spend half of your walking life at work so you may as well enjoy it!

And the clincher is that finding a job you like will actually produce its own job security. How? Well, if you genuinely enjoy your work you are more likely to excel at it than someone who doesn’t – and that’s the best job security you can have. I also believe that people who like their work have a much better than average chance of making good money from it – again, because people who like their work generally do a better job than those who don’t

Personal qualities in employment

Listed below are some fundamental personal qualities that all employers value and will be particularly important in the future employment scene. The more endowed you are with them, the greater your chances of success in whatever area of employment you choose.

  • Creativity – the fountainhead of success and the one human characteristic that no amount of brilliant technology will ever be able to replace (at least I pray not!).
  • Adaptability – a willingness and ability to learn new skills and to adapt old skills to new situations.
  • The ability to communicate well, and to understand easily.
  • Commitment and a willingness to work hard.

If you had to distil all this, I think it would ultimately come down to having the right attitude towards the job – one that’s fundamentally and genuinely positive. Employers are more likely to be influenced and impressed by this than by any other attribute you might have.

Step to boost your employment prospects

  1. Present yourself professionally and be on time for your job interview. First impressions are critical.
  2. Forget ten-page resumes. Your resume needs to be concise and easy to read, while providing a snapshot of your achievements, not merely a list of all your jobs. It’s also crucial that you adapt your resume to match individual job descriptions and keep it brief, ideally no more than three pages. Be sure to explicitly deal with all selection criteria covered in the advertisement.
  3. Do your research on the company and the people interviewing you.
  4. Show prospective employers that you can use technology and send online job applications when email addresses are provided.
  5. Prepare yourself for any psychological tests that you are required to do. You can research the standard tests on the Internet or at your local library.
  6. Be prepared to showcase your skills in the interview, to market yourself effectively without lapsing into cheesy self-promotion.
  7. Persistence brings rewards when job hunting. But remember, there is a fine line between persistence and annoyance, so tread carefully.
  8. Rehearse for interviews. (Not The Sound of Music!)
  9. Be proactive and ask questions about the job. This shows that you’ve done your homework and are truly interested in the position.
  10. Be confident and personable. Make eye contact with the interviewer, offer a firm handshake, smile and speak clearly. Consider the start of an interview. Speak confidently and coherently, listen and resist the impulse to interject, and try to present a self assured, relaxed image.
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