The Uphill Climb

For this status post I had to pass on a segment of Peter Schiff’s recent podcast where he discusses the relationship between your employer, government regulations, and you as an employee.

Who Pays for Government Programs?

Continue reading “The Uphill Climb”

AOC – Thick as a Brick Award

Saturday in Austin, Texas the media darling of the Democratic Party spoke in front of attendees of a conference and shed light on her profound lack of understanding of all things business and finance.  This Thick as a Brick award goes to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez who obviously doesn’t understand the first thing about the system of free enterprise which made our country prosperous and strong nor how she herself is chopping with an axe at the very foundation on which she’s standing.

“Capitalism, to me, is an ideology of capital. The most important thing is the concentration of capital, and it means that we seek and prioritize profit and the accumulation of money above all else and we seek it at any human and environmental cost.  That is what that means, and to me, that ideology is not sustainable and cannot be redeemed.” Continue reading “AOC – Thick as a Brick Award”

Why Wealth is Elusive

Information today in the information age is readily available.  The problem lies in the credibility and verifiable nature of the information you have at your fingertips and which is being presented to you without you having to go searching for it.  “It’s on the news, it must be true…”
Continue reading “Why Wealth is Elusive”

Which Straw? Which Camel?

More and more I find the old axiom true: its not what happens, but how you react to events, or are prepared for them, that matters.

In 2008 a bursting real estate #bubble was one key event in bringing down market values in the financial sector and therefore the entire #market. While scores of mortgages with reduced borrower requirements are less of an issue today, an overvalued real estate market can play a major role if its not the trigger.
Continue reading “Which Straw? Which Camel?”

“A False Sense of Security” – Jim Rickards

As I speak with prospects, clients, and participate in chats and conversation, I find that people are having three main issues indirectly related to their financial well-being:

1) Work and family keeps them busy so they have difficulty keeping up with information that can help them.
2) Most don’t have a good source of information: main stream media has become more and more slanted to the extremes and doesn’t “report the events”, but promotes an agenda.
3) Many believe the information presented, which is largely inaccurate, can be misleading, and have become complacent thinking “everything’s fine”.
Continue reading ““A False Sense of Security” – Jim Rickards”

Mutual Funds: A Considerable Headwind

Members only content:  In this overview, I’ll keep to generalities that pertain to the qualified vs. non-qualified retirement funding topic. If you want further details on mutual funds, the articles I referenced as a guide offer excellent details without “speaking over one’s head” on the subject.  The chart that appeared in Part 1, along with the referenced articles, is recapped at the end of this Part 2 for reader convenience.
Continue reading “Mutual Funds: A Considerable Headwind”

Mutual Funds & Retirement: Strange Bedfellows

When you dig deeply enough to understand how financial vehicles work, it’s easy to see their benefits and short-comings.  In my educated opinion, it isn’t hard to see just how short mutual funds can fall when used to grow your retirement, family, or personal wealth.  Abysmally short, in fact, when applied within the “qualified” 401(k), 403(b), and IRA tax classes.  Bedfellows, a term that may have been coined by Shakespeare in The Tempest, conveys the idea that people or things are intimately related; in this case retirement and mutual funds.

First, people are attracted to mutual funds simply because they gain the perceived advantage of having a fund manager; the opportunity to glean the benefit of another person’s experience and much better skill set in the investing arena.  Granted, that looks attractive, but “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”  You pay, in some cases handsomely, to use another’s investing skill set to grow your wealth.  In addition, some fund managers are significantly more skilled than others.  Other less-seasoned investors might just “go along” because their information or knowledge of investing is limited, and it’s what everyone else at work is doing!  You may in fact be sailing into a headwind!

Once you do a little digging, you find that there are percentage-based sales charges known as loads: sometimes up front, sometimes on the back end when shares are sold.  There are also a raft of mutual fund expenses, including: disclosed costs, hidden costs, 12b-1 fees, management fees, reinvestment fees, exchange fees, custodial, and administrative fees.  While not all those fees apply to every mutual fund, there will always be fees and a cost to accessing another person’s skill-set; i.e. the fund manager.  The referenced articles listed also include costs for tax inefficiency and the “sneaki-ness” involved in running a mutual fund so the numbers on the “glossy brochure” look better to the future prospects!

What we’ll look at in this article are the shortcomings of mutual funds, but also the tax category in which most people hold them: the qualified for tax-deferral retirement plans sponsored by the US government and Internal Revenue Service.  The short version is: “we’ll forgo taxing you now as long as you set your funds aside for retirement; and then we’ll tax you.”  Mutual funds and growing wealth for retirement are strange bedfellows in that those planning for retirement are trying to grow their assets and all the while both the vehicle and the tax classification are working against them!

If you’ve watch my video on the subject, you realize that along with the tax-deferred consideration comes a litany of rules and regulations.  Since you aren’t paying current taxes on the money, the government assumes the right to govern how much you can set aside, when you are permitted to access “your wealth”, and what penalties will be applied if you don’t follow the rules.

Here are the relevant details; my comments and reflection will follow the chart, however, my comments will be restricted to part 2: accessible to website members.  Website registration is free and takes just a minute for a first name, email address, and state you live in; start HERE.  If you are more interested in a free consultation and would like me to consider you as a prospective client, click HERE; I’ll need a few more details about your situation.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  In the chart below, read the mutual fund and qualified 401(k), 403(b), and IRA tax classes columns together as a combined set of resulting attributes since most people will own mutual funds inside the tax-classified account types of 401(k), 403(b), and IRAs.

My warm regards for your success,

 

 

 

Access Part 2:

Comparisons:

Mutual Funds[1] - [2] 401(k), 403(b), and IRA IRC 7702 Contracts
Loads and Fees Front Load: reduces your working capital at purchase by % Front end sales charges on select account type qualify the client for higher rates of return
Back Load: or “deferred sales charge” % paid when shares are sold No sales charges account type costs are taken as a percentage, after the returns (work first, eat later)
Disclosed Costs:

average 1.19%

Your 401(k) or 403(b) custodian may assess added fees. All charges are disclosed by law, and produce measurable client benefits (see leverage below)
Hidden Costs:

Average 1.44%

n/a
12b-1 fees:

Advertising and sales cost

n/a
Tax Inefficiency Costs:

Average 1.10%

Funded with post-tax dollars, both capital and gains can be accessed tax-free.
Costs of Sneaki-ness:

Average 2.49%

n/a
Optional fees: Management, reinvestment, exchange, custodial, and administrative fees Penalties for:

Withdrawal <59-1/2; 10%

RMD fail 70-1/2, 50%

Administrative costs apply, fully disclosed; charges can apply for early surrender (<10-14 yrs)
Death benefit equals balance less taxes on gains; no leverage. Death benefit equals balance less taxes on capital and any gains; estate taxes Cost of insurance provides tax-free death benefit (est. 5-10x leverage) more than funded
Market risk Subject to volatility, market manipulation, and trading mistakes Required investment options keep funds exposed to market risk. Index tracking removes market risk with a zero percent floor, and guaranteed minimum return
Return Rates Tied to market value, less loads and fees

Money market[3] accounts avg 0.0375%

subject to market volatility

taxes due at distribution

Track a selected index, or mix:

0-13.5% as a capped option[4]

4.25% margin as uncapped option

Fixed Account = 3.75%[5]

Income taxes LIFO – last money in, first money out; capital gains taxes assessed Funded with pre-tax dollars, all money is taxed at earned income rates, the highest tax rates. FIFO classification – post-tax capital may be withdrawn first tax-free; full balance and leveraged amounts can be accessed tax-free.
Liquidity Outside qualified accounts, shares sold incur sales and other charges; Restricted liquidity to age 59-1/2 or with added taxes and penalties Is 90% liquid at inception for accumulated cash values and becomes 100% liquid post surrender period.
Funds can be accessed for

First home purchase

Education expenses

No penalty, if qualified

Funds (your personal wealth) can be accessed for any purpose without restriction; can even leverage your account value.
Additional

Features:

Additional coverage at no charge:

Terminal, Critical, Chronic Illness leverage to protect your cash value

Additional strategies for education funding, legacy wealth, and investment funding…

 

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/kennethkim/2016/09/24/how-much-do-mutual-funds-really-cost/#58b0db6fa527
[2] https://www.ally.com/do-it-right/investing/fees-and-expenses-for-mutual-funds/
[3] Average for deposits $0.01-$10k:  https://www.valuepenguin.com/banking/average-money-market-rates
[4] The S&P 500 Point-to-point capped and uncapped options are the most popular among 25-30 or so indexes and tracking methods.  Rates are evaluated and reset annually.
[5] Current fixed interest rate for the most popular account type, is evaluated and reset annually.

The Thinly Veiled “Hedonic” Economy

As both mainstream media news, not-so-mainstream media news, and even our current administration tout the “strength” of our present economy, we must remember that they are measuring in units that are and have been a moving target of value.  Even President Trump, who called out the misleading statistics published by the US Government as “Candidate Trump”, has lately been drinking the government Kool-aid as well.  Granted, as long as you are measuring by the same means, his numbers are better than the last administration, but I don’t think he should be beating the “strong economy” drum quite so loudly.  The problems that caused the 2008 crash of the market and banking industry have not been fixed and have only grown larger in the past 10 years. Continue reading “The Thinly Veiled “Hedonic” Economy”

Spotlight: Unwinding the Tangled Hedge

Prop it up, prime the pump, hedge the crisis… by any name the papering of the US economy and banking industry since the early 90’s has solved nothing and our problems are now larger and more unstable than ever.

The problems causing the housing crises of 2008 have been sated[1] for a decade, but never solved.  Now, as the Federal Reserve begins raising interest rates and unwinding the mountains of debt on their balance sheets acquired to infuse the US Treasury with liquidity, the flimsy foundation on which it is all built looks to be shivering with stress.  I’ve heard commentators state that for the Fed to have any cards to play in this game at all, they have to raise rates as quickly as possible so that they can lower them again.  At present, with rates still lower than any other period in the history of man, they have almost no room to do that.  Its as if they think that raising rates while people are still struggling to catch up from the difficulties of the past two decades won’t cause problems!  Well, it won’t cause problems for them and their friends… Continue reading “Spotlight: Unwinding the Tangled Hedge”

Over 60% Polled Not Comfortable with Retirement Plans

The Problems:

Many people of working age are not comfortable with how their financial plans for retirement are advancing.  A link to the article that spurred my own reflection on the topic appears at the end of the article.  What follows are comments from my own perspective gleaned from working with clients on such plans for the last several years. Continue reading “Over 60% Polled Not Comfortable with Retirement Plans”