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How to Retire Early with Less Money

“EARLY RETIREMENT”.  It seems to be the most popular phrase in our conversations for many of us. Is it because so many of us just hate our jobs, our bosses and/or our co-workers? Is it all of the above? Maybe you just heard that your wife’s goofy second cousin just retired at 49 with a huge retirement package and that’s driving you nuts. Or it just may be that a large portion our population, The Baby Boomers, are coming to retirement age all at once. Whatever the case may be, if you’re in that age group, you need to start thinking about some of your options for retirement like Social Security, Nursing Homes and other important decisions.

How to retire is one of the most pressing issues of the day. Countless readers have turned to Seeking Alpha to handle the challenges that face retirees today. Retirees need to know how to plan their cash flows, how to build a steady portfolio, and what levels of expectations are sensible. It is painful to hear from retirees who state they “NEED” a 14% return per year. Even with high volatility and risky investments, sustaining 14% annually is an insanely aggressive plan, and it certainly wouldn’t be likely to come in a steady sequence.

Today, I will be using hypothetical situations many readers may face. They aren’t professional investors and don’t have a huge portfolio. It would be easy to plan retirement with $10 million. So instead, let’s make it less: $500,000.

Market environment

The current interest rates available on bonds are low. Bonds are a difficult way to generate income unless it’s with a huge portfolio. The market is seeing all-time record highs day after day. Investing today should be done with caution. The investments I would choose are companies that are large and have a strong track record. A retiree today could invest in an income portfolio and expect solid dividend yields. Large companies with a great track record are unlikely to cut their dividend – even in harsh times. Short-term volatility of the market may be significant, but the income source should remain almost entirely intact.

Nursing homes

Nursing homes, for a prolonged period of time, would almost certainly drive most retirees into bankruptcy or an early grave. Skilled care costs are high enough to decimate a retirement portfolio. If you are considering this option, or know someone who is, please speak with a financial planner about designing a legal structure to protect your capital in the event of a forced bankruptcy.

 Social Security

On a sheer numbers standpoint, there is definitely something to be said about waiting as long as possible to take SS. However, there’s also something to be said about taking it early. A lot of this depends on the individual retiree and what’s important to them. How long do you believe you will live? How will your quality of life be for the years you are not collecting SS? Are you carrying any high interest rate debt? I urge investors/retirees to be honest with themselves.

For this scenario, I will be having the retiree taking out SS as soon as possible. If an investor is unsure of whether they will live to be 65 or 105, taking it early may be wise. Let’s say if an investor at 63 pulled SS today, it would come out to $1,500 monthly. This comes out to $18,000 a year.

Challenges

Every retiree or future retiree faces their own unique challenges. Being committed to a plan and being frugal is extremely important when planning for retirement. I urge you to be diligent in your planning. Plan for every expense you can think of. After that’s done, see what expenses can be cut/reduced. Every retiree doesn’t get to retirement with $10 million, but we all have the capacity to do our due diligence.

Portfolio investing

Let’s start looking at building a portfolio that is filled with strong dividend investments. An investing strategy should help you sleep at night. Investing should not keep you up at all hours of the night wondering if your 16% dividend yielding company is going to go bankrupt tomorrow. I will be focusing on dividends to supplement income. The plan is to buy and hold 20 of the best dividend stocks on the market.

Let’s begin!

MO and PM

My first and second picks are probably obvious: Altria Group (MO) and Philip Morris (PM). I consider MO’s dividend history applied to PM. Altria Group has raised their dividend for 47 years. Both of these companies have massive market share and sell an addictive market. They are also showing the ability to transition into new products. Philip Morris is testing their new technology in international markets: IQOS. The FDA announced a plan to reduce nicotine in combustible cigarettes. Since then, MO’s price has been down. I believe this is good news for Altria Group. Once MO is cleared to sell IQOS domestically, sales should go up substantially.

PG, MMM, and JNJ

Third, fourth, and fifth picks:

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) has 60 years of dividend increases. 3M (MMM) has 58 years of dividend increases. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) has 54 years of increases. All of these companies have something else in common: product diversity. Within their sector, these companies are giants. All three have products that are probably in your residence. When it comes to dividend portfolios, these three companies should be at the top.

KO and PEP

Sixth and seventh:

Coke (KO) and Pepsi (PEP) combined come to 98 years of dividend raises. While the growth of either company looking forward is debatable, their ability to give out dividends is not. I’m not thrilled with the direction Pepsi’s management is driving the company in. I did not pick either of these up for excellent growth potential. KO and PEP have a great dividend and they sell junk food. Junk food sales are going down, but KO and PEP are transitioning into healthier products.

 

LOW and HD

Eighth and ninth:

Lowe’s (LOW) and Home Depot (HD) are the kings of their niche. I find it difficult to believe a new player will be able to come in anytime soon. When I’m deciding which one to shop at, it’s almost always which one is closer.

O and NNN

Tenth and eleventh:

Realty Income (O) and National Retail Properties (NNN) are two of the strongest REITs on the market. Both are exceptional at choosing tenants. In a market that is seeing harsh criticism, both are putting up extraordinary numbers. When it comes to yields near 5%, these are two of the best. Exceptional management and a strong dividend history separate these two from most REITs.

T and VZ

Twelfth and Thirteenth:

AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) are the two gatekeepers of mobile internet access. If telecommunications can be too big to fail, these would be the first players to receive the designation. These are leaders in their sector with strong dividend yields and cheap P/E ratios.

AAPL

Fourteenth:

It’s hard not to put Apple (AAPL) into a retirement portfolio. The dividend yield isn’t all that high, but best of luck finding a safer one. Easily covered dividend, massive company, and a tech allocation is good for diversification. Apple saw a significant rally in price recently, but long-term, this is one of the safest tech options.

XOM

Fifteenth:

Exxon Mobile (XOM) is a huge oil company with low beta. XOM is a good fit for almost any dividend growth portfolio. XOM’s enormous size gives them political influence. It would be hard for oil to become obsolete when oil donates heavily to congress.

V and MA

Sixteenth and Seventeenth:

Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) are another two companies that dominate a sector. Visa is the leader in electronic payments. The company is “everywhere” and we are moving towards a cashless society. The service Visa provides is difficult to replicate. MasterCard is a strong competitor of Visa.

WMT

Eighteenth:

Wal-Mart (WMT) is arguably the king of retail. They’ve shown great progress in the e-commerce market. I believe WMT is protected if retail continues to fall off. Wal-Mart’s rapid growth in e-commerce makes them second only to Amazon (AMZN).

 

MCD

Nineteenth:

McDonald’s (MCD) is the king of fast food. The company also has 40 years of dividend raises. The dividend isn’t as impressive as some on the list, but the consecutive raises are impressive. MCD may have questionable future growth with competition from mobile ordering making other food more accessible. However, I don’t see the dividend going anywhere.

SPG

Twentieth:

Simon Property Group (SPG) is still going to be around decades from now. Investors are generally terrified of the mall REIT space. Anything associated with retail gets hammered. However, the malls in SPG’s portfolio are exceptionally strong and maintained well. Even as e-commerce grows, the malls are not going to die. Stores will be replaced, but the landlord should be fine.

 

Read more on Early Retirement

Seniors to Get a Real Raise in Social Security

Senior Citizens

Social Security gave out a zero increase in 2016 and a measly 0.3 % increase in 2017 which was just enough to cover the added cost of Medicare premiums for most seniors. Essentially a zero increase in spendable cash to offset inflation. This coming year, in 2018 we’ll finally see a decent, not great, but decent increase of about 2.2%. This could help a lot of retiree’s as it’s estimated that about 25% rely on Social Security as their only source of income.

There are several major changes to the Social Security and Medicare programs that are slated to take effect a few months from now, beginning in 2018. Some consist of good news, relatively speaking. One change is not so good and will be decried by seniors who enjoy traveling to national parks.

Biggest Social Security Raise in Five Years

Coming off of a zero cost-of-living adjustment in 2016 and a miserly .3 percent COLA in 2017, the predicted raise of 2.2% for 2018 is a big deal, yet still relatively small. After all with inflation running around 2.0% a 2.2% raise doesn’t leave much room for error.

It also serves us well to remember that the inflation rate faced by the group affected by this Social Security change is in most cases higher than the quoted 2% inflation rate. This is because the senior population is faced with medical, medical insurance, deductible, co-pay and drug cost inflation that easily can top 10% or more.

Depending upon what portion that these medical expenses represent in the retiree’s budget, that 10% inflation rate applied toward those expenses could easily wipe out the benefit of a 2.2% COLA adjustment.

So, all in all, this was a modest, yet qualified piece of good news that came out of Washington, D.C. when the Social Security and Medicare trustees projected that Social Security recipients would receive a 2.2 percent cost-of-living adjustment in 2018.

It would be the largest increase since 2012, when the COLA rose 3.6 percent. Social Security recipients received no cost-of-living adjustment in 2016 and just 0.3 percent in 2017.

Average Social Security Benefit Impact

According to the Social Security Administration, the average retired worker brought home $1,368.67 a month in June 2017. Therefore, a 2.2% COLA would translate into an extra $361.33 a year in 2018, or $30.11 a month.

Social Security provides vital income protection to workers and their families. Benefits are indexed annually for inflation When the SSA determines, as they did in 2016 that inflation is 0%, then no COLA will be applied to the following year’s benefit.

Unlike savings accounts, which can be run down, Social Security benefits last a lifetime. Because of this aspect, many investors have come to view their S.S. benefit akin to an annuity, or guaranteed bond component, even better than a fixed income investment because it is inflation-adjusted.

Social Security incorporates a progressive benefit formula that ensures that those with low lifetime earnings receive proportionately larger benefits. Social Security plays a crucial role in reducing poverty among older people. Without Social Security, 41 percent of all older Americans would be in poverty. Because of this large role that Social Security plays in our economy, only 8.8 percent were below the poverty line in 2015.

Relative Importance Of The Social Security Backstop

Social Security is the main source of retirement income for most Americans. Approximately half of people age 65 and older depend on Social Security for more than half of their retirement income. About one-quarter rely on Social Security for all or nearly all of their income. As a reflection of how important this program is, among poor households headed by someone of retirement age, Social Security is virtually the only source of retirement income.

Retire smarter

 

Bitcoin Jumps 11+% Higher

 Earlier reports that the Chinese would be clamping down on the Crypto currency seems to be unfounded as new speculation by the Chinese seems to be going in the opposite direction resulting in a new all time high for bitcoin. See more below:

Bitcoin price rose to a new all-time high on Thursday due to increasing investor interest in the cryptocurrency. The price of bitcoin jumped 11.28 percent to $5,375.72 during Thursday’s session, according to data from CoinDesk. The new record surpassed its previous high of $5,013.91 on September 2nd. The recent rally in Bitcoin brings its market capitalization to about 89 billion. Bitcoin is the biggest digital currency by market cap, accounting for over 54 percent of the total cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin was up about 23 percent this month and has gained over 430 percent year-to-date. Chineseinvestors.com, Inc. (OTC: CIIX), Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTC: GBTC), Riot Blockchain Inc. (NASDAQ: BIOP), Overstock.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: OSTK), Global Arena Holding Inc. (OTC: GAHC)

Speculation that China may resume cryptocurrency trading and increasing trading volumes in other Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea boosted bitcoin prices. According to a report from Cryptocoinnews.com, the Chinese government is considering licensing exchanges for cryptocurrencies. Last month, the world’s second largest economy banned initial coin offerings (ICOs) and shut down operation of cryptocurrency exchanges, which caused a bitcoin price drop to a low of $2,980 in mid-September. “Speculators are bullish on bitcoin’s value with the anticipation of China’s reintegration with global crypto markets,” Aurelien Menant, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Gatecoin, said in a CNBC report on Thursday.

Chineseinvestors.com, Inc. (OTCQB: CIIX) announced earlier this week that, “the Company has launched the first cryptocurrency daily video newscast in the Chinese language, entitled Bitcoin Multimillionaire, broadcast from the NYSE. The video newscast covers timely information and analysis regarding all aspects of the emerging digital currency world, including specific cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, industry trends, price movement, blockchain technology, and sector-related stocks and ETFs listed on major exchanges and the OTC market.”

“Many Chinese investors are seeking information and education related to the cryptocurrency sector,” says Warren Wang, Founder and CEO of CIIX. “Moreover, in response to the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies and ICOs, governments around the world, including but not limited to, the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland are weighing in and/or enacting regulatory policies regarding cryptocurrencies and ICOs. In the United States, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recently announced that it is considering a new trading operation dedicated to bitcoin and other digital currencies.”

In addition, CIIX also has plans to launch a new cryptocurrency website under the domain name newcoin168.com to serve Chinese cryptocurrency investors. The site, expected to launch next month, will endeavor to be a leader in digital media and cryptocurrency and blockchain technology education providing straightforward explanations of cryptocurrency basics, trading guidelines, real-time market commentary and analysis regarding currency mining, blockchain technology, industry hotspots, sector-related stock trends and ETFs, and other strategies and opportunities to capitalize on the bitcoin market.

“After the recent launch of our Bitcoin Multimillionaire daily video newscast, the Company has decided to further expand its presence in the digital currency sector,” says Wang. “Similar to U.S. stocks, as the price of digital currency, such as Bitcoin, continues to increase, Chinese people all over the world are taking notice and seeking access to timely information regarding market trends, news, and analysis. We look forward to being the premier source for this information.”

Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTCQX: GBTC) is a publicly-quoted security that is solely invested in and originating value from the price of bitcoin. The BIT exposes the value and price movement of bitcoin to investors through a traditional investment vehicle, without requiring the purchase, storing and safekeeping of bitcoins. The Bitcoin Investment Trust tracks the bitcoin market price, fees and expenses.

Riot Blockchain Inc. (NASDAQ: BIOP) leverages its expertise and network to build and support blockchain technology companies. Recently, the company announced it has made a strategic investment in Coinsquare Ltd., one of Canada’s leading exchanges for trading digital currencies. This investment into a blockchain-focused company is indicative of similar opportunities Riot Blockchain plans to pursue, including possible acquisitions of businesses serving the blockchain ecosystem. Blockchain protocols offer a secure way to store and relay information without the need for middlemen. It uses a decentralized and encrypted ledger that offers a secure, efficient, verifiable, and permanent way of storing records and other information. Blockchain protocols are the backbone of numerous digital cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin.

Overstock.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: OSTK) is the first major retailer to accept multiple cryptocurrencies as payment. On August 8, 2017, the company announced an integration with ShapeShift, the world’s leading instant digital asset exchange, that allows customers to use all the major cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, Monero, and the new Bitcoin Cash, to buy online from Overstock’s selection of nearly 4 million products, including, furniture, accessories, bedding, décor, rugs, DIY, and more. ShapeShift allows digital currencies to be easily converted between different coin types in a matter of seconds, all without any account setup or personal data required. Instead, the funds are sent to a specific address, with the blockchain record of the transaction acting as both the order and the receipt.

Global Arena Holding Inc. (OTC: GAHC) is a holding and technology development company. The company is focused on acquiring technologies, patents and companies having the ability to leverage the blockchain crypto technology. GAHC incorporated GAHI Acquisition Corp. to be the merger subsidiary for the acquisition of Blockchain Technologies Corporation (“BTC”). Currently, GAHC and BTC have entered into an acquisition arrangement where BTC will merge with GAHI Acquisition Corp. BTC is a technology company which leverages the underlying crypto technology of Bitcoin [Blockchain], acting as a seed accelerator. BTC currently features a number of innovative startups utilizing the Blockchain and operating within the crypto technology field.

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A lot of us start out investing in different Mutual Funds for retirement because we feel that we need to be more aggressive in building up our portfolio.  Now that retirement is just around the corner or maybe it’s already arrived, it may be time to move that portfolio into something more stable.  Here’s a couple ideas to do that .

In a previous article, I discussed various ways that investors can accumulate their nest egg. One strategy includes putting a portion in one or a few attractively valued dividend growth stocks every single month and reinvesting dividends selectively. The other strategy involved investing in index funds, using tax advantaged accounts such as 401(k) for example.

Traditional vehicles for saving such as index funds and target-date funds work well when you accumulate your nest egg, but could present a challenge if you try to live off them. Many retirees prefer to have a stable and growing source of income, which maintains purchasing power over time, and is not dependent on the manic-depressive swings in stock prices. Therefore, investing in dividend growth stocks is the ideal way to generate income from your nest egg in retirement, due to the stability of dividend income. Therefore, if someone were to accumulate their nest egg in other items such as index funds, but wanted to convert to dividend investing, there are two ways that they can achieve that.

The strategies outlined in this article also work for situations where you have a lump sum amount, and you are thinking of investing it.

The first strategy involves selling all funds in your portfolio, and using the proceeds immediately to create a diversified portfolio of quality dividend-paying stocks.

This strategy is quick and easy to achieve, as it involves just a few steps. If you want to make the conversion all at once and not have to worry about how to invest the amounts for months, this is likely the best deal for you. If you could find 20-30 quality dividend-paying companies, which are also attractively valued, and your money is spread in several sectors, you could be done with this exercise in one day. After that, the only thing to worry about would be to monitor the investments, decide what to do with dividend income, and enjoy life.

 

Read more on Dividend investing

Investment Strategies When Interest Rates Rise

Low interest rates are great for us as consumers as it makes it easier to make our mortgage payments, car loans and ongoing credit card debt. But it’s not so great when we’re looking for the best return on our investments. Walter Davis has some answers about investing when rates begin to rise.

As I travel across the country meeting with financial advisors and their clients, a common concern I hear voiced is “how can I position my portfolio for when the inevitable happens and interest rates start to rise?” In response, I state that certain types of alternative investments are well suited to help prepare portfolios for rising interest rates in the future, while also potentially adding value in the present.

Specifically, I highlight four different types of alternatives for clients to consider:

  • Senior loans (also known as bank loans, senior secured loans and/or leveraged loans) – Senior loans are loans made by banks to non-investment grade companies, commonly in relation to leveraged buyouts, mergers and acquisitions. The loans are called “senior” because they are contractually senior to other debt and equity, and are typically secured by collateral.

Given that the loans are made to non-investment grade companies, the yield associated with them tends to be higher than on investment grade corporate bonds.1 For example, as of the end of May, senior loans were yielding 5.51% versus a yield of 2.99% on investment grade corporate bonds.

See the full article by Walter Davis

 

Stock-VectorsA majority of investors today are well versed in the myriad of investment vehicles and strategies available for creating and maintaining wealth. Also, like most investors we all have our own comfort zone when it  comes to investing in some of these strategies. So it came as no surprise when a survey conducted by John Hancock showed that up to 70% of these investors prefer to have some control of where their money is actually going. Read the full article below…

 

BOSTON, July 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly 70 percent of investors say they act as partners with their financial advisors in exploring options and making final decisions regarding financial matters, according to a recent John Hancock survey, while one quarter say they accept what their advisor recommends for them. Many investors feel that listening and partnering pays off, as 34 percent report that the value of their investments has increased substantially due to their advisors’ recommendations.

The findings were drawn from the second quarter 2015 John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey, a quarterly poll of affluent investors.  The survey measures investors’ feelings about the current economic climate and their evaluations of what represents a good or bad investment given the current environment. The poll also asks consumers about their confidence in reaching key financial goals and likelihood of purchasing financial products and services.

Asked how they liked to interact with their financial advisor, the most popular choice was on a face-to-face basis (70 percent), while nearly as many indicated a desire for telephone contact. Very few cite text messaging (five percent), Skype/video chat (two percent), social media or podcasts (less than 0.5 percent) as their communication preference.

The survey found that investors primarily look to advisors for a plan to manage their investments (70 percent). Two-thirds work with an advisor to develop a retirement plan.  Half of those surveyed said they look to their advisor to produce a comprehensive financial plan for major life events and goals. Only 20 percent of investors say their advisors made recommendations or a plan to deal with the risk of death, disability, critical illness or other risks.

When it comes to improving their experience with a financial advisor, 30 percent of investors say more in-person interaction would improve their experience. Nearly 20 percent say that regular electronic updates about the account are a good way to improve client experience.

About the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey
This online survey was conducted by independent research firm Greenwald & Associates.  A total of 1,064 investors were surveyed from May 11th to May 22nd, 2015. To qualify, respondents were required to participate at least to some extent in their household’s financial decision-making process, have a household income of at least $75,000, and assets of $100,000 or more. The data were weighted by age and education to reflect the population of Americans matching the survey’s qualification requirements. In a similarly-sized random sample survey, the margin of error would be plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.  Due to rounding and missing categories, numbers presented may not always total to 100 percent.

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife
John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, our group of companies offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Assets under management by Manulife and its subsidiaries were C$821 billion (US$648 billion) as at March 31, 2015. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘945’ on the SEHK. Manulife can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, investments,  401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at johnhancock.com.

SOURCE John Hancock Financial

CONTACT: Beth McGoldrick, (617) 663-4751, bmcgoldrick@jhancock.com

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Small Business Owners-Look Here Before You Leap

Dr. Michael D. Ames, Professor of Management at California State University Fullerton and founder of University’s Small Business Institute, wrote a textbook twenty years ago that outlines some of the struggles that small business owners face when launching and managing their company. This textbook, “Small Business Management,” has been so influential that the Small Business Administration (SBA) cites it on their website.

The original list found on the SBA’s website consisted of 10 major reasons for small business failure, some of which include lack of experience, over-investment and poor inventory management.

While Dr. Ames says that list and his textbook still offer small business owners very valuable information, he “would overlay it with another list of 20 years or more of experience.”

In an exclusive interview with loans.org, Dr. Ames expanded on each of the 10 SBA-cited reasons for small business failure, providing further insight into what exactly it takes to be a “success” in today’s ever-changing economic climate.

One highlight of the interview points to Dr. Ames’ discussion of insufficient capital.

Dr. Ames said that many businesses spend huge amounts of money before they ever understand what their targeted demographic actually wants.

He said business owners end up “building what they want versus what the customer needs.” Then, when all is said and done (and often when it’s too late), the previously-hopeful entrepreneur looks back to see they’ve gone too far, fallen into too much debt and are at a point where they can’t recoup.

For Dr. Ames’ input on the remaining top 10 reasons why small businesses fail, please visit the full article at http://loans.org/business/articles/top-ten-reasons-small-company-fail.

For more articles, news, and frequently asked questions on entrepreneurship and commercial financing, please visit http://loans.org/business, a page dedicated to business-related information.

CONTACT: Alex Gomory, 909-784-2476, alex@loans.org

 

Financial Advisor Prefers Modesty for Retirees

After the financial pummeling investors have endured over the last decade, there is a palpable loss of confidence in the stock market – and a loss of patience. In response to the demand from increasingly conservative consumers, safer financial strategies are slowly evolving, even as riskier propositions are dying out. Financial advisors have not always sought to protect client portfolios from market risk, preferring a “wait and hope” approach to investing that relies in the market to bounce back up when it dips. But now, an entire generation of investors is looking for a safety net for their capital in retirement – and that’s exactly what today’s savvy financial advisors, like John Convery, aim to provide.

As founder and CEO of The Educated Wealth Center, LLC in West Palm Beach Florida, John describes himself as an advocate and educator for retirees. “You shouldn’t have to lose sleep at night wondering if you’ll have enough to live comfortably. There are proven strategies that align your resources properly to ensure you will always have enough,” he says. One of those proven strategies lies in knowing how to use annuities to ensure a constant flow of income – a pitch that isn’t always popular.

Annuities have developed a bad reputation, and some of it is deserved. Once you’ve heard one horror story, it’s hard not to treat every one of the dozens of different types of annuities as suspect. You’ve probably heard the story of the retiree died before pulling his money out of his annuities – and the insurance company kept the money. It’s the black sheep in the Annuity family that everyone talks about. But annuities deserve a second look. When it comes to protecting capital while still maintaining steady cash flow, fixed indexed annuities especially can be a central component of a solid portfolio.

When advising his clients, John Convery lists the safest types of investments: certificates and deposits with certain banks, US Treasury Notes, Fixed and Indexed Annuities. The problem with all of those investments, he says, is that interest rates are so low that “You die a death of a thousand cuts.” Indexed annuities are the notable exception.

“We like to see clients using indexing so they can benefit from the gains of the market without risking the losses. Over time, indexing should allow them to keep their incomes in pace with inflation.” However, he warns, “It’s not going to allow you to make a fortune in the market. But over time, it should allow you to outperform inflation. If you can accomplish that, then you’re going to be all right. Modest goals for a modest time, but in a market this volatile, feeling financially secure is worth a fortune.”

Read more: http://www.educatedwealthcenter.com/john-convery-west-palm-beach-fl.php

CONTACT: Matt Collins, 800-980-1626, matt@celebritybrandingagency.com

Web Site: http://www.educatedwealthcenter.com

‘Tis the Season for Credit Card Theft

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and freecreditscore.com™ wants to help shoppers stay off the financial “naughty” list — and avoid identity theft “grinches.”

“Understanding how shopping behavior can affect credit scores during the holiday season leads to better buying decisions,” said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of marketing for freecreditscore.com. “We offer a variety of articles and tools on freecreditscore.com that help educate people about credit information, which can help holiday shoppers stay on the financial ‘nice’ list this year.”

Here are a few guidelines to help consumers understand their score:

Before putting more purchases on those cards, know what you owe!
A credit score is directly linked to the number of credit cards a consumer possesses and the balance on those cards. The percentage of credit used on the cards weighs heavily on an individual’s credit score. If most cards are close to being maxed out, the credit score may suffer significantly. Before heading to stores, shoppers should assess the available balance on all cards to avoid maxing any out during the holidays.

Ho, ho, no! — Open new lines of credit with caution
During this time of year, many retail stores offer “instant” credit that promises discounts and rewards for shoppers. While these incentives may save a few dollars in the short term, the reality is that this kind of retail card can wreak havoc on your credit score in the long run.

Applying for a credit card initiates a “hard” credit inquiry by the card provider, which can cause a score to drop. In addition, the inquiry remains on a credit report for two years.

The holidays are a time to give, but don’t give your identity!

This is the time for celebration and counting blessings. However, there are “grinches” out there more interested in stealing personal identity information for their own gains. Saving physical and digital receipts can help to avoid being billed for what other people buy with stolen credit card information. As bills start to arrive, itemized expenses should be matched against actual receipts to make sure no one else is using the card for holiday shopping.

Shoppers also can watch for identity theft by monitoring their credit scores through enrolling in products such as freecreditscore.com. If cards are maxed out or if there’s an application for new credit lines, the score will change — and freecreditscore.com sends an alert noting the change. Consumers can access their score at no cost for seven days, also gaining access to additional finance tools and resources. After seven days, a monthly fee is charged for membership in freecreditscore.com.

Additional information about credit and credit scores is available at http://www.freecreditscore.com.

About freecreditscore.com

freecreditscore.com is part of a family of online consumer credit reporting sites belonging to ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company. ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. was founded in 1995 to give consumers quick, easy and inexpensive access to their credit profile. It is now the leading provider of online consumer credit reports, credit scores, credit monitoring and other credit-related information. ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. provides credit monitoring to its more than 3.1 million members and has delivered more than 20 million credit reports on the Web. As part of the Experian family, it continues to grow its membership base and develop innovative products to help consumers better understand and manage their credit.

About Experian

Experian® is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended 31 March 2012 was US$4.5 billion. Experian employs approximately 17,000 people in 44 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

For more information, visit http://www.experianplc.com.

Experian and the Experian marks used herein are service marks or registered trademarks of Experian Information Solutions, Inc. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

Contacts:

Corie Jackson
Edelman PR
1 323 202 1075 (office)
1 818 259 0631 (cell)
Corie.Jackson@edelman.com

Becky Frost
freecreditscore.com
1 949 567 7631 (office)
1 949 202 7296 (cell)
becky.frost@experianinteractive.com

Web Site: http://www.freecreditscore.com

Planning for Retirement? Get Some Help

Capital One

Retirement Planning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting older may not be easy, but taking a back seat with your retirement plan could lead to a destiny that is more glum than golden. A new survey from Capital One ShareBuilder reveals that while a majority (54 percent) of Americans plan to retire by age 65, many (36 percent) are not actively contributing to a retirement plan, and more than a quarter (26 percent) are unsure how much they need to save. The survey of American pre-retirees found that while confidence in the ability to save for retirement has improved (with 33 percent claiming to be more confident than they were a year ago), nearly one in four (23 percent) are concerned they may never save enough to retire.

“Now more than ever, it is important for Americans to take their retirement plans into their own hands to ensure they have an adequate nest egg,” said Dan Greenshields, president of Capital One ShareBuilder, Inc. “While planning for a time that many see as a distant future can be a daunting task, people need to assess where they want and expect to be financially when they retire and take advantage of the various tools and resources available to plan for their financial future.”

Retirement Timing and Lifestyle: When and how do Americans plan to retire?

  • More than half (54 percent) of Americans plan to retire by age 65, while 23 percent say they don’t plan to ever fully retire.
  • One in four (25 percent) Americans plan to work part-time during their retirement, and that percentage increases closer to retirement age, with 40 percent of Americans age 55-64 saying they’ll work part-time.
  • A third (33 percent) of Americans plan to maintain their current lifestyle, while 17 percent plan to make sacrifices and 11 percent plan to improve their lifestyle; 38 percent said they are unsure of what lifestyle they plan to lead.

Roadblocks to Retirement Savings: What’s keeping Americans from saving?

  • Paying for college tuition (20 percent), job loss (10 percent) and daily household bills (14 percent) are the top roadblocks for retirement savings, according to respondents.
  • Only just over one third (37 percent) of Americans say nothing has impeded their ability to save for retirement.

“At any point in life, events can come up where even the best laid financial plans can be derailed,” Greenshields said. “Having an adequate emergency or rainy day fund will help ease the financial burden of unexpected costs – and help keep you on track for retirement.”

The ING DIRECT Orange Savings Account, which can be directly linked to your ShareBuilder account, boasts features including automatic savings functionality and a My Savings Goals tool designed to help build a financial cushion, so you won’t need to dip into or cease contributing to your retirement savings.

Facing Retirement with an Arsenal of Tools:

One thing is for certain – money doesn’t grow on trees. While forty percent of older Americans plan to work part time in retirement, the reality of retirement requires a substantial and realistic nest egg. In preparing for the years ahead, experts agree steps need to be taken for the 26 percent of Americans who are not sure or do not have a retirement plan.

ShareBuilder by Capital One offers solutions that can help investors get their retirement plan on track:

  • Twenty-two percent of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 report not knowing how much they will need to retire. RetireMyWay can help you create a personal and customizable map of the retirement they are seeking and how to get there financially.
  • ShareBuilder’s Portfolio Builder is a simple, low-cost tool to help you build a diversified portfolio that aligns with your risk tolerance and work toward your long-term goals.
  • ShareBuilder offers a no-fee IRA1, which is a great low-cost option to either get started or roll over an old 401K or IRA to.

Survey Methodology

The national phone survey was conducted within the United States by TNS on behalf of Capital One ShareBuilder from September 26 through 30, 2012 among 1,000 adults age 18+. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

About ShareBuilder by Capital One

Capital One ShareBuilder, Inc., is a leading online brokerage for investors who have long-term financial goals and want to say goodbye to investing complexity. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just getting started, ShareBuilder by Capital One has what Americans need to help secure their financial future without sacrificing their lives to the stock market. No minimum balance required when you open an account and pay low commissions when investing. Trade when you want, any amount you want, and what you want — stocks, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, options and retirement solutions.

1 For complete information, see pricing and rates.

Diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against market losses.

Securities products are offered by Capital One ShareBuilder, Inc., a registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC. Capital One ShareBuilder, Inc. is a subsidiary of Capital One, N.A. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Banking Services are provided by ING Direct, a division of Capital One, N.A., member FDIC.

ING Direct is now a division of Capital One, N.A. ING Bank, fsb, and its subsidiaries, including ShareBuilder Corporation, have been acquired by Capital One Financial Corporation and are no longer affiliated with ING Groep N.V.  (“ING”). The trademarks ING, ING DIRECT, ING Lion, and the ING Lion logo, alone or as a part of any trademark logo, work or domain name are trademarks of ING and are used by permission.

Securities products are: Not FDIC insured – Not Bank guaranteed – May lose value

Web Site: http://www.sharebuilder.com

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