Safe Money and the Plain Truth

Why the financial services industry is stacked against the American Retiree

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Everybody Loves Life Insurance

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Hey folks, after a hiatus over the last few weeks I’m back to enlighten you with something on everyone’s favorite topic…life insurance.

Recently I saw this list titled “The 7-Wonders of Life Insurance”and it is worth reminding folks of the great things it can provide to your family in the event that you die prematurely…which I suppose sounds kind of dumb considering the fact that I believe 10 out of 10 dead people surveyed would most likely say they died prematurely. 

At any rate, this is a good list and certainly worth taking a moment to remind us of why we pay those premiums every month.

1. Buys time–Allows loved ones to focus on their grief by helping to pay for the funeral and other final expenses.
2. Provides a fresh start–Lets loved ones start with a clean slate by helping to pay off credit card bills, outstanding loans and even the mortgage.
3. Generates income–Helps replace lost income for years to come so that surviving family members can continue to pay for life’s necessities.
4. Offers flexibility–Gives a surviving spouse the chance to take time off from work or to switch to a job that offers a more flexible work schedule.
5. Creates opportunities–Can provide funding to start a business, or pay for schooling so surviving family members can train for a new career.
6. Funds the future–Offers a way to fund longer-range goals like a college education for the kids or a secure retirement for a surviving spouse.
7. Leaves a legacy–Gives parents the chance to leave future generations with the legacy of long-term financial security.

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Written by brantleyw

October 26, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Best Of Who We Are

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Today’s post really has nothing to do with financial topics or retirement advice whatsoever.  But every now and again we all need some perspective in our lives…this video will help you gain some.  I challenge you not to get misty-eyed watching this one.  Truly inspiring.

Written by brantleyw

October 5, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do

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The information I’m posting below has nothing to do with your retirement or your money at all, just something I came across today and thought it could help a few folks out.  It is really useful information.

For all the folks with cell phones. (This should be printed and kept in your car, purse, and wallet. Good information to have with you.)
There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies.
Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it: 

FIRST
Emergency
The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find Yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an Emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to Establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked… Try it out.

SECOND
Have you locked your keys in the car?
Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other ‘remote’ for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

Editor’s Note
: works fine! We tried it out and it unlocked  our car over a cell phone!’

THIRD

Hidden Battery Power
Imagine your cell battery is very low… To activate, press the keys*3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time.

FOURTH
How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
To check your Mobile phone’s serial number, key in the following Digits on your phone: *#06#. A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe.
If your phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code… They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless.. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.
And Finally….. 

FIFTH
Free Directory Service for Cells
Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don’t have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial: (800)FREE411, or (800) 373-3411 without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell phone now.

Written by brantleyw

September 24, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

So What is My Number??

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I don’t know if anybody has really noticed the commercials that ING has been showing over the last few months about “your number”?  If not here’s the commercial I’m referring to.

While it’s no doubt that “your number” is important and the bigger it is, the better off you’ll be in your retired years.  What I try to get my clients to think about is what number gives you the ability to generate the  income you’ll need ( $60,000 per year as an example) over the course of your retirement years.  That’s the most important number.

I’ve heard financial planning  pundits proclaim that you need to have $1,000,000 saved by the time you retire. While that’s not necessarily a bad number, it is of course completely arbitrary, as the needs of different folk vary widely from others.  You’ve heard the old saying, “Different Strokes for different folks”.

The idea being that if you had $1,000,000, it would be enough to generate about $40,000 per year (assume 4% in annual interest) reliably in interest income, which, combined with another $20,000 per year in Social Security, would give you about $60,000 in income; your principal of $1,000,000 is left intact to keep the income distribution wheel turning, but would be available to access if things got tight, and the balance would be enough to cover any medical expenses and funeral costs at death.  Of course, none of this thought process takes into account inflation at all and the decrease in purchasing power that accompanies it.  But I digress…

My point is this…there really is no “right number”  there’s only “your number” and that number is determined by some basic math.  You just back into it.  Pick a conservative interest rate (4-6%) that you’ll try to earn on your retirement nest-egg and back into “your number” that way.   Be realistic and don’t expect to earn double digit returns after your working years…you can’t afford the risk.  If you don’t believe me ask the folks that lost 40% of their retirement accounts over the last couple years being invested in the stock market. 

Written by brantleyw

September 23, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tax Increases…Change You Can Count on!!

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This was posted by my friend, Pamela Yellen over on her blog  just a couple of days ago,  I thought it was right on so I’ve put it on my site to share with you. 

Did you know that the U.S. income tax was first instituted in 1913?

1913 Form 1040 Tax Return

1913 Form 1040 Tax Return

I recently came across a copy of the very first IRS Income Tax Form 1040 our forefathers were required to file and wanted to share it with you.

But BEFORE I show you the rest of it, take a guess at the answers to these four questions:

  1. What percentage of taxable income do you think the average family paid back then?
  2. What was the top percentage paid by the very wealthiest Americans?
  3. How many pages long do you think that first tax return was?
  4. How many pages were the instructions needed to complete the form?

The answers to these questions may shock you!

Did you take your best guess at the answers?

Now take a look at how close you came to the correct answers here.

What direction do you think taxes will go long-term?

Most people I’ve talked to say that’s a no-brainer- they’re going to go up.

Many people love the ability to tax-defer income that comes with IRA’s and 401(k)s. But they forget that if you’re successful building your savings in one of those plans, you’re probably just going to end up paying higher taxes on a bigger number!

That’s why it is so important to explore alternatives to funding your retirement with dollars that won’t be included in your income tax calculation. 

Written by brantleyw

September 21, 2009 at 1:27 pm

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“Cash For Clunkers”—A great success…Gimme A Break!!

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This week, Congressman Gary Peters from Michigan, called the “Cash for Clunkers” program “…great economic stimulus” and “it created immediate jobs.”  He went on to say, “The whole idea of ‘cash for clunkers’ was to act as priming the pump and get people back into showrooms. It was very successful at that."  Well you know what I say…gimme a break!!

I added up all of the money that the government has given to GM and Chrysler….$125 Billion.  And just this week, congressman Peters sponsored HR 3246 which will provide another $2.9 billion to the auto industry to research “alternative energy vehicles”.  The faucet in Washington just keeps running!! 

As I was reading about this situation earlier today I saw a comment from someone only identified as Bobby P. that said, “This is a temporary fix, and those given jobs will lose them again. What a colossal waste of money! This is not a stimulus plan; this is a giveaway of tax dollars. How stupid do they (legislators) think we are? A stimulus plan should not be called such until one invests capital to improve processes or a creating a manufacturing base of which we have little.”  Couldn’t say it any better myself…thanks Bobby P.

Of course I don’t have a crystal ball, but my guess is that taxpayers will never see any return on the money given to the automakers.  All of these programs like “Cash for Clunkers”, the real estate tax credit, and the free money we’ve given banks is nothing more than a temporary prop.  Politicians claiming victory have only created an artificial environment to operate.  Think about it….these clowns won’t show a profit for years…how could they when they’re:

1. Operating on taxpayer monies.

2. Advertising with taxpayer monies.

3. Giving incentives with taxpayer monies.

4. Paying Union Wages and Corporate Salaries with taxpayer monies.

Under these circumstances I think we could all run a profitable business.  Congressman Peters needs to lay off the Kool-Aid they’re serving on capitol hill.

Written by brantleyw

September 18, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

This should be posted in all schools and work places.

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Love  him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this! Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a  High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in  school. He talks about how feel-good,  politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with  no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure  in the real worldclip_image002

Rule 1: Life is  not fair – get used to it!

Rule 2 : The world  won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to  accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.  

Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of  high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until  you earn both.

Rule 4 : If you  think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your  Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called  it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you  mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about  your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you  were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got  that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening  to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save  the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try  de-lousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8:  Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS  NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll  give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This  doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.  

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t  get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you  FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10:  Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to  leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice  to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one

Written by brantleyw

September 18, 2009 at 7:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized