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How Much i$ Enough (to Retire)? – Part 1 of 3

Recently, Charles Schwab & Co. asked investors how much money they thought would be adequate to fund their retirements. The consensus was $1.7 Million. It should come as no surprise to anyone that very few people will ever accumulate that much money prior to retirement. What factors will influence your outcome?

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Financial Advisors Get No R-E-S-P-E-C-T

A disgustingly low 2% of surveyed people claimed to trust financial industry professionals. Given slightly more latitude, 15% admitted to trusting financial professionals “a little.” We remain unimpressed with these results, so we decided to look into the reasons why so little faith is evident in our industry. As with so many occupations, this seems to be a case of a minority of practitioners making it more difficult for all of us.

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Not Your Father’s Stockbroker

At a time of maximum complexity, young people are weighed down by lack of financial knowledge and insufficient resources. In earlier American generations, financial advisors were mostly stockbrokers and insurance agents; all worked on commissions. ‘Investing” meant buying individual stocks, and brokers earned huge commissions. Only the well-to-do could afford the transaction costs.

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Older Job Seekers Take Heart

Americans “of a certain age” know that their working days, at least in their current jobs, are numbered. Companies have opted for decades to replace older workers with younger, less expensive employees. This happens despite legal protections older workers first received in 1967, with passage of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

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What is Your Personal Rate of Inflation?

One of the charges given to the Federal Reserve (FED) is to “control” inflation using monetary policy. They have, in an apparent attempt to make us believe them, defined their own measure of inflation, the “Personal Consumption Expenditure,” or PCE. This is, in fact, another way to deceive the public by informing them that they should not believe their own lying eyes.

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Fixing Social Security

As it stands now, social security is scheduled to run out of money by 2034. If that is allowed to happen, about 62 million recipients, or 1 out of every 6 Americans, will have their benefits cut to 79% of the current level. Clearly, no politician would allow this to happen, but fixing the problem needs to start now, not in 15 years when the system is bankrupt.

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Planning for Family Formation

Perhaps the most difficult period of a young person’s life begins with the realization that it is time to get married and start a family. There is so much to do with so little cash flow, and so many concurrent demands to obstruct the path to a successful financial future. The early years of child rearing present young parents with constant demands for time and money, and conflicts are inevitable. When presented with the reality that there will soon be three people in the family, a common and natural reaction is panic.

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Index Capital Gains for Inflation?

There is a simple argument in favor of indexing capital gains, as taxing the inflationary part of the gain is unfair and discourages investment. In Washington, D.C., of course, nothing is simple, and few things are considered “fair.” Opponents claim that the distribution of tax savings would benefit primarily wealthier people.