Category Archives: Retirement Security

Olympic Savings

With the Olympics well underway, it is a good time to think about winning the gold in Olympic Savings. I feel old when I say the Olympics do not seem as compelling as they once were. Sure, the Michael Phelps story continues to amaze, Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, Lilly King and Kristin Armstrong have all added tremendously to the spectacle. I don’t know, the coverage seems weak, annoying even, they barely show beyond the US team, you’re lucky to find ‘minor’ sports, and the delay is really annoying. Rant over for now, but I am sure there are many more good stories at the games that we just will not see. So, as they say, let’s control what we can, as always that means your retirement security. How can you win the gold in Olympic Savings?


Win the Olympic Savings gold by ensuring you save enough for retirement.

We talk about longevity with some regularity here, but Millennials need to pay particular attention. Merrill Lynch’s Dwyer Says It’s Important for Millennial Investors to be Disciplined

Rules of thumb are great starting points (of course we consistently pick apart the 4% rule here). There is a lot of value in granularity, too. So, keep an eye on the things people miss when planning. 6 Big Expenses Retirees Didn’t Save For – But Should Have

As you can see from the comments on this one, it stirred some controversy. Still, it is a valid point and worth your consideration. Estimate Your Retirement Income Needs Based on Your Spending, not Your Income


Win the Olympic Savings gold by investing wisely for retirement.

It is best to have an investment strategy that encompasses all your savings – 401(k), IRA, pension, investment accounts, etc. That means you will have the chance to do some things yourself. So learn about hot strategies and try some you like. Testing Smart Beta with Two Relatively Long Real-Time Records

Of course, everyone has heard about the outperformance by low cost indexed products vs. higher cost actively managed funds. Is that really the long-term answer? Let’s face it, when markets go down, indices go down … actively managed funds may not. Is Active Management Dead? Not Even Close

Do not become an active investor by any means, but do stay abreast of opportunities. Market timing almost never works, even for the best and day trading is another race to the bottom, largely. Still, opportunistically finding gems … ideally finding them, yourself … can make this more fun and boost your nest egg. Inside EQAL: A Strategy That Has Doubled Return of S&P 500


Win the Olympic Savings gold by focusing on building an income stream during retirement.

Dividend stocks are one good way to drive income without harvesting principal in retirement. That is why we keep giving you leads on good ones. AT&T: Dividend Investors’ Dream

I clicked through on the author of that article to see what else he had written. You should do the same when you stumble upon something that makes sense. Turns out he likes NextEra Energy, too. Funny thing is an old GE colleague has been in charge there during this period as “one of America’s fastest-growing and best-performing utility stocks.” NextEra Energy – One of America’s Best Utilities Keeps Getting Better

Returning to this notion of having a plan, we often share data debunking the age-old 4% withdrawal rate rule. To be completely fair, I give you new data from T. Rowe Price that supports it. I only ask does a decades old adage make sense, knowing what you do about dramatically increasing longevity? How to reduce the risk of outliving your money


Win the Olympic Savings gold by staying aware of your environment.

Not much you can do about this aside from understand and avoid related pitfalls. You may be fascinated to realize it, though. S&P 500: This is Critical Information for Each and Every One of Us

Secure Retirement

The election continues to provide plenty of action, strange, but action, but you still need a secure retirement. The best way to get a secure retirement is by maintaining focus on the important things: saving enough, achieving the lowest possible cost, leveraging tax incentives, and building a reliable income stream in retirement.

Enjoy a secure retirement by ensuring you are saving enough for retirement.
Should you have an IRA? Look at this amazing chart anyway because it gets to the impact of time on your savings. The Most Important IRA Chart You’ll Ever See
If you really want to be diligent in preparing for your retirement, doing some or all of these things will likely pay off in the long run. Is your 401(k) helping or hurting your retirement savings?
As you can see from the comments on this one, it stirred some controversy. Still, it is a valid point and worth your consideration. Estimate Your Retirement Income Needs Based on Your Spending, not Your Income

Maintain a secure retirement by focusing on building an income stream during retirement.
This one helps you fine-tune your Social Security strategy and gives you some savings tips, too: fits in both categories! How the Average Retiree Can Gain $5,000 Per Year in Retirement
One thing is certain in retirement, you want as much control as possible. That especially applies to RMDs. Here are some good ideas for managing them. 6 Tax-Smart Ways to Lower Your RMDs in Retirement
More good, short information on the brave new world of retirement income. Most notably, more commentary on the 4% rule. Navigating the New World of Retirement Income

Be sure of a secure retirement by keeping an eye on the economy, too.
With continuing anemic growth in the US, just how good is the economy? Have we ever recovered from the 2008 downturn, except for financial markets? “Policymakers Have Been Calling a ‘Depression’ a ‘Recovery’ for Nearly a Decade”
Not to overdose on Zero Hedge, as they tend to have a negative bent, but here citing Goldman’s analysis of the markets it may be worth a look. Goldman: The Last Two times P/E Multiples Expanded This Much, The Result Was A Historic Crash
We have touched on this before, but a focused reminder of the very real implications of Washington’s never ending drunken binge: the national debt will mean you must save more for retirement. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? How Government Debt Affects Your Retirement

Beating the Heat

With a continuing heat wave nationwide, beating the heat is top of mind for everyone. Do all the normal things, but one sure way to stay cool is by resting assured of your retirement. So, take your weekly half hour to buzz through these good tips from across the web.

Beating the heat, focus on fees in your retirement accounts, don’t get soaked.
In a continuing theme here, its employees now have sued NY Life over excess fees inside their 401(k) plans. Whether or not true, the lesson here is to be sensitive to in house fund options (at least for now) because of these risks. New York Life sued by employees claiming excess 401(k) fees Money managers with in-house 401(k) plan options at risk of employee lawsuits: lawyers
While this is not spot on with fees, it is worth considering. 3 Retirement-Savings Mistakes the Average American Makes
Here’s the flip side of that issue, and a good perspective on it, too. Employers and the boards overseeing retirement plans need to keep a sharp eye on fees. This also provides a good reminder for you of FeeX as a resource for understanding your own cost structure. As 401(k) suits mount, check your own plan

Beating the heat, be sure you are saving more for retirement.
So, how much is enough? This article reviews the various rules of thumb and helps you judge for yourself. How Much You Really Need to Save for Retirement? You be the Judge.
Here’s an interesting twist on retirement income, back to the old ‘how much do I need to save’ question. There are a few tips and tricks worth reading in here. Is $1 Million Enough to Retire On?
It does not seem to be a big topic in the Presidential race, but it should. Here you will see how “experts” are saying Social Security will run dry by 2034 without intervention by Congress. Lest we forget it is 2016 now, and nothing will be done before 2017, that’s for sure. Social Security projected to run out
Some really good news, younger people are saving more systematically. 401(k) Bonanza: Why More Americans are Feeding Their Retirement Accounts

Beating the heat, lastly focus on building an income stream in retirement.
If you read one thing today, read this. It highlights and links to a paper by the CFA Institute that suggests you create a virtual annuity with your retirement nest egg. It is a fascinating concept well worth consideration and discussion. Theory to Practice: Siegel and Waring on Retirement Spending Rules
Good news from plan sponsors: they are embracing lifetime income solutions.  These are likely to be a cornerstone for any good retirement plan. Sponsors Warming Up to Lifetime Income Solutions
If nothing else, this article provides interesting background on the structure of REITs. This one, the largest, happens to have a pricing glitch that may yield you 7.5%. The Better 7.5% Yield

Weathering the Election

Now everyone understands this will be a very different election cycle. Smart money will prepare for weathering the election with careful management of your retirement accounts. It is never too early or too late to focus your energy on what will provide you happy times for 30 or more years in retirement. So start now or keep on top of it, either way, be prepared for whatever comes your way. 

Improving your retirement, first focus on fees.
It is worth noting that others are taking notice of fees, especially in 401(k) plans, and this may be coming to your business, too. So, take a close look at your fee structure and raise the issue if it is egregious. Transamerica settles excessive-fee lawsuit with its employees for $3.8 million Cetera, plan sponsor sued for excessive fees in $25 million 401(k)
While this is not spot on with fees, it is worth considering. 3 Retirement-Savings Mistakes the Average American Makes
Don’t be fooled by the title, this article is a worthwhile read for everyone concerned with how to weather the election. A Millennial’s Guide to Money and Long Term Investing

Improving your retirement, next focus on saving more.
We have mentioned HSAs before, but this article lays out a great case for using these as a great retirement saving vehicle after you max out others. It happens to be a great way for weathering the election, keeping your savings tax-deferred. 7 benefits of HSAs
Here is a nice, short article on reasons why we do not save enough. It is worth the five minutes, trust me. How Americans blow $1.7 trillion in retirement savings
This may come as no surprise, I hope it does not, but only 27% of Americans are adequately saving for their retirement. 9 Reasons Why You’re Never Going to Retire
For the younger reader, or your kids, this is sage advice on entering the workforce. What Every New College Grad Should Know About Retirement Savings

Improving your retirement, lastly focus on building an income stream.
While this is a bit aged, the facts remain true, and these type ideas can help drive an income stream for your retirement. How to Place Your Money for Three Years and Get 7.74% Cash Returns It is still running at a discount, albeit smaller now, another good approach for weathering the election. RFTA Stock Quote
Here is another quick guide to finding the best dividend stocks. This one makes the point about keeping your fees in check, too! Retirement Strategy: Five Dividend Aristocrats to Buy Here
Here is Fidelity’s take on the QLAC (Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract) as a means to get you guaranteed income later in retirement. I remain a big advocate in the right situation. It is certainly worth your time. A way to secure retirement income later in life


We express solidarity with our friends in France, and with all who would disavow acts of brutality. We feel for the people of France, and all impacted by last night’s awful event in Nice.

There is high uncertainty in the world, from these too often terrorist acts to still fragile economies and a host of backlash political events. This lends ever more credence to our focus on helping you take control of your own retirement planning and related retirement success. For now, we will keep our posts consistent in format, zeroing in on fees, increased saving rates and generating income.

Improving your retirement, first focus on fees.
This is an old, old article, but very detailed and interesting. Hidden 401(k) Fees Are Stealing Your Nest Egg
This article nicely lays out for you some fees to beware of when investing. Understanding Investment Fees: From Brokerage Commissions to Sales Loads
While not spot on to our topic, the notion of doing smart things early, including watching fees, certainly is valuable advice. 5 ways to overcome obstacles between you and retirement

Improving your retirement, next focus on saving more.
Most people need to save more than they already do. Now you need to save more than you even thought because of market volatility and other factors. Market volatility raises the bar for retirement income savers
One other driver for the need to save more – the cost of being retired … most notably the cost of medical expenses in retirement. Do not forget a vital, big cost that is coming. 5 ways retirees can control long-term health-care costs
While it is little consolation, realize that you are not alone, and likely not in the worst position with respect to your accumulated savings. Guess How Many Americans Over 55 Don’t Have Any Retirement Savings

Improving your retirement, lastly focus on building an income stream.
We are not the only ones who understand that dividend stocks help build income with principal in retirement. Plus, with interest rates stubbornly low, negative in some places, dividend stocks offer an attractive alternative. That market interest drives down dividend yields. You need to be sharper to find the best options. Retirement Strategy: 3 Dividend Themes Still Ripe for the Picking
If you are interested in going deep on this, i.e. finding and buying dividend gems, this is a great article for you. How to Use Finviz to Find Bargain Dividend Stocks for Free
While it may be the flip side of income, avoiding taxes is another way for you to net more money in your pocket after tax. So, it is always a good idea to optimize your Social Security strategy, too. Here are some good tips. 5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Your Social Security Benefits

Gun Violence

I purposely shy away from commentary on politics and politically charged issues, but watching a live feed from Dallas last night unwittingly showing at least two officers down from gun violence is simply enough. I have not seen commentary yet on the motivation for the attack, but it certainly begs the question ‘can we not do more to ensure the mental stability of gun buyers?’ I cannot conceive of someone, whatever side of the various issues in play here, who can endorse this action. The notion that Congress is beholden to the NRA, preventing truly common sense measures is untenable. We should challenge this false narrative. If nothing else, elect legislators not compromised on this issue. Presumably, we all feel sorrow and compassion for the families of the fallen. Let us leverage this horrific incident to get some movement on the underlying issue, gun violence.

I parse this gun violence issue, which includes other mass shootings, from the very valid driver of the peaceful protests across the country last night and the recent police involved shootings because the corrective action is different. I, too, am shocked by the rapid succession of police shootings, but presume that to be a training and selection issue.

The backdrop for this mayhem is the strangest Presidential election of my memory. Surely, there will be plenty of campaign trail bluster about this, and mayhem seems the best descriptor for this mess. I say you should largely focus on what you can control, your retirement. Perhaps we start with ‘are you controlling your retirement?’ Regardless of your answer, here are some ideas that can help.

Improving your retirement, first focus on fees.
I think the first priority, always, for your retirement investing is to control the fees. It has been demonstrated that the smallest improvement in these small, often hidden costs, makes a material difference in outcome. Focus on the fees you pay on all your retirement assets first and foremost.
We hit on this last week and will remind you now, Fidelity is going straight at Vanguard (ironically enough at the vanguard of low fee investing). Fidelity takes on Vanguard by cutting prices on index funds, ETFs
You may be getting some help from the Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rule, too … but you should not rely on this yet. DOL fiduciary rule will nudge 401(k) advisors to zero-revenue-share fund lineups

Improving your retirement, next focus on saving more.
I will leave this one with this one, simple Warren Buffett quote: “Don’t save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving.”

Improving your retirement, lastly focus on building an income stream.
The closer you get to retirement, the more you need to think about converting a balance (the total of your retirement savings) into an income stream. One great way to anchor this is with investments that generate income. Find great dividend stocks, for example: High Dividend Stock Yields 15%, Has Top Shelf Customer, Insiders Keep Buying
Tread carefully in this space, though, and lean on professionals when you can. Dividend focused ETFs or funds may be your safest route. A Warning for Dividend Growth Investors

Retirement Security

Today we will focus our energy on Retirement Security. Fact is I often harp on fees and generating income, but keeping a sharp eye on your retirement security is equally important.

Retirement Security: Protecting what you already have.
I really like this one because it does what it says, gives you a simple set of rules you can easily follow to help ensure your retirement security.  For Investment Success, Keep it Simple
This one is a little more complex, but it pretty clearly explains the tools you can use to get you retirement security through protecting your downside risk.  Protect Your Portfolio Like a Pro
One way to protect what you have is to be prepared for ‘unexpected’ expenses. This study shows what has tripped up retirees before you. 17 unexpected expenses in retirement
As expected, the government is planning to do more to help your retirement security, too. Of course the DOL Fiduciary Rule is out there now and will go into effect by 2018, but that only covers your qualified money, i.e. 401(k), 403(b), IRA, KEOGH, etc. Now the SEC has announced they are following suit on the non-qualified money. No doubt the industry will bellyache and it will take a while, but it should be a good thing in the balance. We just hope there are few unintended consequences, like the potential for smaller investor (most people) to be frozen out of personal financial planning and advice. SEC plans to propose fiduciary rule next April

Construction Marvels Opening: These two projects represent meaningful change.
The Alps by their very nature are a natural obstacle of immense proportion. Here and there they have been breached in various, physical ways, but this takes things to a new level. Switzerland is opening the world’s longest-ever railway tunnel
On a much more impactful note, for the US economy, the Panama Canal expansion is finally set to open. The new Panama Canal is opening soon and will cause an ‘evolution’ in a vital US industry

A little entertainment from the coming election.
The Trump secret is finally out there … it’s all about Mar-a-Lago. Trump could win noise battle with the airport if he is president
The good and the bad of being in the public eye for ever. Clintonism screwed the Democrats: How Bill, Hillary and the Democratic Leadership Council gutted progressivism
Then there’s the other Trump secret … what’s up with that? A hair surgeon explains what’s going on with Trump’s hair