Tag Archives: diversions

The Home Stretch

With Labor Day weekend behind us, we are in the home stretch for 2017. Hard to imagine, I realize, but September and October are prime deliverables time. What that means for our readers is that you should ensure their retirement plan is sound. You should also verify that your portfolio matches your plan – rebalancing. Finally, you should stay alert for opportunities.

The Home Stretch: Keep disciplined, have a plan and stick with it.
If there is one drum we beat consistently here it is that you need to have a retirement plan and you need to stick with it. You cannot chase the deal of the day. You cannot panic when things go sour. Be consistent and it will pay dividends over time. Now, sequencing risk remains a valid concern. Right around your retirement date (before and after) you cannot afford a major setback. So, your plan should account for this by dialing back aggressiveness or dialing up diversification here. One element of retirement planning we have not touched upon before is timing. This is an interesting piece for the many approaching that decision point. When should you retire? Consult this checklist of questions.

The Home Stretch: Will markets ever correct?
One important variable these days, especially for those around their retirement date, is the potential for a correction. The tremendous bull run since the 2009 bottom has generated a lot of market growth … and paper profits. This situation begs more for the diversification approach than anything else. With proper offsets in your portfolio you should cushion any adverse impact of a stock market correction, for instance. One thing we often discuss is the need to be more aggressive than you think in retirement. Since we live longer and costs, especially healthcare, are rising, old adages don’t hold up any longer. How to Balance Investment Risk and Reward in Retirement Advisor sentiment is trending downward now Risk Tolerance Falls as Correction Fears Rise

The Home Stretch: Some ideas to consider as you constantly evaluate your portfolio.
So, what ways are there out in the market to help enhance your long-term performance? We often talk about top dividend stocks as providing good total returns. You tend to see the occasional article about dividend stocks. It is important to note that any given article, on its own, may not be genius, but the authors we pick tend to have good reasoning. 5% Plus Dividend Yield Portfolio: Catching Fallen Angels and Falling Knives is a good example. While current year performance has not been stellar, cash flows have. Similarly, here are a series of articles that outline a coherent dividend strategy. Buying Stocks for a Dividend Growth Portfolio While you may not like everything in here, you will like the education you get. Maybe this is the right answer for a portion of your portfolio 5% or 10% say. In the end, food for thought.

The Home Stretch: Something to lighten things up for those in Hurricane zones.
What better escape than a NASA probe? Cassini’s Last Photos Will Be Spectacular

Adieu Paris

Like so many weeks before, last week gave us Adieu Paris from the always unpredictable White House. Unfortunately, it is far more complex than either the press or the President would have you believe. I recall thinking that the deal was not so great because there are self-selected standards, self-defined reporting and no teeth. While you tend to see gloom and doom reporting, it likely is not that simple. Just to feel better about this I managed to scour up some more even-handed reporting. Whether you think this is apocalyptic or a nonevent, have a look.

Don’t Cry for the Paris Agreement

The Plain Truth About the Climate Accord

Game Theory and Trump’s Climate Negotiations

Adieu Paris: So, what should you be doing about climate change?
That is a really good question, and I am pretty certain complaining on Facebook is not high on the list. The sure thing you can do is change your own behavior. Buy a high mileage car, don’t run the central air, walk more, those kinds of things. After that, probably engage locally, encouraging similar behavior in your own community. Then you start getting to lobbying your elected officials, local, state and Federal, to take meaningful action. Did you read those articles? What do you think of the CAFE standards? Should that process be changed? Tell your Congressional representatives and get your friends to do the same. Find discrete, actionable causes and advocate for them. Then you might actually make a difference. Venting on Facebook, not so much.

Adieu Paris: What else should you be doing? Like always, focus on what you actually control!
That is right, here we are right back to your retirement planning. Fact is our sudden obsession with what is wrong with DC is great, but it likely will not change a thing. Spending half as much time on your retirement will make a world of difference to you  think about it. Since I am pretty sure I have about exhausted your interest level, just a couple of things to make you think.

The Chart You Must See to Understand the Widespread Risk in the S&P 500 Today

Homeland secretary: People would ‘never leave the house’ if they knew what I knew

21 Informative Maps That Will Change Your Worldview

30 Mind Blowing Facts That are Actually True

Year-end Review

Most everyone is taking this week off from work, the perfect chance for a year-end review.

Year-end Review: Tune up your fiscal habits as we enter the New Year.
It is always good to start with the basics. Here you can check your progress and fine tune your approach. 2 Financial Resolutions You Really Need to Make Before the New Year
In a similar vein, but a longer to-do list, this has you checking fees and automatic savings. 9 Smart Money Moves to Make in January
While this may not be a year-end specific thing, you are not getting any younger. So, in the spirit of checklists, here is one for the must do pile. 5 Financial Steps You Should Take Before You Retire

Year-end Review: Do you think you are AOK on retirement savings?
If you have been reading along with each post you likely realize there is still work to be done. If that has not gotten through, or you have not been reading along, try this. My friend Ron Pressman gives a compelling, fact-based analysis of the US retirement situation. Please do have a look. The Retirement Savings Deficit in America

Year-end Review: Inasmuch as it is a week away for most, enjoy some diversionary things.
Who would not want to stay in the most beautiful places in the world? You may as well put some of these in your budget, while you are at it. The Most Beautiful Places to Stay in the World
Of course it did not end well for the old Czar, but boy did they live the high life. This one is really a flip through some unbelievable pictures. Life Aboard the Luxury Super Yacht of Russia’s Last Emperor
Google is full of surprises, and Google Earth and Google Maps are no exception. If you use them, you may be interested in these articles. Google Maps: 14 Hidden Features You Probably Didn’t Know Google Earth now has global Landsat and Sentinal 2 data from 1985 to 2016 and Google Earth Update Shows How Climate Change Has Morphed Our Planet

Christmas Medley

Christmas Medley, how can you resist naming this way? With Hanukkah and Christmas nearly concurrent this year, I am wish the very best of the holidays to everyone. No homework this time, simply things you may find interesting to steer the conversation out of a ditch in the coming week.

Christmas Medley: If you read one thing this holiday season, I implore you to read this.
The Jar
Christmas Medley: Do you like Rome or Game of Thrones?
If you do, you may like this new trilogy of books written by a historian with a love for the fantasy genre.  Epic Fantasy Meets Ancient Rome: An Interview with Michael Livingston, Author of “The Shards of Heaven” and “The Gates of Hell”
Christmas Medley: Fault me if you will, but do you like saving money?
You can never have too many money saving tips for airfare shopping. Plus, you can never be too up to date with your tactics. Here’s the latest from the Chicago Tribune. The best time to buy airline tickets and other travel advice for 2017
Maybe it isn’t all about saving money. Maybe it is about having the best possible experience. 9 travel hacks you’ll wish you knew all along

Christmas Medley: There must be a funny one in here to keep ready for a light moment.
Headline writing gone wrong … who needs fake news when you can have these goofs? Headlines Don’t Always Work Out the Way They Were Intended
Christmas Medley: Lists are fine, but with many of you off next week, here’s a good one.
So, you are off the week between the holidays, right? What will you be doing? The usual stuff, sure, but if you happen upon one of these, who’s to know? The cocktail-lover’s guide to 10 unforgettable, one-of-a-kind bars around the world

Successful Retirement

Just what is a successful retirement? Perhaps not having to work after you ‘retire’ is how you define it. More likely you are thinking about traveling, time with family, remaining healthy and active…good things. Fact is you should probably avoid the first thing before you focus on the others. Now, you may want to work in retirement, that’s fine. You may call it a ‘second act.’ Maybe you can truly devote your time and energy to a cause you support, or flip properties; more power to you. I think you can do everything right in your run up to retirement: saving more than you think you need right from the start, watching fees, being aggressive enough, etc. If you get the income side of the equation wrong, though, it can blow it all. This brings us back to a few recurring themes: longevity, expenses and withdrawal rates.

Successful Retirement: Just what do you need to do right to make it happen?
This author has put a lot of thought and effort into the right withdrawal rate. Fact is that longevity, fees and investment strategy are all important determinants. If you retire at 65, will you be retired for 40 years? For many of you, yes. That makes this article a must read. It is also a huge eye-opener (sorry). A ‘Safe’ Withdrawal Rate Highly Depends on Longevity and Asset Allocation
These may be repeats, but warrant repeating. The notion that a flat withdrawal rate will match reality is hard to fathom. This construct makes a lot more sense. You will slow down as you age, right? Then the medical bills will likely ramp up later, right? What is the ‘Retirement Spending Smile?’ and Retirement Spending Increases and Decreases Over Time
I really try not to annoy you with hard to read articles. This one makes some good points, but you have a short time to read it. So, keep reloading the page and work your way down. How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?
One thing is certain, your cost structure in retirement will matter. One way to effect that is moving to a lower cost of living. The 50 Cheapest Places to Retire in the US (I suspect my many NJ friends may not have considered Newark!)

Successful Retirement: As suggested above, it is not all about money. Keep your mind active.
And you thought it was a bunch of books. These 250-Plus Violins are About to be Owned by the US Government
Lots of you will make your way to NY City during the holidays. Maybe this is an interesting aside. Secrets of New York’s Grand Central Terminal (remember when that ceiling was black?)
You know this technology will make its way to your phone before too long. I can sure use it! NASA’s New Camera Is Straight from the Future with Incredibly Detailed Footage
This one is a warning that it is not that simple. Climate change is a controversial subject, and it takes more work than you think to understand. How did one volcano confuse scientists, ocean research?

Holiday Push

With Thanksgiving behind us we are into the Holiday Push. Hopefully you are closing deals at work. Holiday shopping is in full swing. You simply do not have time for this retirement stuff. Our regular readers know there is no time like the present to enhance your retirement. With the incoming Trump administration caution is likely the best watchword.

Holiday Push: Always keep doing the right things.
Doing the right things always start with watch your fees. How an extra 1pc investment fee will cost you 16 years of retirement income (don’t be fooled by the UK spin here, the math is the same!)
If you are a small business owner, a large business decision maker, or an employee interested in helping yourself and your fellow employees, consider this. Get Your 401(k) Fees Down Because Your Employees Deserve Better
In the spirit of the season, I’ll give you a contrarian position on fees, too … that is, sometimes active managers actually do earn their fees. Royce Special Equity Fund Earning It’s Fees
If you are in the income phase – retired already – then be sure you are generating income. You will find some interesting thoughts on that in these pieces: Despite Mistakes, a Dividend Growth Investor Retires Early, Part 1 Despite Mistakes, a Dividend Growth Investor Retires Early, Part 2 Good Grief, Don’t Jump Off This Dividend Machine High-Dividend Stock Yields 9%, Pays Monthly, 4 Dividend Hikes in 2016, More in 2017
This one is really interesting, if for no other reason than to understand how convoluted the oil and gas industry has become. Sunoco LP: a 15.2% Yield with Significant Upside

Holiday Push: In December we will ease off retirement focus and give you other valuable leads.
Stay alert, particularly during the holidays, to nefarious doings on your phone. What is spyware? How secret programs can see into your iPhone and record your calls
About that Taiwan phone call … what’s up? Donald Trump is aggressively provoking China. What is he thinking?
Do you realize that yesterday a milestone anniversary passed quietly by your door? Is it time to revisit the thinking behind the words? 20 Years Later, Greenspan’s “Irrational Exuberance” Has Become Even More Irrational

Thanksgiving Respite

The election is behind us, the rancor is dying down, and we are coming off the turkey high … time for a Thanksgiving Respite. That means nothing too heavy this week, mostly light reading.

Thanksgiving Respite: One heavy one – do yourself a favor, read it.
There was plenty to dislike about the election which just past. One thing that particularly irks me, though, is the lack of focus on the Federal Debt.  This Looming Crisis Could Ruin Many

Thanksgiving Respite: Miscellany to lighten up your long weekend.
Most of you likely listen to classical, if not, you should. Why Our Brains Respond Differently to Classical Music
If you are like me, you run your iPhone storage to the limit. Here’s a trick worth knowing. Instantly Free Up Storage on an iPhone by Downloading (then deleting) a Huge App
If you enjoy traveling and our National Parks, you will love this site. Browse & Download 1,198 Free High Resolution Maps of US National Parks
Speaking of traveling, I always advocate saving money on tickets. 4 Apps Airlines Don’t Want You to Know About
If you like completely useless information (perhaps even depressing), or fast food, this site is for you. These maps show how 15 fast food chains dominate in America
If you are a closet geek, or just like to prove things now and again, you will love this one. Microsoft co-founder’s academic search engine adds neuroscience

Thanksgiving Respite: One truly valuable tip for your weekend.
It is not all dumb stuff, here’s something you might need. iPhone update adds a hidden way to call police in an emergency

Retirement Planning

Retirement planning is vital to achieving a happy, sustainable lifestyle after work. The earlier you begin planning … and executing your plan … the more likely you will achieve your goals. It never hurts to validate your planning and to be aware of the environment. Those two things are our focus this week.

Retirement Planning – never stop validating your plan.
It never hurts to get tips, especially if they are from “experts.” You know I like #7 and #10 on the list. Financial Experts Reveal Retirement Planning Secrets
This article hits a few of our common themes like healthcare costs and longevity. It also touches on some details you do not want to miss. It takes a lot of work to be ready to retire. Don’t forget these things.
It is always good to consider the pitfalls in planning. Hopefully this will help you avoid these common traps. 25 Hidden Obstacles That Keep You From Retiring Comfortably
This is a little bit in the weeds, but an interesting comparison. How should you manage your money as you save for retirement? Betterment vs. Vanguard: Which Should Retirement Investors Choose
If you are still young, and I hope you are, these tips will help, too. How much a 20-something needs to save every month to retire with $5 million

Retirement Planning – understand the environment.
Plenty of doomsayers out there these days, after a long, bull run on Wall Street. Still, this seems to be a pretty well reasoned view, and it warrants consideration. Recession in 2017 for Clinton, Trump or Johnson
In the same vein, albeit focused on Wall Street, this article makes some good points. Most notably, it highlights the cheap money fuel for the Wall Street run. Markets Could Be in for a Long Correction
That fundamental weakness highlighted above positions the market for this issue. As ‘smart money’ pressures the weakest stocks down. Short-selling could sweep stock market if inflation pushes up borrowing costs
This is not just a US or US/EU problem. Chinese banks might need as much as $1.7 trillion in capital

Retirement Planning – maintain a normal, non retirement planning, life, too.
Everyone likes to save money. This is an easy one with Amazon. Hot! Amazon $60 Total Credits Towards Tablets, Cameras & More Prime Members
Inasmuch as we are trying to save money, doing so on airfare is particularly satisfying. How to Find Airline Mistake Fares (Get Ridiculously Cheap Flights)
Since you are flying somewhere cheap, might as well have a goal. The Best Airplane Bars: Yes, There are Mixologists in the Sky
If you are an iPhone user, become a better iPhone user. iPhone memory full? How to free memory on your iPhone. The 25 best hidden features and tricks in your iPhone’s latest update

Retirement Income

We tend to focus mostly on longevity risk and optimizing savings, but generating retirement income is the ultimate trick. Once you transition from accumulation to distribution, the question becomes how best to generate income and preserve principal. You strike this balance to account for the longevity risk you hopefully face. This week we share some recent commentary on this vital piece of your retirement puzzle.

Retirement Income – maximizing income while preserving principal.
One simple, popular approach to maintaining this balance is ‘buckets of money.’ A side benefit here is some insulation from market corrections. How Do I Use the Bucket Approach for Retirement Income
If for no other reason, read this for the opening statistics. You will thank me for knowing this. Ways to Turn Retirement Savings Into Income for Life
In our last installment we talked about dividends in a Roth IRA. Take the leverage the government gives you. In a heated market like this, dividend investing gets trickier. Still, it is good to keep a keen eye on good investments. 10 High-Dividend Stocks for Safe Retirement Income

Retirement Income – understand the impact of the world economy.
One thing is certain, this does not happen in a vacuum. Stay abreast of economic happenings. Presenting: The most important charts in the world from the brightest minds on Wall Street
Everyone knows that low interest rates have a dramatic effect on markets. In light of the fact that retirement savers tend to be conservative, this is the most important consequence. The Fed Put a 50% Tax on Your Retirement Plan
At the risk of being a doomsayer, there’s an entirely different environment to consider. The actual environment, and what can you do about it? Will it have a bearing on your retirement? The younger you are, the more it will. The world reached three dangerous climate change milestones this summer The world passes 400ppm carbon dioxide threshold. Permanently.

Retirement Income – it’s Friday, live a little.
Tonight is a rare occurrence, not unheard of, rare. The Black Moon, second new moon in a month. It’s a reason to go outside tonight. A ‘black moon’ is rising, but Earth will be just fine
Plus, NASA released this video of Jupiter’s clouds from a flyby, astonishing. NASA just released a haunting video of Jupiter’s clouds

Improve Your Outcome

In a small twist on our normal approach we seek to help you improve your outcome. Retirement planning is a multi-faceted issue, and our regular focus on cost and strategy will get you to a better place. Sometimes, though, it is worth taking a bigger picture view to understand the landscape. We believe you can improve your outcome by having a better handle on the investing environment.

Improve your outcome by doing the right things during the accumulation phase.
We talk a lot about the active vs. passive investment debate raging in the industry. No doubt the bull markets since the bottom in 2009 have helped passive investments. It has also made it hard to outperform as an active investor. The tide continues to flow from active approaches to passive. Investors Have Pulled $109 Billion from Active Equity Funds in 2016: Here’s Why At the same time, the debate rages on in ever more unpredictable ways. Are Index Funds Communist? and Why the hottest investment trend in the world could have worse economic outcomes than Marxism
We should not miss the other rising star in the investment community, robo-advisors. Here is an interesting introduction and comparison of the robo advisor approach to the passive. Robo-Advisors vs. Passively Managed Funds: Which is Better? (WFC, SCHW)

Improve your outcome by understanding your retirement options.
We like to give you as much information as possible about your expenses during retirement. That is one key – along with longevity – to understanding how much you need to save in your working years. Here is a good overview to help you understand your retirement expenses from Forbes. How to Budget for Retirement
Hopefully by now this does not bring a lot of new information to you, but it does summarize a number of salient points with respect to your likely retirement cornerstone. 14 Things You Really Should Know About Your 401(k) Retirement Plans

Improve your outcome by understanding the data.
We talk about longevity often and healthcare costs in retirement about as much. Here is a damning piece on just what our expensive healthcare system buys the US compared with the rest of the world.  Life expectancy vs. health expenditure over time (1970 – 2014)
As if that were not bad enough, the implications worsen with lower incomes … and geography. The Rich Live Longer Everywhere. For the Poor, Geography Matters

Improve your outcome by improving your world view.
We rarely venture to the trivial any longer. Since it is August, why not indulge in some mind expanding beyond the retirement arena? 20 Gifs That Teach You Science Concepts in Seconds
If you want to talk really big picture, try on the Fermi Paradox for size. The Fermi Paradox
Since we are talking big picture things beyond your retirement, how about solving the potable water problem? The solar-powered sculpture that could desalinate 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California