Tuesday, June 19, 2007

3 ways to save money for your wealth reserve

Ron wanted a simple investment strategy that didn’t cost much
Member Ron wanted to start a simple investment strategy now that he is out of college in his first job. His employer has no retirement plan. Ron read our FREE Guide to decide WHICH securities could help him reach his long- and short-term goals. Ron opens a ROTH IRA with automatic investing. He wants to have over $1million in 25 years so he commits to $500 a month. Even if he decides not to retire early, he will have about a $100,000 in 10 years, $250,000 in 15 and half a million in 20. He uses low-cost stock funds which can gain 12% a year and cost only 0.09%. He avoids the broker fee (loads) of 5.75% per investment. He purchases fewer shares when the price is high (dollar cost average) so he will end up with the lowest cost of his shares. Ron will save about $200,000 over time. http://www.theinsidersguides.com/freeguide.html

Save time and perhaps money
If you have ever needed to find an important number fast—credit cards stolen or auto accident, you can now . . . with the "Family Records Organizer" CD-ROM by T. Rowe Price, the low-cost investment-management firm. You don’t have to be a customer--It's free: http://www.troweprice.com/getorganized or 1-800-538-2706. Our Insiders advise members to keep a printed version in a 3-ring binder at home. If you are not around, non-PC users can find the answers. It may also contain your instructions for your funeral/memorial service. Members will keep our new Guide, the Insider’s Guide for Survivors, there too.

Wal-Mart to offer discount investment options
Wal-Mart has provided only limited details about its plans to push discount-brokerage services to millions of customers at its 4,000 U.S. stores. Although the retailer is promoting the new service, Wal-Mart Easy Investing by ShareBuilder, on its website, it won’t begin actively marketing the partnership for another two to six weeks. Members use our FREE Guide to decide WHICH securities help them make their long- and short-term goals. Automatic investing (consistency) is the key to success, not stock picking or market timing. http://www.theinsidersguides.com/freeguide.html

Reverse mortgage—the good, bad and ugly
According to a study by the Wharton School, up to 75% of the equity in your home is available for income payments for a 90 year old, 50% for a 65 year old, before fees. Home equity values usually comprise 60% of the average person’s net worth. Using your largest asset for a retirement supplement may be necessary. The fees and the lack of alternatives, make this strategy the one of last resort. You can’t be kicked out of your home, but the stream of income shrinks in buying power over time. This vehicle can be combined with other income annuities to help supplement a retirement spending plan. See our Guide: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/retspe31.html

Retirement for mother and daughter has changed
A new study "What Today's Woman Needs to Know: A Retirement Journey," suggests that younger women will carry more debt into retirement, which will be longer. They may expect to work longer than their mothers and to have a more active retirement with varied pursuits. Many women need to manage their saving and investments for retirement just like men. For a Free copy of the report, call 203-221-6580 or send e-mail to maturemarketinstitute@metlife.com

Nearly 3 million households have lost their homeowners coverage since 2003
About half of non-renewed households said they were able to find other coverage. However, it is often more expensive and provides less protection. The survey showed that few respondents had done anything to secure their home in case of a natural disaster i.e. add storm shutters, make roofing improvements, etc. Only about one-fourth of the respondents 28 percent of households said they have made changes. Surprisingly, even in the South, only 31 percent said they made changes and in the Gulf Coast specifically, the number was only slightly higher at 37 percent. Members buy only what they need: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/homins40.html

FREE course on managing your financial life
Planners explain what a financial plan is. The lessons take about 30 hours but are simple screen displays without tests. You may find this method of learning about what a planner does useful in evaluating your advisor. You may also discover that you can manage your financial life yourself. Our members come to that conclusion and use our Guides to save on the services they need instead of paying a commission or fee to someone else. Take a look for yourself: http://ocw.uci.edu/courses/AR0102092/

Wall Street profits from your savings too
Wall Street firms are being sued for allegedly illegally forcing clients into lower paying deposit accounts, enabling the firms to reap “billions” in extra profits. It is alleged that ‘sweep’ programs amount to an illegal “tying” arrangement. Firms use the low-cost cash from brokerage customers to fund affiliated banking units, which lend those funds out or otherwise invest the money. Merrill’s savings bank earns a net interest margin of 3.6%, a bank consultant said. That contrasts with the 0.5% to 0.6% that firms make in money funds, he said. Initially, the sweep account interest rates were competitive with those of money market funds. Deposits at Morgan Stanley grew to $16.4 billion as of February 2007, from $449 million in August 2005, according to company reports. But all the firms eventually went to a tiered rate structure with yields as low as 1% or less for smaller customers. Members buy short-term investment vehicles at low-fee firms. See our Guide: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/bavepu.html

Most investors do not understand what they pay for
Fewer than half of investors – 43% -- said they understand their advisers' fee structure “completely” or “fairly well.” That finding confirms many surveys of the past. Wall Street continues to call their charges and costs anything but what they are. The Wharton School study showed that while 95% of advisers surveyed discuss their fees with clients, only 61% of investors surveyed said their advisers initiate fee discussions with them. Times are changing and very few institutions are clear about what it costs to invest. Our Insider spells out all the costs. http://www.theinsidersguides.com/mufuse.html

Florida bars Penn Treaty a long term care seller AGAIN
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has told Penn Treaty Network America Insurance Company that its certificate of authority to conduct business in Florida has been suspended for at least 12 months because the company did not file its 2006 audited statutory financial results on or before June 1, according to the company’s parent, Penn Treaty American Corp., Allentown, Pa. Penn suspended news sales in 2001 after some regulators questioned whether it had enough capital to support the business it was writing. The company later obtained new sources of financing and resumed sales. Members consider all the alternatives before buying LTCi http://www.theinsidersguides.com/ltcins41.html

The SCAMS continue to flourish
SUV sales rise!?? Marketing trick wins America’s heart. A combination of factory rebates, incentives and dealer discounts can knock as much as $10,000 off the sticker of a $50,000 SUV. Some buyers reason that even with gas at $4 per gallon--$150 a tank—a $10,000 discount could go a long way toward easing the fuel bill. However, the big SUV is really a truck which costs a lot less than $50,000 to make, so the joke is on us. Auto makers still profit from sales of gas hogs and we will be paying $4 gas long after the payments end. Members buy smart—luxury for less: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/vehpur41.html

Wolf in sheep’s clothing!! More cases are cropping up of seniors losing their assets to someone who befriended them and earned their trust. These scammers persuade seniors to sign a power of attorney so they can help manage bank accounts and other financial transactions. What's worse, some of these scammers have been family. Seniors should get a second opinion from at least one other relative or trusted adviser before signing anything, and if they feel coerced they should contact the police.

Free dinner will cost you!! The "free dinner" offers by investment salespeople means someone is selling something. If you don't know what the promoter is selling, if the promoter refuses to tell you what product or company he/she represents, if the promoter refuses to provide their name and just gives an RSVP phone number, don't go. Why would they hide a legit offer?

Bush Court lets insurers hide search of your records
The Supreme Court sided with insurers that prefer not to tell consumers when they have examined their credit reports, a ruling that frees insurers from the risk of class-action lawsuits alleging they failed to send required notices to millions of consumers. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires companies to notify consumers when they take an "adverse action," such as increasing rates, based on credit reports. The alert gives consumers a chance to examine the reports, which they can obtain free, and contest inaccurate information.

Bush also wants to stop company shareholders from suing the abiders and abettors of company fraud such as accounting firms and investment banks. Against the advice of his SEC, Bush would outlaw the suits against Enron’s accountants and bankers who helped create the fraud that destroyed thousands of employees’ pensions. Enron's independent auditor, Andersen vouched for the flawed financial statements. The collapse of Enron and the conviction of its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, mark a critical juncture in American business and political life. Lower courts said “Enron committed fraud by misstating its accounts, but the banks only aided and abetted that fraud by engaging in transactions to make it more plausible; they owed no duty to Enron's shareholders." The bankers took stakes in off-balance-sheet partnerships they created that helped Enron hide debt.

Retirement medical costs hit $215,000
Fidelity Investments estimates that a couple needs $215,000 on average for retirement medical expenses including Medicare premiums and deductibles and drug costs. Make sure you plan for your expenses and legacy if any. Good health is the best way to lower costs later on. Supplement your retirement income by investing $100 a month extra in a Roth IRA or tax managed or index stock mutual fund. After 25 years, you may have $190,000 to use for these expenses.
Another Gift of a Lifetime
Jack of PA wanted to make sure his 6 grandchildren received a legacy. He was in good health at age 71. Since he had no idea how long he would live or whether he had enough to live on for the rest of his life, he wanted to arrange an account now. He opened a mutual fund account for $25,000. Jack will add $1000 a year from his checking account automatically. If Jack continues to invest, he could end up with $300,000 in 20 years. At death, all 6 kids will split the total since Jack has listed them on the account as Payable on Death. No probate. No tax will be due and Jack invested in tax-managed funds. Jack used our Wealth Transfer Guide: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/weatra41.html

Buy Bonds or CDs direct and save
Frank of RI likes his retirement funds in safe but high yield instruments. He used our Guide to discover how to buy CDs and bonds at wholesale prices without the seller markup. He saved 1% and he received help from a specialist when he needed it. Frank found several munis at a higher yield than his broker quoted. He also purchased a $1000 CD for $999.29 improving his yield to 5.49%, 10% over current bank offerings. Over his whole retirement, Frank thinks he will save about $50,000 in commissions and fees using our Guide: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/mufuse.html

Auto and homeowner rates drop again
Top insurance executives anticipate lower rates, including a 10% drop in business insurance rates, this year, except in hurricane-prone areas. "As we see a gradual degradation (in pricing), companies on the margin will decline, and this will spawn consolidation," said Ramani Ayer, chairman and chief executive of The Hartford, one of the speakers at this conference. It is time to shop for your auto and homeowners policy again, if you have not in the last 2 years. Use our Guides to buy only the coverage you need: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/vehoin.html

Retire EARLY to simplicity
According to Kiplinger’s, the Kaderlis, now both 54, are currently traveling in the South Pacific, retired since 1991. They keep a small house in Mesa, Ariz. Traveling for wonderful experiences; they have amassed 16 years of rich memories and pictures. While this might sound like an extravagant lifestyle, Billy and Akaisha limit their expenses to about $24,000 a year. They eat well and enjoy themselves but don't buy a lot of stuff. "We base our lives on gathering experiences rather than collecting things," says Billy. They keep their friends and families -- and about 50,000 visitors a day -- up to date on their adventures through their Web site (www.retireearlylifestyle.com). According to Kiplinger, the couple invests mainly in low-cost index funds, withdrawing about 3% of the balance each year. "At this point in our lives, we are less worried about running out of money and more concerned about not having enough time to enjoy it," says Billy. They saved like crazy 20 years ago. Members have learned from this strategy in our FREE Guide: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/freeguide.html

Getting married—the financial side
Tis the season . . . You know that after the bliss of the first month, there needs to be a discussion about sharing money. Advisors agree that you need a budget for joint expenses—a joint checking makes practical sense to cover rent, etc. Then there is the problem of different salary levels and “my” mad money to spend as each sees fit. What makes this decision easier is having goals—short and long term—about children, a house, educations, etc. You can both be happy and reach all your goals by starting to save and invest EARLY. To see the difference, check this chart: http://www.saferchild.org/power.htm
Like all difficult anxious discussions, avoiding the topic just makes it worse. So talk often. For instance, if you are the saver and you see wasteful spending, have the talk then. Let your loved one know that $100 wasted now is worth $10,000 later. See chart. And be sure to discuss the debts that each of you brings into the partnership. Set up the rules by talking about getting to your goals. Members write goals down and post them on the fridge so every family member knows what they are saving for. See how they do it in our FREE Guide: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/freeguide.html

Saving is NOT a matter of how much you make
Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed who earned between $200,000 and $249,000 annually said they had difficulty saving because they had to pay their bills, a recent poll found. Comparatively, 56% of consumers who earned less than $25,000 annually reported that they couldn’t save money because of their bills. Another 10% in the $200,000 to $249,000 category also said they didn’t make enough money to save, compared with 59% of those who earned less than $25,000. Saving is a matter of habit like brushing your teeth. Members make investing automatic using the three steps in our FREE Guide: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/freeguide.html

Why your broker/advisor may move to another firm
Your broker may be receiving a package of 42.5% of their prior 12 months’ fees and commissions, in the form of a forgivable loan and transition money. There is a scramble to hire brokers/advisors by independent firms that compete with the large ones (Merrill, etc). For some that bonus is $100,000 or more. Members know that their brokers’ charges include services and advice but have learned to go it alone. Some members pay $0 for transactions. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth with our Guide. http://www.theinsidersguides.com/mufuse.html

What Isn't Covered By Your Homeowners Insurance?
Many typical property and liability policies don't cover home damage from floods, earthquakes, water line breaks, termites, mold and several other perils, large and small. Also vehicles such as cars, boats and motorcycles stolen from or damaged on your property aren’t covered. Ironically damages from a break in the water line on your property supplying water to your home aren’t covered. Pets stolen from or injured on your property aren’t covered. Your actual cash value payout could be thousands of dollars lower than a benefit calculated at the replacement cost type policy. A large judgment after a guest slips on your stairs is not covered. Don’t even mention small losses to the agent. Members self-insure the perils not covered with our Guide: http://www.theinsidersguides.com/homins40.html

The SCAMS continue to flourish
A Denver District Court judge has issued a restraining order against Life Partners Inc. and Life Partners Holdings. The defendants are accused of raising more than $11.5 million from more than 110 Colorado investors through fractionalized interests in viatical and life settlements. A viatical or life settlement is the sale of a life insurance policy by a dying or elderly person at a price discounted from the face value of the policy.

ChoicePoint has settled with 44 U.S. states over a 2005 data breach that resulted in criminals potentially having accessed personal information from more than 145,000 consumers. The company, which maintains profiles of nearly every U.S. consumer, agreed to adopt stronger security measures and pay $500,000 to the states, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. ChoicePoint said in 2005 that criminals posing as legitimate businesses had accessed consumer data, including Social Security numbers and credit histories. The attorneys general had alleged the company failed to adequately protect consumers' personal data.

Who Owns Your Account NOW?
Broker A.G. Edwards to Wachovia

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