Friday, January 27, 2012

"No Sweat Investing" is here

Introducing Law Steeple author of No Sweat Investing
Law has been one of our Insiders who helped create the Insider’s Guides to Financial Services. He has put together his experience with clients investing in No Sweat Investing:

Managed mutual funds can’t justify the high fees anymore
Index mutual funds took in a record $76 billion last year, and exchange-traded funds, which are predominantly passive, scored another $121 billion. Actively managed funds, meanwhile, lost about $9.4 billion, according to Morningstar Inc. The outflows create “hidden” costs, such as tax consequences from forced selling or extra transaction costs. You may be paying for the shift from managed to index funds during this period of low market returns. If your advisor made $0 or lost money, you still had to pay for their salary and bonus plus the taxes created when they sold assets to reimburse clients who left. Members have decided to seek Wealth Without Wall Street.

Half of American households receive some government benefits
Some 48.6% of the population lived in a household receiving some type of government benefit in the second quarter of 2010, up a notch from 48.5% in the first quarter, according to Census data. In the second quarter, 34.4% lived in a household benefiting from food stamps, subsidized housing or Medicaid, among others.
This does not include House members like Bachmann’s farm subsidy and six Democrats and 17 Republicans who receive over $6 million in addition to salary and expenses.
This does not include Congresspeople who receive other direct subsidies (oil, gas, etc).
This does not include corporations like GE that received tax benefits of $3.2 Billions.
This does not include 66% of US corporations that pay NO tax at all.
America’s tax system is complicated and slanted.

Obama’s State of Union gets voter’s OK
Polls show that even GOP voters favor Obama proposals.

Women short changing themselves on retirement
Only 8% of female workers believe that they’re building a large enough retirement fund for themselves, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Yet women live longer and thus need income for more years. Women who invest are more confident in meeting future needs. Members use our Guide to plan future:

Romney as 1 percenter pays only 13.9%—Newt at 32%
Romney’s 2010 return shows he received $22 million—much of it is so-called carried interest, which is taxed at the preferential rate of 15% and is reported as a capital gain.
Carried interest is compensation paid to general partners at private equity firms -- such as Bain Capital, which Romney left in 1999. Venture capitalists like Romney put up a little capital and use OPM (other people’s money) to buy a company, reorganize and sell it, taking 20% of the sale price. Partners usually defer as much of their compensation as possible. They invest the rest offshore so they can control taxes. Romney gives over 10% of his income to charity so his tax rate may be less than 14%. Some analysts say his returns have been reworked since he has been running for Pres since 2004. Warren Buffett said, “He makes his money the same way I make my money.” “He makes money by moving around big bucks, not by straining his back or going to work and cleaning toilets or whatever it may be. He makes it shoving around money.”
By contrast, Newt earned $3.1 million in 2010 and paid an effective federal tax rate of about 32 percent, returns released by the candidate on Jan. 19 show. Newt sells books and steers Congress about companies he “advises.” Romney pays tax of $3 mil on $250 million in assets—about 1.2%. Most people pay over 5% of their assets in tax. Median US income is $33,048. The 2011 tax table says this person would pay 15%, just like Romney. Taxing global assets, not earned income, might be the fairest way to tax.

Romney gives lady money after she says God told her to follow Romney bus
And pray for him. SC treasury official pays her light bill.
"God didn't tell me to go to nobody else, He told me to pray for Romney," said Williams, when asked why she has decided to support Romney. "I listened to the Lord."

IRS on smartphones ????
The IRS offers multiple avenues for you to get tax information. If you have a smartphone, we have an app! If you like to watch videos from your phone or computer, we have dozens of helpful YouTube videos…and, of course, follow us on Twitter.
Check out how the IRS delivers the latest tax information, initiatives, products and services through social media.
1. IRS2Go The IRS recently launched a smartphone application that allows you interact with the IRS using your mobile device. Our app can help you get your refund status and tax updates. IRS2Go is available for the iPhone or iTouch and the Android.
2. YouTube The IRS offers short, informative videos on an assortment of tax-related topics through our YouTube Video channel. The videos are offered in English, American Sign Language and a variety of foreign languages.
3. Twitter IRS tweets include tax-related announcements, news for tax professionals and updates for job seekers. Follow us @IRSnews.
4. Audio files for podcasts These short audio recordings provide useful information on one tax-related topic per podcast. They are available on iTunes or through the MultimediaCenter on

Tax filing FREE if income (AGI) under $57,000 and $10 if over $57,000
The internet has provided the means to efile taxes to IRS and state government for $10 or free. Using IRS list, pick a provider or search the web for software that has no income limit and files the state return too for $10. Using last year’s return most people can figure out what goes where and beat the cost of an accountant. Some of the storefront vendors charge over $50 for a simple return. Avoid online vendors who charge more than this since you are doing the work not them. Members know how to save on expenses so doing taxes can be learned too.

41 Watchung Plaza, B242
Montclair, NJ 07042
Alerts available at

Friday, January 20, 2012

Are we losing our democracy?

Are we losing our democracy?
When wealthy contributors can give $ millions to candidates thru PACs and blanket electorates with TV ads non-stop, is it possible to buy an election? Could a foreign government via a puppet give $ billions to a PAC to sway voters to someone favorable to them? The Supreme Court decided thatcorporations are people (?) and their money is free speech. So, is America different than other governments that allow one group to slant the elections?
And why didn’t they count all the votes in 2000 like the Constitution says in Article II Section 1? It is the House not the Supremes that is supposed to make the decision. The founders knew Justices are political appointees not elected representatives.
Romney seems to be the perfect corporate ruler. He bets $10,000 on things we would wager a $1 on. He does not earn a living. He pays a tax rate based on investment income, not earned income. Never got a paycheck.’
Newt makes $ millions by influencing Congress by giving “advice” not lobbying, he says.
Santorum is the largest supporter of Big Government earmarks.
Obama is out fundraising instead of governing. He is said to be on track to pass the record $750 million this year.

Many GOP-run states are enacting laws to make it harder for people to vote even though there is no known case of fraud being prosecuted.

MI has gone so far as to eliminate the local governments elected by the citizens of 5 towns.

Is the new Suze Orman debit card right for you?
One critic called the talk show host's card “the cream of the crap,” noting the fee structure and features are comparable to the best prepaid debit cards already on the market. However, he and most other financial experts agree the category is a dog. “You are still paying at least $36 a yearto have access to your own money,” Mr. Ulzheimer said. “And you're doing nothing to help with your credit.” “It might be a conflict because people view her as potentially objective,” he said. Her $63 newsletter promises to tell you where to invest your retirement money. However, Ms Orman is no longer a registered advisor. Members remember her pitch for her $180 credit monitor service! WOW. Better alternatives in our Guide:

How is your auto insurance company rated by customers?
Check at

New Year resolution—Stop leasing your cars
Leasing a vehicle for 36-39 months is waste of money. You could be investing that $10,000 -$12,000 to make sure you have enough later on. Buy a used car that still has good mileage and low maintenance.

Allstate raises rates, again, in IL for homeowners
It's the second time in less than a year that Allstate has raised homeowners rates in Illinois. In July, the company said it was planning to increase rates 2.5% to 9%, effective July 11. But it also hiked the discounts it offers to policyholders up to 5% for taking on options such as paying the premium in full or paying online. Time to shop for new coverage:

When is the best time to take Social Security benefits?
Many people are giving up 25% of their benefits by starting early at age 62. Is this smart?Find out why or why not. What are your options if you have to start early?

Managed funds see flow to index funds … again
Most popular funds from American and Fidelity lost customers last year. Many went to Vanguard as index funds with low expenses faired better during the market volatility
PA health insurance for less

Simply Blue PPO, a new individual insurance plan that offers simple health insurance coverage with a low premium, low deductible and predictable copayment structure. plan, offers preventive care benefits with 100 percent coverage, emergency room coverage and vision benefits. Premiums for Simply Blue are as low as $90 a month with a $500 deductible for males ages 25 to 29. Plan description: "Individuals can feel at ease knowing that they are covered for preventive services to keep them healthy and have the protection against the high cost of unexpected illness or injury." Members buy only what they need: :

Is your car safe and repairable at reasonable cost?
Check your vehicle for relative cost of repairs and medical/injury ratings. The most expensive are not always the safest or cheapest to repair. Some are twice as safe as the averages but cost the same. Members save on their purchase by using the “tricks of the trade”:

Brokerage caught screwing clients on purpose -- cost Citi $54 million
“… the product was defective, management inept, risk controls nonexistent and the effect was ruinous. If one drives their car into another, they are responsible; they have no option but to take responsibility for their actions,” One witness said. Citi tried to cover up the mess when clients complained about the losses.

Insurers, caught holding death benefits, face little penalty for fraud
Prudential Financial Inc. has settled with Massachusetts and 19 other states, agreeing to improve its practices in identifying beneficiaries who are due unclaimed life insurance death benefits. What kind of accountability is this?

Let me know what you think.

IAN 41 Watchung Plaza, B242 Montclair, NJ 07042 347.746.2014
Alerts available at

Friday, January 13, 2012

Larry saved $774 on auto insurance

Larry saved $774 on auto insurance
Larry spent one hour with two alternative insurers to find a better rate than he had for two cars—a 2005 and1998. He found out he was paying for services he did not need, like PIP health
insurance. He has adequate health insurance and is covered by the policy if he
and family are injured in a wreck. He went through the charges with his current
carrier to see if he could drop some other items. His ‘98 car doesn’t need
comprehensive/collision. He raised his deductible too. His new carrier gave him
their alum discount. Find out what you could save using our Guides:

Maybe the health care mandate is not such a bad idea Health
insurance premiums for California families rose 153% since 2002, more than five times the
29% increase in the rate of inflation, according to a new survey released
Wednesday. The CHCF survey found that annual premiums were higher in California than nationally for individual coverage ($5,970 versus $5,429) and family coverage ($15,724 versus
$15,073). 35 states have some authority to approve or reject health insurance rate increases, while California has none. Health care mandate was a GOP idea but it is worth a try.

Some to see lower health care policy premiums drop
The Feds have determined that Trustmark Life Insurance Co. proposed unreasonable
rate increases in five states _ Alabama, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wyoming. Trustmark must withdraw hikes and explain why it wantsmore. This is part of the new health care law to reduce costs.

Which discount broker was tops for Consumer Report?
Reader score: 93
Customer service: Top
Website usability: Good
USAA is the winner. Beat other brokers in the business. This is a company run
for our armed service members. They have excellent service and low fees. We
can’t buy their AUTO but we can use all the other financial services with
confidence. Results from online survey of 7,327 subscribers
reporting on their experiences between Oct. 2010 and Oct. 2011. The reader
score represents overall satisfaction with the firm and is not limited to the
factors listed.

Your broker may be forced to change its business model
If a strict definition of a fiduciary standard of conduct (NO product pushing) becomes the fate for broker-dealers owned by U.S. life insurance companies, they could be forced to completely revamp their sales and distribution business model. The U.S.Securities and Exchange Commission in January 2011 recommended the standard to Congress. It would apply to broker-dealers and investment advisers when they provide investment advice about securities to individual investors. GE justsold its broker-dealer so it would be free of this rule. GE can now push its products without running into trouble with the SEC. Bank America has now outlawed Merrill broker accounts of less than $250,000 so they can collect the annual fees not just commissions.

How did your advisor do in 2011?
Our clients’ portfolio did not lose valuelast year. Our clients use a low-cost provider so when the market is down theypay little in fees. Fees are the best indicator of performance according to
fund tracker Morningstar.

2011 Total Return Fund Long-term Return* Longevity
1.97% 500 Index 10.36% since 1976
-1.74% Energy 12.71% since1984
-3.73% Extended Market 9.96% since 1987
11.45% Health 16.30% since1984
-13.68% International Growth 10.50% since1981
-1.84% PRIMECAP 12.79% since 1984
-2.80% Small Cap Index 10.26% since1960
9.63% Wellesley Income 10.16% since 1970
-4.00% Windsor 11.00% since 1958
2.70% Windsor II 10.18% since 1985
0.00% Average 11.42%

*AverageAnnual Returns as of 12/31/11.

IsAllstate’s satisfaction guarantee right for you?
Underthe program, eligible Allstate customers who aren't happy with service they
receive on a paid auto claim can write a complaint to the company within 180
days of the incident. If a policyholder complains, Allstate will credit the
customer's account an amount that's equivalent to a six-month premium on the
car involved in the claim, said Allstate spokesman Kevin Smith. The company
tested the program in 2011 in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Georgia on its standard auto policies, and Allstate saw a limitednumber of requests in those states, Smith said. As of Jan. 2, the company madethe program available in 31 states, with more states planned later in the year.
Allstate’scredit is not cash. This is not a big deal. You can complain anytime. Claims
are handled by local adjuster. Working with them is the best way to obtain
fairness. If you are paying too much, you don’t get a refund for all those
years you overpaid. Safe drivers shop for the best price not guarantee of what
might not happen. Accidents are infrequent. Use our Guides:

Weare more likely to need extra income later in life expectancy climbedto a new high in 2010 as fewer people died from heart disease and cancer, andhomicide was no longer among the 15 leading causes of death. Life expectancy
increased to about 78.7 years. Now is the time to plan to have enough for
longer income needs:

Romneyis the only person who could FIRE his health insurance company
Where has this manbeen living? The rest of us could NOT fire our insurer because we did not like
their refusal to pay for our cancer treatment or whatever. We would then be out
looking for new coverage with a “pre-existing condition” which insurers loath.
Only Romney could afford to self-insure—pay for treatments out of his $250
pocket. The rest of us would need a health law that guaranteed
coverage with pre-existing condition. That system was what Romney put in place
in Mass and what Obama has to defend against the GOP Supremes this year. We all
need that guarantee because we could not get health care in the present system.
No insurer would sell us a policy for any price. Just ask the 50 million
without coverage.

Why do we havea deficit and high unemployment? Taxes go to foreign governments!
Cutting taxes tocreate jobs is a political gimmick—it does not work.
Taxesof $385 billion went unpaid in 2006, according to new estimates by the IRS. IRS
says biggest cheats are small business and corporations who hide revenue and
add expense. For instance, Exxon employed 50 lobbyists, and spent $12,450,000
to influence lawmakers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. What
does that buy you?

Little tax AND oil subsidies of $4Billion.

Exxon,which last year reported a record $45.2 billion profit, paid the most taxes of
any corporation, but noneof it went to the IRS: 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations inthe likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. No wonder that of $15 billion in income taxes lastyear, Exxon paid none of it to Uncle Sam, and has tens of billions in earnings
permanently reinvested overseas.

Many corporations send profits overseas so they don’t pay tax at all.
GEearned $14.2 billion in profits in 2010, but it paid not a penny in taxes
because the bulk of those profits, some $9 billion, were offshore. In fact, GE
got a $3.2 billion tax benefit. GE laidoff 21,000 American workers and closed 20 factories between 2007 and 2009.More than half of GE's workforce is nowoutside the United States.
Why are peopleupset?

55% of US corps paid no tax some years:

GOP debate statements and the facts:

Who owns your account NOW?
MorganKeegan to Raymond James
GenworthFinancial has agreed to sell its broker-dealer unit to Cetera Financial Group

If a strict definition of a fiduciary standard of conduct becomes the fate for
broker-dealers owned by U.S. life insurance companies, they could be forced to
completely revamp their sales and distribution business model. The U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission in January 2011 recommended the standard to
Congress. It would apply to broker-dealers and investment advisers when they
provide investment advice about securities to individual investors.

The starry starry night
On average, each of the 100 billion or sostars in our galaxy hosts at least 1.6 planets, according to the study,bringing the number of likely alien worlds to more than 160 billion. "This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth's twin,"Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington,D.C., said in a statement.

Letme know what you think.

41 WatchungPlaza, B242
Montclair, NJ 07042

Alerts available at

Friday, January 6, 2012

Save $3,000 every year

How can I save $3,000 a year on financials?
Dennis H., Valley Stream, NY asked this question. He hasn’t had a raise for two years and everything has gone up. He says he has cut out all his ‘wild’ spending. I told him the best places to look are his mutual funds and his insurance. I suggested he find out what he could save by increasing his deductibles and cutting extras from his policies. He said he found he saved $660 by raising his deductibles and another $60 a year on extras like towing and a death benefit in his policy. He was paying $1660 a year for a universal life policy. He decided he doesn’t need it anymore. He is divorced and his kids are grown. He transferred the cash value to bond fund for emergencies. He asked for more suggestions, so I recommended he read our Guides:

President says he won’t hold citizens in Guantanamo but he could if he wanted to!?!
Congress has passed the National Defense Appropriations Act, with Amendment 1031,
which allows for the military detention of American citizens. The amendment is so loosely worded that any American citizen could be held without due process.
We can be locked away by soldiers without trial!
"By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side."
Hard to believe that we have become what we hate. Only six Senators voted against.

Do you need a lobbyist?Each of our representatives in Congress has 41 lobbyists EACH, . . . officially. They are the government influencers. We may need one soon. Here is a list of the ones who register.
List of 22,000+ lobbyists and government relations professionals who directly influence government policies and legislation.

E-file taxes for quicker refunds
The IRS issues refunds to 98 percent of electronic filers by direct deposit within 14 days. You may use Free File software if your AGI income is under $57,000. Starts mid Jan. Due April 17 but don’t wait.,,id=118986,00.html

File tax form just to get money back if …
Your employer withheld federal income tax from your pay, you worked but earned little and get Earned Income Credit, have child and get child tax credit, are student and get opportunity credit, adopted kid and get adoption credit and you paid for health insurance under certain conditions and get the health coverage credit. See
for interactive bot to answer your questions without having to wait on phone. Check on your refund at

BEWARE: Annuity sellers are pitching hard
Sellers know that you would like to have guaranteed growth on your money without paying taxes, guaranteed income for the rest of your life and a guaranteed death benefit.
Annuities look like they are safer than gold, real estate and the stock market. Parking money somewhere safe with better interest rates than a bank is appealing. Some sellers are linking the annuity to life insurance premiums later in life so that you can leave a tax free legacy to the kids. It also doubles their commissions.
ACTUAL situation is more complicated. First, you’re going to pay a lot for those guarantees. Costs may wipe out the advertised rates of gain. Second, you or your beneficiary will pay taxes later when the annuity is used or passed. Third, you can buy guaranteed income for life at much cheaper rates when you need it. Other alternatives offer tax-FREE death benefits to your heirs without the fees and commissions. All investments have risks so gold, real estate and stocks are taken in moderation and balance. See alternative solutions before you buy:

Breath easier
One in eight people earning at least $1 million annually was audited by the Internal Revenue Service last year, making them far likelier to be examined than those making below $200,000, according to IRS data released Thursday. Just 1 in 100 individuals earning less than $200,000 had their income tax returns examined, the IRS said.
If you are audited, don’t volunteer old tax returns or any data not specific to the audit. The IRS takes weeks to find your old return so they only have the summary figures from some lines on the 1040. Say little and ask for any additional requests in writing. Stall. IRS agents get paid on volume.

Romney tax plan gives rich extra 15% discount
On average, households making less than $20,000 would see their taxes increase by more than 60 percent, said the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group that studied the Romney plan. Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 would get small tax cuts, averaging 2.2 percent, or about $250, the study said. People making more than $1 million would get tax cuts averaging 15 percent, or about $146,000. Romney's plan would reduce tax revenues by $180 billion in 2015, adding to the federal budget deficit, the study said. Romney's plan would cut the top corporate tax rate. Most pay $0 now—many get refund of $millions. Romney says rich would create jobs even though they haven’t with the Bush tax cuts.

Alternative investments are risky
Waco- based Life Partners Holdings and three of its top executives were accused Tuesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission of "systematically and materially" misleading investors about the life expectancy of people whose life insurance policies it traded.

Let me know what you think.

41 Watchung Plaza, B242
Montclair, NJ 07042
Alerts available at