The Greatest Retirement Myth Ever Told

By Bob Brooks

January 22, 2015

We go through 12 years of school and for some an additional 4 years of college to be taught everything from history to science to reading and writing.   In all of that time of education, not once do we get an education on how money works.  As a result, we get out into the real world without a clue as to handle maybe one of the more important aspects of living. 

So, we look to the money magazines of the world to educate us.  The subject of money is not black and white as the financial media would have you believe.  It is very gray.  If you do x, you will get y.  This works well with most readers because at the basic fundamental level we all want the world of money/investing/retiring etc. to be black and white.  If things are black and white, then you just follow directions and everything works out. 

The articles about black and white finances are dangerous because they reinforce the myth that dealing with money is easy.  Retirement articles offer up the best example.  Saving is the focus of most of these articles. 

“If you save for retirement, you will be able to retire. You just have to save enough.”

Then examples are given of how this works.  John wants to retire at age 65.  All John has to do is save x dollars a month for 30 years and he can retire with an income of Y.

Yet many investors save and save only to find out that wasn’t entirely true.  It is a myth and the wrong point of focus when thinking of retirement.   

In reality, there Is much more to it.  Think of retirement planning from the standpoint of a 3 legged stool.  Saving, although important, is only one aspect of the process.  A one legged stool doesn’t really work.  You need all three legs to make the stool work.

Leg 1 – Saving – No Question you have to save money.  That is at the very basic level of planning for retirement. 

Leg 2 – Managing – If you had 1000 people saving money for retirement, only maybe 30% actually have a process in place to manage the investments.  There is a time to be invested and there is a time to be safe.  Most people have a plan for up markets.  However, the reality is that markets go up and down.  A process to manage for the ups and down of the stock market is critical.  Yet, few have that in place.

Leg 3- Tracking – If only 30% have a process in place to manage their investments, probably only 5% are actually actively tracking their progress in relation to their goals.  Let’s say you have mastered 2 of the 3 legs.  However, your stool still doesn’t function.  How do you know if you are being effective?  Effectiveness is measured by your ability to stay on track with accomplishing your goals. 

If you are going through the trouble of saving and working with a wobbly stool, maybe it is time we talked.  If you are saving or have saved, I can offer you the management process through my prudent investment management strategy where I put as much emphasis on managing for risk as I do trying to grow your investments.  Then with the application of my benchmarking system, we can determine and track your progress towards your goals. 

Most advisors considered themselves wealth managers.  I would rather just consider myself as the advisor who helps you achieve your goals.  Let’s start a conversation by either emailing me at bob@prudentmoney.com or calling me at 972-386-0384. 

Bob 

5 Year Old Billed for Missing a Birthday Party

By Bob Brooks

January 20, 2014

From the “you can’t make this stuff up department”……

A 5 year old, Alex, decided that he had better things to do and was a no show at his schoolmate’s birthday party.  The birthday boy’s parents didn’t take too kindly to that no RSVP no show.  They took action. 

The no show parents were going through 5 year old Alex’s backpack only to find an invoice in the amount of $24.00 for a “no show” fee.  The parents of the rejected birthday boy even went further threatening to take the “no show” parents to small claims court if they didn’t pay the invoice.

Are these parents insane or in their right mind?  Did they just do something that every parent has thought about after inviting and paying an up-front fee for 20 of your child’s closest friends only to find 12 of them bother to attend?

After all, these birthday parties are expensive and have been prepaid for each child that committed in advance to attend.  When a no show occurs, that fee gets wasted.  A 24 hour heads up that they couldn’t make it might allow for the host to reduce their birthday party cost.

OK, the small claims court threat is definitely over the top. However, is the invoice really over the top?  

Fortunately both my boys are out of birthday party mode.  Although the thought might run through my mind, I would probably never do something like that.  After all you have to see these people at school functions.  Besides, “no shows” are just part of the whole birthday party racquet.  It is just a cost that goes along with raising kids.

There is one other way to look at it.  Typically, the parent spends the money on the birthday party and in return the invitee child gives the birthday child a present probably worth about what the birthday parent spent per child.  It is like an even exchange.

It makes me wonder.  Would the birthday parents have forgiven and forgotten had the 5 year no show sent the birthday boy a present after the fact?  After all, if the parents were that insistent on getting the invoice paid they could have always returned the gift for cash.  Then again, what parent would do that?  Well, maybe the same parent who would invoice a 5 year old.  

Read the full news story here.

“God Told Me to Make You a Lot of Money”

By Bob Brooks
January 16, 2014

I had someone call me and tell me a very disturbing story.  A financial advisor held a seminar at a church.  It was a product marketing seminar disguised as an educational seminar.  The advisor was pitching Life Partners.  This is a company in Waco, Texas that invests into life insurance policies of people who are expected to die.  If they die, you make money. I could go into more detail.  However, as disturbing as the story of how these products work, that is not the most disturbing to me.

The advisor in so many words said that God sent him to this church “to bless them and make them a lot of money.”

If God called him to bring them information, did God tell him to high pressure sell these people?  As I was told there was a lot of that happening.

Did God tell him to boost his credibility by showing them proof he was a Christian and honorable man?

Apparently this advisor was a host of a local radio show that aired sporadically on Christian Radio.  He presented them with a letter from the radio station that says he never had a complaint filed against him.  According to the person involved with this situation, he presented this to show his credibility and as proof “he was a Christian.”

The people who invested their money with this advisor ended up realizing that they were not going to make life changing money.  In fact, their life savings is tied up and they are wondering if they will even get it back.  The investment did not even remotely perform like they are almost promised and he won’t return any of their calls. 

 

 

It is not my place to judge this man’s intentions.  I don’t write this as an indictment.  I write this to point out that there are people who use God as a marketing tool to make money.  Christians can be fooled by those who hide behind God in order to foster credibility to make money.  It is important to be able to discern between those who are operating with a pure heart versus those who are marketing with God.  

You don’t need to tell a person you are a Christian when doing business.   Demonstrating that through actions is sufficient.  

Credit Karma – Is Free Worth It?

By Bob Brooks
January 5, 2015

Every time I come across a company advertising a great deal, I always want to read the fine print. The devil, so to speak, is always in the details.

Creditkarma.com advertises that you can receive a 100% free credit report, credit score, and credit monitoring. The big selling point is that you don’t have to enter in a credit card number and it always remains free.

The commercial starts with a skeptical girl checking out the web-site and looking for the catch – where they ask for your credit card. Her friend walks in the room and assures her no credit card is needed and it is really free. Once she realizes there are no catches, she acts as if she has found credit utopia. What the commercial doesn’t show is her reading the fine print.

Yes it is true. You do get all of the advertised free services. However, you give a lot up for those free services – privacy.

Here is what their terms and conditions say:

we will never provide third parties with your credit report or credit score, but we may use your credit report, credit score and other relevant information that you provide to us while using the Services to match you with offers for financial products and services from our marketing partners.

Basically, you give them the permission to give your information to their marketing partners. Once they do, get ready for the flood of offers in your email and all of the solicitations that you are bound to receive. There really is no need for them to share your scores. Credit Karma will just match your information up for their marketing partners. Is free worth that?

Then there are the security issues. Their fine print states the following:

By registering for an account or using the Services, you accept all responsibility for maintaining the confidentiality of your password, controlling and limiting access to your account, and for all activities that occur under your account or password.

If they are going to store your data, shouldn’t they accept some responsibility for keeping your data safe? Where is the incentive? After all, they already have your information which for them is the valuable commodity. If there is a data breach, it is ok because you are responsible. Although they talk about security on their site, I question if they are willing to spend whatever money it takes to protect you from a security breech? This is important because they will be holding your social security number.

Always remember, that when you sign up free you are probably giving up something. Make sure you are comfortable with what free really means.

Andy Gause

Andy’s Website

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