Category: Annuities

Retirement Liquidity: The Mango Tree

My-sweet-mango-tree-MyanmarDon’t tie-up all of your assets, but don’t have them all liquid either…

Having your assets liquid may feel good because it’s accessible. But at the same time, let’s consider the big, longevity picture. We American’s are all living longer than ever. And when it comes to generating income during retirement, having your assets liquid at all times may actually increase the risk of your assets not lasting for your lifetime.

Your Retirement Mango Tree

Think of all of your assets as one mango tree with branches (your principal) producing enough mangos (income) you need to live comfortably during retirement. In the beginning, you may think there’s no harm chopping off a branch or two (liquidity) for firewood due to the overall size of the tree. But, when doing this you are “double counting” the asset for being equal to meeting two needs. The number of mangos produced would be lower and if you keep chopping off branches, there may come a point when your tree cannot produce enough mangos and cannot grow new branches, ultimately reducing the life of your tree. No more tree, no more mangos.

There are many decisions you will need to make in your life as you enter into retirement. One of the many financial decisions is what to do with the assets you had accumulated for retirement. Your paycheck is ending. It’s up to you to make a new one to last for your lifetime with your assets.

Retirement at Risk

After the market crash of 2008, percentage of American households who are “at risk” at age 65 increased to 51% (2009) from 43% (2004) according to the National Retirement Risk Index.1


Now, think of your assets as being multiple mango trees…

You fence off and give up your access (liquidity) to some trees so that these trees are only there to produce enough mangos to cover your necessary expenses. The remaining trees are for producing mangos and firewood for when you need it.

Under this approach, you have established sources for solely producing income and you also have sources for your liquidity needs.

Create one mango tree or multiple mango trees?

Your view about retirement should be long-term because it is unknown as to how long your retirement years will be; therefore, you should explore financial products that can provide income for your lifetime and that of your spouse’s lifetime. One of the main reasons that you save for retirement is to produce income (mangos) for your necessary expenditures, like paying your mortgage/rent, food and utilities, so you can live comfortably during these years. In addition, a portion of your income should be independent from and not reliant on market performance. Finishing confident is just as important as beginning confident.

Earlier the Better: Create Your Plan Today

Here are some action steps you can take today to better prepare for retirement:

  • Understand how your lifetime sources of income work, like Social Security, and explore possible ways to increase these sources.
  • Compare your retirement income with the total amount of your expenses — necessary expenses and comfort-living expenses — to see if you have a retirement income gap.
  • Purchase financial products that can provide guaranteed payments for life or for the life of the surviving spouse, and that can provide protection for unexpected events.
  • Follow a distribution/withdrawal plan by accessing pools of assets at certain points in time during retirement. This can help you lengthen the life of your assets, gain the potential benefit of compounding growth and systematically increase your retirement income when you need it most.
  • Work with a financial professional to fully explore your options for developing your income plan for retirement.

1The National Retirement Risk Index measures the amount of American households who are at risk of not being able to support their pre-retirement lifestyle during retirement. This index is calculated by The Center of Retirement Research at Boston College and the report can be found at®

You Do It For L-O-V-E

What do love and life insurance have in common? More than you might realize. The main reason you buy life insurance is because you love someone. Think of it as the ultimate act of selfless love. Life insurance isn’t glamorous or sexy, but it is essential to protecting you, the ones you love, and/or your business.

In my book, life insurance is a product of love. It may sound a bit sappy, but the toughest of us will wish we had it when our family most needs it. It’s your choice. Choose to leave a positive and lasting legacy, not a burdensome reminder of you being gone, along with your missed income.

Having a sound financial plan requires knowing which insurance and investments products to buy. But there are literally thousands of insurance policies, annuities, etc. from which to choose. That’s where a qualified insurance professional can help. Contact me today for your free insurance/estate analysis and review.

This video drives home this very powerful concept.

Here’s a free resource guide: “What You Need To Know About Life Insurance”.

The Wheeler Group Participates in First-ever Personal Finance Expo in Honolulu


Over this past weekend, we at The Wheeler Group LLC participated in the first-ever Personal Finance Expo here in Honolulu. The nonprofit Hawaii Council on Economic Education and the Hawaii Event Group hosted this well-received event. The two-day expo took place on Aug. 15 and 16 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and featured more than 30 seminars and a variety of exhibitions from both private companies and the government. The goal of the expo was to educate people of all ages about topics such as debt management, investments, retirement plans, employment and entrepreneurship and even the basics of starting a new business.

titleIn my estimation, Kristine Castagnaro, and her team at The Hawai`i Council on Economic Education exceeded event expectations and did a wonderful job for bringing together participants and exhibitors as resource providers. We were fortunate to meet numerous people interested in learning more about our programs designed to help them with retirement accumulation–saving tax-deferred, as well as distribution planning through tax-advantaged programs. As we shared with visitors to our booth, we believe that annuities and insurance are the essential foundational elements of a diversified portfolio, and we believe in safety through guarantees and asset allocation.

Before Retiring, Consider Ric Edelman’s Top 10 List

PBS_RYR_Ric_and_LynLast night on PBS Hawaii, I watched as Ric Edelman, a #1 New York Times best-selling author, shared key points on what we all need to know right now to, as he puts it, “RESCUE YOUR RETIREMENT”. Edelman points out that, “if you’re like millions of other Americans, you could be making costly mistakes with your investment and retirement accounts that interfere with your efforts to provide yourself and your family with financial security.” This television special, exclusive to PBS, highlighted some of the big mistakes investors make, and explores fascinating insight into the science of financial decision making.

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The Less Taxing Roth IRA

“A Roth IRA is an Individual Retirement Account that provides tax-free growth. As a result, it’s the simplest – and potentially the most effective – sheltered account imaginable.”

Considering the Roth IRA is a way to totally avoid paying taxes on your retirement savings, it’s puzzling why more of us don’t embrace it.  Here’s some startling statistics from Fidelity: only 19% of working Americans hold Roth IRAs, even though 90% qualify for them. And according to the most recent numbers from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, only 4% of all IRA assets are held in Roth IRAs. Continue reading

The Benefits of an Annuity

Annuities have always been a desirable retirement vehicle. Because of the ever-present fear of outliving their money, retirees have turned to annuities because of their promise to provide “an income that you cannot outlive.” However, annuities have many other benefits than just providing an income for life. Let’s review some of these benefits.

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Differences Between Annuities and Life Insurance

Simply put, life insurance protects against dying too soon, while annuities provide against living too long.

[Preface: As insurance and financial planning professionals, we are required and mandated by Hawaii state law to go through 20 hours of continuing education every two years. The following information comes directly from my study materials provided by WebCE and TestSmart. May it give you a better understanding of the key differences between annuities and life insurance.]

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High Expenses Involved in Mutual Fund Investing

Every mutual fund has expenses and can have a negative effect on your returns. If you’re like me, and the rest of the stock market investors who have lost (on paper at least) vast sums due to the market’s downturn, you need to be invested in mutual, or better yet, index funds with low expense ratios. Check out the following pdf that we share with clientele.


Be Like the Babe!

From 1924 to 1930, Harry Heilmann worked in the off-baseball season as a licensed insurance agent. He was a star baseball player with the Detroit Tigers and was the Batting champion four times with them. As a result he became very good friends with Babe Ruth, and in fact sold one or more annuity policies to the Babe (and his girlfriend then wife Clara Mae Merritt Hodgson). The Babe had Heilmann come to New York and complete these annuity purchases in 1924 to 1930.  the Babe and Mrs. Ruth subsequently started taking $1000 a month withdrawals from these accounts right after the Great Depression to maintain their lifestyle.

Purportedly there may have been more than one annuity contract and more than one annuity (life insurance) company used. These accounts were started with approx. $35,000; and $50,000. each beginning as early as 1924 and the last one in early 1929.

In retrospect, the “Babe” must have seemed like a financial mastermind back when it was all crashing around. His decision to transfer money from more “risky” investments into safer ones was sheer genius.

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