Category: Uncategorized

Income is an Asset Worth Protecting

Think about it. What would happen if suddenly, due to an illness or injury, you were unable to work?

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Without your paycheck, how long would you be able to make your mortgage or rent payment, buy groceries or pay your credit card bills without feeling the pinch? If you’re like most, it wouldn’t be long at all: Half of working Americans couldn’t make it a month before financial difficulties would set in, and almost one in four would have problems immediately, according to a Life Happens survey.¹

That’s where disability insurance comes in. Think of it as insurance for your paycheck. It ensures that if you are unable to work because of illness or injury, you will continue to receive an income and make ends meet until you’re able to return to work.

You don’t hesitate to insure your home, car and other valuable possessions, so why wouldn’t you also protect what pays for all those things—your paycheck.

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM), a national industry-wide campaign to help build awareness about the need for income protection. Helping my clients be prepared – and protected – with a disability income insurance policy starts with a personal conversation. Statistics show that just over 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-old’s will experience a disability before they retire2 and when asked, consumers who don’t have disability insurance say that the reason is that their advisor never brought it up.3 I do bring it up with my clients because I personally experienced a life-changing disability and can provide different sources of disability income protection. Don’t wait until Life Happens, take action today to protect your most valuable asset, your income.

¹The Disability Survey conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of Life Happens, April 2012

2U.S. Social Security Administration Fact Sheet, January 2015.

3Confused and Uninsured: Consumer Understanding of Disability Insurance, LIMRA 2013.

Calculating Your Retirement Savings

By Douglas Dubitsky

What Retirement Calculator to Use for Your Situation

If you are approaching retirement, you’re likely to have spent time trying to determine just how much money you will need to save for it. Accounting for every cent saved and every financial hiccup you may experience during your retirement years is all but impossible.

If you struggle with calculating your retirement savings goals, a retirement planning calculator may help you better understand your retirement savings and investment goals. A retirement calculator may help provide you with a personalized snapshot of your retirement savings and help make sure that you are on track with your road to retirement. There are a variety of retirement planning calculators available, so make sure you are using each to help best prepare for retirement.

Calculating Your Retirement Living Expenses

Throughout your retirement years, your cost of living is sure to fluctuate. While you may be able to cut down on some extra expenses by moving into a smaller home or cutting back on your daily transportation, you may need to invest more in your healthcare and travel needs.

How much you spend during your retirement years is ultimately up to you, but you can better prepare yourself for your living expenses during retirement by taking a look at your living expenses now.  Keeping track of your expenses will help you gain a better sense of just where your money is going and help you determine areas where you can afford to cut or add to your monthly spending during retirement.

Knowing How Much to Save for Retirement

Most of us look towards our retirement years with a mix of excitement and anxiety. While retirement has been built up to be a major stepping stone towards enjoying the later years of our life, it’s not that enjoyable for all. By adequately planning for your retirement you are taking the steps needed to help you enjoy your desired retirement lifestyle. .

While there are many ways to help you plan for how much money you will need to retire, a pre-retirement calculator is an easy way to determine how well you’ve prepared your finances for retirement, as well as provide you with some insight on areas you may want to re-evaluate. Even if your savings seem to be on track, make sure you are constantly monitoring your progress as the economic climate and your personal retirement plan change over the years.

Calculating Social Security Benefits

Depending on your earnings and savings, your Social Security benefit may play a big role in helping you meet your living expenses during your retirement years. There are many factors that play into how much Social Security benefits you will receive over time. Calculating Social Security benefit amounts is no easy task, but using a Social Security retirement income calculator can help you plan for the approximate amount of Social Security benefits you will receive.

How Will Inflation Impact Your Retirement

If you are still a few years away from your retirement, you may be surprised by just how much inflation will affect your retirement costs. While inflation may not have a direct effect on the amount you save, it will impact your retirement living expenses and the purchase powering of your retirement savings.

Inflation typically affects the cost of food, housing, fuel and medical care. Using an inflation calculator can help you gain a better sense of your financial standing, adjusted to reflect any anticipated inflation rates, and prepare your finances accordingly.

Properly planning for retirement can help you take control of the later years of your life. Everyone has a different view of what their retirement will include. Make sure you’re properly prepared for the years ahead with the resources available from My Retirement WalkTM by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. Having a personal retirement plan in place allows you to prepare for the unexpected to help you enjoy your years in rest and relaxation. And you may find that using retirement calculators will help you plan for Your Next NowTM.

Sources:

2015-2268 (Exp. 02/17)

Disclaimers:

This material is intended to potentially assist you in planning for your future. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) and its affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, agents, and outside contributors, are not authorized to provide legal, tax, or investment advice in the materials of this website including but not limited to any blogs. The information provided does not constitute a solicitation of an offer to buy or an offer to sell financial or insurance products. Please note that individual situations can vary, and you should consult your tax, investment or legal advisor for guidance and information specific to your situation. Guardian is not responsible for the consequences of any decisions or actions taken in reliance upon or as a result of the information provided by this material. To learn more about Guardian, visit GuardianLife.com.

Cool Washing Machine Aquarium

High-Risk Investments: Are You a Gambler? Like Rolling the Dice?

In Hawaii, many of our island residents consider Las Vegas their second home. It’s the “9th Island” in the Hawaiian chain. It’s a lot more accessible than Monte Carlo, and they even have ono grinds.

But here’s a message for all investors who like playing with high-risk investments: Math is not money, and money is not math. Imagine you are investing $1,000 in a mutual fund. You have a fantastic first year, earning a 100 percent rate of return, bringing your balance to $2,000. In year two, things go poorly and the investment loses 50 percent. Your balance is now back to $1,000. In year three, the market goes up and you earn 100 percent again, bumping your balance back up to $2,000. The fourth year markets tank again and you lose 50 percent. Your balance has now fallen back to $1,000.

Notice that your beginning and ending balances are exactly the same. Your actual yield is a big fat 0 percent. Here’s the interesting thing. What is your average rate of return? 25 percent. I know any investor would love to get a 25 percent return. A mutual fund with this exact performance could advertise, “Our fund has averaged 25 percent over the last four years.”

It’s a true statement. It is not illegal or blatantly dishonest. It simply fails to illustrate the fact that investors actually ending up with no return.

One of my close friends (and fellow Bruin) is now a major league hedge fund manager. He knows something about high-risk investments. But what does he have in his portfolio, aside from his astute equity choice of index funds? He has a guaranteed contract with Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. As a 150+ year old mutual company, Guardian pays him a respectable RoR on his participating policy. To be sure, Guardian distributes its profits to policyholders as dividends through the insurance policy. Whereas, on the flip-side, a non-participating policy is a policy that does not earn profits from the insurance company. While a dividend-paying whole life policy is not considered an investment, it certainly returns handsomely on an investor’s investment of capital into it.

In fact, to be clear, the primary purpose of life insurance is to provide a death benefit to help replace lost income and protect loved ones from the financial losses that could result from the insured’s death. However, a dividend-paying whole life policy does more. Aside from many other benefits, it offers a number of tax advantages, many of which are unique to life insurance. For brevity, here are just three huge tax benefits of life insurance:

1. You pay no current income tax on interest or other earnings credited to cash value. As the cash value accumulates, it is not subject to current taxation.

2. You pay no income tax if you borrow cash value from the policy through loans. As a general rule, loans are treated as debts, not taxable distributions. This can give you virtually unlimited access to cash value on a tax-advantaged basis.

3. Your beneficiaries pay no income tax on proceeds. Your beneficiaries generally receive death benefits completely free of income taxation.

In my decade-plus professional experience and humble opinion, people are simply unaware of the ways, or let’s just say, the right ways to utilize this most versatile of financial products. It is for this purpose that I strive to educate my clients. People need to realize that taxes will ultimately have the biggest impact on their retirement dollars down the road. Now is the time to address it.

For any conservative, long term investor, a properly structured dividend-paying whole life policy will outperform any tax-deferred option available. To boot, with our new technologies such as the Living Balance Sheet®, we can back it up anytime with real-time mathematical calculations. It’s empirical. However, like everything else, there are caveats. It all depends on one’s circumstances. And please, don’t take my word for it. Think for yourself and do the necessary analytical research. It must be based on your unique set of variables. If you do need any help, please contact my offices and let’s meet. There’s no cost and absolutely no obligation on your part. At minimum, I’ll help you run the numbers and you can decide for yourself. Here’s to your continued success!

Key 2014 Pension/Employee Benefit Numbers and Other Essential Tax Data

Our Business Resource Center (BRC) just sent me these important, Key 2014 Pension/Employee Benefit Numbers for a client-company of mine. I thought that these same numbers might be helpful to others as well. Many of the annual adjustments to the numbers on the attached charts are based on the federal cost-of-living index. Because the federal cost-of-living index for the quarter ended September 30, 2013, is higher than the cost-of-living index for the quarters ended September 30 for the preceding year, most of the limits for 2014 are higher than those for 2013. Unless otherwise indicated, all section references are to the Internal Revenue Code.

Secrets of How the Economy Works from the Billionaire Founder of the World’s Largest Hedge Fund

A few days ago, Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates (the world’s largest hedge fund) was interviewed by Charlie Rose on, “CBS This Morning”. In September 2013, Dalio put out his video entitled, “How the Economic Machine Works,” narrating and explaining how he thinks the economy works. Dalio is personally worth over $10 billion; so to say he understands the economy is a gross understatement. When asked by Rose to summarize the video, Dalio said: “It’s in 30 minutes a description of how I believe the economic machine works, in other words I believe the economy works like a machine.  I believe most things work like a machine. I’m a market participant.  I’m a global macro-economic investor.  And so it’s from–I think—a very practical perspective.”

Stunned, Rose went on to ask Dalio, “Some would say the following. ‘If I had made billions of dollars, because I had a unique understanding of the way the economy works, I’m going to keep it to myself’.” To that Dalio replied, “Well, that’s why I say when I’m 64 years old.  I’m going to — you know, in the stage of my life where I think this is valuable. I think that people take 30 minutes, watch it, and understand it.” 

Over the years, I have watched, and been a follower of Dalio’s work. He runs his renowned firm on a distinct set of transferable principles, which encourage extreme transparency, and at it’s core, requires one to challenge their beliefs. I learned of his operating doctrines a while back after reading his 123-page treatise he put out in 2011 simply called, “Principles by Ray Dalio”. Is it a little ego driven? Sure, of course, would do you expect? But make no mistake about it, Dalio’s views are well-respected for good reason. Aside from running the world’s largest hedge fund, he has a tremendous track record. And like E. F. Hutton in the 1970s and 80s, today, “When Dalio talks, people listen”.

Do You Believe in the Value of What You Do?

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I recently read an interesting article in an industry publication. Its purpose was to serve as a reminder for those of us who are in the financial services profession. It said that we need to truly believe in what we’re doing as professionals—that is, doing good in the world by serving our clients.

The article went on and stated that it’s too bad we can’t all read our obituaries and determine how other people view our life. There is at least one exception to this and that is Alfred Nobel.

Nobel was the wealthy Swedish businessman who established the Nobel Prize. He had invented dynamite and became one of the world’s largest producers of explosives. When his brother died in a test of explosives, a newspaper mistakenly printed Alfred’s obituary instead of his brother’s. It read:

“The Merchant of Death is dead . . . Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”

When Alfred read it and saw that his life amounted to so much destruction and killing, he was devastated. He decided to do something to benefit humanity, and he used his fortune to establish the Nobel Prize for people who do good in the world. Do you believe in the value of what you do?