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Because its not what you make...Its what you keep!

Little things matter. Over our lifetimes we make thousands of choices about money. Some choices seem insignificant. Others seem more important.  Do we bring our lunch to work or purchase it at the cafeteria? Do we take out extra coverage on our auto policy? Buy a new car or one a couple years old? Do we update our Will or put off making one? Over time the cumulative effect of these little choices can make a big difference. Over the course of the years I've met with millionaires and "thousandaires". Many of the millionaires I know never made more than thirty or forty thousand dollars yearly in their working careers. It is our hope that we can share some observations, tools, techniques, systems, "secrets" and good ol' fashioned common sense that will help you to make better use of the resources that you already have.



February 7, 2014


Years ago, my clients' concerns were different from the worries of retirees today. They wanted to protect their assets from estate taxes when they passed, so that the lion's share of their principal would benefit their children rather than 300 million strangers. This is the least of our worries today. 

Many clients who witnessed their portfolios triple or quadruple in the 1990s saw no reason why growth of that magnitude would not continue for the rest of their lives. They were being told by the pundits that, "This time, it's different." 

The experts said there was a new economy propelled by the growth of internet-based technology and commerce, which would lead to increasing efficiencies and profits. Globalization would mean unlimited markets for American wares, and it would lower costs and increase profitability. Investors would visit our office, spreadsheets in hand projecting a 20% rate of return, and challenge us to do better. 

Anyone who's been around long enough will tell you if you like what's going on, wait a minute. The unbridled enthusiasm of the 1990s gave way to the doom and gloom of the 2000s. Setbacks were the order of the Millennium like September 11th, Enron and our own Great Recession. Those pundits who were dancing in the streets at a perennial Wall Street block party had a new statement: The sky is falling. 

While Main Street still has its share of challenges, Wall Street is racking up profits, and the market is setting new records. Many of the same pundits that were telling investors about the hopeless economic outlook are again saying, "This time, it's different." 

These experts reason that all of the unnecessary jobs were eliminated from the economy, thus creating a more productive workforce. You, as small investors, are urged to take your funds and jump into the market. After being burned once, you are understandably reluctant to do that. Can you afford to miss out on all the rampant growth, which is predicted to last forever?

What do you do? 

Today, the vast majority of people are not really concerned about losing money to taxes or turning your children into spendthrifts as you get older and run out of money. You're looking for strategies and solutions to help you maintain a comfortable lifestyle as long as you live. 

Although times have changed, many so-called "proven" strategies that will help make your money last have not. The second way to stay financially independent in retirement is to use common sense. Follow these simple steps to improve your situation immensely:

1. Reduce and eliminate consumer debt. Unless you are taking on debt for a worthwhile purpose, concentrate on earning interest, not paying it. 

2. Save as much as you can on a pre-tax basis, and make sure that you are taking advantage of any matches or benefits offered by your employer. Pre-tax and tax-deferral strategies are great tools for accumulation and keeping more of your hard-earned income. You have to pay taxes eventually, but the longer you wait, the greater your chances for asset accumulation will be. 

3. Keep your legal documents up to date. Everyone should have a durable power of attorney, living will, health care proxy, and last will and testament. We call this an Essential Estate Plan, and it helps protect you from most of life's legal hard knocks, enabling your designees to act for you in financial and health affairs. If you don't have a last will, your assets may be distributed in a way you least expect, which varies by state. 

4. Be sure all of the beneficiary designations on your retirement plans, life insurance, and annuities are up to date with back-ups. We have seen some instances where assets were awarded to an ex-spouse who was still on a policy. Remember, those funds with a beneficiary attached don't pass under your will. 

5. Prepare for the unexpected. Know the difference between being "insurance poor" and having "poor insurance." Make sure you're carrying the proper amount of auto, health, life, disability and long-term care insurance to meet your needs. Meet with an insurance professional to create a plan and budget. 

6. Balance fees with benefits. Do your best to find investments that give the maximum benefit potential for the lowest cost. 

While these steps won't make you a fortune in the market, they will help you go a long way toward insuring your financial freedom in later retirement.