Step #4 of 6: Eliminate your unsecured debt

By ROBERT K. CUNNINGHAM, Personal Finance Coach

RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE:  This blog/website and all its content is designed and produced for information purposes only.  No representation is made to guarantee the accuracy of any of the content contained on this website, nor should it be interpreted that specific investment recommendations are being made.  The reader assumes any and all risk for strategies which are acted on.

For many people, the prospect of paying off all of their unsecured debts – and for most, this refers to their credit cards and department store cards – are remote in the short term, and daunting regardless of the circumstances.

But truthfully, it doesn’t have to be a difficult task… provided you’re fully committed to the process.

Today’s post will lay out the steps for the quickest, most painless strategies pertaining to paying off debt.  To be clear, we’re not referring to a mortgage if you’re buying your home rather than renting, and we’re also not including automobile financing… although the reality is that if your credit card and other unsecured balances are manageable, you could choose to include your car loan in the system and get it paid off as well.

For our purposes, however, we are focusing on high-interest debt.  Credit cards typically charge 20% or more annually.  Nothing short-circuits your ability to get ahead financially… and BuildWealthEarly… than high-interest debt compounding monthly.

So let’s get to what you specifically need to do:

1) List all your debts in chronological order by minimum payment due date. The order in which you list your debts is your choice, of course, but I have found this particular method to be the easiest.  What is most important is to be sure the following information is included:  Creditor, account number, phone number and/or website address ( have your user name and password available), balance, APR ( annual percentage rate), minimum payment due, and due date for monthly payments.

Be sure this information is accurate, to the hundredth of a percent with regards to the APR.  I am about to explain why this is important.

2) For any creditors charging more than 12% interest, call and ask for a reduction. Yep… if you want this system to work at peak efficiency and effectiveness, you should be willing to call and talk to a human. The purpose of your call is simple, and should start with something along the lines of: “Hi, I am re-dedicating myself to getting my debts paid off, in full and in the shortest amount of time possible, and I’d like to request that you reduce my interest rate, which is currently at ____ (tell them specifically what it is).”

You want to be ultra-specific on the rate because it will assert that you’re serious about this endeavor.  Informing the company’s representative that your interest rate “is around 20% or so,” makes you come off as hap-hazard about the whole thing.  Furthermore, be prepared to ask for a specific figure if requested to do so.  “If you could see your way clear to suspend my interest entirely for the next six months, that would be greatly appreciated and will really assist me in getting my debt paid down.”

If that doesn’t fly, don’t be deterred:  “I understand that you can’t eliminate my interest entirely.  How about cutting it in half, then?”

NOTE:  You can attempt this communication via online chat, rather than by phone, but chat representatives often seem to have the least amount of authority.  In my opinion, you’re better off calling.

If you successfully achieve a reduction — and your chances at doing so are actually very good depending on the current rate — don’t push your luck by asking for more of a discount unless the awarded reduction is truly meager.  Anything that, say, represents a reduction of 25% or more (for instance, if your current rate of 20% is reduced to 15% or less) should be accepted on its face with gratitude expressed.

If you run into a rep who refuses any accommodation (reminds me of the film ‘The Godfather,’ when Vito Corleone asks the other Dons, “when have I ever refused an accommodation?”), ask to speak to a supervisor, and go through the same steps until success is achieved, or until they hang up on you (kidding).

3) Update your list’s APRs, and note the debt with the highest rate. This will be your first priority debt.  NOTE:  If you have two debts with the same APR, and one balance is significantly lower than the other, go with the lower balance debt first… but ONLY if the rates are identical, or virtually the same.

As many financial “gurus” have explained by calling this the “snowball” method, the trick is to dedicate all extra funds that you are setting aside for debt elimination to the designated priority debt, until it is paid in full.  You should have arrived at this amount of available extra funds by going through the first three steps of the “Six-Steps-to-Six-Figures” that have been laid out in this blog over the past month.

4) After determining your first priority debt, dedicate all that you can to it.  Here’s what you do:  Note the minimum payment due on your designated priority date, and add your total of extra available funds for debt elimination to this amount.  Don’t pay the extra funds total in lieu of the minimum, but instead pay it in addition to the minimum.  And pay it right now… even if the minimum payment isn’t due for another three weeks, or if you just sent the minimum payment in last week.

For all of the rest of your creditors on your list, pay the minimum payment.  Although it’s preferable to simply pay them all simultaneously right after sending money to the creditor for the primary debt, it isn’t crucial as long as you make each payment at least 3-5 days before it is due. DON’T BE TEMPTED TO IGNORE ANY OF THE OTHER CREDITORS, THINKING YOU WILL EVENTUALLY BE ACCELERATING THEIR PAY-OFF. There’s no reason to muck up your credit… just pay the minimums on time and let the system as it’s laid out here do its thing.

Regularly monitor the updated balance of your priority debt and when it falls below the amount you’ve been sending in on that debt, it’s time for an adjustment.  First, pay the full balance due on the primary debt but obviously not more than that.  Assuming this final payment is less than what you’ve been sending to this creditor, be sure to add the difference to the payment for your next priority debt.

To determine that next debt to attack, go back to your list and select the account with the second-highest APR.

Now this next step is important… send the following amount to the second creditor as soon as possible, but most certainly before the next payment is due:  Amount of total payment that was being sent to the first primary debt (plus the reduced difference in the last payment, as noted above), PLUS the minimum payment due on the second (new) primary debt.

The idea is to continue sending out the same amount of money every month while your debt slowly dwindles.  As it decreases, the amount you’re sending becomes more and more effective, and accelerates the pay-off process.  Thus, the term “snowball.”

5) Follow the same routine, in order of highest to lowest APRs, until your last remaining account is paid in full.  As each account is paid in full, just keep adding the previous total payment to the minimum payment of the new target debt.  If you stick with this system to its conclusion, it is impossible to fail.

NOTE:  An alternative to the above method which uses the APR to determine the order of accounts being paid off is to instead pay the smallest balance first, then next smallest, etc., regardless of APR.  The theory is that doing it this way will give you tangible results (i.e. zero balances) more quickly, and ultimately better encourage you to stick it out to the end.  The problem is that this approach will result in you paying more interest over the length of your debt-elimination trek.  For my money, I want to save every dollar available.  The math means more to me than the mental tomfoolery.

Ultimately, you will have earned a hearty congrats for paying off all your unsecured debt.  Just one last reminder:  Do NOT be a schmuck and run up more debt.  There’s a smart way to use credit cards, to gain access to some sweet rewards without going into more debt, and for that information please furnish your email address for a free report with the details.

In the meantime, thanks again for reading.

For more specific information on DPWLI and related strategies, please go to www.spwealthadvisors.com, and let them know that you were referred to that site via www.buildwealthearly.com. 

DISCLOSURE:  If you opt to purchase a product(s) from www.spwealthadvisors.com, I will qualify for an affiliate commission.

Step #3 of 6: Pay yourself first, do it always, and make the process automatic

By ROBERT K. CUNNINGHAM, Personal Finance Coach/Consultant

RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE:  This blog/website and all its content is designed and produced for information purposes only.  No representation is made to guarantee the accuracy of any of the content contained on this website, nor should it be interpreted that specific investment recommendations are being made.  The reader assumes any and all risk for strategies which are acted on.

Anyone who has spent even the briefest amount of time reading about personal finance has heard the expression, “pay yourself first,” but what does that truly mean?

Well, I’m glad you asked. 😉

Although it would appear to be among the most basic rules in the world of savvy money management, it is arguably the most difficult for many folks to adhere to.  It is promoted as being the first rule of finance, but I hope you will agree that the previous two steps I’ve laid out in this blog over the past two weeks – summarize your income and expenses, and establish a budget – should come beforehand.

If they didn’t, you wouldn’t have any accurate idea of how much to pay yourself.

That said, the primary concern over the long haul is to actually save, rather than obsessing about how much.  Establishing a habit of saving money regularly – and, preferably, automatically – will pay significant dividends, monetarily and otherwise, down the road.

With the power of compound interest – and, yes, it is every bit as cool as advertised – small deposits can eventually achieve surprisingly large results.

I always get a kick out of the demonstration of someone starting with a penny, and allowing it to compound 100% daily, for a month, and seeing how much they have after that time.  When asked to guess the answers, folks usually forecast a few hundred dollars, but the truth is that if you start with a penny and double what you have every day for 30 days, you end up with more than $5 million.

While that seems amazing to me, I prefer to focus on realistic numbers.  So let’s take a hypothetical 22-year old college graduate who starts with $500, and every month adds $300 to it.  And let’s say she earns a 5% annual return (yep, I want to stay conservative and achievable here), each and every year, and the interest compounds annually.

After the first year, she would have saved $3,990 ($500 plus 11 months of adding $300 per month = $3,800 x 5% rate of return (ROR) = $190.  $3,800 + $190 = $3,990.

How much will she have in 20 years?  If you calculate 19 more years at $3,600 contributed per year, the total amount SHE put in, not including any interest earned, would be $75,800.

Now to the whole point of this exercise:  At 5% compounded annually, her account balance after the two decades would actually be $123,067.  That’s more than $47,000 in earned interest!

THAT is why Albert Einstein purportedly said that compound interest is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.

One other vital point:  Starting early is crucial.  Starting late is better than not starting at all, of course, but the power of compounding isn’t only remarkable, it’s a little quirky.  To wit:

We have two business partners, who we will call Ben and Jerry (I love ice cream, but any resemblance to real people of the same names are purely coincidental).

Ben starts saving $200 per month at age 21, does so every month of every year until he reaches age 30, then stops because he gets married to a spendthrift who eats up their budget. Ben saved regularly for nine years, contributing a total of $21,600 before stopping cold turkey, never to contribute another dime for the rest of his life…

Go with me here.

Jerry does just the opposite.  He doesn’t save anything at all until his 30th birthday, when he decides he’d better get started and begins putting away $200 per month, just like Ben.  But Jerry goes one better – he doesn’t stop after nine years, but instead puts in that same $2,400 annually every year for the rest of his working life – until he retires at age 65.  That means Jerry puts in $86,400 over the entire savings period, more than four times what Ben saved.

Assuming both earned 6% compounded interest annually, each and every year (again, it’s about the comparison – stay with me), who would end up with more money in their account at age 65?

Jerry, right?  I mean, he put four times more money in.  Of course he will have more in his account.

Nope.

Ben’s account balance, despite putting in a fourth of what Jerry did, is just a bit less than $1.2 million.  Jerry has only about $650,000.  It isn’t even close.

As the character Leonard on the TV sitcom Big Bang Theory likes to reply slowly, “whaaaaat?!”

Because Jerry started late, his efforts are dwarfed by Ben’s even though Jerry put a lot more money in.  Einstein wasn’t trippin’ with his statement.

OK, fine, you’re saying.  That’s very cool, but what if you don’t have much to save at all?  Not even 200 bucks.  Sure, let’s discuss that.

Let’s say you’ve assessed your income and expenses, created your budget, and the best you can do is save $40 per paycheck.  My first reaction, honestly, would be to instruct you to go back and try harder to cut expenses, acquire a side hustle, sell unneeded material possessions, etc. to improve your savings commitment.

But you tried, and it’s $40 a check or fuhgetaboutit. You’re paid on the first and 15th, so we’re talking $80 savings per month.  Fine, we can work with that… as long as you commit to making your savings automatic by having the $40 direct-deposited into the bank account of your choice, a task that most companies can and will readily accommodate.  If not, you will have to take the extra step of manually transferring money to a savings or investment account… IMMEDIATELY after depositing your check and before ANY bills are paid.

This is the key to the philosophy and, fairly obviously, the whole point of “pay yourself first.”  These are logistical concerns, however, and for now I want to re-focus on the saving.

At $80 a month, earning 5%, you can have more than $5,500 accumulated in just five years.

Hey, I realize $5K isn’t going to buy you a Maserati… won’t even get you to a down payment on a Maserati.  But it’s a pretty good start toward getting into your first home, isn’t it?  Or you could knock out a big chunk, if not all, of your credit card debt with five grand, could you not?

To repeat, the true importance of this is about the habit of saving.  Simply put, the ability to save – even in small amounts until such time you can afford to contribute more – is mandatory to getting ahead and, ultimately, building lasting wealth, whether you are diligent enough to build that wealth early or not.

Pay yourself first, friends.  Don’t think about doing it, and don’t do so just part of the time, after your birthday or Christmas, or after you receive your tax refund.  Do it each and every time you get your paycheck, without fail.  The gains really will compound nicely for you.

Thanks for reading.

For more specific information on DPWLI and related strategies, please go to www.spwealthadvisors.com, and let them know that you were referred to that site via www.buildwealthearly.com. 

DISCLOSURE:  If you opt to purchase a product(s) from www.spwealthadvisors.com, I will qualify for an affiliate commission.

Step #2 of 6: Establish a legitimate budget

By ROBERT K. CUNNINGHAM, Personal Finance Coach/Consultant

RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE:  This blog/website and all its content is designed and produced for information purposes only.  No representation is made to guarantee the accuracy of any of the content contained on this website, nor should it be interpreted that specific investment recommendations are being made.  The reader assumes any and all risk for strategies which are acted on.

In last week’s first installment of our six steps to six figures, with at least six advantages, I wrote in detail about how to go about summarizing your income and expenses.

Yeah, I know that wasn’t exactly a hoot in terms of entertainment value, but it’s a must if you expect to proceed intelligently with personal money management.

Now, we will delve into Step 2 – putting together a budget.  What precisely does budgeting mean, for our purposes?  Well, the best way to explain it might be like this:  Last week, we deduced where your money is going.  This week, we will determine in advance where it’s gonna go.

Over-simplification?  Perhaps.  But when it comes right down to it, only you are in control of where your money goes.  What it’s spent on, or where and how much is saved, is decided by no one else.  So if you care enough to read this blog and get some suggestions on how to go about controlling all of this, why not go the distance and actually implement these techniques?

Looking back at the numbers you arrived at last week, in which of the following categories do you fall:  A little money left at the end of the month, or a little month left at the end of the money?  Let’s consider each scenario, and lay out an example budget:

Some extra money available:  Good for you!  It means at the very least that your income is satisfactory for your current lifestyle and your spending isn’t ridiculous.  But it doesn’t mean you can’t drastically improve your situation (yes, I used a double-negative. I find them handy on occasion.  Please don’t bother the writing police).

Are you saving any money on a regular basis? If not – and we will discuss why this is so vital in future posts – you’re going to remedy that here and now with a commitment to save at least an amount equal to your current monthly surplus.  For example, if your monthly net income is $2,500 and your expenses added up to $2,300, you’re going to put at least $200 into savings (or investing) monthly.  You will do this first, preferably automatically via a payroll withdrawal conducted by your employer, with the money transferred directly to your savings or investment account of choice.

Making this automatic is more efficient, and it reduces the chance that you will blow off this step in favor of the $229 dress at Forever 21 that you believe makes you look hot and is on sale for $179.  Don’t get me wrong… people need clothes and I like to see folks dressed up, but there should be a category in your budget that this fits into – pun intended. And honestly, $179 will buy you a whole friggin’ wardrobe at Ross.

So we have our $200 set aside for savings, and the next step is to total up our fixed expenses – rent, car payment, cellphone bill, gym membership, etc. – because these are (usually) constant and unable to be significantly altered. When we have that figure (let’s say it’s $1,500), we add it to the $200 and what’s left is for our monthly discretionary spending.

$2,500 income – $200 to savings – $1,500 for fixed expenses = $800 discretionary money available per month.

Discretionary, or variable expenses, are things we pay for that cost us different amouns each time.  Food (groceries and eating out), gasoline/car maintenance, utility bills, entertainment costs, and we will also include a miscellaneous category.

The last step is just a matter of attempting to spend less than the $800, so we can add to our $200 monthly savings total.  If we spent, for instance, $300 on groceries and $300 on eating out, might we able to drop that $300 restaurant cost to $240 or $250?  Seventy-five dollars a week for groceries (this includes toiletries, pet supplies, and anything else bought at the grocery store, not just food) seems reasonable.  But $10 a day eating out might be excessive.  Perhaps you could commit to giving the fast-food dollar menus a longer look and reduce that overall cost to $8 a day.  Do that and you just gained $60 more for savings.

What about your cellphone? Do you need unlimited data, or might you be able to go on a cheaper plan and be just as connected?  That gym membership… are you going regularly?  Can you change your routine to allow for exercising at home and eliminate it?  Go to Starbucks a lot?  Could you taper that back a little, being that it’s at least $4 a pop (just three “coffee breaks” a week is $50 per month. Small changes can really make a difference).   Find that extra $40 of savings somewhere, and combined with your cutback on eating out, you can boost your monthly savings up more than 30%, or another C-note.

Spending more than you make:  The difference between this scenario and the first is that instead of choosing whether you want to decrease costs in order to save more, you HAVE to cut costs just to save anything at all.  This is where discipline comes in – you have to want to improve your financial life, long-term.  Bypassing instant gratification – at least some of the time – is crucial to accomplishing more important goals, short- and long-term.

Let me take a quick detour, briefly, to talk about discipline.  I’m telling you right now:  If you’re looking for a way to get ahead and be smart without sacrifice or discipline, your wasting your time on this site.  I can and will coach you, if you’ll have me. I enjoy passing along my decades of experience to folks who can benefit via a much quicker learning curve than I had.  But EVERYTHING worth having comes at a cost.  Are you willing to pay it?

Last spending category I didn’t yet get specific with is “miscellaneous.”  The definition of this category, quite simply, is any expense that doesn’t fall into one of the other categories.  Clothing, for example, falls into this slot.  I suggest you put entertainment there, too, but the main point is to be reasonably frugal across the board.   It’s not a crime to go the movies, of course, but consider going to a matinee and saving as much as $6 per ticket.  It’s that type of thinking you should be willing to attempt in order for this process to truly be effective for you.

To practice sound budgeting fundamentals, never let your miscellaneous costs exceed your savings commitment.  That simple practice will make it less likely that you spend on non-essentials.

OK, one last reminder – no, two reminders – as you put together your budget.  First, figure every cost into this.  Do you like stopping at AM-PM to buy those new Reese’s white chocolate peanut butter cups?  Me, too.  Best damn things since deep-fried raviolis.  But figure the $3 a week you spend on them into your costs.  Be detailed and thorough, if you really want this to work you.

Secondly, stick with your commitments.  Adjustments can be made, but not on the fly.  Say you under-estimated your gasoline cost by $30.  No problem, but find that $30 somewhere else in your budget.  Do NOT automatically reduce your savings allotment to accommodate your lack of foresight.

The savings commitment you have made should only go up, never down… even if you have to skip those peanut butter cups for a while.

Thanks for reading.

For more specific information on DPWLI and related strategies, please go to www.spwealthadvisors.com, and let them know that you were referred to that site via www.buildwealthearly.com. 

DISCLOSURE:  If you decide to purchase a product(s) from spwealthadvisors.com, I will qualify for an affiliate commission.

Step #1 of 6: Summarize all your monthly income and expenses in detail

By ROBERT K. CUNNINGHAM, Personal Finance Coach/Consultant

RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE:  This blog/website and all its content is designed and produced for information purposes only.  No representation is made to guarantee the accuracy of any of the content contained on this website, nor should it be interpreted that specific investment recommendations are being made.  The reader assumes any and all risk for strategies which are acted on.

In the previous installment of the new-and-improved BuildWealthEarly.com, I laid out the six primary steps to accelerating the process toward reaching six figures of net worth in the shortest time that’s reasonable.

So now it’s time to begin dissecting the specifics of each step, starting with No. 1 – SUMMARIZE YOUR INCOME AND EXPENSES.

Although this appears to be a pretty straight-forward task, there’s more to it than just adding up your pay and out-go.  We want to be detailed when we do this, because we will refer back to it over the course of other steps, primarily in the area of attempting to cut wasteful spending.

First, let’s determine our income.  For most millennials, income is limited to a job.  How much are you paid? For our purposes, we want monthly numbers rather than weekly or semi-monthly.  Why?  Because the vast majority of expenses are paid out monthly, and when we put these figures side by side, it’s easiest and most effective if we’re comparing grapefruit to grapefruit.

I will assume that at least some of you may be asking, “but what if I’m paid weekly?”  It’s not important to get your income total right on the nose, as long as it’s close.  If you are paid weekly, for example, you will receive a paycheck four times in eight different months, and five in the other four months per year.  So for the sake of consistency, you can take your weekly numbers and multiply by 4.3.  This will give you an average monthly number over the entire course of a year, and that’s sufficiently accurate for our purposes.

An alternative to dealing with the weekly-pay dilemma is to simply assume just four paychecks per month for budgetary purposes, and in those four months during which you receive a fifth check, you can choose to ratchet up your savings or debt elimination. Treat those like mini-windfalls.

The same principles hold true to being paid every other week – you will occasionally receive a third check, but for the purposes of accurate info, simply multiplying by two will give you the monthly income total needed.

In compiling these numbers, you will need gross pay and net pay, as well as ANY other steady income sources.  If you rent a room in your home to a friend, for example, and he/she pays $300 per month, that is absolutely income that you count towards your monthly total even if you tend to immediately turn around and hand it to your landlord or mortgage company.

We note the gross pay because we want to have a starting point in reviewing the deductions from our pay each check.  You should verify these and understand not only what the deductions are for (taxes, medical, social security, etc.), but be prepared to assure they are correct.  If necessary, get a sit-down with a representative of Human Resources.  It’s also good to know what’s being taken out in taxes, and how your most current W-4 form is filled out so that you can adjust if necessary depending on if you’re receiving too much of a tax refund annually, or worse, you’re paying additional taxes come every April 15.  The latter scenario is uncommon, but certainly possible and avoidable.

Net pay, also commonly referred to  as take-home pay, is the magic number that determines how much spendable income you have available monthly.

With expenses, there are two broad categories — fixed, and discretionary. Fixed expenses are those which are the same, or virtually the same, every month.  Rent or mortgage payments, car payments, cellphone bills, and gym membership fees are examples.  Discretionary expenses are those that change significantly every month, such as food (it’s wise to separate groceries from eating out when compiling these costs), gasoline, utilities, clothing, and entertainment.

You need to separate any and all expenditures into one of these two categories, and by all expenditures I’m referring to everything from rent and car payments to gourmet coffee to your breath mints.  You don’t need a separate line in your summary for LifeSavers, but the mints are part of your grocery bill and should be included in the monthly total you dedicate to Ralphs, Vons, and Stater Bros., etc.

We separate fixed from discretionary because the former are expenses that you cannot easily change or eliminate.  Discretionary spending, on the other hand, is simpler to manipulate for your fiduciary benefit.  It’s pretty difficult to reduce your rent (good luck with that!), but quite doable to choose to walk or bicycle more and, thus, reduce your monthly fuel expense.

To ensure reasonable accuracy for listing your expenses, I suggest using the last three months’ of records – whether an on-line banking summary, credit card transactions summaries, hard-copy bank statements, or a combination of all.  If Christmas season falls during the prior three months (as it does at this particular writing), skip December (or November if you’re a proactive Christmas shopper), and utilize the surrounding three months.  Mark down all your expenses in both categories over this time frame, by month, and then average the three totals for each category to arrive at a fairly reliable monthly average.

Once your totals for income and expenses are laid out, simply compare.  If you are earning more money than you’re spending, it means you have some left-over funds that you should be dedicating toward saving, or debt elimination, or perhaps both.  And, as previously alluded to, you can attempt to decrease discretionary spending to give you even more money to work with each month.

If you’re spending more than you make, knock it off already!  In order to make this entire process beneficial, you have to be willing to cease bad habits… and spending more than you make tops the list. Get rid of all the credit cards in your wallet, at least temporarily, and use only your debit card for purchases, which will prevent you from spending money you don’t have (literally, but not in terms of budgeting – that onus is on you).

Now that you know where you stand in the most basic sense, we can figure out how to begin “paying ourselves first,” and otherwise create wealth-building money habits.  We’ll go into that line of thinking in next week’s post.

Once again, I thank you for reading.

For more specific information on DPWLI and related strategies, please go to www.spwealthadvisors.com, and let them know by any communication you choose that you were referred to that site via www.BuildWealthEarly.com. 

DISCLOSURE:  If you decide to purchase a product(s) from spwealthadvisors.com, I will qualify for an affiliate commission.

Over the next several weeks, let’s talk about 6 steps to 6 figures, with 6 advantages

By ROBERT K. CUNNINGHAM, Personal Finance Coach/Consultant

RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE:  This blog/website and all its content is designed and produced for information purposes only.  No representation is made to guarantee the accuracy of any of the content contained on this website, nor should it be interpreted that specific investment recommendations are being made.  The reader assumes any and all risk for strategies which are acted on.

Last week, I introduced to you the revised focus of this website… which consists of a personal financial gameplan centered on Dividend-Paying Whole Life Insurance (DPWLI).

Now it’s time to lay out how I will detail this information, which will be formatted as six posts, explaining in specifics how to go about each of the six steps to achieve six figures of net worth.  I’d love to be able to announce that you can accomplish this six times faster than with traditional strategies, but there are two reasons that would be a false claim.

For one, the notion of six times faster than about 42 years — the timeframe from age 23 to 65 that many adults spend as income-earning professionals — would mean that I can get you to $100,000 in seven years.  Some might achieve that milestone in such short order, of course, but there’s no way I would propose to assist the masses in doing so.  Sorry, but this is about keeping it real.

Secondly, it would imply that “normal” or accepted methods of saving and investing typically buoy people to six figures.  I’m not sure that’s so, thus any claim related to that, including a comparison, would be moot.

Are ya with me so far?

I mentioned six advantages in the headline of this post.  In fact, there are more than six, but in the interest of being consistent the half-dozen are:  safety, liquidity, rate of return, tax-advantaged, living benefits, and a death benefit.

OK, without further adieu (and that’s as French as I get), here are the six steps with a brief explanation of each:

1) Summarize all your income and expenses.  Yeah, I know… this sounds painful, and boring as hell.  But it’s a must if you’re going to do this correctly.  Whether you do it on a computer, or you sit down with a pen and a legal-sized yellow pad, you need to be willing to account for all your net income (take-home pay, income from rent or other sources) and your monthly payments to others.

The idea behind doing this is two-fold:  A) Determining how much income, if any, that you have monthly to dedicate to saving/investing, and B) Form strategies on effectively cutting your current spending in order to increase A.

2) Establish a budget. The dreaded ‘B’ word.  Let me make something clear from the get-go.  There are certain financial authors (should I cite any specific examples, David Bach?), who will claim you can engage in savvy personal finance without a budget.  I’m not entirely sure what is meant by that — and I’ve read The Automatic Millionaire twice (it’s mostly a very good read) — but any strategy that doesn’t decipher income vs. expenses is either ill-advised or is wasteful of available resources, or both.

The need to be overly specific can be debated, but you have to not only know where your money is going and coming from, but also be willing to adjust based on those numbers for your own long-term benefit.

3) Begin ‘Paying Yourself First.’ This simply means that you dedicate x amount of money per month to saving/investing BEFORE you start paying bills and everyday expenses.  It’s the one piece of personal finance advice that, I believe, is universal.

In other words, EVERY so-called guru, expert, author, blogger, and wanna-be seems to agree on this principle. So should you.

4) Eliminate all unsecured debt. You can never truly start the journey toward six figures of net worth until you eradicate your debt.  Home mortgage debt and, in some instances, a car loan and school debt are acceptable, depending on the terms and circumstances.

Credit card debt, however, is only OK if you pay your balances in full each month, and so that is managed under expenses.  If you carry a balance, even just a few hundred dollars, a top priority for you is to pay it off as fast as possible. Because if you don’t, you’re wasting money on the astronomically high interest rates.  And even if you’re taking advantage of a low (0%?) promotional APR, it’s temporary and still interferes with saving and investing. It limits your ability to EARN interest rather than pay it.

5) Open a DPWLI policy.  A plethora of benefits, living as well as the other kind, and advantages over conventional strategies await you.

6) Borrow against your accrued cash value to buy a home.  Personal finance, like a typical college’s curriculum, has several stages… from introductory to intermediate to advanced.  Buying your first home often represents the culmination of a successful completion of fundamental financial principles.

And soon, you might be able to tap your resources for a car purchase… eventually, it will make sense for you to do so as you learn to take full advantage of the features of your DPWLI policy.  But we’ll get into that soon enough.

Meanwhile, in next week’s post we will break down Step 1 — exactly how to go about determining your income and expenses, and begin the process for using that information.

Until then, as always, thank you for reading.

For more specific information on DPWLI and related strategies, please go to www.spwealthadvisors.com, and let them know by any communication you choose to commence that you were referred to that site via www.buildwealthearly.com. 

DISCLOSURE:  If you decide to purchase a product(s) from spwealthadvisors.com, I will qualify for an affiliate commission.

Welcome to the newly-focused BuildWealthEarly.com

By ROBERT K. CUNNINGHAM, Personal Finance Coach/Consultant

RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE:  This blog/website and all its content is designed and produced for information purposes only.  No representation is made to guarantee the accuracy of any of the content contained on this website, nor should it be interpreted that specific investment recommendations are being made.  The reader assumes any and all risk for strategies which are acted on.

Alas, it’s the year 2018.  And with a new year comes several appropriate alterations… at least, where this financial blog is concerned.

Up until now, and beginning when this site was first established early last year, I had intended this to be a place where readers could reap the rewards of learning from my mistakes, soaking in various personal finance principles that can be counted on to assist you in building wealth over time.

Some of those principles are already fairly well known, and mostly accepted as fundamental in the industry.  But many of the strategies and recommendations made on this site would be considered by some as unconventional… going against the grain of what has been preached by numerous financial “gurus” for about as long as I can remember.

For example, most “experts” recommend that you invest as much as you can into your employer’s 401K Plan, citing that you can do so with pre-tax dollars (tax-deferred), and that the stock market always increases in value over the long term.

But what these folks fail to explain is that any program relying on investments into the market contains significant risk, and any specific block of time can result in losses that can set back personal funding and/or retirement plans exponentially.  And 401K Plans (as well as Individual Retirement Accounts and the like) are government-controlled setups with a host of inconvenient rules, such as not being able to access your own money before age 59 1/2, or five years after the account was opened (whichever happens second), unless you’re willing to pay a 10% penalty in addition to any income tax due.  Another example is being forced to begin withdrawals at age 70 1/2 – even if you prefer to leave the money alone – in the form of an annual RMD, the acronym for Required Minimum Distribution.  These are the law because they ensure the government receives its tax revenue in a timely fashion.

To be fair, 401Ks can have a place in our overall strategy – I recommend taking advantage IF the company offers a great incentive, such as a match of funds up to a certain percentage of your income.  The most common terms are a 50% company match on up to 5% of gross income.  If your company offers that, or something similar, go ahead and sign up, and authorize those appropriate with-holdings from your paycheck up to that 5% max.

But as a stand-alone solution to retirement savings, 401Ks are far surpassed by several other strategies, including the primary tool this blog is dedicated to:

Dividend-Paying Whole Life Insurance (DPWLI)

In the coming weeks, this blog will break down the process of implementing this strategy.  We will first discuss basic personal finance, and otherwise getting ourselves in the best possible position to fully take advantage of DPWLI’s plethora of benefits.  Then we’ll go into the specifics of how to obtain a policy (or policies), why you should, and how to best utilize it to achieve the four most important aspects of savvy money management:  Safety of principal holdings; liquidity of those holdings; earning a steady rate of return that can be counted on and planned for; and legally minimizing the required amount paid toward income taxes.

I sincerely hope your time spent on this site is educational, enlightening, and ultimately beneficial.  I don’t make any specific promises, but I can guarantee you that the strategies discussed on BuildWealthEarly.com are proven, and can help you actually build wealth more substantially and by an earlier juncture of your life than by attempting to do so via the more commonly promoted traditional avenues.

I will keep these Wednesday posts fairly short, and yet I will attempt to pack into each as much valuable information as I can cram into a maximum of 1,000 words.  In  the meantime, the Archives for all of the material published in 2017 is still available.  There’s a lot of good stuff there.  Please peruse the titles and find info that best pertains to your particular circumstances, although much of what I’ve covered in the last year will be reiterated in one form or another in the coming months.

For now, that’s a wrap.  Until next week, may the Forbes be with you (my apologies, I was desperate to get a Star Wars reference in before it was no longer timely…  What, it’s already too late?  Crap.)

Seriously, thank you for reading.

For more specific information on DPWLI and related strategies, please go to www.spwealthadvisors.com, and let them know through any communication you choose to commence that you were referred to that site via www.buildwealthearly.com. 

DISCLOSURE:  If you decide to purchase a product(s) from spwealthadvisors.com, I will qualify for an affiliate commission.

 

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We’re changing our focus in 2018

By BOB CUNNINGHAM

Since beginning this blog in March of this year, I’ve had a blast bringing to whatever audience I can attract, sound yet not always orthodox personal finance principles.  For every tried-and-true method for accumulating and saving money – “pay yourself first,” for example – there are perhaps twice as many myths that are promoted as the gospel.

I truly believe unearthing these things for you, and demonstrating why what I’m relaying to you makes more sense than commonly accepted strategies, are the most rewarding endeavors I have ever undertaken.

But it’s time for a switch in approach, a changing of what we emphasize on BuildWealthEarly.com.  This site will no longer be focusing on financial fundamentals, although we will certainly be confirming them along the way.  And I won’t be writing about unconventional strategies, except as they pertain to one specific approach to money.

Beginning with the January 10, 2018 post – I will be taking a brief hiatus until then – this blog’s primary purpose will be to illustrate how utilizing life insurance as your primary center of all things money is absolutely in your best interest.  The type of insurance in question, dividend-paying whole life, can literally guarantee you a prosperous future of saving for retirement, college education, expenses, big-ticket purchases, and more.

Up until now, the focus has been general with plenty of mentions of DPWL but not a great deal of detail. Beginning next month, that changes.  When you have this information available to you, and I’ve properly demonstrated the numerous advantages of this strategy, you will be asking why you ever allowed yourself to be duped into believing that the federal government actually had your best interests at heart.

Oh, don’t get the wrong idea. I love America.  Our government of democracy is the greatest in the world, without question.  But collecting taxes is a big part of how the USA does the things that it does outside of the normal scope of government.  Acting as if it is seeing to your prosperity has a lot less to do with promoting your well-being, and a lot more about helping the government appear as if it is doing so.

Thank you for your willingness to hang with this website.  I hope you have benefited from the variety of material I’ve provided.  If you have, fantastic.  It’s going to get even better and certainly more specific.

And if for some reason you haven’t gotten as much from this space as you would have liked, but you’re still reading, thanks for your patience.  I’m confident you will like the weeks and months to come.  Either way, be sure you’re commenting regularly – be genuine enough to tell me what I’m doing right as well as wrong.  That said, if you believe I deserve criticism or if you take exception with something I’ve written, let me know about it.

Until 2018 then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  And thanks once again for reading.

***

DISCLAIMER:  This post represents the author’s opinions only.  In no way should any part of the content of this post be interpreted as official financial advice, nor does it represent an intention to solicit readers into a specific company or investment.  Results are never guaranteed.  Utilize the information as you see fit, make all money decisions at your own risk.

The most difficult financial challenge for young adults: Buying their first home

By BOB CUNNINGHAM

We can save and invest, eliminate all our debt – especially those nasty and unproductive credit card payments – and engage in activities to increase our income.

But when and how do we go about buying a house?

That’s pretty much what many young adults and families are asking these days. As personal finance education continues to be more and more commonplace, the one major component that is often missing is information about how – and when – to secure that elusive first abode.

Signing a rental agreement is easy.  Loan and escrow documents? Not so much.

I’d love to be able to write in this space that the process for buying a home doesn’t have to be challenging or complicated.  But in fact, it usually is because there are so many variables, from qualifying for a mortgage to saving for a down payment, to covering closing costs, and more.

It can be intimidating.

Still, millions buy their first homes every year, so it is certainly doable.  Here, then, is a summary of steps that can allow you to get from your apartment or parents’ basement to a residence you can legitimately call your own:

1) Commit to the process. You can’t buy a home “half-way,” or realistically just give it a try.  You have to want it, and even more importantly, understand what has to be done and sacrificed to get it.

While there are numerous first-time buyer programs that really do open barriers which otherwise might be nearly impossible to overcome (try being in your 20’s and having to save up 10% or even 20% for a down payment on a $150,000 home), it’s never going to be free to get into a home purchase.  The most common avenue, via the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) first-time buyer program, generally requires a 3% down payment and escrow closing costs.  On the aforementioned $150K house, you’re still looking at about $8,000 out of pocket before you pack a single box.

Hey, Mom and Dad… got a question for ya.  Oh, and have I said ‘I love you’ yet today?  I sure do!

Realistically, even if your parents are willing to help, you’re going to have come up with some scratch.  Let’s say you need $5K on your own.  At $300-400 a month saved, a lot for most people in this category, it will be well more than a year from when you first decide to go for it that you will be able to come up with enough.  Are you TRULY willing to be disciplined and save on that level in order to make this happen?  If not, keep on writin’ those rent checks.

2) Learn and understand what’s involved in owning versus renting, benefits and pitfalls. Sure, when you own you’re buying something that is yours, that typically appreciates in value, and that you can eventually sell.  You can also write off the mortgage interest on your income taxes (unless proposed tax code changes eliminate that – a step that is unlikely except perhaps for the largest jumbo mortgages). Rent money is, by most accounts, squandered money.

On the other hand… and there’s always an other hand… renting doesn’t require you to buy homeowners insurance or pay property taxes, the two of which often cost an additional 15-20% on top of the principal and interest on your mortgage.  And while it’s true that you can do almost anything to a home you’re buying in terms of improvements, if something breaks it’s up to you pay for the repairs.  When you rent, you can generally just call the landlord and the problem will (should) get resolved without any cost to you.

3) Avoid setting your sights too high on your first home.  Oh, but how it would be cool to have an extra bedroom for my man-cave, a pool and hot tub in back, and wrought iron fencing all around with gated entry.  Our palace!

Truth is, you’re probably looking initially at a cookie-cutter, tract 3-bedroom with few luxuries.  You have to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run, etc. I’m fascinated by the advice I read in nationally-recognized publications and websites that suggests finding a suitable home first, then locating the financing to make it happen.  That’s exactly backwards.

As a first-time buyer, you need to determine the maximum monthly payment that you can afford on your current budget, including principal and interest, taxes and insurance (PITI in real estate lingo), AND THEN SUBTRACT AT LEAST 10% FROM THAT FIGURE.  Give yourself some wiggle room.  If you feel like your budget allows for a $1,600 payment (on a traditional 30-year mortgage), limit yourself to a max of $1,440.  There are numerous unforeseen issues that can quickly drain your housing budget.

And make sure you’re realistic as you establish that initial budget.  If your current rent is $1,000 a month, for instance, and you’re unable to save more than $100 or so monthly, where the heck are you going to get that extra $340 every month when you buy?

(By the way, be sure you don’t attempt to qualify for a 15-year mortgage on this first home purchase, even if you can afford the big payment.  Yes, the interest rate for such a loan would be slightly lower, but you’d be backing yourself into the corner of a much larger minimum payment.  Get the 30-year loan, and if you wish and can swing it, pad your payments (check with the lender for the proper way to assure your extra money goes toward the principal balance and that there no pre-payment penalties) or make a half-payment every other week as a strategy to accelerate payoff.  This latter method results in the equivalent of 13 monthly payments in a year, not 12, and cut a 30-year term to less than 23 years.)

After… and only AFTER you determine what you can truly afford to pay monthly, do you set out to find a home.  Determine with your real estate agent (always use one to help you buy – the seller generally will cover his or her commission at the close of the sale) how much you can finance to wind up at the payment you seek.  Work backwards, remembering to factor in your initial up-front costs.  Ultimately, if done correctly, you’ll conclude that the most you can offer is, for example, $165,000.  STICK TO THIS MAX. DO NOT EXCEED.

4) Interview real estate agents and select one to represent you. Don’t just go with the first person you talk to.  Some buying agents really hustle and seek out the best home for your particular situation, while others will focus only on their own listings or those from another agent in the same office, trying to maximize their commission.

In fact, instruct your agent that you do not want to consider any homes which are listings from that agent or that office. If they agree without hesitation, you may very well have a keeper.  Otherwise, move on.  You can always relax that requirement a week or two later if you’re convinced the agent is truly working to represent your best interests.

If you can, try to avoid a buyer representatative agreement.  If you sign one, the agent will be eligible to receive a full share of the commission even if you end up finding the desired home on your own.  Understand, though, that if you find the home but utilize the agent to help you navigate the buying process, have the agent put in your offer, etc., that the agent is entitled to be paid if you, indeed, buy the home and close escrow.

When working with the agent, be specific (and realistic) about what you’re looking for, and stick to your guns.  Be open-minded, but direct.  If you inform your agent that the home must have three bedrooms, and he or she tries to steer you to a 2-bedroom because “it’s a steal,” inform the agent that you have set your parameters and you expect them to be met.

5) If you feel confident about the situation, go for it.  Otherwise, don’t.  Buying a home is, obviously, a major commitment.  If you have reservations about the home you’ve picked, or your agent, or any other variable in the process, take a step back and re-evaluate.  There’s no pressure here.  You’re in charge.

Once you’ve satisfied every facet, and you find yourself excited about the prospect of buying and moving into the home you’ve chosen, have your agent make the offer – ideally, 5-10% below the asking price or your pre-determined maximum price, whichever is lower – and, to repeat, stick to your game-plan.  NEVER let emotions affect your strategy, or be visible to sellers.

Follow these fundamental steps, and the result will be a truly satisfying process.  And if you have to soak in a blow-up kiddie pool in your new backyard until you can reasonably afford to move up in house enough to have a legit party pad with spa tub, accept that… and set your new goals for the upgraded digs, when the timing makes sense.

Once again, I thank you for reading.

***

DISCLAIMER:  This post represents the author’s opinions only.  In no way should any part of the content of this post be interpreted as official financial advice, nor does it represent an intention to solicit readers into a specific company or investment.  Results are never guaranteed.  Utilize the information as you see fit, make all money decisions at your own risk.

In money management, there’s a difference between automation and auto-pilot

By BOB CUNNINGHAM

My son is the worst about it of anyone I know.  You’d think that, being his old man writes about smart money management on a regular basis, he would be averse to such bad habits.  Nope.  Instead, he swipes or inserts his debit card to pay for things… and whatever balance his bank shows in his account at any given time – if and when he bothers to check – must be correct.

This folks, is referred to as money management on auto-pilot.  It’s not recommended.

In a neo-technical society, automation can be a great thing.  Banking apps are all the rage – just snap a photo of the check you want to deposit, complete a couple of clicks, and just like that you have made a deposit.  No need to venture out and walk up to an ATM, deal with a drive-thru, or (perish the very thought of it!) stand in line inside a branch.

But often, people confuse utilizing modern-day tools to assist noble efforts with a hands-off approach that, quite honestly, is just begging for problems.

You need to be on top of your money, gang.

So here is a quick breakdown of how you can utilize automation to your benefit, and what you should be willing to take the extra time required to do just to make sure you really are engaging in intelligent money management.

Use on-line banking…

Why wouldn’t you?  Like the trash-talking big guy proclaimed in the film, White Men Can’t Jump, to explain his sudden departure from the basketball court in the middle of a 2-on-2 tournament game he and his partner were dominating, “This is too easy!”

On-line banking allows you to quickly check your balance, see transactions, and the Bill-Paying feature lets you set up recurring payments on bills which are the same amount every month, such as your mortgage and car payments. You can also sign up directly with the vendor to get regular alerts for how much your bill is and when it’s due (ideal for utilities, for instance), go to your bill-pay page, and authorize payment in less than 30 seconds.

… But monitor it regularly

I go to my bank’s on-line site at least 3-4 times per week.  No, it isn’t because I’m obsessed with seeing a large balance.  Trust me, that isn’t applicable… not because my wife and I are poor – we’re doing fine – but because my regular bank account is used for paying bills and everyday expenses.  The bulk of our assets are located elsewhere, where they can earn a respectable rate of return.

I go there because I want to safeguard against two things – errors and oversights.  Errors are when someone charges you erroneously, or there is an error on the bank’s end (very rare, I have found).  Oversights are when it’s my fault – a charge I didn’t remember to account for, or perhaps a subscription auto-renew that I forgot about or didn’t want.

Simply put, I want to make sure the amount of money shown in our account is what should be shown.  Typically, the quicker mistakes are discovered, the easier they are to remedy.

Have your paychecks direct-deposited…

Many banks offer small incentives for agreeing to have your paychecks directly deposited regularly.  The perks can be fee-free basic accounts, discounts on loan rates, small cash-back considerations, even tangible gifts.  Nothing cozier than watching TV draped in a blanket with “Bank of Cucamonga” emblazoned.

Yeah, I’m kidding about the blanket.  Still, it is more convenient not to have to worry about physically possessing your check, getting to the bank to deposit it or cash it, etc.

…But know what’s being withheld from your net pay and why.

Don’t trust your employer with getting it right.  Be sure you concur with what is being withheld, how many hours you were credited with working, even the pay rate itself.  My other son recently took a new job, only to find out that he was being paid 75 cents an hour less than he thought he was promised.  And of course, he didn’t notice this until about a month in, making a correction (and retroactive reimbursement) more difficult to request and obtain.

Pay Yourself First:  Have money from your check sent directly to an investment account…

One of the oldest adages in personal finance, discussed numerous times on this site. “Pay yourself first” means that you set aside funds for savings before you pay any bills or cover any other expenses.  It assures you save, regardless of circumstances, which is especially critical when you are first starting out and have the maximum time to take advantage of the amazing principle of compound interest.

…And monitor your  balance to assure full credit and growth

Again, don’t trust that the powers that be will get everything right.  I once had a life insurance policy, for which I sent in a contribution toward what is referred to as a “payed-up additions rider,” which allows for growing your cash value more quickly provided you stay within certain parameters.  The insurance company mistakenly credited the payment toward a small policy loan balance I had, that I had just taken and wasn’t yet willing to pay on.

The error wasn’t a big deal, and was easily corrected by the company, but had I not caught it, it would have ultimately cost me money in the form of lost compounding on the funds which never would have reached my desired destination.

By all means, utilize the great modern technology available to us whenever you can, and it makes sense to you.  But whether you go old-school or new-tool, be “accountable” every step of the way.  Pun intended.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

***

DISCLAIMER:  This post represents the author’s opinions only.  In no way should any part of the content of this post be interpreted as official financial advice, nor does it represent an intention to solicit readers into a specific company or investment.  Results are never guaranteed.  Utilize the information as you see fit, make all money decisions at your own risk.

Ultimately, it’s all about retirement

By BOB CUNNINGHAM

On this website, and hundreds of others like it that I read and monitor, we talk about practically anything that has to do with money/personal finance.  And we should… there’s a helluva lot to cover about the subject.

But what it all boils down to, whether you’re in your 50s or half of that, is preparing for the “Big R.”  What proactive steps are you taking, now and in the near future, to properly prepare for retirement?

So let me ask you, is that what we should really focus on ad nauseum?

While planning for the long-term future is certainly important, I contend that excelling in the short-term, including the ‘now,’ is at least equally vital.  In fact, one often facilitates the other.

Maximizing your efficiency in saving and investing now, logically, will result in you having more money to work with later.

Let’s take a quick look at why planning for retirement has become such big business, cliff notes version.  You ready?  It’s because virtually all private companies have deserted the traditional pension system in favor of a 401K/IRA-led way of saving for one’s own career conclusion.  And, many public and government agencies appear headed in the same direction.

Sure… just save some money with your company in its 401K, or do it on your own with an Individual Retirement Account, combine those with the scraps that are our social security payouts – assuming those rates stay where they are now – and you’ll be set.  Who needs a big, fat monthly pension check when the S&P 500 historically averages a 10% annual return?

I’m tellin’ ya, it’s bananas.  And yet our society has fully accepted this monumental shift in monetary focus.  But what people fail to properly gauge is that, while $500,000 in a retirement account may sound like a butt-load of money, it is in fact barely enough to keep a retired couple above the poverty line.

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard that experts traditionally recommend drawing down your nest-egg at about 4% per year, so that you can live while retaining the full balance of your primary account.  In other words, if you start with $500,000, and want to leave a legacy, you should take annual withdrawals from that account of no more than 4%.

Really?  Hmmm… let’s see how that might play out.

Let’s say you’re an average wage-earner in the U.S., about to retire.  Your household income, says Betterment.com, is about $68,000 a year gross.  That’s roughly $50,000 net spendable money after taxes.

If you expect to maintain the same standard of living you’ve become accustomed to, you would have to have about $1.25 million saved.  And that’s not even considering the erosion caused by inflation.  At a 3 percent inflation rate, $50,000 of net spending power becomes just $25,000 in about 24 years, which is roughly the average length of retirement nowadays.

Of course, you can always sacrifice your kids’ inheritance and spend down your money – in fact, I think you should because it’s your money.  But try making $500,000 last 24 years when you’re taking $68,000 withdrawals on a taxable account.  According to calculators on the BankRate.com website, do that and you will be out of money in less than 15 years.

Your retirement account is a Roth IRA?  Cool.  No taxation on the withdrawals.  But with $50,000 annual withdrawals and inflation, your investments had better return more than 14% each and every year if you expect to continue paying the bills 24 years later.

Also, we didn’t enter increased medical expenses or anything else into the equation.  Scared yet?  Ya should be at least nervous.

So what do we do?  If we’re smart, we utilize specific strategies that take the guesswork out of money, and we start doing them now… to benefit us now, a little later, AND into retirement.  We do things that allow us to live a better, smarter life RIGHT NOW and over the ensuing years, and not just obsess about what we’re going to do when we actually get old.

And I have a strategy that makes all of this relatively simple and definitively painless.  Beginning in 2018, this website will be dedicated to detailing this approach and its various advantages on a regular basis.  Yep… I’m going to make you wait for it.

But, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you already know what I’m talking about.  DPWLI… to know what this acronym stands for, refer to earlier posts, and let me know your reaction to the suspense.

Yes, admittedly, I’m messing with my audience a little here.  But teasers are good, and it won’t be long now before the info will be at your fingertips.

In the meantime…  thanks, as always, for reading.

***

DISCLAIMER:  This post represents the author’s opinions only.  In no way should any part of the content of this post be interpreted as official financial advice, nor does it represent an intention to solicit readers into a specific company or investment.  Results are never guaranteed.  Utilize the information as you see fit, make all money decisions at your own risk.