The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools

In the midst of the Great Resignation, with employers scrambling for ways to hang on to experienced staff, financial wellness programs might be an attractive addition to the benefits bag.

That was a key finding from PwC’s annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, which was conducted in January 2021 and released in April. Among those polled, 72 percent of workers who reported facing increased financial setbacks during the pandemic said they would be more attracted to another company that cared more about financial well-being than their current employer. About 57 percent of workers who hadn’t yet faced increased financial stress said the same thing.

Financial stress doesn’t just affect worker retention; it also has an impact on productivity. PwC’s survey showed that 45 percent of workers experiencing financial setbacks have been distracted at work by their money problems. The menu of financial wellness tools employers might elect include educational tools for personal finances, one-on-one financial coaching, and even access to rainy day funds.

It’s a growing business sector, too. HoneyBee, a B2B financial wellness startup, recently closed a round of funding with $5.7 million in equity, TechCrunch reported. The financial technology company grew 225 percent during the pandemic and saw a 175 percent increase in usage for its on-demand financial therapy tools. Origin also recently announced that it raised $56 million in its Series B funding round, which it will use for customer expansion, as it saw increased demand for financial planning services during the pandemic, Business Wire notes.

Although one in five workers waits until they experience a financial setback to seek guidance, when they are offered continual support, employees are more likely to be proactive with their finances. According to the PwC survey, 88 percent of workers who are provided financial wellness services by their employers take advantage of them.

By Rebecca Deczynski, Staff reporter, Inc.@rebecca_decz

Source: The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools | Inc.com

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Making money is definitely the cornerstone of financial wellness and increasing your income can help you obtain your goals. You do not need to be a millionaire, but it’s important to obtain some level of income stability. Being financially well starts with having a reliable income and knowing at a consistent time, you will expect to be paid a certain amount. Steady and reliable income is one of the cornerstones of financial wellness.

Even if you don’t like budgeting or planning, it’s good to set goals for yourself. You are more likely to stick with it when you have goals to reach and can see progress. By creating a plan, you are visualizing the what, why, and how you will get there. If you don’t already have a household budget, grab your most recent bank statement and look at the total amount of money you have coming into your household each month. Then, factor in fixed, required expenses – things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, and more.

f you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start building it. The goal of an emergency fund is to have available funds for when you are dealing with unemployment or you have an unforeseen cost. You won’t stress about the money because you have a nice cash reserve that you can access quickly. Finance experts often say that you should have at least three to six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund. If you have nothing in savings, putting away just $25, $50, or $100 a month is an amazing start. Ultimately, it’s what you feel comfortable with. You can also consider putting it in a high savings investment such as CIT Bank’s Savings Builder, which helps put your savings to work with very little risk.

Once you get a handle on your finances, you can start to map out life events and large purchases, so you can begin saving! Planning ahead is always helpful, and once you get a handle on your current financial plan, set some goals for what comes next. By building a plan, you have a road map to help guide you through the rest of your story. Putting even a small amount into savings on a consistent basis is one of the best ways to get your savings to grow so you can meet your goals, small or large. Set your own personal savings rule to live by and make a plan on how to achieve it. Prepare for life events and large purchases by planning ahead.

Your credit score is another critical part of your financial health. Things like late payments, too much debt or high balances negatively affect your credit score. Keep watch over your credit report and credit score with a free credit report from places like Credit Karma. A higher credit score tells banks and lenders that you’re a reliable and less risky borrower. 

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How Financially Literate Are You? 3 Things You Should Know About Your Money

Most of us received little guidance or instruction on how to handle money when we were growing up. That’s OK — we can learn now, a little bit at a time. Let’s start with the basics.

How do most of us learn how to use our money wisely and well? When we’re growing up, we’re given special instruction in important subjects — swimming, driving, sex — to arm us with info and keep us from harm.

Yet when it comes to managing our money — an activity that every one of us needs to do, every day — we receive surprisingly little preparation. We’re not taught much about it in school, because education systems leave it to us to learn from our families and friends. However, those people often don’t fill in the gaps because money can be such a loaded or taboo topic.

Natalie Torres-Haddad, who grew up in southern California, saw many people around her struggling with debt and financial instability. She was determined to be the exception, and she purchased her first rental property in her early 20s and earned an MPA in Finance & International Business. In the process, however, she became buried in debt. Only by teaching herself the basics of money — basics that she’d never learned — was she able to steady herself and her finances.

Today she leads workshops and sessions to prevent others from falling into the money pit. (She’s also the author of the self-published Financially Savvy in 20 Minutes ). She’s found that even among the college-educated people she meets, “the majority feel confused and overwhelmed about balancing their income and expenses,” she says. The stats show they’re not alone. A 2015 Ohio State University study reported nearly 70 percent of college graduates in the US say they don’t feel equipped to manage money and deal with their debt.

Not only must we get up to speed on the basics, we also need to start having honest conversations with each other about money, says Torres-Haddad. In the same way we’d tell family and friends that we’re cutting out refined sugar from our diets or practicing yoga to increase our flexibility, we should be open with them about the steps we’re taking to boost our financial health. That way, we can get advice and support. This transparency, she adds, can also make us less susceptible to peer pressure-related spending. How many of us have agreed to a pricey meal or weekend trip because we didn’t want to come clean about our money concerns?

Becoming financially literate does not require a huge time investment. Torres-Haddad believes we can start by dedicating 15 – 20 minutes a day to developing our skills and knowledge by learning new terms and resources. Just like attaining literacy in a foreign language, she says, “it’s an ongoing education.” Here are three things you need to know about your money.

1. Know How Much Money You’re Bringing in Every Month vs. How Much You’re Spending

Most of us can rattle off our salaries in our sleep, but could you do the same for your monthly after-tax income and where you’re spending your money every month? If you can’t, that’s normal. But now is the time to learn your actual take-home pay and your actual expenses (and not just ballpark figures or estimates).

For your income, look at your physical or online pay stubs, and start keeping a record of the after-tax amounts. If you’re a salaried employee, that number should be fairly steady; if you’re not, those numbers will vary.

For your monthly expenses, Torres-Haddad suggests writing down — whether it’s in a physical or online notebook — every single daily purchase (coffee, take-out, Uber, online shopping, etc) you make and every single ongoing payment you make through autopay or credit cards (Netflix, gym membership, car insurance, utilities, etc.).

If you’ve never done this before, you may find this uncomfortable — even painful — but it will force you to face up to your spending habits. It will also make these purchases visible. Often, our regular outlays (such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.) can go unnoticed or unquestioned, and our daily spends — especially if we pay by debit card so the funds are instantly drawn from our bank accounts — can go forgotten. Torres-Haddad calls the latter “runaway spending” — “when the little things that you thought cost only a few dollars actually cost much more” in the long run. Take a daily $5 green smoothie. By making them at home, you could save yourself a few hundred dollars in a month.

After you have a fundamental understanding of income and expenses, you can download an app to help you track these categories; see your bank account, credit-card and loan balances; and organize your purchases into buckets so you can identify areas where you might cut back. Two free apps to try are Mint or Charlie, says Torres-Haddad. But, she cautions, apps can be a little “out of sight, out of mind,” meaning if you need extra help to be aware of your spending, stick with the pen-and-pad (or fingers-and-keyboard) method a while longer.

2. Know Your FICO Score and Your Other Credit Scores

While you don’t need to have a good credit score to be financially literate, you must know what it is. ( Note: Most of the information in this section applies to people living in the US.) In the US, FICO was the first company to offer a three-digit credit-risk score for lenders to use when deciding whether or not to approve a loan or line of credit, a credit limit, and an interest rate. There are three other national credit reporting bureaus — Experian, Equifax and Transunion — which also keep track of all your loans (student, auto, personal, etc.) and your balances and histories for all your credit cards (whether issued by banks, stores or businesses).

However, the FICO score is the one most frequently used when you apply for credit cards, mortgages and most types of loans; rent an apartment; or sign up for utilities. FICO scores range from 300 to 850; 670 and up is seen as a good score and 800 and up is excellent. While the FICO score is calculated with a proprietary algorithm, the primary factors that go into it are your repayment history (do you pay your credit-card bills on time? how late are you?), how much debt you’re carrying on cards and loans, how long you’ve successfully held a credit card or loan for; and whether you’ve managed to hold a mix of different kinds of credit.

Most banks and credit cards offer free access to your FICO score on their mobile apps and websites ( here’s a list of the ones that do). If you don’t use one of these companies, you can also find out how to access your score on FICO’s helpful FAQ, including a chart showing where your score falls between “Poor” and “Exceptional.”

Besides checking your FICO score every year, do an annual check of the reports issued by Experian, Equifax and Transunion. This is so you can verify that they’re correct, make sure no one has opened up a line of credit in your name, and see where you might improve. You are entitled to a free copy of a credit report from each bureau once a year. Beware: Many sites will charge you a fee, so use the federally approved and secure Annual Credit Report site.

If it’s your first time checking or you’re about to make a big purchase (such as a car or a home), Torres-Haddad suggests getting all three reports at once. After that, she recommends spacing them out throughout the year. That way, you can quickly catch any errors, fraud, identity theft or any other actions that could hurt your credit history. Mark your calendar so you know when you can request your next free credit report.

3. Know How Much Credit Card Debt You’re Carrying

Knowing how much credit-card debt you’re carrying — and how quickly it’s increasing due to interest — is critical to your financial literacy. Make a list (on paper or on a computer) of each of your credit cards, their current balances, and their current interest rate. Then, put them in order from highest interest rate to lowest.

In general, says Torres-Haddad, this should be how you should prioritize paying them off, paying as much as you can towards the card with the highest interest rate while paying the minimum on the other cards. Called the “ debt-snowball method,” this was popularized by money expert Dave Ramsey.

If you have any cards that offered a 0% APR as a promotion when you signed up, mark down the date on which the promotional rate expires because that’s when you can expect your debt to accumulate at a high interest rate (20% or more). Try to budget your monthly payments so that this card will have little to no balance when that expiration date arrives.

Believe it or not, having a credit card can be a great thing for a person’s FICO and credit scores — if you use it responsibly. Of course, carrying no debt on your cards is best. Otherwise, Torres-Haddad recommends using no more than 30 percent of your available credit limit. So if you have two credit cards with limits of $6K apiece, totalling $12K in available credit, make sure the total balances you’re carrying do not exceed $4K.

If you’ve managed to pay off a credit card, congratulations. But while you may be tempted to close it, Torres-Haddad advises against it. Why? Closing the account will shrink your total amount of available credit and cause your credit score to dip. Instead, delete the card number from any online shopping accounts, cancel any auto-pays billed to it, and freeze the card in ice. It may sound silly but it means that if you want to use it, you’ll be forced to wait for it to defrost — and forced to take a little time to think about your purchase.

When choosing a new credit card, look for ones that offer incentives — such as travel points or cash back — which could help you and your finances. Torres-Haddad recommends going to nerdwallet.com and bankrate.com to compare credit card offers.

Obviously, these three points represent just a small part of financial literacy. That’s why Torres-Haddad urges people to be patient and to learn gradually. Two books she recommends are Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich!  and Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. For those who like to get information through listening, she suggests the “Popcorn Finance” and “Her Dinero Matters” podcasts.

When you can, supplement your research with an in-person workshop, adds Torres-Haddad. “Even going to one financial literacy workshop can have a life-changing effect,” she says. A good time to find free workshops is April, which is Financial Literacy Month in the US. One of the best investments you can make in your life is to educate yourself about money, says Torres-Haddad. “It can really give you a lot of peace of mind.”

By: Erin McReynolds

Source: How Financially Literate Are You? 3 Things You Should Know About Your Money

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How To Follow The 50-30-20 Budgeting Strategy

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s One-Minute Money Hacks series, which provides easy, straightforward tips and tricks to help you understand your finances and take control of your money.

Managing your finances and setting a monthly budget can be challenging. But if you’re overwhelmed with where to start, the 50-30-20 strategy can simplify the process. The plan divides your income into three broad categories: necessities, wants, and savings and investments. Here’s a closer look at each.

50% of your paycheck should go toward things you need

This category includes all of your essential costs, such as rent, mortgage payments, food, utilities, health insurance, debt payments and car payments. If your necessary expenses take up more than half of your income, you may need to cut costs or dip into your wants fund.

20% of your paycheck should go toward savings and investments

This category includes liquid savings, like an emergency fund; retirement savings, such as a 401(k) or Roth IRA; and any other investments, such as a brokerage account. Experts typically recommend aiming to have enough cash in your emergency fund to cover between three and six months worth of living expenses.

Some also suggest building up your emergency savings first, then concentrating on long-term investments. And if you have access to a 401(k) account through your employer, it can be a great way to save a portion of your income pre-tax.

30% of your paycheck should go toward things you want

This final category includes anything that isn’t considered an essential cost, such as travel, subscriptions, dining out, shopping and fun. This category can also include luxury upgrades: If you purchase a nicer car instead of a less expensive one, for example, that dips into your wants category.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to money management, but the 50-30-20 plan can be a good place to start if you’re new to budgeting and are wondering how to divide up your income.

Nadine El-Bawab

By: Nadine El-Bawab / @nadineelbawab

Source: How to follow the 50-30-20 budgeting strategy

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Critics:

While that may not be realistic, there are some simple things you can do right now to improve your money situation. Try these five steps for successfully managing your personal finances. Another bonus? If you stick to these five tips, your financial problems may start to diminish, and you can start reaping the rewards of lower debt, saving for the future, and a solid credit score.

Take some time to write specific, long-term financial goals. You may want to take a month-long trip to Europe, buy an investment property, or retire early. All of these goals will affect how you plan your finances. For example, your goal to retire early is dependent on how well you save your money now. Other goals, including home ownership, starting a family, moving, or changing careers, will all be affected by how you manage your finances.

Once you have written down your financial goals, prioritize them. This organizational process ensures that you are paying the most attention to the ones that are of the highest importance to you. You can also list them in the order you want to achieve them, but a long-term goal like saving for retirement requires you to work towards it while also working on your other goals.

Below are some tips on how to get clear on your financial goals:

  • Set long-term goals like getting out of debt, buying a home, or retiring early. These goals are separate from your short-term goals such as saving for a nice date night.
  • Set short-term goals, like following a budget, decreasing your spending, paying down, or not using your credit cards.
  • Prioritize your goals to help you create a financial plan.

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Banks Are Giving the Ultra-Rich Cheap Loans to Fund Their Lifestyle

Billionaire hedge fund manager Alan Howard paid $59 million for a Manhattan townhouse in March. Just two months later he obtained a $30 million mortgage from Citigroup Inc.

Denis Sverdlov, worth $6.1 billion thanks to his shares in electric-vehicle maker Arrival, recently pledged part of that stake for a line of credit from the same bank. For Edgar and Clarissa Bronfman the loan collateral is paintings by Damien Hirst and Diego Rivera, among others. Philippe Laffont, meanwhile, pledged stakes in a dozen funds at his Coatue Management for a credit line at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

In the realm of personal finance, debt is largely viewed as a necessary evil, one that should be kept to a minimum. But with interest rates at record lows and many assets appreciating in value, it’s one of the most important pieces of the billionaire toolkit — and one of the hottest parts of private banking.

Thanks to the Bronfmans, Howards and Sverdlovs of the world, the biggest U.S. investment banks reported a sizable jump in the value of loans they’ve extended to their richest clients, driven mainly by demand for asset-backed debt.

Morgan Stanley’s tailored and securities-based lending portfolio approached $76 billion last quarter, a 43% increase from a year earlier. Bank of America Corp. reported a $67 billion balance of such loans, up more than 20% year-over-year, while loans at Citigroup’s private bank — including but not limited to securities-backed loans — rose 17%. Appetite for such credit was the primary driver of the 21% bump in average loans at JPMorgan’s asset- and wealth-management division. And at UBS Group AG, U.S. securities-based lending rose by $4 billion.

Borrowing Binge

“It’s a real business winner for the banks,” said Robert Weeber, chief executive officer of wealth-management firm Tiedemann Constantia, adding his clients have recently been offered the opportunity to borrow against real estate, security portfolios and even single-stock holdings.

Spokespeople for Howard, Arrival and Laffont declined to comment, while the Bronfmans didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Rock-bottom interest rates have fueled the biggest borrowing binge on record and even billionaires with enough cash to fill a swimming pool are loathe to sit it out.

And for good reason. With assets both public and private at historically lofty valuations, shareholders are hesitant to cash out and miss higher heights. Appian Corp. co-founder Matthew Calkins has pledged a chunk of his roughly $3.5 billion stake in the software company — whose shares have risen about 145% in the past year — for a loan.

“Families with wealth of $100 million or more can borrow at less than 1%,” said Dan Gimbel, principal at NEPC Private Wealth. “For their lifestyle, there may be things they want to purchase — a car or a boat or even a small business — and they may turn to that line of credit for those types of things rather than take money from the portfolio as they want that to be fully invested.”

Yachts and private jets have been especially popular buys in the past year, according to wealth managers, one of whom described it as borrowing to buy social distance.

‘Significant Benefit’

Loans also allow the ultra-wealthy to avoid the hit of capital gains taxes at a time when valuations are high and rates are poised to increase, perhaps even almost double. Postponing tax is a “significant benefit” for portfolios concentrated and diversified alike, according to Michael Farrell, managing director for SEI Private Wealth Management.

Critics say such loans are just one more wedge in America’s ever-widening wealth gap. “Asset-backed loans are one of the principal tools that the ultra-wealthy are using to game their tax obligations down to zero,” said Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies.

While using public equities as collateral is the most common tactic for banks loaning to the merely affluent, clients further up the wealth scale usually have a bevy of possessions they can feasibly pledge against, such as mansions, planes and even more esoteric collectibles, like watches and classic cars.

One big advantage for the wealthy borrowing now is the possibility that rates will ultimately rise and they can lock in low borrowing costs for decades. Some private banks offer mortgages on homes for as long as 20 years with fixed interest rates as low as 1% for the period.

The wealthy can also hedge against higher borrowing costs for a fraction of their pledged assets’ value, according to Ali Jamal, the founder of multifamily office Azura.

“With ultra-high-net worth clients, you’re often thinking about the next generation,” said Jamal, a former Julius Baer Group Ltd. managing director. “If you have a son or a daughter and you know they want to live one day in Milan, St. Moritz or Paris, you can now secure a future home for them and the bank is fixing your interest rate for as long as two decades.”

Risks Involved

Securities-based lending does comes with risks for the bank and the borrower. If asset values plunge, borrowers may have to cough up cash to meet margin calls. Banks prize their relationships with their richest clients, but foundered loans are both costly and humiliating.

Ask JPMorgan. The bank helped arrange a $500 million credit facility for WeWork founder Adam Neumann, pledged against the value of his stock, according to the Wall Street Journal. As the value of the co-working startup imploded, Softbank Group Corp. had to swoop in to help Neumann repay the loans and avert a significant loss for the bank.

A spokesperson for JPMorgan declined to comment.

Still, for the banks it’s a risk worth taking. Asked about securities-backed loans on last week’s earnings call, Morgan Stanley Chief Financial Officer Sharon Yeshaya said they’d “historically seen minimal losses.” Among the bank’s past clients is Elon Musk, who turned to them for $61 million in mortgages on five California properties in 2019, and who also has Tesla Inc. shares worth billions pledged to secure loans.

“As James [Gorman] has always said, it’s a product in which you lend wealthy clients their money back,” Yeshaya said, referring to Morgan Stanley’s chief executive officer. “And this is something that is resonating.”

By:

Source: Banks Are Giving the Ultra-Rich Cheap Loans to Fund Their Lifestyle

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Do You Get Your Money’s Worth From Buying An Annuity?

Coin Stacks And Chart Graphs On A Chessboard

Once upon a time, in the (somewhat mythical) past of traditional defined benefit pensions, your employer protected you from the risk of outliving your money in retirement, by acting, more or less, as an insurance company providing an annuity. With that benefit receding into the past, many experts have been hoping that Americans with 401(k) plans would avail themselves of annuities on their own, to give themselves the same sort of protection, and, indeed, the SECURE Act of 2019 made it easier for those plans to offer their participants an annuity choice, and, when surveyed, 73% of those participants said they would “consider” an annuity at retirement.

At the same time, though, Americans distrust annuities — in part because traditional deferred annuities had high fees and expenses and only made sense in an era predating IRAs and 401(k)s, when they were attractive solely due to the limited tax-advantaged options for retirement savings. But that’s not the only reason — annuities, quite frankly, aren’t cheap.

How do you quantify the value of an annuity? In one respect, it’s subjective and personal: do you judge yourself to be in good health, or does family history and your list of medications say that you’ll be one of those with the early deaths that longer-lived annuity-purchasers are counting on? Do you want to be sure you can maintain your standard of living throughout your retirement, or do you figure that you won’t really care one way or another if you have to cut down expenses once you’re among the “old-old”?

But measuring the value of annuities, generally speaking, does tell us whether consumers are getting a fair deal from their purchases, and here, a recent working paper by two economists, James Poterba and Adam Solomon, “Discount Rates, Mortality Projections, and Money’s Worth Calculations for US Individual Annuities,” lends some insight.

Here’s some good news: using the costs of actual annuities available for consumers to purchase in June 2020, and comparing them to bond rates which were similar to the investment portfolios those insurance companies hold, the authors calculated “money’s worth ratios” that show that, for annuities purchased immediately at retirement, the value of the annuities was between 92% – 94% (give-or-take, depending on type) of its cost. That means that the value of the insurance protection is a comparatively modest 6 – 8% of the total investment.

But there’s a catch — or, rather, two of them.

In the first place, the authors calculate their ratios based on a standard mortality table for annuity purchasers — which makes sense if the goal is to judge the “fairness” of an annuity for the healthy retirees most likely to purchase one. But this doesn’t tell us whether an annuity is a smart purchase for someone who thinks of themselves as being in comparatively poorer health, or with a spottier family health history, and folks in these categories would benefit considerably from analysis that’s targeted at them, that evaluates, realistically, whether annuities are the right call and whether their prediction of their life expectancy is likely to be right or wrong.

In the second place, the 92% – 94% money’s worth calculation is based on the typical investment portfolio of insurance companies, approximated by the returns of BBB-rated bonds. This measures whether the annuity is “fair” or not, in that “moral” sense of whether the perception that the company is “cheating” is customers is real (it’s not).

But these interest rates are very low. The authors, in addition to their calculations of “money’s worth,” back into the implied discount rate from the annuity costs themselves. For men aged 65, that interest rate is 2.16%; for women aged 65, 2.18%.

Now, imagine that you compare this annuity to an alternative plan of investing your money in the stock market, earning 7% annual returns, and believing you can predict your death date (or not really caring if you fall short or end up with leftover money for heirs).

The cost of the protection offered by the annuity, the guarantee that you will never run out of money, and that you will not suffer from a market crash, is very expensive indeed — when you compare apples to oranges in this manner, the money’s worth ratio is, according to my very rough estimates, more like 60%, meaning that about 40% of your cash is spent to purchase the “insurance protection” of the annuity.

And, again, that’s not because insurance companies are cheating anyone; that’s solely because of the wide gap between corporate bond rates and expected returns when investing in the stock market— a gap which was particularly wide in the summer of 2020 when this study was competed, but remains nearly as wide now.

As it stands, Moody’s Baa rates are in the 3% range; in the 2000s, they were in the 6% range, and in the 1990s, from 7% – 9%. Although this drop in bond rates is good news for American homebuyers because this marches in tandem with mortgage rates, it makes it far harder for retirees to manage their finances in ways that protect them from the risks that they face in their retirement.

Perhaps interest rates in general, and bond rates specifically, will increase as we leave our current economic challenges, but there’s no certainty, and as long as this gap between bond rates and expected stock market returns remains so substantial, retirees will be challenged to find any sort of safe investment that makes sense for them. Which means that what seems like a great benefit for Americans looking to borrow money — for mortgages, car loans, credit cards — can pit the elderly against the young in a generational “us vs. them” contest.

As always, you’re invited to comment at JaneTheActuary.com!

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

Yes, I’m a nerd, and an actuary to boot. Armed with an M.A. in medieval history and the F.S.A. actuarial credential, with 20 years of experience at a major benefits consulting firm, and having blogged as “Jane the Actuary” since 2013, I enjoy reading and writing about retirement issues, including retirement income adequacy, reform proposals and international comparisons.

Source: Do You Get Your Money’s Worth From Buying An Annuity?

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Critics:

An annuity is a series of payments made at equal intervals.[1] Examples of annuities are regular deposits to a savings account, monthly home mortgage payments, monthly insurance payments and pension payments. Annuities can be classified by the frequency of payment dates. The payments (deposits) may be made weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, or at any other regular interval of time. Annuities may be calculated by mathematical functions known as “annuity functions”.

An annuity which provides for payments for the remainder of a person’s lifetime is a life annuity.

Variability of payments

  • Fixed annuities – These are annuities with fixed payments. If provided by an insurance company, the company guarantees a fixed return on the initial investment. Fixed annuities are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Variable annuities – Registered products that are regulated by the SEC in the United States of America. They allow direct investment into various funds that are specially created for Variable annuities. Typically, the insurance company guarantees a certain death benefit or lifetime withdrawal benefits.
  • Equity-indexed annuities – Annuities with payments linked to an index. Typically, the minimum payment will be 0% and the maximum will be predetermined. The performance of an index determines whether the minimum, the maximum or something in between is credited to the customer.

See also

References

  • Kellison, Stephen G. (1970). The Theory of Interest. Homewood, Illinois: Richard D. Irwin, Inc. p. 45
  • Lasher, William (2008). Practical financial management. Mason, Ohio: Thomson South-Western. p. 230. ISBN 0-324-42262-8..
  1. Jordan, Bradford D.; Ross, Stephen David; Westerfield, Randolph (2000). Fundamentals of corporate finance. Boston: Irwin/McGraw-Hill. p. 175. ISBN 0-07-231289-0.
  • Samuel A. Broverman (2010). Mathematics of Investment and Credit, 5th Edition. ACTEX Academic Series. ACTEX Publications. ISBN 978-1-56698-767-7.
  • Stephen Kellison (2008). Theory of Interest, 3rd Edition. McGraw-Hill/Irwin. ISBN 978-0-07-338244-9.

How Much Money Is ‘Enough’? Try This Experiment to Get an Exact Number to Aim For

a wad of money secured with a blue paper clip on a pink background

Have you ever read those articles where some extremely well-off family details their budget and then bemoans that they’re barely getting by?

It’s ridiculous that anyone could complain about raking in $350,000 a year, and it’s clear many of these folks are wildly out of touch with how privileged they are. But while these families may be extreme (and annoying), they aren’t alone. It’s not just the wealthy who fall into the trap of earning more only to spend more and feel just as dissatisfied.

How do you get off this treadmill?

The answer is not to compare yourself with others (Jeff Bezos will always be there to make you feel bad), or to blindly try to keep making more (there will always be some shiny, new thing to covet). The answer is to take a hard look at your own financial realities and aspirations and come up with a goal number. How much money is enough for you?


The Science of Money and Happiness

That number will be different for everyone, depending on your circumstances and values, but science can give us some sense of how much money might be “enough.” Research shows that up to a certain threshold (studies consistently put it at about $75,000 dollars a year, give or take a bit depending on cost of living) money has a big impact on both day-to-day happiness and life satisfaction.

If you’re below this level, making more will likely make you significantly happier. But beyond that point, each additional dollar adds a little less to your life. There is a level of wealth way before Bill Gates status that trading more effort and time for more money ceases to make sense (even Bill Gates says so).


Name Your Number

One way to calculate that point is to figure out how much money you’d need to make decisions based entirely on enjoyment and impact, without pressure to earn. This is the goal of the catchily named FIRE movement (for financial independence, retire early). Its boosters generally say that 25X your expected annual expenses is enough. So if $50,000 a year is enough for you to live comfortably, you need to save $1.25 million.

There are other more elaborate calculators that can give you a sense of what financial independence means for you. But perhaps the best way to get a feeling for your goal number isn’t math but a simple thought experiment from writer Brad Stollery:

Suppose you’re one of five people who have been selected by a mysterious philanthropist to participate in a contest. The five of you all have comparable debt-levels and costs-of-living, as well as similar, middle-class financial situations. You’re all roughly the same age, equally healthy, have the same number of children, and you all live moderately low-risk lifestyles. Privately, and one by one, a representative of the donor approaches each of you with a blank check and a pen, and poses the following question:

How much money would you have to be paid, right here and now, to retire today and never receive another dollar of income (from any source) for the rest of your life?

The catch this time is that whoever among the five players writes the lowest amount on the check will be paid that sum. The other four players will get nothing.

This thought experiment forces you to cut away the natural impulse to aim ever upward (if you do that you’ll bid too high and get nothing). That result is however much you ask for is your number, the amount you’d need to live comfortably and pursue your goals if status and lifestyle inflation weren’t a factor.

Your answer might be a little bit higher or lower than mine or your neighbor’s. That’s fine. It’s not important everyone agree on a number. The important thing is that we each reflect enough to have one.

Because the alternative is being one of those people confessing online how you burn through a healthy six-figure salary and still feel stressed and dissatisfied. Your expenses and desires can be infinite. If you don’t want to chase them miserably forever, you need to put a cap on your financial ambitions yourself.

By: Jessica Stillman

This post originally appeared on Inc. and was published February 5, 2020. This article is republished here with permission.

Did you enjoy this story? Get Inc.’s daily newsletter

Source: Pocket

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References

5 Pieces of Money Advice No One Ever Wants to Hear From Me

You know how adults always told you to “eat your veggies” and greens when you were a kid? Well, that nagging advice doesn’t necessarily stop in adulthood. As a financial planner, I’m constantly giving people good advice they don’t want.

I know no one wants to hear this kind of money advice. But those who do listen — and more importantly, implement these ideas — tend to have better control over their cash flow, higher savings rates, and more financial power.

You might not like it, but much like eating broccoli and kale, taking it in is often for your own good.

1. Don’t buy so much house

Buying a home is rarely a data-driven decision. It’s an emotional one, and for good reason. For many people, homeownership represents stability, security, and even status.

These are not unimportant things, but too many people use their emotions as excuses to throw financial reality out the window when it comes to house hunting.

Set a budget and stick to it. We often recommend keeping your total annual housing costs to no more than 20% of your gross annual household income.

This helps ensure you retain flexibility in other areas of your cash flow so that you can own your home and keep pursuing other important goals or have money available for your other priorities.

2. And don’t assume your house is a good investment

I often caution people against thinking of their home as an investment. Again, that doesn’t mean buying is a bad idea or your house isn’t worth as much as you think it is. But an investment should provide a return.

A single-family home that serves as your primary residence (and does not provide rental income) may be an excellent utility. It is not, however, what I would consider a good investment.

Home values do tend to rise over time, but the cost of ownership, maintenance, and upkeep often erode most of the “gains” you might see when just looking at the transaction of buying and then selling your home on paper.

A reasonable, real return on single-family homes runs about 2%. That’s not nothing, but it’s also not something you can assume will fund your full retirement, either (especially when you have to live somewhere, retired or not, and most people put the equity from a home sale into their next purchase).

3. Save more than you think you need to

It’s really important to me that I help my clients strike a balance between enjoying their lives in the present while also building assets and future financial security. This would be much easier to do if we had a crystal ball and could accurately predict what life would be like in 10, 20, even 30 years.

We’d know your budget. We’d know what kinds of emergencies you’d have to deal with, and prepare accordingly. And we’d understand what your life would look like (including how long it would be).

With that clarity, it would be possible to say, “you need $X. Save just that and feel free to spend the rest.” That is, obviously, not how life works.

The solution? Save more than you think you need to, because then you give yourself a margin of safety. By saving more than you necessarily must save to “be OK,” you can better:

  • Handle emergencies
  • Take advantage of opportunities when they come up (either to spend on an unexpected trip, for example, or to use money on an investment you feel passionate about)
  • Incorporate new goals into your planning over time

Saving more that you think you need today also buys you more choice and freedom in the future. The usual guideline I give to clients to help them achieve this is to save 25% of annual gross income.

4. Have a backup plan

It might sound like a doom-and-gloom approach to finances, but I preach about always having a backup plan — or those margins of safety, or wiggle room, or contingencies.

No one wants to imagine a worst-case scenario, but if something actually went sideways in your financial life, you’ll be glad you had multiple levels of safety net built into your overall plan.

You can do this in a number of ways, including some we’ve already talked about, like saving more than you think you need to save.

Other ways of building in backups is by maintaining an emergency fund, using conservative assumptions around income, and overestimating your expenses when you do any kind of long-term financial projection, and not counting on any kind of windfall (from bonuses and commissions to inheritances) to make your plan work.

5. Stop trying to time the market

It is so tempting to think we can successfully time the market. Why? Because drops and spikes in the stock market look stupidly obvious with hindsight.

It’s very easy to look back at something like 2008 (or maybe even the spring of 2020 at this point) and feel like you know when the best times to buy and sell would have been… because they already happened. 

Guessing what comes next without the benefit of knowing how things played out is not the same thing. Data shows us that even professionals fail to time the market repeatedly. You may get lucky once, but repeating that performance over and over again for the next few decades is virtually impossible.

Build a strategic investing plan — and then stick to it, regardless of current events.

It’s probably not as fun and may not be as sexy as bragging about your stock picks on Robinhood, but it works a whole lot better in the long run.

By:

Eric Roberge, CFP, is the founder of Beyond Your Hammock. He helps professionals in their 30s do more with their money.

Source: 5 Pieces of Money Advice No One Ever Wants to Hear From Me

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More Contents:

The Best Advice For Saving As Much As You Can

There’s one question I hear as a personal finance writer more than any other. It’s not how to game the stock market, or become a billionaire—it’s simply how to make a budget work while still saving enough to retire comfortably.

And of course, it’s simple: Change your habits so you can put money aside for the things that matter to you. But that’s also really, really hard to do.

That’s because understanding personal finance is an uphill battle for many Americans. We’re not taught about the practicalities of money in school, because the truth is many industries profit from our ignorance. While wages have hardly budged in decades, shareholders and CEOs have never been richer. The cost of living in many major cities is prohibitive to just about anyone but the super privileged, or those willing to take on a lot of debt or make enormous sacrifices.

While the stock market soars, just 52% of U.S. adults actually owned stock in 2016, according to Gallup, and the wealthiest 1% of households owned 38% of all stock shares in 2013. The government is actively working against consumers to make it easier for financial institutions to prey on its citizens, and a single medical bill can send a person into debt for the rest of their lives.

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We all want to save more money — but overall, people today are doing less and less of it. Behavioral scientist Wendy De La Rosa studies how everyday people make decisions to improve their financial well-being. What she’s found can help you painlessly make the commitment to save more and spend less. The Way We Work is a TED original video series where leaders and thinkers offer practical wisdom and insight into how we can adapt and thrive amid changing workplace conventions. (Made possible with the support of Dropbox) Visit https://go.ted.com/thewaywework for more!

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All of that is true, and makes it easy to feel cynical and think you’ll never be able to get ahead. But it’s also true that you need money—you have to put dinner on the table tonight and fund your kid’s 529 and maybe take a vacation at some point. So what can the average person actually do? There’s no single formula that will turn everyone into a millionaire, but here are the basics I try to keep in mind:

Know that success isn’t going to happen overnight.

Humans are myopic, and it’s never easy to make any sort of real, lasting change in your habits. You’re going to have a few setbacks, and that’s ok.

Knowledge is power.

Don’t rush into any sort of decision-making, and always consult a second (or third or fourth) source. When it comes to money, people will do pretty much whatever they can to get as much as they can, no matter what that means for you.

Automate anything you can (assuming you have enough to cover the bills and aren’t pulling an overdraft fee).

Especially automate your retirement savings. The less we have to think about, the better (see: the work of Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist Richard Thaler).

Reward yourself.

Unless you’re superhuman, you likely can’t forego every pleasure on earth to save as much as you possibly can. Nor should you—life is short, enjoy it.

By:Lifehacker / Alicia Adamczyk

Source: The Best Advice for Saving as Much as You Can

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How to Ensure Love Doesn’t End Your Business

Surely you have ever heard that mixing love and business is not a very good option, which is not necessarily true, since the success of a business will always depend on how its owners manage it and not on their kinship.

The simple fact of starting a business is a great challenge that generates fear, and if your idea is to start with your partner, this can become an even greater challenge, which few dare to try. According to figures from the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Annual Report, approximately 34% of entrepreneurs are afraid of failure.
So that this does not happen to you, it is necessary that you take into account the following tips, which will be very useful when starting a business together with your partner:

1. Define objectives: before starting your business, it is important that you define the objectives you want to achieve in the short, medium and long term, as this will help you to have a guide for decision making.

2. Make a budget: it is essential that from the beginning they consider what expenses they will have month after month and that they keep an updated record of their income and expenses. To do this, I recommend you download the Monthly Budget format for free, with which you can significantly improve your business finances.

3. Establish their functions: discuss and agree on what functions they will have, the position they will carry out and the specific and general objectives. This will help them to have a better organization and avoid conflicts.

4. Separate personal finances: when they have defined what functions they will perform, it is necessary that each one has a salary assigned, since one of the worst financial mistakes they can make is to take the money that is destined for the business to pay your personal expenses.

5. Emergency fund: they must take into account that if they decide to work in the same business, all income will depend on a single source of work, so if the business stops operating, the income of both can be seriously threatened. For this reason, they must have a cash emergency fund that allows them to cover at least three months of their monthly expenses and which they only use for a true emergency.

Remember that love should not be an impediment for a business to grow and be maintained, undertaking as a couple can also bring you great benefits that improve your relationship. The only thing that must be maintained is communication and organization.

By: Alejandro Saracho

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TEDx Talks

Community growth expert and business mentor Best-selling author and business strategist Jadah Sellner believes that all business is personal, and that love has a very important role in the workplace. Why You Should Listen: At no other time in our history have humans been so connected — and so lonely. And companies that can tap into our innate need to be part of a tribe will stand head and shoulders above the crowd.

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3 Biggest Mortgage Refinancing Mistakes People Make

Mortgage rates are historically low, according to the Washington Post, but won’t stay that way forever. If you bought a home within the last five to seven years and you’ve built up equity, you might be thinking about refinancing.

A refinance can lower your payments and save you money on interest, but it’s not always the right move. In fact, these three mistakes could end up costing you in the long run.

3 Biggest Mortgage Refinancing Mistakes

Mistake #1: Skipping out on Closing Costs
When you refinance your mortgage, you’re basically taking out a new loan to replace the original one. That means you’re going to have to pay closing costs to finalize the paperwork. Closing costs can range from 2% to 5% of the loan’s value. On a $200,000 loan, you could pay $4,000-$10,000.

https://youtu.be/lHgLuOwXLOg

No-closing-cost mortgages are available, but there is a catch. To make up for the money they’re losing up front, the lender may charge you a slightly higher interest rate. Over the life of the loan, that can end up making a refinance much more expensive.

Here’s an example to show how the cost breaks down. Let’s say you have a choice between a $200,000 loan at a rate of 4% with closing costs of $6,000 or the same loan amount with no closing costs at a rate of 4.5%. That doesn’t seem like a huge difference but over a 30-year term, the second option could cost you thousands more in interest.

Mistake #2: Lengthening the Loan Term
If one of your refinancing goals is to lower your payments, stretching the loan term can lower your cost each month. However, you could pay substantially more in interest over the life of the loan.

If you take out a $200,000 loan at a rate of 4.5%, your payments could come to just over $1,000. After five years, you’d have paid more than $43,000 in interest and knocked almost $20,000 off the principal. Altogether, the loan would cost you over $164,000 in interest.

If you refinance the remaining $182,000 for another 30 year term at 4%, your payments would drop about $245 a month, but you’d end up paying more interest. And compared to the original loan terms, you’d save less than $2,000.


Mistake #3: Refinancing With Less Than 20% Equity
Refinancing can increase your mortgage costs if you haven’t built up sufficient equity in your home.

Generally, when you have less than 20% equity value the lender will require you to pay private mortgage insurance premiums. This insurance is a protection for the lender against the possibility of default.

For a conventional mortgage, you can expect to pay a PMI premium between 0.3% and 1.5% of the loan amount. The premiums are tacked directly on to your payment. Even if you’re able to lock in a low interest rate, having that extra money added into the payment is going to eat away at any savings.


The Bottom Line

Refinancing isn’t something you want to jump into without running all the numbers. It’s tempting to focus on just the interest rate, but while doing so, you could overlook some of the less obvious costs.

By: smartasset

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Jason Walter

FOUR Reasons NOT To Do a Mortgage Refinance: Don’t Make These Costly Mistakes // With record low mortgage interest rates, there is a surge of homeowners doing a refinance home mortgage. HOWEVER, a refinance of your mortgage isn’t for everyone. In this video, I share refinancing mortgage pros and cons as well as how to refinance your mortgage the right way. I also give a brief real estate market update with a reminder about a new fee for those who are thinking about going through the mortgage refinancing mortgage process.

WeBull Promotion: For a limited time, get 2 FREE Stocks (promotion ends Sept 1st): https://act.webull.com/kol-us/share.h… Videos like these take me hours to make due to all the research about the real estate market 2020 (and Youtube is not my full time job) so I hope you appreciate this housing market 2020 update as well as this real estate 2020 report from a licensed CPA (#103885) and Sacramento real estate agent (DRE #01923240). Comment below: are you thinking about refinancing your mortgage? Or have you already taken advantage of the current real estate market and refinanced already? If you have refi’d already what interest rate did you get? Please comment below! *** Jason Walter (Sacramento Realtor/Sacramento real estate agent and native) DRE #01923240 Realty ONE Group Complete jason@meetjasonwalter.com Follow me on Instagram ➜ @SacramentoRealtor *** FREE Sacramento Area Home Buyer Guide ➜ https://bit.ly/2YjUnTJ *** FREE Sacramento Area Home Seller Guide ➜ https://bit.ly/2x1uqZF ➜➜➜ SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE VIDEOS ➜➜➜ To never miss a video about personal finance & real estate related topics, please subscribe to my channel & then hit the bell notification here ➜ https://bit.ly/31kAR73 More of My YouTube Videos: Why Aren’t Home Prices Dropping? Housing Market 2020 https://youtu.be/_n4P7eUzQlM BEWARE – Why I Cancelled My Mortgage Loan Forbearance Offer https://youtu.be/7ovaZw9m60c Mortgage Loan Forbearance Update (5 MAJOR CONS of Mortgage Loan Forbearance & More): https://youtu.be/eGiOLh-Ly40 Real Estate Market Crash Coming? California Housing Market UPDATE: https://youtu.be/eIquaC0gmFI Housing Market Crash 2020? What EVERYONE Needs to Know: https://youtu.be/rjsOnJF_538 How to Apply for the $10k SBA Disaster Loan – Stimulus Package: https://youtu.be/u_Ww86WmZAw What To Do With YOUR Money RIGHT NOW: Personal Finance: https://youtu.be/f8hhkgWV5Q0 Real Estate and COVID-19: https://youtu.be/VHf0MqOgUjc DEAL REACHED: $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package: https://youtu.be/g4pJCaV0E34 ➜ PLAYLIST: Videos about Living in Sacramento https://bit.ly/2TkXZSh ➜ PLAYLIST: My 5 Favorite Areas Near Downtown Sacramento: https://bit.ly/2FNHTbT ➜ PLAYLIST: Fixer Upper videos HERE ➜ https://bit.ly/3aGUTNS Moving to Sacramento? Top 10 Reasons to Move Here: https://youtu.be/LHfCyvnSR1w Where to Live in Sacramento CA: https://youtu.be/Xhcb28wjuic 5 Pros & Cons of Living in Sacramento: https://youtu.be/4xVgRZ4alDY Unexpected Ways to Use Your Real Estate License: https://youtu.be/BHviM61p5Ow Why You Should NOT Buy a House: 5 Reasons: https://youtu.be/aTjcCglFfNI 5 Things EVERYONE Should Do When Buying a House: https://youtu.be/M4Thg6NXC74 Royalty Free Music from Bensound

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