Personal Finance Blog for Retirement and Investment Advice

72% of Americans Are Stressed About Money – Here’s How to Break Free of It

If you’re feeling stressed about money thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and shutdown, you’re not alone.

72% of Americans report feeling stressed about money within the last month, according to a new survey by the American Psychological Association. It doesn’t help that 35% of Americans can’t last even one month on their savings, according to the July 2020 Retirement Confidence Index.

So how did we get here… and what can you do about it?

Among the many bits of wealth-killing conventional financial “wisdom” is the recommendation that you have an emergency fund equal to 3 to 6 months of your household expenses.

Almost every financial “expert” parrots this advice, even though millions of Americans were out of work for more than a year in the last major recession!

So here’s a 3-step plan to move towards a financially stress-free life…

Step #1: Start Working Towards a Safe and Liquid Emergency Fund Equal to Two Years of Your Household Expenses

If there’s one thing you can count on in life, it’s that the unexpected will happen. And those curveballs have a perverse way of coming at the most inconvenient times.

Having a sizable safe and liquid rainy-day fund gives you many options and advantages, including:

  • A cushion if you lose your job or take a pay cut
  • You can avoid high-interest finance charges by not having to put unexpected expenses on a charge card
  • You have a sense of control – even if your worst fears never materialize, the feeling of being in control is priceless
  • You also have the ability to take advantage of opportunities – just as emergency expenses come up when we least expect them, so do opportunities

Step 2: Build Your Emergency Savings in a Financial Vehicle that Provides Flexibility and Guaranteed Competitive Growth

Yeah, I get it – savings and money market accounts and CDs pay so little interest you practically need a magnifying glass to see it, so it’s not very motivating to stash a lot of cash there.

However, your money has to “reside” someplace – a bank or investment account, in currencies or commodities, or under your mattress.

Here’s why a Bank On Yourself-type high cash-value, dividend-paying whole life policy is the very best place for your money to reside:

  • Competitive, guaranteed growth every year – even when the markets are tanking
  • You can take a loan against your cash value any time and for any reason – no questions asked! (Read our Consumer’s Guide to Policy Loans)
  • You don’t have the restrictions or hoops you’d have to jump through to take a 401(k) loan – which is typically a 13-step process, even though it’s supposedly your money!
  • You aren’t required to pay back your loans… but if you do, you’ll have more money you can access – with no taxes due on it – during your retirement
  • You can use the equity in your policy as you choose, and the policy can continue growing as though you hadn’t touched it – if your policy is from one of a handful of companies that offer this feature. (A Bank On Yourself Professional knows which companies are the financially strongest and offer policies with all the required features to maximize the value of this concept)
  • Your safe and liquid emergency fund doubles as a retirement savings vehicle – and you get the peace of mind of knowing that this strategy has never had a losing year in its 160-year-plus history and is backed by a multi-layer safety net

Key Concept: Having a sizable stash of money that’s safe, liquid, and available to you doesn’t take away any of your options – it only gives you more options.

Step 3: The Best Time to Build Up Your Safe and Liquid Savings is TodayEven if You Can’t See How to Make It Happen

Every crisis presents us with opportunities. The pandemic has resulted in a jump in the savings rate, most of which is in accounts earning little to nothing.

And the shutdown made many of us realize that we can get by just fine without some of the things we once viewed as “necessities.”

Right now – before we lose the lessons of the pandemic – is the time to double down and take the steps needed to gain control of your finances and set yourself up for a financially stress-free future.

It’s Easier to Get Started with Bank On Yourself than You Might Think

Request a free, no-obligation Analysis if you haven’t already. You’ll get a referral to a Bank On Yourself Professional with advanced training on this concept who can answer all of your questions and help you restructure your finances to free up more money to start a custom-tailored program that will help you reach your financial goals without taking any unnecessary risks.

Please don’t put it off! Do it today, while you’re thinking of it:


From “Bank On Yourself is a Scam” to “This Can Work for Everyone!”

Dan Proskauer is a technology executive for a major health care company who heard a radio ad for Bank On Yourself in 2009 that caught his attention. At that time, the economy was in a deep recession, and the stock market was plunging.

For several years, Dan had felt frustrated because he’d been doing all the “right things” he’d been taught to do with his finances… but those “right things” were failing him – and most other Americans – miserably.

Having been burned numerous times by following the conventional financial “wisdom,” Dan was understandably very skeptical of Bank On Yourself. It sounded “too good to be true.” In fact, it sounded like it must be a scam!

(I recently interviewed Dan about his 11-year journey with Bank On Yourself, and you can click here to skip to hear the interview and/or read a transcript of it.) [Read more…] “From “Bank On Yourself is a Scam” to “This Can Work for Everyone!””

Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Cracks in 401(k) Plans

I’ve written extensively about why more and more experts are warning that the 401(k) is an experiment that’s failed, and why the man considered to be the “father” of the 401(k) says it’s a monster that should be destroyed.

But the pandemic, shutdown and resulting economic downturn have exposed dangerous cracks in the 401(k) system. I’ll explain three of them here and show you how to protect yourself…

New 401(k) Problem #1: Companies are Suspending Matching Contributions

Tens of millions of workers have already been affected, and more companies have announced their plans to suspend the 401(k) match.

That’s a real blow for employees who’ve come to think of the match as “free money” and assumed it’s a perk that won’t be yanked with little warning.

But the reality is that the employer match isn’t really “free money” at all. According to a study by the Center for Retirement Research, for every dollar an employer contributes to your 401(k) match, they pay 90 cents less in salary to men and 99 cents less to women!

Translation: For every matching dollar you’re given, you really only receive 10 cents or less in total compensation. [Read more…] “Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Cracks in 401(k) Plans”

How to Be Financially Prepared for Any Emergency or Black Swan Event

By definition, an “emergency” is an unexpected and difficult or dangerous situation which happens suddenly and requires quick action to deal with it.

The unexpected doesn’t wait around for you to get your act together. But does that mean you can’t be prepared for an emergency… even one as devastating as the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown?

Are you willing to play a little game of the imagination and find out?

What if you were forewarned two years ago that in March of 2020…

  • We’d be in the grips of a pandemic and there would be a shutdown of virtually the entire economy
  • Tens of millions of people would lose their jobs and you could be one of them. And many others would have their hours and pay cut
  • The government would step in and provide stimulus, but it could take a month or two or more until you receive it
  • Your charge card limits could be reduced or even canceled without warning
  • Stock market volatility would return with a vengeance and your plans for retirement could be upended for years or even a decade to come
  • People of any age could be debilitated or even die after being infected with the virus

If You Had Been Warned of This Two Years Ago, What Would You Have Done Differently?

[Read more…] “How to Be Financially Prepared for Any Emergency or Black Swan Event”

How to Avoid the Pitfalls of 401(k)s and IRAs: Pamela Yellen’s Interview on Beyond 50 Radio

I was just interviewed on Beyond 50 Radio about the wealth-killing traps of 401(k)s and IRAs and how to avoid them.

When you listen to the replay of this interview by clicking on the play arrow below, you’ll discover:

  • How the pandemic has exposed the shortcomings of traditional retirement accounts
  • Why the 401(k) employer match isn’t really “free money” at all
  • Why you should never let your employer choose where to invest your 401(k) contribution – most employers now automatically invest your money, and almost no one questions it!
  • Why you’re likely to retire in the highest tax brackets of your life – and how to legally slash your tax bill
  • How the fees hidden in 401(k)s can devour 40% or more of your hard-earned money
  • The critical difference between saving and investing for retirement
  • Why you need an emergency fund equal to two years of your household expenses
  • How to have quick and easy access to the money you need to weather the challenges life unexpectedly throws at you – and how you can get the exact same growth on that money as though you never touched it
  • The real reason many financial representatives will steer you away from the Bank On Yourself strategy
  • What the Bank On Yourself strategy is in a nutshell

You can listen to the interview by pressing the play arrow below…

[Read more…] “How to Avoid the Pitfalls of 401(k)s and IRAs: Pamela Yellen’s Interview on Beyond 50 Radio”

Bank On Yourself – a Financial Bunker for Scary Times

These are unprecedented times we find ourselves in, and there is no historical playbook for navigating them.

The Coronavirus has turned the financial markets upside down, and the experts are bemoaning the fact that there’s “been no place to hide,” including the traditional “safe havens.”

However, none of the hundreds of thousands of people who use the Bank On Yourself strategy lost a penny as the markets careened out of control. Their plans haven’t skipped a beat and continue growing by a guaranteed, predictable amount, just as has happened every year for the last two centuries.

Their annual increases are guaranteed to get larger every year, and all of their principal and ALL of the gains they have ever received are locked in. These plans do not go backward.

They also have access to the equity in their plans to help them weather the extraordinary challenges they face today – with no restrictions, no penalties, no taxes due… and no questions asked!

Let’s take a look at three ways Bank On Yourself is your best financial bunker in scary times:

Bank On Yourself Has a 200-Year Track Record of Positive, Guaranteed, Competitive Growth

[Read more…] “Bank On Yourself – a Financial Bunker for Scary Times”

How to Rescue Your Retirement from “Black Swan” Events that Can Scramble Your Retirement Plans

Did you see the coronavirus pandemic coming?

Did you anticipate the disruptions to travel, schools closing, major events being canceled, quarantines, cities and states declaring states of emergency, employees told not to come into work, and chaos at stores as people panic to buy necessities?

Did you expect the Saudis and Russia would start an oil price warprecisely as panic over COVID-19 was reaching a fever pitch – causing crude oil prices to collapse in the biggest one-day move in 30 years?

Did you see it coming that investors would wake up on March 9 drowning in so much fear that panic selling in the market caused a “circuit breaker” to trip and halt trading for 15 minutes, to hopefully allow panic to subside? [Read more…] “How to Rescue Your Retirement from “Black Swan” Events that Can Scramble Your Retirement Plans”

Three Ways to Protect Your Heath and Wealth from COVID-19 Coronavirus

On February 21, a director for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) told reporters that health officials are preparing for the COVID-19 coronavirus to become a pandemic, saying, “It’s very possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen.”

The Director noted that the “day may come” where we have to close down schools and businesses like China and other countries have done.

The coronavirus is now spreading rapidly in countries outside of China, including “first world” countries like Italy.

Stock markets around the world have been plunging. And if this situation continues to deteriorate, we could easily be entering a prolonged recession and could see the long-overdue major stock market crash I’ve been warning you about.

The Coronavirus is a “Black Swan Event”

A “black swan event” is an event in human history that was unprecedented and unexpected when it occurred. The 2008 financial crisis is considered to be a black swan event, as is the dot-com bubble of 2000.

And we all know how badly those events ended. [Read more…] “Three Ways to Protect Your Heath and Wealth from COVID-19 Coronavirus”

Are You Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’? Americans Are Spending Money They Don’t Have and Hitting Record Debt Levels

Total U.S. household debt just surpassed $14 trillion for the first time ever, and credit card debt hit a new record, as well. These scary debt stats come from the latest report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

As economist Heather Boushey noted… “In the abstract, more debt signals optimism. But in reality, families are using debt as a mechanism to pay for things their incomes don’t support.”

The optimism comes in because the stock market can’t seem to stop hitting new records, and the economy is prospering, so it’s time to spend, spend, spend – even if it’s money you don’t have.

Then the reality sets in as 8.36% of credit cards are now delinquent. Almost 5% of auto loans are at least 90 days overdue. And at least 12% of student loan borrowers are delinquent or in default.

For the moment, let’s ignore the fact that most people have forgotten that the balances in your market-based retirement accounts are “paper” – not “real” – wealth which will vanish with the next market crash.

Let’s focus instead on the lessons most people have forgotten from the last debt crisis. Americans were feeling flush from rising stock market and real estate values, and they were in hock up to their eyeballs.

Then the Bubbles Burst and…

[Read more…] “Are You Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’? Americans Are Spending Money They Don’t Have and Hitting Record Debt Levels”

The New “Magic Retirement Savings Number”: $3 Million or More

If you’re like a lot of people, you may have a goal of saving $1 million for retirement.

After all, that would make you a “millionaire” and should give you a comfortable retirement lifestyle, right?

Not so fast, according to a number of retirement planning experts cited in an article last month in Fortune magazine.

It’s time for a dose of reality, the experts say: You now need to save $3 million – or more – to enjoy a decent retirement lifestyle.

Here Are 3 Reasons Why $3 Million is the New $1 Million When it Comes to Saving for Retirement…

Reason #1: That $1 million number was never adjusted for inflation or corrected for today’s low-interest-rate environment.

[Read more…] “The New “Magic Retirement Savings Number”: $3 Million or More”