Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Reasons to Be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving!

Personally, I have a lot for which to be thankful.
  • Health - In December 2012, a stress test showed significant arterial blockage in my heart.  In January 2013, I had an angioplasty procedure that put stents in the arteries to open up the blockages.  Thus, the issue was corrected before I had a heart attack.

    I was lucky, since I had only experienced a few minor symptoms before going to see a cardiologists.  Since the blockages were discovered, I changed to a vegan, no added oil diet and have lost about 35 pounds.  This diet change should help reduce the probability of a future heart attack.

  • Family -  In April 2013, we received an adoptee referral for an application we filed in November 2006.  After almost 7 years since applying, we traveled to China and adopted a health 11 month old boy.   So our family size is now four, a bit later than we had planned.

  • Finances -  With the stock market gains of 2013, we have recovered all of our losses due the 08-09 bear market.  In addition, we have paid off our mortgage.  So we are in a better financial position that when I retired in 2007.  However, this time I won't be as na├»ve and will take more precautions against a significant market decline.
  • Hopefully, 2014 will be as good a year.

    This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    The Wealth Builder Carnival #152

    Welcome to the one hundred fifty-second edition of The Wealth Builder Carnival. The purpose of this carnival is to collect articles from the blogosphere on building, preserving and keeping enough wealth for a comfortable retirement. For reference, I have tried to keep the carnival content tightly focused on wealth building and did not include submissions that were off topic. For reading convenience, the posts are listed with a brief summary or comment by the submitter and organized into seven categories: Earning, Insuring and Protecting, Investing, Living Frugally, Retiring, Saving and Taxes.

    And now on to the Carnival.

    Investing


    Justin @ Root of Good presents Snapshot of Root of Good’s Diversification and Asset Allocation posted at Root of Good, saying, "Justin explains the asset allocation in his seven figure investment portfolio. Here's a preview: global diversification spanning the US, Europe, Asia, and Emerging Markets along with a tilt to value and small cap stocks. There's also a slice of alternative investments (real estate) to round out the portfolio."

    John Schmoll presents TradeKing Review: An Online Brokerage Worth Considering posted at Frugal Rules, saying, "Investing in the stock market is vital to building wealth and with the variety of options available of where to invest it can be confusing. Choosing a good brokerage that has good offering and low fees can be a great way to help grow your retirement portfolio and get your investing on the right foot."

    Bryan Chau presents Time To Take Stock of Your Investment Success - Follow Up posted at Success Pen Pal, saying, "stocks, investing, markets, success, tips, follow-up"

    simon elstad presents Is Peer To Peer Lending A Good Investment Idea? posted at Modest Money, saying, "Have you ever let a friend or family member borrow money? That’s a small form of peer to peer lending. There are millions of people out there that want loans, but don’t want to deal with banks. They are increasingly turning to online platforms to acquire the funds. As an investor is buying debt notes worth the risk?"


    Living Frugally


    Gary presents The Best Time To Buy Anything During The Year posted at Gajizmo, saying, "The holiday shopping season is coming up, but should you buy everything and anything that is on sale now? According to our research, Christmas time is not always the best time to buy stuff, from cars and televisions to furniture and refrigerators, learn what month of the year is best to buy what products and services. You’ll be surprised by what you read."

    Nivene presents Nearly Half of Americans Cutting Back for the Holidays posted at CashNetUSA, saying, "Unfortunately for the economic recovery, many Americans are set to cut back on their holiday spending this year. Almost 1 in 2 Americans (46 percent) report they will spend less on the holidays than last year, according to an October 2013 survey conducted by CashNetUSA."


    Retiring


    Matt Becker presents What Does Financial Freedom Mean to Me? posted at Mom and Dad Money, saying, "I have a very simple definition of financial freedom that's a little different from the norm. Find out what it means to me and how I plan to achieve it."


    That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of The Wealth Builder Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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    For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

    This is not financial, earning, insuring, investing, living, retiring, saving, tax, or wealth building advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    Wrapping Up My Wealth Builder

    At this point, I expect  o meet the Endpoint #1 criteria of demonstrating four consecutive quarters of meeting our wealth ratios that I outlined in My Exit Plan from Blogging.  Specifically, we will be able to sustainably spend 80% of my pre-retirement salary from our retirement and savings accounts, we achieved our target savings ratio of 20x of my pre-retirement salary, and we have zero debt. 

    Mission accomplished!

    So unless there is a significant change, I'll be wrapping up My Wealth Builder on December 31, 2013.

    For more on New Beginnings, check back every Sunday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or retirement advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    A Case for No Stock Market Bubble

    Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab share her perspective and data on why the stock market is not currently in a bubble.  The most interesting point to me was the 10 year rolling average of the S&P.  It shows S&P is just in the beginning phases of a long term advance.

    Of course, there are still corrections and bear markets during the long term advance.   But the overarching trend is still projected to be upward for another 15 years.  For me, this data supports my plan of waiting for pullbacks and corrections before putting more funds back into the stock market.

    For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back every Wednesday  for a new segment.

    This is not financial or investing advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    The Wealth Builder Carnival #151

    Welcome to the one hundred fifty-first edition of The Wealth Builder Carnival. The purpose of this carnival is to collect articles from the blogosphere on building, preserving and keeping enough wealth for a comfortable retirement. For reference, I have tried to keep the carnival content tightly focused on wealth building and did not include submissions that were off topic. For reading convenience, the posts are listed with a brief summary or comment by the submitter and organized into seven categories: Earning, Insuring and Protecting, Investing, Living Frugally, Retiring, Saving and Taxes.

    And now on to the Carnival.


    Insuring and Protecting


    Gary presents Life Insurance Dividends Explained posted at MyLifeInsuranceQuotes123.com, saying, "Do you receive life insurance dividends? If not, maybe you should consider a participating policy from a mutual company. Learn about insurance dividends, how they get paid out, and factors to consider."


    Investing


    Bryan Chau presents The Ace of Trades - 7 Tips For Flips posted at Success Pen Pal, saying, "tips, investing, stocks, markets, positions, strategies, success"

    Matt Becker presents How to Start Investing From Scratch – Part 2 posted at Mom and Dad Money, saying, "Welcome to Part 2 of my mini-series on how to start investing when you have little money or understanding of investing. This article will give you some simple steps you can take right now to get started on the right path."


    Living Frugally


    John Schmoll presents Buying in Bulk: Making Warehouse Club Shopping Worth the Trip posted at Frugal Rules, saying, "Warehouse Clubs are known for their gigantic packaging and for some quality deals, however is everything there a deal? It is possible to be frugal and save money while shopping at a warehouse club and still get out with the things you need."


    That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of The Wealth Builder Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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    For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

    This is not financial, earning, insuring, investing, living, retiring, saving, tax, or wealth building advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Protective Put Strategy

    As the end of 2013 nears, I am pleasantly surprised with the rise in the stock market and my company stock.   At the same time, I am worried about a significant drop in the stock market and my company stock over the next two months.   However, for tax efficiency reasons, I am reluctant to sell any more stock in 2013 and want to wait until 2104 to make any sales in our taxable accounts.  The main risk is that the stock market and my company stock declines significantly before 2014.

    At this point, my plan is to buy protective puts on my company stock that expire in early January 2014.  I will start buying the puts in mid-December at a target price of $0.50 per share with $2 maximum of downside protection.  Thus, I will be able to protect my profits against a loss greater than $2.50 per share.   If the stock should continue rising, then I will only lose $0.50 per share for the protection. 

    For me, a protective put strategy is worthwhile insurance since I believe a 10% or greater correction is likely in the next few months.

    For more on Strategies and Plans, check back every Monday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or investing advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    No Bubble Obama

    Although unintentional, President Obama's greatest achievement will be the absence of bubbles during the economic recovery of 2009 - 2013.

    This economic recovery has been the slowest post WWII recovery.  It was no surprise since President Obama "invested" government spending in paying back the political supporters of his campaign, instead of  putting money towards programs that would grow the economy.   Recall the shovel ready projects, start up funding like Solyndra, and alternative energy programs?

    So businesses hunkered down, consumers deleveraged debt, and banks slowed lending, despite record low interest rates.  The result was that businesses, consumers and banks got stronger, the economy slowly healed, and investors bid up the stock market.  However, there was none of the irrational exuberance that happened in previous recoveries has been exhibited yet.

    My guess is that the Obama administration will continue it's policy of allocating funds toward political supporters which will continue to keep businesses from hiring, keep consumers cautious, maintain a slow healing economy and, best of all, avoid any bubbles.

    For more on Reflections and Musings, check back every Saturday for a new segment.

    This is not financial  or policy advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    The Wealth Builder Carnival - Sesquicentennial Edition

    Welcome to the one hundred fiftieth edition of The Wealth Builder Carnival. The purpose of this carnival is to collect articles from the blogosphere on building, preserving and keeping enough wealth for a comfortable retirement. For reference, I have tried to keep the carnival content tightly focused on wealth building and did not include submissions that were off topic. For reading convenience, the posts are listed with a brief summary or comment by the submitter and organized into seven categories: Earning, Insuring and Protecting, Investing, Living Frugally, Retiring, Saving and Taxes.

    And now on to the Carnival.


    Earning


    Martin Poldma presents How to Write Your First Sales Letter in 9 Steps posted at Success and Personal Development Blog, saying, "This is an article about how to write your very first sales letter, in which I explain the main formula that most top copywriters use to sell their products."

    Matthew Bauman presents How NOT to start a blog posted at The Zadoo, saying, "About a month ago I decided that a blog would be a profitable way to spend a few hours per week. My family would be considered "middle class" and a few extra bucks are always welcome. We have scaled back in the last few years, but the vision of escaping to Florida in February is on the wish list. I naturally enjoy spending time on the computer so what a better way to spend a few hours a week then to do something enjoyable to accomplish an item from the family wish list. Win-Win. Not so fast....."


    Investing


    Abdulrasool presents S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats 2013 posted at Top Dividend Stocks, saying, "S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats is a listing of all companies in the S&P 500 Index that have consistently increased dividends each year for the last 25 years. You will find some of America's largest blue-chip companies in this index including AT&T, Chevron, Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, McDonalds, Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart and Walgreen. For the year 2013, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index had 54 companies that were equally weighted and not favored because of their sizes or market capitalization."


    Retiring


    Justin @ Root of Good presents Developing A Retirement Budget posted at Root of Good, saying, "Justin at Root of Good reveals his $32,000 per year retirement budget for a family of five. He explains the process of developing a budget for retirement that is based on your actual spending and what you actually plan to do in retirement (instead of a crazy "80% of pre-retirement income" rule)."

    Ward Carson cfp presents Women and Retirement – The Happy 401k posted at The Happy 401k, saying, "Ward Carson is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. He is the owner of The Happy401k.com and the Managing Partner of Cambridge Financial & Insurance Group. Cambridge provides counsel to corporate clients in the areas of qualified retirement plans and executive/employee benefits. Through TheHappy401k.com, Ward shares valuable insight for sponsors and participants of corporate retirement plans."

    Bryan Chau presents How To Maximize Your 401K - All The Way! posted at Success Pen Pal, saying, "401k plans, investing, money, savings, retirement, funds, stocks, strategies, success, etc."

    John Schmoll presents Protecting Your Retirement Funds in These Volatile Economic Times posted at Frugal Rules, saying, "Whenever you invest in the stock market, it’s important to be aware of current economic conditions and how they may impact your retirement portfolio as you seek to build wealth that’ll last for the long run."


    That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of The Wealth Builder Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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    For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

    This is not financial, earning, insuring, investing, living, retiring, saving, tax, or wealth building advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Saturday, November 09, 2013

    Just ACA Everything

    "How can anyone be expected to pay $13,000 a year for health insurance?" ~ statement by supporter of Affordable Care Act

    This argument seems to resonate among supporters of government entitlement programs: if someone can't afford something, the government will provide it.   So why stop with health care?  Here are some other ACA programs for "basic needs" that the President Obama can introduce during his second term.
  • Affordable Car Act -  I guess I should wonder how anyone can be expected to pay $25,000 for a car or $50,000 for an electric car.   People making under a certain amount will qualify for Caraid, and have their car payments fully covered.  Cash for Clunkers was just the beginning.

  • Affordable Cell Act - Cell phone plans are getting expensive, over a $100/month for a smartphone with data usage.  This would expand the Lifeline program that currently serves over 12 million customers.

  • Affordable Clothing Act - This would give people access to designer wardrobes that have become the standard for many people. 

  • Affordable Cuisine Act -  Eating out at fine restaurants should be available to every one instead of only those that can afford to pay the bill.  Subsidy vouchers will reduce the cost to the level of eating at a fast food restaurant.

  • Affordable Condo Act - Rent is very expensive also.  People need a certain level housing, which many cannot afford

  • Affordable Child Act - Children are expensive and income should prevent people from having them.   This would replace the Earned Income Tax Credit.

  • Affordable College Act - Higher education is expensive, as is evident from the current student loan crisis.  This would replace the current government grant and student loan programs.

  • Of course, all these programs will be paid for by a 100% tax on the rich, who need to keep earning to support these programs.  

    President Obama will be remembered as the Affordable President.

    For more on Reflections and Musings, check back every Saturday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or policy advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Wednesday, November 06, 2013

    Interviews with Self Made Millionaires

    Free Money Finance is doing a series of millionaire interviews with a focus on how they became a millionaire.  The series is up to number 11 and growing.

    Based on the interviews, the most frequent way to become a millionaire is to earn a six figure base salary, live significantly below one's means and save the difference.  

    The need to earn six figures makes sense to me since someone saving an average of  $50,000 per year would accumulate $1,000,000 in 20 years.  The $50,000 saved would need to be done after taxes and living expenses which could easily equal a minimum of $50,000.  Although possible, it would be very challenging to average earning $80,000, living on $30,000 and saving $50,000 per year.

    For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back every Wednesday for a new segment.

    This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Tuesday, November 05, 2013

    The Wealth Builder Carnival #149

    Welcome to the one hundred forty-ninth edition of The Wealth Builder Carnival. The purpose of this carnival is to collect articles from the blogosphere on building, preserving and keeping enough wealth for a comfortable retirement. For reference, I have tried to keep the carnival content tightly focused on wealth building and did not include submissions that were off topic. For reading convenience, the posts are listed with a brief summary or comment by the submitter and organized into seven categories: Earning, Insuring and Protecting, Investing, Living Frugally, Retiring, Saving and Taxes.

    This week, Blog Carnival had some technical difficulties resulting in fewer than normal submissions.

    And now on to the Carnival.


    Earning


    Matt Becker presents Make Your Money Grow Faster: Investing Better vs. Earning More posted at Mom and Dad Money, saying, "Whatever your particular financial goals, there is often a desire to find a way to make your money grow faster so that you can meet your goals along the timeline that fits your needs. So what’s the best way to do it? Well, I ran I little experiment comparing two options: investing better and earning more. Let’s find out which one is more effective."


    Insuring and Protecting


    Justin @ Root of Good presents Be Your Own Insurance Company posted at Root of Good, saying, "Justin at Root of Good explains how to take on a large number of small risks throughout one's financial life in order to cut out wasteful spending on unnecessary insurance."


    Investing


    John Schmoll presents Jumping Off a Cliff: Investing in the Twitter IPO posted at Frugal Rules, saying, "The Twitter IPO is all the talk in the stock market lately. Many people want the opportunity to invest in it. However, when you’re trying to build wealth and grow a retirement portfolio, listening to the herd is not always the best course of action as it could have negative impacts on your growing of wealth."


    Living Frugally


    Theresa Torres presents What to Buy in November before the Holiday Sales posted at CreditDonkey.com Tips, saying, "If you're smart enough, you can find the best deals this November before Black Friday and Holiday sales hit. Here are some tips on how to be a smart consumer."


    Retiring


    kurt@mymoneycounselor.com presents Is Your 401(k) Plan a Rip-Off and Delaying Your Retirement? posted at Money Counselor, saying, "401(k) plan administrator fees can be as high as 1%. The hit on your retirement nest egg can reach six figures over a working lifetime."


    Taxes


    Bill Smith presents The IRS Publication 17 And You posted at 2009 Tax, saying, "IRS publication 17 deals with general instructions and guidance for people using form 1040. Paying income tax can be daunting but reading this publication will aid you in this process."


    That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of The Wealth Builder Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

    Technorati tags: , .

    For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

    This is not financial, earning, insuring, investing, living, retiring, saving, tax, or wealth building advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Monday, November 04, 2013

    Health Insurance Subsidy Cliff

    A friend of mine is making sure that he earns less than 400% the federal poverty level so that he qualifies for the health care insurance subsidy.  Otherwise, he will need to pay 100% more than  his current insurance policy premium  for essentially the same coverage.  Earning $1 over the threshold will require him to pay a month's income more in health insurance premium.  For him, it doesn't make sense to earn more than the threshold.

    Apparently, this phenomenon is not limited to my friend as shown is this San Francisco Chronicle article.  Retirees and small business owners will be considering options that will enable them to keep income below the thresholds and avoid the health insurance subsidy cliff.

    For more on Strategies and Plans, check back every Monday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or insurance advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Saturday, November 02, 2013

    Getting Baracked by Health Insurance

    "How do you know when a politician is lying?  When his lips move." - old joke

    It seems that a growing number of people are disappointed in President Obama for delivering the opposite of what he promised.  It has happened to so many people, I think the phenomenon is worth an eponymous description of  getting "Baracked."

    The most recent Baracking happened with Obamacare.   Many people with individual insurance policies are unable to maintain the same coverage and often need to pay much more to be insured.  In the case of the young and healthy, health insurance is not quite as affordable as anticipated.   As it turns out the Baracked in these articles also voted for President Obama, which seems very fitting.

    Fortunately, I have not believed any of the health care promises that President Obama made and have been prepared for my insurance coverage changing and getting more expensive.  I expected more government involvement would significantly raise the cost of health care and it has for us.  

    For more on Reflections and Musings, check back every Saturday for a new segment.

    This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2013 Achievement Catalyst, LLC