Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where to Invest?

A major challenge for us in retirement has been to find investments with a good, steady returns during this economic crisis. We have not found any in which to invest. Here is an overview of the options that are available:
  • CDs and bonds Two to three years ago, it was possible to find 5 year CDs and bonds paying 4-5%. Now 5 year CDs and bonds are in the 2-3% range. Since I expect interest rates to be higher in the future, we have not recently purchased any CDs with long maturities.

  • Stock market. The stock market return from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2009, has been -1%. With the volatility of 2008-09, it's been difficult to expect "historic" returns of 7-8%. Also, there seemed to be a reasonable probability of another economic slump.

  • Real estate. Other than our home, which has declined versus the purchase price, we have not seriously considered investing in real estate. For us, a real estate investment is too illiquid and requires too much attention and effort to maintain.
  • Since none of the above options were very attractive to us over the past year, we've been selling stocks into the current rally, and keeping most of the proceeds in money market funds, which only pay 0.05 -0.1%.

    However, my opinion of the stock market has changed in the past couple weeks. Based on the recent earnings reported, I believe that many companies have already recovered from the recession. For example, on July 13, 2010, Intel reported it's highest earnings ever for a quarter. Many other companies, such as Caterpillar, are reporting robust demand for their products.

    While the market has not fully reflected the strength of earnings reports, we plan to put funds back into stocks over the next year, in anticipation of continued business recoveries. We'll add the funds in stages, about 10% at a time, in case pull backs occur. Hopefully, by mid 2011, the stock market will be experiencing another bull market :-)

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

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Links To Carnivals From July 20 to July 26, 2010

    Here is the link to the Carnival in which My Wealth Builder participated from July 20 to 16, 2010:

    Carnival of Financial Planning #151

    For some interesting articles from the blogosphere, check out this Carnivals and give the host some recognition for his hard work.

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

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Contrarian Optimism

    Last week I put more funds back into the stock market, which I started doing in May, 2010. I believe the correction is over and that there will be a rally, which hopefully will last for several months. Here are the reasons for my optimism:

  • Good earnings reports. Overall, I think the earnings and forward guidance have been very positive, showing that businesses have started recovering from the recession. For example, Intel had its best quarter ever.

  • Analysts are still skeptical of a business recovery. Surprisingly, many analysts are still bearish, believing that an economic double dip is likely. I agree there are still a lot of risks, such as Europe, job creation and housing. However, bull markets typically climb a "wall of worry."

  • Individual investors are still on the sidelines. Many pulled out of the stock market and missed the run up from March 2009 by being in "safe" investments. Their return to stocks can help fuel a rally.

  • Midterm elections are soon. The expectation is the majority party will likely lose a significant number of seats. Such a results may encourage President Obama to govern more from the center.
  • Next week, I plan to continue increasing my percentage of investments in equities. Hopefully, by being a contrarian at this time, I will be able to participate in the beginning of the next rally.

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

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Retirement Finances - What worked and what did not

    Managing finances in retirement is a new experience that has been challenging given the economic crisis of the past few years. For now, we're able to stay in retirement, which I attribute to some actions we took. On the other hand, there are some actions that have not helped much. Here's my summary of what has worked and what didn't.

    Here are the financial elements that worked for us:
  • Having zero debt. When we retired in October, 2007, our only debt was a mortgage. We did not have any credit card balance, car or other loan that required a regular monthly interest payment. In May, 2009, we paid off our mortgage, making us completely debt free. Having no debt has made it easier for us to reduce expenses during the economic recession.

  • Keeping short term funds in cash or equivalents. We had about 3-5 years of funds for living expenses in cash, CDs and bonds when the market started declining. This has provide us with the confidence to stay in retirement, even during the recession.

  • Initially having more funds than needed. When we retired, we had at least 25% more savings than needed to fund a successful retirement. I never expected to use that margin of safety. Unfortunately, the stock market decline has reduced our savings by 33%, which has made staying in retirement a bit more challenging.
  • Here are the financial elements that did not work for us:
  • Counting on average annual stock market returns. Our retirement income projects were based on 7% average annual returns. We didn't expect the negative -37% returns of 2008 to occur. Perhaps, we'll get back to 7% in the near future, but unfortunately some damage to our savings has already been done.

  • Working to increase probability of staying in retirement. While working has covered some living expenses and reduced our withdrawal rate, it's effect on retirement success is much less than those of investment returns. For example, part time work at best may cover 25-30% of our annual expenses. Our savings have fluctuated by 100%-300% of our annual expenses on a quarterly basis.
  • Going forward, our focus will be on managing our spending, maintaining a "no risk" 3-5 year living expenses fund, minimizing part time work, and increasing investment returns.

    For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back every Friday for a new segment.

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    It Keeps Getting More Competitive

    At a family gathering, my nephew complained that school is much harder today than it was in my generation's time. I've been thinking about his comment since it didn't seem the content of his subjects in school were any more difficult than mine.

    In the past year, my experience have given me a better perspective on my nephew's comment. During that time, I've taught first graders in an after school program and tutored high school students for the ACT/SAT tests. I confirmed my belief that the curriculum is not any harder. However, more students are willing to put in the extra effort to do well in school, making it much more competitive and harder to do well.

    For example, I remember learning how to read in kindergarten. Today, it seems a significant number of kindergartners already have some reading skills, due to pre-school or parental guidance. In high school, I was one of a few students who studied seriously. Now, it seems that rigorous studying is the norm for the high schools in my area.

    I find the same situation exists for sports. When I played football for a state championship team, only a couple players did weight training or conditioning during the off season. My nephew trains year round for his football team, even though he hasn't been a starter yet. On his team, all the starters do year round conditioning and may even participate in independent football camps to sharpen their skills.

    Needless to say, careers and work are also more competitive. Just about everybody is working extra hours or long days as part of their job. When I started, working long days or extra hours was a way to advance one's career, since only a few people did it.

    So while I agree with my nephew that I did well school, sports and work with less effort, it's not because the content or problems were easier. It's primarily because of higher competitiveness, i.e. there are now more people putting in extra effort necessary to do well, which was also probably true between my parent's generation and my generation.

    For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Eliminate Recurring Expenses to Save Money

    Reducing expenses has always been a tactic and strategy to improve one's financial situation. For us, a good approach to reducing expenses has been to focus on costs that occur on a monthly basis. Here are some examples:

  • Subscriptions and memberships. We've tried to eliminate products and services that have recurring monthly fee. For example, we do not subscribe to a local newspaper, cable/satellite TV, or a cell phone service. We have joined my company health club, but only pay for the months we actually use it. Also, I have a free subscription to The Wall Street Journal and Barron's through airline miles awards. Our only current recurring monthly subscription is our land line phone and Internet service.

  • Mortgage or rent. Our largest recurring payment used to be our mortgage, which was about 24% of our monthly expense. A little over a year into retirement, we paid off our mortgage and significantly reduced our monthly expense.

    When I first started working, I rented an apartment for about 11% of my monthly salary. Keeping my rent cost low enabled me to begin saving part of my salary immediately.

  • Debt payments. After graduating from college, we've both had student loan debt, which created a regular monthly payment for 10 years. Fortunately, we've never carried a credit card balance that required a minimum monthly payment.

  • Additional car. Now that I've retired, we probably could become a one car family. That would eliminate the license, insurance and maintenance costs for a car. At this point, we still like the convenience of having two vehicles. We'll seriously consider going to single car if we should ever need to replace a vehicle.
  • Overall, I consider eliminating recurring payments an effective way to create a sustainable reduction in monthly expenses. The decision can be made one time, and is often easier to maintain than a expense reduction that may be reviewed on a monthly basis.

    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 © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    Links To Carnivals From July 12 to July 19, 2010

    Here are links to the Carnivals in which My Wealth Builder participated from July 12 to 19, 2010:

    Carnival of Financial Planning #150

    The Bobo Carnival of Politics

    Carnival of Financial Independence

    For some interesting articles from the blogosphere, check out these Carnivals and give the hosts some recognition for their hard work.

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

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Determining Failure Points for our Retirement Savings

    Until now, we've been estimating retirement success based on probabilities of our savings lasting with a projected investment return of 7%, estimated living expenses at 14% above our current level and 4% average inflation. This analysis has shown that we have sufficient savings to last until our nineties, with a confidence limit of 86%.

    Given the volatility of the stock market and the slow economic recovery, I am no longer confident that we will be able to achieve the assumptions used in the previous retirement savings analyses. Therefore, I've asked our financial advisor to help us identify specific points where our retirement savings will fail to meet our needs. Here's what our financial advisor will provide us when we meet in two weeks.
  • Minimum investment return. An analysis can be done to show the minimum investment return needed to fund our retirement into our nineties. In addition, a separate analysis will be done on my company stock and stock options to determine the returns needed.
  • Minimum funds needed by age. The analysis will also show the amount of savings needed at each age to ensure a success retirement. Since retiring in October, 2007, we've been using a 20X salary savings target, which was probably above the minimum needed. This analysis will give us a better understanding of what multiple to target for during each year of retirement.
  • Different income needs. Both the invest return and minimum funds required analysis will be done at three different annual income levels: 1) current annual spending; 2) 114% of current spending; and 3) our original retirement income target, which is 142% of current spending levels.
  • With this information, we will be able to better understand our capability to maintain our retirement. In addition, we will have identified specific minimums that need to be met to continue with our retirement.

    I expect to have specific numbers for each area by early August, 2010.

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

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Reducing My Part Time Work

    For the past 10 weeks, I've been working 40+ hours a week due to a temporary part time job for 30 hours a week that was supposed to last only six weeks. The job will end in the next few weeks as the work winds down. Since I've already met my original commitment for six weeks, I plan to finish early by making next week my last week.

    I'm glad this temporary job is going to be over. In hindsight, taking on an additional 30 hours a week for a temporary job was a bit overzealous on my part. I thought the flexibility of working anytime 24/7 would make it feasible. However, working this job did end up cutting more into my personal time more than I would like.

    Finally, taking the 30 hour per week job didn't reduce our withdrawal rate from savings by much. Our savings withdrawal rate is 3% and the 30 hour per week job only reduced it by 0.15%. Overall, it wasn't worth the time invested, since there were no employee perks associated with this job. However, I did get firsthand experience working a temporary government job and met some new people with whom I enjoyed working.

    So I'm back to working 3 part time jobs for a total of 15-20 hours a week, which I feel is an appropriate balance for me. In the future, if I pick up a new part time job, I will drop an existing one.

    For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back every Friday for a new segment.Photo

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Protecting Near Term Fund Needs

    During this economic crisis, a key insight for me was the importance of keeping funds for near term expenses in non-volatile investments. Doing so avoids the discouragement from having a significant part of the funds eliminated by market fluctuations. This is a change from the past, when keeping near term funds in the stock market was a relatively good decision.

    Since retiring, I have been defining near term as 3-5 years. While working, I probably would have considered near term as one year, since we would have more stability with a regular income.

    Here are some examples of our near term fund needs we want to protect in retirement:
  • Living expenses such utilities, food, transportation, entertainment and insurance. These are relatively consistent year to year and we can plan for them on a 3-5 year basis. We have the amount for this period invested in money market funds and CDs.
  • Emergency fund. While this is never planned, we like to have a fixed amount available when needed. Since retiring, we have included our emergency fund as part of our 3-5 years of living expense funds.
  • Here are some short term fund needs we will want to protect for the future:

  • Car purchase. Although we are at least 5 years from a car purchase, we have that amount set aside in a separate account in mainly money market funds.
  • College tuition. The college account we have for our daughter is currently 100% invested in stocks since she is 13 years away from attending. When she is a sophomore in high school, we plan to convert the investments to money market funds and CDs. This would help us avoid the possibility of having college fund investments decline significantly, as they did in the past two years, when the tuition is due.
  • Although I don't expect to need one again, I would consider a home down payment as a near term expense that would be important to keep in non-volatile investments.

    The non-volatile investment instruments I use are cash, money market and CD accounts. Although these are paying very low interest rates, I can be confident that the principal will be available when I need the money.

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

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Links To Carnivals From July 5 to July 11, 2010

    Here are links to the Carnivals in which My Wealth Builder participated from July 5 to 11, 2010:

    Festival of Stocks

    Carnival of Financial Planning #149

    For some interesting articles from the blogosphere, check out these Carnivals and give the hosts some recognition for their hard work.

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

    This is not financial, risk management or tax advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Wealth Builder Ratios - Q2 2010 Update

    Here is our Q2 2010 Wealth Builder Ratio update. During the second quarter of 2010, the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P500 indices declined 10.0%,12.0% and 11.9% respectively. My company stock did better than the indices, only losing 5.2% during Q2. Also, we had reallocated our portfolio to 50% in cash and cash equivalents. As a result, our savings, including company stock options, are only down 2.7% this year.

    For more details on the relevance of these ratios, please see this How Much Is Needed To Be Wealthy - The NUMBER.

    Ratio and Target

    Q1 2010

    Q2 2010


    Income to Salary

    Target=0.8 2007=3.41 2008=-5.47 2009=-1.38


    After a positive start in Q1, 2010 has turned negative. We have gone from a 0.77 gain to a 0.41 loss, due to losses in the stock market in Q2. Fortunately, we have a large cash position and my company stock decline at half the rate.

    At this point, we continue to stay invested in the market for our tax advantage accounts, and are looking to make additional purchases with this market correction.

    to Salary

    2007=23 2008=16.7 2009=15.3


    Only the first three quarters of 2009 had a lower savings ratio than 14.9, which is discouraging. This result is not looking good for my retirement sustainability.

    During Q2, my company stock fell 5.2% and the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 fell 10-12%. Our total savings are only down 2.7% for 2010, since our investments are 50% in cash and cash equivalents.

    Currently, we need a significant advance of 33% in my company stock for us to reach the target of 20. Unfortunately, this is likely a low probability event. We will need to evaluate alternative strategies that will enable us to achieve the goal.

    Debt to Salary

    2007=1.51 2008=1.46 2009=0

    We said bye-bye to our mortgage on May 20, 2009. Eliminating a mortgage payment has reduced our expenses by 24%.

    My financial goals for 2010 are:

    1. Continue to maintain an Investment Income to Salary ratio > 0.8. (off track)

    2. Maintain a Savings to Salary ratio of 20. (off track)

    3. Maintain Debt to Salary Ratio at 0. (met final goal of 0)

    (For reference, Salary refers to gross salary just prior to early retirement in October, 2007.)

    Both #1 and #2 were directly correlated with how well our stock, bond, and CD investments returns. With the decline of the market in Q2, our investments have also shown a decline.

    It has been very challenging retiring at the beginning of a bear market. Our short term expenses (next 3-5 years) are invested in CDs, bonds and money markets. So we can wait for the stock market to resume an upward trend, hopefully in the next 1 to 2 years. At this point, I continue to be concerned about reducing our withdrawal rate, and have taken on five seasonal part time jobs throughout the year to earn about 20-30% of our living expenses .

    I continue to have the same financial goals for 2010. Hopefully, the markets will rebound into 2011, and allow our retirement investments to further recover. Otherwise, it's back to permanent full time work I go :-)

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

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Friday, July 09, 2010

    Distribution of Expenses by Category - Retirement vs. Working

    Since we've been working our retirement budget, I was interested the spending distribution by major spending category. I also decided to compare the data to values in our pre-retirement budget. The results are show in the table below:

    Percent of Annual Expense





















    For reference, the Discretionary category includes food, clothing, household, personal and entertainment, i.e. anything not included in taxes, insurance, utilities and mortgage. Taxes include property, federal income and state income. Insurance covers health, home, auto and long term care. Utilities are electric, gas, water and phone.

    The biggest change was the eliminate of our mortgage and savings contributions in retirement. The actual amounts spend in the Insurance and Utilities categories were constant, which resulted in a percentage increase for retirement. Even though the Taxes category percentage was constant, our total taxes are about 1/2 what we paid when working, with Federal and State income taxes decreasing by 2/3. Finally, even though the Discretionary category increased in percentage, the actual amount spent has declined by 26%.

    For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back every Friday for a new segment.

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

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Tuesday, July 06, 2010

    Links To Carnivals From June 29 to July 5, 2010

    Here are links to the Carnivals in which My Wealth Builder participated from June 29 to July 5, 2010:

    Cavalcade of Risk #108

    Carnival of Financial Planning #148

    Tax Carnival #72

    For some interesting articles from the blogosphere, check out these Carnivals and give the hosts some recognition for their hard work.

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

    This is not financial, risk management or tax advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Sunday, July 04, 2010

    Taxes are Going Up - No Surprise

    "Just as I predicted." ~ my football coach when showing game films.

    Before film review day, my football coach would watch and document every play for an upcoming opponent. Thus, he already knew every play we were going to see. He would enjoy "predicting" the next play before it was evident to us. Like my coach, I feel I can already see tax increases coming in our near future.

    Teeing Up the Middle class in The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is no longer ruling out a tax increase for the middle class, i.e. those making under $250, 000 a year. “It is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out no matter what,” Mr. Summers said, when asked about President Obama's pre-election vow that those making under $250,000 "will not see their taxes increase by single dime." In fact, many experts are now admitting that it will be challenging to not tax the middle class. Here are some of the ways I expect taxes will affect the middle class:

  • Expiration of Bush tax cuts. At the end of 2010, many of the Bush tax cuts will expire, including 15% capital gains and dividend tax rates and increased child tax credits. Both of these tax breaks would increase taxes on the middle class, specifically since the child tax credit is usually only available in full to joint filers making less than $110,000.

    For the record, the Obama administration has stated that an expiration of a tax cut is not a tax increase.

  • Sales tax. States are considering increasing or enacting sales taxes on specific items, such as soft drinks and cigarettes. In addition, some municipalities are considering an increase in the local sales tax.

    Another option being considered is a national value added tax (VAT), which is essentially a national sales tax.

  • Stealth taxes. There are two types of stealth taxes: 1) Those enacted on business that are passed through to customers; and 2) Taxes that are categorized as something else. An example of the first is the Bank Tax on financial institutions. Although, this provision has been removed from the Wall Street Reform Bill, it is a good example of a tax that would have eventually been paid by the users. An example of the second is the penalty payment, paid to the IRS, for declining to enroll in mandatory health insurance.
  • Hopefully, I am wrong. However, based on our current economic situation, it seems taxes have no where to go but up.

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

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

    Copyright © 2009 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    Friday, July 02, 2010

    Carnival of Financial Planning #148 - July 2, 2010

    Welcome to the July 2, 2010 Edition #148 of the Carnival of Financial Planning. My thanks to the editor of The Skilled Investor for having My Wealth Builder host this week.

    The Carnival of Financial Planning takes a long-term view of personal financial planning for individuals and families. We focus on efficient and sustainable personal financial planning practices that can lead to lifetime financial security.

    This edition is arranged by subject heading, so that you can browse efficiently.


    Budgeting and Economics

    KCLau presents Global Spending: How People Spend their Money posted at KCLau's Money Tips, saying, "Results from a World Bank study entitled Global Purchasing Power Parities and Real Expenditures 2005 International Comparison Program spanning 2003 to 2008."

    Sustainable Life Blog presents Cash Flow posted at Sustainable Life Blog, saying, "Tips on how to manage cashflow."

    Ryan @ CML presents How to Make a Zero Based Budget posted at Cash Money Life, saying, "How to create a budget that you can use to streamline your finances and better control your money."

    Learn Save Invest presents The Best Financial Advice posted at Learn Save Invest.

    The Skilled Investor presents Save More Money posted at Personal Finance Strategy, saying, "Budgeting and self-control in consumption is far more important than clever investing. Expenditure control and budgeting works, while "clever" investing usually is counter-productive."

    Super Saver presents Living on a Cash Basis was a Good Experience posted at My Wealth Builder, saying, "Living on a cash basis quickly taught me financial responsibility."

    Roshawn Watson presents Will the Economy Collapse In 2011? posted at Watson Inc, saying, "With the steep increases in federal, state, and local taxes scheduled for next year, will economic activity be stifled to the point of economic collapse in 2011?"

    Jessica Bosari presents Hate budgets? How to Save Money Anyway posted at Billeater, saying, "How to manage your money without making a detailed budget."

    The Financial Blogger presents Why The Loonie Is As Strong as a Bear? posted at The Financial Blogger, saying, "It has been more than a year that our Canadian Loonie has been beating on the greenback and we have now reached the moment when most economists predictions will become reality: the elusive state of parity between the Canadian and US dollar."

    Roshawn Watson presents Savings Down, Spending Up but What Does it Mean? posted at Watson Inc, saying, "New data suggests that Americans are saving less and spending more, as the vicious economic cycle repeats itself once again. It appears that despite proclamations that our newly-embraced frugality reflected a permanent change in behavior, frugality for many was a passing fad induced by momentary fear rather than a substantive shift in consumer spending"

    Estate Planning

    Jeff Rose, CFP presents Should You Do a Will or a Living Trust? posted at Jeff Rose.

    Financial Planning

    The Investor presents Millionaire calculator tool posted at, saying, "Here's a brand new tool that works out when you'll make your million or how much you need to save to get there by a particular age - it even accounts for inflation!"

    FMF presents Seven Mistakes in Hiring a Financial Planner posted at Free Money Finance, saying, "Be sure to avoid these mistakes when you hire a financial planner."

    Joe Plemon presents Which Comes First: Earning or Saving? posted at Personal Finance By The Book, saying, "The number one financial principle is to live on less than you earn. Right? Or do you need to get those earnings up first? This post helps the reader think it through."

    jim presents How Long Should I Keep Financial Documents? posted at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity

    Dividend Tree presents Building Core Competency for Long Term Survival posted at Dividend Tree, saying, "whether it is running a business or individuals investment portfolio, it is important to build a core competency for long term sustainability. In my case, I focus on good quality companies that consistently pay or have potential to pay growing dividends over time.

    Frank Knight presents Roth IRAFinancial Software posted at Financial Freedom Plan, saying, "Whether to invest in a Roth IRA or Roth 401k versus their traditional retirement account alternatives is one of the most complex personal financial decisions. Roth accounts do not make sense financially for most people. They are a good deal, for a minority, but you need to do the analysis."

    Larry Russell presents No Load Mutual Funds posted at Top Index Mutual Funds, saying, "Superior past performance has simply not been shown to be a reliable predictor of superior future performance. However, low costs can lead you to the best mutual funds.

    2 Cents presents 3D Hurricane: Are Your Finances Prepared? posted at Balance Junkie, saying, "Rob Arnott thinks deficits, debt and demographics will be key drivers for the economy and the markets over the next few years. Have you factored them into your financial planning?"

    Financing a Home

    studenomist presents How Does a Young Person Obtain a Mortgage? posted at

    Financing Education

    MoneyNing presents How to Use a 529 Plan to Improve College Savings posted at Money Ning, saying, "A 529 plan can help your college savings tremendously. Check out how
    the government can help contribute!"


    FMF presents The Top Ten Worst-Paying College Degrees posted at Free Money Finance, saying, "If you're looking to make a lot of money during your career, these are degrees you'll want to avoid."

    Mike @ Green Panda presents 10 Promising Sectors for the Next Decade posted at Green Panda Treehouse, saying, "Choosing your career at the age of 20 is not an easy thing. Which jobs will be paid well by employers for the next 10 years? Here are my top ten picks (in no particular order) of the best sectors"

    Consumer Boomer presents Finding a High Interest Savings Account posted at Consumer Boomer.


    Dividend Growth Investor presents Highest Yielding Dividend Stocks of S&P 500 posted at Dividend Growth Investor,saying, "I have highlighted the top 20 yielding stocks in the S&P 500 index below:"

    Praveen presents CBOE Just Had Its IPO: Why I Bought The Stock posted at My Simple Trading System, saying, "An investing system for IPOs"

    Tushar Mathur presents Can't Control the Markets? Try controlling the Costs posted at Everything Finance, saying, "The financial markets are prone to unpredictable periods of turbulence. That can make investing feel a bit like a roller-coaster ride. The disappointing results may have left you feeling concerned over your financial future. You're not alone."

    Finance Banter presents Putting in Protection posted at Finance Banter, saying, "Steve Smith highlights the use of protective puts trading strategy via an example using Apple"

    Praveen presents Lichello's AIM System posted at My Simple Trading System, saying, "A look at Robert Lichello's AIM stock investing system, which was popular in the 1970's and then went out of

    Zach Scheidt presents Express IPO Looks Good for a Bounce posted at ZachStocks, saying, "Express Inc. (EXPR) has traded down since its IPO earlier this month. The company is still primarily owned by a private equity firm who has a vested interest in making sure the stock price is stabilized.

    jim presents Goldline Scam posted at Blueprint
    for Financial Prosperity
    , saying, "Goldline has been in the news alot as gold prices continue to soar and legislators, specifically Anthony Weiner of NY, taking a look at their business practices. This begs, the question, is investing in gold through Goldline a scam?"

    Silicon Valley Blogger presents Lending Club Investment Performance, Loan Returns: Should You Invest Via Direct Lending? posted at The Digerati Life, saying, "On lending club investments and loan returns."

    PT presents What is Peer to Peer Lending? posted at Prime Time Money, saying, "How to invest with peer (or social) lending. I explain what it is and what the risks are."

    Zach Scheidt presents Solar Selloff Close To Exhaustion? posted at ZachStocks, saying, "Solar stocks are off sharply due to Euro-Zone concerns. Trina Solar could end up being an exceptional value if earnings remain somewhat stable and management is able to calm investor fears."

    Frank Knight presents Municipal Bond Financial Software, posted at Personal Finance Software, saying, "Municipal bond investments and your state and federal marginal income tax rates: Someinvestors hold municipal bonds in an attempt to reduce their tax burden. This article discusses the relationships between tax-exempt municipal bonds, bond market returns, marginal tax rates, and investment asset tax location."

    June Tree presents ShareBuilder Review: Discount Broker For Buy and Hold Investors posted at The Digerati Life,saying, "Review of a top online broker that's great for small investors."

    Tomas Escent presents Stock Trading Automation posted at Nerds on Wall Street

    mike presents Low Cost Ways To Buy Dividend Stocks posted at Mike, saying, "How to save money on stock purchases."

    Mike @ Green Panda presents You Want To Lose money? Buy Bond Funds « Green Panda Treehouse postedat Green Panda Treehouse,saying, "You might have been burnt by the market but it doesn’t mean that you should hang yourself with bonds"

    Sun presents Are CDs from Troubled Banks Worth The Trouble? posted at The Sun’s Financial Diary.

    Ryan @ CML presents Target Date Retirement Funds posted at Cash Money Life, saying, "Target Date Retirement Funds, or life-cycle funds, are automatically allocated investments based on a target date, removing guesswork from investing."

    Frank Vertin presents Top Index Fundsposted at Noload Mutual Fund, saying, "Top ten no load index funds that track the Standard and Poors 500 composite index in terms of lowest costs."

    Dividend Tree presents Dividend Investing and Businesses with Moat posted at Dividend Tree, saying, "In general, companies with moats in their business are very good dividend growth providers. However, the opposite may not be true."

    The Skilled Investor presents Market Timing posted at Investment Portfolio Management,saying, "Always stay invested to earn risk
    premiums. You must have your money invested and at risk to get risk premium returns. Jumping out and in or "timing the markets" doesn't work."

    Dividends4Life presents Six Dividend Stocks Avoiding The June Freeze posted at Dividends Value, saying, "For a dividend investor, there is not much worse than a stock that cuts or eliminates its dividend. Suddenly, the reason you purchased the stock no longer exists. Many dividend investors, myself included, have a hard and fast rule to immediately sell any stock held as income investment if it cuts its dividend."

    Steve Alexander presents Why the Dollar Price of a Stock Does Not Matter posted at MagicDiligence - Value Stock Strategy, saying, "A common beginning stock investor mistake is to shy away from stocks with high dollar prices. But what is really important, and how can car shopping help us understand stock shopping?"

    Managing Debt

    Madison DuPaix presents Bill Includes New Student Loan Forgiveness Program posted at My Dollar Plan, saying, "This article looks at key points of student loan reform that is part of the new health care bill."

    Tim Chen presents Getting The Most Out Of Your Citibank Thank You Points posted at NerdWallet Blog - Credit Card Watch, saying, "If you've got a Citi card, you may not be getting the most bang for your buck. You not only have to know how to earn points, but you have to know how to redeem them to make sure you can at least get your 1% back."

    Miranda presents How To Challenge a Credit Application Denial posted at Moolanomy.

    Craig Ford presents Borrower is Slave to the Lender The Point posted at Money Help For Christians, saying, "Explores the relationship between borrowing and slavery."

    Big Cajun Man presents Found Money Trap posted at Canadian Personal Finance Blog, saying, "Found money should go on debt no matter what!"

    The Smarter Wallet presents Are Debt Counseling Services The Way To Debt Relief? posted at The Smarter Wallet, saying, "On debt counseling services."

    Learn Save Invest presents 5 Steps To Debt Reduction posted at Learn Save Invest, saying, "Here are 5 tips you need to master in order
    to reduce your debts."

    Jeff Rose, CFP presents How to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt Fast posted at Jeff Rose.

    Adam Faughn presents 5 Reasons We Try to Follow Dave Ramsey?s Baby Steps posted at The Faughn Family of Four, saying, "There are many ways to handle money, but we like Ramsey’s plan. Here are 5 reasons why. 1. The approach is common sense based, and has a Biblical background. Ramsey is unashamedly a believer in Christ. He often provides Scripture as the reason for an answer he gives to a caller on his radio program. Also, Ramsey simply has a gift for being able to take somewhat complex situations or answers, and bringing them down to a common sense answer."


    MoneyNing presents Learning to Say “No” to Your Kids posted at Money Ning, saying, "How do you say no to kids who want everything?"

    Super Saver presents Disputed Price Increase on Phone Bill and Won posted at My Wealth Builder, saying, "Last month, our phone bill was up 12%, with no changes made on our part. We disputed the increase and the phone company agreed."

    Sustainable Life Blog presents When To Go It Alone posted at Sustainable Life Blog, saying, "When should you go it alone in personal finance? Sometimes, your friends may not always want whats in your best
    interest. When do you need to say "sorry guys, not this time" to spending money"

    Pasadena Financial Planner presents Vanguard Investment Performance posted at Top Mutual Fund, saying, "Compares Vanguard's actively managed mutual funds and Vanguard's passively managed index mutual funds. Vanguard investors should read and understand this study."

    nissim ziv presents Teamwork Interview Questions and Answers posted at Job Interview Guide, saying, "Working in a company has several aspects other than the abilities and experience of the person. One important aspect is teamwork. In most companies, it is necessary that the employee is able to work in a team, and maybe even handle a team work during the lean times."

    Retirement Planning

    FMF presents Three Steps to See If You're Ready for Early Retirement posted at Free Money Finance, saying, "Three steps you need to review to see if you're ready for retirement."

    Super Saver presents Choosing a Retirement Plan posted at My Wealth Builder, saying, "I selected the defined contribution plan since there is a 140% employer match and I'm 100% vested after 5 years"

    Jules Wells presents Retirement Calculator-Retirement Savings Software, posted at Retirement Financial Planning, saying, "This article helps you understand the trade-offs between traditional and Roth tax-advantaged retirement plan contributions, including Roth 401k and IRA retirement plans. It helps with the 2010 Roth conversion decision."

    Ryan @ CML presents Roth IRA Conversion posted at Cash Money Life, saying, "A Roth IRA conversion is when you change a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. To do so you will need to pay taxes and there may be restrictions."

    The Financial Blogger presents At 55 – Is it Too Late For Retirement Planning? posted at The Financial Blogger, saying, "So if you don’t have a plan at 55, is it too late for retirement planning? The quick answer is no (especially since you might not even retire at 65 but perhaps closer to 70 or 75 ;-) ). However, some things may need to change if you want to have a comfortable retirement:"

    Super Saver presents Is $1 Million enough for Retirement? posted at My Wealth Builder, saying, "Maybe yes, and maybe no. However, it's a good start."

    Larry Russell presents Roth IRA Conversions posted at Best Financial Planning Software, saying, "Trying to decide about a traditional IRA to Roth IRA conversion without first having a comprehensive lifetime financial plan in place makes absolutely no sense. Without such a plan, you cannot figure out whether or not you are likely to achieve the tax savings in retirement that would warrant paying higher taxes now."

    BWL presents 5 Important Steps For Retirement Planning posted at Christian Personal Finance, saying, "Who doesn’t want to win at retirement? Of course, we all do. But how can some folks be winning easily and others seem to be way off track for their retirement goal!?"

    Risk Management and Insurance

    Michael Pruser presents Should You Consider Permanent Life Insurance? posted at The Dough Roller, saying, "Permanent Life Insurance (Also known as Whole Term Life) is aninvestment like any other. But is the return worth the risk?"

    Big Cajun Man presents Self Insured Company Disability Plans posted at Canadian Personal Finance Blog,
    saying, "Sometimes insurance is not as safe as you might think (in Canada at least)"

    Kim Luu presents Guardianship – A Critical Protection for Your Child posted at Money and Risk, saying, "In planning, it's the little things or assumptions that tend to trip people up. Many people buy insurance to protect their children but very fewthink about a critical step."


    Joe Plemon presents What is the Difference Between Saving and Investing? posted at Personal Finance By The Book, saying, "This post will help the reader gain clarity in grasping this important distinction between saving and investing."

    KCLau presents Are You Rich in Internal Assets? posted at KCLau's Money Tips, saying, "pay attention to the internal assets"


    Ryan @ MFN presents Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension for Military and Overseas Federal Employees posted at The Military Wallet, saying, "There is an extension to the homebuyer tax credit, which is available to military members and federal employees who live overseas."

    David de Souza presents Inland Revenue Increase Tax Free Allowance posted at UK Tax Blog, saying, "The tax freeallowance has recently been increased. Find out what it means and how it will affect you."

    Financial Freedom Plan presents Roth IRA ConversionFinancial Software, posted at My Financial Freedom, saying, "The Roth tax optimization puzzle for asset conversions, as well as for annual Roth contributions during working years, is one of the most complex decisions that the ridiculously complex US taxation and retirement planning system forces upon individuals."

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

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