Lock in your recent profits now

Since the election of Donald Trump the stock market has had an incredible run up.  Regardless of your political views the facts are the facts and your money and wealth don’t really care who is president.  Our job is to play the cards as they are dealt regardless of who is in charge at the White House.

The old saying is in play, “what goes up is sure to come down” unless we take steps to lock in our gains and protect against future loss.  If you are in mutual funds you have no doubt experienced the ups and downs of the market.  Many people think that’s just the way it is, and to some extent they are correct.  However, there is no law that says you have to play by those rules with your money.

There are strategies that allow you to participate in most of any market gains but none of the market losses.   You can accomplish this through a strategy called indexing.  One of the most popular ways to practice indexing is through the product of a fixed indexed annuity.  This is one of three major classes of annuities (with thousands of products between hundreds of companies available) with the other two classes being a fixed annuity and a variable annuity.

A fixed annuity will guarantee your money against any downside and promise to pay you more than you will be able to get at a bank.  Now many fixed annuities are paying 2.75% to 3.25% depending on the actual terms and carrier offering the annuity.  The upside is you know you will never lose money and that your money will grow every year regardless of what the stock market does.  The downside is that during large run ups, like we are currently experiencing, your account will not experience the big run ups but rather a much smaller gain.  There are also early withdrawal fees for pulling money out of the annuity early (this will be true for every class of annuity so be sure that you understand how much and how long those penalties exist).  Fixed annuities can be a great play for very conservative investors who want protections but need more return than a savings account or CD’s at the bank.

A variable annuity will track the stock market and its ups and downs.  Many will have floors and ceilings as far as how much you can lose or how much you can make.   Being as these are generally heavily traded accounts the fees associated to variable annuities are usually greatest of the three classes of annuities.  The variable annuities are for more aggressive investors who believe the carrier can do better with their money than they can personally and are aware of the fees and penalties for early withdrawal.

A fixed indexed annuity will be a kind of hybrid between the other two classes.  Your principal balance will be protected against any downside loss and your upside will be determined by tracking of an index. (Many indexes are available but most are tied to the stock market performance in some way)  When the indexes go up your account will be credited accordingly and many accounts have caps for how much you can make in a year and others don’t have caps on profits.  If they don’t have a cap on profits they will generally have a “spread” which determines how much of total index gain you receive minus the spread.  A simple example is the index has a 10% run up but there is a 2% spread on the product.  This means your account is credited 8% of gain that year.  Your index level is now locked in and the next year “resets” as far as gain or loss.  If the index comes down 10% the next year your money will not go down at all but will also not go forward at all either.  In short, when markets go up you participate at some level in the ups but never in the downs of the market.

With many of these annuities you can also add a lifetime income rider on top of the base contract.  These riders will usually guarantee that your eventual income you start drawing out of the account (kind of like your own private pension) will be guaranteed no matter how long you live regardless of what happens to the cash in the account.  So if you live to be a ripe old age you will receive the agreed upon income amount until your death.  If you pass away and there is still money in the account verify that your particular product has a death benefit that would assure any remaining monies go to your loved ones.  The income rider will come with an annual fee but will usually guarantee your income rider value will rise every year even if your cash does not increase.  In short, your eventual income increases every year regardless if your cash does or not that year.

For the right investor these can be attractive places to put money as long as you understand the rules going in and use them to your advantage.  If you would like a free chapter from my book on this very topic and or to watch a video presentation about this program, just visit www.perpetualpensions.com and download these two great resources for free.

Note, not all products and features are the same and will vary state to state.

The Hidden Secrets of a 401k

I want to share with you items to consider before investing in a 401k.  Some of those items are the tax ramifications and the control over your money you will be forfeiting.  Uncle Sam makes the decisions on when you can access your money without penalty, what the penalty is for early withdrawals, the taxes you pay, the required minimum distribution (RMD) amount, when you must begin to take the RMD and more… Watch my short presentation below for more information and view a full expo by both Frontline and 60 Minutes.

How to Turn Your IRA or 401k into a Paycheck Machine for Life

crankmoney

Since the early 1980s, 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts have become the dominant way that workers save for retirement. Yet many workers long for the days of traditional pensions when you could set your watch by how much income you could count on every month after your retired. Many people like that the pension fund (if it did as promised) would pay them and their spouses for the rest of their lives. To be fair, those old-style pensions had some serious flaws:

  • It was difficult and sometimes impossible to port with you when you left the company. Depending on the program and how it was administered, you could be left without a pension and without the money in the pension fund if you left the company before a certain number of years.
  • You didn’t control the asset base that created the income. After you and your spouse pass away, the income stream from the pension fund stops, and your estate gets no cash from the fund. This was even if both spouses passed away early and collected very little of the pension.
  • It was difficult to impossible to access any of the cash inside of the pension prior to actual retirement.

With the 401(k) and most other qualified plans, the flaws of the pension were in large part put to bed.

Now you have the full right to withdraw or roll over your portion of your 401(k) when you leave the company. You control the asset base, so when you and your spouse die, any remaining balance left inside of your qualified plan will go to your estate. It is easier to access your account via loans — assuming you abide by terms laid down by your plan administrator and your employer.

As is often the case when you fix a flaw in something, that repair caused a new set of flaws to emerge. With 401(k)s and IRAs, the burden of guaranteeing income and performance is shifted to the employee. This means that if you are invested in the market, then in good markets you could win, and bad markets you could lose.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could combine the benefits of pensions, 401(k)s and IRAs? Consider annuities. Annuities are offered through insurance carriers to take in big chunks of money and guarantee a payout over a certain period, based on that sum used to purchase the annuity. There are two types of income structure:

  • In the immediate annuity, income is started from the lump sum immediately after the annuity purchase.
  • In the deferred annuity, your lump sum can grow before you activate the annuitization phase. This structure will result in more monthly income from the extra growth and the number of years the insurance company will have to pay out on the contract.

Once you decide on what kind of payout you want, then you have three basic choices:

  • The fixed annuity will guarantee your principle never loses money in the market and guarantee modest growth during the growth phase. That rate might be 2 to 3 percent, so this is for the extremely conservative investor who believes in the old saying “I am more concerned about the return of my money than the return on my money.”
  • The variable annuity will go up and down based on the movements of the chosen market (usually the stock market). This product is more for the market player who believes we are in for a bull market during the annuity contract years.
  • The fixed indexed annuity will guarantee your principle is not lost, but your growth is not guaranteed. The growth will depend on which market index or indexes your annuity follows, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GPSC).

With many annuities, you can add riders. The most common is the lifetime income rider, which for an annual fee will guarantee your future retirement income will increase every year regardless of the market’s rise or fall. As the name implies the insurance company will also guarantee your annual income for the rest of yours and your spouse’s life. This income will be guaranteed even if the underlying funds in the annuity are drawn down to zero.

Your 401(k) and IRA can be used to purchase an annuity with no taxes or penalties. Annuities do have potential pitfalls.

  • They are not very liquid. There can be substantial penalties if you withdraw the original purchase price from the contract during a certain period. This penalty will usually graduate downward to zero. This penalty will be determined by the carrier and the product, and it will vary by state.
  • Potential annual fees are inherent. Many fees can be reasonable and bring value (such as the lifetime income rider), but some fees buy you very little value and get prohibitive. Fees are generally higher with variable annuities due to their active money management. Make sure you are comfortable with the fees and know what you receive in return.

9 Reasons You Should Take a Look at Whole Life Insurance

umbrella-wli

Just a few short years ago, I was staunchly opposed to whole life insurance, because that’s what I was taught by national “gurus” 25 years ago. I wholeheartedly believed (as many people still do) that if you need life insurance, you should buy a term policy, then take the difference in premiums between whole life and term and invest it in mutual funds.

So when a good friend of mine sat me down and tried to show me a whole life insurance plan, I nearly refused to listen. Many of you reading this will feel the same way, and nothing I say will change your minds. That’s fine — you’re entitled to your opinion just as I was entitled to mine.

Thankfully, my friend showed me how a properly designed whole life insurance policy works. I soon realized that the gurus in my early years and the gurus of today were correct — based on the information they’d been given. The problem was their information was incomplete.

Whenever I hear a financial consultant (or anyone, for that matter) talk about less expensive premiums for term, I know they really don’t understand how this animal of properly designed whole life insurance really works.

With a properly designed whole life insurance policy, you get:

1. Principal protection guarantees of your money.Your cash value isn’t subject to market losses, as it is with mutual funds and other programs. When the stock market tanks again (and it’s never a question of if but when), you won’t lose a dime.

2. Guaranteed growth of your money every year. This will be interest-rate-driven based on the economy, but your account will move forward every year regardless of what the market does. This is compound tax-free growth and not the “average rate of return” you get with mutual funds. To be fair, in our current low-interest-rate environment, the growth rates are only in the 2 percent to 4 percent range but as you study further you start to realize the real wealth is not in the growth rate even when rates go higher.

Many financial advisers will tell you that your money would do better in a good mutual fund. But remember: When someone shows you an “average rate of return,” they can start taking that average from any time that benefits their example. This is not compounded growth but rather a factor of timing as to when you enter and exit the market. The stock market has wild swings; if that is acceptable to you, you should have much of your money in stocks. If not, maybe it’s time to consider a different way to think about investing. (Remember the period from March 2000 to October 2002, when the Nasdaq lost 78 percent of its value? It’s been 14 years since the dot-com bubble started to pop, and the tech-heavy index still hasn’t quite recovered to that level. If you like guarantees and stability then you have no business putting most of your money in the stock market.)

3. Dividends paid to policy owners are not taxable. Dividends aren’t guaranteed, but many reputable life insurance companies have been in business for more than 100 years and they’ve paid out dividends every year. The amount of that dividend will depend on several factors, but it boils down to how much profit the insurance carrier made. When properly paid to the policy owner, those dividends are not taxable.

4. A high starting cash value amount, based on what you contribute to the policy. Whole life policies that aren’t properly designed will have very little cash value in the early years.

But a properly structured life insurance policy will have high cash value percentages, even in its first year, and they increase every year. This becomes an important fact when you realize that access to your cash will help you grow wealth systematically regardless of market conditions

5. Access to your cash value at any age, at any time, for any reason — without taxes or penalty. This is a huge benefit of whole life policies compared to 401(k)s and IRAs, which impose multiple obstacles if you want to access your cash before retirement, and penalize you if the funds you borrow from them are not paid back by a certain time and at a certain interest rate. No such obstacles exist with a whole-life policy. So leave your cash in the policy if you wish, or borrow it back out and use it, the choice is yours.

6. The ability to use your account’s cash value to recapture lost depreciation on major purchases and interest and fees paid to banks. If you treat this pool of money inside the life policy like your own personal bank, you can loan it out to yourself and others to create wealth. (More on this in future articles, but suffice it to say for now that banking has been around in some fashion for thousands of years. Any business model that lasts that long is worth understanding and using to your advantage.)

7. Guaranteed insurance. Once the policy is in place, your insurance is guaranteed for the rest of your life. Many people assume they’ll be able to buy new insurance at any point in their life. But nothing is further from the truth — especially for those who’ve been diagnosed with chronic or terminal diseases. If you become seriously ill, don’t expect to be able to buy a new policy.

With many whole-life policies, you can add an “accelerated death benefit rider” for little to no cost, which will give you access to a large portion of your death benefit during your lifetime if you have a terminal or chronic illness. I just had a colleague with a client who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, and was sent a check from his insurer for more than 70 percent of the eventual death benefit. He’ll be able to enjoy his remaining time without worrying how he will pay his bills.

8. The ability to combine your life policy with the worlds of real estate, private lending and auto financing to accelerate your wealth, both inside and outside of the policy. Just remember that any funds inside the policy are tax-free for life.

9. Death benefits. In addition to all the benefits you can make use of while you’re still here, at heart, this investment is still a life insurance policy, so when you eventually die, there will be a sum of money left behind to your beneficiaries — tax-free.

There’s a reason family dynasties have been using life insurance for generations to grow and protect their wealth. Even when subject to estate limits, these death payouts go a long way toward promoting the tax-free, inter-generational transfer of wealth.

Of course, insurance company policies and riders will vary by state due to state regulations and depending on the actual insurance carrier. But you won’t find another type of account or investment that has all these benefits in one investment — not 401(k)s, IRAs, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, precious metals, real estate, nor any other account.

Why lose a dime in the stock market again?

Did you know it’s not preordained that you must lose money in the stock market?  If you use the strategies of indexing and resetting you can grow your money without the risk of stock market losses. Enjoy this quick video explaining these two powerful yet little used strategies and let us know if we can help further.

Video – How to Avoid the Next Stock Market Crash

Are you in the Retirement Danger Zone?

retirement sign

A bad investment can be a serious wealth stealer, but as much as it matters how much you lose, it can matter equally when the loss occurs. As you approach or enter your retirement years, declines in the value of your portfolio can be especially devastating.

“Dollar-cost averaging” describes how you can benefit even when the market goes backwards — if you don’t need to withdraw your money anytime soon, and continue to regularly invest when prices are low. Let’s say you invest $500 a month in a mutual fund. When the fund is $15 a share, you’re buying more share than when it’s $20. Then when the market comes back and your fund hopefully goes up, you own more shares, so your gains will be bigger.

However, dollar-cost averaging assumes that you are in the accumulation phase of life and will keep putting in fresh money toward retirement for awhile. It also assumes you have enough time before you’ll need the money to allow your portfolio to rebound from any significant downturns.

If you’re in the distribution phase of life and are taking funds out of that mutual fund, what you run up against is the phenomenon of “reverse dollar cost averaging.” If you are taking out $3,000 a month to help cover your retirement expenses, and you have to sell shares at the lower $15 apiece price, you’ll need to sell more of them, which means you won’t be holding them when they recover. And sales like that can cause you to run out of money quicker.

Enter the Retirement Danger Zone

The retirement danger zone begins when you get within 10 years of your scheduled retirement date, and lasts for the remainder of your life. Any losses you take during this phase can dramatically affect the quality of your later years. Many older people who experienced such pains to their portfolios in 2007 and 2008 found that they couldn’t afford to retire on schedule, or had to go back to work to supplement their income. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth for Americans ages 55 to 64 went down approximately 33 percent from 2007 to 2010.

Stock indexes are hitting records again now, and enthusiasm may be causing some people to forget just how fast the market can turn. It is critical for those in the retirement danger zone to begin to reallocate more of their retirement funds toward rock-solid products that remove any risk of market loss. Below are some places you could reallocate money from stock and bond mutual funds to places with much less volatility. The old rule of thumb is that you will sacrifice decent growth to preserve your principal. In many cases, that is true.

  • Savings accounts have a pitiful rate of growth and should be used strictly for a liquid emergency fund. The principal is protected and FDIC-insured.
  • Money market accounts are usually very safe and offer a higher — but still low — growth rate than savings accounts. They are very liquid.
  • Fixed annuities offer better rates than above but are not liquid. Annuities come built in with an early withdrawal penalty that can wipe out modest gains if funds are needed sooner than expected. Don’t confuse a fixed annuity with a variable annuity that tracks the markets and hence are subject to large losses. Variable annuities are not a place for retirement danger zone money.
  • Certificates of deposit offer more interest than savings accounts but take away liquidity. CDs are for defined periods from 30 days to a number of years. The longer you agree to not touch the money, the more interest the bank will pay.
  • Fixed indexed annuities are a hybrid of fixed and variable annuities that will protect your principal in down markets but allow you to participate in a portion of the gains in up markets. You can also buy a lifetime income rider that will assure a certain income for you and your spouse’s lifetime. They are illiquid for the first seven to 10 years, depending on the product. They could be a great place for IRA funds to grow safely.
  • Cash accounts allow people to deposit funds with some life insurance companies on a fixed rate of return that is usually more attractive than what banks offers. When banks are paying 0.5 percent, some of these accounts pay 3 percent. These accounts are generally liquid — but if you withdraw from the account, you must withdraw the entire balance.

Myths of Whole Life Insurance

LifeInsPolicy 225x182

There are many myths about life insurance that most people unfortunately consider as facts. Most of these myths are perpetrated by Wall Street and people who want every nickel of your money in the market under their management. The first huge myth is “buy term and invest the difference” and this one is so big it required its own article to debunk.

Myth #2

Life insurance is a lousy place to put money

What I described in previous articles about designing policies is very true but there are also some other facts that blow this myth away. Simply ask yourself this question, if putting money into life insurance contracts is such a lousy place to put money, why do the biggest and most wealthy institutions put loads of their own money into life insurance products? Major Banks, large corporations, and family dynasties have been putting boat loads of money inside these kinds of policies for generations. Are they that stupid about money? Not hardly. They are very savvy with money which is why they use life insurance contracts and other products to grow and protect their wealth.

Major Banks High Cash Value Life Insurance
As of 12/31/2014, Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council Call Reports

JPMorgan Chase 10.6 Billion Dollars
Wells Fargo Bank 17.995 Billion Dollars
Bank of America 20.794 Billion Dollars
PNC Bank 7.699 Billion Dollars

Whole life insurance is too expensive

When someone tells me that I will simply say “in relationship to what?” If you are just comparing it to premiums for a term policy on the same coverage amount you are correct. However, because of the tax free guaranteed compounding of a proper life policy many of my clients will overcome the actual cost of the insurance in the first few years of the policy. These policies will get to the point where they self complete which means the insurance company owes you more than you owe them in minimum premiums. So if you decided to, you could have the basic premium paid out of cash value and your cash value will still grow and move forward. So when 20 years from now you still want coverage and go to extend your old term insurance policy or buy another one, get ready for the shock of the new premium based on your attained age. If you had strongly funded a life policy 20 years before, that policy’s death benefit would have been growing these last 20 years (all part of proper design of the policy with a proper carrier) and no more funds would be required to maintain the policy due to the huge cash values you have accrued. You would have also have had access to large cash values to use for other wealth strategies.

Myth #4

Universal life or Indexed Universal life does the same thing as Whole Life

This is such a myth that I will need more than the space allotted to let you know how these policies really work over time and why the cost of insurance will skyrocket over the life of the policy. Please download my free report at my website and find the indexed universal life report under the video. Don’t you dare buy one of these policies until you read this free report. If you already have one of these policies get the report and be thankful there is probably something we can do for you to help. Ask us about a 1035 exchange of that kind of a policy to one that is better suited for long term and being your own bank.

Myth #5

I am too old or in too bad of health to obtain a life insurance policy

I have clients all over the country who once believed this to be true but now own life insurance policies. If you like the concepts of self banking and insurance policies don’t assume you can’t qualify for one of these policies. You may be able to qualify and the numbers will still make sense. If you indeed can’t qualify yourself there are other options.

Many of my clients take out policies on their children or grandchildren which mean the younger, healthier person qualifies for the insurance but my client owns the policy with all the benefits. I have clients in their 70’s who took out new policies but put the policy on their adult children. They then went on to use the funds in the policy as their own bank. Contact us to see if this might be an option for your situation as well.

When I am speaking to a crowd on this topic I often call a properly designed whole life policy as the “one account” because it is so truly unique and powerful. It is the only account that I am aware of that can function with many different uses that all work together. This is the only account that can be:

Savings Account– When you are not using your money it is sitting inside of the life insurance contract collecting much more in interest than it would if it was sitting in a bank. As of this writing most savings accounts are paying 0.5% or less and some life carriers dividend scale is almost 6.5% on life policies. Even after you take out the cost of insurance in the early years of the policy your money still does far better than dying a slow death in a traditional bank. You have easy access to your funds just like a savings account so why keep most of your money in the bank doing nothing for you or your family?

Your Personal Bank– Just as described in the last chapter you can put these funds to use to plug up your 4 massive wealth drains and help you grow wealth as the bank. Because you are doing this inside of your life insurance contract your earnings are tax deferred inside the policy and when properly done can be accessed tax free. Also with some policies and carriers the money you borrow out will still be credited with growth and dividends. This is not common but there are carriers that allow this and we can help you determining which carrier is best for your needs

Retirement Account- There will come a time when you desire to pull an income stream out of your policy. You will be able to either withdraw the money as you see fit (not optimal most of the time) or take policy loans that you will not pay back. In most cases policy loans are optimal because you don’t have to pay taxes on policy loans. If you choose, you don’t have to pay the policy loans back during your lifetime. The loans can be paid back out of the death benefit after you pass away. For instance you have a $1,000,000 death benefit but have borrowed out $250,000 in policy loans and deferred interest and you pass away, your family will receive the $1,000,000 death benefit less any outstanding policy loans which in this case are $250,000. This will produce $750,000 tax free to your estate after you pass away.

Rainy Day Fund- You should never borrow all the cash value out of your policy but rather keep a chunk of money in the policy in case of emergency. This is a rainy day fund that produces solid interest rates and return.

Estate Creator- Let’s not forget you are creating all this wealth inside of a life insurance contract which will automatically leave behind money for your family and/or anyone else you choose after you pass away. My mom, as she aged, started to worry more about leaving money behind for her family instead of living as abundant of a life as she should have lead. This is the only kind of program where you can spend every nickel during your lifetime and still leave behind extra for your family. Wherever you have your money saved or invested currently, ask yourself if the account you have it in has all of the benefits listed below. These are all benefits of a properly designed life insurance contract. Please feel free to contact us if you need more information.

Indexed Universal Life – A Ticking Time Bomb!

How would you like to put money into a financial product that lets you benefit from market gains, but never feel the pain of its losses? The money and growth inside the policy will be 100 percent tax-free for life. That’s the seductive pitch often used to tout an investment called indexed universal life insurance.

Based on that sales pitch, it would be no wonder if your response were, “Sign me up for that right away!” Unfortunately, all that glitters is not gold. The sales materials for your IUL policy will almost always be illustrated with unrealistic compounded rates of return. But as we all know, stock market growth does not simply compound over time. Sure, you can measure an “average rate of return,” but in the real world, prices oscillate, and performance can be a creature of timing much more than investing.
Bomb
In fact, an indexed universal life insurance policy will almost always leave you holding the bag.

Let me clarify first that these are entirely different investments than the “properly designed whole life policies” that I wrote about in February. When you invest money inside an IUL policy, you’re setting up a life insurance policy with an annual renewable term cost of insurance. The extra money placed in the policy goes into sub accounts, and those funds will generally follow an index (or indices) in some form when that index increases in value. This structure will cause the cost of insurance to rise every year, which is why most people let these policies lapse in later years.

One Man’s $50,000 Premium

A retired neurosurgeon at one of my seminars told me about his IUL nightmare. He invested substantial money in an indexed universal life insurance policy when he was 49. He funded this policy for 20 years, and the projected profits never seem to materialize. Among the reasons why:

  • The projections that were illustrated for him were not realistic.
  • The expenses of the insurance and many other hidden fees come out daily.
  • The guaranteed growth of 3 percent was only payable at policy cancellation.

Much worse was the bill when he turned 70. This policy was structured with a 20-year guaranteed term policy for the death benefit, and his premium hit almost $50,000 — and not one nickel was going into any cash value.

Surely, something must be wrong, you say? He assumed it was clerical error until he called the carrier and was told that is how those types of policies are built. In the 21st year of the policy, the premium was supposed to be almost 100 times the first year’s premium, and it was only going to rise further, since term insurance gets more expensive as people age. This man closed the policy down, which meant he no longer would receive the death benefit, and even the pitiful gains his investment had realized were now taxable because he’d lost the umbrella of the insurance policy tax structure.

Lousy Ideas, Without Clear Numbers

Welcome to the wonderful world of indexed universal life insurance. I can’t wait to see in this articles comments that somehow, one of you knows about a “special product” that has a “no lapse” guarantee or some other new (and yet old) wrinkle that allegedly makes these lousy policies better. These dogs with fleas are generally sold to those with high incomes, such as doctors, as a way to put loads of money away in a tax-free environment instead of the limitations of an individual retirement account or 401(k). The illustrations are not realistic and fail to speak plain English as to what is going to happen with these policies.

If you have been sold one of these policies, examine the illustration you were shown and notice the cost of insurance cannibalizing the cash value in the later years of the policy. Study the cost of insurance, which will never be plainly spelled out in dollars and cents (your first clue something is amiss) but rather in decimal points. Watch how that number grows in the later years.

If you have the misfortune of having one of these policies, you might still have an option to roll into a 1035 tax-free exchange. It would allow you (assuming you qualify health-wise) to exchange your cash value in your IUL policy into a properly designed whole policy with solid guarantees and fixed costs all disclosed up front.

For more free training and information on this topic, watch our video of the week and get free downloads.