Guaranteed Income (Part 3)

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Last week, we talked about investing, the second circle of wealth in my series of “Six Absolute Necessities for Acquiring Long-Term Wealth.” The third is guaranteed income. When I study people with successful retirements, filled with abundance and options, almost all have things in common:

  • They carry very little, if any, personal debt.
  • They have stable, secure income from multiple sources that they can set their watch by every month
  • Starting about 10 years before they retire, they begin shifting their assets from riskier investments to low- or no-risk income assets.

A mortgage is generally the biggest debt most of us have. Many argue that you should never pay off your house because the equity you put into it is tied up and not making you money. They might recommend borrowing as much as you can now because interest rates are low.

I say you can have the best of both worlds. First, pay off your mortgage before you retire. By adding small amounts directed to your principle every month, you will take months, even years off your payoff date. When your house is paid off, get the biggest equity line of credit you can. This way, if you see an attractive investment opportunity, you can put your equity to use, and if you don’t, you have removed the pressure of a big mortgage payment in retirement.

If you can pay off your mortgage while you are working, why not now shift that payment over to a solid savings or income product? This could work out to tens of thousands of extra dollars producing monthly income for when you retire.

An abundant retirement is about strong positive cash flow that you can count on for years to come. Do you have any idea how much money you need to retire every month? Do you know where you can get that income from? Do you have enough money for home health care or long-term care? Are you protected from big market downturns during your retirement years? How much will inflation eat into that monthly income needed?

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All these questions must be part of an income plan. We calculate these for clients all over the country. First, know how much income you and your spouse will receive from Social Security when you retire. You can get an estimate from the Social Security Administration. If you believe that number is at risk because of issues with Social Security, you better start putting more away and growing it safely.

If you need $5,000 per month to retire and the Social Security for you and your spouse is only $3,500, then you have a $1,500 shortfall. Do you have a pension? How much will that be when you begin to draw it? Do you have a 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account? How long could that account last if you need to draw $1,500 a month — $18,000 in a year? Will you have to pay taxes on what you take out? If you have a 401(k) or traditional IRA, the answer is yes. If you lose 50 percent of your capital to a bear market, how long will you be able to get $18,000 per year?

As you get to be in what we call the “retirement danger zone,” which is 10 years before your projected retirement, you need to start shifting assets away from market risk and over to guaranteed products. A solid fixed indexed annuity with a long-term income rider might be a very good call. I wrote an article about the different types of annuities and how to purchase one that fits your needs.

A lifetime income rider (state and product variations exist) will guarantee that you have a certain amount of income (depending on how much you have in your annuity and at what age you start withdrawing) for you and your spouse’s life. If you live to be very old, your normal retirement funds might run out, but a lifetime income rider guarantees that income stream regardless of what happens to the underlying cash in the account. Also if you have five to 10 years, you have time for that income rider to grow. Many income riders offer 6 percent and more guaranteed growth every year.

When you purchase a $200,000 annuity, many companies might offer a 10 percent bonus on your initial purchase price so your starting amount would be $220,000. When you add compound growth at 6 percent over 10 years, your income rider would top $400,000. Then you would start to draw your lifetime income at 6 percent of the $400,000, giving you $24,000 a year income for you and your spouse’s life. Presto! You have filled your income gap. If you have the resources to purchase another annuity, you might get one with a cost of living clause to hedge against inflation.

John Jamieson is the best-selling author of “The Perpetual Wealth System.” Check out this week’s featured video.

The Myth of “Average Rate of Return”

We are told that stocks are the way to wealth and that the market has averaged (pick a figure) over the last (pick a time frame) and so it will continue to do the same. It is important for you to understand that “average rates of return” can be easily manipulated and that whatever figure you get from Wall Street does not mean that your money will average that growth rate. (Dow Jones Industrial Average Stock Market Historical Graph)

Remember this example well: over 4 years, how is it possible to invest $100,000 on year one and average a 25% rate of return for four years and have less than $100,000 after year four and have never taken a dime out of the account during that time? The answer is so easy once you understand how this works. Invest $100,000 into the account and it grows at 100% (doubles) in year one so now it is worth $200,000. Year two, the account falls by 50% (half) putting the value back down at $100,000. Year three, the account grows by another 100% and the money is back up to $200,000. Year four, the account dips back down another 50% and our money is now back to $100,000. Now you take out taxes you made on the good years (the way mutual fund taxes work is you can owe tax even though you have not sold the asset) and fees, and time value of money and your account is worth quite a bit less than the $100,000 you started your investment plan out with four years before.

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Now take a look at your “average rate of return” and you will notice that if you add up 100% return years twice and subtract out your 50% years twice, that leaves you with 100%. You must divide that by the 4-year cycle and what do you get? Of course, I am a high school failure and college dropout but it looks like a 25% “average rate of return.” Did your money grow by 25% a year? Not hardly! If your money would have grown at 25% a year compounded annually your $100,000 would now be over $269,000. This is a far cry from the $80,000 your probably have left in your account when you “averaged” 25% per year for four years. Most of your 401k’s are earning an average rate of return.

Be very careful to focus on growth, not rates of return. If I am selling some kind of financial product and don’t like the last 4 year average I might try to show you the 8 year average. If that still stinks maybe the 15 year average will work? I have seen people in this day and age pull out 100 year averages to attempt to prove their point. The only problem is the economy of today doesn’t even vaguely resemble the economy of last century. This means that a 100 year average is probably a lousy way to try and predict the growth for the next 10 or 20 years of any particular product.

Instead of average rate of return focus on cash flow in and cash flow out of your accounts. Don’t get sucked into the age-old trap of just thinking about rates of return. Many times they are put in place so you will take your eye off the ball of what’s really happening. What’s really happening is that while we are all focusing on rates of return and the rise and fall of the stock market, we are happily pouring our wealth out month after month to the banks and other places with no real plan to stop the insanity. Wealth without Stocks will give you that plan.

Visit us at Perpetual Wealth Systems to learn more.

You’re Getting Ready to Retire… is Your Money Ready?

The baby boomers are retiring and preparing to retire by the millions: According to the AARP, 8,000 people turn 65 every day in America. But even if boomers are ready to retire physically, psychologically and chronologically, many are not ready financially.

I’m not talking about the usual question of whether or not you have enough money to retire. This discussion is about the proper use of that money. I work with clients from all over the country to map out their own financial strategies, and the first step is educating them about four phases of wealth.

Accumulation

The accumulation phase usually begins about age 25 or when you begin your full-time profession. This is when you start putting money away in retirement vehicles, such as 401(k) plans, Individual Retirement Accounts and other alternatives.

During this phase, you can take losses more easily since you have time to recover. Dollar cost averaging is your friend. You can take reasonable risks and might consider more aggressive funds, stocks and bonds. You should also consider solid real estate investments. You can use a self-directed IRA to own real estate and other non-traditional assets inside your retirement accounts. This phase will last until 10 years before your desired retirement age.

Pre-Retirement (aka Retirement Danger Zone)

Pre-retirement is when you begin to reassess your risk tolerance and start to realize that any losses you take now might dramatically affect your ability to retire at your scheduled age. It is when you begin to shift the bulk of your retirement money to very safe, stable, low-risk assets. No more than 30 percent of your portfolio should be left in the market, and that should be in low-risk, blue chip stocks. You also might consider selling off your real estate holdings or paying off mortgages and loans, giving you great cash flow and removing most of your downside risk. If real estate values drop dramatically, it hurts much more if you are leveraged with big mortgages. When you own properties free and clear, they are still great cash-flow machines even if the values drop. You should also consider using a portion of your cash to purchase a solid, low-fee, fixed-indexed annuity.

Retirement

Once you leave your profession — and your paycheck — risk and loss are your most dangerous enemy. At this point, most of your funds should be in guaranteed products. There is a myth that guarantees and low risk mean lousy rates of return. Seek out low- or no-risk alternatives to mutual funds. If you keep most of your money in mutual funds now, you are subject to the ravages of reverse dollar cost averaging, which that can gobble up retirement money in a hurry.

Retirement is all about hands-off income that you should be able to draw from several sources. These can include Social Security, pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, cash value life insurance, free and clear real estate, fixed indexed annuities with lifetime income riders attached, certificates of deposit and standard savings. You could also be receiving payments from businesses or assets you sold when you retired. Creating income from these assets will make sure you can live in style for the next 30 years and beyond. During this time, you should also plan a long-term care or home health care strategy.

Legacy

The legacy phase represents what you would like to leave behind for family, charities, foundations and other causes near and dear to your heart. Ask yourself this question: What do I want to accomplish after I am gone? Then set up a legacy plan with an estate attorney to make sure your wishes are carried out with your money

People have widely varied opinions on this phase. Most want to leave a nice nest egg to their children and grandchildren to help with education and other expenses. But other people say they started with nothing and want to leave little to nothing behind after they are gone. One way to leave behind a fantastic legacy is to set up a properly designed life insurance policy while you’re still relatively young. It will be a tax-free retirement asset during your lifetime and leave behind tax-free cash for your heirs.

If you master these four wealth stages, you will be assured a life of financial abundance.