Author Archives: Kevin Conard

Is Your 401k About To Hit A 20 Car Pileup?

So, I’m driving home from work and traffic is awful. I’m late, I’m flustered and even worse…I’m impatient.

BUT I’m certain that I can shrink down my commute time if I can correctly pick which lane of traffic to maneuver in and out of. I daftly survey the type of cars in front of me; a minivan, a semi-truck and a package delivery truck. There is no way these vehicles are going to move fast and I’m certain the other lanes of traffic will get me to my destination quicker. As I look to my left, cars are whizzing by and moving at a much greater speed (ie, performing way better). After “researching” my lane, I decide that it’s bad and I need to get out of it.

I see my opportunity and pull into the faster lane on my left, just as the lane comes to a screeching halt. To add insult to injury, the lane I was just in starts to move forward. After a three second analysis I decide that I blew it – time to reassess. On a hunch, I think that there might be a wreck in my lane just around the corner. Looking back at the lane of traffic I was just in, I can see the cars are still flying by me. Decision time! Instinctively, I hop back into my original lane. And as luck would have it, it comes to a standstill.

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401k-investment-advice

Koozie’s Won’t Lead You to the 401k Promised Land

Before I got into finance 18 years ago, I started my career in advertising and I’ll never forget my first 401k investment meeting.

I was at my first job; a co-worker popped his head into my cubicle and asked if I was going to the 401k meeting. What 401k meeting? What is a 401k? So I went. A guy in a $2000 three-piece suit stood in front of about 100 of us and explained after-tax saving, pre-tax saving, asset allocation and tossed in a few indecipherable charts and some very colorful diagrams. As I surveyed the room, 80% of the folks were squinting and nodding – but the kind of nodding where you know they have no clue what he was saying. Another 10% were paying zero attention. And the final 10% seemed to be tracking quite well (I might add they were all from the finance department). Then came the question and answer session. I had a thousand questions…but there was no way I was going to raise my hand. I didn’t want to look like a fool and ask a stupid question about 401k investment advice. I imagine my co-workers felt the same.

I left the meeting with a binder, a koozie with a financial firm’s logo on it, and a pile of questions.

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Bacon & Investing

I have to admit, I love bacon. I mean I really love it. If it weren’t for my cardiologist and my wife, I’d have a steady rotation of bacon wrapped everything.

So you can imagine my surprise when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and found this glorious headline, “New Study Claims Eating Bacon May Prolong Your Life.”

Hallelujah! I was filled with a new-found hope – bacon isn’t actually bad for you! My theory that there’s anti-bacon lobby spreading negative propaganda all these years was starting to pan out. After my two second mini-celebration, I saw the next headline that Facebook tossed into my news feed: “Study: Pancreatic cancer risk increases with every 2 strips of bacon you eat.”

My bacon jubilation was squashed.

My point here is obvious; I and millions of other people are persuaded by the media. It’s natural and it’s normal.

When it comes to investing, the same holds true.

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The Power of Peanut Butter: how it can help you retire faster

We hear it all the time: “But I just don’t make enough to even think about putting money into my 401k.”

Who hasn’t felt this way at some point? After all, life happens – soccer fees are due, car needs new brakes, your long lost uncle needs bail money…etc. The list goes on and on.

So the real question becomes…where do you find the money to save? We have the answer.

The average American eats 5.8 commercially prepared meals each week (about 23 times/month) and assuming the average cost is $10 per meal, that totals $230 per month. If you have four people in your household, take that up to $920…in one month. That’s a lot of money.

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The Tax Man Giveth and the Tax Man Taketh Away

It’s that glorious time of year again: Tax Time!

At this point, the tax damage is done. There’s not a lot you can do…BUT did you know that the best time to start planning for your taxes isn’t in December? It is now.

If you find yourself in either of these scenarios, here are some actions you can take:

If you are getting a refund from the IRS

Number one, call your HR Department to adjust your W-4 form and raise the allowances you are claiming. This will increase the amount you get on your paycheck (after they get done taxing it).

Number two, raise the amount you are saving into your 401k. Once you do this, your after-tax paycheck will likely go back down to what it “used to be.” You may have to fiddle with the W-4 allowances and 401k savings rate to get the numbers to shake-out. Once you’ve done this, you will save more money into your 401k, pay less in taxes, and your after-tax paycheck should still be about the same! Boom! Painless saving. Granted, you’ll stop getting a refund each year (which is nothing more than an interest-free loan to the government,) but your future retirement thanks you in advance!

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