Category : retire

retirement-savings-blooom

Dear People Who Want to Retire

I’m 34-years old and barely a millennial. I’ve worked in finance for 10 years, which relatively speaking, is not a long time, but enough to look back with insight and a vested eye on the future. I grew up in Kansas and double majored in History & Sociology at the University of Kansas so I don’t even have a business or finance degree to impress you with. In college, my interests aligned more with understanding socioeconomic status and how groups of people are treated, rather than supply chain management, retirement savings and investment banking. And if I were going to be really honest with you, my biggest concern during my formative college years was making sure there were enough handbills around the KU campus to promote my rock band’s next show at the Granada Theater.

This all changed after my parents’ divorce. Their divorce immediately threw me into the realm of understanding discount points on mortgages, cost basis calculations on taxable investments, and estate and insurance planning in an effort to help my mother. During the marriage, she never earned much and always relied on my father to handle the finances. After the divorce, she had to rely and trust in others. This included an investment professional who, despite my mother being fresh off a divorce, low income, and insufficient savings, put her in a variable annuity. More on that in a minute.

And then there is my wife who, in her late 20’s, also sought guidance in an advisor. At that time, she was single, no kids, had heaps of school loans, zero IRA’s and insufficient emergency savings. Yet, she left a meeting with a trusted advisor with a term AND a whole life insurance policy. What she failed to leave with was a strategy on how to pay off her student loans or a plan for retirement savings.

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There are a Thousand Ways to Save: Pick One and Start Today

We are mid-way through National Save for Retirement Week so it makes sense that it’s also “Brown Bag” your lunch day. There is no shortage of “how to save money” blogs on the internet and maybe I am just feeding the beast by offering my five tips. But the good news is, there ARE thousands of articles out there about saving. So whether you are focused on saving for your “Life After Work” or have other goals like saving to pay extra on your student debt or saving for the down payment on your first home, there is never a shortage of tips to help you along the way. Just pick a few that you like and start saving!

  1. Remove yourself from alerts: It’s hard to resist the temptation of shopping when every day you are receiving emails and text messages about the next “can’t miss” sale. Shut down the impulse noise to keep your budget on track.
  2. Make it a competition: My husband and I follow the Dave Ramsey Cash Envelope System. We take out a certain amount of cash each week that we allocate for our own personal use. We call it our “fun money.” But we still found ourselves putting some incidental purchases on our cards that caused a lot of budget leakage. So we now have a bet. We can only make purchases with our “fun money” cash. Whoever puts any “extras” on the debit or credit card has to treat the other person to dinner and pay for it with their “fun money.” The thought of losing a bet to my husband is a great motivator to keep the plastic in my purse.
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The Dollar-A-Day Challenge

“That Einstein fella was a real idiot.”
-No one. Ever.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Albert Einstein? The Theory of Relativity? Nuclear energy? Bad hair day?…All jokes aside, the guy was an absolute genius that provided some of the greatest intellectual contributions to humanity that we’ve ever seen. Yet with every invention or theory he and all the brilliant minds before him came up with, what has he famously named as mankind’s greatest invention of all time?

Answer: Compound Interest

If one of the smartest dudes to ever walk the face of the Earth said it, we here at blooom figure it’s worth a short blog post. Compounding in investing sounds boring, but trust me, it’s a magical thing for retirement planning.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, you can think of compounding as the way your money can be used to make more money, or the ability for your money to grow exponentially over time. Take just a single dollar, for example. If you invest a single dollar in the stock market and just let it sit untouched for 40 years, it could be worth around $31 by then. That’s a 3,000% (yes, three thousand) return on your investment for simply investing $1! And if you really want your mind blown, consider this – if you’re a newborn baby reading this, by the time YOU retire, that same single dollar invested could be worth $789! In other words, 788,000% growth. Not too shabby.

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Technology Provides the Next Frontier in 401k plans

Did you know that of the 20,000+ individual 401(k) accounts that blooom has analyzed, over 80% were invested incorrectly? Yea, that’s right…over 16,000 people didn’t have the right investments in their account.

What that tells us is that the current system that employers have in place for plan participants is not working. Technology now has provided a solution to this problem through online investment management services, commonly referred to as Robo-Advisors, such as blooom.

Blooom is a low-cost, Registered Investment Advisory online service created to help improve the way average Americans manage their 401(k) retirement plans. In just five minutes, the blooom assesses a client’s 401(k), including hidden fees, from start to finish and provides ongoing professional management for as little as $5/month.

It is predicted that by 2020 the amount of money personal investors will invest through the use of technology will grow by 68%. In this Podcast blooom’s CEO, Chris Costello, talks about how technology is revolutionizing the 401(k) space and how important it is for employers to be at the forefront of providing this latest employee benefit to their participants.

Listen to the 401(k)Fridays podcast featuring blooom’s Chris Costello here.

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You Can Catch-Up to Get Back on the Retirement Track

This article from 2016 has been updated with information for 2018

The more you can save in your 401k while you’re working the better off you’ll be building your retirement nest egg. I believe I can take off my Captain Obvious cape now. You need more than empty words to help you get on track to retirement and there are tangible actions you can take if you need a 401k catch up.

Although a recent study in InvestmentNews points out 45% of Americans indicate they are on track to reach retirement goals, which is an increase from 38% from the 2013 study, that still leaves many workers coming up short when running the projections for their future retirement account balance. There could be a number of factors that contribute to the shortfall: starting too late, not taking full advantage of a match if offered, taking money out of the account for non-retirement purposes or using investment options that were too conservative or, most likely, some combination of all. But you’re in luck, whether you are just starting out or you can see the retirement horizon from your office chair, there are things you can do to ramp up your retirement savings and catch-up.

If you’re young, you have time to make changes to the way you’re approaching retirement savings without much damage to your end result. You can increase your contribution rate, even just a percent or two, and set up automatic increases annually to get back on track. In 2018 the limit on 401k contributions is $18,500. If you need a calculator to help you determine what percentage to set your contribution rate (also called deferral rate) to reach the maximum, there are plenty out there; I like bankrate.com retirement calculators. Keep in mind, depending on your status in your company, or the plan’s stated rules, you may have limits on actually reaching this maximum amount. For instance, you could be limited if you’re considered a Highly Compensated Employee (HCE) or if your employer’s plan has a limit on the contribution percent you can set up. You can check out your employer’s plan documents to determine the specifics that matter to you.

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