Category : savings

Something about Mary…

When the 60-something woman walked into the office I could see her fighting back the tears.

From time to time this happened to me as a financial advisor. After all, once you’ve counseled 500+ families about retirement, you’re bound to see some tough situations.

But on that day in April of 2009, it turned into a situation I’d never forget. The kind of situation that would make me sick to my stomach.

As I came out to introduce myself to her (let’s call her Mary), she thanked me for my time. I’d never met Mary before. She’d been referred to us by her husband’s co-worker.

We made our way to the conference room and as I always started off meetings, I asked her, “What can we do to help you today?”

Mary replied, “I’m in trouble. And I don’t know what to do.”

“Okay, what’s the situation?”

“Up until last Friday, I worked at a small regional bank for 32 years. On Friday, the Federal Government came in and seized the bank. They locked the doors. We are officially out of business. Which means I lost my job.”

“I’m really sorry to hear about that. That’s definitely not an easy thing to digest…”

“Yeah, well my job is my last concern. The problem is that I had my entire retirement account invested in the private stock of the bank. The valuation last year said it was worth $750,000. Is there anything I can do?”

I already knew the answer and I suppose deep down she did too…the simple answer was there’s nothing she could do. And the stock was virtually worthless. 

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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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Don’t Call Me Lazy

I am always intrigued by the comments we get on blooom’s Facebook page. Some are wonderful and uplifting, some are hilarious, and others. . . well let’s just call them “interesting.” But the ones that really catch my attention are those that are critical. And it’s why they are critical that concerns me. These comments criticize our clients for using blooom’s service. They are critical because these people believe that personal finance should remain personal—handled solely by that individual.

More specifically, the comments call out the blooom clients for being lazy or dumb. I came across one this past week and for some reason the following comment hit me hard and prompted me to write this blog:

Why pay someone to look over your money when you should be the one doing it[?] And you wonder why so many Americans are in debt, cause they are lazy with their finances. Sorry not paying someone to make money off of me cause I’m [too] lazy to watch over my own 401k.

When I read this, I didn’t get upset because I am an employee of blooom. I got upset because I am a client of blooom. According to this person, that makes me lazy and to some others who have commented, it also makes me dumb. So not on behalf of blooom, but rather on behalf of blooom clients, I feel compelled to provide a more expansive response to these types of Facebook comments.

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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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