Caught in an extraordinary convergence of unhinged stock market volatility and historically low interest rates on savings, many people are rethinking their plans and their vision for the future, especially as they consider the prospect of having to stretch their retirement income over 25 or 30 years. A study conducted in 2015 by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found workers of all ages are continuing to lose confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement. But instead of adjusting their investment strategies to confront the challenge, many are simply retreating into a “winning by not losing” mentality and avoiding the stock market altogether. That can be the biggest mistake anyone can make in their retirement planning.
Credit card fraud is on the rise. Millions are hit with it each year, so most credit card users are more vigilant than ever, which is a good thing, except for when they fall for a fraud investigation fraud. Think about it, you’re now conditioned to watch over your carefully watch over your credit cards and react promptly if any signs of fraud pop up. And, when you receive a call from someone telling you that your card has probably been used fraudulently, you’re ready to spring into action. Thinking you have your protector on the other line, you may actually be talking to the person who is about to commit a fraud using your credit card. Here’s how it works:
As our lives become more intertwined with the Internet it may be only a matter of time before all of our important data is stored in this vast “cloud” of bits and bytes. Most people are well on their way with online banking and bill paying, e-tax filing, email, document storage vaults, Social Security information, and soon we will be making payments using our smart phones. Businesses and individuals alike are moving away from metal file cabinets to computer servers, for convenience and better data management. Is it safe? Technically, it could be a lot safer than storing physical documents. But, there are some things you should consider with online data storage.
The potential problems of storing records on computer are often discussed with plenty of advice given for proper data backup. Less discussed, primarily because it is relatively new territory, is the notion of “cloud” recordkeeping where records are entrusted to the internet. The subject is beginning to receive a lot of attention and the debate on the viability of recordkeeping in the cloud is far from settled.
Amidst the more obvious lingering effects of a sluggish economy, such as slow job growth, decreasing incomes, low interest rates and shaky consumer confidence, there lurks a more insidious threat which, thus far, has largely been ignored. Inflation or the prospect of its resurgence has somehow remained under the radar; perhaps because the official measure, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), is still below historical averages, or perhaps because the government has done such a good job in convincing the public that inflation is not a real threat at the moment.
However, while declining paychecks, near-zero growth savings accounts are the tangible results of the current economic and fiscal environment, inflation is the ever-present hidden tax, which, in real terms creates a critical perception gap between what people see as their “nominal” income, that which they can see in their checking and savings accounts, and their “real” income they can actually use. And that perception gap can mean the difference between planning for a secure financial future and one that falls well short of your needs.
Identity thieves are upping their game. In their relentless pursuit of your personal identifying information (PII) they are constantly evolving in their technology and their techniques to stay one step ahead of you. In past blog posts we have hammered on the steps you need to take to fortify your defenses against identity theft. It is up to you to take every precaution you possibly can, but even that may not be enough. You also need to stay abreast of how they are changing their game. These are a few of the methods law agencies are reporting as increasing in use.
Why Bear Markets Don’t Matter
If you’ve been listening to the financial media of late you have no doubt heard some of the so-called experts prognosticating on the prospect of the next big bear market. Unquestionably, the stock market is at another crossroads, and its 7 percent increase year-to-date belies the concerns that most people have over the global economy. So, gloom and doom forecasts by a media anxious to sell papers or air time, should not be at all surprising. Even if we were to buy into the media hype, should we be at all concerned? In the overall scheme of things, should bear markets even matter to us?
There’s no denying that Americans are in love with their credit cards; but increasingly, the romance is rocked by the actions of unsavory characters seeking to come between them. More specifically, they’re seeking to steal your credit card information and they are relentless in pursuing any and all technological means to get it. They will go after the big, “secure” data bases of our banks and credit card processers, and they will go inside your computer where they can watch every keystroke you make. Short of never using your credit card again, you are the last line of defense in preventing an outright assault that could rob you of your identity and your money. You need to know what to do if your credit card has been compromised.
The Biggest Risk You Probably Don't Have Covered
Face it, life happens, most often beyond your control, and it can sometimes produce some unexpected illnesses or injuries that can potentially disrupt your ability to keep your income flowing. In fact, the most valuable asset that most people have is their ability to earn an income. Yet for many people, it’s the one asset that they haven’t protected.
Establishing Goals for Your Estate Plan
Most people think estate planning is only for wealthy people. Certainly, the 55% of Americans who died without a will thought so, even though all of their estates ended up in probate court subject to the laws of the state. Sadly, the surviving families were thrust into a situation that resulted in unnecessary distress, expense and, for many of them, devastating financial consequences.