Michael Lewis Michael R. Lewis is a retired corporate executive and entrepreneur. During his 40+ year career, Lewis created and sold ten different companies ranging from oil exploration to healthcare software. He has also been a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC, a Principal of one of the larger management consulting firms in the country, and a Senior Vice President of the largest not-for-profit health insurer in the United States. Mike's articles on personal investments, business management, and the economy are available on several online publications. He's a father and grandfather, who also writes non-fiction and biographical pieces about growing up in the plains of West Texas - including The Storm.
Many seniors struggle to make ends meet each month. At the same time, they often own thousands of dollars of real estate in the form of equity in their home. But unless they take action, that equity remains untouchable, unable to help them out with basic living expense. What’s worse is that mortgage payments further reduce their available cash each month to pay crucial expenses.
A Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation report states that more than three of four seniors over the age of 65 have equity in their homes ranging from $67,700 to $325,200. One in 20 have home equity greater than $398,500, and 1% have more than $799,850.
In 2010, a Pew Research report indicated that three out of every four members of the workforce expect to keep working for pay after they retire. 60% of them believe this will be by choice, not necessity – but pre-retirees may be more optimistic than justified in their expectations. According to the Center of Retirement Research, less than half of all households are financially prepared for retirement at 65; a quarter will need to work at least one to three more years; and almost one in ten will need to work past age 72 or longer.
From the Neanderthals who left hand prints on the cavern walls of El Castillo, Spain more than 37,000 years ago, to the G.I.’s crude drawings of a long-nosed fellow peering over a fence announcing, “Kilroy was here,” humans have sought immortality through art. The same impulse that drives the graffiti tagger in Los Angeles drives the white-haired Hamptons matron to pen a letter to the local newspaper about animal leash laws: a desire to be seen, heard, and remembered.
The example of the first great republic in recorded history (509 B.C. to 29 B.C.) was omnipresent in the minds of America’s founders as they created a new republic centuries later. As a consequence of their deliberations and, perhaps, the “protection of divine Providence” as written in the Declaration of Independence, the United States of America, in the mind of many of the founders, was intended to be the modern equivalent of the Roman Republic. The Roman Republic ended with the infamous assassination of Julius Caesar in 27 B.C..
Climate change – specifically global warming – is one of the more controversial issues mankind is facing. Consensus about climate change’s definition, effects, and causes, especially the role that humans play in the acceleration of climate change, is virtually impossible to reach. The controversy is particularly clear in the energy industry, where many assert that there is no scientific agreement about the causes of global warming or its potential problems.
It’s good to be the boss. People in charge of an organization not only make more money, they also have happier family lives, are more satisfied with their work, and worry less about their financial futures, according to a Pew Research report. Those in the top levels consider their employment a “career,” not just a job that pays the bills.
Of course, promotions to those top levels are never guaranteed. However, there are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances of advancing your career – whether with your existing employer or a new one. Long-term success relies on having as many options as possible and ensuring that you’re prepared when an opportunity arises.
Some financial advisors assert that annuities are expensive, contrived insurance/investment combinations promoted by brokers who, according to The Motley Fool, “are getting rich with big commissions.” The site continues to bluntly state that “investors can generally do far better for themselves elsewhere.”
Suze Orman, financial advisor and television host, says that “not very many of us should be investing in annuities at all,” and that “there are reasons why they sometimes make sense, but there are even more reasons why they mostly do not.” However, even the most critical do recognize that annuities provide real benefits for some investors with unique needs.
A headline in the December 2013 issue of The Atlantic claimed that American schools compared to the rest of the world – the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – were “expensive, unequal, bad at math.” Their conclusion was based upon American student performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2012. Far East countries such as China, Korea, and Japan were top performers, while most European and Scandinavian countries ranked higher than the U.S. as well. Even the country’s former Cold War competitor, the Russian Federation, ranked higher than the United States in the assessment.
Bernard Baruch, known as “The Lone Wolf of Wall Street,” owned his own seat on the New York Stock Exchange by age 30 and became of the country’s best known financiers by 1910. Mr. Baruch, while a master of his profession, had no illusions about the difficulties of successful stock market investing, saying, “The main purpose of the stock market is to make fools of as many men as possible.” According to Ken Little, author of 15 books on investing and personal finance topics, “If you are an individual investor in the stock market, you should know that the system stacks the deck in its favor.”
In 1959, physicist Richard Feynman predicted a future in which scientists would, by manipulating atoms and molecules, be able to build materials and structures of higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of the light spectrum, and greater chemical reactivity.
Everything of a physical nature – human beings, plants, minerals, air – is composed of combinations of atoms and molecules bound together either by shape or electronic charge. Manipulating atoms on a nano-scale would theoretically allow humans to reproduce everything from diamonds to food.
The consequences of “financial risk” became apparent to many investors during the a two-year period from 2007 to 2009. The stock market (as measured by the Standard & Poor 500) plummeted from 1562.47 on October 10, 2007 to 752.44 on November 20, 2009. As a consequence, more than one-half of the retirement savings of many people were lost.
Many investors had saved money for years in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement – but as a result of the decline in stock values in that two-year period, workers were forced to delay retirement or accept a significant decrease in their expected standard of living. The S&P 500 did not regain its previous high level until the first week of April 2013.
Choosing a financial advisor is one of the more difficult tasks that a person will make. If the choice is made correctly, the benefits are incalculable. But if the choice proves to be wrong, the results can be disastrous for you and your family.
The following tips are intended to help you identify, evaluate, and choose a financial advisor that is familiar with the problems you face as an investor and can help you achieve your financial goals. With his or her knowledge of your personality and risk profile, your advisor can guide you safely through the morass of choices to those most likely to lead to success.
With age comes wisdom – or, at least, so those of us who are approaching the age of retirement hope. For many people, wisdom includes the recognition that prices of assets can go down as well as up, especially in the short-term. In addition, experience shows that markets do not always reflect underlying values, driven in the short-term more by emotion and psychology than by logic. History is full of companies who have gone public and enjoyed soaring stock prices, only to go bankrupt in the harsh light of economic reality.
Do you feel a personal responsibility to help others? Randy Lewis, author of “No Greatness Without Goodness,” claims that all people, including businesses, have the responsibility to make the world a better place. In his case, he spearheaded a Walgreens initiative to hire the disabled. In the five years following his initiative, similar programs were sparked across America and Europe.
In June 2014, Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee cafe, announced a free online college program through Arizona State University for any employee working 20 or more hours per week. Duncan Campbell, an Oregon entrepreneur, started Friends of the Children to provide emotional and educational support to at-risk children, starting with kids in kindergarten and progressing with them through college. Of the kids involved, 83% graduate high school and 93% avoid juvenile hall for breaking the law.
Americans born after World War II have grown up in a culture that seems to promise them everything. The greatest economy in history was built, in part, by creating an insatiable demand for “more.” Unfortunately, however, its consequences can be measured in part by an unmanageable national debt, the approaching scarcity of many natural resources, increasing class conflict, and the high degree of stress and unhappiness of society at large.
Many retirees, as well as those who hope to retire within the next decade, are discovering that their resources may not be able to provide the lifestyle they’d anticipated. For some, there is little alternative except to severely cut back expenditures and lower expectations. For those who have not yet reached those years, there is another option: living lean.
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