28 Smart Questions to Ask Your Self Directed IRA Custodian

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self directed IRA custodian

 
Are you looking for a new self-directed IRA custodian or administrator? Perhaps you are already using one and are not happy with their performance or service. Whatever your reason may be, this report should provide you with a better understanding of self-directed IRA custodians and help you assess which one is the best fit for your investment needs.

The process of choosing a self-directed IRA custodian can be challenging. There are a lot of things to consider, the financial industry jargon can be confusing, and it is hard to find unbiased information. In order to make things easier for you, let’s start off by defining…

 

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Inflation Monitor – December 2016

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Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - December 2016 Summary
 

Inflation Monitor – December 2016 – Introduction

 

We have a lot to cover this month in the Inflation Monitor – December 2016. This is the end of 2016. It is a time for reflection for the year past and for pontificating the future. We all know no one can predict the future. And so much is up in the air with the recent populous trend changes, let’s focus on last year.

Let’s start with the US presidential elections. Donald Trump will be our next president (#45) in the US. Some people are happy, and others are sad. Regardless, we have a huge potential shift in the US with the results of the presidential election finalized. The first thing to address is that Trump may or may not pursue the same policies he campaigned on. Every presidential candidate has their platform, but not all of the promises actually happen. Let’s put these in the wait and see category up for discussion after his first 100 days. He will have about 100 days to prove his worth and keep the positive (market-related) momentum going.

While I have seen a lot of positive signs since Trump was elected, the US is overdue for a recession. The S&P 500 had a string of 5 quarters in a row of declining earnings. Apparently, no one noticed. I would consider this a recession, but the markets did not. The markets are always right regardless of what I think. It will be interesting to see what happens once the “new president hangover” wears off.

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A Simple Solution to America’s Health Care Crisis

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health care crisis

I have a question for you…

“What is the one industry that you can walk into an establishment and not know what you are going to pay before you get your goods or services? It is this industry where if you ask the price for their service they will say they cannot tell you or don’t know?”

You might guess the legal profession. I have never met an attorney who wants to give an estimate on their services, but they do tell you the hourly rate, so at least you have some sort of baseline to compare with other attorneys.

It’s not the legal profession.

It is health care.

 

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The 2016 Comprehensive Guide for Year End Financial Planning Strategies

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year end financial planning

 

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

12 Smart Actionable Tips For You To Maximize Your Year End Financial Planning Strategies

The end of the year is fast approaching. Now is the time to plan your year end activities so you can make the most of your financial planning and tax strategies.

In a perfect world, you would have a comprehensive financial plan that you review often to ensure you are on track. However, I’m more realistic. I know you are probably not going to do this…

And to be frank, you would not be reading this in December if you had already done your planning for the year.

Having a financial plan is an important step in making sure you have a path to reach your goals. Financial planning is about figuring out where you want to go, putting together a path to get you there, and monitoring your progress along that path to adjust for unexpected events.

While most financial planning should be done continuously throughout the year, many people wait until year end to complete their checklists. This post should help provide you with 12 immediate actions you can take to get up to speed on your financial planning before year end.

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Top 10 Ways That Wealthy Families Protect and Grow Their Wealth

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wealth

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“Wealth” —  can be defined as assets or resources which are in excess of present or future expected expenses. A more simple explanation is that wealth is made up of assets which exceed what will be needed for this generation, and could be passed onto the next one. Even though a family’s assets may not be needed for this generation, proper stewardship is required to make sure those assets will last for future generations.

The main considerations in protecting wealth for future generations are that the assets must be sustainable over several generations, resistant to inflation, and resistant to political and economic turmoil. It is possible to invest in certain assets that can fortify your wealth against some of these external risks. However, there is a much greater risk of future generations not being good stewards of the sustainable wealth. Whether you are the first generation to create generational wealth, or whether you are researching how to sustain the wealth you have inherited, this list will give you some guidance.
 

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The Wall Street Shuffle

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Timeless Wall Street Wisdom: The Wall Street Shuffle

Wall Street Shuffle
The Wall Street mentality is the art of the possible, where optimism rules the day. While bears may be intellectually correct, they are rarely proven so, and they are never invited to parties.

Wall Street is made up of creative people who can find ways to turn a little money into a lot of money: mathematicians, rocket scientists, astrophysicists, and people who can sell ice cubes to Eskimos.

Youth, ego and arrogance quickly turns wealth into wisdom and experience. Wisdom and experience is transmuted back into gold, cash, and reputation… if you can wait long enough.

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Career Risk and Herding Behavior

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career risk fund manager

The career risk of trying to be different on Wall Street

The financial service industry has a notorious problem which very few people outside the industry are aware of. This problem is generally referred to as career risk. Now most of you reading this might think, “Who cares if some overpaid fund manager gets fired for not performing well enough?” While having your fund manager keep his job might not be high on your holiday wish list, you should realize that it is an enormous problem at Wall street firms and that it is causing many funds to underperform their potential.

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Inflation Monitor – October 2016

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Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - October 2016 Summary

 


 

Inflation Monitor – October 2016 – Introduction

Happy October! We are in the heat of the presidential election cycle which thankfully will end in early November. We have the two least liked candidates fighting for control over the POTUS position. We have already had three debates… If you could call it that. After watching the first debate… On to brighter topics… Deutsche Bank has been in real trouble lately. The kind of trouble that Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and many other US financial institutions were in in 2008. High leverage, holding bonds of questionable quality, and institutional investors starting to pull their money and run for the doors. If you are familiar with the concept of yelling fire in the theater, a bank run is very similar.

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Inflation Monitor – September 2016

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Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - september 2016 Summary


 

Inflation Monitor – September 2016 – Introduction

We are back… After a summer of great weather, we have returned with the September 2016 edition of the Inflation Monitor. I want to apologize to all our readers for not writing an August edition, but if you were paying attention to the global economy in August (and you might be the only one), then you will realize that virtually nothing happened of note. Sure prices changed and economic numbers moved, but if you look at the stock markets, no one noticed and the volume shows that very few people were even working. However, kids are going back to school, Wall Street traders are back from vacation, so should we expect to see more activity? We will soon find out.

If you start to notice the obvious elephant (or donkey) in the room, the US presidential elections are coming up and the ensuing fireworks will most likely be moving the markets. In July, I watched an interesting assessment of the presidential election presented by Larry Lindsey and it provided a few scenarios of outcomes based on certain events happening. While I don’t have the slides, it was truly astounding. I’ll spare you the details except to point out two notable items that I took away from the event….

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Inflation – The Secret to Building Wealth in Real Estate

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building wealth in real estate

“The major fortunes in America have been made in land.”- John D. Rockefeller

After more than 75 years John D. Rockefeller is still considered the richest man in history when you adjust for inflation.

According to the New York Times as of 2007, his net worth reached $192 Billion. Compare this with Bill Gates whose fortune is only $82 Billion. This shows how enormous the fortune of John D Rockefeller actually was. Only Commodore Vanderbilt and John Astor have even come close with $143 Billion and $116 Billion.

Rockefeller at one time controlled 90% of the nation’s oil and his fortune was approximately 1.5% of the nation’s economy. That is legacy wealth. Wealth that is hard to lose of destroy.

Even though all his wealth was made from oil, he still attributes major fortunes being made in land or real estate. That is a powerful statement.

What I am going to discuss here is one of the reasons why real estate is able to create legacy wealth. Wealth that can last for many generations if it is managed properly. Interestingly enough this is also one of the least understood benefits of owning real estate.

This post is the second part of a four part series about real estate. The last post, These Top 7 Powerful Tools Can Create Legacy Wealth from Real Estate, briefly touches on the importance of inflation to your real estate assets. I plan on going into much more depth this week.

The Advantages of Investing in Real Estate

Real estate is one of my favorite asset classes. Here is why.

In the prior post of this series I touched on a few of the reasons that real estate is such a favorable asset to invest in.

  1. You can easily use leverage to buy it,
  2. there is a limited amount of real estate
  3. Tax benefits
  4. It can create cash flow
  5. Appreciation potential
  6. It is inflation Proof
  7. You can reduce the debt in real terms over time.

Just one of these alone would be a good enough reason to invest in this asset class, but all 7 make it especially powerful. With exception of the tax benefits and the limited supply of real estate, all of the other benefits rely on inflation to enhance the performance of real estate over time. While I will discuss these in more detail, let’s first discuss what inflation is and how it works.

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Inflation Monitor – July 2016

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Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - June 2016 Summary

 

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary of the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – July 2016 – Introduction

“Debt is future consumption brought forward. Once debt is incurred, consumption that might have happened in the future won’t happen, and it should come as absolutely no theoretical surprise that at a certain level of debt, growth and income begin to diminish. That is exactly what we are seeing in the real world, even if those who espouse the reigning economic paradigm (Keynesianism) are still in love with their beautiful theory.”

I hope you had a happy Independence Day. A day that is in remembrance of the US’ independence from Britan. How ironic that only 11 days prior to our independence day, the UK declared its independence from the EU. If you don’t know about the Brexit, you must have been living in the woods for the past month. Everyone has been discussing this monumental vote with varying degrees of opinion as to what it could mean.brexit

I have not wanted to discuss it much prior to the vote, because despite what you hear on TV, no one really knows what will happen. Sure there are plenty of “smart” people who have an opinion about what will happen. Some think the world will end, or we will spiral into WW3, others think it is a great thing for the UK. Let me rain on the parade of all these “smart” people. No one knows what will happen. There are too many variables to count and although there are some very important issues that may come up due to this vote, this has never happened before, so we have no reference point of what could happen.

Many people have some relevant thoughts on the issue, but in terms of what will happen, it is mostly political, so unless you know the minds of all the various politicians involved with the UK, EU, and each individual country, you cannot make a thoughtful prediction as to the outcome.

 

Here are some of the relevant points you should consider.

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What You Don’t Know About Renting vs Buying a Home Can Cost You Money

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buying vs renting a home

“If you rent a home, it is an expense. When you buy a home, it is an expense. If you buy a home and rent it out to a third party, it becomes an investment. A better way to put it is that when you are renting, you rent from a landlord. When you buy a home to live in, you are renting from yourself.”

This is the third and last post of this series. The first post, Should You Rent or Buy a Home?, examined what factors you should consider when renting vs buying a home. The second post, What is the True Cost of Owning a Home? , examined the true cost of owning a home. In this final post I will be examining whether it makes sense to rent or buy a home. Numbers don’t lie, so lets look at some real numbers.

There are many calculators available online to help you figure out whether to rent or own. Unfortunately very few include the true costs of owning a home in their calculations. If you read the prior post, you will have some understanding of what was left out and how to calculate it. The math in post this will be relatively straight forward and a bit more fun.

I will be showing you some examples of real properties that I have found in the past year to illustrate this secret that very few people know. Whether you are a real estate investor or looking to buy a home to live in, you will want to know this secret.

“you are paying someone else’s mortgage, so why don’t you pay your own?”

There is a myth out there that when you rent, “you are paying someone else’s mortgage, so why don’t you pay your own?” This is a farce. It doesn’t matter whose mortgage you are paying, what matters is your costs to live in that home.  No matter where you live, your cost to live in that home is an expense. If you rent, you pay rent to a land lord. If you own, you pay a mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc. There are costs for both options. Unless you live in a tent you will be paying for a home either way.

The reason many people think that owning is better than renting is that they equate owing a home as an investment rather than an expense. Once they make the realization that it is…

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Inflation Monitor – June 2016

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Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - June 2016 Summary

 

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary of the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – June 2016 – Introduction

If you are older than 30 years old, then you are probably scratching your head about negative interest rates. You have spent most of your life under the assumption that positive inflation is normal. You expect it. You probably treat it as a rule of nature rather than an assumption. Well, you are probably surprised to see negative interest rates around the world. While we have not yet seen them here in the US, it is only a matter of time till we see them here.

We have seen a strong push from the central banks around the world into negative interest rate territory. On June 5, 2014, the ECB introduced its negative interest rate policy (NIRP). On January 29, 2016, Japan introduced their version of NIRP. As of March 2016, the ECB dropped their deposit facility rate to -0.40. They are also started purchasing investment grade euro-denominated corporate debt. On June 14, 2016, Germany’s 10-year bund fell below zero to -0.033%. This is historic because it has never happened before.

As of now Switzerland, Japan, and Germany, all have 10 years sovereign bonds that are yielding negative interest rates. Where will this madness end? In case you didn’t think that was crazy, there’s more.

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Inflation Monitor – May 2016

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Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - May 2016 Summary

 

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary for the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – May 2016 – Introduction

 

This month I want to discuss population growth. This is one of those topics which when you see the word, you probably instantly fell asleep. sorry…

However, this topic is important because it is one of the factors determining inflation. In the US as in many of the developed economies, population is not growing as fast as it needs to in order to sustain the current rate of growth. Currently the US has a population growth rate at below 1% ( 0.77%). Countries like Japan, Russia, China, and eastern Europe have shrinking populations.

Slow to negative population growth economies have a significant deflationary force to overcome. This deflationary force cannot be simply determined by looking at population growth, since it also depends on the age distribution of the workforce and other factors, but it does give you a general sense of which countries have some serious headwinds to overcome if they want growth via inflation.

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Should You Rent or Buy a Home?

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American dream rent or buy a home

“But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

James Truslow Adams

Is the American Dream Really an Illusion?

There is a great illusion when it comes to real estate. This illusion is that owning your home is an investment.

When you own real estate and use it to generate monthly income… it is an investment.

When you buy real estate and develop it to sell for a profit… it is an investment.

When you buy real estate to live in… It not an investment. It is a personal expense.

Where did this idea come from that every American should own their home?

I heard that Fannie Mae came up with the “American Dream” idea as part of a marketing campaign that everyone should own their own home. Great idea on their part, but I have not been able to confirm that they were the ones to initiate this idea.

Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

Most people believe that owning a home should be considered an investment. Some go as far to become “house poor” so that they can leverage themselves into a bigger home. This does not seem wise to me.

There is also a social stigma to being an owner vs a renter. If you are an owner you are perceived as being more well off. But are you? I will discuss the financial aspects of home ownership vs. renting in my next post, What Most People Don’t Know About Renting vs Buying a Home .

Here is the US map of whether it is cheaper to rent or own in each US city:

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What is the True Cost of Owning a Home?

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Cost of owning a home

 

In the prior post of this series, Should You Rent or Buy a Home?, I wrote about the pros and cons of home ownership vs renting. It is important to start here when you are considering whether to rent or buy a home. The decision of where to live should not be solely made on emotional attachment or financial considerations. It should be made up of both if you are planning on living in a home for many years. You want to love where you live.

This week’s post will be focused more on the financial considerations of renting vs buying a home. More specifically, what is the true cost of owning a home. If you have never correctly run these numbers before, the data may surprise you.

This week I will give you an example of what the true costs of owning a home are. In next week’s post, What You Don’t Know About Renting vs. Buying a Home Can Cost You Money, I will compare some real life examples of costs of renting vs buying a home.

I hope I am able to forever change how you look at buying the home you want to live in.

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Deflation – How a Mortgage Can Destroy Your Real Estate Wealth

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real estate deflation

“Thus inflation is unjust and deflation is inexpedient. Of the two perhaps deflation is, if we rule out exaggerated inflations such as that of Germany, the worse; because it is worse, in an impoverished world, to provoke unemployment than to disappoint the rentier. But it is necessary that we should weigh one evil against the other. It is easier to agree that both are evils to be shunned.”   – John Maynard Keynes

This is the 3rd in a series of 4 posts about investing in real estate. The last post, Inflation – The Secret To Building Wealth in Real Estate, is about how inflation is essential to building wealth via your real estate investments. While most people subconsciously understand that real estate has all of the features listed in that post, they may not be sure why real estate has those features. The key is inflation.

This week I will be discussing the other side of the coin, and what happens when there isn’t inflation to make your real estate the wealth building tool that it has been for over 50 years.

This week I will be discussing deflation and how it would affect your real estate investments. Many notable economists have made deflation the economic boogieman. They have claimed that it is the worst possible outcome in an economy. When you hear someone talking about deflation, it is highly likely that Japan will also be mentioned in the same sentence.

Deflation is rare in the global economies of today. This is primarily because central banks around the world have engaged in a campaign to create a consistent inflationary environment for their own economies. This has worked for a few decades without hyper-inflation or persistent deflation in developed economies. Except for Japan.

Japan is one notable example of deflation which has taken hold in an economy and created a deflationary spiral. This is the essence of what economists fear. While this may sound scary, it isn’t, or doesn’t have to be. This week I will be discussing how deflation affects real estate, and why you should understand this if you want to protect your wealth.

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Inflation Monitor – April 2016

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Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - April 2016 Summary

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary for the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – April 2016 – Introduction

 

April Fool’s… every year people use this day to play practical jokes on others. This year it was the Fed’s turn to make fools of us all. Janet Yellen made a strong point early in her tenure as Fed Chair that she believed in more transparency with communications to the public about Fed policy. She must have a new years resolution this year that we are not aware of, because her transparency has taken a back seat to settling the market gyrations. The Fed has always claimed that their decisions are not driven by the stock market, however their recent actions might suggest otherwise.

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These Top 7 Powerful Tools Can Create Legacy Wealth from Real Estate

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real estate wealth

“Buying real estate is not only the best way, the quickest way, the safest way, but the only way to become wealthy.”  – Marshall Field

Marshall Field was an American Entrepreneur who lived in the 1800’s. His quote was obviously made in an era before tech stocks, hedge funds and excess money printing by the Federal Reserve. However the principal of owning real estate to become wealthy still holds true.

Real Estate is arguably the best asset class if you want to build enormous wealth. While you may have heard of real estate investors such as Donald Trump, or Sam Zell, there are countless more who are relatively unknown and are just as wealthy. Many of these investors prefer to live in relative obscurity.

What I want to show you are the 7 powerful techniques that these real estate tycoons were able to use to build their enormous wealth. While most of these techniques apply to both real estate investors and homeowners, there are more benefits from owing real estate as an investor rather than a home owner.

The 7 reasons you should own real estate as an investment:

real estate leverage

 

Leverage

Real estate is one of the few assets where you can use enormous amounts of leverage to own the asset, and banks will happily lend it to you. Leverage is a way to amplify the returns you receive on that asset, in both directions. Leverage is both beneficial and dangerous, so make sure that leverage is working in your favor.

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