Will Social Security be There, Pt. 2

Last week tgif2minutes.com explored a basic statement directly from Social Security’s SSA.gov summarizing that taxes will mostly likely need to go UP TODAY to afford Social Security in the mid 2030’s and for future generations – which is only 15 years away.

This week’s edition will present several possible changes that could take place along the path to higher taxes in order to preserve the Social Security that American workers pay into dearly and expect to receive someday.

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Will Social Security Be There?

Here starts a mini-series of TGIF 2 Minutes editions.

The following is taken directly from the current Social Security website. The italics below are copied from the website and presumably are meant for emphasis. Underlines are mine.

The concepts of solvency, sustainability, and budget impact are common in discussions of Social Security but are not well understood. Currently, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects program cost to rise by 2035 so that taxes will be enough to pay for only 75 percent of scheduled benefits. This increase in cost results from population aging, not because we are living longer, but because birth rates dropped from three to two children per woman. Importantly, this shortfall is basically stable after 2035; adjustments to taxes or benefits that offset the effects of the lower birth rate may restore solvency for the Social Security program on a sustainable basis for the foreseeable future. Finally, as Treasury debt securities (trust fund assets) are redeemed in the future, they will just be replaced with public debt. If trust fund assets are exhausted without reform, benefits will necessarily be lowered with no effect on budget deficits.

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Murphy’s Law is Expensive

One of the most critical factors of long-term personal financial success is… guess:

  1. The markets
  2. Spending
  3. Interest rates
  4. Stock selection
  5. Income level

And the answer is… SPENDING. This fact is why a truly competent financial planner will spend the most time on discussing spending, both today and future projected, along with GOALS (Goals are what people spend money on).

Things can go wrong at any time, therefore, count on one or more things going badly wrong along the course of a person’s life and financial life.

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Buy Dirt

In keeping with the theme that life is precious and worth planning for – enjoy this quick and meaningful tune. Do not hesitate to crank it up and play it several times to capture all the words.

Watch Jordan Davis – “Buy Dirt” (Official Audio) ft. Luke Bryan” on YouTube.

Thank you for reading AND listening… and of course TGIF!

Money, Therapy & 20 Years Later

From the Archives of 2016 with excerpts and updates to “The Coronavirus Life Experience” version of this edition (February 2021) plus a closing message.

Money and Therapy. Two things that people may love or hate. However, among other things, both money and therapy can help. 

From the must-read book for people of all ages The Number* was written by Lee Eisenberg, long time editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine.

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Is NOW a Good Time to Invest?

The original title of this edition of TGIF 2 Minutes was “Remember Brexit?” The reason that seemed appropriate is because recently and often during client reviews, conversations with potential new clients and from friends I am hearing the question, “Is NOW a good time to invest?” The slew of events that occurred in late 2020 and so far in 2021 have led both new and experienced investors to question the timing of investing new monies today.

Looking at the chart below*, there are events since 1970 and as recent as Brexit in 2016 that posed immense uncertainty and likely the same question. In fact, the chart illustrates the TEN YEARS from 2000-2010 dubbed “the lost decade”.

*Please ask for a copy of the PDF to view or zoom in.

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Reacting Can Hurt Performance

As they say, “a picture is worth 1,000 words.”* Please do whatever you need to do with your phone or laptop to make sure the graphic below is visible. And make sure to ZOOM IN or turn the phone sideways (or ask me to send you the PowerPoint or PDF version of this slide).

With that said, the title of the slide is: Reacting Can Hurt Performance. And here is a question,

Who is NOT scared these days or after this week?

Savings and investing decisions need to have been made before today. Reacting can significantly hurt performance.

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Try This If Markets Get Rocky

A timeless set of advice originally appearing in August 2014, again in January and October 2016, again in February and October 2018, August 2019 and as recently as May 2021… it can be wise to do a “gut check” on how extensively a rocky or down stock market could affect your emotions – and more important, your actions. There may be reason to establish a pattern of performing this exercise one to two times per year.

Adapted and shortened, “Gut Check in Rocky Markets,” can be applied to the times we are experiencing today in late August 2021, amidst US and global uncertainties of the geopolitical and pandemic variety. The central message stands:

It can be wise to do a “gut check” on how extensively a rocky or down stock market could affect your emotions – and more important, your actions.

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Inflation is Here

Long time readers of TGIF 2 Minutes may remember the above photo* which accompanied a February 2018 post describing how inflation feels.

Earlier this year in March, a TGIF 2 Minutes post titled Get Ready for Corona Inflation described what could happen if government spending and stimulus continued unchecked. This week’s reported economic numbers underscore reality: a three-month continued surge in inflation that in several categories has not been seen since the early 1980’s. Lots of people reading this post may not have even been born in 1981 – which was the last time that restaurant meals and food prices rose this fast. To the younger generation, inflation may be learned painfully early in their careers. Inflation hurts EVERYONE, most of all the middle class and low-wage workers. For the wealthier, inflation gradually eats into returns on savings and investments.

Photo by Jared Haworth, www.wehadtoday.com/jared

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Getting a New Car

There are few things as exciting as getting a new car: the “new car smell,” the test drive, the sound system, sunroof, heated seats… the feeling of “everything is new.” And these days, cars are advanced computers on wheels (and that means even the non-self-driving kind).

With that said, yours truly recently bought a new car – the first new car in 15 years! The old 2005 (Certified Pre-Owned) B-mer went 180k miles and could have gone another 100k but with a bit of maintenance here and there. Time for a new vehicle. But what new car to buy? New or used? Sedan or SUV? Buy or lease? And the cost: go expensive or reasonable in cost?

Any major purchase – housing, appliances, transportation, kids’ education, and the like – needs to be evaluated both from a financial and emotional perspective.

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