Book Review: Live It Up Without Outliving Your Money

book review

book reviewIt has been some time since I’ve done a book review here. With that said, today I am reviewing Live It Up Without Outliving Your Money by Paul Merriman. I’ll just tell you from the start that this is a definite must read.

Live It Up Without Outliving Your Money Summary

The book itself teaches its readers how to build a perfect portfolio for their situation. Mr. Merriman has even built recommended portfolios for you to use as well. These portfolios are built off of funds from Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, and Schwab. You can view his website to find all of his sample portfolio’s, or save yourself the time and check out my model portfolios which has many of the elements that Merriman talks about.

Getting more detailed, the book starts off with the first few chapters talking about investment philosophy and what makes some investors successful and others unsuccessful, mainly the two biggest enemies that most overlook: fund expenses and taxes. He breaks both down showing readers why you need to take these into account when building a portfolio and why you are crazy if you ignore them. (I also talk more about fees in this post.)

From there the book builds a portfolio over the next few chapters. Each chapter looks at a specific part of the portfolio and shows you why you need to invest in certain asset classes.

The book concludes with how to live on the money in your investment portfolio.

My Take On Live It Up Without Outliving Your Money

Aside from the overall content, the one thing I really enjoyed about the book is that it is outlined in a very useful fashion: Each chapter has what I call “a short summary”. This short summary provides you with a good brief overview of the chapter topic. In essence, you could just read these short summaries and be done with the book. But the chapters themselves go into excellent detail.

Another thing I enjoyed was how all of the chapters were smartly laid out, with each one building perfectly from the last. While you can jump around, it is best to read from beginning to end.

Other things I enjoyed about this book:

  • Mr. Merriman’s writing style is great – not too complex for the non-investor but enough meat for the person that has been investing for some time.
  • The chapters are short, which shows he does not use a lot of filler. In fact, most chapters are just 10 pages long. This makes it a great book to read just before bed.
  • There are text boxes scattered throughout the book that go into greater detail for those looking for more. I like how it is up to the reader to dive into this information as opposed to the books where the author simply assumes everyone wants the added information.

Final Thoughts

While he provides sound advice, what I enjoyed most out of Live It Up Without Outliving Your Money was the fact that anyone can pick it up, read it over a weekend, and set up his or her ideal portfolio. The book doesn’t weigh you down with overly complex financial terms or statistics. It is presented in a straight forward manner that is easy to understand. I highly recommend this book to both the beginning and seasoned investor and have added it to my bookstore. There you can find other books I reviewed and a link to Amazon to buy the books.

[Photo Credit: Enokson]

Why Life Insurance Is Not A Good Savings Plan

life insurance poor savings

life insurance poor savingsIt’s been a pretty popular idea to use a life insurance policy as a savings plan. The money is always there to withdraw, right? However, the following five reasons are all why life insurance is not a good savings plan. In many cases life insurance is important to have and with today’s quote websites there is no reason not to look into it, but you need to consider these five important points.

The Investment May Not Produce Great Results

Many life insurance policies are promoting their savings potential and talk about the remarkable investment turnarounds. However, these are more optimistic than anything. The investment may not produce the great results you need for this to work as a good savings plan.

In order to get the savings amount you’ll need for college or retirement planning, you may need to make a larger premium payment than originally advertised.

High Management Fees

While some savings plans may have a small monthly fee, most do not have a management fee. However, with a life insurance policy that makes investments for savings, the management fees could outweigh your returns. [Read more…]

The Only Tip You Need For Retirement Saving Success

retirement success

retirement successWe suck at saving for retirement. The average 50 year old has $43,797 saved for retirement. I hate to break it, but that is just not going to cut it. With the fact that most of us have such a hard time saving for retirement, we need to come up with a way to make it more fun or enjoyable so that people start actually saving.

Let’s look into the mind of a typical person. They say to themselves, “I should probably start saving for retirement.” The a commercial comes on TV for the new iPhone and drooling ensues. By the time the commercial is over, they say to themselves, “what was I going to do again? Oh well, that new iPhone looks sweet!”

I’m not trying to pick on people, but we have a short attention span. That and companies spend millions every year to better understand how we think and react. They then use this against us so we fulfill a short-term need instead of a long-term need.

If the above example doesn’t describe you, then maybe this one does:

When you think of saving for retirement, you say, why should I save a bunch of money when I might not even be around to enjoy. YOLO people. YOLO.

In either of the examples I presented there is one thing true about both of them: we are not good at conceptualizing the long-term. So, in order to save for retirement, we need to re-wire our brains. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt.
[Read more…]

The Round Table – November 23, 2014

Round TableIt’s been a few weeks since I posted my Round Table post! As usual, I’ve been all sorts of busy. We got our new carpet installed a couple weeks ago and the entire upstairs looks 100% better. Then last weekend we headed up to the Finger Lakes region to celebrate our 1 yr anniversary. It was low key this weekend, but with Thanksgiving later this week, we’ll be on the road again!

The good news is that it is supposed to be warm tomorrow so I might get to sneak out for a final round of golf this season!

One last note, I along with some other bloggers are running a giveaway where the winner gets 15 shares of Apple stock! Even the 2nd and 3rd place winners get Apple stock. Here is the link to enter. Be sure to spread the word to others who would be interested in getting some apple stock!

Below are some great blog posts I ran across while scouring the web this week. I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

Great Blog Posts from Other Bloggers

How To Be An Office Rockstar From Day One at See Debt Run
8 Things To Stop Being Afraid Of So You Can Be Rich, Happy And Successful at Making Sense of Cents
Take These 7 Steps And Watch Your Income Grow at The Money Principle
Why Warren Buffett Is My Money Mentor at The Frugal Model [Read more…]

What Outrageous Fees Are You Paying?

Value of Investments

outrageous feesIn today’s business world, profit is more important than ever. Whereas in the past most businesses would do the right thing just to keep a customer, today many companies are more concerned with milking every penny out of the customer. How do I know this? Just look at the fees various companies are charging you.

Outrageous Fees You’re Being Charged

Here are a handful of various fees I’ve encountered recently. Sadly, they are all too common:

Airline Change Fee: Did you know it costs you around $150 to change your plane ticket? How crazy is that? I have plans to fly down to Florida to see my niece and sister next month. We just found out my sister’s husband might be getting a new job and they may need to relocate, which puts my trip down there in question.

I called the airline I am booked to fly on to see if I could go down earlier. The woman was super nice and told me “of course you can”. They she quickly added “it’ll cost you $150”. I nearly fainted!

Using A Bank Teller: How crazy is this fee? If you go to the bank and want a human being to handle your deposit or withdrawal, it is going to cost you. Granted not all banks are using this fee, but why do I have to pay to see a teller? Isn’t it their job to wait on customers? (As a quick aside, if any bank tellers are reading this, I would be concerned for job safety. This sounds like a way to boost profit, err, cut costs by letting you go.)

Airline Baggage Fee: I hate to pick on the airlines, but it is too easy. At first, this fee was charged to us because of the high gas prices, or so the airlines told us. Here we are, almost 10 years after gas prices first skyrocketed up and we are still being charged this fee. Interestingly, gas prices have come down while this fee is still here.
[Read more…]

How To Save On Taxes The Way The Wealthy Do

how to save on taxes

how to save on taxesThe following contribution is from The Money Template, a personal finance blog exploring all things related to wealth and well-being.

Taxes are simply one of those things where no matter how much you fight them they never seem to go away. That is … unless you know a few tricks on how to get around having to pay more than your fair share.

Believe it or not, this is actually one of the contributing reasons why wealthy people stay wealthy. Even though the tax code appears to be written in such a way that you should owe more money the more you make, this is generally not the case. In fact it was famously revealed in the 2012 presidential election that millionaire republican candidate Mitt Romney was paying an effective 14% tax rate. Are YOU enjoying a nice 14% tax rate?

Similar to Romney’s case, the trick in knowing how to save on taxes is learning how to use legal tax incentives to your advantage. Though you may think this is something that is only reserved for the ultra-rich, the reality is that a lot of these same techniques can be applied to your own situation with the aid of financial planners and accountants who are familiar with the tax laws.

Here are a few you can start using now:

7 Strategies for How to Save on Taxes:

1)  Retirement Accounts:

Contributing to your employer-sponsored retirement funds is one of the simplest ways to take advantage of tax-sheltering. With these types of programs the contribution is taken out of your gross pay, meaning that it is no longer considered to be taxable income. Your regular income taxes are calculated on the total amount that is left over. The more money you defer to your retirement plan, the less money there is to be taxed! The IRS will allow you to defer up to $18,000 per year to your 401k plan starting in 2015. [Read more…]

Carnival of Financial Planning – The Getting Sick Sucks Edition

getting sick

getting sickWelcome to this week’s edition of the Carnival of Financial Planning. This weeks edition is the “Getting Sick Sucks” edition, because, I got sick. I’m one of those people that get touches of a sore throat or a stuffy nose, but rarely does a cold knock me out. For a few days this week, this cold did just that – knock my out! I’m happy to say that I am on the fast track now to getting better. In fact, I slept for over 9 hours last night!

If you are in the unfortunate situation of getting sick, I found that doing stuff actually made me feel better than just laying around all day. Of course, you can’t be moving all of the time. To that, take some time to better your finances. Lucky for you, here are a handful of great posts to read to get started!!

BUDGETING AND ECONOMICS

Gretchen @ Retired by 40 writes Throw a Frugal Birthday Party – Throw a Frugal Birthday Party

Maria @ The Money Principle writes Don’t Make Debt a Worry: Try These Business Tips – Don’t look at your bank statements, you think to yourself. If I don’t see my debt then it isn’t there.

Alexa @ Single Moms Income writes Another Great Way to Give: Operation Christmas Child – I’m completely convinced that giving back to people whether that be with a thoughtful note, big batch of cookies, or small gift is one of the best ways you can make a difference in not only the world, but also in yourself. [Read more…]

My 3 Best Ever Investments (And What They All Have In Common)

investment

investmentI’ve been investing for close to 17 years now (which coincidentally is about half my life!) and have learned a lot. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but have also had my fair share of successes too. Today I am going to talk to you about my 3 biggest investment successes and the two things they all have in common. The good news is that you can learn from my success and avoid the failure by following along. Here they are:

Intimate Brands

This was my first ever investment. Back in high school, I took an economics class and we read One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch. In the book he mentioned about going to the mall and seeing what people buy. If you can find something that people are buying, the stock of that company is something to look into. So I did just that.

It’s amazing what you can learn from watching other people. I saw that Victoria’s Secret was packed! Plus, I noticed that a ton of women just walking around the mall all had the pink striped bags.

I made it a point to go back to the mall (as well as another mall) a few times just to make sure they weren’t giving away free underwear that one day. They weren’t. The store was always packed.
[Read more…]

The Round Table – Start of Winter Edition

Round TableWow did it get cold!! Earlier this week I was out playing golf in 75 degree weather. Now it is snowing. Luckily, they are just snow showers and not going to accumulate into anything. The good news is that it is going to get warm again during the week, so I can squeeze out at least one more round of golf. The bad news is that we just turned the clocks back, so less sunlight :(

As we are now in November, it is time for the countdown to begin – only 23 days until Christmas!!! I didn’t want to say anything, but when I was doing house projects over the last 2 months, places like Lowes and Home Depot have already put the Christmas trees and decorations on display. Get ready for endless news stories on which stores will be staying open 26 hours a day from Thanksgiving through Christmas. (That wasn’t a typo, just trying to keep your attention haha!)

Anyways, I found some awesome blog posts this week that I am sharing below. I hope you find them valuable. Feel free to suggest others in the comments too.

Great Blog Posts from Other Bloggers

10 Habits That Made Me A Millionaire By 27 at Budgets Are Sexy
Diamonds – Nothing But A Brilliant Illusion at Frugal Fringe
[Read more…]