Fear of Stock Market Can Cost Individuals Millions

While few dispute the stock market is due – overdue – for a significant pullback, most agree that a presence in equities, over the long term, is a smart idea for those seeking to generate a sizable retirement account by the time they stop working altogether.

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Unfortunately, many young adults just don’t see it that way. A big reason for that has to do with the fact that many of their earliest adult memories of the markets are of great volatility and little in the way of positive performance…highlighted, of course, by the market meltdown of 2008.

Their response? To keep away from the stock market altogether and stick solely with savings accounts, and an article posted over at CNBC details just what a bad idea that is.

According to the piece, the folks over at the personal finance website NerdWallet have learned, via their 2016 survey on financial health, that over 60 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 were using savings accounts to sock away money for retirement. They also learned that the ultimate cost of saving that way can be enormous.

Relying on historical averages of market returns for their analysis, NerdWallet determined that a 25-year-old who earns the average annual income for that age (a little over $40,000), saves 15 percent of their salary, receives annual raises of 3.7 percent, works until age 65, and allocates all of the money into stocks…would have $4.57 million accumulated by retirement.

Pretty impressive.

Traveling the savings account route to retirement? Not nearly as impressive.

According to NerdWallet, the individuals fitting their sample profile who rely exclusively on a savings account as the repository of their contributions will end up with about $3.3 million less when they retire.

“The opportunity cost of leaving a sum that large on the table could be a bigger risk to Millennials than stock market volatility,” say the authors of the NerdWallet study.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Study: More Americans Making Costly Dosage Mistakes When Taking Meds at Home

According to the results of a new study published in the medical journal Clinical Toxicology, more Americans are making dosage errors when self-administering drugs at home. These mistakes have resulted in hospital admissions in the tens of thousands, as well as over 400 deaths over the previous 13 years.

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Even more worrisome is that the problem is expected to get worse, as greater numbers of Americans are diagnosed with diseases that require chronic management through medications, like heart disease and diabetes, according to a write-up on the study in The Washington Times.

The researchers analyzed over 67,000 cases from the U.S. Poison Control Center between 2000 and 2013, and found that cardiovascular drugs, analgesics (pain medication), and hormone/hormone-related drugs, like insulin, are the medications most likely most likely to be involved in an individual’s dosage mistake.

Nicole Hodges, a research scientist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and lead author of the study, said, “These medication errors are a significant public health burden. A third of the cases in the study resulted in hospital admission, and so they are something we want to take seriously. As prescribing of those cardiovascular medications, opioids and insulin — as those all continue to rise, we’re likely to see an increase in these medication errors as well.”

Just one more consequence of what has long been Americans’ growing reliance on medications to manage ailments that could otherwise be greatly mitigated by lifestyle choices.

In concluding remarks, the researchers noted that “the rate of non-health care facility medication errors resulting in serious medical outcomes is increasing, and additional efforts are needed to prevent these errors.”

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Study: Over 44 Million Americans Now Have a “Side Hustle”

The side hustle era is fully upon us, largely thanks to the Internet, where the opportunity to earn extra money by way of entrepreneurial endeavors that have little in common with traditional, part-time jobs is much more expansive.

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As reported by CNN Money, there’s a new study from Bankrate that reveals over 44 million Americans now have some type of side hustle.

Not only that, the money is real. As Bankrate’s Sarah Berger notes, “It isn’t spare change from a lemonade stand.” According to the data, 36 percent of those engaging in a side hustle earn at least $500 per month.

Notably, while it’s younger adults – young “Millennials” – who are more likely to have a side hustle, according to Berger, it is actually older adults – those closing in on retirement age (53 to 62) – who are more likely to earn at least $1,000 a month from their side gigs.

That’s not surprising. It’s reasonable to assume that if more “seasoned” folks are involved in the gig economy to make extra money, it’s because they really need it, and will thus be more serious and deliberate in the pursuit of it. Additionally, older adults can sometimes have built-in advantages when it comes to making more dough, particularly if their side hustles are related in some way to careers in which they worked for decades.

The number of “side hustlers” is on the increase, and they’re pursuing all kinds of interesting, entrepreneurial activities to make their extra money. You may be one of them now.

If not, chances are improving all the time that you will be, one day soon.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Out of Work? Gap in Resume? How You Account for the Time May Determine If You Work Again

Here’s one of the American economy’s worst-kept secrets: It’s tough out there.

Despite (supposedly) plummeting unemployment, there are lots of folks who’ve been out of work for a significant period, and find themselves having to artfully account for that time when they seek work.

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Problem is, too few are doing a good job explaining their resume gaps, and struggling to land work as a result.

An article over at CNBC.com points out that while these gaps don’t have to spell doom to your chances of finding meaningful employment, how much effect they have on your hireability ultimately has a lot to do with just how you explain your situation.

According to certified career development coach Jill Ozovek, your first priority is to expect an interview question about the resume gap, and be prepared to speak intelligently, even impressively, about it.

Ozovek cites answers like ‘I just got laid off and I’ve been trying to figure it out’ as the kind that will help ensure you don’t see the inside of a cubicle again.

Instead, says Ozovek, “Be in control of your story. Whether your gap was self-imposed or not, connect the dots and craft a story.”

And what makes for a great story? Having spent your time out of work productively, and in such a way that it speaks particularly well of you.

Take classes that add to, or enhance, your professional skill set, to include picking up a certification in an area relevant to your career.

“There’s no shortage of ways to continue to improve yourself,” says Ozovek. “You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.”

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Ron Paul: “Not a Total Shock” If Stocks Drop 25% and Gold Jumps 50% by October

In a recent appearance on CNBC, former Republican congressman and outspoken libertarian Ron Paul suggested those stock market investors who’ve seen monstrous gains in their portfolios for years might want to re-think their positions just a bit before too much more time passes.

2017-07-10_6-08-30                                      Paul, speaking on “Futures Now,” echoed the sentiments of a growing number of learned voices who believe not only that the market activity of recent years is unsustainable, but that the very underpinnings of the nation’s economy are not nearly as strong as many think. As a matter of fact, Paul thinks the market is in for a major correction, and that precious metals will benefit from the significant backslide in equities.

“If our markets are down 25 percent and gold is up 50 percent it wouldn’t be a total shock to me,” said the congressman.

“I think it’s a very precarious market, and the Fed better be very careful. Since they are incapable of knowing what to do, I don’t expect much good to come out of anything they do,” Paul continued.

“There are so many mistakes made out there that the correction is almost unlimited.”

Paul conveyed the thoughts of many right now when he added:

“People have been convinced that everything is wonderful right now and that stocks are going to go up forever. I don’t happen to buy this. The old rules always exist, and there’s too much debt and too much mal-investment. The adjustment will have to come.”

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Good News, Fellow Americans: Your Credit Scores Are Improving

Well, this IS good news.

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According to CNN Money, FICO (formerly Fair, Isaac and Company), the credit scoring data analytics firm, says that the average credit score of Americans is now at a robust 700. That’s the highest level seen by the folks at FICO since they began tracking the figure 12 years ago.

The credit score scale runs from 300 (the worst) to 850 (the best), although scores much above 700 are generally considered unnecessary for the purpose of realizing the best consumer credit terms.

Ethan Dornhelm, vice president for scores and analytics at FICO, attributes the trend upward to a variety of factors.

“The relative strength of the economy, with low unemployment and rising home prices are helping those consumers who were struggling during the great recession to recover financially,” he said.

Dornhelm notes, as well, that much greater access to information about credit scores and how they can be affected by any of a variety of consumer behaviors is having a positive impact on those scores.

“As consumers become more educated about the actions they can take to improve their score, we’re seeing the average score rise,” he said, adding that “we believe that consumers are more aware of their credit reports and FICO scores than they used to be.”

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Despite Much Stronger Employment, Americans Slowing Down on Paying Credit Card Obligations

Employment numbers are looking much better, but, oddly, Americans seem to be getting worse at repaying their debt obligations.

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As noted by Newsmax, a report from Moody’s found that banks have seen a notable increase in charge-offs of credit card debt over the two most recent fiscal quarters. As a matter of fact, the jump in charge-offs is the biggest since 2009.

According to experts, the seemingly-curious juxtaposition of good employment figures with higher rates of non-performing credit card debt is attributable to a loosening of underwriting standards that’s come about precisely because employment numbers are so much better. Alex Morrell of Business Insider writes that “American consumers haven’t fallen on hard times so much as banks have started to loosen their standards and issue credit more aggressively.”

In a statement, Warren Kornfeld of Moody’s said, “Although card standards were extremely tight in the years following the financial crisis, if underwriting then loosened materially, as the rise in charge-offs suggests, asset quality could continue to deteriorate rapidly going forward, especially in the event of a recession.”

In the years immediately following the “Great Recession,” lending standards on behalf of a number of financial products, notably home mortgages, were significantly tightened. It’s no secret that banks suffered mightily as a result of the inability to loan money to anyone except the most qualified applicants. Indeed, the economic engine of the entire country slowed to a near-halt as access to credit was greatly restricted during that period.

However, as Kornfeld suggests, if credit once again becomes liberally available, as it was in the years leading up to the 2008 collapse, a whole, new financial disaster could be in store for the nation.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

If Actor Woody Harrelson Can Have a $500 Wedding…Can’t You?

Well, sure you can.

The trend toward looking at less-expensive ways to celebrate marital unions started to gain traction several years ago, when, apparently, the dad of some bride-to-be woke up one day and asked, “Tell me again why we’re spending $100,000 on this wedding?”

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As many have learned, if you dig past the contrived glitz and glamour of the ceremony and reception, and get down to what many recognize as being the real purpose of a wedding…the public expression of love, loyalty, and fidelity to one another in front of family members and valued friends…the rest of it seems so unnecessary that it looks almost silly, in the light of day.

Indeed, some came to this very conclusion long ago, including actor Woody Harrelson.

As detailed in an article posted over at CNBC.com, Harrelson tells Davy Rothbart of the online investing platform Wealthsimple that he’s learned “the least expensive things can be the most personally rewarding. Take my wedding, for example. The whole event cost a total of $500.”

“We didn’t feel the need to shell out a ton of cash and do anything over the top,” Harrelson goes on to say. “It was basically just a bunch of good friends getting together in Maui. I paid for some food and drinks, a few hundred bucks, and that was about it.”

Obviously, getting to and from Maui is not included in the $500, but don’t let that cause you to miss the point: the celebration itself was a very inexpensive affair.

Ask yourself this question: When you think of the most fun, most memorable times you’ve ever had in social settings, were those moments characterized by great expense and “pageantry”? Or were they very casual, very relaxed?

If you’re like so many others, it was the latter.

So why fight it? Recognize it, and plan your wedding accordingly.

Oh, and the money you save? It may well be enough to make a tremendous, positive impact on something of great significance as you get started on your new life together, like a home purchase, or the elimination of all of your existing debt.

Now THAT would be a wedding present.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

The Most Important Question You Should Ask Before Heading to the Doctor

Been to the doctor lately?

In this era of “sort-of insurance,” where many walk around with health coverage that exists in theory only, even routine doctor’s visits have the potential to break the bank accounts of regular Americans. It wasn’t always this way, but an ever-worsening financial climate for health care has made it such that even the most basic of services can end up feeling like a sucker punch to the wallet.

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Still, while there isn’t always a good answer to avoiding these expenses, there’s one simple thing people can do a lot more of to ensure their bills are as low as reasonably possible (besides avoiding the doctor altogether, of course): Be certain the doctor they plan to visit is an in-network provider.

According to an article over at CNN Money, it turns out that one of the biggest “gotchas” people face after a visit to the M.D. comes about when they review the bill that arrives weeks after the appointment, and find that they had visited an out-of-network provider for services.

As it turns out, this happens very frequently. Here’s where people tend to get confused: When they call a doctor, they often ask the office manager or receptionist, “Do you take my insurance?” Where patients often run into trouble is that the staff member answering that question isn’t discerning between the doctor merely accepting the insurance, and the doctor specifically being an in-network provider, which is typically what the caller is really wanting to find out.

Being an in-network provider means the doctor has a contractual relationship with the insurance company preventing him or her from charging any more for a service than the amount already agreed-to by the insurer and the physician.

However, when you have care administered by an office that does no more than “accept” your insurance, the doctor is free to charge their full, regular rate for the service. Insurance will likely pay something, but because the doctor charged the full rate, and not the capped or discounted rate they would charge as an in-network provider, the patient is on the hook for a much higher balance.

Orly Avitzur, medical director at Consumer Reports, tells CNN Money that “if you go to Dr. Smith and he doesn’t participate in your insurance plan, then he can pretty much charge whatever he wants.”

You know what to do. As you’re going through the process of selecting a doctor, call the office first to be sure that the physician is an in-network provider, and get out of the habit of simply asking if they “take your insurance.”

Of course they take your insurance. But now you know that might not be nearly enough.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

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