Thursday, June 28, 2007

WSJ (subscription) "A Cool Million No Longer Buys You a Luxe Retirement"

Yes it's old news, in a sense, but don't give up!

If you are young, a few simple actions will make your future much more comfortable. Use your opportunities for tax-deferred investing. Put enough into your 401(k) to get any available employer match. Contribute to your IRAs, both traditional and spousal.

Go beyond tax-deferred. If you can, put something, say, one hundred dollars a month away, for the very long haul, not to buy a flat-panel TV. To get started, put the money in a savings account. Then, when practical, in a taxable brokerage account. Learn how to invest the taxable account money for the long haul, not the fast buck, not as "mad money", and in a tax-efficient way.

Avoid becoming financial-services road-kill.
Avoid load funds like the plague. Like the plague. No-load mutual fund accounts, at the fund, are one good way. Companies such as Vanguard and T. Rowe Price are known for low expenses and good investor-friendly values. That's not a commercial, just the truth. I'd suggest avoiding the mutual fund companies which advertise over and over all the day long on CNBC and Bloomberg. Big ad budgets are paid for in high expense ratios! You want financial service pros whose highest priority is good client outcomes, not client-gathering marketing. Never go to an investment "seminar" even to get the free meal. It will really, really cost you. Don't invest through variable life or variable annuities, they're usually heavily-commissioned, "fee and expense you to death", poorly-performing, all around sorry deals. As you might have guessed, I don't like them much. Stir well, wait patiently while it simmers for twenty-five or thirty years, and voila! Magnifique! If at some point along the way you want a financial advisor, find one with low fees who doesn't sell commissioned investment junk products, and emphazises good fiduciary standards.

Getting Going -

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