Freeman's Blog


September 17th, 2014 by

A fair number of people, it seems, believe that “early retirement” is an unachievable financial goal for most Americans, or that it isn’t worth doing because retirement is akin to having no purpose in life.

But, if you’re longing for retirement, you’ll quickly see that it takes serious dedication. Here are some things to consider before you decide to “pack up” and retire:

1.  Track your spending

Start writing down (or entering into a computer) every dollar you spend. After a month or two, you will discover where to reduce expenses. Within a year, you’ll be in control of future spending. Also keep a running total that includes the previous year, such that Jan. 1 of the second year is day number 366 (so they divide the day’s total by 366). This will give you an average of how much you are spending per day.

2. Save, and then save more

Once you’ve started to take control of your spending, it should be easier to see how to reduce outlays and add to your nest egg. A general rule of thumb is to save 10% to 15% of your gross income each year, but the precise figure will vary depending on your age, current retirement dollars and goals.

3. Put peer pressure into perspective

Early retirees have to resist pressure to spend. With pre-determined limitations on cash flow, you must be disciplined to keep your budget in check. Ignore what others have to say about your decision. Stay focused on why you decided to retire early.

4. Choose simplicity

Make a point of keeping a low-cost lifestyle. That doesn’t mean denying yourself things. But, it does mean you will need to find happiness in experiences rather than “stuff”.

Source: Feb 6, 2014  – 8 secrets for success from early retirees

Freeman Owen, Jr - Host of "Safe Money Talk" on CBS Radio The Big Talker 1580AM I want to help you reach you retirement goals.  Early planning is the key to an early retirement. Let’s review your retirement strategy together.  Toll Free: 1-833-313-7233 | MD, VA & DC. 
September 10th, 2014 by

Costs of College

Will College Pay Off? High Costs Call for Smarter Choices

With the financial futures of college-bound students and supportive parents at stake, it may be more important than ever for families to make informed decisions.

The average total cost for one year at a four-year public college surpassed $18,000 in the 2013–2014 academic year, and charges rose to nearly $41,000 at private institutions (costs include tuition, fees, room, and board). A four-year undergraduate education can range from $100,000 to $200,000 per student, which means even affluent families might find it difficult to pay for their children’s college expenses without borrowing money and/or putting their own retirements at risk.1

As the price of college tuition has increased faster than incomes, students have been borrowing more to fill the gap.2 The total amount of U.S. student-loan debt reached $1.2 trillion in 2014, nearly three times the amount in 2004. In fact, about 70% of the class of 2014 graduated with student debt averaging $33,000, up from $18,600 in 2004.3

College loans are relatively easy for students and parents to obtain, but a growing number of defaults suggests that college debt is often more difficult to repay.4 A weak job market has resulted in an increasing number of underemployed graduates, a situation that can be especially tough for those who are mired in debt.5

Bang for the Buck

Soaring costs and diminishing rewards have left many people wondering whether college is worth the time and expense. Still, the earnings gap has continued to widen: Workers with four-year degrees earned nearly twice as much as those without degrees in 2013. According to one study, not going to college could cost someone about $500,000 in lost earnings over a lifetime.6

Life After Debt

When making college decisions, students often review college rankings and data indicating which schools or programs produce the highest-paid graduates. But they might also consider the surprising results of a recent Gallup poll.

Graduates of the top 100 universities (ranked by U.S. News & World Report) were no more likely to say they were thriving in five aspects of well-being than were graduates of other institutions. Only 4% of graduates with $20,000 to $40,000 of college debt said they were “thriving,” compared with 14% of those with no debt.8

One takeaway is that elite universities may not provide as many economic and career advantages as one might assume. In fact, where a person studies may matter less than having the opportunity to earn a degree without racking up a burdensome amount of student debt.

1) The College Board, 2013
2) The Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2014
3–4) The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2014
5, 7) Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 2014
6) The New York Times, May 27, 2014
8) Gallup, 2014

Freeman Owen, Jr - Host of "Safe Money Talk" on CBS Radio The Big Talker 1580AM I want to help you KEEP your retirement money safe.  If you have a student planning to go to college or university, let’s review your payment strategy before you decide to use your retirement money like an ATM machine. Toll Free: 1-833-313-7233 | MD, VA & DC. 
September 2nd, 2014 by

Retirement savings pump up

Lessons To Pump Up Your 401 K Retirement Dollars

Here are a few tips to remember when building your retirement dollars:

1. Start stashing away money early
Beyond the obvious fact that the longer you save, the more you’ll potentially accumulate, contributing steadily over 30 to 40 years is especially beneficial in a tax-advantaged workplace retirement plan. This is because your money has an opportunity to grow more through the favorable tax treatment. You pay taxes on distributions from your 401(k)—which includes taxes on any interest earned from your contributions—in retirement.

2. Contribute a minimum of 10% to 15%
Contributing 10% to 15% might sound like a lot, but that amount is meant to include contributions from your employer—such as your company match or profit sharing. If you cannot contribute as much as 10%-15%, stay consistent and keep contributing.

3. Meet your employer match
You’ve probably heard it many times, but it bears repeating that failing to contribute up to the full amount of a company match is like turning down “free” money. Today, 96% of 401(k) participants are in a plan that offers some type of employer contribution, but not all of them take full advantage of the opportunity.

4. Don’t cash out when changing jobs
Taking a distribution from your 401(k) account when you change jobs is hardly ever a good idea. It could trigger significant tax liability and early withdrawal penalties. When you take money out of your 401(k), you lose the opportunity for it to grow. Even if you’re early in your career and your balance is relatively small, it’s usually a better idea to keep your 401(k) money with your old employer, or transfer your 401(k) to your new employer’s plan or into a rollover IRA.

Source: – Five habits of 401(k) millionaires

Freeman Owen, Jr - Host of "Safe Money Talk" on CBS Radio The Big Talker 1580AM Let me help you keep your retirement money safe.  Contact me today for a free consultation so we can evaluate your retirement strategy. Toll Free: 1-833-313-7233 | MD, VA & DC.