Why did the chicken cross the road?

February 28, 2013

In November of 2009, I wrote a blog post titled: Why “the experts” confuse the average investor (here is the link). This topic popped into my mind the other day as I was talking with my 10-year old daughter. She asked me the classic question: “Daddy, why did the chicken cross the road?” Of course I knew that a rip-roaring joke was about to be laid out on the table…at least that’s how I had to portray it with her. Sure enough, she had a great answer and I busted out laughing. This got me thinking about my previously mentioned blog post because the answers to the question posed by my daughter are endless and they simply depend on who’s answering the question.

I thought, what if we asked this simple question about the chicken to various people, maybe even historical people? Would their answers have been the same or would they be different? So, here we go, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Their answers*

Dr. Seuss: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes! The chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed it, I’ve not been told!

Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Buddha: If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken nature.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

Colonel Sanders: I missed one?

Attorney: Chickens are invited to cross the road to join a class action lawsuit against all non-chickens.

Bill Clinton: I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What do you mean by chicken? Could you define ‘chicken’ please?

George Bush Sr.: Read my lips, no new chickens will cross the road.

Retired truck driver: To prove to the armadillo that it could be done.

Albert Einstein: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

This is all in fun of course but the theme here is very similar to the variety of instructions given to people about solidifying their financial future. Having a clear understanding and a concise plan can be almost impossible because financial professionals virtually always disagree with each other and they never provide the same answer. Most people have heard the following conversation over and over again whenever they speak with a new financial expert: “How much money do you have? Where is it? Oh my gosh, why did they put you there!? You need to come over here because we’ll do so much better.”

Climbing Mount Everest

So, who can you trust? Who really has your best interests at heart? This is often the hardest hurdle to get past. This reminds me of climbing expeditions up Mount Everest. What is the most important phase of the climb? This single phase is responsible for over 75% of all deaths that occur during the quest to summit Everest. It’s the descent. The plan DOWN is the MOST important part of the entire expedition.

Financially it’s no different. The “climb” to the summit can be viewed as the accumulation phase as you work towards your retirement. The descent is the distribution phase of your assets to ensure you have enough money to live on for as long as you’ve planned to live. What does traditional planning focus on the most: i) simply getting to the summit or ii) getting to the summit with a very specific plan on how to get down? ING put out a series of TV commercials (here’s one of them) asking you if you “know your number”. That “number” is the amount you need to retire or more specifically the number you need TO GET TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN! But ING, what is the plan once that number is reached? Our focus should be even more intent on that phase of life than any other.

105% increase in 10 years!

Truly, if you hired a guide for your climb up the mountain and you asked him for his plan to get you down the mountain, how would you feel if he said this: “I don’t know, but once we get there we’ll figure it out.” Remember, 75% of those who die, die on the way down. Look around, how are people doing? We have an aging population, a declining workforce, an inability to save, a national debt that’s beyond comprehension and a government whose only answer is to print more money. According to whitehouse.gov (Table S5 Proposed Budget by Category) if we wiped out the entire Federal Government and the entire Military (all discretionary spending for 2012) then we’d still be short by $8,000,000,000 due to the various entitlement programs (we did a video on this very topic). Let that sink in, the ENTIRE federal government and the ENTIRE military and we’d still be short. Now, if you do this exact calculation for 2013 then we’d have a surplus of $360 billion (again, only if we got rid of the federal government and the military – obviously never going to happen) but look at the “total receipts” (all taxes collected)…they’re predicted to go up by 17.5%! If you look at the total receipts predicted in just 10 years, 2022, it’s a 105% increase from 2012. Are you ready for that? What’s your plan to deal with this issue? How are going to get down the mountain? If you’re only being told that you’ll be in a lower tax bracket in the future then you better get a new climbing guide.

Reduce future taxable income

There’s an endless amount of Congressional Budget Office reports and Government Accountability Office reports informing you that your taxes are going up plus the dollar will continue to weaken (the hidden tax). How will all of this affect you once you decide to “come off the mountain top”? Please understand, there are strategies and solutions to help mitigate some of these issues but you must be prioritizing strategies that will reduce your taxable income in the future! You will most assuredly face fewer deductions, fewer benefits, higher taxes and a weak dollar; therefore, reducing your taxable income in the future will be the biggest and most important aspect of your plan to efficiently climb down the mountain and make it out alive. The only factor that determines success is the reaction of the government. Shouldn’t we be studying them and NOT the financial products? All other discussions are only focused on making it to the summit. Our clients come to know what it means to have a plan for distribution and how their plan will ensure that they will NEVER be poor. Our job isn’t to help you strike it rich. Our job is to secure that you not only summit the mountain but that you make it down safely regardless of the conditions or challenges you face.

So, I ask you, why did the chicken cross the road? My answer, because she knew she could make it.

Kelly O’Connor – kelly.oconnor@mtnfinancial.com

303.578.9708

Website  –  YouTube  –  Facebook

*some of these answers came from http://grandfather-economic-report.com/

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Inflation: devastating or full of opportunity. Which do you want?

May 25, 2012

Banks lending again? What does that mean for you and your money? More than you may think.

Did you notice there are some banks that have begun to lift their tight lending requirements? For example, Key Bank here in Denver is now offering 100% financing again. So, what’s the big deal? Before we take a look at what this means, let’s ask a few questions:

  • Have there been any bad times before in the history of the world financially? Of course.
  • During those bad times, even the Great Depression, were there any people who made money? Of course.
  • Was it the people who planned and prepared or people who just let stuff happen to them that were most successful? Obviously those who planned.
  • So which one do you want to be and when do you want to get started?
  • If you could truly put yourself in a position to take advantage of the opportunities you have to earn your family’s financial independence even in bad times, then shouldn’t you be thinking the current economic situation is an opportunity and not a “bad thing”?

Inflation is going to do some real damage to our money if we’re not prepared. Stop and think about this, if you had $1,000,000 and you lost $200,000, you’re down to $800k and that money just stays the same. If we have 7% inflation that $800k is only going to buy $400k of retirement, or $400,000 of goods and services a decade from now.

  • What’s your strategy to make sure that you don’t get hurt by this inflation?
  • More importantly, are there any strategies available that would help you actually take advantage of that inflation to your benefit?

There are strategies that have been implemented for over a century.

Now, let’s get back to the banks…like what Key Bank is doing. The banking system received an unbelievable amount of [printed] money (inflation Step #1) that our government created when TARP was passed. We’ve discussed before but do you remember Step #2 that is required for inflation to take hold? Step #2, the printed money has to be circulated. You starting to put this together?

  • Did the banks circulate those monies initially? No they didn’t, at least not very much of it.
  • Even though they didn’t circulate a lot have we experienced some inflation because of those funds? Absolutely, all you have to do is go buy a gallon of milk today to see it first-hand.

Here’s the bigger problem, banks are beginning to circulate more of that money (i.e. Key Bank offering 100% financing again!). This will have a huge impact over the course of the next decade. Huge!

  • What happens to interest rates when inflation begins to roar? They go up. Remember the early 80’s after the inflationary pressures from the late 70’s?
Historical rates of great opportunity
If you don’t remember what interest rates were at that time then take a look at this graph. Opportunity? You better believe it but only if you were in a position to take advantage of it. What if all your money was in your house (equity)? Look at this graph. In 1982 would you have borrowed money at 16.08% in order to earn 15.12% for one year? Of course not.

There are always those who plan and those who do not. Over the next decade and beyond, you have the opportunity to take advantage of these opportunities but it requires one very important characteristic.

  • You MUST have access to capital, more specifically, guaranteed access to capital no matter the situation with the ability to collateralize those funds and earn a spread in a GUARANTEED and PREDICTABLE environment!
If inflation was raging right now and guaranteed rates, like CDs, were flying high, are you in a position to take advantage of it or are you currently positioned to be hurt by it? It’s a choice, not a matter of chance.
Since I’m on a roll, here’s some more questions for you
I love questions so here are a few more; however, these questions are designed for you to ask other advisors who want to invest your money. Those advisors MUST be able to provide an answer for each one these and we challenge you to ask them because, after all, it’s YOUR money and YOUR future.
  • What are you doing to do to make sure I don’t lose any money? What’s your strategy?
  • If I do lose, what’s your strategy to make back any money lost to get me back ahead of the game? What are your recommendations?
  • What impact are taxes going to have on all of this and could taxes prevent me from having a successful outcome?
  • Do you believe taxes will be higher in the future? If so, please answer the third bullet point again.
  • What strategy is there in place to keep taxes off my back going forward?
  • If you are recommending my money be put in a taxable position then please explain to me the specific reason why (especially if you believe taxes will be higher in the future) and the exit strategy to minimize those taxes in the future.
  • How can I take advantage of the pressures caused by inflation with your strategy?
  • What impact will inflation have on your strategy?
  • What is the impact of fees over time to the performance of your strategy? How can I get rid of or minimize those fees?

I hope it’s obvious by now but we have an answer, and a specific strategy, for each and every one of those questions.

You better be able to address each and every one of those. If not, then you’ll simply be one of many who didn’t plan…again, it’s not a matter of chance but instead a matter of choice.

We’d be happy to show you.

Kelly O’Connor – kelly.oconnor@mtnfinancial.com

303.578.9708

Website  –  YouTube  –  Facebook


Inflation – the Stealth Tax

December 4, 2011

Inflation will be devastating in the next decade. Part of the problem is that inflation is hard to explain and it is difficult to measure the damage it can cause to Americans’ purchasing power. Many analysts are already predicting six or seven percent inflation as early as 2013 and low double-digit inflation by the middle of the decade.

Inflation’s two requirements

First, with all the money our government has printed, why has our inflation rate only risen to its current 3.9%? Inflation has two requirements: first, you have to print the money. Second, and this is important, inflation requires velocity. The money has to circulate in the economy to increase inflation. What did the banks do? They held the money. When that money is finally circulated into our economy we will have serious inflation.

Rules of 72 and 115

How can we easily explain the damage inflation causes? Use the Rules of 72 or 115. The Rule of 72 is an accounting rule where you divide the inflation rate into 72 and it tells you how long before you need twice as much money to live on. The Rule of 115 is how long before you need three times as much money to live on.

Two examples:

  • For ease of illustration I will round the current 3.9% inflation rate to 4%. Now divide 4 into 72 and it tells you that in 18 years you will need twice as much money to live on as you do right now. So in 9 years you will require 50% more income to live at the same standard of living. Two thirds of America lives on $50,000 or less. They will need $75,000 per year by 2020 to be able to buy and pay for all the things they do now. How will they get to that higher income if average incomes are decreasing?
  • If inflation increases to 7% (and it is likely that it will), by 2021 you would need $100,000 per year of income to maintain your current standard of living. It will be almost impossible for most Americans to achieve this increase. Our standard of living will drop dramatically; that is why inflation is so destructive.

To help families be successful we must first help them understand the serious challenges of inflation. Next, we must develop strategies to not be hurt by inflation. Only then can you actually take advantage of the opportunities inflation provides. Do it NOW!

Don’t just take our word for it:

Inflation logs biggest increase since ’08 (Chicago Tribune, October 20,2011: section 2, page 3)

The Atomic Bomb that is about to explode at the Federal Reserve (Economic Policy Journal, October 11, 2011)

Millions hit by inflation (Financial Times, October 21, 2011)

Kelly O’Connor – kelly.oconnor@mtnfinancial.com

303.578.9708

Website  –  YouTube  –  Facebook