Ubiquity Retirement + Savings Logo

Category: Personal Finance

Find important information on Personal Finance from the experts at Ubiquity Retirement & Savings. Get important news that can affect your personal finances, along with tips and advice from our team of financial experts. Call Ubiquity today for a Free Consultation at 855.466.5825.

Have you ever heard of the three-legged stool of retirement? Back in our parents’ and grandparents’ time, this is how the sources of retirement income were explained: Social Security, pensions, and personal savings.

While this model may still be floating around in personal finance textbooks, it’s as outdated as a 1970s leisure suit. The truth of the matter is two of these three stool “legs” are not as supportive as they once were and most savers today cannot rely on them for their retirement success. To make matters worse, the remaining leg of the stool is failing people left and right because they don’t realize the other two legs don’t exist anymore.

So what happened to the stool to make it a pogo stick – and a very unstable one for many people, particularly Gen-X and Millennials?

1.     The future of Social Security is not in “our” hands

The first leg of the stool that is uncertain is Social Security.

Younger generations may think they can rely on Social Security based on what is taken out of their paychecks each pay period, but the system is looking sparse due to a large number of Baby Boomers filing for Social Security – in fact, 10,000 Boomers per day.

As it stands, Social Security is projected to be insolvent by 2034. Ultimately, the lifespan of a supportive Social Security system remains a political hot potato.

2.     Company Pensions won’t save you

Only a few lucky individuals can look forward to receiving a pension once they retire. In fact, only one in five private sector employees has access to a defined benefit pension plan. Even successful companies such as Boeing, Clorox, and Lockheed Martin have either frozen this benefit or trimmed it completely out of their budgets.

This leg has basically been nonexistent for years as more and more companies swap out a defined benefit plan in favor of a defined contribution plan – putting the onus of retirement income squarely on your shoulders.

3.    Personal savings are woefully inadequate

The last – and only somewhat-reliable – leg of the stool left are personal savings.

Unfortunately, many people don’t plan accordingly for this new reality. Unlike the other two legs on the stool – which, as we already covered, are pretty much non-existent anyway – personal savings is not something that another person or entity is responsible for providing. This is the leg of the stool that you alone must plan for.

You can only control the controllable, and that starts with your personal savings strategies. Don’t wait for the Social Security system to fix itself and employee pensions to make a comeback (Spoiler alert: That’s never happening). Your future is in your hands!

How Compound Interest Works

Andrew Answers / 27 Sep 2017 / Personal Finance

Stacks of coins growing

What is Compound Interest? 

Merriam-Webster defines compound interest as:

Interest computed on the sum of an original principal and accrued interest.

Let’s put that in friendlier terms. Compound interest gives you interest on top of your original investment and additional interest.

Imagine you have $100,000.00.

If you were gaining a 10% annual return, then you would end up with $10,000 added to your original investment. In this case, your end balance would be $110,000 in year one.

In year two, the markets are great, and you are getting a 10% rate of return on $110,000, leaving you with an ending balance of $121,000. You earned $10,000 in year one. You earned $11,000 in year two. In year three, using this same math, you’d earn $12,100.

If you carry that out for 30 years or more, you could be sitting on a very comfortable nest egg.

Learn more about how much you should be saving for retirement

Retirement on a Shoestring

Andrew Answers / 8 Aug 2017 / Personal Finance

Retirement? No. Work till your dead? Yes.

My father is older than my mother, although he is very much like the glamorous southern bell that admits his age to NO ONE. He had the tiniest pension in the world from his jet-setting career that may or may not have been used to purchase a house, and so, retirement is Social Security.

My traditional family halted dramatically when he chose to chase dreams rather than a paycheck. I mean, not that dad isn’t a show-stopping artist, because he is. And in his hay day, he was making some pretty large bills on paintings, because people used to have money to blow on art. Do you remember those days? You know, before the downfall of our economy, when we all had tons of (pretend) money?

Here’s a timeline of events:

  • Dad quits the job, becomes an artist, we move to Maui because Oregon’s economy went through a major bottoming out.
  • We live in a house the size of a shoebox (700 sq. ft.) and there are amazing amounts of tourist dollars from all over the world flowing through the island. Unrealistic sums of money. The kind you wipe your tears of joy with – if any of it was yours…
  • Hawaiian market bottoms out, my mother would like to be closer to her aging parents and sisters, and we move back to the family farm, which, if you are a Harry Potter fan, looks like the Weasley House.
  • Dad retires with a savings account in the teens (as in five-figures) and takes Social Security, which is well below the national average check of around $1,200 – in fact, it’s less than half of that.
  • Mom gets a job that she still works at today, and has a 401(k) plan through her work.
  • Health premiums are through the roof! Dad gets on Medicare, mom stops paying over $1,000 per month for his insurance.
  • Even with Medicare, dad and mom pay more in healthcare premiums than all other bills combined.

Okay, that brings us to a pretty current status. Mom works like a mad woman and supports my dad. She cooks, cleans, sews… all the stuff that moms used to do traditionally. She also has a firm grip on what it’s going to take to retire – for both of them.

Her 401(k) is the ONLY thing that ensures they have a future at all. Despite the fact that the market tanked and she lost over half of her savings – she spoke with her Advisor, and he said the following:

“Stay the course.”

Good advice. She did, and now her 401(k) has bounced back to where it was and on her current trajectory, she’ll be able to retire at around 66 (though she is going to try to wait to 70). Her house is paid off, but unfortunately, it is in the middle of nowhere, about 30 miles away from the nearest hospital, riddled with scary stairs, and lots of farm work…

I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. Our family is going to combine. Aunts, uncles, sisters, cousins, friends, whomever – we’ll live under one gigantic roof and combine resources. We’ll create the family compound and take care of one another. And it won’t be taboo anymore. Kids moving back home or parents moving in with kids will be the new show of success. If other countries can make it a successful go, so can we.

I was sitting at the kitchen table with my son when he noticed a credit card bill addressed to me. He picked it up, looked at it, and thoughtfully asked, “How do you get money onto your credit card?”

Confused by the question I asked, “What do you mean?”

He answered as literally as a child could. “Well, you buy things all the time with your credit card. How do you put money into it in order to buy things?

Now I understood! I took the opportunity to explain that you didn’t send money to the credit card before you buy, but rather the bank kept track of everything that I bought during the month and this was the bill for those things that I needed to pay. I like to use real math examples, so I was able to tie in the concept of budgeting explaining that I knew how much money I could afford to spend in a month, and so as long as I didn’t exceed that amount, I just paid the bill at the end of the month.

That answer seemed to satisfy him, and then he asked an even more valuable question: “What happens if you spend more than you have to pay?”

A valid question and one we all know the answer to. Not wanting to overcomplicate the situation with interest charges, late fees, and the rest, I simply answered, “You pay what you can, but then you still owe more money to the credit card bank. That’s what gets people into trouble; they get into debt.”

My son knows enough to know that being in debt is not a good thing. “So then people shouldn’t buy things if they don’t have enough money to pay for them,” was his answer, matter of factly, and then he was onto the next topic. In his 6-year old mind, that was the best solution and warranted no further discussion.

If only more adults felt the same way!

We all know that growing credit card debt in this country is a big problem. According to NerdWallet, the total U.S. credit card debt is $854.2 billion dollars, with an average credit card debt per household exceeding $15k. Woah! That number is staggering!

While emergency situations arise that warrant the need to accrue credit card debt, many of us – myself included -sometimes use our credit cards to buy things that we want, but don’t necessarily have the money for at that moment (I needed those shoes, really I did!). And while splurging every once in a while probably won’t cause you to be knee-high in debt, it is a slippery slope. As parents, we need to both set a good example for our children by paying attention to our own spending habits, while teaching them the basics of good credit card usage at the same time.

Credit cards may have gotten a bad rap, but used responsibly, they can be a great tool. Think of the free miles and other perks that come along with your own card. I encourage fully the use of credit cards, but with one important caveat:

Always pay off your bill in it’s entirely each month. And don’t spend money you don’t have!

You can help your children develop good financial habits from an early age by turning it into a game. Give them a pretend credit card and a budget, and involve them in the day-to-day household spending. Set up a mock store with their toys and have them go shopping. Older children could even have a real budget for something like their school lunches. Give your child an amount of money and have them accompany you while grocery shopping. They might just be surprised at how much their dollars will actually buy!

The most important thing to remember is that by giving your children a good education in credit card spending, you are setting them up for a lifetime of good habits – and that is invaluable.





Congrats! You graduated college and accepted your first full-time position. The transition from college life to “the real world” can be quite challenging and, at times, confusing. However, right before you rush through that HR paperwork, realize that those forms may hold the keys to your first retirement plan.

Namely, your first 401(k) plan. Even though retirement seems like the last thing a new college grad should be thinking about, your commitment to your future starts now. By enrolling in your new employer’s 401(k) right off the bat, you are taking a giant step toward complete financial independence.

You might be done with classes, but don’t give up on learning just yet, especially when the subject is your future! Check out this 401(k) 101:

Look into your enrollment options.

Despite when your first day of work was, your enrollment period might not begin for another few months or even a whole year. Every company operates on a different enrollment schedule.

If you can’t enroll immediately, check with HR on when you will become eligible. Set a reminder on your calendar to revisit the open enrollment discussion when it gets closer to that period.

Why? Letting this slip off your radar will cause you to miss out on a tax break and compound interest (more about this below) — which is like flushing money down the toilet!

Find a happy medium in your involvement.

When it comes to your money, no questions should be off-limits, especially if you are new to your employer’s 401(k) plan. Take advantage of your plan provider’s representatives who are there to advise you on the nuances of your plan, investment choices and company match options during the open enrollment period.

Don’t discount the power of compound interest.

As you may have learned in your college economics class, those who begin saving earlier will wind up with more cash. This concept is called compound interest. Think about it this way: The earlier you save, the more vacations you will be able to go on in retirement (hello, world traveler)! It might seem like those first few dollars you save are entering a black hole, but your assets, or shall I say “vacation fund,” will build over time.

Don’t give up so easily.

Some companies, unfortunately, don’t have a way for you to save for retirement at work. While that’s a huge bummer, there are still options for you. Don’t shrug your shoulders and give up on your future – there are viable, easy solutions!

Turning to your local bank to begin an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is likely your best bet. In an IRA, you still have the ability to invest pre-tax dollars. Not only do you give yourself the opportunity to save, but your bank may also be more likely to loan you money in the future because you are establishing positive financial habits from the get-go.

Hopefully you have a better idea of how to go about enrolling in and taking advantage of your first retirement plan. You not only passed college, but you just aced 401(k) 101.

Handling Heartfelt Hardships

Andrew Answers / 17 Jul 2017 / Personal Finance

When I think of summertime, hardships are not what immediately comes to mind. For many, it’s made for vacations, nice weather, and a more laid back time to celebrate. For others, it means hurricane season. Having grown up on the outer banks of North Carolina, I’ve lived through my share of storms. My grandmother had a magnetic map tracking the various hurricanes and tropical storm paths to plan out how affected we may be.

Sometimes, I look fondly back at the times where my family and I were holed up with candles and games. Unfortunately, this same experience can leave folks with property damage or homelessness, which we’ve seen so much of in the last year. 

Your 401(k) can come to your rescue if your plan has a hardship provision.

What is a hardship provision and how do you qualify? Here’s how:

  1. Medical expenses
  2. Purchase of a primary residence
  3. Ongoing education
  4. Prevention of eviction from primary residence
  5. Burial or funeral expenses
  6. Expenses for the repair of the damage to primary residence

While this access is great, it’s got its own rules around it. These distributions are taxable in the year money is received along with a 10% penalty for taking out prior to retirement. It’s also important to note that not all 401(k) plans contain this provision. Loans are much more preferred and come without 10% penalty while allowing you to pay yourself back.

Talk to your controller/HR person/plan sponsor for more information on what kind of access you have. While it’s great to maintain your savings, it’s nice to know it’s got your back when you need it!

As the Mom of a 8-year-old, it’s hard to imagine that one day he may be graduating college. Those years will go by faster than I will want them to, I have no doubt about that, and there is a lot I need to teach “D” between now and then! I have been thinking about what I would say to him if that time was already upon us, and so here is my letter to my future college graduate:

Dear (future) D,

As you graduate college, I want to impart some knowledge and advice that I have acquired throughout my lifetime. I hope that as you start on this next phase of your life, you will keep these words close to your heart.

Be true to yourself – Don’t ever sacrifice your morals or integrity because someone asks you to. If you find yourself in a job or situation that makes you uncomfortable, just walk away. It’s easier to cut ties than to live with the consequences of making a bad decision. Have the courage to walk away!

If money is the answer to what you like most about your job, then it’s not the right job for you – Whatever career path you choose should bring you happiness, help others and be rewarding on many different levels, not just financially. The worst thing about a high paying job is that you will adjust your standard of living to meet that salary, and it’s hard to ever go back. If money is what is driving you, then it’s time to rethink your priorities.

Fund your 401(k) from your very first paycheck – Retirement seems like an ambiguous concept, but it’s not. Somehow time moves more quickly when you become an adult, and your ’20s will become your ’70s in a blink of an eye. You’ll want to live out your golden years without worry and anxiety, and you won’t be able to enjoy yourself if you haven’t planned accordingly.

No one will ever love you more than your Mom – It may sound like a cliché but it’s not. There is nothing stronger than a bond between a mother and her child, and no matter what happens, I will always be here for you.

There is only one Mother Earth. Respect her and protect her – Generations before you have already started down a path of destruction. There have already been many things done to our precious earth that cannot be reversed. It’s up to your generation to prevent any more harm from taking place. Fight against the people and companies who care only about profits and nothing about humanity.

Better to try and fail, than to not try at all – Many people go through life afraid of taking chances because they are afraid to fail. I encourage you to take a chance and dream big because you never know what will happen. So what if you fail? It just means you have another opportunity to succeed.

And I will end this letter by reminding you of the one thing that I have been saying to you since you were born. If you can live by one principle alone, then let it be this one: Love Others – because at the end of the day, nothing else really matters!





Hey, graduates, you may be thinking to yourself how much of what you just endured will actually be used IRL (in real life). If you’ve just graduated from High School, you’re thinking Algebra will NEVER come in handy. In college, it’s likely you barely remember what class you got up for, but probably remember the first beer you legally purchased. Those of you finishing your masters or doctorate, you’re free to brag that you remember every detail of your education (yeah, right).

We all took economics in our High School years. We may have even taken something like that in college somewhere along the way. It’s during this course when you likely spent at least one period talking about 401(k)s. It’s so buried in all the other things you need to remember that it’s difficult to actually recall when you need to. This is where real life education and what’s actually taught in school start to diverge.

You actually know more than you give yourself credit for. For all our new hires, I teach a class on Intro to 401(k)s. I begin by finding out how much my students actually know. Turns out, all the basics are normally covered.

• It’s a retirement account provided at work.
• Money is taken from your paycheck pre-tax.
• Sometimes there’s a match.
• Your money goes into mutual funds you can manage.

There you have it. It’s the simple basics that are easy to understand and true in most circumstances. Are there differences? Yes. Are these overgeneralizations? Probably. However, there’s one unmistakable truth: Saving at work provides more benefits than your savings account and could result in free money.

As you’re out there entering the workforce, get to know your benefits. Much of our economy comes from small businesses. If your new job doesn’t have a 401(k), ask them to start one up. This is the benefit that keeps on giving directly to you.

In case you didn’t know, there is a looming retirement crisis in America.

The wealth inequality in this country is astronomical, and every week there is a new financial crisis. The Debt Ceiling, the Fiscal Cliff, the Sequester, and (spoiler alert) coming soon to a Congress near you, the Debt Ceiling: Part Deux.

So how do we fix the lumbering, patchwork operations of the monetary system?

Well, maybe we just quit using money altogether.

I know that is very idealistic, but it is a solution.

The problems of human wants/needs on this Earth are not driven by scarcity but rather distribution. Before the days of money, we lived directly off the land, sustaining ourselves. With the specialization of skills, a system of exchange naturally arose. In modern America, we are born into a society where money has become a necessity. We recognize that one cannot simply opt out of participation; in fact, leaving the monetary society ironically requires a great deal of money. But could we evolve beyond money, as we developed beyond hunting and gathering?

We could, with ease, power the entirety of humanity’s energy needs from geothermal sources or thorium plants. We grow enough food already to feed the world’s starving. We are on the edge of the graphene revolution which will literally change everything about our daily lives (even more so than computers), and technology is rapidly advancing to a point where robots can literally just do everything for us.

We just need to stop being greedy individuals and start actually working together as a society. We’re a world full of strangers…

3d printers can literally replicate themselves… 3d printers could print 3d printers that print robots that assemble robots that perform labor and produce goods, and meanwhile, humanity studies art and science and space. The need for money disappears in the abundance of food and material wealth.

Money only makes sense in the arena of scarcity and competition. “There isn’t enough for everyone so I have to make sure that my efforts and hard work are tallied and recorded so I will be appropriately rewarded for my hard work.” But what if there was enough of everything for everyone, why would you even need money?

Mom. Dad. Pack Your Bags.

Andrew Answers / 21 Jan 2017 / Personal Finance

I was talking with my Mom the other day. The conversation went something like this:

“I talked with my financial planner, and I am going to be able to retire by 66,” she said. “And when I asked him, how long I could live, taking the amount I need to survive, he said ‘forever.’

That may seem pretty wonderful, but like a whole lot of people, she is one dramatic health event away from ZERO retirement dollars. ONE! Well, she’d have social security, but that wouldn’t be enough to live on.

My sweet 79-year old Dad’s an artist and is collecting Social Security now. His income is super fixed—obviously, people don’t typically become artists for the money, even though he has work in museums. Death makes artists rich, not life. Typically.

The good news is that their house is paid off. The bad news is that they have a three-story house on a whole lot of acres that require a whole lot of maintenance and it’s out in the middle of Nowheresville. All I can think about is one of them falling down the steps with no one to hear their screams except wildlife that has no opposable thumbs or 911 dialing capabilities.

America? You could learn a thing or two.

I think a lot of people are in a similar boat. You know, the boat that is one petite iceberg away from busting in half and sinking to the bottom of the ocean? Americans could learn a lot from other cultures. For instance, how they live in multigenerational households and support one another.

Welcome to my Retirement Community! Now accepting Mom(s) and Dad(s).

So, when it comes down to it, I am not putting my parents in a retirement home. I am making them come live with me. Why? They did it for me! Plus, elderly people live longer when they are surrounded by things or people or pets that engage them and LOVE them.

I can be that loving thing/people/pet! And of course they are going to tick me off (and vice-versa), and likely on a frequent basis, but that’s what family is about, right? And the America we live in now is not one of huge wealth, pension plans, and lavish, resort-style assisted-living (unless you have one gazillion dollars.) And if you do, I doubt you are reading this blog.

How do you feel about the multigenerational household? What are you going to do differently, given the current (and sad) economic outlook?


Read Ubiquity’s 3 Steps to Building Financial Security in an Economic Downturn

Read Now
Read the Definitive Guide to Small Business 401(k)
Download Your 401(k) Guide Now

© 2021 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings
Privacy Policy
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 3060
San Francisco, CA 94104
Support: 855.401.4357

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube

© 2021 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings
Privacy Policy
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 3060
San Francisco, CA 94104
Support: 855.401.4357

Credit Card Logos
Show Exit Modal