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Okay, I’ll admit it, I like to collect things. At some point in my childhood I started collecting watches, and while most of them are in need of a new battery, I do enjoy looking at my watch collection. I have fond memories of either the person who gave a watch to me or from the experience I was having when I purchased it. Having one collection isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

However, throughout my life, I started to accumulate more collections. Suddenly, anytime I acquired an object that was related to another I thought of it as a collection. Soon collections started taking up more boxes and more space and I saw myself on a future episode of Hoarders. The madness had to end!

So I tossed most of it all away and decided that I was only going to collect one thing in the future: Money.

It’s the perfect collection, really. It doesn’t take up space (unless you are hiding it under the mattress). It provides actual long-term security, and it even multiplies without any intervention on your part. I get much more satisfaction looking at my increasing bank balance than I ever did dusting off any of my past collections. More importantly, it gives me confidence that when I retire years from now, I will have enough saved to not worry.

We live in a very materialistic, instant gratification society, so it’s a challenge to not buy something as soon as we want it. But I believe that peace of mind about my future is worth far more than anything I can buy today. Sure I have my splurges, but they are always done after I have hoarded away some money. Anything extra, it gets saved too! I want to ensure that I am planning for a realistic retirement and that it’s not just some ambiguous event that will happen in the future. It’s real, and I need to be prepared.

I challenge everyone to think long and hard about whether your actions today will give you the confidence to retire in your golden years. A good reality check is to see how many of these scenarios you are preparing for or already are prepared for. Yes there are some that are out of our control, but it’s still a good idea to hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Right off the bat, I am already planning for the idea that when I retire, Social Security will be a thing of the past.

How confident are you in your retirement plans?

It’s time to wake up! There’s a looming retirement crisis in America, and it’s going to take more than our government to fix these broken eggs. Let’s put it this way. We’re going to get scary, then we’re going to discuss what the heck we’re going to do about the mess.

Did you know?

  • 46% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for their retirement
  • 29% have less than $1,000 saved
  • $6.6 TRILLION SHORT, American workers are falling drastically short of what they need to retire
  • 20% of all bankruptcies happen to those age 55 and older
  • 74% of us believe that we are going to need to work until we’re dead

Now if those statistics aren’t startling, you obviously don’t fall into any of those categories. However, if that startled the stuffing out of you, it’s time to really start considering how we’re going to get out of this mess.

Broken Eggs: The Looming Retirement Crisis in America is a hard-hitting and feature-length documentary film covering everything from the Pension crisis to Social Security insolvency, and more. It’s a multi-generation film, covering the stories of real people who are struggling with saving, are retired and aren’t making it, along with the policy makers and shakers in Washington D.C.

The thing is, we need to promote this conversation and get people really thinking about the issues. We all owe it to ourselves, our future selves, and everyone we share this country with to get involved.

That means you, your friends and family, me, everyone.


Each year, EBA names an adviser of the year that exemplifies nimble management and engagement in the ever-shifting waters of employee benefits. Dr. Gregory Kasten, the founder and CEO of Unified Trust Company, took home the honor of Retirement Adviser of the Year. Dr. Kasten took some time after the recent award to speak with us about retirement, the move from medical to financial, and provide some advice to small businesses and their employees.

Dr. Gregory Kasten
Courtesy of Unified TrustEach year, EBA names an adviser of the year that exemplifies nimble management and engagement in the ever-shifting waters of employee benefits. For 2013, Dr. Gregory Kasten, the founder, and CEO of Unified Trust Company took home the honor of Retirement Adviser of the Year. Dr. Kasten took some time after the recent award to speak with us about retirement, the move from medical to financial, and provide some advice to small businesses and their employees.

Andrew: Dr. Kasten, congratulations for the EBA Retirement Adviser of the Year Award! What an honor! Thank you for taking the time out to answer a few questions. What would you say makes you so passionate about our industry?

Dr. Kasten: I am most passionate about improving participant outcomes. The industry has spent the last 20 years trying to educate participants and the impact on outcomes has been negligible. Last year, the industry spent over $1 billion on employee education. Most of that money was wasted. A recent study showed 56% of participants were either unaware that they had educational materials available, or completely ignored them.

The desired outcome should be an adequate benefit. “Adequate benefit” means replacing the participant’s paycheck. The problem is most participants don’t have a goal of benefit adequacy. They don’t know how much retirement will cost and whether or not they are on track.

Andrew: I find most would love to have a frank discussion on how they’re doing for retirement, comparable to how folks want to talk to someone they can trust when finding a physician. What drew you to finance and away from a career in medicine?

Dr. Kasten: I was initially drawn to the retirement world to take care of my own retirement plan. Later, I found many other individuals were asking for the same type of help.

What I looked to establish in my financial practice was the same standard of care in the financial world that exists in the medical world. In other words, in the doctor-patient relationship, concern for the patient is first and foremost. Secondly, the Hippocratic Oath requires that one should function in a way that “at first does no harm.” Thus, the doctor-patient relationship is very similar to the fiduciary duties under ERISA, which require a duty of loyalty, and duty to act as a prudent expert standard of care.

I was always amazed how much product and analytical effort is conducted in the financial world with no analysis as to whether or not it is beneficial or not. It just sounds like an impressive thing to do.

Andrew: I agree. I’ve always looked at working in the finance world as helping others understand something confusing. As the CEO of your own retirement firm, what has been your vision for Unified Trust for the past (almost) 30 years?

Dr. Kasten: Beginning in 1985, I was a 3(38) investment manager well before that term gained popularity. I first started as a registered investment adviser, but quickly realized that many advisers do not have enough capital or dual controls to be able to safeguard the client. Most clients do not ask the right questions about the ability of a registered investment adviser to make for fiduciary mistakes or even to be able to protect the client.

So, in the early 1990’s, I decided to charter a trust company because clients would be better served in the trust environment. We first chartered a state trust company named First Lexington Trust Company. In 2000, we converted our state-chartered to a national bank charter under the Department of the Treasury office of the Comptroller of Currency and renamed the company Unified Trust Company, NA.

Andrew: It’s always inspiring to see how bigger, successful businesses come from small ones. I’ve got plenty more questions for you. Sit tight Dr. Kasten and we’ll get to those next time.

Stay tuned for the second part of this interview for more insight from Dr. Kasten on working as an adviser and what companies should look for when searching for the perfect provider!

Save Me from Myself

Sabrina / 27 Feb 2013 / Personal Finance

It’s America Saves Week, and today’s theme is “Saving Automatically.” I wish I could say that I automatically save! But the truth is that you have to do a lot to get yourself into a situation where you don’t need to do anything.

Like you may have, I have an automatic transfer from my checking account into my savings account. However, there are times when I can just as automatically transfer it back. My savings account does not offer me the traction I need because I have too much access to the money. It is really like a less convenient checking account.

One thing I have to done to curtail my spending is to use cash over my debit card. For instance, when I go out to have a few drinks, I determine how much money I am allowed to spend and put that amount in my pocket in cash. When the cash is spent, the night is over. Having the cash on hand and trading it for goods or services creates the realization of loss that keeps me from frivolously spending every dime I have. Studies have shown that when someone uses a plastic card for a purchase that same sense of loss is not registered, and that is why so many people can easily run up extreme charges or exhaust their coffers with a painless swipe.

Another recommendation for automatic savings comes from our own Bianca Blanco. Each week a portion of her check is deposited into an account for which she has no checkbook, no debit card, no access to the money other than to physically go to the bank and withdraw it. Needless to say, that money is never spent impulsively.

What steps can you take to save yourself from spending your own money impulsively? How can you make saving automatic?

Nathan Bolt is a friendly, helpful, burgeoning young professional with whom I’m speaking about vocations and avocations, passion and happiness, the future, and now.

Victor: Some people have this idea that if they work hard, they get to play hard. On the other side of that there are people who scrounge and scrounge.

Nathan: I think it’s prevalent in our society to kind of live this deferred life plan model, where you work most of your life and maybe take one or two vacations a year with your family, that when you’re 65 or when you retire, that’s really when you get to enjoy yourself. I don’t think that’s for me, because when I’m 65, I don’t think I’ll enjoy the things I would have enjoyed when I’m 25 or 35. While I’m young and active and able to do more things because I’m healthier, that’s when I want to enjoy myself.

But at the same time, you have to think about the future. I think it’s a balance.

Right when I turned 18, I started a Roth IRA.

I can make my budget and contribute my maximum and really make sure that my investments grow over time so that by the time I’m thinking about retiring I’ll be set.

V: Have you ever heard of an avocation? An avocation is something you can be a specialist at that isn’t necessarily a money-maker but something that gives you a work/life balance. For some people, it’s what makes their life worth living. Do you have anything that you’re passionate about?

N: Music, specifically electronic music. Recently I’ve got some DJ equipment, and I started messing around with that.

With my free time, I will be learning how to DJ as a hobby.

When I’m passionate about that I’m just happier in general with my life and that translate into all aspects of it including my vocation.

Happiness goes beyond passion and Nathan understands this, “I’m always the type of person who when in a situation that is hands-on, dealing with people, I’m happy.”

It’s hard for me to say that I’ve met anyone more well-rounded than this confident gentleman.

As soon as my son was born, my husband and I opened a saving account for him. We felt this was important because we received many cash gifts for him, and we wanted to keep this money separate from ours; after all, it’s HIS money. He is four now, and since his birth, we have deposited all of his cash and checks into this account, and it’s grown quite a bit (far more than mine!). Once he was old enough to begin to understand the concept of money, we introduced him to what we call the 50/40/10 rule.

Quite simply, 50% of all the money he receives (either earned or gifted) must go into a savings account. Period. No questions asked. His age prevents him from completely grasping the concept of savings, but I know that repeated reiteration of just the word “savings” will help integrate it into his vocabulary and hopefully will become standard practice for him as he gets older. When he becomes an adult maybe the percentage will change, but it’s my goal to teach him that he has to incorporate savings into his overall money plan.

The 40% is what we call the discretionary piece. Though D is still too young to need discretionary spending, I believe when he gets older, 40% of what he either earns or is given should be determined by him. Maybe he will choose to save that money (great!) or maybe he’ll use it to buy something he wants. Either way, I am trying to equip him with the right mentality that he shouldn’t just spend everything he receives as a gift. Half of it has to be saved, and some of can be used for fun.

Lastly comes the 10% and this is another non-negotiable. This portion of his money must be given to charity, and it’s with this part that we really get to have fun. My husband and I kept track throughout 2012 and at the end of the year, we told D how much he had to give. Then we asked him to choose three charities to whom he wanted to contribute. He asked us for suggestions, and we gave him some based on both his and our interests. It was really warming to see him ask questions about each charity – about what they did and who they helped. It’s so important to me that D realize that there are many who are less fortunate in this world and that it’s up to him and his generation to step up and make a change. At his age, contributing money toward these causes is how he can help.

In the end, D chose three different charities. It’s important to let your child choose for themselves to whom they want to give because it teaches them they have a choice over where their money will be spent, even if not over the amount.

Remember that many of these values that you instill in your child from an early age will stay with them their whole lives, so start talking about money now!

I don’t know about you, but the last time I had a savings of any kind was back in 2007—as in, five years ago. It wasn’t much—but it was something–certainly not enough to retire on! My 401(k) back in the day wasn’t too bad either. But when that medical hardship came down like a ton of bricks, that’s what I had to pull from.

When life fell apart in 2008, I could not get my brain wrapped around the idea of saving even two nickels. Obviously, those two nickels, along with every couch-surfing penny I had, were already spoken for.

You may have seen in my previous blog post that I am on a personal mission of EPIC PROPORTIONS. Last week, I paid every single one of my bills. Every one! And I still managed to put 5% of my paycheck into my 401(k)!

Let’s discuss that for a minute.

I started out at 4% because that is what’s recommended, and because my employer has a match up to 4%. That is FREE MONEY! I don’t walk away from free money. EVER.

Even though all the online retirement calculators I have used say something like: “You’re not saving enough!” and there is usually some form of extremely judging frowny-face staring at me indicating with its beady black eyes that I will end up in a box under a bridge. Whatever! You can’t intimidate me! I’m on a mission!

The truth is I don’t know anything about investing. And, as much as I have been doing my homework, I want to make something clear—this stuff makes my brain hurt. You want me to add 1 + 1 without the use of a calculator? Good luck with that (even with a calculator).

Luckily for me, there was a no-brainer investment option, catering specifically to my lack of knowledge: Morningstar. It was a click of a button and BOOM! Money is saving away, it’s not scary, and I feel like I can move on with my life.

The super awesome thing is that I was so excited about saving, that I went and bumped up my contribution to the 5% I was bragging about up there. And you want to know the even MORE awesome part? Because it’s pre-tax dollars going in, it literally put more money in my paycheck. How the heck does that work? I’m saving more and I am bringing in a few more bucks. It’s magic I tell you! It makes me wonder. Can I get to 6%? 7%?

Bring it on!

What are you doing over there? Are you saving? I challenge you to a savings duel! No one likes doing this alone. So why don’t we trudge through it together?

Stay classy, America.

Sylvia, aka Debt Girl

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© 2018 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings / Privacy Policy
1160 Battery Street, Suite 350, San Francisco, CA 94111 / Support: 855.401.4357