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The looming retirement crisis is a term that sounds ominous – and it is. Millions of Americans dream of a retirement that includes their hobbies and loved ones. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that many of those dreamers will never actually get to retire because of a seriously inadequate nest egg that is supposed to sustain them through their twilight years.

America needs to wake up and realize we have a serious problem on our hands. It’s not an abstract one, but rather an issue that has specific origins. We have no chance of reversing the problem without figuring out how we got to this point and what we need to do to prevent the looming retirement crisis.

Here are the main obstacles we face:

1. Coverage

Study after study has shown the easiest and most effective way for people to save for retirement is through an employer-sponsored retirement plan, whether it’s a 401k, IRA or another vehicle.

Over 40 million employees – especially those working at small businesses, don’t have access to a work-sponsored retirement savings plan.

Our solution? Mandated retirement savings plans. State governments are getting involved in this solution, but more needs to be done so that all workers have the opportunity to save at work.

2. Participation rates

Even among employees with the opportunity to save at work, there is an alarmingly low participation rate of only 52 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The retirement industry and government need to find a way to get people to utilize their plans and save money for their future. When employees have to opt for a plan, many wrongfully assume they need the money more now than they will later.

Our solution? Auto-enrollment. Research indicates that when people are auto-enrolled in a retirement plan, they stick with it after seeing how easy it is to use and its benefits.

 

 

3. Saving enough

In an earlier post, we discussed the new reality of retirement savings sources: Pensions are basically extinct, and Social Security is unstable. That means you alone are responsible for saving enough to last you through retirement.

The problem is that most people’s nest eggs are underfunded. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 57 percent of workers report that the total value of their family’s savings and investments is less than $25,000 (this figure does not include the equity in their home or a defined benefit plan). Of that group, 28 percent of people have less than $1,000 saved.

Our solution? Auto-increasing savings amounts. For workers enrolled in a defined contribution plan, it is difficult to remember to keep increasing their deferral rate; plus, many people second-guess the decision as they believe they need the money more now than they will later. By auto-escalating deferral rates, we can help people save more without putting the burden on them to elect to save more.

4. Investing appropriately

Investment selection and portfolio allocation both seem to trip up savers very frequently – and with good reason. After all, most people don’t have expertise in the markets, and yet their future ultimately depends on these very complicated concepts and products.

It’s no surprise we are concerned that people are not investing appropriately for their age, risk tolerance or current market conditions. How can you know what is considered appropriate for you when you’re tasked with doing this on your own?

Our solution? Cost-effective professional advice. When there is a plumbing issue in your house, you call a professional plumber. It’s that same logic that should encourage the retirement industry and employers to offer professional resources to assist savers with their investment selection and ensure its suitability for their unique situation and goals.

Download Ubiquity’s Definitive Guide to Small Business 401k

Our book club is currently reading Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell Is Human, and this week’s reading surfaced an interesting tidbit of information: we find it hard to relate to future versions of ourselves.

“To those estranged from their future selves, saving is like a choice between spending money today or giving it to a stranger years from now.” – HERSHFIELD et al.

Is this why so many of us live for today, unknowingly aligning ourselves with the philosophy of Epicurus, which states that pleasure is the greatest good?

We can’t escape the rules of cause-and-effect; what we do today has downstream consequences.

The donuts, the late night ice cream sneaks, the stubborn adherence to a strict policy of no exercise. These choices that I made years ago are affecting me today.

I have proof. I’m sure others can relate.

What, then, can be done to save our future self? Are we doomed to forgo sacrifice instead of pleasure, planning instead of impulse?

No.

“Light Strokes, Fell great Oaks.” – Benjamin Franklin

Just as my impulsive behavior years ago is the bane of my waist-line today, the Krispy Cremes, baby back ribs and el grande pork burritos I eat or do not eat today could harangue my figure a year from now.

If I make small modifications and compromises, like eating light meals two or three times a week, forgoing a $4.50 mocha, maybe not eating out as much, and possibly using the extra money I save to invest in my 401(k) plan, and maybe, just maybe running around the block a few times a week and doing push-ups before going to sleep, I might be in better shape a decade from now had I not made these small adjustments.

What do you think? If you can take a small series of actions that lead to a great payoff, would you do it?

Will you?

What can you do if you need cash, don’t have adequate savings, and taking out a loan from a bank or friend isn’t an option? What if you are trying to buy your first home and are coming up short for the down payment? Many people turn to a 401k loan, that allows you to borrow the money you’ve already invested.

While it is your money, it is important to note it takes people about three weeks to receive their loan. Plus, before you can get a loan it has to be approved by both your 401k provider and your employer. So if you need money right away, this might not the best option for you.

Additionally, since this is a workplace benefit offered through your current employer, it’s not wise to take out a loan if you plan on leaving your job in the next few years. Here are some things to think about:

1. Personal vs. residential loans

A residential loan can be used for purchasing your first home or primary residence. Your employer and even the IRS may be more lenient with this type of loan and give you up to 15 years to pay it back.

A personal loan can be used for almost anything, including student debt, a new car, healthcare expenses, etc. You may only have five years to pay off a personal loan.

No matter what type of loan you take, the minimum you can withdraw from your 401k is $1,000, and the maximum is half of your current balance or $50,000.

2. Interest

You may be thinking, why do I have to pay interest on a loan I took from myself? The IRS wants you to pay interest to mimic the gains your 401k could have made if the money had stayed invested. Your interest rate is calculated by taking the prime rate – the interest rate that banks charge to their most credit-worthy customers – and adding 1 to 2 percent, depending on your provider.

3. Fees

In addition to paying your interest, you will pay some hefty fees. If you are taking a five-year loan, you could pay upward of $500 in fees on top of what you initially borrowed. Why?

First, there is likely an administration fee (sometimes called an “origination fee”) that goes toward drawing up your paperwork, writing the check and transferring your money. After that, there is an annual administration fee to cover the maintenance of your loan.

4. Repayment schedule

Loans are repaid the same way you contribute to your 401k – automatically and through your paycheck. Since this is a workplace benefit and not built to be easily accessible, most providers will only let you have one active loan at a time. This means you need to completely pay off one loan before taking out another from your 401k.

5. Defaulting

Defaulting is when you can’t make your loan payment when it’s due. Like any default, this can have serious financial implications. How can you default if your repayments come directly from your paycheck? One way is if your employment is terminated and you are no longer receiving a paycheck. If that happens, you are required to pay back the full amount of your loan within 60 days, and on top of that, your balance will be taxed and you could even face an early withdrawal penalty if you are under the age of 59 ½.

6. Loan modeling tools

This resource from Bankrate allows you to see how a 401k loan will impact your paycheck and retirement plan. Most importantly, make sure you are prepared for a lower monthly income so you can stay on track to meet any long-term financial goals.

Download Ubiquity’s Definitive Guide to Small Business 401k

Good news – ­it seems the world is finally getting to know us. There is now a plethora of Millennial-focused studies, articles, and apps that cater to our vast, diverse generation and rightfully so, as there are more than 80 million of us in the U.S. alone! Here’s what Millennials need to know about money, whether it’s becoming more familiar with investing, saving or more educated about money, there are resources to help us achieve our goals.

1. Millennials should make these 3 moves now to retire with $1 million

This Money article goes beyond the typical “start saving early” tip that we have all heard. Instead, the piece gives actionable steps we can be taken to retire with a healthy nest egg, such as allocating our portfolios heavily toward stocks. The real gem in this article is the warning to avoid investments laden with fees we may not have even known existed. It’s time to stop wasting our money and start putting it to work for our Future Selves!

 2. Capital one survey uncovers Millennials’ attitudes on spending, saving, and sharing

Ever wonder how your friends viewed money, but couldn’t figure out how to ask? You’re in luck because this recent Capital One survey, entitled Millennial Mindset on Money, asks for us. The study looks at some important questions about finance and privacy, security, personal relationships, and technology—basically everything we care about. For example, did you know more than 14 percent of those surveyed said being a money moocher is a deal breaker when it comes to romantic relationships? How many respondents do you think said they would use Facebook to access their money? Check it out for more eye-opening responses.

 

3. Acorns

Finally, there is a financial management app designed specifically with our needs in mind! In a world where we are faced with mountains of student debt and a high cost of living, it’s easy to feel like we just don’t have extra money to be investing. Acorns allow us to take our spare change from everyday purchases and invest it into one of five diversified portfolios. As an added bonus, we can make unlimited deposits and withdrawals at no cost so our money can be flexible with our unpredictable needs. Acorns is a free app to download, and it costs as little as $1 per month to maintain. Good news students – it’s free for you!

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.

I did it. I put my house (crisis) up for sale. Now, I’m doing it FSBO for the moment—but I suspect that I will begin getting hit on by every real estate agent within a 20-mile radius. You want a piece of this? Yeah, you do.

One of my goals in 2013 is to get the heck out of debt and to get substantial savings in place. Another is to reduce the amount of crap I have. And that crap includes my underwater, in foreclosure home, which—by the way—could house a family of 8 comfortably. That being said, I am a family of two. We have about 2,000 more square feet than we could possibly need.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! To me.

So far, I’m off to a bangin’ start for 2013. I’ve increased my contribution limit for my 401k to 10%. <— What?!? YEAH! That just happened! And with that 4% match from my company, I am feeling good that I am working towards securing my future while NOT leaving free money on the table. I love free money. (You complete me, free money!)

The thing is we are in a totally different America than we were in just seven years ago. Getting a $100K credit line (while being totally undeserving of such a thing) is no longer happening. One does not just waddle out and get a home loan without a soaring credit score. I’ll tell you what—I want none of it. You can take your credit and shove it, Wall Street!

I am reimagining my life.

What do I want to be when I grow up? Not a MORON.

How do I get there? I am embarking on an adventure of discovery; one where I am no longer giving into my “I want, what I want, when I want it, which is now” previous attitude. The house needs to go. My kids are in college. The last kid is moving out in a short 6 months  (booo). That means I need to find an apartment or a house to rent. And guess what—maintenance of said house as far as repairs and appliances and taxes? Not my problem.

My house is a money pit.

My taxes every year in this pit are insane. And maintenance of the beast? Don’t even get me started. What I can save conservatively by finding a place for rent will get me out of debt within this next two years. Maybe even one year. And guess what? My house is not my retirement. My retirement plan that is compounding interest.

Resolutions. Why not?

2013 is going to be an awesome year. First off, the Mayan Apocalypse didn’t happen. But the looming retirement crisis still is—so what are you going to do to make sure your future self is secure and happy?

 

You have probably been hearing a lot about the ‘Fiscal Cliff’, our national deficit, the need to raise taxes and lower spending, the sequestration (whatever that is), and the debt ceiling (again).

Let me try and put this in easy to understand terms for us.

I recently came across an illustration that we can all relate to. Instead of talking in billions, and trillions, this illustration uses the magic of the decimal point and chops off a whole bunch of zeros.

Basically, this is the national budget; zeros removed to make it look like a household budget:

Household Income: $21,700
All Expenses: $38,200
Difference: ($16,500)

Amount to be charged to our credit card: $16,500

Existing credit card balance: $142,710

Amount the family has agreed to reduce their spending next year: $385

When stated like this, it makes much more sense, doesn’t it? Or no sense at all, depending on your stance.

This is what we are dealing with:

• Accumulation of massive debt over many years
• Earning too little to support our lifestyle
• Spending more than we are earning
• No will to change our ways

We need to declare enough! For the love of our country, our friends and family, we cannot continue like this!

We’ve been using the credit card when we should have been using the debit card!

We have been pickpocketed, and our credit card is in the hands of Congress, who, in what can only be described as a drunken binge, have run up a huge balance, Republican, and Democrat alike.

And there is another problem! Just like the borrowing limit on your credit card, we as a nation have a borrowing limit, and we have hit it – many times!

So what would you do? Rational, sane people would say wow; we really got ourselves in a bind didn’t we, we better work at cleaning this up.

Non-rational, not so sane people would instead call up the credit card company and ask for more credit.

In our national case, our credit card company is mostly China and Japan. How many more times will they be willing to take that call?

And Congress is calling on our behalf, asking for an increase to our credit card so they can spend more.

Not sure about you, but no one asked me if this is ok. No one from Congress has checked with me if I am ok with increasing the amount I have to pay for this party, and no one has asked me if I am ok making the payments on our national credit card.

I am not ok with it, and I want my credit card back.

The time has come to take control of our futures, and for us to care more! This is it, people, it’s not too late. But it will be soon.

This course is unsustainable. Never before in modern history has there been such a complex mix of a demographics, an aging population, a shrinking tax base, and such a lack of foresight. History tells us our empire will fail; we are close to crossing the point of no return.

Take action. Take control. Stop outsourcing our futures to 535 people in Washington who crave instant gratification, at all costs. Because, like it or not, we are all in this together, and if we do not take serious measures today, this party will be over – one and done.

What do you think about this? Do you get it? Are you pissed?

I meet with the convivial Michael Finnegan, Ph.D., Scientist, Teacher, Author, and Entrepreneur and throw him the ice-breaker, “Can gratitude prepare you for the future?” To which he jovially replies, “Yes it can.”

We exchange some ideas about gratitude and mutually agree that gratitude is a shift in perspective that considers a bigger picture, which leads me to ask him why he co-founded www.quantumcamp.com with Ryan Nurmela.

M: The school was started out of some responses I had to previous jobs in teaching where I saw what was going on with the children and the lack of teaching. I had this new job in a pretty rough public school in West Oakland. I saw all the things that pundits say is wrong with education in America. It was no longer an abstract idea. I was in the classroom.

V: I know you have a unique philosophy, which is the DNA of Quantum Camp, a school that teaches advanced concepts to people you wouldn’t expect to receive those concepts – children!

M. The foundational idea is all grand ideas that define science and math today, that define society, at some point were not known. There’s a moment where an idea was discovered and entered into the consciousness of humanity.

The pedagogy or teaching practice of Quantum Camp asks, “what were the series of events that led up to that discovery?” Usually the answer is decades or centuries of experiments, with their failures and successes. We have the children/students redo those experiments. Lo and behold, in the final few days of any course what dawns on them are these grand ideas which they rediscover and now own for themselves. They can sort of go forth with this quiet confidence.

V. Do you find that children’s ability to critically think becomes awakened after taking your courses?

M. Most students are trained to say, “Is this the right answer? Am I doing this right?” The teachers at Quantum Camp will respond, “You tell me. Your data probably has the right answers. Look at your data.” When you force them to look at their own work, that’s when critical thinking starts to happen. They are not looking for the answers elsewhere, from a teacher or smart person or authority that somehow magically knows.

V. You’ve been in the workforce for long time: you know that thinking critically is not a skill a lot of people have. I think that’s really affected our society, our nation. There seems to be a connection between education and the national well-being.

M. Yes. The greatest source of wealth, if you want to relate it to economics, is human capital. If you want to improve the economy of any society, you invest in your people.

My name is Victor Rose and I love stories and conversations with generations; I created this blog with the intention of listening to different people of disparate ages tell me their timeless truths. I wanted to hear what someone from the upcoming generation, the Millennials, might have to say about retirement and the future. Born after 1981, they represent a youth that has experienced so much cultural, political, technological and economic change. They were born into interesting times.

Ellie Ridge is not your typical 16-year-old. I met her at a Philz Coffee in North Berkeley, CA. At 16, she was working 2 jobs, in addition to attending community college full-time. She also just came back from a self-funded European summer adventure.

Victor: So Ellie what is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word “Retirement”?

Ellie: Not having to work. Living a comfortable life. I guess I would hope that when I retire, I would be able to live the same life that I lived when I was still working.

Victor: When do you think you’re going to retire?

Ellie: I want to retire when I’m 65 but I know that people have to retire a lot later now.

V: What types of behavior do you think could help you in that goal?

E: Putting money away and making investments, like buying a home. Not having to pay a mortgage when I’m older.

V: I’m very impressed that you know that!

E: I just want to have everything settled so that the only money I have to be spending is on maintenance.

Where did Ellie get all her wisdom? Who taught her about saving?

“Nobody taught me.”

Ellie described that she’d witnessed people around her make poor financial choices. Those choices created hard-felt consequences.

“I never want to be like that when I grow up. I don’t, on the one hand, want the value of my life placed on money. I don’t think your value is in your money or money will bring you happiness, but I know that money brings you ease and comfort.”

Wow.

If Ellie represents the next generation if the next generation can learn from others’ mistakes and misfortunes, if they can think ahead and plan and act now, then we have a bright future ahead of us.

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

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