Are Annuities Good or Bad for Your Retirement?

A lot of financial experts and bloggers don’t recommend annuities or even like to talk about them very much. They are more likely to recommend and want to talk to you about investments in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds for growing your wealth and prepping for retirement. That may leave you to wonder what annuities really are and whether you should you invest in them for your retirement years.

Annuities...good or bad? They have a poor reputation, but there can be good reasons to include the right one in your retirement plans.

I chose to purchase an annuity about 20 years ago (when I was 50) with qualified money I used from a 401(k). Then, about 5 years ago, I took that money and used it to purchase a 5-year deferred annuity that will start paying me beginning in January of 2020. Those payments are guaranteed to me or a beneficiary (my wife who is 20 years my junior) for 20 years, or for my entire life as long as I live (even if I live to be 100 or more). This made good sense for my situation. But, before you decide that an annuity is either a good or bad choice, ask yourself this: Have you taken a really good look at annuities and do they make any sense for you?

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Saving Money Doesn’t Mean You Have to Have No Life!

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I guess I have always been surrounded by the “aura” of saving money. It started for me as a kid, simply because I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of extra money and I was the child of parents who grew up during the Great Depression. I am pretty sure that experience shaped my Mom and Dad’s philosophy about money and the importance of saving for a rainy day. The rainy days of the 1930’s were pretty rainy, so I get it.

If you feel like you have to have no life in order to save money, it doesn't have to be that way. Here's how to save and still enjoy life.

Of course, my parents were also around for the post-war abundance and prosperity of the 1950’s and things got a lot better for them and for all Americans as the 20th century rolled on. But even with that, the art and skill of the “saving of money” (which really primarily fell on my Mom’s shoulders as the main shopper and budget keeper) was still upper-most in their minds. And yes, of course, since I was right there by their side, mine too. But despite the emphasis on the saving of money, it didn’t mean that we had to have no life!

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Why Do You Diss All Those Valuable Pennies?

Chances are if you look around your house, your car, or any of your pockets, you will find a penny or three. Those little pennies really don’t get much respect in today’s world, do they? After all when you shop, if you start to dole them out at the cash register you might get some kind of dirty look like “What are you doing…just give them a damn nickel! Don’t look for the pennies!” Or after you pay with your cash you dump the two pennies you get in change into a little tip jar or charity collection (or is it?) on the counter.

Do you dismiss the value of pennies? Whether you're paying off debt or saving up money, pennies can be more powerful than you think.

Those orphan pennies are so small and insignificant, right? They seem to be more of a nuisance than anything of real value, and when you have them around you usually just ignore them. Why do you diss all these pennies?

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Why Are You So Awful at Saving Money?

So you haven’t yet saved a dime towards your retirement…and you have been working now for years and years. You don’t know how you’re going to pay your taxes because you haven’t been keeping up with—what are those things called—quarterly payments? You certainly don’t have a rainy day emergency fund; why should you? And college, well, the kids will just have to open a lemonade stand, and charge $100 a glass to get their tuition and books paid for. What should I do about it? It’s their education, right?! If you are awful at saving money, please step right this way because you are going straight to financial hell and the elevator is waiting for you.

If you're awful at saving money, it pays to figure out why. Here are some of the reasons why people can't save, and what to do about it.

Disciplining Yourself to Save Is Hard

If it seems hard to save money it seems that way for one huge reason: it is! That’s especially when it feels like you’re just barely scraping by yourself, so what the F? Do you expect to save on top of that little piece of reality? Well, yeah, come to think of it I do and it’s not just an idea here I am touting. It’s kind of, sort of, really, really a necessity. So,

Why are you so awful at saving money?

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How to Better Your Financial Decision Making

Life isn’t easy. We all make little and big decisions every day and sometimes it feels like there isn’t a minute that goes by that we can just veg and not have to do any decision making at all. Oh, and by the way, if you actually try to do just that, someone will probably call you out and tell you that you’re shirking your responsibilities or not facing up to reality or must be plain lazy or stupid. Is that why you never avoid making a decision or you agonize over one and never ever take a few minutes to take a deep breath before you do?

Financial decision making can be difficult and overwhelming, but here are some ways to make it easier and more successful.

When it comes to your money decision making, the pressure is even more ridiculous. Why? Because not only are those decisions important to you, but they show up and stand out. I mean they are pretty visible to the naked eye and often are the main ways that others can see how you function and judge how good your decision making actually is. Even though it sometimes doesn’t show up immediately to the naked eye, your money decisions will eventually be very visible and will affect you, your family, friendships, and even your job. Perhaps you can hide a few bad decisions, at least for a while. But when that day of reckoning arrives, everyone will know what really happened. When that happens, it’s not just bad for you, but for everyone around you and that just sucks!

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The Super Saving Tips Money Savings Challenge

Today I’d like to throw down some great money saving ideas to put on your agenda and “challenge” you to save! Some of these are old tested and true standards and some are a little bit off the beaten path, but sometimes we need to be reminded about the simple ways to save our money. I am going to take my own savings challenge and report back to you after the month of May. I want you to do the same and follow these tips!

This month, it's time for a savings challenge, and I'm proposing 7 different kinds. Choose what works for you and let me know how it goes!

Money Savings Challenges for You to Try

1. A no spending to and from work week

You may be thinking, “Gary, that’s just totally impossible!” Nope. Well you ask, “how is it done?” It is quite easy actually. First, go ahead and fill your gas tank up the day before you start this particular challenge. You’re going to need gas for sure, but by doing it in advance you can easily avoid the temptations of stopping by the gas station on your way to work to get a little pick-me-up coffee and bagel. Make a cup and a snack at home before you head out the door. Can you manage to put the spending on hold for just those five work days? You can most definitely do this challenge. I believe in you. When the work week is over, you just might want to start applying this saving tactic to your life every week. Do it and you can easily save $25 every week!

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Can You Be a Millionaire By Retirement?

One out of every six people in America today gets to retire a millionaire! That sounds fairly optimistic since most of us at some point in our lives dream of becoming one of them. One out of every six retired Americans is now retiring as one and that is from a documented report by online investing company United Income which analyzed data from multiple sources including the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The purpose of the study was to find out how retirees are faring now compared to previous generations and compare the results.

Not only is it possible to retire a millionaire, but it's fast becoming a necessity. Here's what you need to do to make that retirement goal.

One way I suppose to become a millionaire is to buy lots of scratch off tickets in your state lottery or to try to get on a quiz show like “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” but let’s be somewhat realistic here. There are other ways, aren’t there?

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Why What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Do you remember that old phrase of years gone by, “ignorance is bliss”? Even if you never have heard that one (although I doubt that), it is something that seems to be true. After all, you aren’t going to worry about that big pothole on the road just a few hundred feet ahead of you when you’re driving to work on this sunny morning—if you are totally unaware of it, right? How can you? You don’t know it’s there. You haven’t heard any problems about it and your mind is drifting along with the latest tunes on the radio as you sip your coffee from your freshly brewed homemade K-cup coffee machine that you made just 10 minutes earlier. Life is good. And then…kaboom! What you don’t know can hurt you.

When it comes to your finances, what you don't know can hurt you. Here are some basics to get you started on your way to learning what you need to know.

Funny thing about that “ignorance is bliss” thing, it has a tendency to sneak up on you and hit you squarely in the eye or even worse, your rear end and lower back like driving over a huge pothole does! That simply proves the premise doesn’t it? What you don’t know can and will hurt you!

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