Four Ways to Lower Portfolio Risk in a Record Stock Market

Want a hot tip on the stock market? It’s more profitable to reduce risk at the top of the stock market than once a full-blown bear market develops. Is now the top of the stock market? We can’t know for sure, but what we do know is that the market remains in record territory, and that’s when it’s time to take steps to reduce your portfolio risk.

What can you do now to lower that portfolio risk?

Take some profits

There’s no need to perform a wholesale liquidation of your stock portfolio if you feel the market is flying a bit too high. But you can take some profits in order to reduce your overall exposure to stocks, while leaving most of your positions intact. That’s a good strategy because market tops are notoriously hard to anticipate, and stocks can continue rising for much longer (and farther) than anyone thinks.

But if you have stocks that have done particularly well for several years, you might consider selling them to take profits. By selling stocks that have done well, you are locking in your gains on those trades. Sooner or later, the market will fall, and if the fundamentals of those winning stocks are still strong, you can buy them back at lower prices.

Stop funding new stock purchases

One of the best ways to lower your risk in a record stock market is by not investing fresh cash contributions into more stocks. You don’t sell your primary stock positions (other than the profit taking on the best performers as discussed above), but you increase your non-stock positions (cash) with the new money you contribute.

This will lower your stock allocation without selling off large blocks of stocks. You can use the money either to build up cash, or to invest in assets that might have a better chance when the market turns down.

The time honored technique for making money in the stock market has always been buy low, sell high. Though it may not necessarily be time to sell, by not funding new stock purchases with fresh cash, you will at least avoid buying at the top of the market (or “buying high”).

Increase your cash

By taking profits on some high fliers and not buying stocks with your fresh cash contributions, you’re accomplishing something that’s fundamentally important at market tops: you’re raising cash.

Though some people try to raise cash during bear markets, it’s usually much easier to do at or near market tops. This is because you’re in a position to sell when prices are high, which not only raises greater amounts of cash, but it also avoids selling stocks into declining markets where you will lock in losses on those trades.

Cash is typically the single best asset to have during market downturns for the following reasons:

  • It reduces portfolio losses during general price declines because it has a fixed value.
  • It can be invested in interest bearing assets, providing at least a small cash flow while equities are losing value.
  • It can be accumulated so that you will have ready capital available so that you can buy stocks at bargain prices after a significant fall.

Unfortunately, cash is also perhaps the most under-appreciated asset class at market tops when everyone wants to be “fully invested”. But start building your cash reserves now and when the direction of the market turns, you’ll be in a perfect position to ride out and exploit the changing circumstances.

Move money to income producing assets

We just touched on moving cash into interest bearing assets as a way of generating an income, but you can do this with stocks as well. High dividend paying stocks can often be the perfect place to ride out a downturn in the market. Not only will the dividend income provide a reliable income stream, but high dividend stocks also generally resist market declines, preserving your portfolio’s value.

The one caveat with high dividend stocks is a market decline caused by rising interest rates. In periods of rising rates, high dividend stocks function much like bonds, moving in an inverse direction from interest rates. Thus when interest rates rise, high dividend stocks tend to fall in price.

Still, high dividend stocks can represent a diversification away from typical growth stocks that are a pure play on price appreciation – something that’s in short supply in declining markets.

Have you been giving any thought to lowering the risk in your portfolio with stocks being in record territory?

How to Not Out-Live Your Retirement Savings

One of the biggest fears that many current retirees have is that they might out-live their retirement savings. That can be a particularly difficult problem, because once you’re retired there’s not much you can do about it. But if you’re planning for your retirement, there’s a lot you can do about a right now.

Here are five ways to not outlive your retirement savings:

1) Delay Retirement

This is something virtually anyone can do, as long as you are in good health. Actually, there is nothing sacrosanct about age 65 as the preferred age of retirement. The Social Security Administration is now in the process of forcing full retirement to gradually move up to age 67, for those born in 1960 or later.

But if you are concerned about outliving your retirement savings, you can delay the date of your retirement for virtually as long as you are able to work. And considering that people today are living longer, and are generally healthier, than what they were 50 years ago, delaying makes abundant sense.

If you can delay for retirement until age 70, you’ll reduce the number of years that you will live in retirement by five (with the assumption of 65 being a normal retirement age). For example, let’s say that for planning purposes you expect that you will live to be 90. If you retire at 65, you’ll need to provide for 25 years in retirement. But if you delay until you turn 70, you’ll cut that down to just 20 years. The difference in required financial resources will be substantial.

There is a another benefit to delaying retirement at least until age 70. Social Security will increase your monthly benefit by 8% for each year that you delay retiring past your normal retirement age. If normal retirement for you is 67, and you delay collecting benefits until 70, your monthly benefit will by 24% over what it would be if you retire at 67. (There is no benefit to delaying past age 70, as Social Security will no longer increase your monthly benefit beyond that age.)

2) Work Part-Time For as Long as You Can

This can be a halfway option, that will enable you to delay retirement out-right. Instead of delaying full retirement to, say age 70, you can instead spend the first few years of your retirement working part-time. Under that scenario, you’ll be trading full-retirement for semi-retirement. And the fact that you will be relying less on investment income will help you to preserve those assets for the time in your life when you’re not able to work at all.

This can work for people on a lot of fronts too. You may not be quite ready to fully retire at age 65 or 67, and working at least on a part-time basis – or starting your own part-time business – could help you to ease into the transition of finally living the work-free life.

3) Set Up a Roth IRA and Save It For…Later

We’re hearing a lot these days about the many benefits of the Roth IRA. These plans are something of a supercharged retirement plan, because they enable you to withdraw money from the plan tax-free, as long as you are at least 59 ½ when you begin taking distributions, and you have been in the plan for at least five years.

Other tax-sheltered retirement plans require that you begin paying taxes on any money that you withdraw from the plan. Unlike the Roth IRA, these plans are merely tax-deferred, and not tax-free.

But Roth IRAs have another advantage over ordinary retirement plans, one that make them particularly suitable as investment vehicles to keep you from outliving your retirement savings. Roth IRAs do not require you to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) when you turn 70 ½. Virtually every other retirement plan requires that you take RMDs as soon as you reach that age. That will virtually guarantee that other plans will eventually be depleted.

This is not true with the Roth IRA. Since there is no requirement to take RMD’s, you could allow the money in the account to continue to earn investment income and to grow until the time comes when you need to funds. This can enable you to live out of other retirement accounts, while you hold your Roth IRA funds until you actually need the money. Even if you exhaust other plans, you can still have your Roth IRA growing for the day when you need the money. You can delay withdrawing your Roth IRA funds until you’re 75, or 80, or what ever age you decide you need to.

4) Live on Non-Retirement Savings For as Long as You Can

If the idea of delaying retirement, or working part-time for the first few years, don’t interest you, you could also consider living on non-retirement savings for the first few years. This will enable you to delay tapping retirement savings for several years. During that time, the plans can continue to grow, so that you will have more money available in them when you finally do begin taking distributions.

As an example, let’s say that you begin taking Social Security benefits at age 65. You also have $100,000 in non retirement assets – savings, CDs, money market funds, stocks, mutual funds, etc. Rather than beginning to draw funds out of your retirement accounts at age 65, you instead withdrawal $20,000 per year from your non-retirement holdings for the first five years. That will allow your tax-sheltered retirement plans to continue growing for an extra five years.

Perhaps equally significant is the fact that your non-retirement assets can be withdrawn without creating an income tax liability.

5) Keep Your Cost of Living to an Absolute Minimum

This has to be a strategy if you are at all concerned over the prospect of outliving your retirement savings. There is nothing at all exotic about this strategy either. The less money you need to live on, the less you’ll need to withdraw from your retirement savings, and the longer they will last.

This involves keeping your basic living expenses as low as possible. That can mean trading down to a less expensive home, driving a modest car, and avoiding expensive entertainment hobbies. Even more fundamentally however is that you should make sure that you are completely out of debt. That means everything – credit cards, car loans, installment loans of all types, and yes, even your mortgage. The less money you owe, the lower your cost of living will be, and the longer your retirement savings will last.

Do you ever worry about outliving your retirement savings?

4 Keys to a Better Life This Year

Do you have a good life? Maybe compared to some, yes. Perhaps compared to others, no.

A lot of it depends on your perspective and how you measure your life.

Last year I had a good life but sadly didn’t realize it until I was abducted by a UFO and held prisoner in an alien dungeon. Okay, there were no UFO’s or aliens involved in my life catalyst, just a health scare.

But it did open my eyes to how I was measuring my life and the things I was taking for granted.

So whether you think your life is awesome or whether it seems to suck there are a few things I wish for you next year.

Note: I know you may feel too busy getting ready to “crush it” in the new year to listen to my wishes. What I’m going to share won’t make you the most productive you’ve ever been. However, I believe it will help you enjoy what you do produce.

In addition I think it can help you focus on the journey of earning a living and building a legacy rather than just focusing on the dollars and cents of your bank account and retirement plan.

Your life struggles won’t get any easier. The decisions and choices you make won’t change, it’s how you approach them that can make you happier.

So here are four things I hope you can do next year.

1) Enjoy Life More

Many of the simple things I had taken for granted before last year have regained some of their wonder. I always get jealous when I watch one of our young kids experience something for the first time. They can be amazed by the seemingly simplest of things. I find myself wishing I could see the world through that lens again.

Thanks to my new appreciation for life, it’s much easier for me to enjoy the small things and not get so hung up on trying to “manage life”. It’s much easier to enjoy your day when you put things in perspective and just be thankful that you’re alive.

As Willie Nelson puts it, “blue skies smiling at me, nothing but blue skies do I see. Blue days all of them gone, nothing but blue skies from now on!”

I think part of this is giving up some of the absolutes and rigidness to how I approached the different compartments of life. Just because things don’t go as planned today doesn’t mean they can’t eventually end up heading in the right direction.

So if you’re on a diet and want to eat a cookie, then eat the tasty treat. Don’t eat the whole box and don’t do it every day, just eat one and take the stairs at work.

Or if you’re on a tight budget and you want to buy a latte, then drink the frothy caffeine. Spend on what you want and cut something else you don’t need. Or find a way to earn more money.

2) Be Content

It’s tough to be present in your life and content with what you do have when you’re constantly thinking about what you’re trying to acheive in the future.

It used to be that I was so caught up thinking about the future that I would miss things in the present. For example, on a Saturday at the start of last year I would spend time with my kids in between work times. The work was the main thing, the family time was just squeezed in the gaps.

Now I can spend a Saturday with my family and not feel guilty and stressed that I should be working.

Part of being content is not feeling your chest tighten with jealousy when you hear about the success of others. I feel blessed to be alive and thankful for the chances and opportunities that I have. So now when I hear about the success of others it doesn’t make me feel inadequate or jealous. I can genuinely feel happy for them and inspired by their progress.

3) Take Health Seriously

For years my family would tell me that I needed to get more sleep and more exercise. I waved them off thinking that when things slowed down I would be healthier. Now I realize that I was being quite foolish. As you probably know, life doesn’t really tend to slow down.

So if you put off exercising until you have time, then you’ll never do it. Eating healthier, exercising more, and getting more sleep has had it’s benefits. It’s not just that I weigh less and have better scores on my annual checkups.

I feel better in general. I have more patience with my co-workers, family, strangers, and just life itself.

That’s not to say I don’t have stretches where I work out less and get too little sleep. But when that happens it’s only for a period of time and then I get back to the healthy habits again. I’ve realized that I’m not invincible and that if I don’t take care of myself then I won’t be around as long to enjoy life.

4) Think of Your Legacy

This sounds crazy on a personal finance site but I’ve come to realize that people don’t care about money. We only care about what we can do with that money.

What doors the money opens for your family and the people around you. What difference you can make in the world with that money.

So money still matters to me, a great deal. But it’s not for the sake of having money, it’s about the experience that the money can offer.

The things you create and experience in life, and the people you create them with, are what builds your legacy. Those things add up over time, they define how people remember you and what mark you leave on the world.

You’ve probably heard someone says “you can’t take it with you”, referring to the money you make in life. The logic is sound but most of us probably don’t think we’re going to die in the near future.

So we shrug it off.

We work hard to make money and don’t think about what it would be like if we weren’t around.

You may know the story of people who wait until they’re 60 to start saving for the challenges of getting older. They say, “if only I’d known to save sooner, things would be different now”. There are still things they can do but they missed out on 3 decades of investing time they can never get back.

The same thing happens to people who miss out on life because they’re so busy with “planes to catch and bills to pay” as Harry Chapin sings about in “Cats in the Cradle”.

Nobody wants to look back and regret the things they missed out on or didn’t do. The problem is that we often don’t realize it until it’s too late.

You’ve probably had the experience where you hesitated to say or do something and then the moment passed and it was too late. In those cases the time is short, so we feel the pressure to act and we feel regret when we don’t.

The difference with our life legacy is that we believe that our life will go on for decades. So that urgency to act often isn’t there. When we’re so busy that we miss things that are important to us in life (our kids events, a date with our spouse, drinks with friends, the weekly workout, the trip we’ve been wanting to take, coffee with a business mentor, our monthly volunteer event, etc) we tell ourselves that we’ll do it “next time”.

Weeks, months, years pass by and that “next time” materializes never or infrequently.

Often times it takes a major life catalyst to open our eyes to what we’ve been missing out on or taking for granted. Sadly we may not experience that catalyst until decades in the future, at which point we look back with hearts full of regret and wish we’d realized sooner the things we’d been neglecting.

I don’t want this to happen to you. I went through a life catalyst just last year and it transformed my life. I want you to have the same chance. That’s why I put together a checklist of 5 ways you can start building your legacy today and why I’m working on a project to take that much further.

Enter your email below to get the checklist and for early access as more tools are ready. Here’s to a great year!

7 Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Rates

Car insurance is one of those necessary evils in life. No one wants to pay for it, but then no one wants to be without it either. And no matter what you think about it, it’s required by state law so you must have it. But just because you have to have it doesn’t mean you can’t make it as inexpensive as possible.

Like most other types of insurance this recurring cost pops up on a regular basis so cutting its costs means you’ll be saving money every time your policy is renewed.  We’ve talked in the past about a few different ways you can save on car insurance, some are easier than others.  Here’s another look at some strategies you can use to lower your car insurance rates, and  it’s generally without increasing your liability in the process.

1.Ask About Discounts

Most of us know about common discounts, like good student driver discounts or discounts for driving certain types of cars that are deemed to be especially safe. But there are all kinds discounts available, and they can even vary from one auto insurance company to another.

For example, there can be discounts for having certain types of safety equipment on your car, and these can be extremely specific. There may also be discounts for employment in certain occupations. You can also get discounts for paying your premium in full, rather than in installments.

Ask your insurance company for a list of all of the potential discounts that they provide, and see if you qualify for any. It is highly likely that the company did not inform you of all the discounts they have at the time when you applied.

2. Bundle With Other Insurance Policies

This is a standard recommendation, so we won’t spend too much time on it. But you can often get discounts – sometimes substantial ones – by bundling your auto insurance with other policies that you have. Homeowners insurance is a common one, but it’s also possible that you can get a discount if you combine your auto insurance with a business insurance policy that you have.

You don’t want to go too far with this, since not all insurance companies offer every type of coverage you may need. You also don’t want to accept inferior coverage in another area just so that you can save money on your auto insurance.

3. Raise Your Deductible

This is another standard recommendation to lower your insurance premium, but it’s also a good one. Just by raising your deductible from $500 to $1,000 you can save a significant amount of money on your premium.

One way to raise your deductible without increasing your risk, is to simply have an amount equal to your deductible sitting in your emergency fund. As long as you have the money available, you’ll be covered in the event of an accident. And if you never have one, the savings will be yours to keep.

4. Watch Your Driving Habits

If the major reason why your auto insurance premiums are as high as they are is because you have a history of traffic violations and accidents, it’s time to clean up your act. Drive more carefully, obey traffic laws to the letter, and always watch out for the other guy – especially pedestrians.

Driving is never an area of life where you should throw caution to wind. If you tend to speed and disregard traffic signals because you’re perpetually late, get in the habit of leaving a little early so that you won’t feel the need to break traffic laws.

If you can keep your driving record clean for at least three years you should start to see your insurance premiums fall, at least in most states.

5. Take a Defensive Driving Course

Most of us only think about defensive driving courses when we’re getting our licenses. Auto insurance companies offer discounts if you complete such a course. You can actually take a defensive driving course at any point in your life, and it is strongly recommended if you’ve recently been in an accident that was your fault, or if you’ve been given a traffic citation.

Insurance companies will often waive surcharges if you complete a defensive driving course. The courses however are not free, so you’ll have to weigh the cost of the course versus the savings that will result in your insurance premiums.

6. Ask What You Can Cut That Would Have the Least Impact

I’ve actually done this very recently myself. My wife had a minor accident, judged to be her fault, and our premiums increased. I simply contacted my insurance company, and asked the agent “What would you do to lower the premium if it were you?” The agent quickly asked me if we have medical insurance – which of course we do. She then suggested that we can cut some of the medical insurance benefit on the car insurance, since it essentially represented duplicate coverage.

Reducing the coverage brought our premium back down to where they were originally, but it only increased our medical liability by $1,000 – and then only under the assumption that we were to cancel our medical insurance.

Anytime you’re unhappy with your insurance premium, or if you’re suddenly increased as a result of an accident of violation, try contacting your insurance company and asking that question. You may be pleasantly surprised what you find out.

7. Buy a Less Expensive Car

People often buy the best car they can afford, and with little regard to the impact that it will have on their car insurance. But it is a fact that a more expensive car, or certain models – particularly sports cars – result in higher auto insurance premiums, often much higher.

You certainly don’t want to sell your car if it’s one of the reasons why your car insurance premium is so high. But it is certainly something to keep in mind when the time comes to buy a new car. As a general rule, the less expensive and more conservative the car is, the lower your auto insurance premium will be.

5 Tips for Staying Happy at Work

No one likes his or her job all the time. Even if you have what you consider a “dream job,” chances are that there are some days that you just aren’t giving 100 percent, or days that you just don’t want to do the job. If you start to dwell on these downsides, you will eventually have a hard time sticking it out at work.

Happiness in your work is one of the things that can help you relieve stress, and feel better about life in general. As a result, it makes sense to do what you can to be mostly happy with your good job, and do what you can to make an “ok” job mostly bearable.

Here are 5 tips for staying happy at work:

1. Work Toward Making Yourself Indispensable

We all like to feel appreciated, and as though we are an integral part of the team. If you want to feel essential at work, though, you have to actually make yourself essential. This doesn’t mean that you take on a ton of responsibility leading to burnout. Instead, it means making yourself a solid part of the team. You should be reliable, and a problem solver. If you know that you would be hard to replace, you are more likely to be satisfied at work, and even improve your productivity.

2. Take Appropriate Breaks

Too often, we don’t take breaks at work. It starts to feel like a grind. If you want to enjoy your day a little better, take appropriate breaks. Don’t work through lunch. Take a five minute break to stretch your legs. If you have vacation days built up, find a good time when work is a little slower and take a vacation. Give yourself permission to step back, reset, and come back to the task refreshed and better focused.

3. Focus on the Good You Do

Look for the purpose in your work. If your company provides products that make life better for thousands of people, that’s something you can be proud to be a part of. Look for the good in what you do. Even if the good you find is the fact that your work puts food on the table and lets your family live a good life, that can be a reason to keep with it. Focus on the good things that come from your work, and you will be happier to do it.

4. Find a Good Friend at Work

Often, we feel better about whatever we are doing when there are people we like nearby. Look for a friend at work. This can be someone who you get along with, and who has similar interests to you. The good news is that you don’t even have to do a lot with your friend outside work. If you have someone that you can look to and trust at work, and someone you can hang out with at work parties and functions, it can make your job more enjoyable. Look for someone you can connect with as a friend, and your job will be happier.

5. Follow Your Industry

Get involved with your industry, and keep up with the latest developments. This makes you a valuable employee, but it can also help you feel a connection to what you do. When you are immersed in your industry during work, it feels like a part of your life, rather than being a drudgery that you try to escape. While you don’t want to focus on your industry to the exclusion of everything else, you can still derive satisfaction and a lot of benefit from staying up with the latest industry trends.

What are your best tips for staying happy at work?

15 Career Lessons from a Soccer Dad

Career Lessons from a Soccer DadCareer tips are easy to come by but not always easy to follow. Here are some I’ve learned over the last several months from a motley crew of 8 year old boys – if they can do it, so can you!

It all began last summer when I ran the tryouts for my son’s youth soccer team. As part of my mission to live with no regrets I had agreed to be an assistant coach for his team in the upcoming Fall season. Little did I know what I was getting myself into!

As I threw myself into this new role it ended up turning into a side job (unpaid of course). I don’t know how many hours a week I spent on it but my wife was glad when the season finally ended : )

I had a lot of fun but it was definitely a learning experience. I’ve been a leader on a team of adults before but I’ve never been responsible for the development and success of a team of kids. While reflecting on what the boys learned last season I realized there are many lessons I observed/learned in coaching kids that can also be applied to your career.

Here they are, please feel free to add your own comments at the end:

1) Move Without the Ball

High level professional soccer players may only have the ball at their feet for a total of 1 or 2 minutes during an entire game. The rest of the time they spend anticipating the play, running to get open, or getting back on defense. This can be exhausting but making the right run can put you on the end of a great pass and could end up saving or scoring a goal.

Just like the hard work of making a run and getting open can make a goal look easy, doing the prep work in your job can make you look like a star. Anticipating potential problems, researching solutions, and proposing alternatives are all things you can do to help make your project a success.

Kids don’t like to make those runs because they don’t always get the ball. They may sprint down the sideline only to have their teammate pass to a different part of the field. It takes a while to learn that doing that “unrewarded” work is just part of the game.

If you watch a professional soccer game you’ll see many instances of players making runs to get open and have it lead to nothing. Yet they keep making those runs and eventually they’re in the right place at the right time and help the team with a goal or an assist.

Sometimes in your job you may do work that seems to go unnoticed. You may be tempted to only do your “assigned work”. This is fine if you’re not looking to advance but if you’d like to get ahead in your career then be sure to “move without the ball” at work.

Just like coaches notice players who are working to get open and make plays – your boss and co-workers will notice when you’re working hard to put out fires, squash bugs, prevent errors, please customers, add features, trump competitors, make more sales, or anything else that goes into making your team a success.

2) Find a Coach

Find a Coach

Jose Mourinho

When we’re kids it seems like we have a coach for everything – our teachers in school, coaches on the field, instructors in the arts, etc. We’re soaking it all in and learn a lot from various coaches – we look up to them and often look forward to our time spent learning from coaches.

Then we grow up and find ourselves thinking we’re too mature and experienced and worldly to need a coach. Since we’re adults we think we should be able to figure things out on our own. However, trying to go it alone can be counter-productive. Often a coach can often point out a few areas you can improve in, or even just best practices to use, that can result in big performance gains.

Your coach doesn’t have to be the world’s leading expert on your industry or career. As long as they’re knowledgeable about your topic then you stand to gain a great deal from tapping into their expertise. You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for coaching. Technology has made it much easier and cheaper for experts to deliver coaching, checkout Google Helpouts as an example.

3) Be Self-Motivated

The kids who improve the most in youth sports are the ones who want to get better. Kids that are self-motivated to improve are the ones who listen (most of the time) and make the effort to do things the “right” way. They focus rather than complain. They’re open to hearing and trying out feedback.

They put in the extra effort to do drills outside of practice. They try to learn the bigger picture and how smaller skills and details work in tandem towards achieving a better result. It’s obvious to the coaches who these kids are. It’s likely just as it’s obvious to your boss who the achievers are in your group.

You have to be self-motivated to excel at work and in your career. If you don’t want to improve and don’t feel the need to get better then maybe it’s time to think about adjusting your job or career in a direction where you would feel more motivated.

4) Understand How to be Part of a Team

Part of a Team

Coaches value kids who are mature enough to understand that sometimes the team comes before the player. Kids who fill the role where they’re needed even if they don’t particularly want to be in that role.

Coaches aren’t fans of players who throw a fit when things don’t go their way.

A coach will always cheer for a player who steps in to cover when a teammate makes a mistake. Coaches notice when players are kind and supportive to their teammates and when kids are positive and have good sportsmanship.

Many of these things can be said for your team at work and your boss. These are the types of things that aren’t going to directly earn you a bonus or a promotion but they’re noticed by your peers and superiors. This type of behavior adds up over time, negative or positive, and will have an impact on your career over the long term.

5) Communicate Effectively

CommunicatePlayers who are good communicators make the team better.

For example, kids who speak up to say they don’t understand a drill or a new skill or tactic we’re learning.

They give the coach a chance to address the ambiguity or confusion in advance rather than during a game situation.

Kids who tell you where they want to play can be a little annoying when they ask over and over if they can play striker. However, if that’s where they excel and are most motivated to play hard, it’s good that they let the coach know where they think they can contribute best and are volunteering themselves for that job.

Players who communicate with their teammates in the heat of the action can help the team find the open player, get the extra pass made, get back on defense.

You can apply many of these things directly to your job. Let people know when things are unclear and need more detail or direction. Double check with people on your team to make sure they understand both expectations and the plan for meeting them. Let people know the areas you’re strong in so they can reach out to you when they need help. Keep your boss and team apprised of delays, roadblocks, and schedule changes.

6) Accept & Learn from Criticism

Accept Criticism

As part of any team you’ll eventually run into a situation where you make a mistake and it costs the team. In sports it might lose you the game, at work it might cause you to miss a deadline or even lose a client.

When a kid makes a mistake that results in a goal, we let him know right away what he did wrong. I’m sure it probably hurts his pride being called out in front of his team but we do it in the moment so they can learn from their mistake.

Whether in an email or a team meeting it sucks having your mistakes being pointed out in front of your co-workers and boss. Often our immediate reaction is to defend our actions and maybe even get dragged into an argument

The best way to shake off a mistake is to own it. Acknowledge your mistake, don’t make excuses or blame others. You may be tempted in the heat of the moment but it usually works out better if you just apologize for any mistakes and pay attention to the feedback on how to avoid it in the future.

7) Be Consistent

Being consistent is very important when you are part of a team if you hope to be a part of that team’s success.

We had kids who would play amazing one game then disappear for the next 1-2 games. Our players are only eight so we know that we can’t expect them all to be super consistent – however the ones that always show up ready to play definitely stand out.

It’s frustrating to your boss and your team members if they don’t know if they can count on you. I’d bet that many a boss/coworker would prefer to work with a consistently good performer over a superstar who only shows up 60% of the time.

Consistent results will be noticed by your team and your superiors. One of the main hurdles to achieving consistency is that it takes commitment and discipline. Whether in sports or in your career you have to make the decision to put in the work, even when you’re having a lousy day, week, or month.

Remember this, if your boss knows they can count on you they will likely give you the support and training you need to do your job even better. Just make sure that they don’t take advantage of your consistent performance and willingness to do the work.

8) Know Your Strengths/Weaknesses

I learned this season that I’m a much better assistant coach than head coach. I’m good at working one on one with players and coming up with ways to motivate them to improve and to build their confidence. I’m good at preparing them to play but I discovered that my weakness is running a game.

The first weekend the head coach was out of town I really struggled with game management. I was so caught up in coaching the game I lost track of the subs and who had played and who needed a sub.

You probably won’t be good at every part of your job so dealing with your weaknesses is an important part of your career. There are really two parts to it:

  1. recognizing those areas you need help
  2. adjusting your actions to account for your weaknesses.

In my situation I asked another parent to help manage the substituting so I could focus on coaching the players on the field. At work you can reach out to your boss or co-workers to ask for help in areas where you’re struggling. This isn’t always easy to do – it can be hard to admit that your skill or experience level isn’t where it needs to be for a task or project.

Most reasonable managers would rather have you acknowledge you need help so that the project can turn out a success, rather than you struggling in silence and having the project delivered with sub-standard quality or fail altogether.

Obviously, having others do part of your job for you isn’t really a long term solution. So once you recognize areas you need to work on you have some decisions to make. If those skills play a big role in your job and you don’t really want to do those things then maybe you need to look for a different job that requires many of the same skills you have but avoids the areas where you are lacking.

Alternatively you could get training to improve your skills in those areas. Some companies have documentation or a knowledge base on industry or company specific challenges that you can turn to for guidance. Keep in mind there are some things that you get better at mostly through experience. In those cases it helps to find a more senior professional to mentor you through those growing pains.

Remember that everyone always has more to learn. So be prepared to recognize and handle weaknesses as you come across them in your career.

9) Don’t be a Waste of Talent

LazySoccerPlayerThis is kind of a cliché but you’ve probably known someone who was really talented but also kind of lazy. Their craft came to them easily so they could be lazy and still be good.

Some kids on our team are naturally skilled at soccer and others have to work a lot harder at it.

When you see a kid who’s good but always goofing off it makes you wonder how much better they could be if they took it seriously and worked hard.

If you’re good at something in your career strive to be better at it, to be the best. Carve out a niche in that area and use your skills to your advantage.

10) Challenge Yourself

Challenge YourselfMy son’s team sometimes chooses to “play up” against older kids who are bigger, stronger, and faster in order to challenge the boys. The challenge makes the kids work harder but it helps them get better.

They’re more likely to lose to an older team than if they played kids their own age but those tough games help make them better players.

The same is true in your career. Taking risks and challenging yourself is more likely to result in harder work and potentially more failures but you’ll be learning (and hopefully improving) along the way.

In many companies if you want a promotion you have to prove that you’re capable of handling that next level of responsibility. Often this is by doing the work of the job you want, not the one you have. You may be taking on work that feels out of your league but if you don’t challenge yourself you (and your boss) will never know what you’re capable of.

11) Set Yourself Up for Success

This point may seem to contradict the previous one so let me explain with another soccer example. Our soccer team challenges itself by “playing up” during season games and maybe finishing with a .500 record, or worse, for the season.

While it’s good to challenge yourself, it can be a confidence killer when you feel like you’re working hard but never coming out on top. So while we play up in league play, we enter all tournaments in our proper age group and are usually very competitive – often coming away with a confidence building 1st or 2nd place finish.

So while you want to challenge yourself in your career you also have to be realistic about your abilities and what tasks you can take on. One way to do this at work is to volunteer for tough tasks but to build in time for learning when you put together a schedule and offer estimates and commitments to your team and your superiors.

Another way to increase your chances of success is to negotiate the scope of the work on your project. If you’re tackling a tough problem try to break it down into smaller deliverables, focus on the first few, and see if you can push the other less critical aspects back a little.

12) Look for Teachable Moments

Teachable moments

Mistakes are a perfect chance to teach, whether you’re working with 8 year old kids or middle aged cube workers. Often whether the offending party learns anything has to do with how you approach your critique.

If you make them feel foolish and put them on the defensive they’ll be more focused on denying/defending themselves than learning from what they did wrong. If someone on your team is making bad decisions or doing things the wrong way it’s often best to communicate with just that one person so it doesn’t look like you’re calling them out. For example, email just them rather than copying everyone on the team.

One strategy is to offer a suggestion on a better way to do it but make it seem like their idea.

You don’t even have to always point out their mistake. For example, with our boys we watch recordings of professional games and point out examples of mistakes the pros are making that are kids are making as well. We pause/rewind and talk about what went wrong and what they could have done differently. For many work problems you can find articles online about similar issues and use those as talking points.

Occasionally we’ll tape our game and review the recording for improvement. At work you can do something like that with post-project reviews or even smaller scale post-mortem on individual issues. Check out the 5 Why method.

13) Learn How to Motivate Others

Motivate OthersI talked in an earlier point about being self-motivated. To do this you have to figure out what motivates you and what it takes to push those buttons. However, when you’re part of a team it also helps to know how to motivate the people you’re working with.

A former soccer teammate of mine (who now has some grey in his beard), went on to become a successful college soccer coach. Years back I asked him about how he transitioned from a player into such a good coach and he shared that it was because he figured out how to motivate each player to do their best. At first he wasn’t great at all the technical aspects of coaching but he was really good at getting each player to perform at or above their peak level.

You can use the same approach in projects you encounter in your career. The secret to learning how to motivate others is to listen to what your team members talk about in team and project meetings. What do they feel strongly about? What gets them fired up or what’s something they can talk about for hours? What do they take pride in?

Inevitably you’ll be faced with a tight deadline and you’ll be asked to do more than you can with less than you need. Times like those are when it really pays to know how to motivate others on your team.

These last two lessons are the most useful to people in a new job or career. As I watched young kids learn the technical aspects of soccer I saw that focusing on the fundamentals made them more comfortable on the field and gave them more confidence. Something similar can be said for a new job or skill. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Focus first on getting the basics figured out.

14) Building Confidence is Key

Build confidence

The young players who build confidence to call for the ball, attack the defense, and to make the runs up the field are the ones who will score the most goals.

The ones who are somewhat intimated and sit back and watch won’t see as much action.

In your career, having the confidence to tackle new assignments and to voice your ideas to your boss and team can help you build experience – and ultimately to advance.

What I learned from the scampering soccer youths is that using the right techniques to learn the fundamentals helps you pick them up more quickly and remember them more easily.

Rather than expecting yourself to figure everything out on your own when you start a new job – seek out training and mentorship. There are many online platforms that not only teach you the subject matter but also help keep track of your progress. As your skills improve so will your confidence in your ability to use them.

Part of this goes back to finding a mentor or “coach” as I mentioned earlier. There may be concepts or techniques that are difficult to conquer all at once in your job. More experienced experts in your company can help you break the problem down into smaller more manageable pieces and help you build confidence as you see small successes. This leads us to the final lesson.

15) Patience Young Grasshopper

Just as it’s hard to explain to 8 year olds why moving without the ball on the soccer field is important, it can also be tough to explain to a rookie programmer the importance of code that’s loosely coupled and has high cohesion. Pick your industry, there are always concepts that are difficult to fully grasp when you’re getting started. It takes time to understand the value of these concepts and incorporate them into your craft.

The trouble is some of these practices may seem inconvenient or a waste of time when you’re first starting out. If you find yourself questioning the value in the seemingly extra work just think about Mr. Miyagi and how he taught the Karate Kid to “wax on, wax off”. If you haven’t seen the movie, the idea is to train yourself by repeatedly using basic skills until they become second nature.

In sports it’s often referred to as building muscle memory. Experienced players who have practiced and used the fundamentals many times are able to subconsciously control the mechanics of their body movements and instead focus their brain on higher level tactical and strategic tasks.

So in the beginning of learning a new skill or career it really pays to focus on the fundamentals. Even if it feels like progress is slow, have patience while you build those skills. Eventually it will click.

Life After Your Job


I took my son to the NCAA DIII Championship games last weekend and as the final match came to a close I thought about the seniors on the losing team whose soccer careers effectively ended with the final whistle.

Although their 15 years of intense work and effort ended just short of winning the championship they came away with a lot more than a second place trophy. They take the lessons they learned about team work, perseverance, mental toughness, etc. into the next stage of their life.

Just the same, you can use the skills you pick up at work in your next job. I don’t know the exact statistics about how few youth athletes go on to get college scholarships and how even fewer become professional sports players. I do know that proportionately few workers will become CEO or a senior executive at their company. Chances are higher that you’ll be transferred, laid off, or maybe just change jobs.


Alexi Lalas transferred his soccer skills from the field to ESPN analyst

So work hard but be purposeful about the skills you’re learning, relationships you’re building, and industries you’re entering. Remember it’s not all about the trophy (promotion, awards, pay raise). Chances are your current job isn’t forever so those things are temporary.

Don’t feel like you have to put it all on the line for the promotion. Be wary of working your fingers to the bone just for the promise of a pay raise. If you’re an at-will employee then job title and salary are temporary.

However, the skills you learn and the relationships you form can carry with you into your next job. Focus on building some of the career fundamentals we’ve talked about – being consistent, a team player, adaptable, driven, patient, a communicator, motivational and you’ll be in good shape when it comes time to move onto your next job.

Any more career tips you’ve learned through sports? Please feel free to share them below.

The Money Habits You Develop in Your 20s Will Help OR Hurt You For the Rest of Your Life

Have you ever heard the saying as the twig is bent, so grows the tree? That’s kind of how it is when it comes to money and finances. The money habits you develope in your 20s will help or hurt you for the rest of your life. What’s more, you have a very large degree of control over how it all turns out.

Like so many other decisions that you make early in life, the choices that you make when it comes to money in your 20s will have a huge impact on the rest of your life. Since financial situations develop over many years – often decades – the patterns that you set in your 20s will have a profound effect on your level of prosperity throughout your life.

Here are some of the major decisions that you will have to confront and settle shortly after graduating from college.

To save or not to save

The savings rate in the US is appallingly low. The majority of people seem have little or no savings, while the top 10% or 20% of households are perpetually flush with cash. You can and should make a decision on this while you’re in your 20s.

As much as anything else in life, like diet, exercise, and work style, saving money is a habit. If you get yourself into that habit early in life, you’ll generally find you will have money throughout your life. Even if you start saving a small amount, you’ll be setting a pattern that you will follow without much thought in the years ahead.

The impact of this kind of a decision will grow over time. Though your savings may be relatively small while you’re still in your 20s, they will begin to growth in your 30s, and by the time you hit your 40s you will have options that other people only dream of.
This is decision that you have to make right now – to save or not to save – over the course of your life. This is especially important because life has a way of getting more complicated as we get older. Though you may think that saving is a decision you can make “later”, your circumstances may not allow it. But if you’re already in the habit now, you’ll be likely to continue to do it even when those complications set in.

Investing as a life choice

Investing money is a natural extension of savings. It’s what you do with savings that are in excess of your immediate needs for cash. And just like saving, investing is a life choice.

Study after study have shown that the people with the largest investment portfolios are those who began investing early in life. This is because of the time value of money – the earlier you begin investing, the more time your money has to grow.

Get on the investing bandwagon early in life, and your portfolio will grow as you get older. And as it does, the options that you will have in life will steadily increase.

But like saving money, investing is a choice, one best made here and now.

Debt is not your friend – or maybe you think it is

Debt is almost the “B side” of investing. More particularly, those who choose not to invest usually have more than a fair amount of debt.

While this may have something to do with patterns of consumption – which we’ll deal with next – it’s probably more a function of not having savings and investments to pay for major purchases and expenses.

The person who has a sufficient amount of savings and investments, has a ready source of capital to draw on when they need to make a major purchase, such as a car or a vacation. The person who lacks financial assets is more likely to go into debt to pay for what they want but cannot afford.

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to get into debt. Many young people do it as a function of student loans. When they graduate college, and they’re beset with the startup expenses of life, they turn to credit once again. With each purchase, a decision is being made to go deeper into debt.

You can choose to break this pattern, and it’s best to do it early in life. Don’t buy anything that you can’t afford to pay for with cash. Plan to buy what you need secondhand – you can usually get it for pennies on the dollar. Don’t start trading up on your possessions until you have the income and assets to justify it. Those are habits you need to get into now.

Living large – or living on the down low

Your 20s are also a time in life when you’re making choices about how you want to live. Some young people – anxious to start living the good life – start patterning their lifestyles on free-spending friends, or even on people on TV. Delayed gratification isn’t in their vocabulary, they want it all now.

It’s fine to want to live well, but that’s also an expensive way to live. It’s the kind of mentality that creates debt, and a perpetual need to make more money. Because of income taxes and other fixed expenses, there’s never quite enough income available to pay for the lifestyle that you want to live. That’s where debt enters the picture.

Choose to go in the opposite direction. Delayed gratification has to be your mantra. You’re young, and you’re just starting out, so it’s perfectly okay to live on the down low. Keep your expenses low – rent an apartment with roommates, buy a secondhand car, and find ways to travel on the cheap. It’ll all work out with a stronger financial position later in life.

Hard assets vs. financial assets – stuff vs. money

This is a problem in our culture, and it starts in youth. It’s probably not a conscious decision, but we have to make a choice as to whether or not our money will flow into hard assets – stuff – or financial assets. Financial assets are the kind of assets that provide future income. Hard assets are the type of goods that provide some current use.

If too much of your money is going into hard assets, little will be available to go in a financial assets, which is to say that you won’t be able to invest.

This is another major choice and you have to make right now. Will you put your money into stuff, or will you invest it in financial assets? The quality of your future financial situation hangs in the balance on that decision.

As much is may be tempting to go for the good life while you’re in your 20s, recognize that life goes on for decades, not years. You’ll need to provide for yourself over the course of your life, and the more that you can do now to set yourself in the right direction, the easier the rest of your life be.

It will be based on a set of choices that you can make right now.

How to Improve Your Credit Score by Focusing on Payment History and Reducing Credit Card Debt

Credit ScoreOne of the things that many consumers are obsessed with today is a better credit score. After all, your credit score influences more than whether or not you qualify for a mortgage, or whether you get the best interest rate on an auto loan. Your credit score can also impact the insurance premium you pay, or what happens when you sign up for cell phone service.

There are all sorts of “tricks” out there for improving your credit score, but really it just boils down to a couple of basics:

  1. Manage your payment history
  2. Pay down credit card debt

If you make payments on time and pay down your credit card debt, you will likely have a decent enough credit score to accomplish just about anything you want.

Payment History and Your Credit Score

Most credit scoring models heavily weight your payment history. “Payment history accounts for 35 percent of a consumer’s FICO credit scores,” says Michelle Black, a credit expert at, a credit education and restoration program.

This means that if you want to get off to a good start, you need to make your payments on time. If you make all of your loan payments on time, they will be reported positively to the credit bureaus. Missing a payment, or paying late, can mean a lower score. The longer you miss payments, or the more late payments you have, the bigger the effect on your score. One late payment isn’t going to be the end of the world, but there is a cumulative effect once you start piling up the late payments and missed payments.

Even your non-credit payments can impact your credit score. While making your utility payments on time won’t have a net benefit to your score, missing your payments can be negative. Your company can report the missed payments to the bureau, or turn your account over to collections, which is viewed negatively and can drag on your score.

Credit Card Debt

However, it’s important to note that the amount of your credit card debt can also have a big impact. Credit utilization accounts for about 30 percent of your FICO score, and if you have a high ratio of credit used to your available balance, it can mean a disappointing score, even if you make your payments on time.

“Paying down credit card debt is the single most actionable way for a consumer to see an improvement in their credit scores,” says Black.

Many credit experts suggest that you keep your revolving credit card utilization to less than 50 percent – and it’s ideal if you can keep it to less than 30 percent. This means that if you have available credit lines on your cards amounting to $5,000, you should try to keep the amount that you carry to $2,500 (50 percent), or to $1,500 (30 percent). If you want to see a solid improvement in your credit score, paying down high credit card balances can be one of the most effective ways to go about it.

In any case, maintaining a good credit score isn’t about sudden moves. Over time, you are likely to see the best results if you practice good financial habits, keeping your revolving credit balances relatively low, and making sure that you make your credit payments, and other bill payments, on time.

Do you need to improve your credit score? How are you going to go about doing so? Leave a comment!

How to Avoid Double Closing When Buying a House and Selling Another

Double ClosingIf you’ve ever been involved in a real estate transaction before, you’re probably familiar with the term double closing. That’s an arrangement where you buy a new home on the very same day that you sell your old one. In a perfect world, you close on your old house in the morning, and then on the new house in the afternoon.

Sometimes that arrangement actually works. Other times it’s enormously stressful. If you’ve ever been involved in the stressful kind of double closing, then you know why it’s something to be avoided at all costs. If you have two closings scheduled for one day, and the first one doesn’t happen, the second one won’t either. And because of the lack of time separating the two closings, there won’t be an opportunity to fix whatever went wrong with the first closing in order to make the second one happen.

Close on the Old House First

Most people try to work a double closing because they need to sell the old house before they close on the new one. Typically, they need the proceeds from the first sale in order to pay for the purchase of the new home. In addition, the mortgage lender is probably requiring the sale of the first property in order for you to qualify for the mortgage on the new home.

Beyond these basic requirements, you probably would be thinking that if you could close on both properties on the same day, you would avoid the need to stay at a hotel and have your belongings in remote storage in between closings. But sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do.

If the purchase of your new home is contingent upon the sale of your current one – whether you need the proceeds for the down payment on a new one, or the lender is requiring the sale – you need to make a priority of selling your old home first. The purchase of the new home won’t happen if you don’t.

Selling a house is almost always more difficult than buying a new one. That’s because you are at the mercy of finding a willing buyer, and their timeframe after you find one. When you’re buying a home, you have more control of the timing factor.

If it’s at all possible, you should concentrate first on selling your current home. Once you do, you’ll know exactly how much cash you’ll have for the down payment, and you will have removed the old obligation, enabling you to more easily qualify for the mortgage on the new home.

In addition, trying to work two real estate transactions at the same time – and closing on the same day – is enormously stressful. A problem with one translates into an automatic issue with the other.

Take a Short-Term Lease on the Old House After Closing

Okay, you decide you’re going to sell your old house before buying a new one. What do you do in the meantime – and how much will it cost you?

One strategy that you can use to avoid a double move, is to sell your house and then lease it back from the buyers for the next 30 days or so.

You’ll have to pay an agreed upon monthly rent – but then if you still own the property you would have a house payment anyway. It’s a matter of paying rent, rather than your regular mortgage payment. Meanwhile, you won’t have to move your furniture into a storage unit anywhere.

Armed with the cash from the sale of the house, you’ll be in a position to more easily purchase a new one. Just as important, home sellers love when buyers don’t have the contingency of having to sell their current home.

In a real way, closing on your current home and renting it for time will make you a more attractive buyer for the home that you want to buy.

Take a Short-Term Lease on the New House After Closing on the Old House

This is reversing the situation described above. You close on your old home, then move into the new one – complete with your furniture – pending the closing at a later date. You’ll have to pay rent to the seller, but again this just replaces the payment you have on your old home.

This isn’t possible to do in all cases, but the seller may appreciate the fact that you are a “clean buyer,” by virtue of the fact that you have sold your old home, and are fully ready to close on the new one.

Naturally, you’ll want to make sure that you have a solid pre-approval on your new mortgage before getting into this type of arrangement. That, in addition to the fact your old home is been sold, will make you a very desirable candidate for this type of arrangement.

Stay at a Hotel for a Few Days While Your Stuff is at Either House

There’s a third way to do this that isn’t as pretty as the last two options, but it will get the job done.

You sell your house before closing on the new one, and then move into a hotel in the interim. Your furniture stays either in your old home, or is moved to the new one. And again, there may be a rental for this arrangement, but it’s likely to be far smaller than what you would pay for a remote storage facility.

If you are storing your belongings in your old home, you close on the property but get an agreement to leave your furniture in a specific part of the house, typically the garage or the basement. Once you close on the new house, you complete the move.

Alternatively, you can close on the old house, and set up an arrangement to move your belongings to the new one. Again there will be a monthly rental, but this will be easier to bring about because you sold your home and you have a mortgage pre-approval.

Selling one home and buying another is never easy. These methods of avoiding the double closing won’t be pretty, but they will help you to avoid the financial stress that comes with trying to close on two properties on the same day.

Have you ever tried these methods, or have you simply attempted the double closing? Leave a comment!

How it’s Never Too Late to Start Saving for Retirement

RetirementPeople who haven’t saved money for retirement often avoid even starting out of fear that their efforts now will be too little and too late to make a difference.

In truth, it’s never too late to start saving for retirement.

Even if the money you save will be inadequate to provide a full retirement, it still has enormous potential to improve your life when your retirement years come. Here’s how:

1. Any Retirement Savings is Better than Nothing

Think about the times in your life when you didn’t have enough money saved – when having just a few thousand dollars put away would have made all the difference in the world. Those situations won’t stop happening after you turn 65. You’ll still have emergencies, and times when money is just a little bit short. If you have some money put away you’ll be able to ride out those rough spots in relative comfort.

While it’s true that you no longer have the years that have passed, when you didn’t put any money away for retirement, you do have the present moment. The money that you save between now and the time you retire will go a long way toward improving your life, even if retirement is just a few years away.

2. You Can Take Advantage of Tax-Deferred Investment Income

There are plenty of options for saving for retirement, even if you don’t have an employer-sponsored plan. Virtually anyone – especially people without employer plans – can take advantage of having their own IRA. Just as is the case with an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, the money that you put into an IRA is generally tax-deductible in the year you make the contribution. Best of all, income earned on those contributions will accumulate on a tax-deferred basis.

This is a powerful advantage, and one that you should be taking advantage of if you can. Let’s take a look at the power of tax-deferred savings.

Let’s say you decide to invest $5,000 each year in stocks in a non-tax sheltered investment account, earning an average of 10% per year for the next 15 years. Your combined federal and state income tax rate is 30%. Because of the tax bite, the 10% per year that you are earning on your stocks is effectively reduced to 7%.

After 15 years, the account has grown to $125,648. Not bad.

But let’s take the same numbers, but assume that you put the money into a tax-deferred IRA, giving you the full benefit of the 10% annual average investment return.

After 15 years, the account has grown to $158,867. You’ll be ahead by $33,219 just because of the tax-deferral.

A tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, can give you that advantage. And for what it’s worth, in 2014 you can actually contribute $6,500 per year to an IRA if you are 50 or older.

3. Even a Small Cash Flow from Retirement Savings Can Make a Difference

Let’s use the IRA example that we used above. We’ll assume that you began saving in your IRA beginning at age 50, planning withdrawals to start at age 65. Assuming that you withdraw at a rate of 5% per year – leaving the remaining 5% in the account to grow for future use – you’d be able to withdraw $7,943 per year, or $662 per month.

Now, $662 may not seem like much of a monthly income, but if you add it to your Social Security income, and maybe an income from a part-time job, you may have enough money to live on. Even if you do nothing better than semi-retirement, that’s a lot better than not being able to retire at all.

4. It Will Help Prepare You for a Later Retirement

If you haven’t saved much for retirement, you always have the option to delay retirement, giving you an opportunity save even more money.

There are at least three advantages to doing this, and collectively they are huge:

It will give you more time to save money. Delaying your retirement from 65 to 70 could make a big difference in the amount of savings you have. Continuing our IRA example once again, if you delay retirement from 65 to 70, meaning that you will have 20 years to contribute to your IRA, rather than 15, your IRA nest egg will grow to $286,382. That’s an additional $127,515 just for waiting five years, and continuing to make yearly $5,000 contributions.

It will reduce the number of years you’ll have to withdraw funds. One of the big concerns for virtually all retirees is the prospect of outliving your money. By delaying your retirement for a few years, you reduce the prospect considerably. If at age 65 you expect to live to be 85, you’ll need to provide for yourself for 20 years. But if you delay retirement to age 70, you’ll only need to provide for yourself for 15 years. The need for savings will decline substantially.

It will increase your Social Security benefit. For most people who are close to retirement, the age of “normal retirement” is 66 or 67. Let’s say that in your case, it’s 66. If you delay your retirement to age 70, the Social Security Administration will increase your monthly benefit by 8% per year. Delaying for the full four years will increase your benefit by 32%. That’s a lot of additional income just for delaying by four years.

5. Retirement Savings Can Be Used as a Large Emergency Fund

In the financial media of today it’s popular to project the need for multimillion-dollar retirement portfolios. And maybe that’s what’s truly needed in a perfect world. But let’s say that there’s no chance you’ll ever have a seven-figure retirement portfolio. Let’s say that all you’ll have is $100,000.

That may not be enough to provide you with an income during retirement years, but it’s an extremely generous emergency fund. If you could manage to get by on Social Security income and a part-time job, you’ll have your emergency fund to pay for major expenses and to cover you in those months when cash is short.

It’s not a perfect outcome, but it’s a lot better than having no emergency fund of all.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the thought of saving money for retirement, to the point that you choose not to do it? Have you ever thought about the advantages listed above? Leave a comment!

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