Urgent: Your Will May Need Updates

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When the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin died last year, it was believed that she hadn’t prepared any kind of estate plan, including a last will and testament.

But, a few months ago, three handwritten wills were found in her home near Detroit. Two were in a locked closet and one was stuffed beneath the cushions of a couch!

If you’re wondering whether the handwritten wills are valid, join the crowd.

In Franklin’s case, with her $80 million estate, it’s likely good news that some kind of last will and testament was found to help divide her assets.

But, there’s no guarantee that the informal, handwritten wills are going to hold up in court. So the saga continues…

Aretha’s problematic situation is why it’s so important to have an estate plan with a legally valid last will and testament.

I won’t bore you with estate planning details (today), but I do want to talk about when you should consider updating your will.

This is all personal preference, of course, but I would suggest reviewing your will if you’ve done any of the following recently.

Moved to a Different State

If you’ve moved to a different state since your will was written, it’s a good idea to review it. Whatever state you die in, will be the state’s laws that are applied to your will.

And some rules in your new state could be different from your old one. For example, some states vary in the number of witness signatures needed on a will to transfer property once you die.

If you move from a state that requires only one witness to two, this can be problematic for your executor. Other rules that differ between states are the types of wills deemed valid.

Some states allow self-written wills but have rules around how they can be written. In one state, you might have to write out your entire will by hand. Whereas, in another state you can type your will and just sign at the bottom.

Purchased a New Property

Another mistake a lot of people make is they assume that because their will states that they are gifting their home to their children when they pass that it’s a done deal.

Your will needs to specify exactly what home and at what address you’re gifting. So if you move or decide to buy a second property, make sure your will specifies who receives which property and at what address.

Purged Old Possessions

If you’ve moved or downsized recently, you likely purged some of your old possessions. Sometimes you end up giving away or selling something you had planned on passing down.

If your will lists items you no longer own, those possessions will be skipped over and the recipient of those items with get nothing. So, it’s best to review your will and redistribute whatever possessions you currently still own.

Gifted a Willed Item

Sometimes you will gift some of your possessions early due to downsizing or out of necessity. For instance, you might gift an antique desk to one child, but in your will, it says that same desk goes to another child.

Things can become awkward between families if you don’t catch these little hiccups. Whenever you give something away that’s significant, review your will to make sure you haven’t disrupted the balance.

Had a Significant Change in Your Net Worth

You might have exact amounts of money earmarked for each one of your children. This will likely depend on how much your estate is worth, the value of stock you own, etc.

But the size of your estate and the worth of your stock could have grown or shrunk dramatically since you last wrote your will.

This can create challenges for your executor. Especially if one asset has grown significantly while another has shrunk. If that’s the case, it’s best to update your will to reflect your current net worth.

Begun Working with a New Charity

Maybe you’ve recently started volunteering at a nonprofit or you joined a board for a charity that means a lot to you. You might wish to donate some of your wealth to this group.

Now is a good time to update your will to reflect those changes. And the same can be said for charities or groups you no longer feel the same way about. You might need to remove some groups from your will to better reflect how you currently feel.

Had a Death in the Family

If your spouse dies before you, you won’t need to update your will because wills typically list alternate recipients in case this happens.

But, if your will lists a child who has recently passed as a beneficiary, then you’ll need to include instructions on how you would like that child’s items redistributed.

Your Primary Caregiver Changed

If one of your sons or daughters becomes your primary caregiver since you last wrote your will, it might be time to update your document to reflect your gratitude.

Oftentimes, becoming a primary caregiver involves a huge time and financial commitment. The best way to go about making this change so as not to upset the other beneficiaries listed in your will is to explain your intentions.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

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8 Unforgettable Fall Travel Destinations for Retirees

This post 8 Unforgettable Fall Travel Destinations for Retirees appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

As varied as people are, they usually have common wishes. I mean, who wouldn’t love to win the lottery or have a beach body no matter what they ate, right?

This holds true when it comes to the lifestyle people envision for their retirement.

When it comes to their post-work years. many people plan to use the extra time to visit loved ones, or get elbows-deep in their beloved hobbies. One woman I met recently wants nothing more than to spend her retirement years watching every single Yankees game, for example.

The most common dream that people have for their retirement, though, is travel.

Foreign or domestic, short hops or long hauls, men and women alike want to spend more time seeing the world around them.

This is largely because it’s almost impossible to travel before you retire. Sure. you might get a vacation to Cabo here or a week in the Wisconsin Dells there, but for the most part, your working and child-rearing years keep you pretty well locked in to a certain geographic region.

This happens because people don’t have the money, yes, but also because they don’t have the time. Your working years are spent at your 9 to 5, socking away as much money as you can, while spending your precious free hours running errands at Costco or sitting in the sun on the Little League bleachers (remember those days).

This all adds up to a deficit of money and time. These precious resources are scarce during the middle of your adulthood, and if you’re like most people, you spent years wishing you had more of each.

Ready for the magical, amazing, wonderful part?

Now that you’re retired, you have both.

That’s right, it’s time to finally realize your dreams of seeing the destinations you’ve only imagined visiting in the past. Now that it’s fall, the crowds have died down and the rates have dropped, so there’s no time like the present to get out there.

If you are ready to travel, but you have no idea where to start, you’re in luck! Here are some wonderful trips to stunning US locations you should take advantage of now that you finally can.

Burlington, VT

With wineries, breweries, a burgeoning food scene, and tons of beautiful inns and bed-and-breakfasts to visit, Vermont is a traveler’s paradise. Add in the turning of the leaves and amazing, crisp, weather, and you’ve got a perfect destination for an impromptu trip. Be sure to get some maple syrup while you’re in town – it really is on another level than what you can get anywhere else.

Flagstaff, AZ

The Grand Canyon is a beautiful sight to see, but Arizona in the summer is stiflingly hot and dry. In the fall light, you’ll see the remarkable oranges and reds in the local rock formations, and the tourist crowds will have died down considerably. Love kitsch and history? Williams, AZ, an iconic stop on Route 66 is right close by. If luxury travel is more your thing, you can spend a little time at the Canyon and then drive up the road a bit to Sedona. The accommodations, spas, and restaurants there are world-class, and the nearby vineyards produce jammy reds and fruity whites you’ll be sure to enjoy.

Savannah, GA

If you’ve ever seen the John Cusack flick Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil (or read the book), you’ll already have an idea of the spooky aura that surrounds this old, Southern community. There’s no better time than the present to experience it for yourself. In the fall, the oppressive Southern humidity drops and you can enjoy your time experiencing quirky cuisine, viewing stately architecture, and taking in the mysterious history of this locale.

Oahu, HI

Who says Hawaii is just for summertime? In the fall months. Oahu still has temperatures in the mid-eighties, and the crowds will be almost non-existent. Accommodation prices fall and the beaches are all but deserted in the autumn, and in addition to the normal charming Hawaiian culture, you’ll also see food festivals, film festivals, and a variety of stunning natural attractions without the typical long lines.

Santa Barbara, CA

I may be a little biased, but if you love Spanish style architecture and great food, there’s no better fall destination than my home, Santa Barbara. With stunning missions here and in nearby San Luis Obispo, world class restaurants, and the added allure of whale-watching, this coastal California city has all the charm of a Pacific adventure with none of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Plus the surfing is great.

Nashville, TN

Country music fans already know this city well, but even if you don’t love Willie and Waylon, there’s something here for everyone. Sure, you can visit country music hotspots like the Country Music Hall Of Fame, but you can also enjoy festivals like Nashvember and try local cuisine like Nashville Hot Chicken and farm to table cuisine. With early fall temps ranging from the 60s to the 80s, all you’ll need is a light jacket (and maybe a great pair of boots) and Nashville is yours for the taking.

Hill Country, TX

Texas is a huge state with lots of fun adventures, but let’s be honest – for half the year, it’s so hot it can be downright unenjoyable. Now that cooler temperatures are here, you can camp, hike, and eat tacos to your heart’s content. In addition to the outdoor and culinary adventures, you can take in Austin’s music scene or attend an F1 race without fear of melting in the stands.

The Fingerlakes Region, NY

Upstate New York is a harsh place in the winter, but in the fall? It’s a wonderland. Everything from wine tasting at acclaimed vineyards to long bike rides to apple picking is available for the casual traveler, and if you’re feeling intrepid, the Big Apple is just a scenic half-day’s drive away.

The greatest thing of all about retirement is the freedom to do whatever you choose, whenever you want.

With all of these awesome destinations just a short plane ride away, which will you pick first?

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

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Could Retiring Later Make You Live Longer?

This post Could Retiring Later Make You Live Longer? appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

If you ask most people when they’d like to retire, they’ll tell you ‘yesterday.’

However, there’s an interesting argument to be made for delaying retirement just one more year.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the number of workers reporting that they expect to work past age 65 rose from 16 percent in 1991 to 48 percent last year.

It seems like more workers are getting the message that in order to boost their retirement security they need to work longer.

But boosting your retirement nest egg is not the only benefit to delaying retirement. In fact, I’ve got six reasons why putting off retirement just one more year is not such a bad idea.

Reason 1: You’ll Live Longer

It’s counterintuitive to think that working a stressful 9-5 job will increase your chances of living longer but that’s the truth.

The Center for Retirement Research found that delaying retirement reduced the five-year mortality rate for men in their early 60s by 32%.

Another study of half a million retired self-employed workers in France found that dementia was significantly less common among those who retired later than those who retired earlier.

Researchers hypothesize that the reason why early retirement has such negative effects on the brain is due to a decrease in mentally challenging tasks.

Reason 2: You’ll Save More

The longer you work, the more time you have to save for retirement. And, as you get older, the opportunity to set aside even more money increases.

Here’s how: If you’re under 50, your contribution limit to a 401(k) is $19,000 and $6,000 for an IRA this year. But, once you’re older than 50, you can add an extra $6,000 and $1,000 to your 401(k) and IRA contribution limits, respectively.

On top of that, the money you have saved and invested gets a chance to grow one more year without you touching it.

For example, if you have $500,000 in a retirement account today by delaying just one year, that $500,000 could grow to $535,000, assuming a 7% annual rate of return. And that’s not including any additional contributions you make to your retirement accounts during that time.

What can you do with an extra $35,000? That leads us to my next reason…

Reason 3: You’ll Have a Better Quality of Life

The reason why your quality of life will improve if you work just one more year is due to the fact that your retirement will be one year shorter.

If you estimate your yearly expenses in retirement to be $35,000, then delaying just one year lowers your required savings by that same amount. Couple that with an extra $35,000 from compound growth and you now have an extra $70,000 to spend how you please.

Reason 4: You’ll Have Bigger Social Security Checks

If you delay retirement, you boost your Social Security benefits in two ways.

First, it’s likely that you’re at the peak of your earning potential so because your Social Security check is based on the average monthly income during your 35 highest-earning years, delaying retirement could make up for the early years in your career where you earned less.

Second, depending on your age, you might be able to delay your Social Security benefits, which further increases your checks. Everyone can begin claiming as early as age 62, but you give up a significant amount versus if you waited until your full retirement age. How much exactly?

You’ll earn 124% more with a full retirement age of 67 and 132% for a full retirement age of 66. Plus, the longer you wait to claim benefits, the less of a burden you place on your personal savings later on.

Reason 5: You’ll Have Better Health Care

One more reason to delay retirement is company benefits, especially health insurance. Depending on the size of your company, your employer’s health insurance plan could be cheaper than Medicare and provide better coverage.

Here’s what you need to know: At 65, you qualify for Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital services. Because Part A is free, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enroll. At that point, you can also enroll in Medicare Part B (for doctor visits), Medicare supplemental coverage and Part D (for prescription drugs).

If your company has less than 20 employees, you need to sign up for Medicare as your primary insurance, even if your employer offers its own coverage. Failing to do so could mean you’re not covered at all. Talk to your Human Resources department to find out what’s best for you.

Reason 6: You’ll Make a Difference

A commonly cited reason for staying in the workforce is meaningful work. If there’s a project you’re working on that you enjoy, it might be fulfilling to stick around and see it through to the end. Capping off your career with a big project could be the perfect way to cruise into retirement.

Lastly, working one more year is not always going to be your call. Sometimes your boss has a different timeline for when he sees you retiring. Take what I said today with a grain of salt and decide what’s best for you and your family when the time comes to make the call .

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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10 Upgrades to Sell Your Home, or Flip 10x Faster

This post 10 Upgrades to Sell Your Home, or Flip 10x Faster appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Yesterday, I talked about income properties and how you can get started with investing in real estate. If you are looking to start flipping houses, or if you are looking to sell your current home and downsize, it’s important to know what will help get your house sold as quickly as possible, and get you the best price for your property.

Now, if you aren’t flipping a house as an investment and you’re just looking to downsize, you may be ask:

Why would I renovate my house now if I’m going to sell in [pick any short timeframe]?”

It’s a valid question for two reasons: First, if you make upgrades before you’re about to sell, you won’t get to enjoy the money you’ve invested. Second, a lot of upgrades don’t necessarily deliver the return on investment you would imagine.

That goes for flipping homes as well. You need to be smart when picking the things that you choose to upgrade, so you don’t spend more than you need to on your flip and still get the maximum profit potential from your property.

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report, most home remodeling efforts only increase a home’s value by 50% – 80% of the average project’s costs.

For example, the average remodel for a mid-range bathroom is $20,420. According to the report, you’d make back only $13,717 (67.2%) when you sell.

If you aren’t flipping a house or looking to sell immediately, your best bet is to make small upgrades over a longer period of time. This way you can enjoy the upgrades while you’re still living in the house and it’s not one big expense or project you have to deal with when you eventually sell.

Of course, this is easier said than done. And if you’re asking the question, I’ll assume you don’t have much time to waste and you are looking for your best options now.

So, what kind of upgrades deliver the best bang for your buck today and what kind of upgrades will get your home off the market fast?

Here are 10 upgrades to consider in 2019:

Upgrade #1 – Exterior Lighting

85% of buyers want this feature and the cost to install exterior lighting is relatively cheap. You’re looking at around $65 per fixture.

If your lawn is well kept, exterior lighting is a nice finishing touch that will grab a buyer’s attention before they even walk through the front door.

In fact, exterior lighting is the second most-wanted outdoor feature, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Choose between spotlights, walkway lights and pendant lights.

Exterior lighting also signals safety. Even just having motion-sensor lights can be a big plus.

Upgrade #2 – Laundry Room

91% of buyers say they want a laundry room. The investment varies but you’re looking in the neighborhood of $1,000 to $5,000 for a small-scale project.

If your guest bedroom looks anything like mine, you know why homeowners rate a laundry room as a must-have feature.

Homeowners want a separate room to fold and iron clothes, a place that keeps the mess out of the main living spaces.

If your house doesn’t currently have a laundry room, the basement is typically the easiest (and cheapest) place to put one. Utility lines are already there, and most basements are unfinished so you don’t have to demolish anything to start.

A basement laundry room will set you back $1,000. If you want a laundry room or laundry closet close to your bedroom that fits just a washer and dryer, you’re looking at $5,000.

And if you want a full laundry room with sink and storage cabinets included, the price climbs to $10,000 or more.

Upgrade #3 – Garage Storage Space

85% of buyers say they want garage storage space. Buyers with growing families especially need more storage space.

And unlike a backyard shed or the attic, garage storage is more easily accessible. For cost, you’re looking at around $2,025 – $2,363 per 380 square feet.

Upgrade #4 – Energy Efficient Appliances and Windows

89% of buyers want energy efficient appliances, windows, and doors. The cost of owning a home is not cheap, so buyers are looking for anything to lower monthly utility bills.

Energy-efficient windows can trim heating and cooling costs by 12%, while Energy Star-rated appliances, like washing machines, can save homeowners around $45 a year or more.

Energy Star-qualified windows use an invisible glass coating, have vacuum-sealed spaces filled with inert gas between panes, sturdier weather stripping than regular windows.

And they use better framing materials to reduce heat gain and loss in the home.

Upgrade #5 – Patio

87% of buyers want a backyard patio. If you’re thinking of installing a concrete patio, your cost is around $963 per 120 square feet.

Only recently have outdoor living spaces gained in popularity. I blame the backyard makeover shows, but it’s good news for sellers.

A nice patio will help sell your home faster because buyers can envision themselves sitting outdoors with friends having drinks or cooking meals.

Also, installing a patio is a lot cheaper than adding an addition to your home. So you get more living space for less.

Upgrade #6 – Ceiling Fans

85% of buyers say they want ceiling fans installed. Similar to the Energy Star-rated windows and appliances, homeowners these days want anything that will lower utility costs.

A ceiling fan with light kit and remote control will set you back $466. Because ceiling fans create a wind-chill effect, a person sitting in a room will feel cooler when the fan is on.

According to Energy.gov, homeowners should be able to raise the thermostat level by four degrees without a reduction in comfort while the fan is in use.

Upgrade #7 – Walk-In Pantry

83% of home buyers want a walk-in pantry. Costs vary based on design but the reason why most home buyers today want a walk-in pantry is because kitchens get overcrowded when there’s not enough space to store essentials.

Unlike reach-in closet pantries, walk-ins allow for more storage. Which is critical for larger families that buy in bulk.

Most walk-ins are about 5 x 5 feet and have open shelves. Just make sure your pantry is installed somewhere cool and dry.

Upgrade #8 – Hardwood Floors

83% of buyers say they want hardwood floors. For cost, you’re looking at spending around $999 per 120 square feet of red oak flooring.

Homeowners like hardwood floors because they’re easy to clean, look nice, and are more durable than carpet. You can also refinish hardwood floors, extending their life even longer.

If you can’t afford to install true hardwood, engineered wood flooring is another good option. The cost is typically a few hundred dollars less or about 15% cheaper than pure hardwood and you’ll still get most of the benefits mentioned.

Upgrade #9 – Walk-In Closet

Walk-in closets are one of the most sought after features for first and second-time homebuyers.

They rank among the top five for must-have features. So if your current home has only a reach-in closet, you might want to consider revamping it.

Couples want a closet with more space, because they have to share. And singles like the flexibility of storing all their stuff in one organized space. Homes with walk-in closets in the master bedroom are a lot easier to sell than ones without.

Upgrade #10 – Eat-In Kitchen

Again, these are popular with first and second-time homebuyers. Eat-in kitchens are popular because they’re great for families with small kids.

Everyone can meet in the kitchen for breakfast before work and school and in the evenings for dinner. Costs vary based on your space but it’s not as expensive as you can imagine.

Removing a non-load-bearing wall to make room for a small table and some chairs will set you back about $1,000. Of course this can be scaled up quickly but that’s for you to decide.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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How to Make Money the HGTV Way

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Thanks to television shows like Flip This House and Income Property, many people want to make income as a real estate investor. And why wouldn’t you? In just an hour (or less, if you don’t count commercials), you can watch people make tens of thousands of dollars by just picking out a property and sprucing it up.

Of course, we both know it’s not as easy as they make it seem on HGTV, but real estate investing can still be a pretty lucrative enterprise.

Not only can you make big gains from flipping houses or accrue a steady stream of income from renting out your properties, you’ll also benefit from tax breaks and reap the advantages of appreciation over time.

Of course, there’s more than one way to make money from real estate, and there are a few things you should know before you jump in.

If real estate sounds like an interesting potential investment, here are a couple of tips you can use to get started in the real estate game.

Learn from Successful Peers

If you’re brand new to investing in real estate, you might be eager to get started right away, but before you dive in, take some time to get to know your area and market a little better.

If you don’t have any friends locally who are successful real estate investors, that’s ok – you can find lots of groups who are always accepting new members. Look on Facebook, on meetup.com, or simply Google a term like, “Real Estate Investor Association” along with your city’s name and you’ll find lots of groups you can join in order to learn more.

In addition to the knowledge you’ll gain, there’s another benefit to getting started by joining a group, too.

Jim Rohn may have put it best when he said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If you surround yourself with successful investors, you’ll naturally want to rise to be at their level.

This positive peer pressure makes it a whole lot easier to succeed than hanging out with naysayers ever will.

Look for Cash Flow

If you decide you want to become a landlord, look for properties where you’ll have cash flow.

This means you want a property where the rent the tenant pays you exceeds all your costs associated with owning the property.

Your cash flow on the property doesn’t have to be a lot – as I said, you’ll still get other benefits like tax breaks and appreciation even if your property only brings in a few hundred a month.

Once you find one of these positive cash flow properties, you’ll find it easier to add others to your portfolio, too.

Look for a Quick Flip

Another way to make money from real estate investing is the way they portray in all those aforementioned HGTV shows. You buy a property for a low price, fix it up a bit, and then sell it at a substantial increase.

This is different from investing for cash flow – it has bigger and faster potential rewards, but it has more substantial risks, too, so do your homework on how much risk you can afford to bear before you decided to go this route.

If you do decide to flip houses, get to know local contractors and vendors.

When you’ve built relationships with tradespeople, they can give you the inside scoop on what materials to use and how long jobs will realistically take.

This way, you won’t end up holding the bag if, say, the new flooring takes a lot longer to put in than you thought it would, or your contractor initially estimated, for example.

Go in with a Group

If you are looking for a more secure way to make passive income through real estate investing, going in with a group on multi-family housing might be a better method for you.

With an investment of just $50,000, you can usually get started with this strategy.

The reason this is a more secure method is because you’ll be investing with other people.

The potential for risk is shared, so this method is safer than some others. Obviously this shared risk comes with shared profits, and you have to be willing to work with the other members in your group.

So be aware that by limiting your risk, you also limit your potential earnings, and say in what happens with the property.

Invest in a REIT

You don’t have to stay with the world of residential real estate investing. You can also look for retail, healthcare, or office real estate, too.

The easiest way to get started in any of these areas is with a Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT. REITs are different than the other types of real estate investing mentioned above because they’re typically traded on stock exchanges.

You’ll probably see smaller gains, but you’ll also have less long term risk because you’re not locked into a property.

If you just want to dip your toe into the waters of real estate, this is a great way to see if this is right for you without a big commitment.

Do Your Due Diligence

Once you’ve got the lay of the land for your market, and you know how you want to invest, make sure you do your due diligence when looking for a property.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the momentum of a deal and wind up in over your head, so make a conscious choice to slow down and request all the documentation you need to make smart decisions.

Ask to see an income statement and a balance sheet if the property you’re interested in has been a rental before. If it hasn’t, then create your own balance sheet for the property so you can see what the actual costs associated with renting it out will be.

If you’ve decided to flip the house, look for comps in the neighborhood to make sure you can sell it and still see a profit.

Stay Strict with Your Budget & Timelines

One final note – no matter what method you go with, pay strict attention to your budget and your timelines.

It might seem like a good idea to throw in granite countertops to your flip home, or you might want to take an extra day to review a contract before turning it around, but you’ve got to be really judicious, because too many extras might end up costing you, and even a day too long in a particular period can put you on the hook for thousands in interest.

Real estate investing can be a healthy addition to just about any portfolio. As I said, it all starts with doing your homework, so if this idea interests you, start learning right away!

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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The Key to Fixing Two Broken Paradigms

This post The Key to Fixing Two Broken Paradigms appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Dear Reader,

Our financial system has been corrupted.

U.S. equity markets have become a hollow shell of their former selves, with 80% of demand fueled by companies buying their own shares with zero-real-interest-rate loans ultimately from the government.

Silicon Valley is now full of bloated “unicorns” — 88 at last count — with venture capitalists capturing most of the profits. And the number of public companies in the U.S. has plummeted 50% in 20 years.

One way out of this mess is to look abroad.

For Americans with a global view, the range of investment opportunities is expanding massively.

Given the limited upside in Silicon Valley — with its soaring price earnings ratios, misplaced environmentalism, and crony capitalist creep — opportunities abroad are beginning to outpace innovative companies in the states.

You might not know it, but Israel’s startup riches remain unparalleled. And did you know that Japanese and Chinese investors are now massively funding Israeli innovation?

Sony has just created a new $100-million fund with an Israeli target. And CTech reports: “In the first half of 2019, Japanese investors backed 34 Israeli companies, up from 28 companies during the entire year 2018.”

It’s incredibly easy to invest in Israel, too. You have direct access to 70 Israeli companies already available on the NASDAQ. And there are many new Israeli IPOs in preparation.

Also, I know everyone’s supposed to hate China these days. But opportunities in China are expanding dramatically today, with world leading initial public offerings, vast new stock markets, and relatively low valuations.

China is formally a communist nation. But in many ways it’s more free market than the U.S. And China has a rich capitalist culture.

In fact, visit China, as I have in recent months, and you will discover that Marx is far less influential there than he is in American universities.

While I am banned from most U.S. campuses for questioning climate change and challenging political correctness, I speak freely before enthusiastic audiences in many of the most prestigious Universities in China. There may well be fewer real Marxists in China than in the U.S.

In a pithy and topical new 2019 book, Charles and Louis-Vincent Gave, the father-son team at Hong Kong’s GaveKal Research, observe: “Japan is a culturally socialist country on which capitalism was imposed, while China is a culturally capitalist country on which socialism was imposed.”

The Gaves now observe that both countries are reverting to earlier cultural tendencies — China to capitalism, Japan (with its aging population) to socialist old age home.

And the Chinese are opening their capital markets increasingly to the West. Also auspicious for tech investments is Xi’s strong endorsement of tech innovation, venture capital, and initial public offerings.

Anticipating this new opening and inclusion of a thousand Chinese stocks on emerging market indexes, some $6.3 billion flowed into mainland Chinese equities in early June.

The bottom line is, the U.S. needs to wake up to restore American capitalism and innovation. Basically, we need new paradigms to replace the old, dying ones.

The way you can identify a broken paradigm is that the problem gets worse the more money you spend on it.

Case in point: Internet security.

We’ve experienced a billion data breaches on the net this year. And we’re seeing paranoia everywhere about “fake news,” spy chips, and fake hate.

Spending on security patches and poultices rises some 20% every year. Yet the number of hacks of private data rose to an all-time record of a billion breaches in 2018.

What I call “the Cryptocosm” (a new internet with the blockchain at its core) will provide a way out of this mess, as it opens the way to an internet architecture based on provable timestamped facts and immutable records.

It will supply a new architecture for the internet and, indeed, ultimately a new architecture for the entire world economy. And it involves troves of new knowledge surrounding bitcoin and the blockchain.

I truly believe blockchain will eventually become the proper foundation for what the internet’s really become — a huge commercial database to connect transactions all over the world. But this time around, with complete security.

You see, the ability to keep a record of every transaction, fully distributed, will instantly add a bulletproof layer of security to the internet. Why?

Because centralization is the biggest threat to internet security that exists today. Currently, all of our login information and credit card details are kept within walled gardens of various companies — Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc.

The problem is, these walled gardens are beacons for hackers. It’s telling them exactly where the important information is being held.

The blockchain, however, distributes all the personal information across the network, just as human intelligence is distributed across the world. It’s not agglomerated in giant data clumps. It provides a timestamped, immutable record of all transactions.

In other words, it’s decentralized. And that is absolutely key to why blockchain will be the foundation for the Internet Reboot.

That’s what I mean when I talk about a new paradigm. Blockchain can provide it.

Then there’s the scandal of global money.

Our misplaced faith in the power of the Federal Reserve to order growth into being by manipulating its monopoly money has led to the capture of Wall Street by Washington and the consequent starvation of Main Street.

The more money that is printed by central banks — and shuffled on international currency exchanges — the less growth and trade we get from it. Even some $17 trillion of negative interest rate securities doesn’t make a dent.

Big banks and financial players now push around some $5.1 trillion every day. That’s roughly 25 times global GDP and over 70 times global trade in real goods and services.

And what does this colossal floating currency game accomplish?

It only enables grasping politicians and toady central banks to steal from the future — your kids and grandkids — in order to pay off favored constituents and politically correct causes in the present.

The blockchain offers a much more honest, efficient monetary system.

Clearly, internet security and the global scandal of money are two of the world’s most obvious broken paradigms. The blockchain offers a way to fix them.

That’s why I’m so tuned in to advancements of the blockchain, and why I believe the heart of most wealth creation over the next 10 years will be the Cryptocosm.

Go here to learn just how big the opportunity is, and how investing in it now can transform your life in the years ahead.

Regards,

George Gilder
for The Daily Reckoning

The post The Key to Fixing Two Broken Paradigms appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Big Time Gains from Part-Time Gigs

This post Big Time Gains from Part-Time Gigs appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Dear Richer Lifer,

The first few days of retirement are invigorating and strange. Should you set an alarm? Should you get to the gym early, or sleep in and enjoy a few days of extra rest?

Your schedule is fluid and you find yourself relishing all the extra time on your hands. Want to go play golf mid-morning? Sounds great. Have lunch at 3pm? Sure, why not! That hobby you have been wanting to pursue? Try it out!

A few days turns into a few weeks, and if you’re like a lot of people, you’ll find yourself filling the hours in weird ways. You watch some tv, read a few books, take naps…

Then boredom sets in. The hours and hours of open time that were once so appealing, are now dull.

You may be surprised to find that you wish you were working again! Not necessarily full time, don’t get me wrong, but a few hours at a time just to stay engaged and energized.

You might find that you miss the fulfillment you used to get from working. Maybe you don’t find yourself wishing for your 40 hour a week, 9-5 grind, but you do want to be on a team again. There is something special about working toward a common goal you enjoy with others.

Or maybe you aren’t bored, but you might find you could use a little extra cash, now that all those retirement dreams of travel and leisure are here. Some additional spending money when you’re visiting the tropics might come in handy, or get you on the plane in the first place.

No matter what your reason, you may find you want to pick up a part time job.

Here are some part time jobs that are perfect for retirees:

Driving for Uber / Lyft

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chatted with my Uber driver and had them say some version of: “I retired a few years ago and I wanted a way to fill the time. Uber is perfect – I wish I’d done this years ago!”

With flexible hours and a low barrier to entry, Uber and similar driving gigs are an easy way to get started making part time income. This is so popular with retirees that more than half of all Uber drivers are age 61 and up. If you want a gig that’s interesting, variable, and available to you on demand, ride-share driving might be perfect for you!

Translating / Tutoring In A Foreign Language

If you speak more than one language, you’re in luck. Translators and foreign language tutors are always in high demand.

Like teaching, you can look for positions at local companies or go it alone and offer one-on-one lessons. Best of all, you can often offer this service online. So if you don’t want to leave your home, you don’t have to!

Acting As A Park Ranger / Docent

Maybe your heart yearns to be in the great outdoors, or maybe you really dig the Paleolithic Era. Either way, you can find a great part time gig at National or State Parks or a local museum.

These amazing resources are always in need of friendly, dependable staffers, so find your favorite park or museum and offer your time and talent.

Real Estate

If you’re looking for a position with lots of opportunities to meet people and share your knowledge of your hometown, real estate is a great option. You can become a licensed agent with just 4-6 months of training, and as for the income potential, the sky’s the limit.

If you’ve got a great community of friends already, real estate is great in that case, too – you can quickly build a network of potential clients with people you already know.

Consulting

If you have considerable professional experience you may find that consulting can be a fantastic gig for you. Companies, small or large, may be able to benefit from your knowledge.

In order to get started, decide on some areas of specialty and update your LinkedIn profile so people know you’re available to help them. Don’t forget to reach out to past colleagues, too. With a little effort, you can have a thriving and lucrative consulting job in a short amount of time.

Freelance Writing

If you have considerable professional experience you may find that consulting can be a fantastic gig for you. Companies, small or large, may be able to benefit from your knowledge.

In order to get started, decide on some areas of specialty and update your LinkedIn profile so people know you’re available to help them. Don’t forget to reach out to past colleagues, too. With a little effort, you can have a thriving and lucrative consulting job in a short amount of time.

Offering Childcare

Parents and grandparents have experience in one extremely useful, high-demand skill set — childcare. Wherever there are people, you’ll find moms and dads who need all the help they can get.

You can offer your services as a babysitter, or get certified through your state and offer complete childcare services. If you want to make a big difference in a child’s life, you can even move into foster care and take in kids who need help temporarily. While this isn’t the typical part time gig you might have been thinking of, it certainly is an invaluable way to give back.

House Sitting / Pet Sitting

Perhaps working with people isn’t your thing, but you love dogs. Pet sitting could be perfect for you. You can offer your services on sites like Rover.com or sign up for local Facebook groups and reply to anyone who needs help there.

If you want something even easier than checking on Fido and Fluffy, then look into house sitting. This easy gig is little more than checking on someone’s home from time to time and making sure their plants don’t die while they’re out of town, so it’s perfect for someone with extra time on their hands.

There are just a few ways you can earn some side income in your retirement years. If one of them piques your interest, give it a shot! If you find you want to try something else in the future, you can always change.

After all, the best thing about retirement is the flexibility to do what you enjoy, so factor in what you like, and you’ll find new satisfaction every day.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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How My Medical Mishap Could Save You Hundreds

This post How My Medical Mishap Could Save You Hundreds appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Okay, let’s just get it out there…

A few months ago, I had another surfing-related trip to the ER.

Without going into all the gory details, here’s a quick picture:

IMG 1

As you can see, I ended up with a small sideways smile right below my original one.

Essentially, I was tumbling under the water and the pointy nose of my surfboard went straight under my lip – all the way through, in fact – and eventually stopped when it hit my gums.

Nice.

“Hey, how does this look?” I asked a friend after it happened.

“Uh, yeah, that’s definitely stitches,” came the reply.

An hour and a half later, stitches it was – five on the outside and one on the inside. Also a quick trip to the dentist the following day since the blow had damaged a tooth.

In the grand scheme of my major lifetime injuries…

  • Four broken ribs and a collapsed lung from surfing back in December (I know… I know…  Two surfing injuries in 12 months!?)
  • A middle finger bent at a 90-degree angle while mountain biking back in college
  • A torn medial collateral ligament spinning off a jump on my snowboard
  • A broken metatarsal skateboarding on a ramp

This one was relatively minor. Painful, and a bit demoralizing to be sure, but with a one-week heal time, not too big of a deal…

IMG 2

… Until it was time to get the stitches out.

That’s where the real pain (and self-discovery) began.

Do as the Doctors Say

Now, before you suggest giving up my favorite hobby, recommend I buy a soft board from Costco, or blame me for skyrocketing insurance premiums…

Let me just say one thing.

I do these things for you!

How else would I have discovered the money-saving power of self-surgery?

My high-deductible health insurance plan requires me to pay out of pocket for most medical procedures until an annual cap is met. However, it does typically provide discounts on services performed by in-network facilities and specialists.

When I was discharged from the ER, they told me I had several options for getting my stitches removed:

1. Go back to the ER. (“The downside is you might have to wait a while.”)

2. Go to an urgent care facility.

3. See if a primary care physician (PCP) would do it.

I first called the ER. After a discussion with their billing department, I learned that I would be charged for another visit if I came in to get the stitches removed.

Ouch!

Emergency Room Alternatives?

Next, I started calling PCPs.

I don’t currently have one since I’m healthy as a horse unless I’m going to the ER from sports-related injuries.

One wasn’t taking new patients. Another couldn’t see me for four months. In a nutshell, it started becoming clear that even if I could get in to see someone, it wouldn’t just be a “get stitches out” appointment. Instead, it would be a full office visit and then another charge for the stitches part.

So I moved on to urgent care facilities.

The one in my network couldn’t tell me how much it would cost.

Minimum charge of $160. And then, once you get in there, it could be more depending on a lot of factors.”

What about my in-network discount?

“Don’t have any information on that. You’d have to pay and then submit everything.”

We went around in circles like this for quite some time. Multiple phone calls to all the different groups involved.

At the end of it all, they still couldn’t tell me what it would cost for a simple procedure.

I thought maybe it would be better to just go in person.

Once they saw me, and the simple procedure we’re talking about, perhaps it would all crystallize.

Ha!

The first thing I saw was a 1.5-hour wait time prominently displayed on a big digital clock.

Urgent care, indeed.

Next, I started discussing my situation with the receptionist.

It was pretty much the same conversation all over again. There was no guarantee on how much the process would cost.

Mystery Medical Charges

This is where I like to step back and think about the same type of idea in a different context – say, a car mechanic.

You pull up to your favorite oil change place and ask how much it is to swap out the 10W-30.

Maybe they ask you if you want synthetic or regular, but either way they can give you a price right upfront.

You can shop that price around.

Or, if you don’t like the prices, you can simply go get some oil and open the hood yourself.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

When faced with the idea of paying at least $160 … waiting several hours … and then possibly ending up paying far more once in the actual room … I opted to just open the darn hood myself and change the oil.

Now before I go any further, let me just put this out here. I’m not a doctor (obviously). So don’t take what I’m about to do as the “right” way to solve your medical problems. In this situation I was able to shop around and take matters into my own hands, but that isn’t the right reaction in every circumstance, especially when you have a medical emergency.

Anyway, back to my story…

I headed to CVS and bought a pair of small scissors.

Then I went on Youtube and watched a quick tutorial on stitch removal.

A couple minutes later, I was snipping my way to massive time and money savings.

Hey, it’s only my face, right?

Of course, I’m not telling you this story because I think WebMD should be your default care provider.

I just want to highlight a couple important points:

First, in some cases, it is entirely possible to avoid our frustrating medical system. In my case, removing stitches is now one of them.

Second, there should be no reason why our medical system is this frustrating in the first place.

I had a minor injury and I have health insurance.

Why on earth should a simple procedure like a few stitches cost me a couple thousand dollars at my local hospital and still not even include taking the darn things back out?

I’ll give you some more of my own thoughts on that soon… Until then, if you have the opportunity, and it’s not a medical emergency, consider shopping around a little.

Don’t be afraid to ask what procedures are going to cost. If you aren’t comfortable with the price, get a quote from someone else!

Just because it’s a medical procedure doesn’t mean that you have to pay whatever the first person quotes you. Make sure you get the best price available for your care, like you would with any other major purchase.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

The post How My Medical Mishap Could Save You Hundreds appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Don’t Book Your Next Flight Until You Read This…

This post Don’t Book Your Next Flight Until You Read This… appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Dear Rich Lifer,

We’re coming to the tail end of summer. For some that means the long awaited start of Autumn. For others of us, it means that it’s time to think about heading to a more tropical destination. I want to shine some light on common travel myths that are likely costing you more money than you think.

According to travel research app Hopper, domestic flight prices have a tendency to rise the closer you get to summer. So conversely, they tend to drop a little after the summer rush. That said, there are a lot of elements that influence into how much you pay for a plane ticket.  Flight search engines, last minute flash sales and regional pricing will all factor into how much you pay for travel.

But there are a few commonly held misconceptions about buying airfare that I want to debunk.

Myth #1 – Tuesday is the Best Day to Buy Plane Tickets

It’s true that prices can be more affordable on certain weekdays, but Tuesday is not the magic day anymore.

According to a report by Bloomberg that analyzed data from Hopper, the Tuesday rule only applies to 1.6% of domestic US flights, and only if you book right at midnight. Even if you complete the sale at 12 A.M. on the dot, you’re going to save just $18 on average.

Bigger discounts exist, but they’re more common for international flights. Nine hundred of the 3,500 global routes Hopper analyzed offered an average discount of $20 per ticket on Thursdays, and 600 slashed $30 off the price on Mondays.

If you’re looking to save on domestic flights, Thursday is your best bet. Hopper found that, on average, 3,500 out of 7,500 domestic routes lowered prices by $12 that day. On Wednesdays, 3,000 US routes offered a similar discount.

Myth #2 – Staying Through the Weekend Costs More

More often than not, this doesn’t hold true, new data from Hopper finds that with the exception of flights to the Caribbean, all other destinations have a discount with a Saturday night stay.

If you want to get the best savings, there are certain destinations that will save you more. Europe for example, the average discount is almost 40% when you include a Saturday night stay. Domestic and international flights to Canada, Mexico, Oceania and Central America offer discounts of less than 3%, says Hopper.

Why is it cheaper to include a Saturday night stay? According to the travel experts, this rule will always depend on whether weekend vs. weekdays is a reliable way to discriminate leisure from business travelers.

For US to Europe, it’s less common for someone to vacation mid-week without a Saturday stay, and vice versa, business travelers rarely want to stay over a weekend. This is why airlines charge business travelers more based on whether the trip includes a weekend.

But in other markets, like domestic US flights, that logic doesn’t work so well, and they can’t maintain a price discrepancy. To make things more complicated, places like the Caribbean, this rule is flipped — there’s more leisure demand with week-long trips being very popular, so airlines charge more for trips with a Saturday night.

Myth #3 – Layovers are Always Cheaper

Recent data released by Hopper finds that, on average, you save roughly 5% by choosing a direct flight. The research was true for about one in three flight queries.

“It comes down to who is competing in the market,” says Patrick Surry, Hopper’s chief data scientist.

“For example, if the only nonstop option is a major legacy carrier, then other carriers will discount their options with stops to a lower price to compete for the business. But in a market where it’s a low-cost carrier that serves the nonstop, it can often be the case that options with stops (on major carriers) are more expensive.”

One other way you can save on flights with layovers is called “hidden city ticketing.” It’s 100% legal but very frowned upon by most carriers.

How it works: If you want to travel between two major cities, say Chicago and New York, you could book a flight from Chicago to Burlington, Vermont, with a layover in New York, and skip the connecting flight.

A website called Skiplagged, actually helps users find these hidden city flights. They were even sued by United for how cheap the flights were…and they won. If you decide to try hidden city ticketing, only bring a carry-on and don’t book round trip.

Myth #4 – You Can’t Refund a Non-Refundable Ticket

I hate when this happens. You book a flight and a few hours later, panic strikes when you realize you booked the wrong dates. If the ticket was refundable, it’s no big deal but it’s almost always the case this happens when the ticket you bought is deemed non-refundable. What can you do?

Other than pay outrageous flight change fees, there’s actually a change/cancellation window built into all non-refundable tickets that is regulated by the US Department of Transportation. If you booked your ticket 7 or more days before your scheduled departure, the DOT mandates a free change or cancellation within a 24-hour period.

The catch is airlines don’t have to offer both options. They can choose whether they let you cancel or simply change your flight dates.

One final tip, when deciding when to book your flights, you can save money by choosing the optimal booking window.

Flights between 21 and 121 days before departure seems to be the sweet spot. If you book between 169-319 days ahead, you pay roughly $50 more, and waiting until the last minute can sometimes cost you closer to $200 more than the lowest fare.

I hope these help clear up some misconceptions about air travel.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

The post Don’t Book Your Next Flight Until You Read This… appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

The One Strategy That Beats Wall Street

This post The One Strategy That Beats Wall Street appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Dear Reader,

Wall Street is a scam.

I’ve said it probably a thousand times. It’s something I know from experience. Over the past 15-plus years, I’ve tried just about every investing strategy in existence.

I’ve run a hedge fund that was successful. I ran a fund of hedge funds, which means I’ve probably analyzed the track records and strategies of about 1,000 different hedge funds.

I’ve written several books about my experiences, but I can summarize everything I’ve learned in just one basic idea. The best way to make money in stocks is to hold forever.

I know what you’re probably thinking: You’ve heard stories about big-shot traders that rake in millions. My colleague Tim Sykes, for example, has certainly struck it rich jumping in and out of stocks.

But let’s face it, success stories like Tim’s are rare. And there will always be a few people who get lucky. That’s how luck works.

But all my years of experience have led me to strategies that generate consistent, market-beating returns. Having an arsenal of diverse strategies is the key to unlocking enormous wealth (go here to learn about one of the best).

I get emails every day from people who say they have a system that beats the market. They’re usually really nice people. I’m sure they’re talented and hardworking. And their ideas are usually terrible.

Here’s the problem…

There are millions of talented people trying to beat the market. They’re smart. They’re hungry. And they spend their time finding every advantage possible — the fastest computers, the best data and the most valuable inside information.

I’m telling you what I know from experience.

The only folks that make millions without these advantages are the ones like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. They’re committed to owning a stock for a long time.

Warren Buffett has never sold a share of Berkshire Hathaway since 1967. Bill Gates sells a little nowadays, but basically held his Microsoft stock for decades.

Every great investor will tell you the same thing. They’ve all used “compounding” to make a significant portion of their wealth.

In short, compounding involves reinvesting the money you make from an initial investment in order to make even more money. As you keep reinvesting the money, the effect multiplies. Over a long period, you can earn staggering profits on your original investment.

So what kind of stocks should make sense for this strategy?

“A company is only worth the money you get back from it.”

That quote is from Mark Cuban. Mark is tremendously successful. He made his first billion by selling his company, Broadcast.com, to Yahoo back in 1999. Most people call him lucky for selling at the top.

I don’t think he was lucky. I think he’s one of the smartest people I’ve met. If he didn’t make a fortune on Broadcast.com, he would’ve made a pile of money on something else. That’s what the smartest investors do. The quote above is something he said to me a few years ago. It stuck with me because it’s so simple.

When I first met him in the ’90s, I would never have imagined him being a dividend lover.

Nevertheless, a few years back Mark dropped this line — “I believe non-dividend stocks aren’t much more than baseball cards. They are worth what you can convince someone to pay for them.”

Again, he makes a great point.

Dividends are the simplest way to collect a piece of a company’s cash flow. When a company pays a dividend, it shows they’re serious about sharing profits with investors. Every other smart investor I’ve met says the same thing.

Warren Buffett is still the best-known dividend aficionado. Each of his top 10 stock holdings pays at least a 1% dividend yield (as of his latest reported holdings). His amazing track record is a testament to the power of compounding.

As I mentioned earlier, Buffett believes in holding stocks for decades, if possible. He has a unique way of looking for companies to invest in…

You see, he doesn’t look at P/E ratios. He’s not a value investor in the classic sense. He bets on demographic trends. The most important investing quote he’s ever said is, “If a company will be here in 20 years, then it is probably a good investment now.” This is not always true. He said, “probably.”

So what companies will probably be here in 20 years? I have no clue. Nor does he. But I will bet on the companies that are returning cash to shareholders. They’re called Dividend Aristocrats.

The term “Dividend Aristocrats” refers to an exclusive group of companies that have increased their dividends every year for at least 25 consecutive years.

The list represents the best, most reliable stocks out of the thousands of companies in the stock market. The requirement sounds pretty simple, but it’s an extremely high bar for a company to aim for.

You see, lots of companies are profitable. Lots of companies use dividends to distribute their profits to their shareholders. And lots of companies have long streaks of paying out dividends.

But only a few businesses raise their dividend every single year for decades. Keep in mind, companies are constantly dealing with changes. There are a million things that can go wrong, messing up management’s growth plans.

Over a 25-year stretch, you’re guaranteed to run into recessions, shifts in technology and consumer tastes. Meanwhile, every profitable business faces competition.

The more profitable you are, the faster your growth, and the more competition there is for every dollar you collect.

That’s why the Dividend Aristocrat title is such a big deal. It means a company has delivered the kind of stable growth that every smart investor looks for. It means the company has a disciplined approach to deploying capital.

In short, it means the company is extremely well run.

Not surprisingly, research shows that these companies do better than the rest of the market over long periods.

According to S&P, the S&P Dividend Aristocrats index returned something like 225% over the past 11 years or so. That’s more than 90% higher than the S&P 500 index over the same timeframe.

That’s why every smart investor should know about dividend-paying stocks. And why, when looking for those stocks, the Dividend Aristocrats list is the best place to start. You can look them up online.

But if you’re looking for a safe way to supercharge your retirement, go here.

Regards,

James Altucher
for The Daily Reckoning

The post The One Strategy That Beats Wall Street appeared first on Daily Reckoning.