Freedom in America is a Savings Account

By Charles M. Russo, CFPRetirement PlanningFOXBusiness

In order to achieve a life of personal freedom in this country, you will need to accumulate money in a savings account.

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The number one question we are asked is “When will I have enough saved money so I can write a check every month to live in the lifestyle in retirement that I was used to in my working years?”

In order to answer that question, you need to look at the following 5 areas:

  1. How much money in today’s dollars will you actually need?  To help determine that figure, you will need to think about the following: A). Will you have a mortgage or rent payment in the future, or will your mortgage be paid off? B). Most likely, if you have children will you still need to support them? C). Budget: Most people have no idea of what their monthly lifestyle expenses are. You need to have a handle on that number. Once a number is identified, you are half way there. Furthermore, after children have grown, most families sell the home they raised their family in and downscale to lower housing costs. In addition to that, the costs of medical care and other expenses drop significantly. Social Security income has to be taken into consideration. There are ways to significantly increase your Social Security income if you haven’t elected to take it yet.
  2. Inappropriate Financial Products - Safety. Most individuals we meet state, “I wish I could get back the principal invested, forget any return on my money.” I cannot tell you how many individuals we meet have no idea how much principal they have invested with an advisor firm or investment institution. In addition, they have absolutely no idea what their return has been over the period of time they have had that relationship, if they received any at all.
  3. Inefficient Portfolio Designs - The fees associated with the investment of their money. As an example, money management fees, administrative costs, loads, trading costs etc. These charges erode your ability to achieve a return on your investments. Most individuals have no idea how much risk is in their investment portfolio. As an example, “Do you know what will happen to your investment account if the market drops 50%?  Will your portfolio decrease, remain the same or, even, possibly go up in value?” In many situations that we come across, individuals we meet have all of their money in a checking, savings or timed CD in a bank earning 0.15%. They do not realize that, over the past 10 years, their money has lost 20% of its value due to inflation. This is known in the investment world as “Purchasing Power”. Having your money keep pace with inflation.  Just think back to how much you paid for a car or your home 20 years ago and how much money that is today.
  4. Taxes – An important objective of ours is to work closely with your tax professional and attorney to preserve your clients capital by preventing loses of personal savings to unnecessary income taxes, capital gains taxes and estate taxes. The amount of money you can potentially lose to taxes due to inappropriate products and structures can affect one’s lifestyle in retirement and also cause possible unnecessary expenses for the surviving family members and the estate.  
  5. Never allow any individual to have “Power of Attorney” or control of your money in any way.  We have all heard the horrible stories like Bernie Madoff’s and too many others. You should be the only one with access to move, withdraw or spend your money. You need to be fully aware of who has trading authority or access to make decisions of how or where money is invested. The power of attorney should be “Limited Trading Authority,” if any at all.

In summary, if your accounts are efficiently invested and managed, if your money is safe in programs and products to avoid unnecessary risk of principal but also protected from creditors and you have control over your assets, you are on your way to accumulate enough money in your retirement years to live in the lifestyle you are accustomed to.

There are many programs and products available to you that will help you reach the savings account necessary to truly be “Free in America.” Guaranteed principal, tax-free income, government approved tax-deductible programs and programs to protect you and your family against unforeseen health events are all available to you.

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