Wall Street Won't Provide 401k Help

Helping You With Your Retirement Where Wall Street Won’t

After about 20 years of working as financial advisors and helping people reach retirement, Kevin Conard and I knew the financial services business model was broken. No — more pointedly – we knew Wall Street was broken. Don’t believe us? Take a few minutes to learn about the Wall Street neglect that led us to create our 401k management app at blooom. We believe every hard-working American trying to save for retirement deserves to receive expert 401k help! If you watch blooom’s story, you’ll see why we are here to change the culture of saving for retirement:

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Based in Leawood, Kansas, our culture consists of Midwestern values and hard-work. We are a low-cost, online platform created to help improve the way average Americans manage their 401k retirement plans. In just five minutes, anyone with a 401k can receive a free health assessment on their current investment strategy. Then, for those that want professional Do-it-For-You 401k help, blooom can be hired manage your account for a flat, Netflix-like fee of only $10 per month. We don’t even need to move your account.

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Horde cash to return to college

Study Abroad at 37? How to Horde Cash for Return to College

This is part two in a three-part series addressing how people can save for college or reduce or eliminate student loan debt.  In our first post, we shared some tips that are “better than faking your death” to pay off student loan debt. In this sampler tray (or beer flight) of savings ideas, we’ll share how adults who are looking to return to college can find financial assistance or reduce the cost of post-secondary education.

We covered the reasons why in more detail in our first post, but we’re chatting about college savings and student loan debt for two reasons:

  • First, plain and simple. The quicker you can wipe out debt, the quicker you can start saving properly for other life events.
  • Second, we recently launched a personal financial advice service. Clients can access it via mobile or desktop using the chat feature on the bottom-right of the screen. Since we’ve launched, the topic of student loan debt has been a top question posed by our clients.

A Happy Hour of Options for Adults Wanting to Return to College

So maybe you’ve always eyed going back for that graduate degree. Perhaps you launched yourself into the workforce early and never quite finished your undergrad. Or you’re looking to make a career change. Whatever your reason for returning to the BIG U, many options exist for scholarships, financial assistance and strategies to reduce your overall cost.

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401k Management Requires Dissection

What Do an Appendectomy and 401k Management Have in Common?

Picture this. You start to feel a dull sense of pain around your belly button that shifts to your lower right abdomen. Within just a few hours the dull pain has escalated to a sharp pain that can no longer be ignored. When you move, the pain gets excruciating and if by chance you need to cough or sneeze – you’d better be gripping onto something!

At this point, you realize you need to get your butt to the ER. After what seems like a million bumps in the road on the way to the hospital, you check yourself into the ER. The ER doctor then begins the examination. After just a few moments of probing your lower abdomen — she is confident that you have appendicitis.

The doctor explains that if appendicitis is not treated quickly, the appendix can rupture. When that happens, it releases bacteria into the abdomen and potentially leads to other, life-threatening infections.

Because of this danger she explains, appendicitis is considered a medical emergency. It typically needs to be removed within 24 hours of the condition being diagnosed. Given the amount of pain you’re are in, surgery sounds like the least of your worries. So, you tell her, “Let’s do it! Get this thing out of me. Nobody even knows what the heck an appendix does anyway!”

Then comes a response that you were not at all expecting. Instead of starting the process to prep you for the appendectomy, she instead asks you just about the …

Strangest Question You Would Expect a Doctor to Ever Ask

“I would love to perform this appendectomy, but before we can proceed, I need to know how much you have saved for your retirement?”

You are thinking … WTF!  What in the world does my retirement saving have to do with this emergency surgery? But given how much pain you are in, you will answer just about any question if it means getting you closer to the pain meds.

“I have about $70,000 saved up in my 401k,” you answer proudly. Still, you hadn’t seen the 401k management questions in the admittance form. What’s this about?

Her reply leaves you totally dumbfounded. “That is great but, unfortunately, you don’t have enough saved for ME to perform the appendectomy you badly need.”

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Diversification Definition - Choosing More Than One

Popular Timberlake Love Song Works as Diversification Definition

We’re back with another edition of Retirement Jargon Sampler! Here’s where we break down all the daunting terminology associated with 401ks through the use of some of America’s favorite tunes. Today’s hit serves as a diversification definition.

You might’ve already seen our latest post about the importance of diversification from Jordan, one of our top-notch advisors. For those of us who aren’t top-notch finance experts, the semantics of “distributing assets” can be damn confusing. So let’s rock our diversification definition.

The Simplest Stance on Diversification? Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around Comes Around”

Here’s where Justin Timberlake comes to smash the jargon into pieces. In JT’s tear-jerking 2006 song “What Goes Around Comes Around,” he cries to his lover’s new decision to leave him and play the field:

“Is this the way it’s really going down?
Is this how we say goodbye?
Should’ve known better when you came around (should’ve known better that you were gonna make me cry)
That you were going to make me cry
Now it’s breaking my heart to watch you run around
‘Cause I know that you’re living a lie
That’s okay baby ’cause in time you will find
What goes around, goes around, goes around …”

Diversification Definition Through Poor Justin

All apologies to the ever-heartbroken Justin, but the reality is his lover is a young and hot commodity – she has the freedom to explore a variety of exciting suitors rather than being tied down to one boring person just because he’s a safe bet. After all, seven free dinners a week are better than one. Not this lucky when it comes to dating? Don’t panic! Spread your assets around in another way…through diversifying your funds.

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Eggs Need Diversification Beyond One Basket

Why Diversification Matters in 401k Management

“In the world of investing nothing is as dependable as cycles” – Howard Marks, Oaktree Capital chairman

We want to illustrate the randomness of markets and why diversifying is a good idea.

We put together the following chart to do just that. It shows the performance of several of the major asset classes over the last 10 calendar years updated through 12/31/2016.

Diversification - Asset Category Performance

A Few Things About Diversification Jump Out

While US markets have rebounded strongly since the global financial crisis in 2007-2008, international markets have lagged for the most part. Unfortunately, this is causing a lot of investors to abandon their international funds or avoid them altogether. If we extended this chart back a few years further, the opposite would have been true. Another reminder that markets are cyclical. Nothing new to see here.

Poor commodities. They had their first positive year of the past six years in 2016. Even after that gain, the asset class is down around 50% since the beginning of 2011. Commodities still have a place in a diversified portfolio, but if you have been banking on the return of the gold standard, you have likely been disappointed.

Looking only at this chart, bonds seem to be a dependable source of a decent return. However, like all history, context is everything. We’ve seen a 30-plus year bull market in bonds where the 10-year treasury yield went from over 15% in the early 1980’s to around 2.5% at the end of 2016. Falling interest rates are a positive for bond prices, but they can only fall so far. The next decade will likely look different for bonds.

The Diversification Chart Teaches Valuable Investing Lessons

First, there will be up years and down years. Chasing the best performing asset class of the previous year won’t yield great results. Oftentimes, the top performing asset class one year will be near the bottom of the pack the next year, and vice versa. Other times, an asset class’ relative performance will persist (see: commodities from 2011-2015 or US large cap from 2013-2016). The point is, the future is unknowable.

If you’re relying on your (or anyone else’s) ability to time the market, you’re doing it wrong.

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