For most people, the most important long term financial goal is to have enough money saved for retirement. The steps that follow offer a guide to help you figure out how much you need to save and how much money you'll need to retire financially free.
We're also going to share with you investing secrets that can help you multiply your returns.
Estimate Your Retirement Needs
How ready are you for retirement? Let's take a look.
Step 1: Annual Expenses
Step 1. How much will your living expenses be during retirement. You can use the budget that you created in the previous section as a guide. Depending on which country you live in, you may need to plan for higher healthcare expenses in retirement.
Note that money today will not have the same purchasing power in the future. This is due to something called inflation. You've probably seen that things get more expensive each year. The steps that follow will include a way to have your money grow with inflation, so come up with your annual expenses in today's dollars.
Step 2: Annual Income
Subtract income you will receive. Include Social Security, Annuities and Pensions. If this amount adds up to your annual expenses and these income sources keep up with inflation, then congratulations, you're on track. If not, then your projected income will not cover your expenses. This means you need to save more to cover your future retirement expenses. This can be achieved by creating and contributing to an investment portfolio.
We feel it is a mistake to consider inheritance income as that is never a certainty.
Step 3: Your Retirement Assets
Now you need to calculate how big your investment portfolio needs to be in order to cover your retirement expenses.
We suggest using the 4% rule to calculate how much money you need to have saved for retirement. The idea is that if you have your money invested and growing, you can take out a small amount of it every year and your investments will keep pace with inflation. When your overall savings grows faster than inflation, then your money keeps it's buying power into the future.
For example, imagine that you have a portfolio of $1,000,000 at retirement. Assuming it receives an annual return of 7% or more, it will grow by $70,000. If you were to withdraw 4% of 1,000,000 then you would have $1,030,000 for the next year. The next year would see your assets buying power drop by 2% inflation. In other words, $20,000. You can hopefully see that by withdrawing an amount that is less than your investment returns minus inflation will give the ability to keep pace with inflation and be able to generate income with the same buying power year after year. Note that returns and inflation will vary in individual years, but it's the overall average that's important. Inflation will fluctuate each year. If you want to be more conservative, you could use 3% instead of 4% in your calculation.
Take the amount you need to fund your yearly expense and divide by 0.04 (i.e. 4%). This tells you how much money you need saved in an investment portfolio.
Jim and Sally are a couple in their 50s and want to figure out how much they need for retirement.
Desired Living Expense per Year$70,000
Jim's Social Security$(24,000)$2,000 / month
Sally's Social Security$(24,000)$2,000 / month
Amount that needs to come from investments$22,000
Total investments needed
using a 4% withdrawal rate ($22,000 / 0.04)$550,000
Current Retirement Account balance$(350,000)
Additional savings needed in the next 10 years$200,000$20,000/year or about $1670 / month
Note that this example does not include the rate of return they would get for their current savings. This makes the calculation simpler and is more conservative.
Now what if we DID include the investment return during these 10 years, how would that effect your retirement? The purpose of this chapter is to show you that with the right information, you can significantly change the outcome of your retirement.
If you earned 0%, you would have $350,000 PLUS $200,000 = 550,000 in 10 years.
If you earned 6%, you would have $350,000 PLUS $244,000 = 594,000 in 10 years.
If you earned 12%, you would have $350,000 PLUS $330,000= 680,000 in 10 years.
If you earned 20%, you would have $350,000 PLUS $500,000 = 850,000 in 10 years
The logical question you should be asking yourself is how can you earn 20% a year on your money while avoiding horrific 50% market crashes like in 2000 and 2008? This is where The Finger Print indicator really shines with some very simple to use information that takes virtually no time at all to implement yet gives you very important direction.
Now just before we get into the details on how to increase your investment returns, let’s take a moment and help you shift your thinking just in case you think that investing in the stock market is too risky.
Children who saw their parents lose their money in the stock market in the great depression, were very hesitant to put their money in the stock market when they were in their phase 2 of life and that decision cost them dearly. The industrial revolution saw stocks grow astronomically which created massive wealth. For the millennials who saw their parents go through the 2000 "dot.com" crash and the "housing bubble” crash of 2008, the same hesitation exists. And if they did not invest in the market, then they would have missed out on massive growth from 2009 to 2019. During those 10 years, the stock market rose 285% which means money invested in 2009 would have almost quadrupled in 10 years!!! It’s this fear of losing that holds people back from making the best long term financial choices available to them and we really hope we can show you it’s actually more costly to avoid the stock market than to participate in it.
Let’s create 5 different scenarios. Let’s also assume 3% inflation per year because buying power is an important part of investing.
Option 1. Mattress
Put your money under the mattress at 0% return
if you saved $1,000 a month for 30 years, you would have $360,000 under your mattress. What you may not realize is that you are actually losing 3% purchasing power every year and so you are actually losing money. What costs 1 dollar today will cost approx. 3 dollars 30 years from now.
So $360,000/3 = $120,000 in today’s buying power 30 years from now
Option 2. Checking Account
Put your money in a checking account at 0.5% annual return
if you saved $1,000 a month for 30 years, you would have $388,477 in your checking account.
So $388,477/3 = $129,492 in today’s buying power 30 years from now
Option 3. Savings Account
Put your money in a savings account at 1.5% annual return
if you saved $1,000 a month for 30 years, you would have $454,865 in your savings account.
So $454,865/3 = $151,621 in today’s buying power 30 years from now
Option 4: Mutual Fund
. Put your money in mutual funds at 7% annual return (S&P500 average)
if you saved $1,000 a month for 30 years, you would have $1,218,008 in your investment account.
So $1,226,990/3 = $408,996 in today’s buying power 30 years from now
Option 5: Stock Market
Put your money in the stock market and achieved a 20% annual return
if you saved $1,000 a month for 30 years, you would have $23,361,032 in your investment account.
So $23,361,032/3 = $7,787,010 in today’s buying power 30 years from now
As you can see, it would be a mistake to put your money under your mattress or to put your long term investments in a savings account. Our goal is to help you achieve superior investment results. And you can see that it is a very costly mistake to not be a Micron Investments Ltd member!
I HAVE A SECRET
Let’s now get into the 4 secrets that you will not hear from your financial advisor which will make all the difference in the world to your financial freedom.
Now that you see the value in putting your money in the stock market for the long haul, let’s learn some very important principles that you probably are not aware of and financial institutions are not so keen on telling you.
The 3 principles that have the biggest effect on your wealth are:
What assets beat most investment accounts in the long run?
How can you reduce the cost to hold these high return assets?
What can you do to protect yourself from a Stock Market Crash?
Secret #1… Needles VS Haystacks
The verdict is in. Long term low cost index investments outperform actively managed mutual funds. This simple strategy can get you the best results.
Picking a stock that goes up 1,000% is an awesome experience, but the reality is out of hundreds of thousands of stocks in the stock market, you would need a crystal ball to be able to pick those few stocks that hit the lottery like that. NOTE: Your financial advisor doesn’t have a crystal ball either!
All investment and retirement accounts have a stake in the stock market through the use of mutual funds and other asset classes such as bonds, treasuries and commodities like gold and silver for example. Not only are there 100’s of thousands of stocks, there are 10’s of thousands of mutual funds as well and it has been proven that over any rolling 10 year period, 86% of mutual funds DO NOT beat the S&P 500. Over a rolling 15 year period, the S&P 500 will outperform 95% of all mutual funds!
The S&P 500 index includes 500 of the largest companies that are listed on either the NYSE or NASDAQ. The companies of the S&P 500 are selected by a committee. To qualify for the S&P 500, a company needs to have:
Market cap greater than $5.3 billion
It has been at least 6 months since its initial public offering (IPO)
Every year, the value of its market capitalization is traded
More than 250,000 shares trade in each month of the previous six months
Most of its shares are traded in public exchanges
Four Consecutive quarters of positive earnings "as-reported”
The data shows that an S&P 500 Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) will beat the majority of mutual funds. What are the chances that you'll be able to pick the mutual funds that will beat the S&P 500? The S&P 500 has proven that it is one of the best places to grow your money.
Active Fund Management trails the Index
Another report shows that 65% of active fund managers of large cap stock funds performed worse than the S&P 500 each year. This is true for the last 9 years in a row. After 10 years, 85% of actively managed funds perform worse than the S&P 500 index. After 15 years, 92% of actively managed funds perform worse than the S&P 500 index.
Simply investing in the companies that make up the S&P 500 beat fund managers who try to pick the winners.
In 2019, S&P released its annual report on how actively managed funds performed against their benchmarks. It supports the claim that investing in low-cost, passive funds is a good long-term investment. According to Aye M. Soe, a managing director at S&P "Active managers claimed that they would outperform during volatility, and it didn’t happen." The report conclusion: “Over long-term horizons, 80 percent or more of active managers across all categories underperformed their respective benchmarks”.
While some fund managers can beat an index in a given year. Their ability to outperform drops dramatically after a year or two.
Here is another interesting fact that should make you realize investing in an Exchange Traded Fund like the SPY (S&P 500) is a smart bet.
In 2007, Warren Buffett bet a million dollars that an index fund would outperform a collection of hedge funds over the course of 10 years. He won that bet and donated his wager to a charity called Girls Inc. Warren Buffett is one of the best investors that the world has seen. He wanted to show that most people are better off with a simple approach. His advice to people is to simply invest in low cost index funds. His explanation is that low cost index funds often beat the returns of most hedge funds.
He showed that over the long run, you can multiply the size of your nest egg by investing in low cost index funds.
Since you will be investing for more than 15 years, logically it would make sense to simply purchase something that follows the S&P 500. So instead of trying to find the needle in the haystack, would it not make more sense to just purchase the haystack (SPY) and be among the top 1% of investors worldwide? We think we all know the answer to that question. Also note that every exchange has their own ETF that tracks the performance of the S&P 500, which means this strategy is available to everyone around the world.
Interestingly, other major indices all follow the S&P500 as do most country economies around the world. So if you are wondering if this index makes sense for you depending on where you live, the answer is yes. Take a close look at the charts below and you will see this point more clearly.
Included in this chart is the S&P 500 (500 stocks), the Dow Jones Industrial Average (30 stocks), the Nasdaq (3300) and the Russel 2000 (2000 stocks)
If you were interested in diversifying your portfolio into different sectors, large cap stocks, mid cap stocks, small cap stocks and international stocks… all you would need to do is own a piece of each of these indices. If you are interested in making your investing life a bit simpler, you could simply hold only 1 or 2 of these indices in your portfolio as they are all more than 90% correlated. For example, you could hold the S&P500 and the Nasdaq in equal parts or you can split up your portfolio into 4 equal parts. The choice is yours. As noted previously, our members have a slightly more advanced way to invest in indices which can potentially make them over 20% returns a year. Once you have implemented the fundamentals of this program, we would encourage you to consider upgrading your knowledge and become a Micron Investments Ltd. member.
Secret #2… A Discount Brokerage Account will save you a fortune!
The fees that are charged on actively managed funds really add up. You could be losing up to 2/3 or your investment nest egg. Learn how to maximize your returns and become financially free much sooner.
In our discussion in the previous section we talked about the S&P 500 outperforming 95% of mutual funds over any 15 year rolling period. Just doing that alone will put you way ahead of everyone else when it comes to your long term retirement account results. That information alone is worth thousands of dollars.
There is yet another very important element to generating the most amount of money for your retirement and that entails lowering your fees of holding these funds in your investment account. We know that an S&P 500 ETF like the SPY will serve you very well over the long haul, it is also an inexpensive asset to hold as it is not managed, but a passive asset.
If it’s a passive asset then all you need to do is buy it and it does its own thing, which is to grow your money. With this in mind, why are you paying a financial advisor 3% of your money compounded year after year if all you have to do is simply open a discount broker account (your bank probably has one) and buy the SPY yourself or an even cheaper Expense Ratio fund like the Vanguard S&P 500 (VOO)! Just by doing this, you can save more than 50% of your retirement account’s balance. WHAT!
Yes, you can save a whopping 50% or more of your money by just opening a discount broker account, which is just as easy as opening a bank account. Within your discount broker account you will find that opening a Retirement Savings Account is literally a few clicks of your mouse away.
You can even set up your account so a certain dollar amount can be deposited into your investment account and purchases the SPY for example on each pay day… AUTOMATICALLY.
So why doesn’t everyone do this? Because people don’t know what they don’t know and secondly, the financial industry has made you believe this is very hard to do. Now the reality is 15 years ago, it was way more difficult to do, but with the advancement of technology, this is now a breeze to do and it will save you a lot of money.
Truth be told, just this information alone is worth our one-time subscription fee 100 times over!
You are probably wondering which discount broker is best for you and since this is a long-term non-trading account, as long as the broker you choose has reasonable fees, which most do to be competitive, and are registered and insured, then we would look for one that offers great customer service. Why, because as you get started you will probably feel a bit insecure setting up your account and funding your account and then buying the SPY for example, should that be the asset you buy. Great customer service will make that process feel way more comfortable and safe.
Let’s take a look at how saving a small 3% per year fee can change your financial life!
In this 30 year example, we started with $10,000 at a rate of 9% per year and added $1,000 to the account each month.
If you used an advisor, you would pay an industry average of 3.19% in fees, your ending balance is $957,800 and you paid your advisor a whopping $876,990 in fees over 30 years!
If on the other hand, you got yourself a discount brokerage account, you would pay out an average of 0.3% per year in fees, your ending balance is $1,721,579 and you paid $113,210 in fees. That’s $844,589 MORE MONEY for your retirement.
WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER?
For illustration purposes only, let’s take a look at a real example of a friend of ours who had been using an advisor all his life and was earning on average of 7% a year with that advisor. Would it be worth it for him to open a discount broker account and self manage his account with a non-leveraged S&P 500 ETF? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
If Jim doesn’t make any changes, he can turn his $100,000 into $287,000 over 10 years.
If Jim does make a change, he could turn his $100,000 into $432,000 over 10 years.
You will notice that not only were the fees reduced from 3.19% to 0.3%, but the return will be better as well… 9.5% is the average return of the S&P 500 over the past few decades!
So what do you think Jim did? The same thing you should consider doing, he opened a Registered Retirement Savings Account within a discount brokerage account and transferred his money to his new self-managed account and as an added bonus has earned over 20% a year using some of our Real Simple strategies. Good job Jim.
Clearly you can see it will have a massive effect on his retirement plans. Not only did Micron help Jim by showing him the effect of switching from an advisor to managing his own account, by using our advanced investing information, Jim earned 20% a year compared to 7% which in 10 years could turn his $100,000 into $933,000! Jim later shared he was actually only making about 5% a year with his advisor. It’s important to note these higher returns are above average and are based on an average per year return which means the returns are never exactly the same year after year. Some years will be higher than others.
Secret #3. Is there such a thing as Market Timing
Market timing is when you can predict with reasonable accuracy when a stock asset or the stock market is going to go up or go down. Many say that this cannot be done, but the many that say this are CEO’s of mutual funds who would see a significant reduction in their revenue if people were to put their money into a savings account when the stock market starts to crash. Advisors will tell you “don’t worry about it, the market will come back as it always does” and to an extent they are correct, the market does come back. But how long does it take to come back and during all that time, you have just lost years on the positive effect of compounding your money… YEARS
In the spring of 2000, many people in the US saw their retirement accounts crash. In 2008, the same thing happened again.
If it takes five years to get your money back from a 50% stock market crash, that means you have just lost five years of compounding. Look at this chart to show what the effect is by not protecting yourself from a severe stock market crash.
As you can see, from the 2000 dot.com crash to the 2008 housing crash, you were just able to get your money back which means you have missed out on 8 years of compounding. Then it took from 2008 to 2013 before your money came back to par from the 2008 crash, which means you have missed out on another five years of compounding for a total of 13 years!!! That’s right, if you had $100,000 in your retirement account in the year 2000 and you never touched it, it would take 13 years before you were back to even!
When there is another crash, not IF but WHEN, it could take another five years or more for your money to get back to even! There is a better way.
With the Finger print indicator you can create a crash protection alert that can help you to avoid the majority of any market crash… The image above shows the difference between having NO crash protection or being protected from stock market crashes… the difference is MASSIVE.
BONUS Secret #4: Leveraging
We have learned the S&P 500 has proven to outperform mutual funds in the long run. We have shown how switching to a passive asset like the SPY within your self-managed discount brokerage account (your bank probably has one) can save you a fortune and we have identified that protecting yourself from a stock market crash will save you at least a decade of time to retirement.
Are there other ways you can supercharge your retirement account safely? That's a great question and we have an even better answer, YES! Imagine if there was an asset class that mimicked the S&P 500 but instead of it going up $1 when the SPY went up $1, it actually went up $2. You don’t have to imagine any longer, there is such a thing and we discuss it in great detail in our Real Simple subscription. It is as simple and easy to invest in as the SPY and it can help you retire with 2 times or even 3 times more money than we have already outlined!
The key here is correlation. Correlation is when two assets move in the exact same direction at the same exact time. So if the SPY moves up $1, a 100% correlated asset would move up with it except because it is leveraged, it moves up faster. Add compounding to the equation and the chart below shows you what can happen! The Blue line is the S&P 500 which grew in value 186% since July 2009 (after the 2008 crash) yet this special asset grew in value 681% during that exact same period of time. As long as you can sustain more volatility in your investing, you can clearly see there is significant upside. If this is too much volatility for you, then we can even show you how to reduce your risk and still beat the market with 50% greater gains.
Reduce your Taxes
You know the saying, "a penny saved is a penny earned” and if you have a powerful investment strategy that penny can be worth significantly more down the road.
Saving on taxes does not have to be complicated, but we believe it is well worth spending time with a licensed tax planner wherever you live. With so many ever changing tax rules there is no way we could provide accurate information that would serve you the best when it comes to tax savings.
That said, there are a few areas you should speak with your tax planner about.
1. Government Registered Retirement Savings accounts. You will want to know what your maximum allowance is per year and it is very advisable that you use it all up as it will provide you with tax savings that can be reinvested into your long term investment account.
2. Typically, most governments also offer a Tax Free Savings Account. There is usually a maximum amount you can put into this account per year and it should not be used as a trading account. The advantage is when you choose to take money out of this account, you will not be taxed on this income. This would be a great way to top up your income in retirement allowing you to take the least amount out of your government registered retirement savings account which would reduce your taxes since you would require to take less out. Your tax percentage is tied to the amount you take out per year as income. The less you take out as income, the less you will be taxed.
3. Having a home-based business is an excellent way to reduce your annual taxes if your expenses exceed your revenue. If you have an on-line global business like Micron, then you would be able to claim expenses for things like your home office space, utilities, mobile costs, internet costs, car expenses, business travel, etc. Again, because each country has their own rules and regulations pertaining to home based businesses, it is advisable to contact a tax specialist in your area. The cost for their advice would be worth it.
4. Family Trusts can play a major role when it comes to minimizing your taxes and protecting your assets. If, for example, you earn significant income via your Micron business or through your trading activities, it might make sense for you to register your company and investments in the name of a Family Trust. Family Trusts have multiple tax advantages and should be part of your conversation with your tax specialist.
5. Holding Companies are exactly as they sound; they hold your unused money into an account tax free. You are taxed an income tax when you move your money from your holding company to your Family Trust to be used as income. Again, you should speak with a tax specialist in your country that can help you set up a proper structure that takes all of the above into consideration to help you reduce your overall taxes. The money you save is money that can continue to grow within your investment accounts.