16 Finance Industry Myths Debunked
Those who have an IRA or 401K have somewhat of an idea of how money should be invested. However, investment at large is unpredictable due to having so many unknown possibilities that could result from it. It is no wonder there are so many myths surrounding it.
As a result, many people fall victim to these myths and even end up confusing or discouraging potential investors in the process.
That’s why we’ve jumped ahead to prepare this article as a means to warn you about the most common investments swirling around before you get tangled up in them.
MYTH #1: TOO YOUNG TO NEED A FINANCIAL PLAN
Young people have usually turned away from investing due to their relatively smaller salaries and fewer assets.
Therefore, they feel as if there is no need for them to have a financial plan.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t start planning early as it can help them develop great financial habits that will give them a solid foundation to build upon.
What’s more is that younger people have time on their hands – the money that they have will have a longer time to grow and also reduces the amount that they need later on.
In short, the sooner you start making smart financial decisions, the better your chances of achieving your financial goals will be.
MYTH #2: FINANCIAL PLANNING IS ONLY FOR THE RICH
Thinking that you need to be wealthy in order to have a financial plan is one of the most common investment mistakes people tend to make.
What they fail to grasp is that unless they come up with a riveting financial plan as mentioned in the first point, they won’t be able to efficiently use their assets to build their wealth over time.
As a matter of fact, research has revealed that financial planning can benefit not just the lower-level-income folk but those in the top 1% as well.
To put it simply, financial planning can help you achieve both short- and long-term financial goals, including saving up for retirement, putting your child through college or buying a home or a car. And you don’t have to be wealthy to have these common goals at the back of your mind.
MYTH #3: IF I MAKE GOOD FINANCIAL DECISIONS, I DON’T NEED A FORMAL FINANCIAL PLAN
Even if you are capable of making good financial decisions, any decision made without a well-thought-out plan does not make for good financial planning.
That’s because it’s almost impossible to balance planning, retirement, tax considerations, cash flow, investing, insurance needs and estate planning without a blueprint.
Some people may also assume that as long as their family has a good amount of life insurance, for example, they would automatically be covered for should anything happen to them. However, life insurance is only one part of estate planning and is more than often used along with other tools to provide for the needs of your family.
Many people assume that financial planning is all about buying a product such as insurance like can magically fix all of their money-related problems.
In truth, however, financial planning is quite a hectic process and simply making a smart financial decision when the time calls for it isn’t enough to get you over. Sooner or later, that decision of yours is going to wear out eventually and that’s why you need a well-constructed plan.
MYTH #4: FINANCIAL PLANNING IS LIKE RETIREMENT PLANNING
Retirement is only part of the many goals that you should include a solid financial plan. Most people assume that the IRA or a 401(k) plan is all the financial plan they need, but what they fail to consider is balancing their retirement savings with other savings needs.
If you only save up for retirement, you may find yourself in a serious pinch when a crisis finally hits.
You might even have to dig up your entire retirement savings as you didn’t make other savings plans. It is only when you determine and prioritize your financial goals can you properly allocate your money.
MYTH #5: FINANCIAL PLANNING IS SIMPLY INVESTING
Although not technically correct, the word investment is commonly substituted with financial planning in the minds of many.
When you discuss rebalancing your portfolio or asset allocation, you should consider how your overall strategy changes based on your cash flow or how your investments factor into your child’s college fund saving goals.
Like any other aspect of financial planning, investing will certainly affect other parts of your financial plan, but that doesn’t mean that the only thing you get out of a plan is market advice.
MYTH #6: THERE’S NO NEED FOR A PLAN UNTIL….
A lot of people don’t think they need a financial plan until they need to make a huge purchase, or worse, get hit by a financial crisis.
The very idea of a financial plan is that you need to prepare yourself in advance for events like these.
Having a financial plan is more than just getting yourself out of big bad situations; it’s about having a plan for your day-to-day life as well. It is how you will be able to save for that big purchase that you want to make or get through a potential financial crisis by building an emergency fund.
Let’s say if your spouse is about to turn 50 and you wanted to throw a party in their honor. You can’t obviously expect the cake, guests, and streamers to show up on their own on the same day you decide to throw it now, would you? Of course not! You would have to plan it out for weeks or months beforehand to ensure that you send out invitations, buy your spouse their cake and the streamers.
Let’s face it; planning requires a lot of work and you may be tempted to put it off for later. But just as you don’t want your spouse to show up at a party with no guests and streamers, you also don’t want to be caught off-guard without sufficient funds.
MYTH #7: FINANCIAL PLANNING IS A ONE-TIME THING
On the contrary! A financial plan is subject to change as the years go depending on the circumstances that follow for years to come.
For instance, as you start earning more money and are starting to reach retirement, you will have to put more money into your retirement account.
When you get closer to retirement and your risk tolerance decreases, you will likely adopt a more conservative investing style.
Just as you can’t wear the same pants you wore in your 20s when you’re 70, you also can’t expect the first retirement plan you drew up to last you all the way to your retirement.
MYTH #8: FINANCIAL PLANNING IS THE SAME FOR EVERYONE
Just as there are people who reduce financial planning to only “investing” or “retirement,” there are those who believe financial planning could be reduced to a set formula for success.
They have it set out in their heads that as long as they have a 401(k), purchase x amount of life insurance or maintain a 30/60/10 asset allocation with them, they can rest easy. But that’s where the flaw exists since no two financial situations are the same.
That’s exactly why having a financial plan is so important. It’s usually tailored to the individual so they get to decide on the best decisions based on their lifestyle and no one else.
MYTH #9: YOU PUT YOUR MONEY AT RISK TO MAKE A DECENT RETURN
Many IRAs and 401Ks get invested in the stock market, but the truth is that it is the riskiest place to put your hard-earned money in. In spite of the fact you hear “market experts” encouraging you to invest in the stock market and that it gives you an average of 10% return annually, this is merely an assumption that was brought out in the 1800s and no longer applies. These days, the annual return is close to only 5%.
Similarly, you may have also heard about “Our economists are forecasting…” But you have to confirm this from your broker first before you take any action that you may likely end up regretting.
Renowned business magnate Warren Buffett once said, “the only value of stock forecasters is to make fortune-tellers look good.” If you wish to get higher returns, most of the brokers will tell you that you have to take more risk. This may actually surprise to Mr. Buffet, who prefers to invest in boring Blue Chip industries.
In actuality, however, you shouldn’t put your money at risk. There are ways in which you can earn with safer investments, like fixed index annuities that are considered to be a savings account with an insurance company. In fact, there wasn’t even a single person with a fixed index annuity during the Great Depression who lost any money. Not only are they safe, but they also have liquidity and they provide better rates than most other products.
MYTH #10: YOUR BROKER WILL MAKE MONEY WHEN YOU DO
While it would be nice to think that your broker cares about you and your financial obligations in your life, that is one entirely true. Though it seems they want the best for you, your broker actually buys shares of stocks and mutual funds.
The brokers earn by managing your money, which really means that when the market goes either up, down or remains stagnant, they’re the ones who walk away winning. The clients on the other hand, only win in any one of those directions.
When your brokers are making money by managing your investment (like buying and selling shares of stocks as well as moving your money from fund-to-fund), why would they encourage you to invest in the fixed index annuity? Products that are less-risky only offer brokers a one-time commission and nothing more. And every time your broker either buys or sells stocks for you, they will not only charge you a fee but also receive a commission for it.
MYTH #11: MAINTAINING A STOCK PORTFOLIO IS CHEAP
Putting your investment in a retirement account on a regular basis might not be the best idea since the hidden fees will slowly drain your account.
The disclosed fees, which are located in the prospectus of the expense ratio, are quite easy to find. The fees are usually referred to as “management fees.” But besides that, there are the administration fees, which are much harder to find.
At first, you might think that a small fee in one place and a nominal fee in the other are no big deal. But according to the website of the U.S. Labor Department 400K fee;“ Let’s say you are working in an organization who has a $20,000 current 400K account balance and there are 30 years left until you’re retired officially.
Now if the returns on investments in your account over the next 30 years average about 7 percent and the fees and expenses reduce your average returns by 0.5 percent, your account balance will grow to $227,000 at retirement, even if there are no further contributions to your account.
However, if fees and expenses are 1.5 percent, your account balance will grow to only $163,000. The 1 percent difference in the expenses and fees would reduce your account balance at retirement by 28 percent.”
That is quite the large fee that is accumulated.
So if you want to stay on the bright side of things, you’ll need to confirm the following with your broker:
- Investment fees
- Plan administration fees
- Individual service fees
MYTH #12: CASH-BACK CREDITS PUT MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET
This only works if you pay off your balance every month, especially for rewards cards usually have higher interest rates than other cards.
Even though building credit is a smart strategy as it helps you apply for a car loan or a mortgage, you’d actually be better off a credit card of lower interest or paying with cash if you don’t think you can pay off the card every month.
MYTH #13: IT’S BETTER TO OWN A HOME THAN TO HAVING TO RENT IT
We hate to break it to you, but owning a home is actually more expensive than renting. Owning a home comes with more risks than you know.
There is no guarantee that your home will appreciate and it may even be completely illiquid. And if you do decide to own a house, you are solely responsible for its maintenance.
Renters, on the other hand, can ask the landlords or building management to take care of chipped paint or a leaky faucet.
Still, if you decide to own a home, then that’s on you and how it depends on your goals. It is especially a bold step for you if you are older, earning a good sum and starting a family of your own.
But if you’re just starting out on your career or are living a short life, then renting is perhaps your best option.
MYTH #14: YOU NEED AT LEAST THREE TO SIX MONTHS OF EXPENSES FOR YOUR EMERGENCY RESERVE
In the case of dual-income households, your emergency reserve should be at least six months of expenses.
As for single-income households, at least nine months of income is recommended. And while this may be general advice, you may have to dip into the emergency reserve between jobs.
What this means is that you should save enough to cover expenses over the time period it takes you to find a new job. So we would advise you to save extra and adjust your emergency reserve based on the hiring environment and the position you’re looking for.
MYTH #15: PLAN ON SPENDING 4% OF YOUR NEST EGG ANNUALLY IN RETIREMENT
Even though this is a general guideline to save you from outliving your savings, you’re getting your hopes up way too high. The financial environment that we thrive in today is much different than the one from years past.
These days, the interest rates are lower than they’ve been before, and the market is quite steep in prices as well. So we would suggest you spend 3-3.5% annually in retirement.
MYTH #16: I WILL HAVE A LOWER TAX BRACKET AFTER RETIRING
This is a widely accepted assumption of financial planning that isn’t always true. It’s usually the basis for the recommendation that many advisors give to their clients, which is deferring as much income and tax earnings as possible. But clients don’t want to decrease their standards of living by the time they reach their retirement.
Over time, tax laws change and a few things get more politically charged than others. Unline different parties that are voted for in each election cycle, taxation aspects such as income, capital gains, estate, etc, are usually up for debate.
For instance, it is completely possible that the money you invested in your 401(k) plan at a 28% tax bracket deduction could get taxed at 40% when you spend it in your retirement – based only on tax law changes.
Though it may also work to your advantage, we still have no idea where the tax climate will be in 4 years from now, never mind 10 or 20 years.
So instead, you should opt for diversification. As in, diversifying your accounts based on tax treatments rather than investment mix.
Though it’s important to find the right balance between traditional tax-deferred retirement plan assets like IRA and 401K, as well as after-tax investment accounts.
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