Early Retirement: Can You Get There?

Early retirement – the thought of it can bring a smile to many faces, but how realistic is this goal? Well, that depends on a host of factors – some of which you have a lot of control over; others, not so much. Let’s investigate what hurdles we need to jump over to make early retirement a possibility for you!Probably the most important factor that you have on your side (provided you’re young enough to benefit from it) is time….yes, time. With the powerful (almost magical) combination of time and compounding, you can grow your wealth exponentially. However, you need to start saving a lot of money very early and invest a good portion of your retirement in assets that can appreciate significantly over time (ex: the stock market, real estate, commodities, etc.). Otherwise early retirement is nothing but a pipe dream.Now I’m sure some of you would love to hit it big at the casino or the lottery, or get a windfall from a rich relative when you’re still young. Of course, the odds say that you’re more likely to get struck by lightning twice in your lifetime than becoming a big lottery winner! Therefore, putting together a plan of action for early retirement is essential if you’re serious about making it happen. Don’t take Han Solo’s advice when it comes to retiring early – you need to know the odds.

Source: Early Retirement: Can You Get There?

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How To Make Your Kids Smarter: 10 Steps Backed By Science | TIME

1) Music LessonsPlain and simple: research show music lessons make kids smarter: Compared with children in the control groups, children in the music groups exhibited greater increases in full-scale IQ. The effect was relatively small, but it generalized across IQ subtests, index scores, and a standardized measure of academic achievement.In fact musical training helps everyone, young and old: A growing body of research finds musical training gives students learning advantages in the classroom. Now a Northwestern University study finds musical training can benefit Grandma, too, by offsetting some of the deleterious effects of aging.

Source: How To Make Your Kids Smarter: 10 Steps Backed By Science | TIME

7 Things to Leave in 2015 – Advantage Media Group

The first official work week of 2016 is in full swing, meaning you’ve probably made a lot of promises to yourself. Whether your resolutions are to improve your personal health, skyrocket your career, or help more people around you, they are most likely lofty goals. It seems at this time of the year, everyone wants to be thinner, nicer, and happier. Instead of looking so far ahead to the future. Let’s take a look at 2015. What is it that you would like to let go of? It could be a toxic friendship, a bad habit, or an attitude or thought that has continued to haunt your mind. Maybe you should leave those spandex, neon shorts that you wore last Halloween behind as well. Here’s a few more things to let go of while you’re at it. Your gurus. Okay, well not all of them, but the start of a new year is a great time to reevaluate who you have been listening to and think about who is actually influencing you. Do some up-to-date market research and see who you should be learning from. Narrow it down to two or three people who you really want to learn from and subscribe to their newsletters, webinars, and podcasts. By doing this, without even realizing it, you are aiming your business or your personal life in a direction that is more pointed to who you want to be like, professionally and personally. Clutter. If your inbox is being inundated by newsletters, sales notifications, and updates from websites that you probably subscribed to years ago and never read, it’s too much noise to listen to the good stuff. Free softwares, like SaneBox and Mailstrom, can help you unsubscribe to those pesky emails with only a few clicks. Other options like Unroll.Me can help you delete and stay subscribed to the outlets that you still enjoy getting but in one email called a rollup. Once your email is streamlined, don’t forget to clean up your working space and under the bed, too. Dedicate one day to reorganizing and it’s like accomplishing a resolution in a day! The fear of trying new social media platforms. There is a common misconception that social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are for teens and people who are obsessed with Justin Bieber. Not true. Snapchat is actually the fastest growing social network with over one hundred million active users snapping daily, while Instagram has more than four hundred million active accounts with 75 percent of them from outside the United States. While there are options to do paid advertising on these platforms, there is also value in promoting your handles and gaining some free and easy interest that way.

Source: 7 Things to Leave in 2015 – Advantage Media Group

Eight Market Predictions for 2016 | AIER

I actually think that these are pretty accurate predictions.

Steve

Eight Market Predictions for 2016

by Luke F. Delorme, Research Fellow

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

1. Stocks will go up, stocks will go down.You know this, but it is worth repeating for the sake of your sanity. Markets go up and down daily. For every buyer, there is a seller. But there is a broader historical point here. Even during periods of relative growth, there are negative stretches. Likewise, during downturns there are upswings. Since 1990, there has never been a calendar year during which all 12 months were all up or all down for the S&P 500. 2013 was a great year for stocks and still saw two down months. 2008 was a terrible year and still saw four up months. Historically, stock markets tend to trend upward, but we should certainly expect that markets will go up AND down.

2. An investment advisor or financial planner will try to sell you something with the term “downside protection” immediately after a short-term drop in markets.Going back to my first point, at some point during the year it is likely that markets will fall. It is precisely this time that we’ll see articles about pension funds considering more hedge fund exposure. We’ll start hearing our friends talking about “downside risk” and hedging against market losses. Naturally, these conversations crop up AFTER the market has dropped. Do yourself a favor and allocate to a portfolio that is comfortable BEFORE the market drops. This could mean significant “downside protection” (e.g., a position in cash, bonds, Treasuries, TIPS), or it could mean minimal downside protection if you are insensitive to short-term performance.

3. People will predict rising interest rates. It’ll happen someday!For four straight years, we’ve heard that interest rates have “nowhere to go but up.” And yet, they were stable in 2012, up slightly in 2013, down in 2014, and flat again in 2015 (despite the Fed raising rates). On Christmas Eve 2014, the 10-year yield was 2.26 percent. This year, it was 2.24 percent. So much for a guarantee of rate increases. The funny thing is that now people are starting to say that they don’t expect increases in interest rates this year…A few years of bad predictions makes you start to question your assumptions. So maybe this will be the year that rates really start to rise.Theoretically, there is a lower bound of zero percent on interest rates, even though Europe has negative interest rates. This lower bound and predicted Fed rate hikes are the reasons that economists and prognosticators keep saying that rates have nowhere to go but up, but they’ve been wrong for four years in a row. Every reasonable prediction is right so long as you don’t provide a time frame.Whether or not interest rates rise, the purpose of bonds in your portfolio is usually to provide stability in the event of stock market turbulence. A small expected decrease in the value of your bonds is the price you pay for protection against large swings in overall volatility.

Read the complete article here:  Eight Market Predictions for 2016 | AIER

3 Reasons Not to Panic Over the Stock Market Plunge | Money.com

A collapse in Chinese stocks pushes Dow down by triple digits—againWomen chat with each other in front of an electronic board displaying stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, January 5, 2016. Last year’s Chinese stock boom and disastrous bust has left a legacy of public distrust of financial markets along with a bill the ruling party has yet to disclose for its rescue. The Shanghai index ended 2015 up 9.5 percent for the year, compared with a 0.7 percent loss for Wall Street’s Standard & Poor’s 500 index. But many novices who bought just before the peak are left with shares worth less than they cost.MoreWill China’s Slowdown Derail Your Investments?Blame Politics for China’s Market MeltdownIs It Time to Get Ready for a Bear Market?Here we go again.For the second time this week, concerns about the world’s second largest economy sent Chinese stocks plummeting more than 7%. And for the second time this week, Chinese regulators were forced to halt trading to stem the bleeding.“These market reactions seemed to confirm that China’s economy is in serious trouble,” said Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research. They also reverberated around the world.

Source: 3 Reasons Not to Panic Over the Stock Market Plunge | Money.com

18 Songs That Make You Want To Give To Charity

This motivational article is provided by Everplans — The web’s leading resource for planning and organizing your life. Create, store and share important documents that your loved ones might need. Find out more about Everplans »

Most songs simply want to make you happy or sad. But some are trying to do more, shedding light on an important social issue or cause and prompting people to act.

Disease, poverty, and abuse are just a few of the causes. While songs like “Feed The Word” or “Do They Know It’s Christmas” had the sole purpose of raising awareness, there are many others, some from unexpected bands and artists that tackled tough issues as well.

Some of these causes might hit close to home. Even if you don’t have the resources to write a check today, you can arrange to help out after you’re gone by donating money or assets from your estate. It’s also common to see “in lieu of flowers, please donate to…” in obituaries and death notices allowing mourners to give as well. (For more info on this, check out our How To Give to Charity After You Die article.)

For those of you who haven’t championed a cause, maybe some of these songs will inspire you. Or maybe they’ll just get stuck in your head for a while. (We’re looking at you, Phil Collins!)

Read the complete article here: 18 Songs That Make You Want To Give To Charity | Everplans