I find this time of the year to be something special.
Take today, for example.
It was the first day of the new stock market game.
And, if you go down the list of "winners and losers" from today's action, you might see certain patterns beginning to emerge as investors begin to place their bets in the biggest casino of them all. The American Stock Market.
What I Know:
There are things that you can predict with absolute certainty and there are things that you cannot.
I can't tell you where the stock market is headed this year, because I don't know where it's headed.
What I can tell you is that regardless of which way the market is going, there are things that I can do, right now, that will help protect and preserve the capital that I've accumulated over the years.
Having arrived at the point where I'm on the "back side" of life, preserving and protecting that capital is probably the most important thing that I will do, between today and the moment that I pass away.
Oh, I know there are lots of other important things, beside money, but having your financial ducks in a row is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Achieving Seamless Transitions:
I was reading an article about Roth IRA's vs. Traditional IRA's, the other day. The comment stream really took off and there were some really solid points being made by people about which is "best" and other people sharing "best practices" for either investment vehicle.
One thing I noticed, right away, was the lack of understanding that people seem to have, relative to the tax implications of Roth and IRA Accounts, the important aspects of how one goes about passing those investments on to others, and what happens a generation beyond ourselves when our children or grandchildren inherit these assets which we've worked so hard to accumulate over our lifetimes.
The Real World:
Here in the "Real World" there are really two types of people.
First, there are the people who operate from the perspective of "I think so."
Second, there are the people who operate from the perspective of "I know so."
But, let me cut to the chase, here. Your opinion about things financial is irrelevant. Your opinion is worthless. Your opinion is not actionable. Your opinion is something that you need to get rid of and throw into the garbage, because your opinion is just that. It's an opinion.
Why in the world would you operate your financial life from the perspective of "opinion" when the only thing that really matters is "fact?"
Now, if "fact" was difficult to find, I could understand the reluctance of some people to have to search it out. But "fact" is not difficult to find at all. It's as easy as doing a search on Google.
You will have information about that which you are trying to find out, in a matter of seconds. Let me give you an example.
You have a Roth IRA and your spouse has a Roth IRA. Should one of you pass away this year, what is the best way to deal with that tragic event, simply, seamlessly, and without a lot of work?
Going To The Source:
I went to my search engine, Google and typed this into the header:
This is what I got from Google:
Look closely at the line at the top of the page where I wrote: "This is what I got from Google." Do you notice the line that is smaller than the text? The one that says: "About 370,000 results (.063 seconds)?"
That .063 seconds is how long it took Google to assemble 370,000 articles, web pages, and tools that answered my question, relative to "inheriting a Roth IRA from my spouse."
So, what I'm saying here is that there is absolutely no reason for anyone not to know what the best way to inherit a Roth IRA from their spouse is, or any other financial inquiry that they might come up with in the New Year.
Suppose you are sitting there and wondering if you can contribute to a Roth IRA this year, even though you don't have any earned income from a job. Ask Google "the question" and you will discover that if you have a working spouse and that spouse has enough earned income to allow them to fund a Roth, their earned income becomes a spousal benefit to you and you can likewise fund your own Roth and continue to do so, as long as there is earned income in the marital unit and you file your taxes as "married, filing jointly."
It's right there and it's available to you in .063 seconds or less!
Suppose you want to find out if creating a Trust is a good thing for you to do, or not. You could go the old fashioned route and drive to a bookstore and pick up a book about Trusts.
Or you could Google about Trusts and begin creating your own library of information and have it right at your fingertips. In less than .063 of a second.
Suppose you want to know if the money you leave to your kids can be protected from civil suits and from divorce action by their spouses? You can Google it and find out, "Yes you can protect inherited assets from civil forfeiture and from divorce action!" In less than .063 second or less.
So, What Does It All Mean?
In the New Year, we all make resolutions that are designed to transform our lives. We are going to lose weight. We are going to exercise every morning. We are going to create a budget. We are going to spend more time with our loved ones and on and on and on.
We never actually keep any of those resolutions, but instead, end up feeling bad about failing and then just go through the rest of the year in the same old way that we've done over and over again.
Not this year.
Make A New Year's Resolution:
The resolution you need to make this year is "I refuse to operate my financial life based on opinions and instead will operate my financial life with facts."
When you see someone make a comment on a thread that says, "I think" then you need to resolve to point out that they need to be able to say, "I am sure", instead.
When you make a comment that says, "I think" you need to resolve to cut that comment out of the box and discard it, as there is no more room for "I think".
And finally, to take this concept to the next level, once you have wet your appetite for finding out "what the truth is" you will seek out professional advisors who will confirm that truth with you and set you on a path to make that truth part of your financial existence so that "it's done" and not "something that I plan to get around to."
Are you on board with any of this?
In the coming months, we will be exploring financial steps that I'm putting in play to leave my estate to my spouse and heirs. We will cover Roth's, Traditional IRA/401k investments, real estate, Trusts, etc.
Those articles are going to be what I'm doing and why. What you choose to do or not do is up to you. Just don't blame me when you decide to do nothing. Not my problem.
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