A life insurance broker told me that if I put my portfolio in a variable universal life insurance policy it would be a great investment and tax shelter. I was also shown an illustration that my money will grow at 10% a year. Do you believe that a stock market investment will grow at 10% in such a policy? -- Todd C.
When there was easy money to be made in real estate and stocks, mortgage debt seemed like nothing to fear. Now an increasing number of homeowners are wondering if it makes sense to hasten the day they can say goodbye to a big monthly expense while earning the equivalent of a decent, guaranteed return.
After 30 years studying pension systems around the world, Alicia Munnell knows what works -- and what doesn't. As head of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, she warned early on that 401(k) plans would fail to provide the level of income that retirees would need. Not many agreed with her at first.
With stocks up more than 60% since hitting bottom last March, the red ink is finally fading on the typical 401(k) account. Yes, it's safe to look at your statement again: Balances for boomers who have worked 10 to 20 years at the same company are now down less than 3% on average, compared with pre-crash levels; younger employees and 45- to 64-year-olds with less tenure are solidly back in the black.
Alicia Munnell is a Harvard-trained economist. She served as an assistant secretary of the Treasury and is regarded as one of America's foremost experts on 401(k)s. You'd think she'd be terrific at managing her own retirement, but even she has to fess up to some mistakes. "When my son got married, I took some money out of my plan to help," says Munnell, who heads Boston College's Center for Retirement Research (CRR). "And I ended up paying a 10% penalty and taxes."
Welcome to the Olympics of investing. Unfortunately, you are not a spectator. The S&P 500 index of large-cap stocks has lost more than 40% since November 2007, and about $2 trillion in value has disappeared from investors' 401(k)s and IRAs, according to the Center for Retirement Research.
The cocktail chatter among my friends has taken a surprising turn in the past year or two. We're not gushing over rising home values or fad stocks anymore - and not just because there aren't any to gush about lately.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - A new retirement risk index released Tuesday estimates that 43 percent of working-age households are not likely to have enough retirement income to replicate their current standard of living.