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Will Obama's Chained CPI Help Keep Inflation from Eating into Your Savings?

This week we examine ways in which inflation nibbles away at your retirement income, especially in light of the President’s proposal for Chained CPI adjustments to Social Security. The formal title is Chain-weighted Consumer Price Index and it’s a variation of how the government figures out what is what we would call "inflation." Either way, with the low rates on offer from CDs and other "safe" investments, investors who don’t take action fall behind every year.

Unfortunately, the numbers show what most people don’t want to face: the days of relying on Social Security plus a few stable bonds and CDs are long over. To earn decent and sustainable returns, investors must search beyond traditional safe havens. [Read more...]

Does the Fed Think Old People Are Really that Stupid?

By Dennis Miller

The Federal Reserve is, of course, a bank. So after it has a meeting, it issues a statement outlining the discussion – a "bank statement." Hmm... Now that I think about it, that must be where the acronym "BS" comes from.

Notwithstanding what we read and hear, when Congress established the Federal Reserve as a central bank 100 years ago, its primary purpose was to protect the banking system. The Federal Reverse shifted risk from the private sector to the public, and through the slow devaluation of the dollar, the cost of this shift fell on the average Joe rather than on banking tycoons. Today, an entire generation is paying for this system with a good portion of their life's savings.

I pride myself on explaining complex financial situations in everyday language. However, when it comes to the Federal Reserve, I readily admit that I am sometimes befuddled. I used to watch Alan Greenspan testify before Congress when he was Chairman of the Fed, and I often ended up asking myself, "What did he just say?" The Fed's code and doublespeak is Greek to me, as it is to most folks. [Read more...]

The Real Inflation Rate and What to Do About It

A little over a month ago we did a quick poll on what our readers thought the real rate of inflation was. The idea for polling our readers came from the disconnect between the official government rate of around 1% and what some had told me they were experiencing first hand.

Thank you to everyone who participated, particularly those who shared frustrating examples of the ever-increasing cost of living. There were close to 100 pages of reader comments, and I read them all... every single word.

This week's column is primarily written by you, our loyal readers. You will recognize the reader comments as they are indented. Here is one example to get us started: [Read more...]

5 Easy Tips for Picking Mutual Funds

In one our recent issues subscriber Jory G. sent us the following question:

“I have a 401(k) with my present employer that has a number of investment options, virtually all of which are mutual funds. Is it possible for Mr. Miller to address in a future letter what we might do to maximize growth or minimize loss in such programs? I realize there are many different 401(k) programs out there, but I just feel overwhelmed when trying to decide which of the funds provide the best growth/protection.”

As all of our readers know, I am neither licensed nor qualified to give personal investment advice. However, I can sure discuss mutual funds in general.

Jory, I would like to back up and start at the beginning. [Read more...]

Cash Alternatives: Making Money Work for You

Just what are "cash" and "cash options?" Some of us take those terms for granted, but after a recent article on sector allocation, one of our subscribers wrote in asking for clarification. Money Forever recommends holding approximately one-third of your portfolio in cash or cash options, but what does that really mean?

To clear up any confusion, "cash options" are not publicly traded options. "Cash alternative" is probably a more appropriate phrase.

I had a pleasant surprise over the holidays, as my own baby-boomer children struck up several kitchen-table discussions. They are wrestling with how to fund their children's college followed by their own sprint to the retirement finish line.

My daughter Dawn said it best: [Read more...]

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