Don’t Let Wall Street STEAL Your Dreams and Your Retirement
My newest book, Who Stole My Pension? is probably the most important book I’ve released to date. Along with former SEC Attorney, Edward “Ted” Siedle, Who Stole My Pension? is our attempt to unveil the wealth stealing forces at work on employees across the world.
Even if you don’t have a pension or a 401(k) plan, you are about to have your financial life severely disrupted by forces outside of your control. And regardless of whether you’re a Baby Boomer who is about to retire or a Millennial just starting out in life, this systemic crisis will affect you.
Kim and I were recently driving to the airport abroad when the driver was telling us about his parents. He proudly explained how his mother was a teacher and his father was a blue-collar worker, both with great pensions. He boasted about how they are both wonderful, hard-working people, well deserving of their impending benefits.
I proceeded to warn him that a lot of pensions could default leaving their recipients left with nothing.
Our driver was adamant, “Oh no, no, that can’t be. They cannot be in crisis.”
And for those paying attention, we were not in the United States.
So what does this pension crisis mean to you?
Regardless of whether you have a Defined Benefit or Defined Contribution plan is irrelevant. As I’ve discussed numerous times before, the looting of our individual wealth is well underway and it isn’t going to change anytime soon.
What is a pension plan?
To better define a pension plan, you first need to know the differences between the two types of retirement plans.
First, there is a Defined Benefits (DB) plan. DB’s include pensions as the primary component. DB’s were considered to be one leg of the Three-Legged Stool of Retirement Planning philosophy. The post-World War II generation used the Three-Legged Stool metaphor to represent the defined benefit plan, along with traditional savings and Social Security. When combined, all three “legs” would provide a comfortable retirement for almost everyone.
However, a few things challenged the strength of that plan.
First, President Nixon took the U.S. (and therefore the world) off the gold standard in 1971. As I go into great detail in my books Rich Dad’s Prophecy, and more recently, FAKE: Fake Money, Fake Teachers, Fake Assets: How Lies Are Making the Poor and Middle-Class Poorer, before President Nixon closed the gold window, the dollar was backed by gold.
Nixon did this because the US was increasing its trade deficits with other countries. In other words, we were importing more than we were exporting.
When a currency like the U.S. dollar, yen, or peso is not tied to real money like gold or silver, governments are able to print more and more money out of thin air. This leads to the devaluing of the purchasing power of that currency.
The second event that weakened the Three-Legged Stool philosophy was the slow migration from DB plans into the second type of retirement plan: the Defined Contribution (DC) plan like 401(k) plans in the United States, the Super in Australia, and the RRSP in Canada.
In 1974, the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was passed in the United States that set minimum requirements for private companies to provide retirement and health plans for its employees. This lead companies to change from a pension plan (which guaranteed money to its employees) into Defined Contribution plans instead.
Avoid Fake Assets
When I was young, the conventional financial advice given by people like my poor dad was, “Go to a good school, get a good job, save money, buy a house, and invest in a balanced portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.” Most likely this is the type of advice you were given as well.
My rich dad didn’t buy into this advice because he knew something had changed. When Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard our money was toxic. It became debt.
After realizing what the government was up to, rich dad came up with his lesson #1, which is: “The rich do not work for money.” Rich dad realized money was toxic, designed to steal the wealth of anyone who worked for money, saved money, or invested money in government-sponsored investments such as 401(k)s, IRAs, stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs.
Invest in Real Assets
You have many choices on your path to financial freedom. Each asset class has pros and cons and requires different levels of time, effort, and education. Once you increase your financial education, you’ll have a better understanding of the best investments for you. But to help you get started, here are some of the most popular asset-classes.
Commodities include metals (gold, silver, copper, etc.) food (grains, corn, coffee, and sugar) and raw materials (oil, gas, cotton, etc.). Commodities are generally capital gains, or loss, investment, and you can buy futures contracts of any commodity through future exchanges. If you are a new investor, start small and build your financial education. For example, purchase a silver coin and then watch its value increase or decrease in your daily news. Your financial IQ will go up.
This is an asset that people are becoming more aware of because of television shows like “The Apprentice,” “Shark Tank,” and others. You can invest in your own business or someone else’s private business or company. The whole point is to generate a return back to you, the business, and your investors and/or lender. Just be sure to do your due diligence and analyze the project, the partners, the financing, and the business and management team before making a business investment.
I saved my favorite asset class for last—I invest primarily in real estate because it fits my formula for financial freedom. Real estate investments either provide cash-flow from rental properties or capital gains from buying and selling (flipping) a property.
With real estate, you use leverage, or the ability to use other people’s money (OPM) to purchase the asset. A property that is highly leveraged means there is a lot of debt on the property compared to the equity, or current market value minus the debt. The higher the debt on the property, the lower the cash flow. The lower the debt, the higher the cash flow.
What Assets Give You Financial Freedom?
When it comes to choosing investments for your financial freedom, it’s a personal choice that depends on your specific goals in life. And while it might be overwhelming at first, start small.
You have to invest in yourself first before you can start investing in anything else. This is a lesson that few people seem to grasp. When people learn about assets and liabilities, they want to jump into a real estate deal or start buying up stocks and commodities, neglecting the valuable assets they already own.
The assets listed above can create a solid foundation for you that can allow you to succeed when you start investing in financial assets. Take some time to invest in them and watch how your financial journey becomes that much easier.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily