Saturday, July 7, 2007

I'm no financial expert but, ...

I don't quite agree with this finance "expert"'s advice:

"Popular Advice You Shouldn't Take"

In Mr. Clements' above article he states the following advice is regularly given to young people and is incorrect

  1. AMASS CASH - (after reading the entire article this would be the main piece of advice I'd say keep) Mr. Clements states that by saving up for an emergency reserve one would automatically be neglecting their 401K plan in order to save up money. He states that an emergency reserve is 'unrealistic' for those starting out. Personally I don't think any financial expert has ever said point blank DON'T fund your 401k first. However after you're contributing at least SOMETHING to your 401K (assuming you do have a 401k plan at work & your company matches contributions) I believe it would definitely be important to start socking away some liquid money into a savings account or a money market fund in case of an unexpected emergency or job loss. saying it is 'unrealistic' for young people to save in both their 401k and their savings account shows that Mr. Clements has a weak opinion of young people to begin with. If something unexpected comes up and you need to raid your 401K (big NO NO) you will be either charged with a 10% penalty and/or taxed for taking a loan out on the money. It's always good to save even if it's 25-50 bucks a week/month.
  2. BUY BIG - Buy the biggest house possible. Mr. Clements states that purchasing the biggest house possible when you're young is fairly foolish (um, duh!) I'd like to know what financial expert ever suggested purchasing a home that you can't afford today but, MIGHT be able to afford later. I agree with Mr. Clements on this piece of advice to avoid but, honestly any financial expert that states you should just purchase the biggest house you can barely afford should be fired and stripped of the licenses immediately. In my opinion, your mortgage payment (or rent for that matter) should be no more than 25-30% (35% if you want to push it) of your after-tax income.
  3. GET A LIFE - As in life insurance. Mr. Clements states that those in their 20's have insurance agent's push cash-value life insurance on them when they don't really need it. Seeing as I used to sell insurance this is correct, Your insurance agent will attempt to sell you cash-value insurance policy such as Universal or Whole life insurance. First of all unless you have a spouse or children you don't really need life insurance. Second of all the whole point of LIFE insurance is that it is only paid when YOUR life ceases. It then is paid to your primary beneficiary - or the one who will BENEFIT from your DEATH. Assuming you do have a family, it might be better to get a 'term' life insurance policy for a specified amount of time. For example if you just took out a 30 year mortgage for say $200K it would be a good idea to buy a 30-year TERM policy with a benefit of say $300K or higher. This way if God-forbid you passed away your beneficiary (hopefully your spouse) would have the benefit of 300K paid to them so they can take care of the mortgage and have some left over to handle the lost income in the short term. Depending on what state you're in they may also offer Mortgage Life insurance that is directly linked to your mortgage and the policy ceases when you pay off or sell your house -depending on the policy.
  4. GO FOR GROWTH - younger people are told to invest heavily in stocks because having years from retirement, they can afford to risk more of their money. Mr. Clements suggests starting with 60% in stocks 40% in bonds. I personally HATE risk so any advice from me is most likely ill advised on stocks. I currently don't believe in investing anymore than 30% of my worth in stocks. Although the overseas stock funds (Southeast Asia specifically) have appeared to give pretty decent returns recently.
So overall I guess I agree with most of the points from this article however, it was the lead off point, debating the need to 'amass cash' that caught my attention. People in their 20's are pulled a million different directions and can one minute be sitting pretty with their new $50-60K a year job one moment - the next moment, out of a job and trying to pay a rent bill approaching $1K a month off a part-time job. It's always good to have some money left over in case of an emergency. That's my two cents - but if you're reading this maybe you have some better advice? What do you think? Let me know...

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