Four Beliefs That Prevent You From Thinking Clearly

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I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Thank you to all the veterans who have served our country and protected our freedoms.

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “Four Beliefs That Prevent You From Thinking Clearly” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Dr. Nicole Lipkin. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week.

We all need inspiration every now and then. Each month I like to share some words that I feel are uplifting. Many of us worry ourselves into confused states of mind. The piece below provides some tips on how we can think and act more clearly.

Have a wonderful week!

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Four Beliefs That Prevent You From Thinking Clearly

By Dr. Nicole Lipkin

A long, long time ago, in a world unknown, there were two browsers that ruled internet surfing: Netscape and Internet Explorer; and search engines such as Alta Vista and Excite. They were the kings of Internet browsing.

Then more browsers came along: Safari, Firefox, and then Chrome. And with them more search engines. You might have heard of Google. And Bing. And Yahoo is still with us.

Google is by far the best search engine we have seen yet, but it would have been very easy to think, “Alta Vista and Excite and Yahoo are already out there, how am I going to compete with them?” And the same reasoning could be applied to building a new browser, but the architects of Firefox and Chrome didn’t let the fact that there were already successful browsers out there stop them.

The Scrub Daddy is a sponge that won a deal on Shark Tank and is now in every Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Was anyone sitting around unhappy with their sponges? Not really, but one person was and they decided to do something about it. The Scrub Daddy is now a huge success.

Look at the juice market, or the chips market, or the confectionary market, or the hummus market. New brands are always entering the fray and they are gaining shelf space among the giants.

Of course, it’s better to build something the world has never seen, but the truth is, there is very little the world hasn’t seen, and so what? That doesn’t mean you can’t find a niche in whatever it is you aim to build or build something better than the world has ever seen.

The Illusion of Limited Resources

I’m always working as though there’s a finish line and if I don’t get there first someone else will; they’ll win the prize, they’ll take the business I would have won, make the money I would have made, get the rewards I would have received and then there will be nothing left for me or anyone else.

This attitude creates an anticipatory anxiety that is neither good for business or personal health. It also happens to be a false premise.

The truth is there is always enough to go around for everyone. The belief that there are limited resources and/or opportunities for each of us to be successful is the very belief that will keep success at bay.

Here are the four reasons why along with ways you can counteract getting in your own way.

1. The self-serving bias

This bias is the tendency to attribute positive outcomes to our own behavior and negative outcomes to external factors. It is a great way to exonerate yourself and blame the world for why you didn’t get what you want.

For example, your business scores a huge sale and you think, “I did this!” Conversely, your business doesn’t score the huge sale and you think, “They/that did this to me!” It is a self-preservation technique to protect your ego.

This is biased thinking, meaning it is flawed, and it mentally places the responsibility for your life into the hands of others rather than yourself, even though — ultimately — it is always you who is to credit for your successes and your failures.

Protecting your ego is nice but it also prevents you from seeing the facts, dealing with them and having the information you need to make better decisions. When you start blaming, you start losing.

Blame creates a feeling of helplessness, that despite your best efforts the world was out to thwart you, so what’s the point. If you feel like everything is futile and there’s no point in pursuing your goals because clearly, the world wants to see you fall then you will not have the motivation and willpower to do anything but live a status quo life. You’ll make a living, go through the motions, and in the end hand over the keys to your self-worth to the external world.

To persevere you need to keep your willpower intact. And to keep your willpower intact you need to stay motivated.

2. Your beliefs affect your energy level

We begin each day with a full reserve of willpower and as we go through the day and make choices, do our work, complete tasks and so on our willpower is depleted. It behooves us to keep our willpower reserve as intact as possible so that we can stay focused and accomplish our goals.

A 2011 study performed by Kathleen D. Vohs, Roy F. Baumeister, and Brandon J. Schmeichel did a study on the effect of our beliefs and motivations on ego depletion.

According to the study, “When the [ego] depletion is slight, there is ample and profound room for subjective beliefs and motivations to moderate the effects” but also that “no person can continue running or swimming forever no matter how much he or she may be motivated.”

Meaning, if we are only mildly depleted and we maintain strong self-efficacy we can keep that fatigue from overpowering us. Conversely, if we lack self-efficacy, the fatigue can gain momentum and further deplete our willpower. But at a certain point of exhaustion, it doesn’t matter how much we believe in ourselves.

So, if you’re extremely exhausted it will not matter if you believe someone else’s success has erased your potential, but if you’re not extremely exhausted — the state in which we all typically begin our days — then believing someone else’s success has erased your potential can have a deleterious effect on your willpower, energy level, and ability to stay focused and accomplish your goals.

It thus stands to reason that you might as well give yourself the best chance you can by A) getting the rest you need and B) starting your day motivated, believing there is a space for you in this world to be successful and achieve your goals.

I want to drive home the point that motivation and self-efficacy can keep your ego depletion at bay.

3. Nothing begets nothing

There are unlimited resources for the things we don’t want to come true.

A backwards example of how momentum creates the goals you aspire to achieve is the fact that believing it can’t happen creates the reality where it doesn’t happen.

We build whole lives where things we want don’t happen because we don’t try to make them happen because we believe they won’t happen whether we do or don’t try.

That in itself is proof of success: we’ve become very good at proving nothing will happen with zero effort.

The reverse is also true: things happen when you work to make them happen. Why wouldn’t they? Be smart about it, work diligently, get a coach or advisor, learn from others that have done it already, and get crackin’.

4. Keep your eyes to yourself

You want to stay focused while you’re building your career or business or working towards a goal. What does wishing you had what others do have to do with your goals?

You have a limited amount of energy given to you each day and you want to use that wisely. You will be shooting yourself in the foot if you expend your energy on what you don’t have, or focusing on what others have.

Instead, use your energy to focus on what you want and what you’re grateful you have already. This strengthens the foundation you’ve already created and builds upon it for what you want to come to you in the future.

I don’t mean to suggest that every idea is a winner. Failure is part of life, but the path to failure is part of the path towards success. You’ll learn what to do and not do for the next venture. The key is to start, stay focused, with your eye on the prize, and put in the effort.

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About LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) Monday Morning Minute is crafted to provide decision-makers with important information about the economy, investments and corporate retirement plans in a format that allows a reader to consume the information in less than 60 seconds. As an independent, objective investment adviser, LRPC has access to many sources of research and shares the best and most relevant information with its readers each week.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to retirement plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

How Couples Can Max Out Their Social Security Benefits

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Today is National Vanilla Pudding Day! There had to be a day to mindlessly eat vanilla pudding and today is the day!

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “How Couples Can Max Out Their Social Security Benefits” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Charles Schwab & Co. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week.

Bring yourself up-to-date on the recent changes in the law that relate to how couples may claim Social Security benefits. Learn how Schwab suggests couples maximize those benefits.

Have a wonderful week!

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How Couples Can Max Out Their Social Security Benefits

By Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, Charles Schwab & Co.

Key points

  • While new Social Security rules have eliminated some options for couples, there are still workable strategies to maximize benefits.
  • If you were born before January 1, 1954, you can still use the “restricted application” to file for a spousal benefit.
  • Other strategies for maximizing overall benefits, including spousal and survivor benefits, vary based on relative age and earning records but are worth exploring.

The 2015 Budget Act dramatically shifted the landscape for couples attempting to maximize their Social Security benefits. As you’ve discovered, just when many of us had our plans in place, we’ve been forced to reevaluate. Fortunately, there are some strategies that still work. But before I get into those, let’s review what’s changed.

No more ‘file and suspend’

First, the old ‘file and suspend’ strategy is no longer available to new filers. In the past, one spouse could file for benefits — which allowed the other spouse to file for a spousal benefit — then suspend their own benefit to let it grow. No more. Now when a person suspends their own benefit, they also suspend spousal benefits. This effectively prevents one spouse from collecting benefits on their husband’s or wife’s record while the other spouse holds off in order to accrue delayed retirement credits. It was great while it lasted.

Further restrictions on a ‘restricted application’

The second related, but different, change impacts what is known as a ‘restricted application.’ For many years, this provision allowed a married person to collect a benefit based on their spouse’s work record rather their own record as long as their spouse had already filed. In this way, at Full Retirement Age (66 for those born between 1943 and 1954), a spouse could file for a spousal benefit only (a restricted application) and then switch to their own increased benefit at a later date.

This possibility hasn’t been completely eliminated, but whether or not you can use it depends on your age. If you were born before January 1, 1954, you’re in luck. The provision is still available to you. Anyone younger isn’t eligible.

Couple strategies that still work

So where does this leave us with the new rules? Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation. Each couple’s financial situation, birth dates, relative ages, anticipated longevity, and earnings records factor in.

Because of this complexity, it generally makes sense to consult with an advisor who specializes in Social Security benefits before deciding. In the meantime, here are a few guidelines to consider:

  • A primary breadwinner should consider delaying filing to age 70. Assuming good health and the prospect of a long life, this makes sense for two reasons. First, it can eventually add up to a larger lifetime benefit. And second, it will mean an increased benefit for a surviving spouse.
  • It may make sense for the lower earning spouse to file for their own benefit at Full Retirement Age (FRA). The tactics will vary, however, depending on birthdate. Here are a couple of examples:

1. Let’s say, as the lower earner, you file for benefits at your FRA. Since your husband turned 62 before the end of 2015, at his FRA he could file a restricted application for spousal benefits. He could then switch to his own higher benefit at age 70. Plus, since you waited until FRA to file for your own benefit, your benefit could increase if the spousal benefit were higher than your own benefit.

2. If, on the other hand, your husband had not turned 62 by the end of 2015, and wasn’t eligible to file a restricted application, it would still likely make sense for you to wait until at least your FRA to file for your own benefit and your husband to wait until age 70 to file. Your benefit could still increase to a potentially higher spousal benefit of 50% of his FRA benefit.

3. Should your husband pre-decease you, you would receive a higher survivor benefit by his delaying to age 70 in either case.

  • If both partners have equivalent earnings records, it may make sense for both to delay filing until age 70. Provided that both anticipate a long life and can afford to postpone benefits, this would maximize both retirement benefits for themselves and survivor benefits for each other.
  • Married couples with a single income face a different set of issues. Although health and anticipated longevity certainly come into play, it often makes sense for the breadwinner to postpone benefits until age 70. While the couple will forego spousal benefits until the earner files, it will allow for the largest possible retirement and survivor benefits. Other couples, however, may want the earner to file once the spouse reaches FRA, which is when the spousal benefit maxes out (the spouse would need to be at their FRA to be eligible to claim the maximum spousal benefit). In this case, though, they are forfeiting the highest survivor benefit.

No easy answers

While the new law in some ways simplified things, it’s still a complex and important decision. So I can certainly appreciate that many people may take one look at all this and want to run for cover. But I strongly advise every person approaching retirement age to stop and carefully assess their Social Security choices. Timing is important and there are still strategies — especially for couples — that can result in a higher overall benefit. Sit down with your advisor to help you make the best decision based on your situation.

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About LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) Monday Morning Minute is crafted to provide decision-makers with important information about the economy, investments and corporate retirement plans in a format that allows a reader to consume the information in less than 60 seconds. As an independent, objective investment adviser, LRPC has access to many sources of research and shares the best and most relevant information with its readers each week.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to retirement plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

Additional Important Disclosures

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or investment planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, consult with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner or investment manager. 

Listen To Your Participants: Don’t White Label 401k Investment Funds

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Plan sponsors, if you would like to frustrate, annoy and confuse your 401k plan participants, then white label your 401k plan investment funds.

“White labeling” is the process of renaming the investment funds in a 401k plan using the asset class name they represent. Proponents of white labeling believe that attaching generic labels to investment funds helps participants make better investment decisions. They also believe it makes it easier to make changes to an investment fund lineup, I guess because it hides the fact that changes are being made from participants.

PLANADVISER recently published a well-written piece titled “Does White Labeling Conflict With Transparency Trends?” The answer is “Yes!” I don’t believe that white labeling makes sense, for the following reasons:

It lacks transparency

The process of white labeling obscures the identity of the fund(s) being used. Proponents of white labeling believe that if participants don’t focus on the name of the fund, the fund company and who is managing it, they will invest with more integrity based on their overall investment strategy. Unfortunately, white labeling flies in the face of the overall movement in 401k plans toward transparency. Don’t participants have a right to know what fund they are investing in, and shouldn’t that be a major consideration in determining whether they invest in it? Obscuring the identity of the fund, fund company and fund manager would seem to run counter to the trend of greater transparency.

It can cause participant frustration

I can tell you from more than 30 years of working with participants that anytime white labeling is discussed it leads to participant confusion and lack of trust. Participants often ask, “Why are they trying to hide the name of the fund?” If I answer with “It is to help you focus on the asset class rather than the fund when you invest”, they become confused. Many participants become annoyed and frustrated because they feel white labeling makes it more difficult to figure out what they are really investing in. In all my years of working with plan participants, I have never had a participant say to me, “Bob, I’m sure glad the company white labeled all of the investment funds in my 401k plan.”

Lack of understanding leads to a devalued plan

Making sure participants understand their 401k plans is of paramount importance. Greater understanding leads to greater utilization (e.g., making more contributions) and a higher level of comfort. Participants who understand their employee benefits value them to a much greater degree than participants who don’t. Anything that helps participants better understand their plans should be embraced. Without question, there are investment funds and mutual fund companies that participants quickly recognize, helping them become more comfortable with the investment offerings in their plans. Hiding the identity of funds and fund companies would seem to be a stumbling block to achieving better participant understanding.

It hides complex investment strategies

If you have adopted a white labeling strategy because you are using more than one fund in an asset class, or creating a unique asset class by combining funds, maybe that investment strategy is too complex. Plan sponsors should be creating 401k plans that participants understand, value and use. In other words, plans that are simple to explain and understand. Save all of those unique investment strategies for your corporate investment accounts.

White-labeled products are generally inferior

Most individuals who understand the white labeling concept associate it with generic or inferior branding. Why would you want to take a Vanguard or Fidelity fund and lower its value by white labeling it?

It obscures fund changes

Some practitioners believe white labeling facilitates an easier fund change process. Participants don’t have to be concerned about what is happening behind the curtain because the fund name hasn’t changed, just the actual investment. This is another activity that seems to lead to less transparency rather than more. Participants have a right to know and understand why a change is being made to a fund they are invested in.

It’s not a best practice

White labeling is generally not considered to be a 401k investment menu best practice because it is very hard to determine what benefits participants receive from a white labeling process.

It’s hard to obtain objective information

Using actual fund names makes it possible for participants to obtain objective, unbiased information about their investment funds from many sources. White labeling washes away this benefit, especially when more than one fund is used in an asset class since it is not possible to find publicly available information about white labeled funds from sources like Morningstar.

It hides the impact of superstar managers

Supporters of white labeling believe that participants can become distracted when a superstar manager leaves a fund they may be invested in. Since white labeling hides the names of the investment funds from participants, many may not be aware of management changes. Shouldn’t they be? The departure of a superstar manager can significantly impact a fund’s future investment performance. It may also alter the future path of that fund family. It would seem that a change like this should be shared with participants rather than hidden from them.

There is no question that white labeling makes investment fund administration and communication easier for plan sponsors. However, 401k plans are not run for the benefit of plan sponsors. Rather, the Department of Labor requires them to be run for the benefit of plan participants.

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About the Author

Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS is the founder and President of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC. Mr. Lawton is an award-winning 401(k) investment adviser with over 30 years of experience. He has consulted with many Fortune 500 companies, including: Aon Hewitt, Apple, AT&T, First Interstate Bank, Florida Power & Light, General Dynamics, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IBM, John Deere, Mazda Motor Corporation, Northwestern Mutual, Northern Trust Company, Trek Bikes, Tribune Company, Underwriters Labs and many others. Mr. Lawton may be contacted at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to 401(k) plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at: http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice, and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

Investment Advice That Will Pass Time’s Test

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Today is “National Chocolate Chip Day!”

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “Investment Advice That Will Pass Time’s Test” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Bob Seawright, Chief Investment Officer, Madison Avenue Securities. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week.

I read a lot of articles on how to invest. This is one of the better ones I have read recently.

Have a wonderful week!

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Investment Advice That Will Pass Time’s Test

By Bob Seawright, Chief Investment and Information Officer, Madison Avenue Securities

Every year Wall Street’s strategists offer careful, nuanced and even compelling investment advice for what will happen in the markets and in our world in the coming year. But whenever I look back at how those various predictions turned out, I have found that they are like August humidity in the South — consistently and astonishingly dismal. Moreover, when one of them does get a forecast right or almost right, that performance quality is not repeated in subsequent years.

My friend Morgan Housel, a columnist for Motley Fool, looked at the average Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index forecast made by the 22 chief market strategists of the biggest banks and brokerage firms from 2000 to 2014. On average, these annual forecasts missed the actual market performance by an incredible 14.6 percentage points per year (not 14.6%, but 14.6 percentage points!).

Alleged experts miss on their forecasts a lot and miss by a lot, a lot. Let’s stipulate that these alleged experts are highly educated, vastly experienced, and examine the vagaries of the markets pretty much all day, every day. But it remains a virtual certainty that they will be wrong often, and often spectacularly wrong. On account of hindsight bias, we tend to see past events as having been predictable and perhaps inevitable. Accordingly, we think we can extrapolate from them into the future. But the sad fact is that we can’t buy past results. We cannot predict the future.

The market predictions offered by experts (and others) and the thought processes underlying them can be very entertaining. They are indeed the engine that drives much of what pretends to be financial and business television. But none of us should take them seriously. Your crystal ball does not work any better than anyone else’s.

Sadly, such dreadful forecasting performance is indicative of dreadful investment performance. The vast majority of investment strategies are predicated upon the ability to forecast the future. These results are no better than the forecasts. As longtime chair of the Yale Endowment Charles Ellis outlines it, research on the performance of institutional portfolios shows that after risk adjustment, 24% of funds fall significantly short of their chosen market benchmark and have negative alpha, and 75% of funds roughly match the market and have zero alpha, while well under 1% achieve superior results after costs — a number that is not statistically significantly different from zero, largely because of fees.

Hedge failures

To pick one particularly egregious example, hedge funds — despite (and partly because of) enormous fees — have badly underperformed. Since 1998, the effective return to hedge-fund clients has barely been 2% per year, half the return they could have achieved simply by investing in Treasury bills.

Thus, per Nassim Taleb, successful managers have risen “to the top for no reasons other than mere luck, with subsequent rationalizations, analyses, explanations, and attributions.” In other words, we desperately pull money from our latest poorly performing strategy to put it into some new approach that has been doing great, only to see the same pattern repeat itself.

Sound familiar? John Paulson achieved great notoriety for betting against the real estate markets ahead of the 2008–09 financial crisis and accumulated billions of investor dollars into his hedge fund as a result, only to get crushed in 2014, losing 36% in his Advantage Plus fund despite a very strong market environment.

Not only is it really hard to beat the market overall, but when you do make a smart investing move (purchasing an investment that will actually outperform, however, you define that), its impact is reduced every time somebody else follows suit. It is axiomatic in the investment world that as an asset class becomes more popular, it suffers from both falling expected returns and rising correlations. Crowding occurs because success begets copycats as investors chase returns. General mean reversion only tends to make matters worse.

In other words, the more smartness there is in the aggregate, the less you can profit from it. Michael Mauboussin describes it as the paradox of skill: “As skill improves, performance becomes more consistent, and therefore luck becomes more important.” Accordingly, those (very) few funds and managers that have a successful long-term track record end up outperforming their peers by precious little indeed.

On the other hand, the impact of bad decision-making stands alone. It isn’t lessened by the related stupidity of others. In fact, the more people act stupidly together, the greater the aggregate risk and the greater the potential for loss, which grows exponentially. Think of everyone piling on during the tech or real estate bubbles. When nearly all of us make the same kinds of mistakes together — when the error quotient is really high — the danger becomes enormous.

Perhaps worst of all, the returns achieved by investors are even lower than those obtained by managers because we are enslaved by our emotions and poor decision-making. When something isn’t right (or doesn’t seem right), our default response is to do something. And what we do is to insist on buying what was just hot and selling what has just underperformed, guaranteeing that we buy high and sell low, which is exactly what we shouldn’t do.

Reducing mistakes

We all want “high leverage” ideas — the ideas that will make the biggest impact on our portfolios and our lives. But the best ideas available are not still more investment recommendations about hot sectors, hot funds, hot strategies and hot managers. There is no reason to think anybody can do that anyway.

The best ideas I can offer relate to our besetting mistakes, mistakes we make over and over again. My high leverage idea for this year and beyond is to get off the merry-go-round of the next new thing and to eliminate obvious mistakes first and foremost. As Charley Ellis famously established, investing is a loser’s game much of the time, with outcomes dominated by luck rather than skill and high transaction costs. Thus if we avoid mistakes we will generally win.

To paraphrase the philosopher Immanuel Kant, the first task of reason is to recognize its limitations. Every rational person acknowledges having made many errors. Even so, nobody offers current examples. We all want to think that our mistakes are in the past, that we’ve learned from them and that now we’ve set things right.

We desperately want to believe that our new approach, new strategy or new portfolio will — finally — be the magic elixir that will make us very good, if not great, investors (or at least that we can find those great investors).

Best ideas

Since we can’t forecast the future, it is imperative that our investment approaches resist the temptation to build our investment platforms on future forecasts. Accordingly, here is a quick summary of my top investment ideas for this year (or any other year), none of which is dependent upon prophecy.

1. Einstein wisely advised that we keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler. Overly complicated systems, from financial derivatives to tax systems, are difficult to comprehend, easy to exploit and possibly dangerous. Simple rules, in contrast, can make us smart and create a safer world.

2. Out of our general fear, we all too frequently bail on our investments and our plans and fail to invest altogether. But if we’re going to succeed, we need to invest, continue to invest and stay the course. Multiple studies have shown that those who trade the most earn the lowest returns. Remember Pascal’s wisdom: “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”

3. The Uniform Prudent Investor Act stated: “Because broad diversification is fundamental to the concept of risk management, it is incorporated into the definition of prudent investing.” Fortunately, a well-diversified portfolio captures most of the potential upside available with much lower volatility. On the other hand, a well-diversified portfolio will always include some poor performers, and that’s hard for us to abide. Do it anyway.

4. The idea that an investor ought to be aware and nimble enough to avoid market downturns or simply to find and move into better investments is remarkably appealing. But nobody does it successfully over time. We’ve all seen and done this: we find a hot new approach or hot new manager and, because what we own hasn’t been doing so well, we switch, only to find that the hotness that caused us to buy has cooled. We need to get off that merry-go-round.

5. The leading factor in the success or failure of any investment is fees. In fact, the relationship between fees and performance is an inverse one. Every investor needs to count costs.

6. Multiple studies establish what we should already know: a manager who has a significant ownership stake in his fund is much more likely to do well than one who doesn’t. Make sure to look for “skin in the game” from every money manager you use.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for and get help. American virologist David Baltimore, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1975, once told me that over the years (and especially while he was president of Caltech) he had received many manuscripts claiming to have solved some great scientific problem or overthrown the existing scientific paradigm to provide some grand theory of everything. Many prominent scientists have drawers full of similar submissions, usually from people working alone and outside the scientific community. As Dr. Baltimore emphasized, good science is a collaborative, community effort; crackpots work alone.

A smart investor looks for what can be done that offers the greatest opportunity to achieve success in the markets. Finding and implementing these best ideas is deceptively easy conceptually yet monumentally hard to put into practice. Let’s start by systematically eliminating our most obvious mistakes. The more we do that, the better this year can turn out to be, irrespective of what the markets do — no predictions required.

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About LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) Monday Morning Minute is crafted to provide decision-makers with important information about the economy, investments and corporate retirement plans in a format that allows a reader to consume the information in less than 60 seconds. As an independent, objective investment adviser, LRPC has access to many sources of research and shares the best and most relevant information with its readers each week.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to retirement plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

Trump’s First 100 Days: Key Observations

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! It’s national “Have a Coconut Cream Pie Day!”

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “Trump’s First 100 Days: Key Observations” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Charles Schwab & Co. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week.

So how is our new President doing? During the campaign, President Trump promised a lot of big changes quickly. The experts at Schwab analyze President Trump’s first 100 days in office and share their thoughts below.

Have a wonderful week!

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Trump’s First 100 Days: Key Observations

By Michael T. Townsend and Randy Frederick, Charles Schwab & Co.

The policy analysis provided by the Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., does not constitute and should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any political party.

The 100-day mark has been a key — but artificial — bellwether of every presidency since Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933. Roosevelt, who came into office facing the Great Depression, a failing banking system and 25% unemployment, moved quickly to carry out sweeping policy changes. The 100-day checkpoint stuck and has become a measuring stick for all new presidents.

But it’s important to note that Roosevelt’s party had big majorities in both chambers of Congress, a markedly less polarized nation and a national crisis that galvanized action. Presidents since have tried (usually unsuccessfully) to distance themselves from this artificial time frame.

As President Donald Trump passes his 100th day in office, Charles Schwab’s Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs  Michael Townsend and Vice President of Trading and Derivatives Randy Frederick share their observations and some historical context:

Confirmations have been relatively slow

Trump’s agenda has been hampered by the slow pace of nominations and confirmations of individuals to key administration posts. According to the Partnership for Public Service, there are 556 “key” positions requiring Senate confirmation. As of April 25, 2017, only 23 of Trump’s nominees had been confirmed. Only 23 additional individuals have been formally nominated (a requirement for the Senate confirmation process to begin) and only 40 others had been announced but not yet formally nominated.

By comparison, President George W. Bush saw his entire cabinet confirmed by the end of January, just 10 days into his first term, and had made 275 nominations by the end of March 2001. President Barack Obama had nominated 130 people by the end of March 2009. As a result of the vacancies in the Trump administration, virtually every federal agency is missing senior leaders at the deputy secretary and assistant secretary levels — often, the people most responsible for development and implementation of specific policies.

Trump’s cabinet picks often have come from the business world

Trump’s nominations have tended to have more business experience than political experience. More than one-third of Trump’s cabinet secretaries have no previous political experience, the most since President William McKinley (1897-1901).

Perhaps Trump’s most important first 100-day accomplishment is a confirmation

The confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch may stand as the biggest accomplishment of Trump’s first months as president. Though it took a rule change by the Senate majority to prohibit a filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination, Trump’s choice now sits on the highest court in the land and will have the ability to profoundly influence the policy and legal landscape for years to come.

Trump’s most significant policy accomplishments have come via executive orders

With a bitterly divided Congress finding it difficult to accomplish any legislative goals, Trump’s use of executive orders to focus on deregulation and other policy initiatives stands as his most significant policy accomplishment of the first 100 days.

Trump has signed more than 65 executive orders to, among other things, roll back Obama-era climate regulations; initiate a federal government-wide review of regulations; review the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul law; create a “2-for-1” directive that calls on agencies that want to promulgate a new regulation to pair that with two regulations that will be repealed; launch a review of the guest worker visa program; require federal agencies to buy goods and services from American companies and workers; form a commission to confront America’s opioid crisis; and reorganize and streamline the federal government.

Trump’s biggest failure in the first 100 days is partly the result of moving too fast

The collapse of the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, one of the central campaign promises of the new president, was a significant setback. Its failure was due to a number of reasons, but there’s no question that a contributing factor was the rush to get something big done quickly. While there is no evidence that the 100-day deadline influenced the rush, clearly lawmakers could have spent more time developing a proposal that could win broader support in Congress.

Stock markets have been volatile

Uncertainty regarding how much Trump would accomplish, and how quickly, has caused the market to experience some unsettling swings in both directions. Periods of optimism have resulted in large single-day gains, such as a 1.4% move in the S&P 500 Index on March 1 following Trump’s address to Congress the previous evening. Likewise, there have also been some anxiety-inducing pullbacks, such as the 1.7% decline between March 16 and March 27, when it became clear that there were not enough votes to pass the health-care-reform bill. However, concern over the first round of the French elections and the success of another populist political figure, Marine Le Pen, caused the largest spike in volatility so far in 2017.

Trump’s patience with a slow-moving Congress is already wearing thin

Trump promised his supporters they would see big changes quickly: health care reform, tax reform, a border wall, and an infrastructure package, to name a few of the items on his list. But internal warfare within the Republican majority in Congress, combined with the deeply rooted and profoundly bitter partisan divide in Congress, has raised questions about whether lawmakers can get anything significant done on Capitol Hill. How Trump reacts to the glacial pace of Congress in the months ahead merits close watching.

The next big test will be tax reform

On April 26, the White House unveiled its principles for tax reform. The proposal would cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%; three rates — 10%, 25% and 35% — would apply to individual income. The plan also calls for the repeal of all deductions for individuals aside from the mortgage interest and charitable contribution deductions and would repeal the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax. The top capital gains and dividends rate would remain at 20% and the 3.8% surtax on investment income for wealthier filers — enacted under the Affordable Care Act — would be repealed. Turning these principles into a legislative proposal that can pass both the House and Senate will be an enormous task that could dominate the next several months — and will severely test the ability of Trump and congressional Republicans to get a big win.

Market performance during Trump’s initial months has been relatively strong

Among the last seven presidents, the market performance during Trump’s first 100 days has been exceeded only once, by President George H.W. Bush. Looking farther back, the 104% rise in the S&P 500 during President Franklin Roosevelt’s first 100 days — partly a result of Roosevelt’s being first elected during the depths of the Great Depression — has not yet been surpassed. The S&P 500’s return during Roosevelt’s first full year in office, 1933, was more than 44%, also a record that still stands.

Bottom line: The first 100 days is an arbitrary yardstick for accomplishment, although it’s interesting to look back and compare the early days of various administrations. It’s too early to tell what the Trump administration ultimately will accomplish. In the meantime, we caution investors not to react to each and every political bump in the road — four (or eight) years is a long journey. Also, over time, it’s usually best to ignore the headlines and remain focused on your long-term investment plan.

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About LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) Monday Morning Minute is crafted to provide decision-makers with important information about the economy, investments and corporate retirement plans in a format that allows a reader to consume the information in less than 60 seconds. As an independent, objective investment adviser, LRPC has access to many sources of research and shares the best and most relevant information with its readers each week.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to retirement plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

Additional Important Disclosures
The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision. All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed. Please note that this content was created as of the specific date indicated and reflects the author’s views as of that date. It will be kept solely for historical purposes, and the author’s opinions may change, without notice, in reaction to shifting economic, business, and other conditions. Past performance is no guarantee of future results and the opinions presented cannot be viewed as an indicator of future performance. Diversification strategies do not ensure a profit and do not protect against losses in declining markets. Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve. S&P 500® Index is a market-capitalization weighted index that consists of 500 widely traded stocks chosen for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation.

401k Loans: The Worst Possible Investment

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Taking a 401k loan is such a bad investment choice that it should not be allowed in any 401k plan other than for hardship reasons. And yes, it is an investment because when plan participants take 401k loans, they become one of the investments in their accounts. Consider that:

Borrowers often lose the company match

Many participants who borrow from their 401k accounts end up stopping or lowering their 401k contributions while they are paying back their 401k loan. This often results in the loss of 401k matching contributions when a participant’s contribution rate falls below the maximum matched percentage.

Job changes can force defaults

Most participants considering a job change don’t realize that their outstanding 401k loan balance becomes due when they leave their current employer. In the case of involuntary job loss, an outstanding 401k loan can add significant pain to an already difficult situation. Regardless of whether a job change is voluntary or involuntary, nearly all participants don’t have the financial resources available to pay back their 401k loans when they separate from service. As a result, a large percentage of these participants are forced to default. The defaulted balance becomes subject to state and federal taxes and possibly state and federal early withdrawal penalty taxes. Plan balances that leave a 401k plan forever before retirement are referred to as leakage. “Leakage” from defaulted 401k loans makes it less likely that participants will build adequate retirement savings.

Opportunity costs can be substantial

Assume that a participant takes a $10,000 loan for five years at 6%. The investment experience on that portion of the participant’s balance will be a 6% return for five years. Had the loan balance been invested in the investment options in the plan for the same period, the participant may have earned a lot more. For example, the five-year return on the Vanguard 500 Index Fund through March 31, 2017, was more than 13%.

Interest on a 401k loan is not tax-deductible

Anyone needing a loan should investigate the possibility of taking a home equity loan first since interest on these loans is tax-deductible.

Paying interest to yourself is not such a good idea

I have heard many participants say that they believe 401k loans make sense because they are paying interest to themselves. They often add that the higher the interest rate, the better! First, it is normally not a desirable financial strategy to pay interest of any kind. Second, why would you want to pay a higher interest rate on a loan just because you are paying interest to yourself? That just means you have less of a paycheck to live on. Finally, it appears that the interest on 401k loans is double taxed. Since loan payments are made on an after-tax basis, interest on each payroll loan payment is first taxed then and taxed for a second time when paid out as a distribution at retirement.

Bad loans end up being made

Unless the plan uses hardship provisions to qualify for a loan, a plan sponsor cannot deny a participant loan request. This makes the 401k plan the lender of last resort and results in many bad loans being made to participants who are not creditworthy. Easy access to 401k loans can often make a participant’s bad financial situation worse.

Many participants have said, “Bob, if taking a 401k loan is so bad, why would the company let me do it?” Good question! It is clear that participant loans can drastically reduce an employee’s chances of achieving retirement readiness. As a result, plan sponsors should seriously consider limiting loan availability to hardship criteria or eliminating loans entirely from their plans.

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About the Author

Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS is the founder and President of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC. Mr. Lawton is an award-winning 401(k) investment adviser with over 30 years of experience. He has consulted with many Fortune 500 companies, including: Aon Hewitt, Apple, AT&T, First Interstate Bank, Florida Power & Light, General Dynamics, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IBM, John Deere, Mazda Motor Corporation, Northwestern Mutual, Northern Trust Company, Trek Bikes, Tribune Company, Underwriters Labs and many others. Mr. Lawton may be contacted at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to 401(k) plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at: http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice, and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

How To Save For Multiple Financial Goals

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Happy May Day!

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “How To Save For Multiple Financial Goals” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Charles Schwab & Co. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week.

I can hear you thinking, “Bob, I have trouble saving for one financial goal, how can anyone save for multiple goals?” Well, we all have multiple financial goals that we should be saving for. For example, our retirements, college for our kids, a first home, our next car or vacation. Check out below how Schwab thinks we can meet this challenge.

Have a wonderful week!

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How To Save For Multiple Financial Goals

From Charles Schwab & Co.

A comfortable retirement. A new car. A down payment on a house. Paying for a child’s college education. Coming up with a list of future financial goals is generally pretty easy. The bigger challenge is figuring out how you’re going to save for them all.

For most of us, socking a few extra dollars away in a savings account each month may be a good start, but it’s probably not enough, especially if we’re talking about multiple goals. The trick is to think strategically about your goals and come up with a saving and investment plan for each one. A little effort today can help make a big difference down the road.

Here are a few steps you can take as you work toward achieving your goals. [Read more…]

7 Secrets Of Success

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Today kicks off the celebration of the Week of the Young Child. It is also my wife’s birthday today. Happy birthday Sue!

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “7 Secrets Of Success” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Brian Tracy. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week.

We all need inspiration every now and then. Each month I like to share some words that I feel are uplifting. Who doesn’t want to be more successful? Hopefully one of the suggestions below will resonant with you.

Have a wonderful week!

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7 Secrets Of Success

By Brian Tracy

There are certain secret habits practiced every day by all the highest paid salespeople. The regular pursuit of these habits is virtually guaranteed to move you to the top of your field. Here are 7 simple secrets for achieving your career goals: [Read more…]

Are 401k Plan Loans Double Taxed?

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Are 401k plan loans double taxed? As outlined in the example below, it appears that the principal amounts of 401k loans that are distributed at retirement are taxed at a rate that is more than double that of a participant’s incremental tax rate. [Read more…]

The 7 Most Important Financial Planning Tips

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I am guessing that you, like me, have waited all year for Blah, Blah, Blah Day. Well, it’s here! Today is indeed Blah, Blah, Blah Day!

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “The 7 Most Important Financial Planning Tips” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of The Sense. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week.

We all should make sure we address some basic financial planning issues. The post below lays out some of the most important.

Have a wonderful week!

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The 7 Most Important Financial Planning Tips

By The Sense

Many of us have responsibilities for both growing children and aging parents. It’s no wonder that the majority of us haven’t saved much for retirement and lack some important financial basics such as an emergency fund or insurance.

It’s tough, but we need to start making our financial lives, and particularly saving for retirement, a priority. Here’s a list of a few priorities. Like all big projects, we recommend breaking this punch list into parts and tackling one every few months or so. While retirement planning is a focus you’ll note that there are a few priorities you must tackle even before planning your retirement, especially if you have a family that depends on you. [Read more…]