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7 Ways One Simple Action Improves Retirement

– In this video, I'm
going to blow the lid off of the most common
mistake made in retirement and in the process bring
clarity to your next move if you carry a lot of debt. Coming up next on "Holy Schmidt." – Holy Schmidt! (object splats) – Recently, I ran into a friend of mine at a hotel lobby in Chicago. He's someone I hadn't seen in years, but someone that I had always
meant to keep in touch with, so it was great seeing him. We got on the subject
of debt and it was clear that he had read a lot of the
books out there on finance. He talked about good
debt, bad debt, no debt, an emergency fund, all of it. But the problem was, in the discussion, it was clear that he was
misapplying many of the concepts. He had read the words in the books, but he actually had not
applied them correctly. One particular point in the
conversation was very tense. He said to me he would rather have $50,000 in low-risk securities
and $30,000 in debt, even credit card debt, as
opposed to having just $20,000 invested in low-risk securities.

When I asked why he thought this, he used some strange
end-of-the-world example and said to me that, "If
we're all living in caves, and this is the end of the world, I would rather have $50,000
in cash than $20,000 in cash because the credit card companies would have a lot more to worry
about than little old me." (thunder claps) "Okay," I said, "But if you're living
life in the real world, you have real credit card companies that have debt collectors that go out, and they try to collect the debt. They actually put a judgment against you. And if you have a judgment against you, they can put a lien on your assets, particularly your checking account, at which point you won't have any cash because everything in there
will go to pay down your debt.

He looked totally confused.
So I help him translate. "If what you're saying is that you would rather pay your grocery bill than your credit card bill, I get it. That will last about a month, maybe two, before things start to go horribly wrong. But let's assume that you are
not being hunted by zombies. (zombies snarling) And you're not trying to determine what the best currency
is in the apocalypse. (knife sharpening) Debt is real, and it needs to be paid." Here's why you should have
no debt in retirement. By the way, if you have
debt, even a lot of debt, I've got you covered. There's another video
that I have, outstanding. I'll put a link in the
description below that you can use to get rid of your debt
very, very quickly. But I digress.

get back to this video. First, for those of you
who think like an investor, you'll know that the higher the return, the higher the risk, generally speaking. If for example, you invest
in US government securities, that means your investment is as safe as the US government itself, that is, if you hold your
bonds until maturity, and you don't sell them
in a choppy market. (cow bell ringing) But assuming you hold your
government investments until maturity, the five-year US government
note is currently paying (keyboard clicking) 3.39% as of five seconds
ago according to Bloomberg. On the other hand, if you invest in high-tech
Silicon Valley startups, your return could be
15, 20, 30, 50% or more, or you could lose it all. That's how high-risk investments work. But what if you could get
US government type risk and Silicon Valley type returns? (cash register rings) Well, that is the best of both worlds, and there's only one way
you can really do this, and that's to pay off your
outstanding credit card debt.

Let me explain. Imagine that you had $10,000 to invest, and you could either put it
towards a dividend paying stock that paid a 4% dividend. That would be a very good
dividend, by the way. Or you could use it to pay
down your credit card debt, and let's make the math
easy for this example. Let's assume that your credit card company only charges you 4% on your credit card, but whether you had a
4% dividend paying stock or you had a 4% credit card, your cash flow would look about the same. You would just use your dividends to pay off the interest
on your credit card. Of course, dividends are
actually paid semi-annually or annually, and credit card
payments are paid monthly.

But let's ignore that for just a moment because the point of this is not that. The point of this example is that if you had $400 of dividend income and you use that to pay off the
interest on your credit card or you didn't have $400 of
interest on your credit card, the cash flow would
look basically the same. Now, this is where people
get confused. (blows) Earning $400 of dividend
income is not better than avoiding $400 of expenses, and credit card companies don't charge 4%. In fact, they charge between
18 and 23% on average. In fact, the average according
to Wallet Hub is 19.07% as of today.
(whip whips) So your return on investment
is 19% in this example, not 4%, and it is as guaranteed as the government interest
on the government bonds, maybe even more so 'cause if you don't owe debt, you don't have to pay interest on debt. That's guaranteed. Is the dividend guaranteed? Nope. In fact, the company can
cut the dividend tomorrow, or they can go out of business, and you can lose all of your money. Now here is the sinister
part to all of this.

If you receive a $400 dividend, do you have to pay taxes on it? In most cases, unless it's in a Roth IRA, but if you avoid $400 of expenses, do you have to pay taxes on
the expenses that you avoid it? No. In almost every example,
you'll have more spendable cash if you avoid paying a dollar of expense rather than receiving a dollar of income. Now add a bunch of zeros onto that, and it becomes real money, which brings us to the next point. Even a modest improvement in cash flow improves your retirement
picture pretty dramatically.

Here's why. When you're living your life, the fun discretionary stuff usually comes from the last 5, 10, maybe even 20% of your monthly income. The average retiree who carries debt spends 38% of their income
to service that debt. Now imagine what you could
do with 38% more income, particularly noting that the
last part of your cash flow is what's used to pay
for all of the fun stuff. Then, and this is big, if you
have an extra 38% in income, this is a great margin of safety cushion in case something goes wrong. This happened to many of us recently. In 2022, the average retiree
lost between 15 and 20% of their account value if they had their assets
in a target-based fund, which is over 80% of retirees, by the way. If this was that type of year,
(warning bell alarms) and you didn't have that cushion, this would mean that you'd
have to continue to sell assets at a reduced price and
crystallize the losses just to sustain your life. But if you're like my friend
Rulph from the Chicago Hotel, you're going to use that extra cash flow to build your apocalypse fund.

The rest of us call it an
emergency fund, by the way, but whatever you wanna call it, it's something that you
can designate as extra cash in case the world changes
on you all of a sudden. Importantly though,
you're using your assets to pay down your debt, so
that's taking a step back, but that will allow you to
take multiple steps forward because you're not paying
high interest on that debt, and you have extra cash flow to rebuild your emergency
fund the right way. Next is just the effect of
having debt in your life and the effect it has on
your health and wellbeing. Let me explain. I am personally in the middle of several weeks of a very
challenging point in my life.

Now these challenges are good challenges because I'm pushing ahead on
projects that are important and the end result is that they will yield some incredible outcomes for both me and for other people. But it is really stressful,
as you can imagine. And while the outcome will be great, this is a lot harder than
just doing regular work. But here's the most important thing. At the end of these projects, there will be a lot of celebration (fireworks exploding)
both for me and for others. They will have a very
positive outcome at the end, but if the stress wasn't due to something that would conclude at a point
in time and conclude well, imagine having to deal
with that level of stress every single month. This is what I'm talking about. The debt holder is worrying
about how to afford life. It's not a carrot, it's a stick, and this worry goes on at the
end of every single month.

This can very quickly affect your physical and mental health. Next, this will improve your relationship with family and friends. Imagine being able to
spend more time and money on those that you love, your spouse, your kids, your friends, being able to go out more
often, do more things. Most relationships that end
end for one of a few reasons, money being one of the big ones. So if you're taking the
money issue off the table, or at least moving it to
the side a little bit, relationships tend to get better. We talked a lot about credit card debt and personal debt in this video, but the question always comes
up when talking about debt, what about mortgage debt? Well, there are two answers here. The first is the mathematical answer, and the other is the personal side answer. Mathematically, if you have a mortgage that's 3 or 4%, and
inflation is running at 6%, well, there is an argument to be made to keep that debt outstanding
as long as possible, but imagine how you would feel
if you had all of that debt from the mortgage
redirected into your life.

That's the personal side, and that's the side that most
people actually care about. If you like this video,
check out that video. It's a video on where retirees spend 80% of their income in retirement, and it's one of my most popular. This is Geoff Schmidt.
Thanks for watching..

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