The 10 World’s Richest Athletes of All Time

APTOPIX Mayweather Pacquiao Boxing

With all the hype about Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s enormous (and some say, unearned) payday after his recent bout with Manny Pacquiao, you might think that he is near the top of the list of richest athletes. While Mayweather is nicknamed “Money” for a good reason, he barely makes the top 10 in net worth for athletes and former athletes worldwide.

Who’s at the top of the list? Michael Jordan? Guess again: Ion Tiriac, of course. Who?

For those of us in middle age, he will always be remembered for his mustache and his hilarious Miller Lite ad with Bob Uecker, but his wealth has far surpassed his sporting fame — at least in America.

Read on to find out about Tiriac and the others in the top 10 list, according to each athlete’s category of CelebrityNetworth.com. We have edited the list to leave out those who were only coaches, executives or managers — we believe at least some direct professional-level competition in the sport was necessary for inclusion — but we will mention those other sporting figures at the end along with their net worth.

  1. Ion Tiriac: How many athletes can compete at elite levels in two sports, especially ones as diverse as tennis and ice hockey? Romanian-born Tiriac did just that, starting out as a hockey player on the Romanian Olympic Team in 1964. He switched to professional tennis, winning 22 career doubles tennis titles. Tiriac is now worth approximately $2 billion through his multiple business enterprises in Germany and Eastern Europe.
  2. Michael Jordan: The six-time NBA champion and majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets is worth approximately $1 billion. Besides being a sports mogul, Jordan has made millions off commercial endorsements, most famously with Nike and his popular Air Jordan line.
  3. Michael Schumacher: The German Formula One driver comes in third with $800 million in net worth. His racing career began in 1991, and his annual income from endorsements has been as high as $50 million. He has kept a very low profile since a near-fatal skiing accident in 2013.
  4. Arnold Palmer: The legendary golfer is worth $675 million through his many golf-related industries and endorsements, not to mention prize money from his 62 wins on the PGA Tour during his playing days.
  5. Roger Staubach: The former Navy man and Dallas Cowboys quarterback is worth approximately $600 million, mostly through real estate dealings.
  6. Tiger Woods: At one time, it was inconceivable that Woods would not top this list someday — and he may still do so — but after his infamous family troubles and the subsequent degradation of his golf game, Woods is no longer a sure thing as the eventual richest athlete. He lost many endorsements, but he still has tremendous star power as well as $580 million in net worth.
  7. Magic Johnson: The former LA Lakers star and entrepreneur has accumulated $500 million through his basketball earnings, endorsements, and his investments through Magic Johnson Enterprises. MJE is known for attempting to establish goods and services in underserved urban areas.
  8. Ayrton Senna: While Senna passed away in a tragic racetrack accident in 1994, his net worth at the time of his death was approximately $400 million. Certainly, the Brazilian racing star would be further up this list had he survived.
  9. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Finally, we get to Money. At the time of this listing, Mayweather’s net worth was estimated at $380 million, so it’s possible that after the Pacquiao fight payout is finalized he will be closer to sixth or seventh place. Mayweather remains undefeated with 48 wins, and will likely fight one or two more times before calling it a career.
  10. David Beckham: The retired soccer star and husband of “Posh Spice,” Beckham is worth approximately $350 million.

The sports figures we skipped are Vince McMahon, the wrestling icon ($750 million); the since-deceased owner of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis ($500 million); Irish Grand Prix racing mogul Eddie Jordan ($475 million); former Brewers owner and baseball commissioner Bud Selig ($400 million); track and field coach Bill Bowerman ($400 million); and he of the “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble,” boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer ($400 million). Include them in your own list if you want. Who are we to argue?

The next five on the list are Shaquille O’Neal, Roger Federer, Greg Norman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. Will any of these five, or any other athletes (maybe LeBron?), overtake the current top 10? Only time will tell

Job Growth Surges, Wages Push Higher in May

Job Seekers Apply For Open Positions At Career Fair In San Francisco

WASHINGTON — U.S. job growth accelerated sharply in May and wages picked up, signs of momentum in the economy that bolster prospects for an interest rate hike in September.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 280,000 last month, the largest gain since December, the Labor Department said Friday.

While the unemployment rate rose to 5.5 percent from a near seven-year low of 5.4 percent in April that was because more people, likely new college graduates, entered the labor force, indicating confidence in the jobs market.

This certainly puts more ammunition in the Fed’s plan to start lift-off in September.

Payrolls for March and April were revised to show 32,000 more jobs created than previously reported. That together with an eight cent gain in average hourly earnings raises the chances of the Federal Reservetightening monetary policy this year.

“This certainly puts more ammunition in the Fed’s plan to start lift-off in September,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

The dollar rallied against a basket of currencies, while prices for U.S. government debt dropped sharply. U.S. stock index futures fell.

Doubts had sprung up in financial markets over whether the U.S. central bank would be able to raise interest rates this year after weak data on consumer spending and industrial production suggested the economy lacked vigor early in the second quarter after slumping at the start of the year.

The Fed has kept overnight rates near zero since December 2008. Officials from the U.S. central bank will meet on June 16-17.

Gaining Momentum

U.S. gross domestic product contracted at a 0.7 percent annual pace in the first quarter, although the drop probably exaggerated the economy’s weakness given a mix of temporary factors at play.

The sturdy jobs reports joined May automobile sales and manufacturing data in suggesting that growth was gaining some traction after getting off to a slow start in the second quarter, in part because of the lingering effects of a strong dollar and spending cuts in the energy sector.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls rising 225,000 last month and the unemployment rate steady at 5.4 percent. May payroll gains lifted job growth above last year’s average of 260,000 jobs a month.

The labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job, increased 0.1 percentage point to 62.9 percent last month.

A broad measure of joblessness that includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment was unchanged at 10.8 percent.

The increase in average hourly earnings took the year-on-year gain to 2.3 percent, the largest rise since August 2013.

Higher Wages

Wages are poised to push higher against the backdrop of firming demand for entry-level workers and a better composition of jobs that are being created. In addition, many states have raised the minimum wage and some large corporations have been increasing pay for workers.

Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, this week announced it would raise minimum wages for more than 100,000 U.S. workers, its second wage hike this year.

Payroll gains last month were broad-based, though the mining sector purged more jobs as it works through the thousands of cuts announced by oil-field companies.

Manufacturing employment increased 7,000 after adding 1,000 jobs in April. Mining payrolls fell 18,000, logging the fifth straight month of declines.

Schlumberger (SLM) has announced about 20,000 layoffs this year. Baker Hughes (BHI) and Halliburton (HAL) are also cutting thousands of jobs.

Construction employment increased 17,000, reflecting a strengthening housing market. The average workweek was steady at 34.5 hours.

With additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica in New York.

Market Wrap: Stocks Drop Ahead of Jobs Report; Greece Weighs

Financial Markets Wall Street

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks fell Thursday, hit by nervousness ahead of Friday’s employment report and lingering uncertainty over a Greece aid deal with creditors.

Declining oil and gold prices also weighed on energy and materials shares, which led declines in the benchmark S&P 500.

Data showed the labor market tightening, with first-time applications for unemployment aid down last week and the number of people on benefit rolls hitting the lowest level since 2000, suggesting the Federal Reserve will remain on track to raise interest rates later this year.

The concern is tomorrow and the jobs number, that is where all the focus is.

The data came ahead of Friday’s key U.S. jobs report, expected to show a 225,000 gain in non-farm payrolls, according to a Reuters estimate.

“The concern is tomorrow and the jobs number, that is where all the focus is,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York. “Probably the concern [is] that it is going to be a good number.”

Some investors think stronger jobs numbers could increase chances the Federal Reserve could raise rates sooner rather than later.

Adding to investor concerns, Greece delayed a debt payment to the International Monetary Fund due Friday and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said talks on a cash-for-reforms deal were still far from an agreement.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 170.69 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,905.58, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) lost 18.23 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,095.84 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 40.11 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,059.13.

To Hike or Not to Hike

Investors also digested the International Monetary Fund’s comment urging the Federal Reserve not to raise rates until there are clear signs of a pickup in wages and inflation.

In a bearish sign, the S&P 500 closed below its 50-day moving average, a key technical indicator.

The S&P materials index fell 1.3 percent, while the energy index declined 1.2 percent. Oil prices fell for a second day ahead of an OPEC decision which could keep the market oversupplied.

Shares of chemical-maker LyondellBasell Industries (LYB) shares lost 3.2 percent at $99.48, leading declines in the materials sector.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) fell 0.7 percent to $42.92 after it said its operating profit margin this quarter could be lower than it expected, with airlines hit by weaker U.S. demand. Shares of American Airlines (AAL) dropped 2.2 percent to $42.17.

On the plus side, Five Below (FIVE) shares jumped 7.6 percent to $37.77 after the teen merchandise retailer increased its full-year forecast.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,374 to 677, for a 3.51-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,994 issues fell and 769 advanced for a 2.59-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted four new 52-week highs and six new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 83 new highs and 32 new lows.

About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, matching the average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.

With additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak.

What to watch Friday:

  • The Labor Department releases employment data for May at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The Federal Reserve releases consumer credit data for April at 3 p.m.

Yes, Cash Has a Role in Your Portfolio

 

American dollar bills scattered in a chaotic manner

After all, without cash — money in a liquid account you can withdraw immediately without penalty — you can’t seize fleeting market opportunities. But those opportunities are only worth pursuing if they “fit into your overall investing plan,” cautions Craig Bartlett, vice president and division consulting manager for U.S. Bancorp Investments, based in Minneapolis.

It’s likely counterproductive to scan the market for potential bargains with a sum you are itching to invest. Bartlett recommends first defining the types of market opportunities that best advance your investing goals so you can move fast for the right reasons. Then, design your cash pool accordingly.

As a matter of functional money management, it is smart to have a cash account set up as a parking spot for money flowing in and out of your portfolio. Ahmad Adnan, a certified financial planner with Ameriprise Financial Services, based in Austin, Texas, says brokers call this a “sweep” account because it’s used to sweep money in and out of investments. That’s especially useful if you expect to be directing funds to several types of investments over a period, or, conversely, rolling money from maturing or performing holdings into a pool of money for a purchase.

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The sweep account could be set up as a money-market account, short-term certificate of deposit in an FDIC-insured institution, or a similar account, Adnan explains.

“Don’t expect to make any money with it,” he adds. “Clients ask, ‘What’s the cash earning?’ and the answer is ‘nothing.’ ” He and other advisers agree that with interest rates so low, cash accounts are lucky to reap even a fraction of a percentage point.

That doesn’t make much of a difference when you are parking cash for a few months or a couple of years in anticipation of a major purchase, such as a house down payment. In fact, advisers agree, it’s smarter to table the funds in a cash account than risk losing some of it in an equity investment. The rule of thumb, they agree, is that if you need a certain amount of money on a certain date, keep the money in a cash account. “Cash is for short-term circumstances,” Adnan says.

The flip side is that the longer the cash languishes in the sweep account, the greater the chance you will start to lose money thanks to inflation, advisors say.

If inflation is at 2 percent, and you’re earning zero percent, “then you’ve lost 2 percent of your purchasing power,” says David A. Frisch, president and founder of Frisch Financial Group, based in New York. “People think of cash as a riskless asset, but it’s not.”

His recommendation: For any goal two years or more in the future, try tocapture some return. “The shorter the time horizon, the less return you need. The longer the horizon, the more you should be thinking about capturing return,” Frisch says. An interim step might be to buy 10-year Treasury bonds, which are currently yielding about 2.1 percent, he adds. Those at least keep pace with the current inflation rate.

As you fine-tune your cash strategy, consider these points:

  • If your portfolio is large enough, you might allot as much as 10 percent of your conservative investments to cash. “This diversifies the conservative portion of your portfolio,” says Paul Jacobs, chief investment officer with Palisades Hudson Financial Group, based in Atlanta. “You can maybe take a little more risk with bonds.”
  • Be sure you know in advance if you’ll be dinged for transaction fees to move the cash from a maturing instrument to a holding account.
  • Forecast your likely financial moves with a cash holding account in mind. If you are likely to be rebalancing or shifting assets around, “you might need to have a decent amount of cash on hand,” Jacobs says. If are working toward a major purchase several years out, “ladder your instruments so all the money is available at the right time,” Bartlett says. With various accounts maturing in succession, you can roll them into the cash account in an orderly fashion. “”Match the maturity for the purchase date for when you need the money. You want to actually allow a couple extra months for the transition, so do it early,” Bartlett says.

To Hike or Not to Hike? IMF Urges Fed to Delay Rate Increase

IMF US Economy

 

WASHINGTON — What’s the hurry?

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday urged the Federal Reserve to put off raising short-term interest rates until next year because the U.S. economy still needs help.

In its yearly check-up of the United States, the IMF predicted the American economy would grow just 2.5 percent this year, down from its April forecast of 3.1 percent. The downgrade reflects the economy’s stumbling start to the year: Gross domestic product fell the first three months of 2015, tripped up by harsh winter weather and the export-killing strength of the dollar.

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The IMF has no direct influence over U.S. economic policy. But the global lending agency is widely respected for its technical expertise on economics and finance.

Since December 2008, the Fed has kept the short-term interest rate it controls near zero. Fed Chair Janet Yellen last month said she expects to begin raising rates this year. Many economists expect a rate hike at the Fed’s September meeting.

A rate increase probably won’t have a big or immediate impact on most consumer loan rates.

For one thing, the Fed is expected to ratchet up rates only gradually. For another, rates don’t move in lockstep. Mortgage rates, for instance, are tethered to long-term rates such as the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Those rates can move up or down based on things, such as foreigners’ hankering for the safety of U.S. Treasurys, that have little to do with the Fed.

Still, the Fed’s easy money policies have powered the American stock market to record levels, and investors hang onto Yellen’s every utterance.

Here’s a look at the competing cases for the Fed’s next move.

Don’t Be Hasty

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the risks of raising rates too soon — and wounding the economy before it’s reached full strength — outweigh the risks of waiting a bit too long and allowing inflation to creep up.

“The economy would be better off with a rate hike in early 2016,” Lagarde said at a press conference.

The Commerce Department reported last week that the U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.7 percent from January through March. A widening trade deficit was largely to blame, reducing growth by 1.9 percentage points. The stronger dollar makes U.S. exports more expensive overseas and foreign imports cheaper in America.

Inflation still is well short of the Fed’s 2 percent target. The IMF doesn’t see it hitting that level until mid-2017. The inflation threat looks distant now: Consumer prices were lower in April than they’d been a year earlier, largely because of tumbling oil prices.

The IMF calls for the Fed to hold off on a rate increase until “there are greater signs of wage or price inflation than are currently evident.”

Do It, Already

Despite the nasty first quarter, “we’re seeing more signs that the economy is gathering momentum and that a rate increase in September looks more appropriate,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group.

The job market certainly looks healthy. Employers are adding jobs — nearly 3 million over the past year — at a rate not seen since the boom years of 1998 to 2000. Unemployment fell in April to a seven-year low 5.4 percent.

If the Fed waits too long, it could lose its grip on inflation — and its inflation-fighting credibility with financial markets.

“If there’s a belief that the Federal Reserve is behind the curve in controlling inflation, more investors would lose confidence,” Baumohl said, arguing that inflation lags other signs of economic strength.

Another worry: Super-low interest rates encourage investors to seek higher returns in riskier investments. That can drive up the prices of stocks, long-term bonds and other investments to dangerous levels.

“The longer the Fed waits, the higher the price they are going to pay in terms of the market volatility that could occur including the potential of a crash in the stock market and the bond market,” said David Jones, an economist who has written several books on the Fed.

AP economics writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.

The stock market is becoming a ‘lose-lose’ situation

Story image for market from Business Insider

It’s about to be a lose-lose situation for stock market investors.

In a note to clients on Tuesday, Bank of America’s Michael Hartnett wrote that with the Fed set to raise rates and the US economy underperforming, we could be be facing a tough period for investors this year.

Hartnett writes:

We have been urging caution. No bear market, but mid-2015 environment is lose-lose: end of global easing, start of Fed hiking must raise vol; conversely no rate hike would be because GDP/EPS poor or a financial accident.Conviction & volumes thus await unambiguous break of recent trading ranges, particularly EUR 1.05-1.15, as well as macro resolution…good data, Fed hike, no adverse market/macro impact. Only then risk allocations rise with certainty. Until then, we continue to think gold, cash, vol, developed market banks perform well, and would sell into any frothy, speculative moves to upside in tech, Japan, China.

Now, of course, some of this language is a bit inscrutable, but the overall point here is that unless the situation in markets changes – namely the euro trades outside of its $1.05-$1.15 against the US dollar and the Federal Reserve raises rates without shocking markets – investors could be in for a bumpy ride.

In the same note, Business Insider’s Oscar Williams-Grut highlightedHartnett’s comments on how investors are in the grip of “Stockholm syndrome” because there is a trust central bankers don’t want to hurt markets, which more or less forces investors to maintain a “risk-on” positioning, buying things like stocks and lower-rated bonds.

So as Hartnett sees it, it could be shaping up to be a tough summer.

29% of Americans 55 and Older Have No Retirement Savings

Depressed Senior Adult Man With Stacks of Papers and Envelopes

 

How bad is America doing when it comes to retirement savings? The Government Accountability Office looked into the question, and its answer is sobering.

GAO analysis finds that among households with members aged 55 or older, nearly 29 percent have neither retirement savings nor a traditional pension plan.

There hasn’t been a significant increase in wages, people have student loans and other debt, and many are continuing to struggle financially.

“There hasn’t been a significant increase in wages, people have student loans and other debt, and many are continuing to struggle financially,” said Charles Jeszeck, the GAO’s director of education, workforce and income security, which analyzed the Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances to come up with its estimates. “We aren’t surprised that people have not saved a lot for retirement.”

Even among those who do have retirement savings, their nest eggs are small. The agency found the median amount of those savings is about $104,000 for households with members between 55 and 64 years old and $148,000 for households with members 65 to 74 years old. That’s equivalent to an inflation-protected annuity of $310 and $649 a month, respectively, according to the GAO.

“I don’t care what anyone says. That’s not enough income for retirement,” said Anthony Webb, senior research economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, who reviewed the GAO report.

Social Security remains a fundamental part of most Americans’ retirement plans, with benefits providing most of the income for about half of households age 65 and older, according to the GAO.

The agency studied the level of Americans’ retirement savings at the request ofSen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election and is also the ranking Democratic member on the Senate’s subcommittee on primary health and retirement security.

Estimates about the size and scope of the retirement savings problem vary widely, the GAO found. In addition to examining the Survey of Consumer Finances, it reviewed nine studies conducted between 2006 and 2015 by a variety of organizations, including academics, benefits consultant Aon Hewitt, the Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Investment Company Institute. Based on these reports, it concluded that one-third to two-thirds of workers are at risk of falling short of their retirement savings targets, in part because of the range of assumptions about how much income is required in retirement.

The research that the GAO examined consistently showed that people aged 55 to 64 are less confident about their retirement and plan to work longer to afford retirement. However, a 2012 study by EBRI found that about half of retirees said they retired earlier than planned because of health problems, changes at their workplace or having to care for a spouse or another family member. This suggests “that many workers may be overestimating their future retirement income and savings,” wrote GAO researchers.

“EBRI’s model does show that a significant percentage of households will run short of money in retirement,” said Jack VanDerhei, EBRI’s research director. “This is because we model all the major risks in retirement.”

Reports like those and the GAO analysis should serve as a wake-up call about the lack of Americans’ retirement savings, said Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

Transamerica’s retirement research, which wasn’t included in the GAO’s review, doesn’t give board projections about America’s retirement readiness because retirement is “a very personal question,” she said. But Collinson stressed the need for more people to calculate their projected retirement needs and to plan ahead accordingly. “As a society, we cannot do enough to raise awareness about the magnitude of this problem.”

Beige Book Survey: U.S. Economy Growing at Moderate Pace

Beige Book

 

WASHINGTON — he U.S. economy was growing at a moderate pace through mid-February despite severe winter storms that had disrupted activity in some regions, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.

The Fed said that six of its 12 regions had reported moderate growth with modest gains seen in most other areas. The Boston district said businesses in its area remained upbeat despite a series of huge snowstorms.

The Fed survey found that consumer spending was up in most districts, travel and tourism was increasing and manufacturing had shown solid gains with aerospace companies in the San Francisco region forecasting a record year.

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The information contained in the Fed report, known as the beige book, will be used when the central bank next meets on March 17-18. Economists expect the Fed will not start raising interest rates until June or later.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen delivered the central bank’s semiannual economic report to Congress last week and indicated that the Fed is still willing to be “patient” in terms of raising interest rates because of weak wage growth and inflation well below the Fed’s 2 percent target.

The beige book found that wage pressures remained moderate and were largely limited to workers in skilled occupations. The report said prices were either flat or rising only slightly.

Most districts reported increases in overall consumer spending with the Minneapolis, Atlanta, Kansas City and San Francisco districts reporting growth in restaurant sales. Economists regard gains in the number of people eating out as a sign of an improving economy.

The New York and Boston districts reported that harsh winter weather had depressed overall retail sales but Boston and Cleveland reported an increase in sales of winter clothing, rock salt and snow shovels.

Auto sales were up in most districts and home sales increased in most districts although housing construction was mixed with some districts reporting disruptions due to the winter weather.

Oil drilling service firms in Minneapolis and Dallas reported reduced demand, reflecting a drop in drilling activity due to the big plunge in oil prices.

Manufacturing showed gains across the country with auto manufacturing up in the Cleveland, Chicago and St. Louis districts.

Essential Money Moves to Make in Your 40s

 

For many people, hitting the big 4-0 can actually be quite freeing. You’re in your peak earning years, and your home is likely close to being paid off. The kids are out of that house — or nearly so — and you’re enjoying more of the other things life has to offer: hobbies, travel, restaurants that don’t serve French fries, maybe even a new career.

To be sure, the 40s are tough for some people, especially following the recession.

Although U.S. salaries tend to peak in this decade (between 39 and 48 according to Forbes), that doesn’t mean much if you’re unemployed or underemployed. Those who weren’t able to buy homes or who lost them during the recession may be seeing rising rent rather than equity increases.

Folks who had their kids later in life may be hitting the wall in terms of salary right when their children are getting the most expensive. (Raising a kid costs $245,340 from birth to age 18, according to the U.S. government).

Avoiding the ‘Cliff Retirement’

Whether you’re riding high or barely making it, however, you should be saving for retirement. (Can’t find the money in your budget? We’ll talk about that later.)

Maybe you’re one of those unemployed or underemployed folks and have been for years. If you don’t have much to spare, how can you save for retirement?

Or perhaps you’re part of the “sandwich generation,” someone who’s providing physical and financial support to your kids and your parents. Funny how often that leads to having more month than money.

But a less-than-ideal financial situation doesn’t mean you can ignore future needs. It’s human nature to want to believe that everything will work out somehow. Fail to plan, and you might find yourself scrambling to fund retirement in your 50s and 60s.

“It’s going to be really hard to catch up — if you even can,” personal finance expert Liz Weston said on Marketplace, by American Public Media. The result of failing to save, she says, is a “cliff retirement,” i.e., one in which your lifestyle falls off a cliff.

Ideally you would have been saving for years and years. If not, enroll right now in any company retirement plan.

And, importantly, enroll for an employer match, if one is available. It’s crazy: U.S. workers lose an estimated $24 billion in free money every year because they fail to contribute to their 401(k) plans.

What part of “free money” is so hard to understand? Don’t let this happen to you! If company matches exist, get yourself signed up for automatic increases so that you’ll ultimately receive the full match. Each time you get a raise, increase the percentage of your own paycheck that goes in there. If your employer offers pro investment advice, then by all means take advantage — that is, as long as it’s the right kind.

And if there’s no match, or even a company plan? Start your own 401k or Roth IRA with a company like Vanguard or Fidelity. The nuts and bolts of the most popular retirement accounts can be found at “Confused by IRAs and 401(k)s? Roth and Regular Accounts Made Simple.”

College and Insurance: Niceties or Necessities?

How lovely it would be to have both a healthy retirement fund and a 529 plan or some other mechanism to save for your children’s college educations. But if that’s not possible, you must prioritize retirement. The reality is, you can finance an education, but you can’t finance the last few decades of your life.

Be upfront with your kids so they can choose colleges accordingly. If you can offer little to no help, then it’s up to them to apply for scholarships and select schools that are affordable. For more tips, see “Go To College Without Borrowing A Dime.”

Another hot-button topic you should at least consider is whether you should invest in long-term care insurance. This is coverage designed to cover the cost of daily support — helping you with things like bathing, dressing and eating — in the event that you become incapable of doing these things independently. Some say you shouldn’t be without it; others are willing to roll the dice.

Stacy Johnson has researched this type of insurance and decided to go without it. However, he stresses the importance of educating yourself on the ins and outs and considering your own situation very carefully before deciding. For specifics, see his column, “Ask Stacy: Should I Have Long-Term-Care Insurance?”

Learn about life insurance as well if you have dependents, a spouse or anyone else who will struggle financially after you die. Need to know more? See “8 Ways To Save On Life Insurance” and the Money Talks News Solutions Center.

Can’t afford life insurance? If you earn less than $40,000 a year you might be able to get free coverage through MassMutual’s LifeBridge program, which pays $50,000 toward your children’s education if you die before they finish school. Follow that link to see if you qualify.

What If You Can’t Afford to Invest?

Finding money to put away is a challenge, but it’s almost always doable. Not necessarily fun, but possible.

Start by tracking your spending, either on paper or with an online tool likePowerWallet or Mint.com. Once you find money leaks, start plugging them. Every dollar you don’t let trickle pointlessly away is a dollar that can go toward your retirement plan.

Next, create a workable budget. That means funding your needs — food, shelter, utilities, debt service — and a certain number of wants. Any “extra” money you’ve found can help cover your future in the short term — by establishing an emergency fund — and in the long run, in the form of a retirement fund.

Is it annoying to add “retirement funding” to your already long list of money musts? Probably. Is it necessary for you to do so? Definitely.

Think of these savings as improvements to your quality of life: Having an emergency fund will make it easier to deal with any surprises life throws your way. Putting money away for retirement helps eliminate the insomnia-inducing worries that you won’t have enough or will become a burden on your kids in later years.

Being careful with your money does not mean you can’t enjoy life. You just need to get creative with your fun as well as your funds.

More good news: A minimalish lifestyle means that indulgences seem way more awesome. For example, if you’ve cut way back on sweets, bringing home a quart of ice cream will seem like a tremendous luxury.
Where there’s a will…

If you’re in your 40s, then your parents are likely approaching retirement age or already finished working. Time to have what may be the most uncomfortable chat you’ll ever have with Mom and Dad.

Yes, it’s worse than the facts of life talk. This time you’re discussing things like money, health care directives, power of attorney and where your parents will live out their final years.

Awkward! They (or you) might want to put this talk off indefinitely. Don’t. Trying to figure out what your parents would want after they become ill or are injured is not the way to go about this. You need to know if they have plans in place.

This might also be the time when you discover they’re spending like drunken sailors because they plan to move in with you once they’re broke. That’s an entirely different talk, but better to have it now than 10 years from now when they show up on your doorstep.

Speaking of wills: If you haven’t made your own, do it now. Your loved ones will be traumatized by your death. Don’t make it worse by leaving zero instructions about who should get what and who should be in charge of distributing your worldly goods.

Only 26 states recognize “holographic” wills, i.e., those you write yourself. A lawyer can create a will for anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the complexity. For a cheaper alternative, check out services like Nolo, LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, where you’ll pay anywhere from $35 to $80 or so.

Those with minor children must designate legal guardians in their wills, so figure out who you’d want those people to be — and then ask them if they’d be willing to do it. Never just assume that your sister can take your three kids, and remember that some people consider the term “godparent” to be someone who cares for a child spiritually, not physically.

Finally: Don’t let your fear of the future keep you from planning for it, even if you haven’t saved a dime thus far. As the saying goes, the best time to have planted a tree is 10 years ago. The second-best time is today.

If you didn’t lay the financial groundwork in your 20s and 30s, resolve today to start making smarter decisions. Future You will be very, very glad that Current You put forth the effort.

Be sure to check out Money Talks News’ financial advice for people in their 20s and 30s.

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Why Your Internet Bill Keeps Growing

 

You may have heard about the multibillion-dollar deal that Charter Communications (CHTR) made last week.

Time Warner Cable (TWC), as well as a smaller cable provider, Bright House Networks, will essentially be merged into Charter.

It remains to be seen whether this will be good news for consumers. The Washington Post reports that the merger of the fourth- and second-largest cable providers will create a new contender for the likes of large providers like Comcast (CMCSK).

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On the other hand, the proposed merger consolidates three providers into one. And as CBS News points out, consolidation ultimately decreases the total number of telecom companies from which consumers have to choose.

Consolidation also usually requires merging companies to spend money, which pushes them to charge consumers more, CBS reports.

CBS has outlined several reasons why Internet service is getting increasingly expensive. Consumers have little control over some of these factors.

For example, Wall Street is pushing Internet service providers to increase profits. Companies like Charter and Time Warner are publicly traded, and thus accountable to stock-holding investors.

In addition, demand for Internet services from cable companies is increasing as demand for TV services from cable companies is decreasing.

In 2014, more Americans paid for cable Internet than cable TV, the first time that has happened, according to an analysis by Quartz, on online business news publication.

These trends give companies leeway to raise Internet prices.

Quartz reports that over the past two years, Time Warner’s residential customers have seen their average monthly TV costs increase less than 2 percent, while their Internet costs have increased 21 percent.

Although Internet prices are rising, you can still keep a lid on costs. Two ways to keep costs low are:

  • Refusing to be upsold. Upselling is a tactic used by companies like telecommunications providers to sell consumers on pricier packages. Unless you really need all the bells and whistles, avoid purchasing the most expensive packages, especially if your Internet use is mostly limited to casual surfing and using email.
  • Cutting the cable cord. Cord-cutters ditch cable TV for Internet-streamed video. While dropping cable won’t lower your Internet bill, it will trim your overall costs.

If you haven’t yet joined the cord-cutting club, start with our guide “How To Choose The Right Cord-Cutting TV Service.”

If you simply can’t bear the idea of dropping cable altogether, check out the following: “Lower Your Cable Bill With Techniques A Hostage Negotiator Uses.”

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