Winter in Lassen National Park

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Shoe shoeing on Manzanita Lake at Mt. Lassen National Park
Enjoy views of Lassen Peak and Chaos Crags while snow shoeing at Manzanita Lake at Mt. Lassen National Park

According to the National Park Peak Experiences publication, Lassen National park was first created after  the historic eruptions of 1915 and the efforts of Congressman John E. Raker to draw attention to the area and garner support for the park idea on a national level.   The park has continued to expand the over the years to include
winter favorites like Manzanita Lake and Sulphur Works with its popular ski area.

Winter activities in the park include snowshoeing, sledding, winter backpacking, cross country sking, snowboarding and nordic sking.  One of the most popular ways of enjoying the park in winter is snowshoeing and the park offers ranger-led snowshoe walks on Saturdays and Sundays, January through early April.  The snowshoes are provided and the walks start at 1:30 pm and usually last about 2 hours.  The best part about the walks is that they are free although the park ranger will ask for a suggested $1 donation for snowshoe maintenance.   The ranger will demonstrate how to put on the snowshoes and how to move around in them before the walk begins.  The park recommends coming prepared with snow boots, warm layers, water, lunch and/or snacks.

For those who have their own shoe shoes or are more familiar with walking on snow, several trails can be found at both the north and south entrances. The trails range from beginning to advanced levels and many of them have spectactular views.  The trail we tried this visit was the beautiful Manzanita Lake Snowshoe Loop at the north entrance.  This was a beginner trail with a distance of 1.5 mile round trip, although it definitely felt like it was longer.  Although the park states that the average time to complete the loop is 1.5 hours, you can definitely spend a lot longer exploring all the nooks and crannies and enjoying the wildlife and beautiful views of Lassen Peak and Chaos Crags.

Lassen National Park in Winter - Manzanita Lake
Manzanita Lake in the winter at Lassen National Volcanic Park

When planning your winter visit it’s important to note that Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway usually closes by mid-November for the winter season due to snow. Butte Lake, Warner Valley, and Juniper Lake roads close to vehicle traffic for the season due to snow around late October and usually reopen in late June or early July. Plowing on the park highway usually begins in early April and continues through late June.  For more details on winter activities in Lassen Nation and trail and road conditions, view the Lassen National Volcanic Park Peak Experiences Winter Newsletter or visit the Lassen National Volcanic Park Website.

Some National Parks Facts

  • Visitors to Lassen in 2014 – 432,977
  • Visitors to Yosemite in 2014 – 3,882,642
  • Total National Park Visitors in 2014 –  292, 800,082

The 10 Most Visited National Parks (2014)

  1. Great Smoky Mountains NP 10,099,276
  2. Grand Canyon NP 4,756,771
  3. Yosemite NP 3,882,642
  4. Yellowstone NP 3,513,484
  5. Rocky Mountain NP 3,434,751
  6. Olympic NP 3,243,872
  7. Zion NP 3,189,696
  8. Grand Teton NP 2,791,392
  9. Acadia NP 2,563,129
  10. Glacier NP 2,338,528

The 10 Most Visited Places of the National Park System (2014)

  1. Golden Gate National Recreation Area 15,004,420
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway 13,941,749
  3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park 10,099,276
  4. George Washington Memorial Parkway 7,472,150
  5. Lincoln Memorial 7,139,072
  6.  Lake Mead National Recreation Area 6,942,873
  7. Gateway National Recreation Area 6,021,713
  8. Natchez Trace Parkway 5,846,474
  9. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park 5,066,219
  10. Grand Canyon National Park

Source – The National Park Service Website

15 401K Calculators and Retirement Calculators Worth Checking Out

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401K Calculators
Calculator and Dollar Bill – Photo Courtesy: TaxRebate.org.uk

The purpose of a 401K Calculator is to calculate the compound interest growth and future value of your monthly 401k contributions. To achieve this, you will be asked to provide some basic information such as your beginning balance, an estimate for all contributions that include yours, your employer match and any catch-up contributions, an expected annual rate of return and the number of years until retirement.  Retirement Calculators, however, are more in-depth retirement planners that allow the modern retiree to plan a retirement with multiple sources of income and assets such as phased-in income, part-time earned or business income, income from rental property and other sources of income.  Some of them also allow you to input spousal data at the same time.

Not all 401K calculators are retirement calculators are created equally and there is a lot of controversy on their use.  There are many different 401K Calculators and retirement calculators available and they all differ slightly. All the 401K and retirement calculators require some  basic information that you need to enter into the fields like how much money you plan on saving each year and your expected annual rate of return.  You may also be asked your retirement age, life expectancy, inflation, portfolio size, and expected retirement expenses.

The following is a list of 401K Calculators and retirement planning calculators that are currently available to use for free on the internet.  We’ve separated the retirement calculators into Modern Retirement Calculators and Simple 401K Calculators and recommend that you try out a few of the different ones and find out which ones best meet your planning needs.  Financialmentor.com recommends that you keep in mind that a retirement calculator is a valuable tool only when used properly, but can dangerously mislead you when used improperly.  They also advise that all retirement calculations are just mathematical projections of input assumptions to form hypothetical estimates.

Modern Retirement Calculators

Financial Mentor – The Ultimate Retirement Calculator – This retirement calculator has more functionality than most. It does all the usual forecasting of retirement savings needs, adjusting for inflation, etc. that other retirement calculators do consistent with the way people used to retire, but in addition it allows you to plan a modern retirement with phased income, part-time business income, real estate income, and much more.

Flexible Retirement Planner – The Flexible Retirement Planner uses a Monte Carlo Simulation to help you build a state-of-the-art retirement simulation that models your retirement rather than simply calculating it. The planner describes the results in terms of your plan’s “probability of success”.  To help you capture the exact details of your plan, the planner supports a wide range of user inputs with an additional input page that can give you even more control over how the planner simulates your retirement. . In addition, it implements the latest research on retirement spending Decision Rules.  The flexibleRetirementPlanner lets you model this to get a better picture of how well your retirement plan might do in real life.  Note you need to have Java installed on your computer to use the planner.

ESP Basic Planner – ESPlannerBASIC is the free, simplified, on-line version of the company’s patented, personal financial planning software.  This in depth retirement calculator suggests how much you should spend, save, and insure each year to achieve a stable living standard, now and through retirement, without borrowing.  It can also help you raise your spending power and make lifestyle decisions. It shows the living-standard impacts of changing jobs, contributing to retirement accounts, having children, down-sizing your home, retiring early, waiting to collect Social Security, and much more.  ESPlannerBASIC considers your economic resources, federal and state taxes, and “off-the-top” (non-discretionary) spending on housing, college, etc. in making annual discretionary spending, saving, and life insurance suggestions.   You can use ESPlannerBASIC free of charge as long as you don’t sign in and your data will be saved for a few hours. If you want to save your data on an ongoing basis, you will need to register and buy a $40 license.

Marketwatch – A great, easy to use retirement planner that you can use to see if your retirement is on track based on your current spending goals.   The planner lets you customize your assets, income and retirement spending and further refine your retirement plan by adding detailed assets and income.  This is one of the few calculators that lets you include your spouse into the equation so you can get a complete picture by inputting both parties current age, retirement age, last salary, held assets, savings and any future income including social security and your yearly retirement spending.

AARP Retirement Calculator –  The AARP Retirement Calculator can provide you with a personalized snapshot of what your financial future might look like. You will be asked to answer a few questions about your household status, salary and retirement savings, such as an IRA or 401(k). You can include information about supplemental retirement income (such as a pension or Social Security), consider how long you intend to work and think about your expected lifestyle as a retiree. The tool will help you determine the amount of money you’ll need to retire when – and how – you want.

T.RowePrice Retirement Income Calculator – This award-winning retirement planner can assist you in calculating how much you may be able to spend each month and how long your savings will last. Use this retirement calculator to better manage your financial assets and get the most value from your retirement savings.  You need to register before you can use this calculator so be aware that based on your inputs, T.RowePrice will suggest next steps for you to consider, including products and services from the T. Rowe Price family of companies that can help you meet your goals.

Simple 401K Calculators

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Financial Mentor Simplified– Financial Mentor offers a simplified 401k Calculator that calculates the future value and interest earned on a current 401K balance and monthly contributions once you’ve provided an estimated rate of return and number of years to retirement.  According to their website, they believe it is wiser to keep this calculation very simple by assuming an average annual contribution in today’s dollars that balances for future growth in earnings, your unique employer matching situation, catch-up contributions, highly compensated employee limitations, and other variables. They suggest you just aggregate these various factors into a simple annual contribution and think exclusively in terms of today’s dollars.

FireCalc – An interesting strategy where FIRECalc shows you the results of every starting point, since 1871. You can get a sense of just how safe or risky your retirement plan is, based on how it would have withstood every market condition we have ever faced.   The assumption is that if your retirement strategy would have withstood the worst ravages of inflation, the Great Depression, and every other financial calamity the US has seen since 1871, then it is likely to withstand whatever might happen between now and the day you no longer have any need for your retirement funds.  So, if you accept that assumption, then just tell FIRECalc how much you have and how much you’ll be spending, and FIRECalc will tell you how often your strategy would have worked throughout history. Or what you need to change to make it all work.

AARP 401K Calculator –  AARP’s basic 401k calculator.

Money-zine.com – This simple to use 401(k) savings calculator can help you to figure out how large your 401k plan might be at retirement. The calculator will predict the 401k fund balance at retirement age, along with the annual income you might expect from this type of account

Calculator.net – This 401K calculator enables you to estimate your 401K balance at retirement as well as the payout after retirement based on income, contribution percentage, age, salary increase, and investment returns. If you can input a reasonable average annual inflation rate, you can get an approximation of the real value that the 401K balance will be at retirement age.

Bankrate.com –  A simple to use 401K Calculator that requires a percentage to contribute, annual salary, annual salary increase, current age, age of retirement, current 401k balance and annual rate of return, employee match, employer match ends

Bloomberg 401K Savings Calculator – A simple to use 401k saving calculator that even includes a catch up column that results is a retirement savings plan you can not afford to pass up.

Vanguard Nest Egg Calculator – This simple visual calculator determines how long your current nest egg will last you.  You first provide your desired number of years that your portfolio should last, your current portfolio balance and your current withdrawal rate.  You also need to provide the percentage allocation between stocks, bonds and cash. According to their description, the calculator determines these possible outcomes using a technique called Monte Carlo simulation, which involves simulating a large number of potential market scenarios—up and down markets of various lengths, intensities, and combinations.

Cori by Blackrock – An interesting retirement calculator that uses a CORI index based on your current retirement savings.  CoRI™ is powered by the CoRI Retirement Indexes (“CoRI Indexes”), which are a series of real-time, age-based indexes designed to help Americans measure retirement readiness and plan for future income goals. According to their website, each CoRI Index provides a daily “level” that can be used to estimate, as early as 10 years before retirement, how much annual lifetime retirement income your current retirement savings could generate.  If you’re 55 to 74 years old, CoRI Indexes can be used to get an instant estimate of the retirement income your current savings may provide.  You can find out more information about the CORI index here.

The World’s Most Healthiest and Affordable Places to Retire

Panama
Panama – Ranked World’s Best Retirement Spot 2016 by International Living. Photo courtesy Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCullough

Internationalliving.com recently announced the results of the International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index.  The index, which ranks best places to retire in the world on 10 different categories, is the result of  months of research by their ever-growing team of correspondents, editors, and contributors  from all over the world and is a resource for helping you find your ideal retirement haven.

Refined every year, the research spans across 10 categories including buying and renting, benefits & discounts, visas and residents, cost of living, fitting in, entertainment and amenities, healthcare, healthy lifestyle, infrastructure and climate.

Of particular interest to ModernRetiree.com was the rankings for affordability and healthy living.  “This year we’ve added two entirely new categories. Time and again, we hear back from readers looking for a healthier lifestyle overseas. So we’ve added a Healthy Lifestyle category.” notes International Living (IL).  “It includes everything from groceries to utilities, from rent to transport—every expense involved in living a comfortable retirement was factored in here.”

While Panama was ranked this year as the overall best place to retire in the world, Cambodia ranked highest (100) for having the lowest cost of living with everything factored in for a comfortable retirement including groceries, utilities, rent, transportation and eating out. According to local expats, you can eat out for less than $5.00 and rent an apartment  in a nice area for as little as $250 a month.

Nicaragua came in second as among the most affordable countries with a Global Retirement Index of 98. “Here you can live a great retirement for $1,200 a month. This includes renting within a short walk of stunning Pacific beaches for only $400 a month, and great food (fish, pizza, lasagna, Mediterranean salads…you name it) for less than $10 per dish” the study notes. Nicaragua also scored high for healthy living, achieving a Global Retirement Index of 97.

Peru also scored high for affordability, achieving a Global Retirement Index of 95. “Peru has by far the most affordable cost of living,” says IL’s David Hammond,  who, according to the study, was hugely impressed by what he saw there. “A couple can live in a city that has it all for $1,000, including rent.

That small budget will cover you for renting a two- or three-bedroom apartment with a terrace ($335 a month), water ($10), electricity (around $27) and cable and internet ($50 combined) as well as everything else you might need” he said.

So where are the more healthier retirement havens?   Costa Rica earned top marks with a Global Retirement Index of 98, the study notes.   According to expats interviewed in the study, Costa Rica offers huge scope for living a healthy, outdoors lifestyle.   The great climate allows for plenty of growing opportunities so fresh produce is readily available for retirees who say you can fill your fridge for under $40 a week.  “The great weather also means you can get out and about at any time of year. And many expats report eating more healthily since they arrived” IL reports.

Retirees who are seeking world-class healthcare facilities  might want to consider Columbia cities like Medellin, which scored 95 on IL’s Global Retirement Index in the category of healthy living.  Many of International Living’s readers say they are looking to escape from the polluted North American cities and processed North American food.  “They want to find fresh air, farm-fresh produce, and clean living overseas” , IL notes.   Clean air and fresh food can be found at many of the countries rated high in the IL index for healthy living including Nicaragua (97), Panama (95), Colombia (95), and Ecuador (95).

Many of the retirees interviewed say they eat more fresh fruit and vegetables with a lot less preservatives and the water doesn’t have fluoride in it.  They also tend to walk a lot more and get more fresh air.  “It’s been great for our health,” says expat Rob Evans. Rob has lost 50 pounds since moving to Costa Rica’s Central Valley with his wife Jeni in 2014.  Another expat Greg Seymour, who lives near the town of Grecia says that since settling in Costa Rica, he has taken to “exploring the mountains and forests around his home, and feels all the healthier for it.”

For more information and to  see the top 10 places to retire in the world in 2016 and how other countries rated in some of the other retirement index categories,  view the article on Panama, the World’s Best Retirement Destination 2016 here. Panama not only scored high in most every category of International Living’s Retirement Index including healthy living, but also got a perfect score in the “benefits and discounts” and “visas and residence” categories.  The reason is because Panama makes it easier for you to become a legal resident than virtually any country we’ve ever written about, IL reports.

Also view the article and infographic on Where are America’s Most Healthiest and Affordable Places to Retire?

Part 2 – Gold Confiscation / The Fed and Fort Knox / Wall Street Casino / Offshore Investing / Constitutional Money

Gold Bars & Coins – Photo Courtesy: Mark Herpel
Gold Bars & Coins – Photo Courtesy: Mark Herpel

In part one of ‘Precious Metals Investing for the Cautious Modern Retiree’, we touched on a number of issues that bear repeating:

  1. The 5000+ year tradition of cultures using Gold and Silver to barter for goods and services.
  2. China’s populace painful lesson on the ponzi-scheme nature of paper assets bubbles
  3. The financial and criminal fallout of the 2008 NYSE market crash, and it’s living legacy
  4. Basic background about purchasing precious metals – and storage considerations thereof
  5. The misnomer that is a ‘Safety Deposit Box’ in terms of their usefulness for Precious Metals

We’ll pick up on a common denominator that ties into all 5 of the above precious metals categories; the gold confiscation that directly resulted from the 1929 stock market crash which led to the depression.

The Gold confiscation act of 1933: Executive Order 6102

The complete act can be read at the following link:  http://www.knology.net/~bilrum/goldconfiscation1933.htm

Sadly but instructively, it’s important to note that the United States government has established a ‘tradition’ of relieving its citizens of their valuable precious metal holdings in times of crisis. The government hatched just such a scheme in 1933 under FDR.  And what was the governments rational for this piracy?  PMs were needed to help combat the depression caused by hot money (the combination of the roaring 20’s and World War 1; vast overprinting of dollars).  The FED needed real money, gold, to back Federal Reserve notes (paper money) that desparatly needed to be printed.

Unlike todays (unbacked-by-precious-metals) fiat currency, 1933 laws required the U.S. treasury to ‘back’ their depression era Fed note dollars with actual physical gold.  In 1933, 40% of a dollars value had to be backed by FED vaulted gold.  Today’s endless printing of dollars thru QE wasn’t a legal tactic the U.S. Treasury could employ to fight the depression.  So what exactly was the justification for PM confiscation under E.O. 6102?  Without physical gold in government possession, institutional tactics and controls the U.S. Treasury needed to combat the Depression were insufficient.

Limited gold holdings for U.S. citizens:  The government did allow U.S. citizens to ‘keep’ 5 troy ounces of gold during the enforced confiscation.  For today’s middle class investors, than amount might sound  sufficient.  Who should have the right to issue such edicts regarding the PMs of private citizens?  Jewelers, dentists, and other tradesmen were allowed to keep more gold beyond this 5 ounce limit.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Citizens who held their gold/silver in ‘rare coin collections’ were exempt from this governmental gold theft/confiscation.  All other people who turned in their gold received printed fiat money/dollars for their precious metal – at the hugely discounted exchange rate of $20.67 an ounce. Upon completion of the gold transfer from their customers, banks audaciously reconverted the $20/ounce citizen collected gold and it resold it BACK to the government for $35/ounce!  That’s type of confiscation, followed up by an outrageous mark-up, defines pure chutzpah!

The 1933 FED Arbitrage: That $20 to $35 markup represented a 75% markup on a per gold ounce basis.  A $15 price difference doesn’t sound like much, until you consider it involved upwards of 8000 tons of gold. Historians argue the amount: Did Banks walk off with BILLIONS or possibly even TRILLIONS of unearned depression era profits for their collection efforts?  The answer regarding that bank bonanza depends on how the event is specifically defined.   The 1933 U.S. Treasury gold confiscation act was/remains a national disgrace of historic proportions – an outright act of theft.  🙁

The FED – Protectors of the nations 8K ton gold treasure?

The FED: The unconstitutional Federal Reserve private banking cartel was voted into law by the treasonous 63rd congress of 1913.  The facts state that this vote took place late in the evening during a very poorly attended Christmas session; a mere 43 to 25 vote in the Senate. It didn’t hurt that a number of those congressman opposed to the act died aboard the Titanic in April of 1912?  Got conspiracy ?!?

This act of manipulation on a vast scale was lamented by a remorseful Woodrow Wilson, who publicly stated he had ‘ruined his country’ by signing off on this scam legislation.  A banker compliant press hailed the legislation as ‘a Christmas present for the nation’. The powerful Federal Reserve, run by a group of unelected bureaucrats and privately owned by the most powerful people in the world, has indeed become ‘the 4th branch’ of the United States government – the most dominant branch at that.

Here’s a quick preview of the Fed for those interested in learning a bit more about the history of this all-pervasive financial institution that runs the U.S.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j282JKnmeVo

How Does ‘The FED’ relate to gold and you?  The private owners of ‘The Fed’ refuse to let our (who’s?) government audit the gold we’re told is held at Fort Knox.  Why is that we can’t audit the gold supply at Fort Knox currently being managed by ‘The Fed’?  My guess: where there’s secrecy there’s shame.  Maybe the gold conspiracy crowd is on to something?   Is there any Gold left at Fort Knox ?!

The last physical gold audit occurred decades ago, when former general Dwight D. Eisenhower was the U.S. President.  This type of audit-free ‘Fed’ secrecy doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but is instructive concerning gold’s ultimate economic value.  Gold is more than just money, its control.

Gold and silver are real money; always have been, always will be.  As such, the prudent questions that needs to be asked is this: Do you own any precious metals?  Are your PMs safely stored?

The Time to audit the Gold at Fort Knox is LONG overdue

All that gold confiscated from ordinary citizens in the 1930’s by the U.S. government – 8,000 tons (!) – was smelted into the legendary supply ‘at’ Fort Knox.  80+ years later it’s unclear as to whether or not that gold treasure is still being held there.  Conspiracy theorists suggest shill tungsten bars, covered by a thin veneer of gold, have mysteriously replaced many of the original gold bar stock inside the fort.  A simple bandsaw test, cutting straight through a randomly selected gold bar, could determine if there is any validity to this claim.  Are some/many/most of the Fort’s gold bars – all stamped with serial numbers – actually mainly tungsten bars, or is this merely an urban legend?  An audit would restore or end trust.

Good luck getting any type of bandsaw test done on a single bar of gold held (claimed to be held?) at Fort Knox! The FED vehemently stands in the way of any such gold bar testing from being performed inside Fort Knox.  Congressional hearings to conduct even the a simple physical audit of the Gold supply have been repeatedly rebuffed by the power the FED extolls.  It’s pretty clear the bankers are in charge, not ‘our’ elected public officials, regarding the gold being held or not held in Fort Knox.

The violent of the theft of our gold assets (i.e. jewelry, coins) that occurred in 1933 echoes on!  Like the dust bowl from the 30’s, that tragic confiscation event has not died out in the folklore histories of many hardworking American families.  Our grandparents were left holding the bag for the vulgarity and excesses of the monied class and their poor choices – especially the completely unnecessary but hugely profitable ‘Great War’!  Not turning in gold to authorities back then meant facing possible 10 years prison time – and a fine for good measure.

Can or should we expect a similar scenario given our countries $20 trillion debt?  Stay tuned as world events continue to unfold, but also stay protected with a careful selection of intelligently stored PM’s!

The question begs repeating:  Is our countries gold, 8000+ tons … approximately 5% of the worlds gold, still truly being stored in Fort Knox?  Many conspiracy buffs like to talk about strange late night rumblings of trucks in 1968 around the Forts’ Louisville, Kentucky locale.  Would LBJ really have allowed the rumored transfer of America’s treasure to his bankster bosses in London under the guise of a short term gold loan/lease?  Considering the extent that the Johnson administration lied about every aspects of the Vietnam War, why would anybody trust that our country’s gold is truly secure?

The larger point is this: if it’s unclear that the country’s gold supply is safe at Fort Knox (no audit in decades!), why would you trust your ‘Too Big to Fail’ banker with precious metals to hold in their safety deposit boxes?  You are responsible to know your precious metals holding rights regarding what’s safe from confiscation… assuming any safety exists for storing PM’s anywhere in the banking system. Fortunately, there are vast resources on the net to help your research concerning (lack-of ?!?) safety deposit boxes, and a myriad of other private storage options – both domestic and foreign.

Collectable PM coins or Wall Street ‘casino house money’ ?

One of my favorite parts of the movie ‘Casino’ was at the end, when Robert DeNiro’s drugged out wife (played by Sharon Stone) was found dead in a run-down Vegas motel.  All that was left with her at the time of death were rare collectable gold coins – precariously out of place, instead of being stored ‘in relative’ safely in a PRE-debt-America bank.  The movie script set-up took place in the 1970’s, before the country amassed trillions of dollars in debt.  Is it still safe to keep a rare coin collection in a U.S. bank, with a multitute of counterparty claims on $20 trillion of growing governmental debt?!?

A large plurality of Gold Bugs consider the most dangerous place to ‘hold’ your precious metals is in ETF funds packaged and sold by large Wall Street brokerage houses.  According to many highly vocal Gold bugs bloggers and PM chat room commentators, ETF stylePaper Gold’ or ‘Paper Silver’ give the illusion of metal ownership … but it’s just that – an illusion.  What exactly  backs these paper claims in terms of physical metal?  As the saying goes, talk is cheap.

Many PM investigative journalists estimate that there are upwards of 250+ people with claims for every 1 ounce of gold being ‘held’ in London or NYC vaults by collectively by these paper metal funds. The PM ETF situation reminds me of another gangster movie, ‘Bugsy’, where Warren Beatty is shown selling issue after issue of stock – far in excess of 100% – into ownership of the original Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.  Investment swindles in the form of CONfidence schemes have to be relearned by each generation. The history of banking was built on the very idea of holding only 10% of overall gold deposits, and lending 90% at a given time.  Who’s to say/know if the leverage ratio on vaulted PMs has hit 200 to 1, or even 300 to 1 ?!?

GLD and SLV funds represent PM’s biggest ETF’s, and receive the bulk of the blogger scrutiny and skepticism.  Are these paper ETF Gold and Silver funds being offered through Wall Street iconic firms actually legalistically ‘safe’ but morally ‘irresponsible’ in terms of their metals management policies?

It’s a safe bet most of the investing public is ignorant in terms of the inner workings of  fractional reserve holdings.  Have GLD or SLV investors actually read the contracts’ small print??  To what extent are these precious metals being held in fractional amounts; what’s the minimum PM vaulted ratio?  Where’s the transparency on these matters?  ‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire’ is the old adage. Time will tell if these PM reporters concerns regarding ridiculously over-leveraged ETF funds are true.  With so many people chiming in concerns, and so many other options available, why take ETF risks?

Lastly – the whole issue of Precious Metals Futures styles contracts is beyond this beginning analysis. There are stories of high-end Futures investors demanding ownership of scarce (undeliverable?) metals held(?) in the London exchange vaults.  Is it true these financiers being paid not-so-small fortunes of fiat money quietly for metals that are not present in vaults?  We live in interesting financial times indeed.

Owning Precious Metals offshore in Foreign Countries

Many astute large  investors set-up metals accounts in foreign countries like Switzerland, or Singapore (very popular today amongst ‘Gold Bugs’).  These and other locales are far away from Uncle Sam and his IRS long arm reach.  Visitors are allowed to view their precious metals allocations in private rooms without U.S. confiscation worry.  Most middle class Americans can only dream of this type of protection for their modest supply of precious metals.  Large minimum deposit amounts make these type of institutionalized protections cost prohibitive for people who work for a living.

In today’s global marketplace, you can ‘buy’ silver in Australia that is literally held in the ground – at the massive Perth Silver mine.  On the surface, that sounds like a safe idea (puns intended)!  Unlike the United States, Australia has no history of PM confiscation to date, but it does carry large debts to the international banking cabal.  BUYER BEWARE!  Do you really want Aussie issued currency for your Silver claim when the financial system changes overnight?  Aussie dollars might only be useful as toilet paper if the situation gets too out of hand.  Hope for the best, but plan for the worst, if/when the sh*t hits the fan.

Canada’s CEF fund has been popular with PM investors from the 1960’s for the great lengths they go to protect precious metals in a secure Alberta facility. Canada is a Crown entity, and the British are famous for the legal strengths of their property rights laws.  On the other hand, who’s to say the Gold and Silver held in the the Alberta funds vaults might not belong to the Queen if push came to shove?  The same can be said of the United States in general, which has been legally ‘held’ by the Crown corporation since 1871.  A true Gold Bug takes no human contract for granted for any history that has yet to be written.

Singapore has done the most over the recent past to win the approval of the Precious Metals crowd.  Canada’s CEF fund is universally recognized as a firm with a strong record for solid metals protection and governance.  Sprott Resources also gets high marks, particularly from Silver Bugs, when it comes to protecting metals inventory.  Novice investors can begin their own metals with these things in mind.

The weakest link in the foreign ownership process often involves the Bank intermediary firms which conduct/hold metal transactions on client the behalf of middle class Americans.  Some Banks play been accused of playing loose with PM contract terms and conditions, specifically default and confiscation clauses, by Gold Bugs in metals forums and in chat rooms.  Be careful whom you work with and buy your PM’s from.  Google search any intermediary firms for any history of problems.

Gold and Silver: Real Money as defined by our constitution

Our United States dollar is a currency that acts as a stand-in for the real money that is comprised of Gold and Silver.  Until the creation of the unconstitutional Federal Reserve banking system/cartel, a citizen could ‘exchange’ his paper dollars for physical metal.  Look carefully at the top of your dollars – they are really ‘Federal Reserve Notes’ masquerading as constitutional money – ‘dollars’ that should be (aren’t!) redeemable into Silver or Gold per our constitution.  Good luck trying to turn in today’s fiat paper money for metals!   Silver certificates of the past were just that – a claim on physical silver.  The British pound’s value was based in a mathematical denomination proportional an actually pound of physical silvers value.  On the flip side, Federal Reserve Notes are valued by the government’s ability to collect taxes on your labor – essentially a type of enforced intimidation, backed up by institutionalized thuggery.

When the music that symbolically is the economy stops, and the non-existent strong market is exposed as the fraud that it is, everyone will ‘grab a seat’.  Those who are holding a portion of their wealth in the form of precious metals stand a better chance to ‘get grounded’, to be safe.  Those who are fully invested in the lies of fiat money as represented by Federal Reserve notes (masquerading as dollars), be it in the form of stocks or bonds, had better be prepared to take a 40-60%  – or worse – portfolio valuation hit.

Precious metals have a 5000+ year tradition as a solid medium to barter in exchange for goods and services.  There isn’t a single government issued ‘fiat’ or ‘decree’ currency that hasn’t found its way into Ronald Reagan’s infamous dustbin of history.  The dollar will NOT prove to be a historical anomaly to this trend.  Its replacement has already been designed, if not implemented, by the International Monetary Fund.  The IMF has already created SDR’s; Special Drawing Rights, if you are interested in researching them. A derivative product of these SDR’s, designed for eventual commoner use as a dollar replacement has been discussed for years at economic conferences and throughout the financial press.

The suffering the American populace will endure when the international banksters finally do pull the rug on the dollar, and replace it with their new world-reserve IMF currency, will crush the unsuspecting and the unprepared.  The question is not if but when.  No fiat currency (currency unrooted in metals that backstop the paper bills) has ever survived.  It’s likely to be a slow transition; still, be ahead of the curve!

The English pound suffered a devastating fate after WW2.  The sun never set on the British empire – until it did – and the dollar took over as the world’s reserve (paper) currency. International bankers, the people who ‘own’ the majority of the world’s wealth, feel no long-term obligation to the U.S. dollar.   But weren’t their wealthy parents very lives and vast fortunes saved by G.I. Joe?

Precious metals, in comparison to paper bills, offer relative safety from the machinations of the banking system.  PM’s are assets that are not dependent on human loyalties or ponzi-style scheme institutions, many of which primary serve as trickle-up wealth transfer mechanisms.

Gold and Silver: Real Money recognized as such worldwide

Precious metal coins and/or bars, be they gold or silver, risk no such undermining planned paper value destruction from your friendly International bankers.  On the contrary, those financial gangsters will be looking for every possible ways to separate productive citizens from their precious metals – just like they successfully did in the 1933 confiscation act under FDR – when the powerful U.S. economy grounded to a near halt. PM’s currently being trashed in the financial media will be held in high esteem when that eventful ‘black whichever’ weekday arrives. That’s a PM scenario is something you can truly bank on!

Since their inception in 1914, Federal Reserve Notes masquerading as United States dollars (i.e. – currency exchangeable for constitutional money … gold or silver) have lost over 98% of their purchasing value.  An ounce of gold and silver, however, has continued to hold and protect their value.  These metals can still purchase equivalent amounts of food and clothing as they did in the days of Rome.  Think about the implications of that fact for a minute!  That’s why I give gold or silver coins to kids to help celebrate special occasions.  In comparison, my parents generation was found of giving now-discredited FED bonds.  Do they even promote ‘U.S. Savings Bonds’ programs anymore ?!?  These bonds had television commercials regularly on the air.  Oh how the times have changed!

Lastly – please note that every U.S. pilot flies with a basic emergency kit of supplies in the event his aircraft has to crash land.  Within each and every one of those kits is a one once gold coinIt’s understood that gold is recognized as money in every culture and corner around the globe.  Every ounce-coin a pilot carries in his aircraft has been furiously debated by the military, as weight (fuel) impacts everything tactical capability engineers can design into the pilot’s cockpit.   All pilots carry gold for ‘worst case scenarios’, as you should.  As they teach the legions in the Boy Scouts – be prepared.

In closing, please Google precious metals investing.  Take time to read up on the subject, and be safe.  The banks and their fiat monopoly-style currency have not earned, and do not deserve, your trust.  Protect yourself by investing in sound money – gold and silver collectable coins, which historically skyrocket when big corrections occur.  These coins represent financial insurance for the modern retiree who deserves peace of mind.  Position yourself to protect a lifetime of labor and savings with an investment into sound money.  A financial tradition extending back 5000+ years, precious metals, needs to be at least a small if not large part of your portfolio.  Gold and Silver = Real Money  🙂

Disclaimer / Due Diligence Reminder / Preview on Silver

*** The following article is based on the investment experience of a known gold bug, who began buying Gold when it was a mere $400 an ounce in 2003.  He only keeps small amounts of  ‘junk silver U.S. coins’ on hand for emergency bartering, something you too should do.

Please note that there exists approximately 1 ounce of refined/processed gold for each person on the planet, and approximately 16 times that amount of silver.  It is the very ‘small’ nature of these metals markets wherein the opportunity and risk lie.  PM’s are best thought of as a store of wealth over their potential value in terms of speculation.

Precious metals are the most manipulated commodity on the planet!  Local coin store shelves are relatively empty of Gold and Silver inventory.  Retail prices for PM’s have only creeped upwards in terms of dollars, seemingly in defiance of the laws of supply of demand.  How long can these manipulations hold on?  Are PM’s ready to break out, or will the dollar carry the day?

Keep a lookout for a future article on buying Silver!  This advice comes free of charge for your own financial reflection. Lastly, note you alone are responsible for your own due diligence and decisions regarding all aspects of PM purchases. Good Luck and stay safe in the investment jungle currently confronting all modern retirees.

Where are Americas Most Healthiest and Affordable Places to Retire? (infographic)

A recent study by the Center for a Secure Retirement researched America’s best cities for a healthy and more affordable retirement.  The study, highlighted in the infographic below and published in detail here, ranked 60 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas in terms of health and affordability for middle income retirees (those with household incomes between $25,000 and $100,000 and investible assets of less than $1 million) .

 

To determine how healthy a city was and for the city to qualify as one of the most healthy cities,  the study examined eight different categories including healthcare, the economy, social wellness, activities, the environment, transportation and crime.  To determine a cities affordability and for the city to qualify as one of the most affordable places to retire, the study paid special attention to the cost of living index, median housing prices and the median rental prices.

Some of the best places to live in the us in retirement were surprising as it appears that being the most affordable place to retire wasn’t always the most important factor as Seattle, a somewhat more expensive city, got the number spot due to it’s wealth of outdoor activities.  Hartford was ranked as having the highest concentrations of Boomers in the U.S. and one of the top ten healthiest cities in america,  probably due to it having one of the most affordable home healthcare industries in the study. While the most physically healthy residents live in Salt Lake City, also one of the healthiest cities in america, many retirees love Denver and Portland for their abundance of outdoor activities and many cultural activities,  according to the study.

So here is the lineup of the top 10 healthiest cities to live in retirement and most affordable places to retire in the US.

  1. Seattle, Washington – Despite being one of the more expensive cities on the list, Seattle got the number one spot due to it’s natural beauty, moderate climate and wealth of outdoor activities.
  2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota – Even though it’s known for it’s cold weather, the number two spot went to Minneapolis-St. Paul where retirees report high levels of satisfaction and social and emotional supprt.
  3. Denver, Colorado – Seniors and young people alike love Denver for it’s abundance of outdoor activities.  The City also ranked well for it’s wealth of cultural activities which include the Denver Performing Arts Complex which is one of the largest centers for the arts in the U.S.
  4. Portland, Oregon – Popular with both the young and retirees alike, Portland’s natural beauty, attractions and educational opportunities continue to entice new residents.  Also noted in the study was the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital which is nationally ranked in five adult specialties, including oncology and geriatrics.
  5. Hartford, Connecticut –  According to the study, Hartford has one of the highest concentrations of Boomers in the U.S. probably due to it having one of the most affordable home healthcare industries in the  study. It appears that the residents also get involved in the community as the city has some of the highest levels of civic involvement and volunteering, the study notes.
  6. Omaha, Nebraska – A good economy, low cost of living, housing prices, unemployment, and low crime rate make Omaha attractive as a healthy and affordable place to live.  Not to mention high levels of satisfaction and support being reported by local resident Boomers.
  7. Baltimore, Maryland –  Mostly noted for it’s healthcare facilities which include the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Mercy Medical Center and UM Medical Center which rank among the best in the country.
  8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania –  It appears Boomers love Pittsburgh,  not only for its affordability but also for its low crime and top cultural institutions that include the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Public Theater.
  9. Cleveland, Ohio –   Cleveland’s low housing prices and top hospitals for cardiology, urology, geriatrics, oncology and a dozen other specialties gained it the number nine spot.   Playhouse Square, one of the nation’s top theater districts adds to the cultural way of life that resident retirees enjoy.
  10. Salt Lake City, Utah – This city was noted as having some of the most physically healthy residents in the study boasting low levels of smoking, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Good pubic transportation also helped this city gain its number ten spot.

If you’re looking for an affordable place to retire or want to learn more about the most healthy cities to retire in,  you can read about this study and which other cities were ranked in the study on America’s Best Cities for a Healthy (and More Affordable) Retirement by clicking here.

Part 1 – Precious metals (gold & silver) for the cautious Modern Retired Investor

Gold Bars & Coins – Photo Courtesy: Mark Herpel
Gold Bars & Coins – Photo Courtesy: Mark Herpel

Any modern retiree who doesn’t pay close attention to today’s volatile financial markets is a fool waiting to get burned!  As I type this December 2015 morning, the markets are being kept artificially afloat through a toxic combination of hot money (central bank QE dollar printing) and hot air (overly optimistic lies and disinformation printed by the main stream media/presstitudes).  An arrangement of powerful Wall Street and government forces known as the ‘Plunge Protection Team’ or PPT keeps the financial gears of the U.S. economy from self-correcting in terms of valuation (over valued stock prices and bond valuations).  What options exist in the financial world to hedge against disaster?

When the building financial storm finally does smash down past its human systemic constraints, and unleashes its adjustment power upon the distracted citizenry, it will be a blood bath! Financial elites, always a step ahead of ‘we the sheeple’ (their term for hard working citizens), have already pulled the bulk of their investments out of this ‘bull’ market.  Truth be told, the coming NYSE correction will probably make the 2008 debacle look like a financial walk in the park.  Trillions of QE dollars are poised to disappear in a flash.  Markets go up and come down … that’s just the nature of the beast.

As legendary Wall Street trader and media manipulator Joseph Kennedy said after pulling his money out of stocks prior to the 1929 market collapse, ‘only a fool waits for top dollar’.  When will you make your move, and where will you go to protect your hard earned assets, before the bottom drops out?

Gold, Silver, and Apple Stock were found to be the three best investments for the first decade to the 21st century, if purchased at the start of the millenium.  The San Jose Mercury News, the newspaper of Silicon Valley – the land of the internet millionaires – found that Gold and Silver outperformed all the major stock indices by wide margins.  Precious metals are and remain the centuries old sworn enemy of paper stock traders.  Will these commodities hold their value, or even rocket upward, when the NYSE bubble bursts again?

Precious Metals are ‘Sound Money’ with a strong tradition

Gold and Silver: 5000+ years of tradition of use as money to barter for goods/services. The Wall-Street-centric strategy that many modern retirees have utilized to achieve financial independence would benefit from some fresh analysis. Specifically, long term investors need to look into precious metals arena.  Silver and Gold belong in any retiree’s portfolio, the only issue is that of ‘what percentage’ or value to hold.  These PM’s (precious metals) should be held long term assets.

Gold coins contain intrinsic value. There is only so much of these metal deposits within the Earth’s crust. A 3% increase in overall gold inventory define’s a good year for miners. Equally telling is the considerable amount of labor required to mint these coins. Human labor contains intrinsic economic value; value that can NOT simply be keystroked into digital existence by mindless banker bureaucrats.

And what about Silver?  Recent studies have shown that Silver, the less glamorous precious metal, has held it’s value in terms of the cost of barley an impressive 23 centuries.  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-16/asset-protection-silver-has-held-its-value-23-centuries ).   That’s storage value!

Gold and Silver do not expose investors to ‘Counterparty Risk’.  News broadcasts regularly lead off with business stories involving fraud on a massive scale.  Precious metals in physical form are free of deceptive contracts and Madoff-style practices all to common on Wall Street.  Unless you speculate in mining stocks, refined Precious Metals simply exist.  There may be multiple claims on an ounce if you work with unscrupulous paper contract brokers – but there is only that one physical ounce.

The biggest believers/buyers of precious metals can be found in the world most populated country.

China – ‘Ground Zero’ for the implosion of paper assets

Savvy investors only have to look to China, where the government has recently been arresting bankers and fund managers for the damage their recklessness has caused to Shanghai’s 25 years young stock market.  A 43% correction/implosion has and continues to wreak havoc on a nation of peasant speculators and newly minted millionaires.  The government bailout may be in the trillions of dollars.

Unfortunately for Wall Streets financial brethren working the markets in China,  the People’s Republic still believe in using  firing squads and hanging platforms for those who behaved recklessly with the nations money.  Now that approach is what some would call market discipline being firmly enforced!

Credit the Chinese for one financial strategy: they are long term thinkers.  Gold is central to their plans; front and center to China’s central banks’ financial planning.

China is determined to be a major player in the ‘one world currency’ currently being designed behind close doors by the International Monetary Fund.  China’s ever increased gold inventory, a closely guard state secret rumored to be as great as 30,000 tons, will carry a lot of weight in any future monetary platform discussions.

Wall Street: A Bankers paradise in comparison to China

While the color of money is blood red in the far east, it’s a bit different this side of the Pacific.  The last time America’s stock market crashed, in 2008, all the wrong people seemed to pay the price.  Main street was left holding the bag for excesses designed and implemented on Wall Street.  People holding paper assets of dubious origins took a very cold shower indeed.  The market meltdown of 2008 was a tragedy played out in several acts, and on multiple stages, including Washington D.C. style congressional shakedowns.

Under a barrage of fear mongering and very real threats, our elected officials gave TBTF banksters $700 billion upfront to help pay for their market vandalism.  To add injury to insult, Fed bankers used this authority as license to print 16 trillion more for their equally brazen European bankster counterparts.  TARP money was approved by Congress to act as a backstop to halt the 2008 hemorrage.  In an further amazing display of audacity, billions of TARP dollars found its way into the coffers of Wall Street Christmas bonus funds for executives and their sold-out foot soldiers.

Not a single Wall Street executive has ever stood trial for his/her 2008 criminality.  Every previous Wall Street market heist found at least one high profile executive being thrown under a train!  It wasn’t that long ago jail terms, not Fed printable cash settlements, ruled the day.  Enron’s Jeff Skilling will end up serving 14 years more than all the banksters involved with the 2008 meltdown. Net jail term lengths assigned to all bankers involved with credit default swap style derivatives – zero years!

The mendacity and mediocrity of the people and institutions the hatched the Wall Streets 2008 paper asset crash staggers the mind! Nearly a decade after the fact, the shock and disbelief remain alive at some level in the public mind.  People are left to wonder; are we being set-up again by Wall Street bankers?  It’s a fair question based on the seedy/greedy dimension of  human nature.

Fast forward to 2015/16.  Have the Wall Street banks set up a gullible public for a repeat of the 2008 shearing – or god forbid – something even worse?  According to a multitude of bloggers, ‘smart’ money has already exitted the Wall Street paper casino.  If this prognosis is true, why is the public constantly bombarded with financial MSNBC and CNN cheerleaders, urging everyone to stay the Wall Street paper asset course?

Wall Street’s get out of jail free card? Not a single Wall Street bank executive has ever been called to face trial for their 08′ misdeeds, au contrare!  Obama’s former Attorney General Eric Holder chose accept a $77 million gig at J.P. Morgan to act as a compliance officer – his legacy tarnished – but his pockets lined.  That’s how we roll nowadays – backwards to a new type of modern serfdom.  Perhaps that’s why so many investors feel or know, deep down inside, that another market crash is eminent.

Given that background, what can a modern retiree do to protect him/herself from feeling the brunt of the large, inevitable correction due to eventually hit the U.S. markets?  Metals offer you a solid  form or protection of wealth insurance.  These PM’s should make up at least a 5-10% portion of your nest egg.

Modern Retiree’s can protect his nest egg by investing a PORTION of his hard earned funds into ‘sound money’ – money that has a 5000+ year old tradition: precious metals.  Primary choices include in bars denominated ounces, or ‘rare’ numismatic collectable coins.  That’s what middle class America can afford to store.  Local coins shops provide such offerings.

Safely store Gold & Silver from TBTF bankers and robbers

A primary issue of concern with PM’s involves the safe external storage of said metal, while still allowing ready access to them in the event of a national monetary emergency. CAUTION! If you want to store PM’s somewhere – ANYWHERE – inside the banking system, you’d better read up and keep up on the law!!! Hard core precious metal investors consider the idea of storing physical gold and silver in any TBTF bank depository a travesty, an idea not even worthy of consideration!

Amongst the wealthiest individuals and families in America, it is common to ‘hold’ anywhere from 2% to 10% of their sizable portfolios ‘physically’ in precious metals.  Unlike currencies (Dollars, Euros, the Yen, etc.), no government can ‘print’ or create additional precious metals, and thus hot rod their ailing economies.  We all grew up hearing about safe Swiss bank accounts that protected the super rich’s wealth in the form of 24 karat gold bars -stored long term until these investors became the richest people in the graveyard  🙂

Many of the rich store private stashes of gold and silver, alongside private armies hired to protect them, kept under lock and key in gated communities and mansions around the world.  The 0.000001% club apparently likes to wear, display, or just plain oggle over their valuable precious metals.  In comparison, most middle class Americans simply want to protect our hard-earned nest egg from the ravages of corrupt banking institutions.

“If you can’t hold it, you don’t own it” – Gold Bug Mantra

The term Gold Bug is a derisive term Wall Street brokers bestow onto precious metal collectors; investors who cut into their paper-asset market action.  A true Gold Bug would never trust a Wall Street too-big-to-fail (TBTF) bank with his/her metals stash/stack.  Safety deposit boxes available at the local branches of Wall Street zombie banks are the last place a true Gold Bug stores his precious metals!

If you can’t hold it, You don’t own it!  That’s the mantra of precious metal collectors from sea to shining sea.  It bears repeating: These investors would no longer allow a TBTF bank to hold their gold or silver (coins/bars, etc) than feed their own children nuclear waste laced food, topped off with toxins!

A small, some would say naive handful of more trusting types ‘might’ allow a community bank, or even a credit union, that has a small array of safety deposit boxes – to hold their PM’s (precious metals).  Who knows, maybe their brother-in-law is a rural branch manager?  These people at least trust their local banks more than their local neighborhood robbers – or TBTF megabanks.   Their (Polly Ann-ish?) theory in a nutshell; FED bankers won’t be able to pull off a nationwide confiscation type lockdown, at least not without major rioting, in the event the electronic banking system shuts down.

Holding precious metals means just that – the ability to ‘hold’ it in your hand – or have ready yet secure access to them in the event of an economic emergency.  Imagine a world were no ATM machines work anywhere.  Will you have anything to barter with? Or are you of the opinion that such a situation is inconceivable in the land of the free?  Conspiracy theorist insists elite bankers are planning just such a chaotic monetary scenario to help issue in the New World Order as predicted by Bush 41 on 9/11/91.

Home Storage for significant PM holdings ?!? A true gold bug will tell you that one’s home is the one and only place to store your precious metals.  A marriage counselor might have other ideas about keeping ANY valuable PMs laying around.  Personally speaking, unless your spouse agrees with the idea of at having at least 100 lbs of attack dogs as pets AND a firearm, then its best to look at alternative placement for any significant amount of precious metals.  Expensive home camera and alarm systems warrant consideration if your the portion of you retirement nest egg being held is large enough.

In the United States, a 1930’s style ‘bank holiday’ is truly a cultural and historic oxymoron.  In a possible future repeat of that situation, barterable pre-1965 U.S. silver ‘junk’ quarters and dimes should cover you through the hardest of times. Google junk silver to learn more about purchase options.  Inexpensive junk silver is a relatively safe way to store PM’s UNLESS you have kids – in which case a safe is an absolute must!

Holding a small supply of ‘Junk Silver’ is probably the simpliest, safest way of owning precious metals.  Junk silver includes all pre-1965 quarters, dimes, and even half dollar coins.  If you have kids who might have access to such coins, then BUYER BEWARE! That 1964 dime, 90% silver by weight, that you purchased from a junk silver store is worth alot more than 10 cents!  Keep a close eye on any junk silver you might choose to purchase IF you have coin rummaging children.  Here’s a link to a random site to help you start your junk silver information search: http://www.apmex.com/

Where/How can the middle class store PM stack/stash ?

That’s the question!  Home safes are fine for small amounts of gold or silver coins (commonly referred to as stacks).  Access versus safety is the ying/yang that everyone has to work out for their family’s long term security.  Answers regarding precious metals storage vary depending on individual situations.  Having safety and access are dual requirements of a seasoned PM investor.

Numismatic ‘Collectable’ coins? The informal definition of numismatic coins implies a 15% or more surcharge on the purchase price of coins in terms of the bullion or metals weight value.  Collectable numismatic coins have recieved some degree of ‘protection’ from government confiscation in the past.  IMPORTANT: Just because a coin is termed ‘numismatic’ does not mean it’s the free-of-risk from confiscation.  Numismatic law is a field onto itself, complete with all the quirks involved with human beings and money  http://www.usagold.com/gildedopinion/gold-confiscation-ganz.html

‘Numismatic coins’ and safety from confiscation? According to moneychanger.com, “Any exemption from confiscation has to include the American Eagle gold and silver coins“. A statute defines these commonly available minted coins as numismatic (i.e. collectable), as opposed to bullion coins, which are priced on a weight basis. I wish I could recommend the common Eagle coins for safekeeping; they are legal tender and apparently numismatic. IMPORTANT: No situation has occurred in the 21st century to test this hypothesis, and many PM collectors are rightfully skeptical of this interpretation of ‘numismatic’ coin protection.  All U.S. coins minted after 1960 should be CONSIDERED ‘confiscatable’.

With confiscation chat occur all over the internet, where is a novice Precious Metals investor to turn to? The PM marketplace seems to be responding with some creative protective offerings: State depositories.

State managed Gold and Silver depositories:  The Utah state government monetized a select set of pre-1964 Gold and silver Eagle coins in 2011. A variety of depository options will soon be available to the public, including a narrow set of IRS approved 401K plans.  Talk of VISA accounts backed by vaulted metals are finding their way around PM blogs.  Legal frameworks have already been put into place.

These still-forming depositories represent the most forward thinking ideas around in terms of storage and protection of PM’s on American soil. Visit utahgsd.com to learn more. Note that Texas has proposed a somewhat similar storage facility for precious metal allocations, further shifting economic powers from the FED to the states.  Will other states begin looking at seceding from the Federal Reserve’s control?

How ‘safe’ are Safety Deposit Boxes from PM confiscation?

Safety deposit boxes are not free from governmental prying eyes.  It’s true thousands of these boxes were seized during the depression as the result of bank failures.  According to Wikipedia, there remain 1,605 cardboard cartons from said seizures stored in the basement of the Treasury, each carton containing the contents of one unclaimed safe deposit box.  While some high profile seizures resulted from high profile secret service cases, records of seizures from John Q. Public types are murky at best.

Nowadays, storing any of your valuable precious metals in a bank safety deposit box should be considered RISKY, even if you store them as ‘rare collectable coins’ as currently defined by the U.S. government.  The government clearly allows citizens to hold collectable coins in safety deposit boxes – and citizens comply in droves.  In the event of a major event, say World War III being declared in Syria, gold ownership may be a mere Executive Order away from being effectively transferred over to ‘Fed’ control.

Confiscation: History is on the side of PM investor/skeptics. At a very meaningful level, diligent PM investors have history on their side when it comes to matters of government trustworthiness, or lack thereof.  After all, FDR looked deadly ill when he was filmed signing Executive Order 6102 on April 5th, 1933.

Coming Soon!

Precious Metals Investing, where we touch on the following points:  Gold Confiscation / The Fed and Fort Knox / Wall St Casino /Offshore Investing / Constitutional Money

Keep a lookout for a future article on buying Silver!

Disclaimer

*** This article is based on the investment experience of a known gold bug, who began buying Gold when it was a mere $400 an ounce in 2003.  He only keeps small amounts of  ‘junk silver U.S. coins’ on hand for emergency bartering, something you too should do.  This advice comes free of charge for your own financial reflection. Lastly, note you alone are responsible for your own due diligence and decisions regarding all aspects of PM purchases. Good Luck and stay safe in the investment jungle currently confronting all modern retirees.

Microsoft Office 2016 for Seniors – The Program Interface with Word

Microsoft Office 2016 for Seniors

This is the first lesson in a series of free online computer classes for seniors where we are focusing on Microsoft’s latest version of Office, Microsoft Office 2016.  This free online computer training for seniors will focus on beginning computer classes for seniors  in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook 2016.  ModernRetiree.com will be offering a variety of different computer lessons for seniors through-out the year.

A Look at the Word 2016 Interface

Microsoft Office 2016 is the latest version of Microsoft Office and is the version that will ship with your computer if your order a new one.  The latest version of Office is a very powerful Office Suite that consists of applications that perform a variety of different functions.  These applications allow you to:

  • Create letters, flyers, brochures and newsletters using Word
  • Create spreadsheets to manage your budget and account balances with Excel
  • Create presentations for your volunteer activities using PowerPoint
  • Send and receive email and manage your schedule with Outlook

Even though the Office applications are used for different functions, they all share a common interface so once you get familiar with one, you’ll find the other applications work in similar ways.  In this lesson, you’ll get familiar with the Office 2016 interface using Microsoft Word.  We’ll explore the Ribbon and the Backstage view and you’ll learn how to create new blank documents and get familiar with the Ribbon tabs.

Starting Word 2016

Office 2016 is compatible with Windows 7 or later and for Mac OS X 10.10 so the steps for starting your Office application will differ depending on which version you are using.  The most common way to start Word 2016 is to click the Start button at the lower left end of the Windows Taskbar.

Windows 7 – Click the Start Button on the taskbar and click on All Programs.  Click on Microsoft Office 2016 and click on Microsoft Word 2016.

Windows 10 – Click the Start button and click All Apps.  Scroll down to the M section and then click Microsoft Office 16. Click Word 2016 or desired application.

Windows 8.1 – From the Start screen, click the down arrow at the bottom and then locate and click Word 2016 or the application you want to use.

Starting a New Document

Once you open up Word, Excel or PowerPoint in Office 2016, you’ll be presented with a Start screen.  You can begin by working on a recent document, opening another document you saved earlier, create a new blank document or create a document from a template.  We’ll start by creating a new blank document in Word.

  1. Click on Blank Document and Word will open up.

Creating a new blank document in Word 2016

Maximize the Word Window

After you start Word 2016, you will see the Word application window. You may wish to maximize the window so you can view the full Word programming interface and all the tabs and groups on the ribbon The maximize button is located at the top right corner of the application window.

1. Click the maximize button to see the fully maximized window

minimize and maximize button in Word 2016

Word 2016 Program Interface

Here is the Word 2016 program working environment. We’ll look at all these parts of the program in detail in this lesson.

Word Interface in Office 2016

Working with the Word 2016 Program Window

The File Menu (Backstage View)

The Backstage view contains commands for managing your Word program and Files. It provides you options for creating new documents, saving, opening existing documents, printing, or sharing your document and sending your documents to others.

Enter the Backstage View

  1. Click the File Tab on the menu
  2. Click on the Info tab.  The middle pane provides options to control permissions for who can work on your document, share your document and allows you to manage versions.  The right pane displays document properties.  Explore the other tabs in the Backstage view.
  3. Click the arrow at the top of the window to exit backstage view

Backstage View in Word 2016

The Ribbon

Tools on the Ribbon are organized into groups including commands in the file tab for managing your files and commands on the ribbon for managing your file content. Each Office application has a different set of tabs for the tasks it  performs.  In the example below, we are looking at the Ribbon in Word 2016.  The Ribbon is what you will use to access all of Word’s features. It is located at the top of the document window and consists of Tabs that are organized into groups which contain common commands relating to a particular task.

There are 3 types of tabs

Standard – includes the File, Home, Insert, Page Layout Review, References, Mailings, View and Add-Ins

Contextual Tabs – these only appear when needed depending on the task you are performing such as Picture Tools, Drawing and Table Tools

Program Tabs – Print Preview, info, etc

Let’s take a look at the standard RIBBON tabs

Home Tab

  1. Click the Home tab, the ribbon will display command buttons you can use to change color, appearance, and alignment of your text.
  2. The Home Tab has 5 Groups – The Clipboard Group, the Font Group, the Paragraph Group, the Style Group and the Editing Group.

The Home tab in Word 2016

If you hover your mouse over a command, you’ll see a screen tip.  If a command is greyed out, it is not available for use.  In the following example, we’re hovering our mouse over the Paste command in the Clipboard Group.

screen tips in Word 2016

Insert Tab

  1. Click the Insert tab, and you will see the command buttons you will use whenever you want to insert tables, images, pictures, online pictures, charts, headers and footers and page numbers to your document.

Insert tab in Word 2016

Design Tab

  1. Click the Design tab, and you will see the command buttons you will use whenever you want to format your document and apply themes, styles, colors, fonts, paragraph spacing, effects and more.

Design tab in Word 2016

Layout Tab

1. Click the Layout tab, and you’ll find the buttons needed to adjust the margins, paper size, orientation, indentation, line spacing and general appearance of your document. The Layout Tab also allows you to change the Page Setup by launching the Page Setup Dialog Box.

2. Click the Page Setup Dialog box launcher.  Here you can change alignment, indentation and spacing before and after paragraphs.

Layout tab in Word 2016

Mailings Tab

1. Click the Mailings tab to see the commands related to mass mailings used in the Mail Merge Feature. Organized into 5 Groups: Create, Start Mail Merge, Write & Insert Fields, Preview Results and Finish.

Mailings tab in Word 2016

References Tab

1. Click the References tab. Here you’ll see commands you can add to your document such as reports and research papers. The commands are organized into 6 groups: Table of Contents, footnotes, Citations and Bibliography, Captions, Index and Table of Authorities

References tab in Word 2016

Review Tab

1. Click the Review tab and you’ll find buttons relating to proof reading your document, tracking changes, working in other languages and protecting documents. These are organized into 7 groups: Proofing, Language, Comments, Tracking Changes, Compare and Protect.

Review tab in Word 2016

View Tab

The view tab allows you to change the look and feel of your workspace and view your documents in different ways including Read Mode, Print layout, Web Layout, Outline and Draft mode.

1. Click the View Tab > View Group

View tab in Word 2016

Minimize or Maximize the Ribbon

The ribbon is big so you can choose whether you want to display it or not. To do this, there is a button located in the upper right hand corner of the ribbon.

1. Click the minimize the ribbon button. This will make the ribbon disappear when you are not using it. Click the same button again to make the ribbon redisplay.

Hide Ribbon in Word 2016

We will be using the different tabs, groups and commands on the Ribbon in later lessons in our series of free computer training for seniors.

 

 

 

How Couples Deplete Retirement Savings

A new article on squaredawayblog.bc.edu highlights how Americans who save for retirement throughout their working lives often hold tight to that savings after they retire. The new study revealed that they eventually do spend much of this money and sheds light on where it goes.  The study focuses on the retirement spending patterns of couples, adding to similar past studies on single retirees. While both spouses are alive, the researchers found that a couple’s wealth remains relatively stable over time – until they start paying for medical care, nursing homes, and other major end-of-life expenses.  Read the full story at squaredawayblog.bc.edu.

What is a Modern Retiree?

That is the question I have – for myself – as I try to define the term in this maiden voyage blog.  The term itself (Modern Retiree) sounds like a cheesy TV sitcom – maybe I should trademark it for its potential commercial value?  I must admit, I like Sofia Vergara, even though I’ve never watched her ABC-TV show, or haven’t purchased any of her cable channel infomercial coffee (presumably Colombian).

Modern Retiree
Time and Money – Two principle challenges facing the modern retiree.

No – I think it should be something a bit more serious, and hopefully more useful.  So lets go to Google, the modern dictionary of sorts, for a 21st century definition.

  1. DEFINITION OF MODERN: For those of you who (like me) largely slept through high school English, the term ‘Modern’ itself is an adjective – or a noun – depending on how you use it:  a person who advocates or practices a departure from traditional styles or values.
  2. DEFINITION OF RETIREE: Retiree, on the other hand, is simple a noun: a person who has retired from full-time work.

And thus a basic framework takes form: A modern retiree is someone who has retired from fulltime work; someone who practices a departure from traditional styles or values as defined by 20th century retirement. 

Now, I’m sure I can add (and will add) to this basic framework of ‘modern retiree’.  For me, the next logical level to define modern retiree involves time and money.

TIME AND THE MODERN RETIREE:  Philosophers and Mathematicians have waxed poetically about the DEFINITION OF TIME.  What does Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s search engine have say about time?  the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.

MONEY AND THE MODERN RETIREE: To downplay the importance of money in todays America is full-hearty at best, suicidal at worse.  But ‘what’ exactly is money?  Back to Google for a DEFINITION OF MONEY: a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and banknotes; coins and banknotes collectively.

And now for an extraneous point regarding what it means to be a Modern Retiree, from a personal point-of-view.  A modern retiree is an individual who is determined to leave the world a slightly better place upon his/her inevitable departure from this world.

The foundation has been set!  I hope you’ll stop by this site to see where we take this journey of being a modern retiree as the definition continues to grow and evolve.

Charlie, co-founder of modernretiree.com

Study Reveals Age Discrimination Affects Women More

Age discrimination is not a new concept and has been happening for as long as most of us can remember despite the fact that it is illegal in the US and most western societies.  According to EEOC.gov, age discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) less favorably because of his or her age.

Age Discrimination
Image by cdc.gov on healthy aging at work

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.  Despite this fact, age discrimination still exists, especially for female job applicants in their mid-60s according to a recent study of employer discrimination in hiring published by squaredawayblog.com.  The study, according to the article,  found “strong and robust” evidence that female job applicants in their mid-60s were much less likely to be called in for interviews for low-skill jobs than were younger women. Evidence of age discrimination among older men was more mixed, the article states, or even non-existent in one occupation.

“It seems there was age discrimination for women – no matter what,” said Patrick Button, an economist at Tulane University.

The article notes that researchers sent out “more than 40,000 mock applications for jobs advertised online in 12 cities. The “applicants” fell into three age groups – 29-31, 49-51, and 64-66 – and submitted resumés in four job categories: retail sales, office administration, security guard, and janitor”.

The results of the research definitely revealed age discrimination, particularly for positions such as receptionist or office manager in the Office Administration category which tends to be predominantly occupied by women.   The older women were much less likely to be called for interviews, the article stated.  There were also less calls for interviews in the sales and security categories for the older women.  Interestingly, the two predominantly male jobs, security guard and janitor, showed little evidence of age discrimination, the article notes.

“The findings from this study hold implications for older workers, and particularly women, seeking a change in their full-time job or planning to ease into being fully retired by taking a part-time job”, the article concludes.

Read the full article at squaredawayblog.com >>

Read Facts about Age Discrimination here.

Read about What is Age Discrimination here?