Winter in 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.

Shoe shoeing on Manzanita Lake at Mt. Lassen National ParkWinter 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

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. 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

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. – 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 – 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. –  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 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 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

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

get link The complete act can be read at the following link:

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.  go site In 1933, see 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.:

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.