How to Tell You’re Not Retirement Ready

For most of us, retirement seems like this far-off thing, this thing that will happen to us one day, when we’re old and gray, but not something we really need to worry about now. That kind of thinking is really dangerous though, because as we all know, time goes by quickly- all too quickly.

Sure, you might be young and in the prime of your working game right now, but before you know it, it will be time to start preparing for retirement. And, the truth is, if you haven’t saved enough by that point, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening.

Hopefully, you have already started putting SOME money aside, but if you’re over 35 or so, you really need to be amping up your efforts. Below, we’ll share some tell-tale signs that you’re not preparing for retirement seriously enough, and, if you find that these signs apply to you, it’s definitely time to start taking your retirement planning more seriously.

Sign #1: You Can’t Pay for Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses Easily

What would happen if you suddenly got sick or needed surgery and had to visit the doctor How would you pay for it? Would you finance it or would you be able to pay for it out of pocket, even if it meant dipping into your retirement savings?

If you fall into the first category, of having to finance it, you’re in trouble! Medical bills are costly, yes, but they’re a reality, a reality you’re probably going to face a lot more often as you near retirement age.

If you’re already struggling and don’t have funds to fall back on for situations like this one, then you definitely need to be more stringent about saving for retirement and about saving in general!

Sign #2: You’re Swimming in Debt

Debt is a serious problem among Americans of all ages. However, it becomes even more serious when you’re getting close to retirement age and you’re still swimming in it.

This is a pretty good indicator that a large chunk of your income is going to paying off debt, which is not what you should be focused on at this point in your life.

If you’re struggling with debt, stop it from mounting by curtailing your spending and get out of it as best you can. The sooner you can do that, the sooner you can start saving seriously for what matters most- retirement.

Sign #3: You Make Impulse Purchases

Finally, if you find that you’re still making a lot of impulse purchases, especially those of the expensive variety, this is a big warning sign that you’re not thinking about what’s truly important and about your future.

It’s time to grow up, to stop spending, and to start saving.Otherwise, retirement is going to be burdensome, and that’s really the opposite of what it should (and could!) be if you start saving seriously now.



Straightforward Strategies to Become an Expert (It’s Simpler Than you Think)

If you want to increase your capacity to close deals and become a magnet for new clients, one of the best things you can do for your personal brand is to become an expert in your field.

An expert is an authority, someone who knows his stuff and that other people look to for unique problem-solving insights.

So how do you become an expert? You’re most likely already good at what you do. That’s why you’re able to make a living working in your chosen profession. Your knowledge and skill set solve the problems of real people so well that they’re willing to pay you for it.

But how do you go beyond “proficient” to the coveted expert-level status? How good to you have to become to really consider yourself an expert? Do you have to be the best in the world at what you do before you can say that about yourself?

Here’s the thing about the “expert” label: it’s not about how you see yourself, but about how other people see you. There’s no specific point at which you become an expert, nor is there a fancy certificate telling you you’re one. All it takes to become an expert is for other people to consider you as such. It’s all relative. Once people are coming to you for authoritative advice in your industry, you can safely say you’re an expert.

As you can see, the key isn’t only being proficient. That’s essential, but it isn’t the full equation. Becoming an expert requires putting your name out there, providing valuable information, and helping people. That’s marketing.

Following these strategies will help you become well-known within your industry, connect with a broad client-base, and strengthen your personal brand.

Create Educational Resources that Prove your Expertise

One of the most basic ways to show people you’re an expert is to provide free information that less-knowledgeable people can use to solve problems you’re already resolved. Website content is the most convenient way to do this. Through blog posts, infographics, podcasts, and videos, you can put together useful guides for your audience.

To get the most out of your content, make it in-depth. That shows you’re very knowledgeable about your subject-matter, rather than merely regurgitating what you found on Wikipedia. Don’t be afraid to publish posts above 2,000 words.

Also, flesh out your work with personal experiences and first-hand data. This gives you credibility and shows people you have a unique perspective to share.

Speak at Industry Conferences

Speaking at events can be intimidating, but it’s one of the surest ways to achieve expert status. Network to build connections with popular speakers in your industry and hustle your way into small speaking opportunities. As your reputation grows, so will demand for you.

Write a Book

Along with speaking, writing a book is a big sign to others that you have real experience and knowledge. You don’t have to write a 1,000 page monolith. Even a short ebook featured on your site is great for building credibility.


Get Featured in Industry Publications

Read and become familiar with the magazines, blogs, and journals in your field. Make contact with the editorial staff, pitch your ideas, and contribute. Readers will start recognizing you as an industry leader.

Although the path to becoming an expert isn’t easy, it is simpler than you may think. Hone your skills, network, market yourself, and persevere–eventually you’ll reap the long-term fruit of being an expert.


Show Us the Money – Fortune 500 Companies Keep $2.1 Trillion in Offshore Tax Havens

Fortune 500 companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in profits offshore to avoid US taxes that would amount to an estimated $620 billion tax bill, according to a report by the public interest research and advocacy organization, Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ).

The study used the companies’ public financials filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to reach their conclusions. Nearly three-quarters of the firms on the Fortune 500 list of top American companies according to gross revenue maintain tax havens in countries like Singapore, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

Parking money overseas means the companies defers their tax bill until they repatriate the money back into the US. Companies avoid paying taxes by booking profits to a tax haven because US tax laws allow them to defer paying taxes on profits that they report are earned abroad until the money comes back to the United States. But there are no deadlines to when the profits should be repatriated, meaning the profits can sit overseas, tax-free, indefinitely.

What makes the whole situation more egregious is that profits booked as offshore often remain onshore. There is not an imaginary stockpile of billions sitting in an account in Bermuda. Most of the profits reported as overseas are earning interest in US banks or invested in onshore assets but are registered to foreign subsidiaries.

According to the study, the top Fortune 500 offenders include:


  • Apple holds $181.1 billion offshore through three tax havens.
  • General Electric has $119 billion offshore in 18 tax havens.
  • Microsoft is holding $108.3 billion in five tax havens.
  • Pfizer has $74 billion distributed through 151 subsidiaries.
  • Google reported operating 25 subsidiaries in tax havens in 2009, but the CTJ’s findings discovered that Google only discloses two in Ireland. The amount of cash the company reported offshore grew exponentially from $7.7 billion to $47.4 billion.
  • PepsiCo kept $37.8 billion offshore through 132 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens.
  • Bank of America reported having 264 subsidiaries in 2013 but disclosed only 22 in 2014, holding $17.2 billion offshore.
  • American Express has reported $9.7 billion offshore through 23 subsidiaries.
  • Nike holds $8.3 billion offshore through three subsidiaries.
  • Morgan Stanley holds $7.4 billion offshore via 210 subsidiaries.
  • Walmart reported operating no tax havens yet the CTJ found them to have 75 tax haven subsidiaries not included in its SEC filings. According to the report, “Over the past decade, Walmart’s offshore income has grown from $6.8 billion in 2005 to $23.3 billion in 2014.”

“At least 358 companies, nearly 72 percent of the Fortune 500, operate subsidiaries in tax haven jurisdictions as of the end of 2014,” the study reported.

There are no incentives for these companies to repatriate the money and pay US taxes, therefore, the money “sits” overseas. Earlier this year Obama proposed a 14 percent mandatory tax on the stockpiled profits and a 19 percent minimum tax on foreign earnings going forward which has met with opposition from Congress.