Author Archives: Gianni

Americans Overconfident with Retirement Plans

They may not be planning luxury vacations yet but the well to do of America are confident that their retirement plans will support their lifestyle in their late 60s. This has been revealed by a survey conducted by Charles Schwab, the 40-year old financial firm known for recommending smart investments to the individual investor.

retirementThe survey reveals that while 84% of people have a retirement plan in place, 80% are confident their plans will work.

An interesting revelation is that 39% people do not intend working even part-time after their retirement. Is this a sign of confidence or over confidence.

According to the survey, people seem to have overestimated their plans. While the current average annual income is USD 115,000, the average retirement plan aims at getting $66,000 per year. This clearly goes on to show that there is a gap in understanding what life after retirement requires.

One wonders if these people have kept in mind the number of years they would need a good plan for. The Schwab survey mentions that people intend to retire at 67 and expect to live another 20-21 years.

The survey has been conducted on a sample size of a little over 1800 investors over nine markets. The ages of the people surveyed vary between 25 and 80. It will be interesting to see if young America’s plans differ from the old America. For now, we know that people don’t seem to be as prepared as they should be.

Wealth Gap Between the Old and the Young: Old is Gold

Being young in the US may no longer be a thing of pride and power, with research showing that people above 65 are becoming richer by the day while those below 35 are getting poorer. The Pew Research Center in its research on social trends has uncovered this amusing fact.


Drawing from the rich data collected by the US Census Bureau, the research finds that families headed by people above 65 have been doing better with time as compared to their counterparts below the age of 65. The total household wealth has been considered to draw this conclusion.

This is calculated by subtracting a household’s debts from its assets. Car, house, savings account and 401(k) account are counted among assets while various loans such as car loan, education loan, home loan and credit card debt are considered debts.

While increased savings is obvious with older people with them having the advantage of time, education loan is one of the factors decreasing the wealth of the younger lot. The research also points to the fact that the wealth gap between the two age groups is the largest now as compared to that in the last 25 years.

Various factors have led to the widening of the gap. The bubble burst of the housing market about 7 years ago has definitely worked in favor of those who bought their houses years ago. Add to that the crisis of jobs after the recession.

Only time will tell whether this gap will reduce or continue to widen.

Peeing Kid Becomes a Mascot

While tall monuments like the Eiffel tower, the Statue of Liberty or the Qutub Minar have continued to fascinate people over time around the world, the capital of Brussels seems to take pride in a small unusual relic. A two-feet tall nude statue of a child urinating in a fountain basis is what seems to have become the centre of any large-scale marketing in Brussels.

statueCreated in the early seventeenth century, Manneken Pis, literally meaning ‘little man peeing’ has been one of the major attractions in the city.

Advertisers have taken fancy to it quite seriously and have been spending their marketing money on anything and everything that resembles the peeing kid.

It is likely that many outside Belgium will find the idea of using a nude kid for promotions unappetizing. Manneken Pis, however, has always featured in common souvenirs such as figurines, toys and tees.

Marketing geniuses have tapped what they may refer to as the ‘unusual and cute’ appeal that the statue has and used it to their advantage.

Manneken Pis also features as the logo of its namesake graphic firm. Manneken Pis Productions. Interestingly, Coca Cola too had dabbed with cashing in on the little boy’s popularity a few years ago.

While the world may go berserk about using a kid and bringing in nudity, the companies capitalizing on Manneken Pis are laughing all the way to the bank.

Never too late to start saving

With the economy in the state that it is in today its hard to know where to start when it comes to securing not only our own financial security but that of our children. Here we are going to talk about one of the best ways to build a college fund for your young children. Regardless of how old they are right now, it’s never too late to get started. Here we are going to talk about the Section 529 plan.

This particular college savings plan in named for the tax code that governs (or defines) the plan. It is call eth section 529 in all 50 states and is offered in all 50 states.  The rules will probably vary from state to state but one thing to remember, grandparents this is a great tool to start a savings plan for your grandkids as you do not have to live in the state in which your grandchildren reside to start the savings plan. You will be able to start the plan locally where your children or grandchildren can access their funs when needed.  This is one of very few plans that you will be able to invest in more than one state. You can open more than one Section 529 in different states.

So how do you get started? This is the easy part, with this particular savings plan you should be able to go to your current local bank and talk to your bank representative about opening savings or college funds for one or all of your children.  There they will be able to tell you about the two different types of Section 529 accounts.

  • College savings- which offers tax deferred earnings and this will go directly to qualified college or higher education expenses an often times is paid directly to the schools.
  • Self accounts and beneficiary- this is the kind of account that parents can be primary holders on the account leaving your children as beneficiaries when you pass away or when the children reach a certain age.


These two types of Section 529 accounts are available at most banks. There are some online banks that will allow you to open 529 savings accounts as well. This is a popular gift for new babies, inheritance funds or college gifts from grandparents.