No matter who becomes our new President it is almost assured that the entire marginal tax rate will have to shift and that means a deferred retirement plan will get hammered when you retire. Typically you put away money without tax for a number of years and then when you retire your taxed at ordinary income rates which if the tax rate shifts, means whether your successful or not successful you're going to pay more tax on those saved dollars. The key is to reduce fees and taxes so that what you put away gets further.
When you invest in the typical mutual fund (assuming outside of a qualified retirement plan), you face costs that erode your benefit. Chances are you're not aware of them, they're not in your prospectus and your broker isn't going to sit down and tell you about them. The five costs of mutual fund investing are:
- Tax costs – excessive capital gains from active trading.
- Transaction costs – the cost of the trades themselves.
- Opportunity costs – dollars taken out of portfolios for a fund's safekeeping.
- Sales charges – both seen and hidden.
- Expense ratio, or “management fees” – no end to increases in site. This is a calculation based on the operating costs of the fund divided by the average amount of assets under management.
How radically do fund expenses affect you? Well, with the expense ratio, which averages 1.6% per year, sales charges of 0.5%, turnover generated portfolio transactions costs of 0.7% and opportunity costs of 0.3%—when funds hold cash rather than remain fully invested in stocks— the average mutual fund investor loses 3.1% of their investment returns every year just on fees. While this might not seem like much on the surface, costs and fees alone could consume 31% of a 10% market return. Think about that. You could be losing almost a third of your return before it's even taxed. You're losing a third of your return just for the cost of maintaining your investment. Add in the 1.5% capital gains tax bill that the average fund investor pays each year and that figure shoots up to 46% of your return being lost to fees and expenses, nearly half of a potential 10% return.
In my new book “The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth” we discuss tax-free strategies that reduce fees and allow you to save more that will go much further. We've identified two vehicles that allow for tax-free build-up and one of those is the proper use of savings grade life insurance that is described in the book. Also, I have an e-book on tax-free income for life that lays out the strategy to help you be successful.