What happens when you are sued for more than your basic homeowners or auto insurance policy covers and are found liable? Well, for most people, it would mean liquidating unprotected assets in order to satisfy the judgment. This may mean garnished wages, selling property, and possibly losing some of your investments. This is certainly a situation that could ruin your life, but there are ways to protect yourself.

A personal umbrella policy is additional coverage that goes above and beyond what your homeowners and auto insurance policies cover. Think of it as a protective umbrella that will pick up the damages once you have exhausted your coverage of those policies.

Your home is likely your most valuable asset-make sure it is properly protected. While insurance agents will help determine the kind of coverage you can buy, it is ultimately your responsibility to know what the policy covers. And remember, insurance agents are salesmen and typically work on commission. This isn’t a bad thing, but be aware of what type of coverage you actually need so that you can spot it when you’re being sold something you don’t truly need.

This is one of the most important things to remember when planning for the “Golden Years” Protect your assets. Also, start thinking of ways to supplement your retirement income.

Lately, I’ve been looking at sources of passive income in order to bolster (and hopefully eventually replace) my current income. It is a fond dream that at some point in the future, I could largely step back from doing active day-to-day work and instead use these sources as my primary income stream. In that eventuality, I could devote my time to volunteer causes and charities I’m passionate about (and maybe have time to sit back and read a book for pleasure on a lazy afternoon every once in a while).

The mere act of owning many investments can be considered a source of passive income. You merely hold the investment and regular dividends are paid out to you. Many people tend to focus on investments in terms of the increase in resale value, but many others quietly hold stocks and bonds that pay large dividends, lining their pockets with capital gains. Look for individual stocks and bonds or index funds that pay good dividends, then sit back and watch the money roll in.

The internet, magazines, and books on personal finance are chock full of calculators and projections to help you figure out “your number” – the usually astronomical sum of money that it is allegedly going to take for you to live off your portfolio of securities, not work, and still maintain some semblance of the same lifestyle you had while you were working.

The exercise seems reasonable – necessary even – but the problem is that the results are almost entirely arbitrary, especially if you are more than 10 years away from retirement.

Any shift in any one of the variables can drastically alter the final figure that pops up, telling you how much you need to have saved in order to retire at X age or how much each year you need to be putting away.

If you have a portfolio you might want to rebalance it every so often. Rebalancing is the act of sitting down once per year and adjusting your portfolio toward your target asset allocation. Let’s say you hold two funds because you want a 50% US stock exposure and 50% International stock exposure. During the last year, it is unlikely the funds have gained and lost exactly the same. So you end the year and US stocks have been up more than International stocks. Your current portfolio weight is 53% US and 47% International.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Just 3%. Well, over time that gap can get larger and larger until one day you find yourself with a 75/25 allocation-way out of whack.


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