Retirement Will Cost the Average American $828,000 – and Most Workers Risk Falling Short

One of the most challenging aspects of saving for retirement is not knowing how much money you'll need to pay the bills in the future. After all, without a crystal ball, it's impossible to predict how long you'll live and what your expenses will look like 10, 20, or 30 years down the line.But while you can't get a precise handle on that figure, you can work off of the national average to establish a baseline savings target. And if you want to know what retirement costs the typical senior, the answer is $828,000.IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.How do we get to that magic number? Adults 65 and over spend roughly $46,000 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the average length of retirement in the U.S. is 18 years. Multiply $46,000 by 18, and you're looking at a $828,000 nest egg to aim for, at least as a starting point.Now the good news is that $828,000 is more than attainable if you commit to saving early on. The bad news? Most Americans don't have anywhere close to that amount socked away at present. According to GOBankingRates, here's how workers across the board are doing on retirement savings:Retirement Savings LevelPercentage of Workers With That AmountLess than $10,00042%$10,000 to $49,9997%$50,000 to $99,99913%$100,000 to $199,99912%$200,000 to $299,99910%$300,000 or more16%DATA SOURCE: GOBANKINGRATES.Now it's one thing for younger workers -- say, those in their 20s or 30s -- to have less than $10,000 set aside for retirement. But roughly one-third of adults 55 and over are also in the same boat, which means they have a limited window for catching up.Furthermore, even younger workers need to do a better job of saving adequately. Otherwise, they risk falling short when retirement finally rolls around.You can do betterAs a general rule, workers today are advised to set aside 15% of each paycheck or more for the future. Most folks, however, can't hit that target, whether because of limited earnings or existing bills. If setting aside that large a Continue Reading

Is Geron Corporation’s Stock Set to Sail or Sink?

Geron Corp. (NASDAQ: GERN), a small-cap cancer company, released its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings after the bell last Friday. While earnings for developmental-stage biotechs like Geron are generally meaningless, the company did update investors on the progress of the collaboration with Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ) biotech subsidiary Janssen. The two companies are presently developing the first-in-class telomerase inhibitor, imetelstat, for a basket of blood-based cancers.Oddly enough, though, Geron decided to bury the most important of these clinical updates deep in the press release, and it also left out another major regulatory update altogether.Image Source: Getty Images.Burying the ledeTurning to the specifics, Geron noted -- two-thirds of the way through the press release -- that imetelstat's mid-stage myelofibrosis (MF) trial in patients that are relapsed or refractory to Incyte's (NASDAQ: INCY) JAK1/2 inhibitor, Jakafi (ruxolitinib), had not yet reached the median overall survival rate at a "median follow up of approximately 19 months," per a January cut-off date.That extremely encouraging update should have been front and center in the press release, as the prognosis for patients that discontinue Incyte's ruxolitinib is exceptionally poor. One recent study, for instance, noted that median overall survival rate for this patient population came in at a mere 14 months. So, imetelstat appears to be in unprecedented territory for advanced MF in terms of overall survival, although other confounding factors could admittedly be contributing to this elongated survival curve in a significant manner as well.Geron also decided to skip over a key regulatory issue in the press release. Per the company's latest 10-K filed with the SEC:In October 2017, Janssen submitted to the FDA data from the aforementioned internal reviews, as well as additional efficacy and safety data, including information about deaths and overall survival in IMbark, in response to an Continue Reading

Why It Costs So Darn Much to Invest in Mutual Funds

Some brokers charge $4 to make a stock trade. Some charge $7. But the difference largely amounts to a rounding error, an insignificant difference for most investors.Mutual fund investors aren't so lucky. The same discount brokers that charge very little for stock trades charge as much as $76 just to buy or sell a mutual fund, an exorbitant price to pay, particularly if you plan to add to your investment in small chunks over time.Why does it cost so much to buy a mutual fund?In a world where stock commissions are plunging, mutual fund transaction fees have hardly budged, but there are completely logical reasons for it.First, mutual funds are something most people buy then largely forget about. People don't trade mutual funds like they do stocks, so a mutual fund-only client simply isn't as profitable as the guy who makes 100 stock trades a year. Brokers can make up low prices on stock trades with volume, but mutual funds are rarely bought and sold like stocks are.Image source: Getty Images.Secondly, at the risk of stating the obvious, brokers have to make money for providing a service to you. Without transaction fees, an investor could open a brokerage account to buy all kinds of mutual funds from various managers, making the broker keep all their records while receiving nothing for it. But if the broker can charge $49.95 each time you put money into a mutual fund -- and some do -- then by all means, it's happy to have your business.Finally, and most importantly, most people probably aren't paying these fees because getting around them is easy to do, so what brokers charge to invest in a mutual fund doesn't really matter. If a broker says it will charge you a fee of $500 a year if you own a pet tiger, but you never plan to have a pet tiger, then the fee for having a pet tiger doesn't really matter. (I'm not aware of any brokers charging a fee for having a pet tiger, just to be clear.)How you can avoid mutual fund transaction feesThe best way to avoid sky-high mutual Continue Reading

What’s the Best Retirement Plan for Millennials?

If you're a millennial, then you have one major advantage when it comes to saving for retirement: time. Having a good 30 to 40 years in which to accumulate wealth could put you in a strong position to retire quite comfortably. The question is: Where should you house your savings?While you may be inclined to stick your money in a regular old savings account, don't do it. That's a fine spot for your emergency fund, but what you really need is a tax-advantaged retirement account, like an IRA or 401(k), to help your money grow. This way, you'll get to fund your retirement plan with tax-free money and you won't pay tax on investment gains until you're ready to take withdrawals. At the same time, you'll need to devise an investment strategy that helps you make the most of your efforts -- and that generally means focusing on the stock market.IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.IRAs versus 401(k)sIf you're aiming to save for the future, then it's crucial to find the best home for your nest egg, which generally means choosing between an IRA and a 401(k) plan. Of course, not everybody has access to the latter, but anyone with earned income can fund the former.The primary difference between IRAs and 401(k)s has to do with contribution limits. Currently, workers under 50 can contribute up to $5,500 annually to an IRA and $18,500 to a 401(k). Otherwise, both plans work similarly and come in the traditional and Roth variety. Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are funded with pre-tax dollars and withdrawals are taxed in retirement. Roth IRAs and 401(k)s are funded with after-tax dollars and therefore don't offer the same instant gratification, but down the line, withdrawals are taken tax-free.With both account types, you won't pay taxes on gains from investments year after year. Rather, traditional IRAs and 401(k)s grow on a tax-deferred basis, while growth in either type of Roth account is completely tax-free.It's for this reason that IRAs and 401(k)s are preferable to regular savings accounts Continue Reading

Jabil Circuit (JBL) Q2 2018 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

Image source: The Motley Fool.Jabil Circuit (NYSE: JBL)Q2 2018 Earnings Conference CallMarch 15, 2018 4:30 p.m. ETContents:Prepared RemarksQuestions and AnswersCall ParticipantsPrepared Remarks:OperatorGood afternoon. My name is Ala, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I'd like to welcome everyone to the Jabil Second-Quarter Earnings Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise.After the speakers' remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions]. Thank you. Beth Walters, senior vice president of communications and investor relations, you may begin your conference.Beth Walters -- Senior Vice President of Communications and Investor RelationsThank you very much. Welcome to our second-quarter and fiscal-year 2018 earnings call. Joining me today on the call are CEO Mark Mondello; and our chief financial officer, Forbes Alexander. This call is being recorded and will be posted for audio playback on the Jabil website,, in the investors section.Our second-quarter press release, slides, and corresponding webcast links are also available on our website. In these materials, you will find the financial information that we will cover during this conference call. We ask that you follow our presentation the slides on the website, beginning with Slide 2, our forward-looking statements.During this conference call, we will be making forward-looking statements, including those regarding the anticipated outlook for our business, our currently expected third quarter of fiscal 2018 net revenue and earnings results, the financial performance of the company, and our long-term outlook for the company. These statements are based on current expectations, forecasts, and assumptions involving risks and uncertainties that could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially.10 stocks we like better than Jabil CircuitWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to Continue Reading

Mobile World Congress 2018 Delivers Nostalgic Phones, Wireless Networks, and a Smart Speaker

Much of the hype around Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in Barcelona surrounded Samsung's (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) unveiling of its flagship Galaxy S9 phone. But the technological improvements in it, and in the slew of other smartphones revealed at MWC this year, were underwhelming, adding proof to the notion that the days of global smartphone growth are mostly behind us.That doesn't mean investing in all things mobile is finished, though. Here are three highlights worth considering.Nokia takes us down memory laneMuch like it did at MWC 2017, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) is betting some people have a yearning for the past. At the previous MWC, the Finnish company's centerpiece was the revamped 3310 "dumbphone" -- best known back in the day for its near-indestructible build and long battery life. This year it's the 8110 slider phone with modern updates like 4G connectivity, Google Assistant and Maps, Facebook and Twitter, the ability to store and play music, and significantly more battery life than a smartphone.The Nokia 8110 is back from the grave. Image source: Nokia.All of this nostalgia can be yours for under $100. But why is Nokia interested in bringing phones back from the dead? It's actually a Finnish company called HMD Global that's making Nokia phones these days. HMD unveiled four other Android phones alongside the 8110, aimed at providing premium features for an affordable price. The sweet thing for Nokia is that it isn't taking the risk of building the phones itself. It just receives licensing revenue for use of its name and technology.That has become an important part of Nokia's business in the last couple of years. Licensing revenue hit a new record in the last quarter of 2017, and while the segment is only 8% of the top line, it's highly profitable. Licensing has been keeping the bottom line buoyant, while the company's network business has struggled. That's significant, because Nokia believes the stage is being set for growth in networking -- another theme at MWC.The Continue Reading

Can’t Pay Your Taxes? Here’s the 1 Mistake Not to Make

There's just another month left in tax season, and some taxpayers are starting to realize that they're likely to get bad news once they complete their returns. Rather than getting that refund they had hoped for, many taxpayers every year have to pay tax. With times tough in many parts of the country, it's common for people not to be able to afford to pay their tax bills.There's a mistake that people in this position make year in and year out, and it's important to understand that you can save yourself a lot of hassle, headache, and money by avoiding this error. It might seem completely natural, but it's exactly the wrong thing to do and can get you in far more trouble than if you do things the right way.The key mistake: Not filing your returnA lot of taxpayers who can't afford to pay their tax figure think that there's no reason for them to file their tax returns at all. In fact, they mistakenly think that they're more likely to avoid scrutiny from the IRS if they don't file a return.However, there are several reasons why that thinking is flawed. The most important is that there's little chance of your escaping the notice of the Internal Revenue Service. If you have income from a job, investment account, or other source that's required to file information returns to the IRS about the money that they've paid you, then not filing a return is just going to raise a red flag in the IRS audit system.Image source: Getty Images.The penalties for not filing your return are also extremely harsh. In addition to paying interest on your balanced owed, you'll have to pay 5% of your outstanding tax bill in penalties for every month or part of a month that you're late in filing. That surcharge can grow to as much as 25%, meaning that by the latter part of August, you'll owe either that 25% amount or the $205 minimum penalty that applies -- as long as that amount doesn't exceed your total tax liability.A much better situationInstead, the best thing to do is to go ahead and file your Continue Reading

Oil Demand Is Red-Hot Right Now, Which Could Make 2018 a Great Year for Oil Stocks

Increasing adoption of electric vehicles and renewable-energy technologies has fueled worries that demand for oil may be nearing its peak. At the moment, however, the need for crude is stronger than it has ever been. In fact, instead of cooling off after a banner year, demand growth has come in hotter than expected so far in 2018, keeping the price of crude higher than many anticipated. If that trend continues, oil producers could reap a windfall of profits this year, and make their investors a lot of money.Drilling down into the latest demand forecastThe International Energy Agency (IEA) recently released its monthly report on the oil market. What stood out was its outlook for demand, which it sees increasing to an average 99.3 million barrels per day this year, up by 1.5 million BPD from last year's average. That increase is worth noting -- it's about 90,000 BPD higher than the IEA's forecast last month.Fueling that upward revision has been stronger-than-expected demand growth in China and India, which combined to account for nearly 50% of the incremental demand last year. Add in the impact of frigid temperatures across parts of the northern hemisphere, fueling an increase in heating demand, and the global thirst for oil is at an all-time high. That's one reason crude prices are about 20% above where they were this time last year.Image source: Getty Images.Another factor fueling those higher oil prices is that supplies are currently lower than demand, averaging 97.0 million BPD last month. However, that's by design: OPEC is holding back some of its output to help drain off the excess oil sitting in storage tanks, which had filled up in recent years because producers had pumped more than the market needed. In fact, oil storage levels remain more than 50 million barrels above the five-year average. That number should fall back to a more normal level this year, though, as long as demand stays strong and producers don't turn more pumps back on.It's a delicate balance, Continue Reading

WeChat Exceeds a Billion Users

If there were a contest for the single greatest app in the world, Tencent's (NASDAQOTH: TCEHY) WeChat would be a strong contender. The all-in-one super app has become a central hub for Chinese daily life, with a significant portion of users reportedly spending over four hours per day on the platform.Recently, Tencent CEO Pony Ma revealed another huge milestone: WeChat had exceeded 1 billion users.It's an incredible achievement that took Tencent just seven years to reach. That's actually slightly better than the eight years it took Facebook, which reached 1 billion users back in 2012. (Facebook now has 2.13 billion monthly active users.)Here's a look at WeChat's amazing history.Image source: Getty Images.WeChat's beginningsWeChat launched in January 2011. Even though Tencent already had a widely used desktop-focused messaging app in QQ, the company sought to disrupt itself by launching a new app geared for mobile. The initial WeChat app was built by just seven engineers.The telcos in China all had their own messaging apps at the time, but WeChat gained initial success by being telco-agnostic. WeChat began with simple text, photo, and voice messaging, then added video later in its first year.The company grew to 100 million users in just over a year, and reached 300 million users in just two years. Success could partly be attributed to innovative ways in which Tencent helped users accumulate friends, such as:People Nearby, allowing users to find other users on an interactive map of their area.Shake, whereby shaking your phone would put you in contact with a random WeChat user.Message in a Bottle, whereby a user could send a message to a random person in the WeChat ecosystem.In 2012, Alibaba tried to launch its own chat app, but by that time, the network effects of WeChat had become too great, and Alibaba's app didn't take off.In 2012, WeChat opened up the platform to brands, which rushed in to create their own WeChat Moments pages.In 2013, the app added its signature Continue Reading

Bitcoin Mining Banned for First Time in Upstate New York Town

A small lakeside town in upstate New York is fed up with Bitcoin miners using up so much of its low-cost electricity. Plattsburgh, whose residents are a quick jaunt from the Canadian border, has put an 18-month moratorium on cryptocurrency mining to preserve natural resources, the health of its residents, and the “character and direction” of the city. “It is the purpose of this Local Law to facilitate the adoption of land use and zoning and/or municipal lighting department regulations to protect and enhance the City’s natural, historic, cultural and electrical resources,” Plattsburgh said after holding a public hearing on the matter Thursday. For a year and a half, the almost 20,000-resident city will not consider new applications for commercial cryptocurrency mining. And if you break the rules, you’ll owe Plattsburgh up to $1,000 for each day you violate the moratorium. Mining, a process by which individuals or groups get paid in new Bitcoins to run complex mathematical equations on high-powered computers in order to confirm the validity of transactions, has drawn scrutiny from environmentalists who say it’s sucking up too much electricity. Some have estimated that Bitcoin miners will use more power than electric cars in the near term. Plattsburgh gets cheap power from the St. Lawrence River, driving down electricity costs for residents, but it exceeded its allotted amount of hydropower in December and January, according to a local newspaper. Some complained that their bills surged as much as $300. The city council said it needs time to consider zoning laws and lighting regulations “before commercial cryptocurrency mining operations results in irreversible change to the character and direction of the city.” Continue Reading