Retirement, Plan B: Pension Paychecks

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, February 18, 2009

Here we have another teaser email promising a rescue for those of us who’ve seen their 401k accounts fall by 50% (or more) … more proof that you don’t have to be sexy to get attention with a teaser ad today, you just have to imply that you can help to save the kind of retirement that probably too many people took for granted just a year ago … thus, the “Plan B Pension.”

By the way, I was at Costco the other day and they were giving out samples of … SPAM. There’s an economic indicator for you. It must take a pretty severe recession to make Spam popular outside its historic hotbeds of Guam and Hawaii.

So what’s the promise of today’s ad?

First of all, this is a service I’ve never looked at before — I think it’s new, but I’m not certain, it’s from the folks at Agora and it’s called the Lifetime Income Report, edited by Jim Nelson, who I’ve also never heard of. It’ll cost you $99 to sign up as a guinea pig for this service.

On to the hyperbole!

“Without doing a single moment’s work, now you can legally sneak onto the “payroll” of over 1,000 of America’s best companies…

* “And collect a regular ‘Plan B Pension’ check as often as every 12 days…

* “At any age and for as long as you like, even after you’ve already retired…

* “With nonstop annual incomes running as high as $120,000 or more…”

Well, even on a day like this when panic about layoffs is circulating most communities, I must say that there’s a certain appeal to the “without doing a single moment’s work” bit … at least for a lazy man like your friendly neighborhood Stock Gumshoe.

Some other clues about what they’re touting:

“What’s more, you can even pass this steady stream of annual cash that I’ll introduce you to… to your spouse, to your children, even to your grandchildren.”

Insert lots of chatter about their proven track record, how much better they are than fixed income investments, why they’re better than defined benefit pensions or 401ks, etc. etc.

“You can get into some of these ‘Plan B Pension’ programs with as little as $10.”

“In some of these ‘plans,’ you even get the chance to own shares in the stocks you’ve chosen at a fat discount to what others pay on the open market. That’s like getting an instant gain, the day you buy shares. It’s also a special ‘perk’ reserved only for members of these ‘plans.'”

“There are over 1,020 of these ‘Plan B Pension’ plans in America. You can enroll in as many of them as you like.”

So that sounds pretty nice — they call this discount the “Matching Bonus,” perhaps just to make it sound appealing for folks who get an employer match in their 401k.

“When it works, it’s a great benefit. But right now, cash-strapped companies have started slashing those ‘matching’ benefits too. Again, a benefit you don’t get… is no benefit at all.

“The thing is, ‘Plan B Pensions’ also offer your own kind of ‘matching.’ Because many of the 1,020 ‘plans’ you can choose from ‘match’ your gains by as much as 10%… with each regular payout.”

So why do they call this the “Ultimate Retirement Recovery Plan?”

As with so many ads of this ilk, there’s a “Special Report” — “The 10-Minute Retirement Recovery Plan: Six Easy Ways To Lock In Steady Income Checks For the Rest of Your Life. ”

And there’s a “library” of information that you’ll get access to with your subscription — “This is just one of the three reports you’ll find in the full ‘Plan B Retirement Library’ I want to send you. The whole set is yours right now, at no charge. I’m offering it to you free.”

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And there’s a claim that now’s the best time to get in:

“… Horrible market offers you and me the best investment window in nearly 20 years for the kind of “Plan B Pension” strategy.”

They also get in a few “endorsements” of this strategy — a quote from Ned Davis Research, the famous value stock folks, that tells us that dividends and dividend growth stocks have done dramatically better than non-dividend-payers over the last 25 years or so. Probably not a surprise to most.

And we get a blurb about everyone’s favorite Penn Prophet, too:

“It’s this special combination of income growth and compounding — a step beyond just collecting stock, bond, or fund income — that famous Wharton Professor Dr. Jeremy Siegel credits with producing a whopping 97% of all the real money made on the S&P 500.”

So … no surprises here, except perhaps from the folks at Stansberry & Associates who’ve been heavily marketing this same strategy for years. I wonder if Porter Stansberry and Tom Dyson are grumpy that Jim Nelson and their colleagues down the road at Agora are trying to steal their marketing thunder — I guess it wouldn’t be the first time, once you see a marketing idea that works for a newsletter, get used to it, you’ll be seeing it again soon from someone else, wearing a slightly different hat.

Oh, wait — I didn’t tell you what it is: The “Plan B Retirement” is yet another teaser for the idea of investing in Dividend Reinvestment Plans and Direct Stock Purchase Plans (DRIPs and DSPPs, respectively).

If you’ve been stranded out here on Gumshoe Island for any time at all, you’ve heard from me on this before — essentially, many big companies let you buy stock directly from the company. It’s true, some of them offer a discount on these purchases, or on reinvested dividends (that’s the “match”), though certainly not all of them do.

The big benefit that gets the attention of Ned Davis Research and Jeremy Siegel (and many others) is dividend compounding, which has indeed accounted for a significant portion of the long term returns of the S&P 500. Of course, you don’t have to invest directly with a company to reinvest dividends, most brokers will do that for you, too, often for free — though you don’t generally get any of that potential “match/discount” on the reinvestment. On the flip side, many of these programs have fees and minimums, and they have their own pros and cons, even apart from the stability of the stocks you’re buying.

And that is, of course, part of the challenge — and the promise of any newsletter that focuses on this strategy: finding the right stocks. Generally the focus of all of these kinds of strategies is on dividends that are good but not too good, payout ratios that leave room for dividend increases in the future, historic dividend growth, stable businesses (with “no banks” being a more recent addition to these kinds of screens), understandable businesses, etc. You can look through the holdings of any dividend growth mutual fund to see the kinds of stocks you’re going to see recommended for these kinds of services, but you’ll probably see names like Wal Mart, Johnson and Johnson, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, Exxon Mobil and their peers … and a couple years ago you would have probably seen Bank of America, General Electric and many more.

I won’t just copy and paste over all the information I’ve shared about these programs before, so if you’d like more information about the various ways that you can buy stock directly from a company for one of these “Plan B Pensions” … or see the ways that other folks have teased this same strategy, check out these other recent articles:

Be a “One Share Millionaire” with the US Postal Service.

and the 424 Dividend Boost.

So … a cynic might say that almost every ad that promises a “saved retirement” thanks to some sort of “secret” income plan is either going to refer to dividend reinvestment, or to selling covered calls … this one is the former, I wouldn’t be surprised to also see plenty more of the latter. If anyone has tried this Lifetime Income Report, click here to let us know what you thought of it — or if you’ve other thoughts about DRIP investing that you’d like to share, feel free to comment below.

Enjoy your day, everyone!



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August 13, 2009 1:38 pm

You are a tool.

William Hicks
September 25, 2009 6:52 am

I used to contribute small monthly amounts to Dividend Re-Investment Plans; I owned shares in Walt Disney, Procter & Gamble, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and Microsoft. G.E., Disney & P& G’s monthly fees became exorbitant and the stacks of paper I was forced to keep and headaches at tax time just became unendurable. I invest in most of these companies now and am able to buy fractional shares via; they provide me with complete tax records at the end of the year, re-invest my dividends, and easily allow me to see my positions/gains any time I want all for one yearly maintenance fee. Check writing for when I must have access to emergency funds is also provided.

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January 31, 2010 5:13 pm

i trust nothing in the way of investment news letters whether email or snail mail . as one of the ” main street ” brood , i don’t even trust wall street ; especially since the housing market bust and bank failures . fortunately before and now in retirement i’m not in a position to have to hussle to recoupe any losses to my retirement accounts because i manage them myself . the scam artists know whom to target if you are sitting on any amount of cash that’s worth it to them to seperate from their victims . as anyone on main street should know by now ; the wall stree ” fat cats ” look after their own wallets while trying to suck the little guys dry .

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B.Yoganand Patnaik
B.Yoganand Patnaik
February 27, 2010 8:18 am