Think About Your Lifestyle Before You Retire

Sometimes planning for retirement isn’t entirely about money. How many words have been written about retirement? It’s a preoccupation for many, and we devote so much time, thought, and energy toward saving for the last day we go to work. Saving and investing in such a way that we no longer have to work may seem ideal at first, but it raises a question: what do you have planned for all of that free time? What do you do with your first day? Maybe you finally take that big vacation you’ve been talking about. Or, perhaps, it’s time to catch

Stocks & Presidential Elections

What does history tell us – and should we value it?  As an investor, you know that past performance is no guarantee of future success. Expanding that truth, history has no bearing on the future of Wall Street. That said, stock market historians have repeatedly analyzed market behavior in presidential election years, and what stocks do when different parties hold the reins of power in Washington. They have noticed some interesting patterns through the years, which may or may not prove true for 2016. Do stocks really go through an “election cycle” every four years? The numbers really don’t point

Weekly Market Commentary 7-25-2016

The Markets Like a cool breeze on a hot day, the post-Brexit market rally has soothed investors. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), also known as the fear gauge, fell significantly during the past few weeks, according to CNBC.com. The VIX measures investors’ concerns about future volatility. The lower the Index is; the calmer investors are about the future. In late June, the VIX rose as high as 25.76. Last week, it hovered around 12. Barron’s reported the latest advisory sentiment readings from Investors Intelligence showed bullishness at 54.4 percent, up two percentage points from last week. That’s the highest reading

GAINS IN HOME BUYING & HOUSING STARTS June brought a 1.1% rise in existing home sales. Analysts, polled by the Wall Street Journal, had forecast a 0.7% decline. In its new report, the National Association of Realtors said 33% of June sales involved first-time buyers, which was a 4-year peak. New Department of Commerce data showed housing starts up 4.8% last month.1 SOME EARLY EARNINGS SEASON NUMBERS According to the latest Zacks Earnings Trend report, 68.9% of 103 S&P 500 companies reporting so far this season have beaten estimates and 56.3% have topped revenue projections. Zacks now forecasts a 3.6%

Good Retirement Savings Habits Before Age 40

Some early financial behaviors that may promote a comfortable future.   You know you should start saving for retirement before you turn 40. What can you start doing today to make that effort more productive, to improve your chances of ending up with more retirement money, rather than less? Structure your budget with the future in mind. Live within your means and assign a portion of what you earn to retirement savings. How much? Well, any percentage is better than nothing – but, ideally, you pour 10% or more of what you earn into your retirement fund. If that seems

Retirement

MONTHLY NEWS AND INFORMATION FOR CURRENT AND FUTURE RETIREES THE ADVANTAGES OF A HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT Why do people open up Health Savings Accounts in conjunction with high-deductible insurance plans? For one, HSAs are funded with pre-tax income, and grow untaxed. Distributions out of an HSA are tax-free as long as they are used to pay qualified health-care expenses. On the flip side, HSA funds don’t pay for all forms of health care. You also can’t use HSA funds to pay for a Medigap policy or Medicare supplemental insurance, in case you are wondering about such a move. Since contributions

Weekly Market Commentary 7-18-2016

The Markets “Start your engines,” was not in the Department of Labor (DOL)’s June Employment Report Summary, but it may as well have been. A positive jobs report revved investor optimism and sent U.S. stock markets sprinting higher last week. Job growth was strong in June with 287,000 new jobs created. That helped soothe worries raised by a less than stellar May jobs report. The Wall Street Journal wrote: “A powerful rebound in hiring last month eased fears about an economic downturn as the U.S. expansion enters its eighth year, putting the nation on solid footing to absorb global shocks

Two SIGNS OF A STRONGER ECONOMY Retail sales improved 0.6% in June, according to the Commerce Department, and the core gain was 0.7% with auto buying and home improvement purchases factored out. Industrial production rose 0.6% in June, making up for a 0.3% May loss. Both indicators could be taken as hints of solid second-quarter growth.1 CORE INFLATION IS OUTPACING HEADLINE INFLATION In the year ending in June, the headline Consumer Price Index increased just 1.0%. According to the Department of Labor, the average 12-month gain in the past decade is 1.7%. The yearly gain in the core CPI, however,

Economic Update

A REASSURING JOBS REPORT June was the best month for hiring since October. Employers added 287,000 new jobs to their payrolls last month; analysts polled by Bloomberg forecast a gain of 180,000. The headline unemployment rate rose to 4.9% in the Department of Labor’s latest report, a reflection of more Americans looking for work. The broader U-6 rate, including the underemployed, fell a tenth of a point to 9.6%.1 STRONG SERVICE SECTOR GROWTH IN JUNE Rising 3.6 points, the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing purchasing manager index came in at a June mark of 56.5. The index was last above

THE QUARTER IN BRIEF As the first half of 2016 ended, the economy seemed to be repeating the pattern seen in 2014 and 2015 – a poor first quarter giving way to a better second quarter. Monthly indicators showed improvements in consumer spending, retail sales, and manufacturing. Consumer confidence also rose. The quarter did see a decline in the pace of hiring, and the red-hot housing sector cooled a bit. Oil prices rebounded, which really helped equities. For the first time in history, a country voted to leave the European Union. News of that vote stunned financial markets worldwide in

Weekly Market Commentary 7-11-2016

The Markets When the yield on 10-year Treasuries finished last week at 1.37 percent, a record closing low, Barron’s called it a Kübler-Ross rally. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss psychiatrist whose research identified the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. According to Barron’s, institutional money managers have reached the final stage of grief and accepted that bond yields may remain low for some time: “Far from irrational exuberance, many institutional investors voice resignation (or worse) to the fact that they are forced to put money to work at record low yields – 1.366 percent for the

Money Habits

Financially speaking, what do some households do right? Why do some households tread water financially while others make progress? Does it come down to habits? Sometimes the difference starts there. A household that prioritizes paying itself first may end up in much better financial shape in the long run than other households. Some families see themselves as savers, others as spenders. The spenders may enjoy affluence now, but they also may be setting themselves up for financial struggles down the road. The savers better position themselves for financial emergencies and the creation of wealth. How does a family build up

July 2015

THE MONTH IN BRIEF In June, an overseas referendum affected American stocks more than any domestic event. The United Kingdom unexpectedly voted to leave the European Union, and news of the Brexit rocked financial markets worldwide. Even so, the S&P 500 began to recover quickly – it actually gained 0.09% for the month. Fresh economic reports made the U.S. look like the proverbial best house in a bad neighborhood – even if the economy was underperforming compared to past decades, America was at least faring better than some other nations and regions. While the latest jobs report was mystifying, personal

Economic Update

SOLID GAINS In CONSUMER SPENDING, CONFIDENCE Personal spending rose 0.4% in May, according to the Department of Commerce, complemented by a 0.2% advance for personal incomes. April’s consumer spending increase was revised up to 1.1%. The Conference Board’s monthly consumer confidence index also improved in June, heading north 5.6 points to a reading of 98.0.1 BEST ISM MANUFACTURING PMI in 16 Months The factory purchasing manager index, maintained by the Institute for Supply Management, reached 53.2 in June, a gain of 1.9 points to its highest reading since February 2015. As recently as February of this year, the PMI was

Weekly Market Commentary 7-5-2016

The Markets Second quarter ended with a spectacular finale of Brexit-inspired market volatility. Investors typically welcome sharp market movements with about the same level of enthusiasm that canines show for fireworks. However, recent market agitations highlighted a key tenet of investing: Volatility often creates opportunity. Following an initial Brexit sell-off, global markets rebounded. Last Friday, Financial Times reported: “Global equity indices continued their stunning post-Brexit vote recovery, “core” government bond yields hovered near record lows, and sterling stayed in sight of a three-decade trough against the dollar as a tumultuous week in the markets drew to a close. The dollar