China, Oil and the Third World (01/19/2016)

The stock market has been pretty dismal since the last trading day of 2015. If you listen to the talking heads on TV and the rest of the media you’d think the U.S. economy is in bad shape, but how you interpret the news and other available information is important. The consensus of these groups is that: China’s economy is faltering (true), the price of oil has dropped dramatically (true), and the U.S. economy is about to crater, not true!

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Rate Increase - Finally (12/17/2015)

The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) voted on Wednesday December 15th to raise interest rates for the first time in a long time. The new rate will be in the range of 0.25% to 0.50%. Rates have essentially been in the range of 0% to 0.15% for seven years. Those low rates were intended to help the U.S. economy. During the time of low rates: the job market came back, unemployment went down substantially, the housing market returned and earnings by corporations rebounded. This is what had been intended and therefore the FRB was very successful.

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How Much Should I Give? (12/4/15)

A client recently asked if there was a standard amount that people should give to charity each year. She donates throughout the year but wondered if she should be giving more or if her amounts would even make a difference. I offered to do a little research and present my findings.

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Charitable Giving (11/19/2015)

At this time of the year many people think about charitable giving. The obvious and easiest method is to simply write out a check and send it to the charity of your choice. Another method is to give highly appreciated stock. In this case, you get an enhanced tax break because you get the deduction for the full value of the stock, but you don’t pay the capital gains tax.

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Avoid the Rush (11/03/2015)

As October seems to have gone by at warp speed, we find the holiday season rapidly approaching.  While many can feel overwhelmed, with good planning, the season can be enjoyed both personally and financially.  Setting a realistic holiday budget and making sure to stick to it are the first steps to a more affordable and less stressful season. 

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Indecision (10/14/2015)

The markets around the world had a very bad third quarter, with a great deal of volatility. Most markets moved down substantially. China admitted that their economy was growing much slower than was necessary to sustain their economy. At the same time, most other nations saw their economies slowing down as well. While China is a large nation, with a major influence on the Pacific Rim nations, it plays a very small part in the U.S. economy. As mentioned in my previous blog, China represents about 0.06% of our GDP, effectively zero impact!

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Time Invested (09/25/2015)

With the recent volatility in the markets, some clients feel uneasy that we have not reacted by making changes to their investments.  At times like these, it is important to remember that employing a “buy-and-hold” strategy generally earns better returns than trying to “time” the market by jumping out when the outlook appears bleak.  Short-term volatility can certainly be restrained if an investor liquidates an investment during a down market, but then you are selling at the lowest point and missing the chance to rebound if the market goes back up.  Should you decide to get back into the ma

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China and the Markets (09/08/2015)

On August 10th the S&P 500 was at 2104. By August 25th it was at 1868. In other words, the S&P had fallen by 236 points, or 11.22% in 11 trading days. What caused this and what does it mean?

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Buckets of Money (08/06/2015)

In my study of financial planning, one of the first concepts I learned was to create a future income stream for retirement using three imaginary buckets of money. The first bucket would contain tax-deferred savings. The second would contain a combination of after-tax and tax-deferred savings. The third bucket would contain after-tax dollars potentially growing tax-free.

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Short Term Rates (07/24/2015)

During this past month, the problems and difficulties of both Greece and China have been major news. At the June 17th meeting of the Federal Reserve Board (Fed), they were already discussing the issues of these two countries and how they might impact the U.S. economy. Apparently, from the released report, the likelihood of the Fed raising rates is still in play.

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