The Value of Education (05/27/2015)

This blog will cover one of many topics to be considered when planning for a student’s college education. Cost is certainly a major concern when a student is creating a list of possible schools, along with other factors that will determine the value of the education. 

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Diversified and Patient (05/07/2015)

The markets can be uplifting at times and downright disappointing at other times. As long-term investors, we don’t want to look at short-term swings in the marketplace. It drives me nuts when clients tell me that they look at their accounts on a daily or even weekly basis. If you do so, you will drive yourself nuts. A recently retired client told me he was looking at his investments on a daily basis (I thought he should get a better hobby).  One day his portfolio went up and he slept like a baby.  The very next day, the portfolio went down and he couldn’t sleep.

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Check your Beneficiaries! (04/14/2015)

An expression people repeat over and over is “the one constant is change”. In our business, we are often consulted as a result of changes such as a new job, marriage, divorce, death, and relocation. In the past few months, I have seen several cases in which, amidst these changes, beneficiaries were not updated or changed on accounts, and the result was detrimental.

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Neutrality in the Market (04/02/2015)

The first quarter of 2015 is over. The stock market went up, the stock market went down. It kept doing this all during the quarter. At the end of the quarter, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, an index of 30 blue chip stocks, had dropped 0.3%. The S&P 500, a much broader index of the market, was up 0.4%. In summary, not much change to either of the indexes.  What was more apparent was that other asset classes did better than the U.S. stock market during the first quarter. I am always emphasizing diversification and this quarter was an excellent example of why it is so important.

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Which IRA works best for you? (2/25/2015)

Anyone who earns income through employment or has a spouse with earned income may be eligible to contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).  The common question is which IRA, Traditional or Roth IRA, is best for you? 

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Positive Vibes! (2/6/2015)

Several weeks ago, the media was reporting that economists didn’t think that the economy did well in the 4th quarter of 2014. Despite resistance to the idea, however, the U.S. economy is growing while creating new jobs and higher wages.

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Mortgage Vs. Savings (1/30/2015)

One of the most popular topics clients often wish to discuss is whether to pay extra on a home mortgage or to invest those extra funds in another kind of asset. For some, the idea of having debt of any kind is stressful, and they feel compelled to pay down the debt at all costs. For others, the idea of having some liquidity built up while continuing to make regular mortgage payments contributes to their peace of mind. While there is not a right or wrong answer, you can do both: build assets while systematically reducing debt.

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Oil Economics (1/9/2015)

The price of oil has dropped by about 55% in the past year, causing a great deal of disruption. The economies of many oil producing countries are being devastated by the drop. The cost to produce the product has become greater than the selling price in many places, resulting in an economic imbalance. To mitigate this price drop, a reduction in staffing and production by oil companies might help, but in third world countries, a significant reduction in employment could result in some form of uprising.

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Adios 2014

For some it was a good year, for others not so much. For investments, it was mostly a good year, with both stocks and bonds benefiting from the growth of the U.S. economy. Foreign investments did not fare very well, as currency values shrank relative to the dollar, and foreign economies were stagnant. Commodities were mixed, with oil being the major game changer, as the price fell by more than 30%. What will 2015 bring? Will we see oil rebound, the U.S.

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On Balance

At this time of year, I like to look back to a year ago and see if we are better off now than we were then. On balance, it appears that, both economically and financially, we are better off this December than we were a year ago. Many jobs have been created, unemployment is lower, consumer confidence is greater, factory production is higher, and all of this is happening as the Federal Reserve withdrew its economic stimulus. Not bad! If I were looking at Europe, China, Japan, Russia, or most of the rest of the world, I could not say the same.

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