Here’s an executive summary of some of the key market and economic data suggest we’re continuing to see moderate growth but not enough to have the Fed put the brakes on with sharp rises in interest rates. Despite the geo political and global risks and commotion, the U.S. and international markets have been trending upward and onward….
In my childhood, both parents were relegated to working in low paying employment situations that were not fulfilling and struggled to pay the bills. There was not any financial instruction for me or my two older sisters on saving, budgeting, let along things like investing, insurance and basic wills. Looking back, they had few options since their educations were limited, my mom only finished High School and dad had an art degree but was trapped in a job he detested as a theater manager. Without any funds for college, I joined the Army out of high school and was able to use the GI Bill to pay for undergraduate school and later for part of my MBA degree. In addition, I started a small business to help pay for other expenses.
Our teenage daughter Vika graduated eighth grade this month from Junior High after being at the St. Barnabas school for over eight years. It’s a milestone for her and a giant step toward becoming a young lady. I was choking back tears seeing her walking down the aisle wearing the classy dress, white gloves, make up and nice conservative pumps! There’s something about seeing your daughter grow up and all of the sudden you wonder, “what happened to my little girl?” Remember the song “Butterfly kisses”? It kills me every time I hear it. She really progressed this last year academically, emotionally, spiritually even though she still has her teenage drama, hormonal over-reactions and a few conniving moments.
Growing up in Florida for most of my life, I’ve lived through some scary hurricanes over the years. My family referred to them back then as “HER’ a-cans” but these days we can also call them “HIM’a-cans” since we also use the male gender for named storms. Knowing what we Floridians experienced last year with Hurricane Matthew, it was a wake- up call that we should take hurricane season seriously. June 1 is the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Florida's 10-year hurricane-free streak was broken as Hurricane Hermine made landfall last fall near the coast of St. Marks. Not long after, Hurricane Matthew made landfall over Haiti as a Category 4 hurricane, soon taking a three-day jaunt up Florida's east coast and into Georgia and the Carolinas, causing damage that according to the State’s Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Atwater, “exceeded $729 million generated by 112,000 insurance claims. In total, Floridians last year filed nearly 130,000 insurance claims totaling roughly $800 million in losses. The question now is: If a storm were to reach Florida's shores next week, would you be prepared?”
According to the Department of Labor, there were 27.0 million “foreign-born” persons in the US labor force in 2016, comprising 16.9% of the American workforce. The percentage of “foreign-born” workers was 13.3% in 2000.
A 401(k) is a retirement savings plan sponsored by an employer that lets workers save and invest a portion of their paycheck before taxes are taken out. 401(k) plans emerged in the 1980’s as a supplement to pensions. Pensions known as defined benefit plans became more and more expensive for large corporations as the aging demographics required more workers and fund performance to guarantee pension income for retired workers. But as the cost of running pensions escalated, employers started replacing them with 401(k) plans, a type of defined contribution plan.
I find it fascinating that our most successful and fulfilled clients are those that are the most charitably involved in all kinds of organizations helping others. As we all know, we’ll leave it all behind, why not benefit others in need while we’re living and beyond the grave. As Christ instructed in the New Testament, “To whom much has been given, much is required”. Whether its youth programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Kids on the Run, Rotary clubs, Teen Mentoring programs, YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, Good Samaritan Clinic, Historical Societies, Arts Organizations, Missions and Job Creation organizations, the list is endless.
Our grandson Calvin spent some fun days with us recently while our daughter and son-in-law took a needed break on a cruise for their anniversary. It's hard to explain the pride, joy and sense of wonder in seeing the legacy of your family continue through the next generations. We all hope and pray they live lives of honor, integrity and make significant contributions to make a difference in the really short lives we have here on earth.
There are always lurking worries and concerns, reasons to prevent investors from having confidence in the long-term prospects of growth in the capital markets. Most end up waiting until “it feels good” or the perfect time to invest and we know that never really happens. Then, when stock prices are at all-time lows, few have the courage to step up and buy low at precisely the prime time of best opportunity. The saying goes, “stocks are the only thing people don’t want to buy when they’re on sale”. There is always something new, different and scary that we’ve never experienced before. But looking back over history from the great depression and market crash of the 20’s and 30s’ WWII, Korean war, Vietnam, the Oil embargo, assassinations, a severe recession in the 70s, sky rocketing interest rates in the 80’s, terrorist attacks, impeachment proceedings, government shutdowns, the list goes on……
Tax season can bring new possibilities – especially when it comes to what to do with your refund or, on the flip side, how to settle your bill. We’ve gathered some ideas that may fit into your financial landscape.
TENDING TO YOUR WINDFALL
So you worked diligently with your tax preparer to complete your return, only to discover some of the fruits of last year’s labor will be coming back in the form of a refund. So, what can you do with your bounty? Here are some possibilities:
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