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2018

Just In Case You Missed It

By | 2018, Executive Message, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Dear Financial Partners and Friends!

How is the U.S. economy really doing? Here are a few quotes and facts regarding the past, the present, and the future.

The Past: “We Ran Out of Words to Describe How Good the Jobs Numbers Are,” (“The Upshot,” Neil Irwin, The New York Times, June 1, 2018.)

The Present: The U.S. economy jumped to an annualized rate of 4.1 percent GDP in the second quarter of 2018. That’s almost double the first quarter’s rate of 2.2 percent. This is the fastest rate of growth since 2014. This is great news for all of us!

The Future: The following quotes are from Elizabeth MacDonald’s, “Evening Edit,” Fox Business News, July 19, 2018. MacDonald said,“(Here are) CEO commitments for more jobs over the next 5 years.”

FedEx®: “FedEx® will train or reskill 512,000 people over the next 5 years.”

General Motors®: “General Motors® is proud to offer 10,975 workforce training opportunities.”

The Home Depot®: “The Home Depot® is pleased to provide enhanced training and opportunities for 50,000 associates.”

Raytheon®: “Tom Kennedy from Raytheon® and we pledge 39,000 enhanced career opportunities.”

The U.S. economy is doing well. As a result, most Americans are doing well. Remember this: Your financial success is our passion and our mission at Smedley Financial.

Best Wishes,

Roger M. Smedley, CFP®
CEO

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Trade Helps Make America Great

By | 2018, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Harley Davidson®, the iconic American motorcycle company, plans to close a Kansas City factory and lay off 800 workers. It will consolidate operations and open a factory in Europe. This surprising announcement came despite actions meant to support U.S. manufacturing and jobs. It is an unintended consequence and casualty of our current trade war.

Trade promotes global peace, grows our economy, and brings greater opportunity to the greatest number of people. The United States has experienced huge benefits over the last century because of increased trade, and Americans want to continue to compete fairly in the global economy. No matter how tough the trade talk, Americans should want more trade, not less.

The trade war is a tactic for negotiating better agreements. Hopefully, we get there soon because we are only beginning to see the effects and the uncertainty.

Don’t Let A Trade War Become A War On Trade
One of the greatest risks the United States has taken is to raise tariffs on so many countries at the same time. This year, the United States has raised tariffs on China, India, Mexico, Canada, and members of the European Union. These have reciprocated U.S. action and have quietly been making better agreements with each other.

China created the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement and as of July 1, it lowered tariffs on approximately 10,000 goods coming from trade partners, including South Korea, India, and other regional countries. China is considering similar agreements with Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Europe. Japan recently signed its own “free-trade” agreement with the European Union.

The forceful approach could backfire just as it has in the case of Harley Davidson® and Whirlpool®. Farmers, for example, are also feeling the pinch. With fewer international buyers, the value of many crops has fallen. They have been offered a bailout, but seem more interested in farming than handouts.

Can We Emerge As Winners?
The United States is engaging in a risky tactic in order to obtain something quite reasonable: fair trade and protection of our intellectual property.

To make it happen, we need to start winning by focusing on more friendly trade partners. The more good agreements we get, the easier it will be to get the final countries to negotiate a fair deal.

Trade allows Americans to focus on what we do best. This specialization allows for higher innovation and new technologies. It leads to less expensive food and better prices on items that we want. Specialization also makes us more productive so that we can earn more working. All of this translates into a higher standard of living for most Americans and a more peaceful society.

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Purchasing a New Car?

By | 2018, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Purchasing a new car can be a harrowing experience. So much has changed over the years. Remember when the average term for a car loan was three years? Rising prices have pushed lenders to draw auto loans out to 7 and even 8 years. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Think back to your beginning finance classes where you learned the difference between appreciating assets and depreciating assets. With a few exceptions, cars fall squarely into the depreciating asset side of the ledger. If a loan is stretched out over a longer period and the car is dropping in value, it is not hard to end up on the wrong side of this equation – owing more than the car is worth.

Sometimes the purchase of a vehicle is driven – pun intended – by wanting something rather than by applying logic to a need. You can avoid a costly situation by doing some homework before you make a purchase. Here are some things to consider before your next purchase.

(1) How much can you afford monthly?
This should be a starting point. Take this payment and find out how much you can afford to spend with a 4-year or 5-year loan. If you can afford a $325 payment, you should look for a car around $17,500. This is based on a 5-year loan at 3.99% APR. Most banks and credit unions offer online calculators to help estimate monthly payments. Don’t forget about the extra costs: sales tax, licensing, and insurance.

(2) Should you buy new or used?
It doesn’t take long for the excitement and new car smell to wear off. Buying used is often a better value and prevents you from owing more than the car is worth.

Most new cars have a high level of depreciation in the first 12 to 24 months after purchase, some see a drop of 30 percent or more. Others will lose that amount over three years. Even if you plan to hold onto your car for a decade, you will come out ahead with a little research. And keep in mind, a vehicle that depreciates quickly in the first couple years may be a poor choice for a new car, but worth considering if you are looking to buy a used car.

(3) How is the car rated?
Consumer Reports offers a wealth of research-based information on new and used vehicles. The focus is on safety, reliability, and resale value. You can sign up online to use the service and it’s well worth the price, or find similar information for free on the website of another trusted source.

Treat yourself well financially. Before hitting the car lot, know what you are looking for and how much you can afford. Make your car-buying experience less stressful and sidestep remorse when the deal is done.

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Increase the fun… not the expense!

By | 2018, Money Matters | No Comments

Did someone say “Summer”?

It’s finally here and vacation planning is in full swing. How do you enjoy your vacation without the financial worry of vacation spending? Here are 3 financial tips to get more fun and enjoyment for your time and money.

Tip 1 – Everyday doesn’t need to include costly entertainment. Do some research before you go. It’s amazing what you can find to do for free—public parks, hiking, lakes, art exhibits, museums. Check the local tourism site before you go to see what’s happening when you’re in town. They can provide information on popular, and less known, places to see and things to do.

Tip 2 – Save some extra cash for the fun stuff by renting a vacation suite or villa. It’s easy to underestimate the cost of food when eating out three meals a day. Suites and Villas have small kitchens giving you the option to eat breakfast and a few meals in. They also provide space to spread out and relax after your day of fun. Pick up some snacks to munch on while playing and avoid spending on high priced treats at tourist destinations.

Tip 3 – Yes, impulse buying happens, even while on vacation. To avoid this, give yourself, and your fellow travelers a souvenir budget – in cash. When the money is gone, the spending ends. T-shirts, hats, and other theme-related souvenirs are generally available online at a better price. Purchase them before you go and wear them to the theme park. If you see something you like at the local boutique or gift shop, ask if there is a company website. If you’re still thinking about the item when you get home, buy it online. This will cut down on impulse spending and you’ll avoid the peril of packing your souvenirs for the journey home.

Wishing you a summer packed with fun!

Sharla J. Jessop, CFP®
President

Bonus Tip – Leaving town? Before you go, let your credit card company know you will be traveling. Your credit card provider may view a charge as suspect if made from another state. It can be extremely frustrating if your credit card is rejected when you’re trying to make a purchase. I’m speaking from experience!

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Why We Are Watching Oil In 2018

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Despite record U.S. oil production, the price of a barrel has been climbing in 2018. The ripple effects can and will be seen throughout the economy in the coming months.

The average price of regular gasoline in the United States is nearly $3.00 per gallon. One year ago, it was $2.35.1 That’s a 25 percent increase at a time when few expected such a rise.

Most Americans spend between 2 and 4 percent of their income on gasoline,2 so the direct impact on our spending may not seem like a big deal at first.

Americans, accustomed to the lower prices over the last couple years, have also been buying larger and larger cars.

We should also remember that oil is a major ingredient in many products we purchase (as illustrated in the adjacent graphic). While U.S. supply is growing, it has fallen globally.

Oil prices are still far from their all-time high of $136.31 in June of 2008. The domino effect of rising prices has also not been a major concern yet.

Global oil supply is the wildcard. If it increases (a real possibility), prices are unlikely to rise significantly. If it falls, rising prices may spread. Eventually, it could impact our spending.

Remember, consumers, drive 70 percent of the economy. So, if we cut back in our spending then the U.S. economic engine may slow as well. That’s why we are watching oil more closely in 2018.

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(1) GasBuddy.com
(2) U.S. Energy Information Administration
*Research by SFS. Graphic from Visual Capitalist. Investing involves risk, including potential loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author and may not actually come to pass. This information is subject to change at any time, based upon
changing conditions. This is not a recommendation to purchase any type of investment.

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Buy a home now or wait for a recession?

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

The U.S. housing market is hot and home prices are going through the roof. This is due to a growing economy. Utah is especially impacted by Silicon Slope companies that are bringing in a lot of high-paying tech jobs; i.e. high demand compared to supply.

With home prices continuously increasing, people are questioning if this is the right time to buy a home or if they should wait for a time when the housing market cools off.

There are always ebbs and flows to the economy and markets, including the housing market. Many people remember all too well the housing collapse that we had in 2008, even though that was a decade ago.
We don’t expect another housing collapse like that one in the next few years, but we do expect the overall market to soften up. Maybe we will have a smaller recession in 1-3 years. When that recession happens, housing prices will come down. The question for potential home buyers is, “How far will they come down?”

If housing prices in the area you are looking do become cheaper than they are now, then you may be better off to wait. This is a probability, but there is a chance that even though house prices decrease at that time, they will still be higher than they are today.

The other piece of the equation that many people frequently forget to consider is interest rates.
A 1 percent move in interest rates means you can afford roughly 89 percent of the home you could before. If you were looking at $400,000 homes before, now you can only afford to buy a $356,000 home for the same monthly payment.

The Federal Reserve has indicated that they plan to raise the fed funds target interest rate by 0.25% several more times this year and in 2019 as well. These are short-term rates, but they will impact the longer-term rates that determine your mortgage interest and payment.
We have been at historically low-interest rates for the last decade and once that ship sails I don’t expect to see interest rates this low for a very long time. However, an economic slowdown could bring rates lower again.

If you are moving, at least you have the increase on your existing home to help offset the increase on the home you are buying, unless you are moving from a depressed area to a hot area.

If you are buying for the first time and plan to stay longer than 3 years, now might be the right time to buy just to lock in low-interest rates. However, you still need to seriously consider your financial situation and whether you can afford the home you want. Don’t jump into something that is too much money just because you feel the pressure to get a deal done. Know your limits and be willing to back out if the deal gets too hot.

Renting may feel like you are throwing your money away, but it also provides flexibility. If you only do it for a few years you won’t be that far behind financially. In a few years, you may even be in a better financial situation. Who knows? You might be able to buy a home at a cheaper price than you can today.

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Payment calculation based on a 30 year mortgage, loan of $400,000, principal and interest payment of $1,961 and interest rate of 4.25% vs. 5.25%. Data in graphics and tables from Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.

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Just for Women – Cooking with Herbs

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Rufo Dina, the executive chef at Archibald’s Restaurant in Gardner Village, gave us a cooking demonstration on how to cook with herbs. He prepared the two recipes below and they were a hit!

Other tips from Rufo:

  • Add dry spices to food early so they have time to soften up.
  • Use less dry spices because the flavor is more concentrated and potent.

Bruschetta
Dice tomatoes and mix in a little olive oil, fresh chopped basil, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper. Place on sliced, toasted baguette. Then top with fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Slice green tomatoes, coat in all-purpose flour, dip in buttermilk and then coat with panko breadcrumbs. Place tomatoes in hot oil (about 350°F). Fry until slightly browned on each side.

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Just for Women – Raising Financially Aware Children

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Being financially savvy has a massive impact on our lives, as well as those of our children and grandchildren. Kelly Ness, of American Century Investments, focused on improving our family’s finances.

The principles of financial responsibility are not well taught in schools. According to a recent study, high school children claim 88% of their financial education came from their parents.

Where do children learn money management? Statistically, children are far more likely to be savers than spenders if their parents or grandparents talk to them about money. So, what should we say?

First, we need to understand our own money habits. Which behaviors do we want our children to replicate? Which should they not follow?

Next, we need to open a dialogue. Discuss saving, investing, debt dangers, and charitable gifting. It is also important to be open about household income and budgeting. In this way, they can learn from real and personal experience.

An allowance is a great way for young children to learn. Kids who receive an allowance tend to save more than those who do not. Children should also have financial goals. This can be a great opportunity to teach them about working for income and saving for purchases. When it comes time to buy, they will have an understanding of its worth.

Creating the time to teach your children or grandchildren about financial responsibility will pay dividends. It’s never too early, or too late. Bring your older children or grandchildren to your next appointment at SFS and allow them to ask questions. This will help to reinforce the value of planning, investing, and saving for the future. If you have questions regarding family financial education, please reach out to us. We would love to help you help them.

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Just For Women – Container Gardening–Vegetables and Herbs

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We had the wonderful opportunity to have Becky Pulver return. She works with J&J Garden Center in their education area. This time she taught us how to have success with container gardening. She gave us these tips:

Choose the right container. It matters.
Clay is heavy and will dry your soil.
Plastic is good, but may break down in heat.
Metal is good, but can rust.
It should be big enough for the plant to grow. (The roots grow as big as the plant.)
Have holes for drainage. This is crucial! Most plants do not like “wet feet.”
Use coconut fiber to line your container, it will provide nutrients and absorb moisture.

Choose good soil and food.
Choose a good “moisture control” potting soil, or soil that contains peat moss and vermiculites. This helps your soil retain water.
Feed plants when you first pot and monthly thereafter.
When looking at fertilizer: 16-16-16.
First 16 is Nitrogen for green and growth.
Second 16 is Phosphorus for blooms and fruit.
Third 16 is Potassium or Potash for roots/stems.

Choose appropriate plants.
Compact “bush” or have a determined size.
Herbs are great to grow in a container.

Water, water, water.
In the heat of the summer, you will need to water your container every day.

The best things about container gardening: You can move your container and grow anything you want in it.

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Just For Women – Let it Grow

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Sharla J. Jessop, President of SFS, taught us at the Just for Women conference how to “Let it Grow” from a wealth perspective.

She reminded us that “The best way to attain money and wealth in life is no secret … spend less than you make!” She went on to teach us the best way to have your wealth grow.

When investing, manage your risk and don’t freak out! Make sure you are emotionally comfortable with your investment plan.

Protect what you have with a “financial bodyguard.” This is someone to watch over your wealth when you can’t. Finally, make sure your beneficiaries are up to date and educate yourself about cyber threats.

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