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investing

From Investing FOMO to FEAR

By | 2019, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

My daily commute often leaves me sitting in traffic on State Street in Salt Lake City. Sometimes it can take 10 minutes to move 3 blocks. During these seemingly hopeless times, I often see a cyclist pass me. I consider the wisdom of selling my car and riding my bike. However, no matter how bad the traffic, I eventually pass the biker–no exception. (As a biking enthusiast, I regularly commute on a bike, but it is not faster.)

As investors, we faced similar thoughts in 2018. Should we make a short-term decision even though we know which vehicle will get us where we want to go quicker?

Investors entered 2018 with a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). The stock market had just completed a year where every month was positive. A tax cut had just been passed to stimulate greater consumer and corporate spending. Around the world, growth seemed synchronized, and expectations were rising.

Here is a review of my three predictions for 2018 with commentary on how things turned out.

U.S. growth exceeds 3 percent. The impact of the tax cut, which I referred to as a “sugar rush,” temporarily lifted U.S. growth to make the first forecast correct. The benefits of the cut were so short-lived that investor excitement quickly turned to concern.

The Federal Reserve finally has an impact. Interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve in recent years had largely been ignored by the stock market. This prediction also came true, especially in December when a rate increase was done despite all the problems going on in financial markets.

Investors would be disappointed with the market, but positive economic growth would help the market end the year positive. This prediction seemed to be correct for much of the year. However, it failed in the part that mattered most.

The stock market ended 2018 in an absolute panic! Oil prices were plummeting. The White House could not get a deal done on trade with China. The federal government had its third shutdown in just one year. And, despite all this, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates stating that nothing had changed; the economy was strong.

The stock market sell-off intensified, and the bull market arguably came to an end on Christmas Eve. December performance of the S&P 500 stocks was the worst since 1931. Historically, that makes some sense. The Great Depression began in 1929.

But we were not in the midst of a depression — quite the opposite. Corporate earnings were at record levels. The real GDP growth in this country was around 3 percent. Consumer spending, which represents 70 percent of the U.S. economy, rose in December by 4.5 percent!

What is an investor to do when the economic data is positive, and the market is so negative? At times like this, it is critically important to stay focused on your long-term goals.

It is our job at SFS to help you develop these goals and keep you on track to achieve them. We have tools to provide the necessary clarity and strategies to implement to help you keep moving forward.

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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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Be Smarter with Your Money

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Women outlive men by an average of 5 years. That means women can’t treat their finances exactly as men treat theirs. Women need to think about money for the long term, that way they can retire worry-free. Here are some things women should be doing now to prepare for the future.

1. Invest early – Why? Because you will need more. After retirement, women will have around three decades to enjoy their lives. Take advantage of your paychecks now. Enroll in a 401(k) or open a Roth IRA. The longer you are invested, the more compound interest you stand to accrue–which means you are making more money. It is never too late to start investing no matter what your age– even $100 can make a huge difference (maybe giving up your Diet Coke habit). It is satisfying to watch your money multiply.

2. Keep your eye on the goal – Because you have more time, that means there are more possibilities for things to go wrong, anything from divorce to job loss or death. It is a great idea to have multiple “what if” scenarios in your plan and have regular financial checkups. Discuss your long-term goals with your Smedley Financial advisor, who can help you stay on track.

3. Get involved in your finances – even if your spouse is the one “who does it.” You should know what is coming in and going out each month. It is important to “know” about your money. For example, your account numbers, passwords, etc.

4. Always be looking out for yourself – Women will spend on average 12 years out of the workforce, raising children or caring for elderly family. Even if you are not getting paid for this work, it is important to invest into an IRA and contribute as much as you can. This will help improve the financial future for you and your family. You can’t help others if you can’t help yourself.

 

Source: https://www.mfs.com/subs/redbook/pdf/redbook_fly_9_17.pdf

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Investing According to Your Goals & Your Time Frames

By | 2017, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

In financial planning, goals and investing go hand-in-hand. These are then combined with your personal attitudes towards risk to determine the investments that should be used.

When investing in the market, it is important to understand the associated risks, such as market volatility. This includes level of fluctuation and the amount of time you are willing to endure these ups and downs of the market.

One important consideration is to determine when the assets you are investing will be needed to fund your goal. For example, saving for retirement is a long-term goal, saving for your children’s education is most likely an intermediate-term goal, and saving for a new car would probably be a short-term goal.

Referencing the chart on this page will help you determine the time frame of your goals. If it is zero to three years, it would be best to keep your assets in a conservative location.

If your time frame is 10+ years, choosing to invest aggressively may be the best choice for you. A lot of the decisions also rely on your personal investment risk tolerance.

As your financial advisors, we can help guide you to investments that best match your investment goals, timelines, and objectives.

For instance, if your goal is saving for retirement, a 401(k), 403(b), or Roth IRA may be the best option due to the tax benefits. We can also look at your holdings and determine if they are invested to match your risk tolerance and time frame of when the assets are needed.

If a goal is to save for a down payment on a home in the next five years, an advisor can help you open an account that would be best suited for that goal.

For example, a 401(k) would not be the best option for this situation due to the taxes and 10% penalty for early withdrawal. Plus, in this situation there would be a loss of opportunity for growth on those assets. The best option may be an individual account with transfer on death, or a joint account with rights of survivorship.

We can help you set up appropriate types of accounts for you goals and then help manage the levels of risk. We even look at minimizing tax consequences.

There are a lot of options that come into play when determining how and where to invest. When looking at time frames, you may have to take risk–but take only the appropriate amount. If you’re planning to buy a home in a year and invest your down payment in a very risky stock, the results could be disastrous. You could delay your goals or even destroy a dream.

Use the chart as a guideline to help fund your goals and remember we are always here. Let us help guide you!

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What Tech Employees NEED from Financial Advisors

By | 2017 | No Comments

I recently surveyed tech employees to find out how financial advisors can better address their biggest concerns. Here’s what they had to say.

Make me believe that my company is a unicorn, but help me save as if it isn’t.
Even with the tech boom, only 15 to 20 new companies per year will eventually reach the mark of $100 million in revenue. The good news for Silicon Slopes companies is that the majority of those companies are coming from outside the San Francisco area.i The new 2017 list shows that Utah is home to 4 Unicorns: DOMO, Qualtrics, Pluralsight, and InsideSales.com.ii

Are you working for a unicorn? Many tech employees sink all of their excess cash into stock options. This can create a huge windfall or a major money pit. Britt Hawley from InsideSales.com says that tech employees need financial advisors to, “help them understand, manage, and factor (stock options) into their financial planning.” A good financial advisor can help you create a holistic plan that still optimizes your stock option purchases while giving you some balance through your 401k, insurance planning, and other investment planning. Dan Preece from HealthEquity found this to be true when the company he works for went through an IPO; “One of the biggest things for me was having help navigating through stock options, IPOs.”

Part of a holistic plan is creating a way for you to reach your goals even if your company doesn’t get bought out or go public. There is a lot of value in diversification and multiple income streams. You should still be contributing 10-15% of your salary into your 401(k). If your 401(k) ends up being the smallest piece, then it is still icing on the cake. If your 401(k) is your main retirement, then you will be grateful you chose to save. You don’t want to have to delay retirement because you are still hoping that your company will go public.

Help me without taking all of my money
Too many times tech employees seek out good advice only to find a sales person, masquerading as a financial advisor, pushing the “hottest thing since sliced bread.” Kayden Holt from Pluralsight put it this way, “Employees need people to help them without taking all of their money.” Unfortunately there are a few rotten “advisors” that taint the whole bunch. Be wary if an investment planner is only playing on a one string guitar or sells you something that is too good to be true.

Seek out a holistic advisor, typically a Certified Financial Planner®, that will look at all of your goals and will devise a plan to help you get there. Also make sure the fees they charge are in line with the service provided and that they can prove the value they are providing. Tech employees “like to know in a tangible way how they are benefitting from a financial advisor,” stated Mr. Hawley. Good advice does not have to be expensive, but bad advice always costs you dearly, no matter how little you pay for it.iii

Educate me about how to invest.
Tech employees are more savvy than most. “They like to understand the why” behind an advisors investment actions, said Mr. Hawley. Good investment advisors will be able to explain the details of their investing process with its pros and cons. They can explain in concrete ways what they can do for you that you can’t do for yourself. If you want to do your own investing, they can help you do it. If you want to have someone else manage your money, they can do that too. Most importantly they will be a teacher. “Just as much as we needed grade school to learn how to read and write,” said Mr. Holt, “we need financial advice to learn, grow, and earn.”

Give me different ways to access advice.
The world of advice is changing. The old stockbroker model of paying commissions for stock trades is dying. In its place you can find different models: Do it yourself, monthly retainer, or assets managed for a fee.

Technology is changing the landscape and making better advice and trading platforms available to the masses. Many do-it-yourselfers are drinking in the information and trading their own account.

Paying a monthly retainer, like $100 a month, is a newer model. It allows you to call up and ask questions anytime you want. It also helps people start out on the right foot even if they don’t have a lot of investable assets. It begs to reason that if you are willing to invest $100 in a phone every month, you should be willing to invest $100 in your financial security.

If you don’t enjoy researching investment ideas, you don’t have the time, or you’re afraid of not knowing what you don’t know, then seek out a holistic fee based firm that will also give you advice as part of that fee. The fee based model makes sure the advisor’s interests are aligned with yours.

Shield me from taxes
Tech employees tend to excel and have some great financial rewards. You may also be working for a unicorn and end up with a windfall. In either case you are probably getting killed by taxes, figuratively of course. Mr. Preece stated that reducing tax liability is extremely important because “I’ve worked hard to earn what I’ve got (often putting in late hours) and I want to ensure that I can enjoy as much of what I’ve earned as I can.” The best financial advisors will work in concert with CPAs specializing in stock transactions to make sure you can shield yourself from as much tax as legally possible.

Tech employees have some unique needs. The right financial advisor can help address those needs and make sure your future is all that you expect it to be. As Mr. Holt said, an “advisor is one of the only ways to balance your money and invest in yourself.”


i https://www.strictlyvc.com/2014/12/01/many-tech-companies-break-year/
ii https://www.cbinsights.com/research-unicorn-companies
iii http://www.cbsnews.com/news/quest-for-alpha-the-final-10-rules-for-being-a-successful-investor/

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Forge a New & Powerful Financial Paradigm

By | 2017, Executive Message, Money Moxie | No Comments

Dear Friends and Financial Partners!

How can you improve your savings and investing before and during your retirement? Here are some nifty (some might say awesome) tips to immediately change your personal money paradigm.

Change Your Money Mind-set: Chris Reining, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, became a millionaire at age 35 by doing one thing differently. Chris started working to save and invest, rather than working to spend. By going through a self-imposed paradigm shift, your life can also transform from a working-to-spend environment to a savings-and-investing world. The outcome speaks for itself. This is one powerful idea.

Get Professional Financial Help: Ours, of course. When you are accumulating assets in your 401(k) or 403(b), you are in an automatic investment mode. If you don’t know what the sequence-of-returns risk is or how dollar-cost averaging works against you during your withdrawal years, you are already behind and need our help. Social Security has over 2,700 rules and hundreds of exceptions to these rules. Medicare is filled with land mines. Distributing assets during the decumulation phase is exponentially more complex than adding assets.

Take Charge of Your Emotions: Don’t let your emotions take charge and dictate your actions. Specifically, when the stock market is dropping or has dropped, don’t lock in your losses! Remember: Stock market drops are temporary. Locking in losses is permanent. Locking in losses by selling at or near the bottom of a market may be a mistake you and your loved ones will pay for the rest of your lives.

Ignore the Media: Call us. We know your specific financial goals. We manage money and segment your accounts by time to avoid the sequence-of-returns risk. Even when the media is all doom and gloom, there’s a good chance your accounts will be doing just fine with respect to your own financial goals. “The Sky is Falling” mentality illustrated by Henny Penny, more commonly known in the U.S. as Chicken Little, may cause you to want to lock in your losses. Don’t do it. Even well-meaning friends and family members can push you away from financial goals.

Remember: Contrary to many, investing is not about beating the market. Financial planning and investment management are about meeting your goals, including having a sustainable income stream during retirement. At Smedley we strive to help you forge a powerful, yet personal financial paradigm. As always, we are on your side.

Bullish Best Wishes,

Roger M. Smedley, CFP®
CEO

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Retirement is Full of Surprises

By | 2017, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Retirement was only a few years away for Dan and Patti, and they knew it was time to get everything in order. Living in sunny southern California was wonderful, but they felt it was not the best place for them to retire. It was crowded, the cost of living was high, the traffic deplorable, and it would not allow them to be debt-free at retirement. All things pointed to finding a new city to retire to.

Five years ago, Dan and Patti started their search. Resources, such as Forbes 10 best places to retire, helped them create a list of potential cities. Some cities were easy to check off–they didn’t meet Dan and Patti’s list of must haves:

  • Small but with services including a hospital and modern medical facilities
  • Home price that allowed them to retire debt-free
  • Outdoor activities
  • Favorable tax structure
  • Growing economy
  • Community activities like continuing education

By 2015 they had created a short-list and began visiting the cities to get a feel for the local culture and people.

One year from their proposed retirement date they started planting the seeds in their new city. They purchased a home that could be rented until they were ready to move. They started preparing their home in California to go on the market. The wheels were in motion.

Throughout this five-year process they planned, reviewed, and updated their retirement and income distribution plans. This helped them feel financially confident about this exciting, but unnerving, life transition. It also gave them the financial framework to make their important decisions.

Today, Dan and Patti are living their retirement dream. They are excited about building their new network of friends, doctors, and social connections in their new community. Their new favorite saying is “We don’t have to if we don’t want to because we are retired!”

Some of the challenges they faced throughout the transition into retirement:
Timing the sale of their home
Continuation of medical coverage for a younger spouse
Slow response from employer’s human resource department regarding retirement benefits
Keeping important papers close at hand during the move
Finding temporary place to live until their new home was ready
Small things such as getting a library card while temporarily living outside of the city

Controlling your own time
Less stress and more fun is how Rolayne describes retirement. After a long and rewarding career she decided it was time to turn in her walking papers and she hasn’t looked back. Rolayne says she is busier now than she was before, but now she sets the pace.

Retiring gave Rolayne more time to help care for her aging father before he passed away; something she is thankful she was able do.
She lives an active lifestyle and as an outdoor enthusiast, regardless of the season, she can be found taking a hike or snow shoeing in the mountains. She also enjoys the flexibility retirement offers so she can spend more of her time volunteering for her church. Basically, she is doing what she wants, when she wants and loving every minute.

Retirement is delightful; however, there was some trepidation getting to this point. Navigating health care in retirement was a big concern. Rolayne found that putting the various pieces of Medicare and supplemental coverage together was frustrating and overwhelming.

While there are numerous resources available, it was still difficult to make sure she had the right coverage for her situation. Rolayne sought help from a health insurance professional who could review her options and help her find the right coverage.

Without a pension to provide a stable monthly income, Rolayne knew she needed a plan for using the nest egg she had created. Longevity runs in her family; her income distribution plan is designed with the goal of helping her nest egg provide income throughout her retirement years.

Looking forward to retirement
Retirement should be an exciting phase of life. While transitioning from a career into retirement can be stressful, a plan can help relieve some of that stress and provide a better understanding and framework for this chapter of life.

Using years of experience, we have helped clients navigate the many obstacles of this transition. Let us help you.

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Back to School College Planning: Real Advice from a College Student

By | 2016, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

College. When being described by those with a diploma hanging on the wall, it is a golden age of lasting friendships and high-stakes pranks. When imagined by youngsters that haven’t flown the nest, it is an escape from the demanding thumb of the parents. True, college is a great place to meet new people and discover independence; it is also a challenging time of learning to balance life with money.

The average college student graduates with $24,000 in debt, according to the Project on Student Debt.

college_debt

College doesn’t have to be four years of ramen noodles and Friday nights at home—with the right money management, any college student can have the same outlook (even if it is forty years in retrospect) as those that have moved their tassel.

Tip #1: Look at the Long Run
For as many times as the incoming freshman has been told: “College opens up so many doors, do whatever you want to do,” just remember that you cannot do everything that you want to do. Doing everything you want, satisfying every craving, or buying each impulse item will wipe out a bank account before the end of first semester.

Think about what will matter in a few years, rather than the latest craze or obsession. Will Jerusalem Cruisers last? Probably not. But having enough money to pay for next semester’s rent will matter. Save money for the long run, rather than spend it on something temporary.

Tip #2: Be Budget Friendly
The best way to manage money is to have a set budget and stick with it. Download one of the hundreds of budget-making apps (Mint is recommended), and decide how much you are going to spend and save each month.
Don’t just budget for bills and tuition; also budget for food, dates, books, and socializing. Being budget friendly goes beyond just having a reminder of how much you are supposed to spend though—you have to obey your own rules.
Find ways to cut back, whether it’s buying used textbooks online, having a suburban mom’s coupon book on hand, or trying your hand at a homemade meal. Many college campuses have fun free activities you can participate in. Having a budget will help you save money while still having enough for the essentials.

Tip #3: Shop Savvy
Taking a trip to the store is a dangerous activity; financially, that is. There are hundreds of options and sales, not to mention the pushy salespeople. To stay safe, shop savvy. Know exactly what you need to buy before you even enter the store, and how much you can spend.

Paying with cash is a great way to keep from going over-budget. Swiping a credit card is easy—sometimes too easy. It is easier to spend less when shopping with tangible money.

Be careful about the 5-buck-or-less temptations; those little buys add up quicker than you think. Finally, avoid impulse buys by making a 30-day waitlist. Put random finds and wants on the list. If in a month you still want something, chances are it will really add to your life.

Tip #4: Invest Early
Saving throughout college is the smart thing to do; automate your savings whenever possible. Leaving it in a bank or taped to the back of the toilet, however, isn’t always the best choice. If you’re not swimming in student debt or fishing coins from public fountains, it’s a good idea to start investing.

Before you jump in and make rash decisions, read up. Use the library and find out what will work best for you.

Whatever path you choose, start small. Diversify your investments, and plan on a regular schedule. By investing early, you garner one of the greatest advantages: time. Even if your investments are small, they will grow with time.

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Worst-Case Planning May Be Your Best Financial Tool

By | 2015, Executive Message | No Comments

Dear Valued Financial Partners and Friends,

You may profit by learning how we, as wealth managers at Smedley Financial, engage in two different processes on your behalf. Both on the financial planning side and on the investment management side, we strive to turn the tables upside down by asking the tough “What if” questions.

Regarding your financial planning with us, we first look at the positive side of helping you plan your financial future. But then we flip things upside down and strive to plan for worst-case scenarios as well.

What if you needed more money in your emergency fund? Where will the money come from? What if you or your spouse became disabled? What if you or your spouse died prematurely? What if the younger or healthier spouse dies first? Would you or your survivors be financially okay? What if one or both of you lives 10 or 15 years longer than you expect? What if one or both of you have to go to an assisted living facility? Where will the funds come from? What if you die without a will and possibly a trust? What will happen to your estate?

We hope you can see how this type of reverse thinking in your financial planning is not only beneficial, but essential.

Regarding our investment management philosophy, we strive to emulate this same type of reverse thinking. Rather than being persuaded by best investment case scenarios, the Smedley investment management team continually seeks to ask
itself the tough questions. Over the past 34 years, we at Smedley Financial have seen many people make financial mistakes–some serious and some not so serious.

What if high returns, you know, too good to be true, are promised? Many people lose much of their life savings and perhaps their homes because of the promise of high returns. What if you change your mind and want your money back the next day? Can you get your money back without severe penalties? What if something goes wrong in the future with a proposed investment? What if an investment stops performing? What if an investment drops in value? Who is minding your portfolio and continually looking out for your best interest? When someone boldly states how much money he or she made on an investment ask, “How much risk did you take to get that return?” Are you properly diversified and allocated?

Keep in mind the Will Rogers adage, “I am not as concerned about the return on my money as the return of my money.”
As a nationally recognized Wealth Manager, Smedley Financial’s motto is, “Your financial success is our passion!”

Bullish Best Wishes,

Roger M. Smedley, CFP®
President

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Don’t Self-sabotage Your Investments

By | 2015, Executive Message | No Comments

Dear Valued Financial Partners and Friends,

In the January-February 2015 issue of Money Moxie®, I addressed how Black Swan Events will—at some unpredictable point—affect your investments. The bottom line was, while Black Swan Events are unpredictable, you must control your reactions to these non-controllable events. Now, I would like to talk to you frankly about common ways we have seen some very smart people self-sabotage their own investments.

“I got out of the stock market during the drop, but I never got back in.” Or, alternatively, “I simply didn’t know when to get back in the market. No one rang a bell.”

“I repeatedly told my advisor to keep me in cash throughout the year because of market uncertainty.” (The reality: This individual missed out when the market went higher.)

“The stock market’s going to drop to such and such a point, then I’ll get back in.” (The reality: The stock market never fell to the point predicted and kept going up.)

Defensive reasoning or self-justification are other names for committing financial self-sabotage. Often people, some very smart people, are their own worst financial enemies because of egos, i.e. trying to be smarter than the market.

We have had prospective clients bring their investment statements to us to compare and what is surprising to these people is how staying invested trumps their own trading decisions. (Of course, there are no guarantees or promises of past performance being repeated.)

When worried about Black Swan Events, don’t let your emotions get in the way of making money. Don’t let fear ruin your retirement. Instead, talk to one of our wealth advisors. We have the time, financial talent, and financial training to help you prepare for and navigate through difficult times.

Bullish Best Wishes,

Roger M. Smedley, CFP®
President

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