One common trait among the highly successful is their endless drive to improve and learn. Take a page from their book during your downtime this holiday season by feeding your curiosity and keeping your mind engaged. Make space on your digital device for some of these popular finance-focused podcasts:

  1. National Public Radio’s Planet Money tackles broad economic topics with a fun, inventive approach. One example: In August, a five-episode series chronicled their 100-barrel oil purchase, following it from a Kansas well to its final stop at an Iowa gas station. Look for new podcasts once or twice a week.
  2. Marketplace delivers a daily podcast that takes a detailed look at the day’s business and financial news in a relatable and highly digestible format.
  3. What started in 1997 as a syndicated newspaper feature has evolved into Motley Fool Money, a weekly radio show and podcast. A team of analysts helms this production, deciphering technical jargon and covering investing-related stories and interviews.
  4. Fans of the 2005 nonfiction bestseller “Freakonomics” may appreciate the eponymous weekly podcast, which looks at economic systems from fresh perspectives. Podcast topics range from an economist’s take on ride-sharing apps to conversations with innovative entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss and more.
  5. Stacking Benjamins focuses on personal finance, alternating between guest interviews that touch on earning, saving and spending, and a roundtable format that features other podcasters and bloggers.

Time is money, so spend it wisely. Put your downtime to good use with these and other informative podcasts.

spending-your-bonus

Whether it’s tied to performance, holiday profits or a tax refund, nothing beats the joy of receiving a bonus. But resist the temptation to blow it all on something that could be short-lived. Instead, consider the following, all of which can have a lasting impact.

  • Pay down debt. If you’re carrying a credit card balance or another high-interest, short-term debt, here’s a chance to reduce it. With average credit card debt at nearly $8,000 per household, even a modest holiday bonus can make a serious dent and minimize the snowball effect.
  • Refresh your emergency fund. Are you one of the 63 percent of Americans who doesn’t have the savings to cover an unexpected $500 expense? Consider building a cash cushion that will help prevent you from reaching for your credit card at the next emergency.
  • Superfund your retirement savings. Take this opportunity to max out your IRA or 401(k). Using a bonus to put more long-term money into tax-advantaged accounts lets you avoid the end-of-year funding rush.
  • Leap ahead a few payments. Overpaying your usual mortgage amount means you’re shaving down the principal faster, which results in less interest. You can do the same with student loans and other long-term payments, just make sure there isn’t a prepayment penalty.
  • Don’t just treat yourself; invest in yourself. Reserve 10 to 20 percent of your bonus for a home, health or education upgrade. Spending in areas that are likely to generate more money in the future is a smart way to rationalize a purchase since you’re putting the unexpected funds to good use.

Consider dividing your bonus among multiple categories, giving higher percentages to your more urgent priorities. Using this strategy for a lump-sum windfall can turbocharge your existing short-term and long-term financial goals while still giving you a little breathing room to enjoy your reward.

dealing-with-financial-anxiety1

When unexpected or worrisome financial news hits, what do you do? Constantly checking your portfolio can derail you from long-term goals, while having zero awareness of your finances can lead to reckless overspending or other bad behavior.

Information travels faster than ever these days, and it’s easy for investors to feel alarmed or panicked about finances when they read the headlines. Get a handle on financial anxiety with a few helpful strategies.

  • Start to see others’ fears as opportunities. When the markets go down, investments can lose value and appear on sale. That’s when some say it’s time to buy rather than sell. Whatever you choose, zoom out on S&P 500 charts to get some perspective and look at the long-term picture.
  • Revisit your goal-based investment plan regularly but not necessarily in response to world events. Sometimes all it takes is a check-in to remember why you have a particular portfolio set up just so. If changes must be made, consider timing them with significant life events like a birth, death, career move or change in marital status.
  • Begin incorporating mindfulness techniques and meditation into your daily life. Not only are these practices ideal for reducing anxiety and stress, which can lead to larger health conditions that are expensive to treat, but they can also improve cognition and concentration.

With the potential for more volatility on the horizon as markets tend to fluctuate during presidential election years, there’s no time like the present to practice taming financial anxiety with the above suggestions. Employing thoughtful techniques can help you stay balanced and on track, both mentally and financially.

Famous monuments of the world grouped together on planet Earth

Today’s post deals with a simple issue of terminology for investing, which you’ll see when it comes to investing is not so simple. In case you are interested, you can view a comprehensive Financial Vocabulary Booklet we’ve put together, which has many financial terms you might find helpful. Today, we’ll primarily be discussing international verses global and a few related terms. In your everyday non-financial discussions, these two terms are fairly interchangeable. But, not when it comes to investing.

Global – These are investments that are supposed to encompass investing in the entire world. However, keep in mind that often times these investments will exclude all or some emerging market countries. So you have to read prospectuses carefully. Sometimes finance people will refer to Global as being Domestic plus International, which brings us to our next two terms.

International – These are investments that are supposed to encompass the world other than the domestic United States. Sometimes these investments may be referred to as Ex-US, which is short for excluding the United States. Again, these investments will usually exclude emerging markets, so most often International really means developed markets that are non-US.

Developed markets are generally markets which are considered larger, more established, and with more liquidity. As of  2008 the Financial Times of London Stock Exchange (FTSE) classified the following countries as developed: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. Everything else is considered emerging markets.

Emerging markets are non-developed markets. Generally markets in these countries are smaller, less established, and have less liquidity. Emerging markets are actually then subdivided into three categories, which are advanced, secondary, and frontier. I won’t go into those today.

Domestic – This is perhaps one of the more confusing financial terms because domestic should be relative, but most often for investment fund names it is not. What I mean by this is that if you are Australian and live in Australia, domestic should mean “in Australia”, but it doesn’t mean that with most investment fund nomenclature. Most often, but not always, when describing investment funds, the term domestic is synonymous with the United States, which is good for you if you are an American living in the United States. Just remember, domestic is still a relative term in other contexts, including other financial contexts. So, it never hurts to confirm that a domestic investment is referring to the US, particularly if you are looking at an investment that is less broadly traded, is managed in another country, or has some other reason to be dissociated with the United States.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

AdobeStock_84743022 - United Kindom small

Did you miss Adrian’s brief commentary about Brexit on WBBJ? View it here!

Well, the people of the United Kingdom (UK) have made their voices heard and voted for Brexit. As you are likely already aware by now, Brexit is the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU). And, Brexit is not the only European upheaval on the horizon. In case you missed it, I wrote over two weeks ago about keeping a watchful eye on several European issues to be mindful of in the third paragraph of the “May Jobs Report and the Fed” blogpost. If you’d like more detail on the logistics of Brexit, BBC News has a good piece on the UK’s referendum, but despite calling the piece “All you need to know”, there is a great deal left untold.

What we know:

The first step in a series of steps for the UK to leave the EU: It is important to keep in mind that the“referendum” vote by the people was merely the first step. No official exit has actually taken place yet. While I anticipate the UK to leave officially, it is still not absolutely certain as the politicians could choose not to act on the will of the people. There is already some resistance, but I find it likely that should politicians delay too much, you’ll find the people of the UK ready to replace them to make this happen. Assuming Brexit moves forward without delay, it is still estimated that it may take as long as two years for Brexit to be completed.

Uncertainty yields market flights to safety: There is significant uncertainty not only about the ramifications of the Brexit vote, but even more so regarding how the markets will react years into the future regarding those ramifications. However, that uncertainty could yield positive or negative outcomes depending on what actions are taken from here. Keep in mind that what we have seen in the markets thus far is not based on what investors know; rather it is based on what investors don’t know. I encourage you not to assume that Brexit means doom nor that Brexit means boon!

More on the horizon: Spain, while shadowed by the Brexit vote, had a major election on June 26th that adds the European uncertainty. Despite claims by the People’s Party Mariano Rajoy to have “won”, the vote leaves in place political stalemates because the Party is short of a majority to take actions without consensus from opposing leadership. Furthermore, Greece faces major debt payments of over ~$11 billion over the next several weeks. And finally, France is having major issues with strategic fuel reserves. In mid-May, the French government estimated it had 115 days of reserves left, but the issue is more about logistics and as summer fuel demand increases, this could be another major economic issue to contend with.

Media, government and sales fearmongering: One thing which is already occurring from the Brexit vote is fearmongering. The media is one place where you should expect such to occur.  Here is about 60 seconds of media fearmongering if you already haven’t had enough. There’s no doubt that most major news sources will be playing up the worst aspects for news ratings for some time.

Another source which I anticipate to continue with the fear tactics will be governments. There may or may not be as much coming out of the UK, but certainly expect any other country entertaining an exit to have its leadership use every tactic possible. In particular, I don’t expect Brexit to be completely smooth sailing. Watch for political leadership to seize on any negative Brexit issues for all they’re worth.

Finally, those selling financial newsletters or certain investments such as precious metals will certainly use this to their advantage. And, while I’m not completely opposed to a small holding in non-traditional investments as some advisors may be, I recommend not becoming overzealous just because of fear tactics.

Now, I’ll make some broad speculation. Keep in mind, this is speculative conjecture. Please, do not attempt to make investment decisions based on my musings; consult your investment professional.

What we don’t know:

Euro Demise: First, I think Brexit spells the eventual end for the Euro as we know it. The UK is the first of several nations that will likely exit. It is still undetermined if the EU will place trade sanctions on the UK, which have already been threatened. If the EU does, other EU countries may be more hesitant to exit and the UK will likely see some negative economic consequences. Despite sanctions, I think other nations will still eventually exit, it may just take longer. Of course “receiver” states, those which benefit more economically than they contribute may continue to try and hold the EU together. One must also consider that the UK kept the Pound as their currency in addition to the Euro, whereas other currencies such as the French Franc would have to be reintroduced, which would be more complex. Exits by stronger economic states means that if the Euro does continue to exist, it certainly will not be the currency which some thought would supplant the dollar.

Good for the UK: Economically, I believe it could be very good for the UK to exit the EU, especially if sanctions are not imposed. The UK is better positioned financially than most of the rest of the EU, and if the Pound’s value stays lower in comparison to the Euro and/or the Dollar, it will make business investment more attractive in the UK. But, not only will the UK have more economic independence, it will also have more socio-political independence. We’ve seen time and time again throughout history that more freedom means more economic prosperity. It may take years, or even decades, however I do believe that this is a good first step towards helping the UK re-establish greater financial strength and prosperity. We’ll have to see what other steps are taken by the UK to see how impactful this may be. Keep in mind that for a year or more, this could have the opposite effect. As I said before, uncertainty usually yields a flight to safety and there is a lot of uncertainty in the UK at the moment.

UK Immigration Reform: I believe there were many factors which drove the Brexit vote, not least of which were economic independence and Brits seeking smaller governance closer to home. Certainly, there were numerous socio-political and economic factors of influence. One factor not to discount is the European refugee crisis. Regardless of your personal thoughts on the refugee relocation throughout the world, one cannot deny the fact that it is putting financial strain on receiver nations and influencing the cultural landscape through Balkanization.

The Fed: I still believe the Federal Reserve Bank will raise rates as much and as fast as they feel they can. However, Brexit no doubt puts a hold on rate increases for a while.

 

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Our views may change at any time based on the constantly changing conditions that influence finance and economics. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Eddleman - WBBJ

Here’s a story I was interviewed for on WBBJ about Brexit. Obviously I had much more to say that had to be cut from the piece. Don’t forget, I actually had a brief blogpost weeks ago where I mention Brexit and what else is on the horizon. Expect more details soon in our Eddleman’s Economic Insight blog.

A man holding the classified section of the newspaper as if searching for possible employment.

As you’ve probably heard on the news, the May 2016 jobs report was “disappointing”, “concerning”, and a “surprise”, or at least those were the words used by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen. In fact, May’s job creation was the worst since 2010. And, while you might hear the 4.7% unemployment figure bandied about, there’s been considerable pullback in touting this number. Even mass media are now outlining what I’ve been saying for years, which is that the government statistics are unrealistic, though I’d call the numbers plagued with deception. There are actually six different unemployment statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, I recommend persons look at the “Employment” rate for a better statistic, which is hovering at 59.7% at the moment. The Wall Street Journal has compiled a series of such alternative statistics in a recent article, The May Jobs Report in 12 Charts, but what does all this really mean regarding the economy, the Fed, and what you should be mindful of?

The Federal Reserve Bank was formed in 1913 with the purpose of stabilizing the monetary and financial systems. And, while the Fed has continued portray itself as proactive, it has become mostly reactionary. So, despite all its hints of a June rate increase up until a few days ago, I’d be very surprised if we see any change in rates. In fact, I’d classify Yellen’s comments this week as strong backpedaling. Will the Fed raise rates again this year? I think they will take every opportunity they can to raise rates as much as they can as soon as they can. I say this because the Fed wants to be able to lower rates during the next crisis without having to go negative. To do that, they have to get rates up from where they are now. But, what should you really keep your eyes on?

Well, obviously the economy is still very shaky. But, its important to distinguish between the markets and the economy. I would anticipate continued volatility over the short-term in the markets. But, the US economy is not the only place to be watchful. Europe has several, major socio-economic factors coming to turning points in June. Britain will have a vote to potentially exit the Euro on June 23rd called Brexit and polling indicates the voting will be very close with a slight lead projected at the moment for “Remain”. But, depending upon the outcome, you could see the Prime Minister David Cameron exit as well. And, Britain is not the only country potentially looking at major issues in late June/July. Spain has a major election on June 26th that could greatly impact its economic outlook. Furthermore, Greece faces major debt payments of over ~$11 billion in June and July of 2016. And finally, France is having major issues with strategic fuel reserves. In mid-May, the French government estimated it had 115 days of reserves left, but the issue is more about logistics and as summer fuel demand increases, this could be another major economic issue to contend with.

So, what should you do? Make sure you are prepared for potential volatility ahead. It is impossible to predict the outcomes of major economic drivers, much less how the market will react to such drivers. But, make sure you position yourself and your portfolio proactively, so that you can be comfortable with the outcomes whether the market goes up or down and whether those moves are a little or a lot. If you’re unsure of how you want to do that, meet with your investment professional to discuss these impending issues or give us a call, 877-5WEALTH.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

The S&P 500 and the MSCI Emerging Market Index have very different results over the last 5 years. During that time, the S&P 500 produced positive returns every year, while the MSCI Emerging Markets Index was only positive in one year. So with this information, why would anyone choose to place their money in an emerging market index?

The answer comes from history.  Over the last 28 years, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index actually performed better than the S&P 500, and would have made about $800,000 more. When looking over that 28-year period, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index had negative annual returns in 13 years. During that same time period, the S&P 500 only had 5 years with negative annual returns. However, over that time period, the S&P 500 compounded at a rate of 10.3%, while the Emerging Markets Index compounded at a rate of 10.5%.

One of the most difficult parts about investing in emerging funds is to stick with it. It is hard to look at a fund that is producing negative returns over several years and continue to hold on. However, by keeping the fund for a long period of time, you are more likely to receive the benefits that come with riskier investments.

For more information on investing in emerging markets, give us a call!

Past performance is no guarantee of future resluts.

This is a scenario everyone has played out in their head hundreds of times. What would I do if I suddenly came into $1 million? Most of us already have a plan, to either get out of debt, or to buy a new car or a new house. But, assuming those things were already taken care of, what would most of America do with $1 million?

Million dollar question

According to a recent survey of Mirador Wealth, most Americans would choose to invest their newly acquired fortune in land. In fact, Americans in 17 different states choose to invest in land. The respondents were given five choices: land, investments and business, travel, a small plane, or a boat. So given these options, why are more people choosing to either buy a boat or plane rather than invest? There are a few reasons why this could be the case. First of all, when given a large sum of money, history shows us that most people tend to be spenders, and not savers. According to Forbes, 44% of lottery winners who have won a large prize have gone broke within 5 years. If people already have a lack of financial discipline, access to more money merely amplifies financial mistakes. Another reason people are choosing to spend instead of invest is because of a lack of financial knowledge. According to a recent Gallup poll, 43% of Americans are not financially literate. This means that they struggle with paying bills and building their credit. So when these people receive a large quantity of money, they already have bad habits, and their money will not last as long.

Interestingly enough, the people in states with the lowest median household income chose to buy land, while the people in states with the highest median household income chose investments and business. So that leaves you with the question, what would you do with $1 million?

If you’d like to gain more financial knowledge and discipline to handle your first $1 million or even have a little guidance to help you get there, give us a call!

Piggy Bank

Depending upon your circumstances and everyone’s is different, the order that you prioritize for investing may vary. However, in general most people should prioritize investing for the short-term and then the long-term. Short-term investing, which I prefer to call savings, is most commonly for an emergency fund. An emergency fund is basically a small accumulation of money to pay insurance deductibles and co-pays plus other small, unbudgeted expenses like a hot water heater replacement or new tires. An emergency fund should also be available as a replacement income during a time of unemployment. Most experts recommend having three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund. For many this may be the same as three to six months of income, but the distinction should be drawn here between income and expenses. To help evaluate how much you might need, look at the job market for your career. What you need to ask yourself is, “How long would it take me to find a replacement position to earn my current income?” Only you can be the judge, but that’s why three to six months is used as a rough guide. Statistically, the higher your income and the more specialized your field, the harder it is to replace your income. Some may want to plan for unemployment lasting more than six months.

Short-term savings may also include putting back extra for large purchases such as a large appliance, automobile, or vacation home. Though you may use similar instruments to help the money grow, be sure to keep this money separate from your emergency money. If you have the discipline to separate it through budgeting, you can use the same accounts, but this is difficult for most people. I recommend keeping separate accounts for your different short-term saving purposes. Obviously, it is difficult to save for your next car if you’re still paying on the old one, so debt elimination may be a factor in getting your short-term savings in place. Most would suggest getting a small emergency fund first, followed by debt elimination other than your home, followed by the rest of your short-term savings accumulation.

The objective of your savings instrument should be to outpace inflation while maintaining relatively stable principle values and high liquidity. We usually recommend a combination of a checking account, money market, and certificate of deposit for our clients. Each of these allows for good principle stability, but with varying degrees of return and liquidity. Having the least necessary in the most liquid investments is often the most advisable, but again only you can be the judge of what you will need access to.

In conclusion, the distinction between saving and investing is important. If you are merely “loaning” money with savings and not investing money, your assets will not truly “grow” in spending power. In fact, if you don’t keep up with inflation, the value of your money can go down even if the amount grows! Inflation is a real risk that should be considered for longer-term investing, so investment vehicles used for savings and investing should differ greatly for most people and businesses.