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SH&J Blog

Market Insights & Commentary

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Investors couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2019 calendar year. It was only a mere five months ago that the stock market was experiencing a nearly 20% correction from all-time highs and everything seemed doom and gloom. Fast forward to the present, and there seems to be an entirely different sentiment in the capital markets.

2018 was an unusual year in that the bond market was flat and stock markets across the globe were negative. Typically, bonds and stocks move in opposite directions of each other, which is why investors own both in a diversified portfolio. Stocks took a nosedive at the end of last year due to fear that the global economy was heading into a recession. Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, came out at the end of last year and indicated that the Fed was going to be more patient in raising interest rates. Ever since these comments, risk assets such as stocks and high-yield bonds have taken off.

Economic data has continued to be positive as well, with no signs of a recession in the near future. Although GDP growth in the United States is slowing, it still remains positive. This was the goal of the Federal Reserve in raising interest rates, to prevent the economy from overheating but also to avoid a rapid slowdown that could force a recession.

There are worries that the stock market could have priced in all of its gains already for 2019. While it is unlikely that the stock market will continue its rapid trajectory through the end of the year, there really is no way to tell where the market will go from here. Trade talks between the US and China will continue to dominate headlines and have an effect on the markets. We still are in the later stages of the business cycle, so there will most likely be a bumpier ride for the stock market during the rest of the year.

If an investor is uncomfortable with fluctuations in their portfolio, it may be time to add more conservative investments, such as bonds, to act as a stabilizer. Barring any interest rate hikes, bonds should seek out a positive return for this calendar year. So far 2019 has been a very good year to be an investor in the stock market, but if 2018 has taught us anything, it’s that the stock market can deteriorate in a hurry. This uncertainty is why investors get compensated for the risk that they take, if they can stomach it.

Market Crash? Should You Sell or Hold.

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Market crashes are inevitable. They may not be predictable, but the fact is that the market will most likely crash at some point while you own stocks. The temptation to sell as soon as the market starts to trend downwards is huge. Many people will rid themselves of stocks at a loss, in the hope of avoiding a worse loss later.

Seeing any kind of a loss in the value of your investment can induce panic. This is called an “unrealized” loss and is a normal part of investing and there are many reasons not to sell during a downturn. Even when you have a large unrealized loss. The biggest one is that people who hold their stocks through a crash often experience a profit in the long term. Unless you are trying to make money quickly (and sometimes even then), selling during a downturn is a guaranteed loss.

Instead, you should keep your time horizon in mind. Many investors are saving for retirement. The reality these days is that retirement can last a few decades and chances are you will make money by holding. Financial writer Ben Carlson invented an imaginary awful investor, Bob, who made his first investment right before a huge crash in 1973, then again before the crashes in 1987, 2000, and 2007. After a lifetime of bad luck, Bob still decided to hold on to his investments without ever selling until he retired when he ended up with a 9% annualized return.

Rather than selling your stocks during a crash, many advisors would actually argue for buying more. Taking advantage of a dip can increase your wealth in the long term since you’re essentially buying stocks at a discounted price. Market crashes are often followed by upturns.

So, what should you do to make sure that you aren’t forced to sell during a downturn? Ideally, you should have enough in your emergency fund so you don’t need to rely on your investments for necessary spending. Try to target an amount that would cover at least three months of spending, with six months or a year being even better.

It’s easy to let emotions overrule reason, so staying calm, sticking to your plan, and not panicking are vital to weathering a downturn. Historically, bear markets have lasted an average of 1.4 years and afterwards, your long term investments typically recover in time. No matter how severe a crash is, don’t let panic overwhelm you and cause you to sell your investments. If you need more advice on how to weather a downturn and develop a long term investing strategy to meet your goals, contact Sharkey, Howes & Javer today.

Inside The Economy: Tariff Implications & California

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On this week’s Inside the Economy with SH&J, we discuss the ongoing tariff negotiations that have been dominating the news cycle. How much of an impact would tariffs have on Chinese-imported goods and is it likely to cause inflation? The state of California is single-handedly one of the largest economies in the world. Has job growth there been increasing or declining, and does the expensive real estate market in the state have anything to do with it? Tune in to find out!

Retiring Early and Moving Abroad

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Returning home from an international vacation can leave us feeling saddened and missing the sunny skies, white beaches, or cultural city centers. It’s easy for our minds to start wondering “what if”…? What if I were to retire abroad? Would I be able to retire earlier? Would I be able to afford the healthcare? Will my Social Security benefit be enough to cover all my monthly expenses?

As the retirement savings crisis continues to increase, the number of Americans choosing to retire abroad also increases. According to the Social Security Administration, the number of Americans collecting their benefit while living outside of the U.S. is now almost at 700,000 people. This figure has continued to grow since the Great Recession. If all of the stars align, this could be an attractive and viable option for retiring Baby Boomers.

International Living has assembled a list of the “Best Countries to Retire”, which includes Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Malaysia, Spain, Nicaragua, Portugal, and Malta. The list dives into the pros and cons of living (rather than simply vacationing) in each country. However, in reality, Americans who are retiring abroad are more likely to live in Canada, Japan, Germany, Mexico, and the U.K. The reasons for choosing a country vary widely amongst retiree.

The Travel Department of the U.S. Government gives you an itemized bullet point list of important planning steps before you choose or move to a different country during retirement. Some of these items include visa/residency requirements, exchange rates, and emergencies. Two items that top the list are taxes and healthcare. How will your various sources of income be taxed and what are your options for healthcare?

Are you considering retiring abroad? Contact Sharkey, Howes & Javer to speak with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to determine how this may fit in to your retirement plan and what you may need to consider before making the move.

Inside The Economy: Fed Holds & Social Security

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On this week’s Inside the Economy with SH&J, we discuss the Federal Reserve’s decision to leave interest rates unchanged at last week’s meeting. What are some of the reasons for the Fed’s decision? There’s been a lot of media coverage about Social Security being depleted in the next few decades. How much of a surplus is there currently in the Social Security trust fund and how soon will social security have to make changes? Tune in to find out!

Meet Derek Van Calligan

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Name: Derek Van Calligan

Title: Certified Financial Planner™

SH&J team member since: August, 2017

 

How did you decide to become a financial planner?

I think I just kind of lucked into it, really, when I was in college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, being 19 years old and not knowing what all is out there. I took a personal finance class because I thought it would be able to help me and my own personal finances, and then I realized that you can make a pretty great career out of helping others with their finances and that’s what lead me on this path.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of the job is the different kinds of people you get to meet. Between our current clients and new prospects coming in the door, you never really know who you’re going to meet and what their story is going to be. I would say the majority of the people I meet are very good people with very different backgrounds and unique perspectives on life. So, just being able to meet different people on a daily basis and help them with their unique challenges is one of the things I enjoy the most.

You’re originally from Wisconsin, so what brought you to Colorado and SH&J?

Like the majority of people who move out here from the Midwest, I was getting sick of the weather up there and I always enjoyed coming out here skiing. There’s a pretty big presence of people out here from Wisconsin and the Midwest, so I knew fitting in out here wasn’t going to be an issue. I knew I wanted to work at a Fee-Only RIA firm, and SH&J was at the top of the list when I performed a Google Search. I emailed them my resume, ended up getting an interview the next week and an offer that same day. It was a pretty fast process.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my spare time, like most Coloradans, I like to get up in the mountains and ski. I also just picked up fly fishing so I’ve enjoyed that as well, and pretty much just doing anything that involves being outdoors and exploring Denver. I mean, there’s always a festival or different event going on every weekend, so there’s never really a lack of things to do. It’s a tough place to be bored.

Do you have a favorite place you like to ski?

Nothing beats the Back Bowls at Vail on a powder day.

What’s something about you that would surprise us?

I recently went bungee jumping over Victoria Falls in Africa.

How did you end up doing that?

I went over there with a buddy of mine and did a mission trip, and we spent an extra week and did more touristy stuff, such as a safari, bungee jumping over the falls, whitewater rafting, and fishing. It was quite the adventure and one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever been to?

Probably Africa. Livingstone, Zambia to be exact. It’s right on the Zambezi River, it’s kind of a more touristy town, but the time that I spent there was more with the locals and helping out in a 1st grade classroom teaching the kids English and Mathematics. Africa is unlike any other place in the world, and I can’t wait to get back.

If money was not a factor, what would you do?

I think that I would try to use my time to get to every country in the world and see something unique in every country.

Inside The Economy: U.S. Economic Expansion & Water

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On this week’s Inside the Economy with SH&J, we take a look at the current economic expansion in the U.S. since the Great Recession. How does this compare to historical expansions and is there an end in sight? The lack of water supply in the western U.S. is causing farmers to leave in large numbers. Where are these farmers moving their operations? Tune in to find out!

Will Social Security be Going Away?

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As financial planners, one of the most common questions we receive is regarding the future of Social Security. A lot of this uncertainty is driven by headlines in the media. Oftentimes, the media calls to question whether Americans can rely on the Social Security program to still be viable when current workers reach retirement. Much of the doubt is derived from changing demographics in the United States.

The baby boomer generation is reaching retirement and healthcare advances are allowing us to live longer lives. Combine this with reduced birth rates resulting in less future workers, and some of the skepticism surrounding the Social Security program becomes valid. With that being said, many Americans are afraid that the Social Security program will become obsolete, which most likely will not be the case. What we do know is that over the next 75 years or so, Social Security will have to evolve in order to support future generations of retiring workers.

The Social Security program was signed into existence by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 and has been through a few major changes over the last 84 years. As it currently stands, Social Security is a “pay-as-you-go” program, which means that the current working generations are paying for the current retirees. The system is subsidized by the Social Security Trust Fund, a reserve of funds to cover any deficit between income from taxes and output of benefits. While the demographics continue to change, the program will take on more costs with less workers to fund it. But there are several solutions to this issue, many of which we have seen before throughout the history of Social Security.

The first option, which you can imagine does not resonate well with the American constituents, is to reduce future benefits. According to Barron’s, if the program remains unchanged and the Social Security Trust Fund is depleted, the Social Security program will be able to continue paying retirees 75% of currently legislated benefits. Although Social Security was created to cover 40% of your income needs during retirement, many American’s rely on it as their only financial resource when they retire. Because of this, it is unlikely that politicians would make an argument to reduce Social Security if they are looking to gain approval from the largest demographic of voting constituents, retirees. A way that politicians have reduced benefits in a roundabout way in the past is by gradually pushing back “full retirement age” from 65 to 67. It would be more likely that we would see another push back beyond the age of 67, than an out-right cut in benefits.

The other option is to increase the revenues from payroll taxes that are funding Social Security. No one is a fan of increased taxes, but if it means providing a more reliable stream of income for you during retirement, it may be worth the extra tax dollars. We have seen changes in payroll taxes in the last 10 years with Congress temporarily cutting payroll taxes by 2% in 2011 and 2012, then raising them back up in 2013 by 2%. Many workers never acknowledged the later increase in payroll taxes. On top of that, payroll taxes are typically split between the employer and employee, so workers most likely won’t take full responsibility of any possible tax increases.

So will Social Security be going away? The brief answer is no. What we do know is that the program will continue to evolve with time and with the American population. That is why it is so important that we save for retirement during our working years, so that no matter what is to come, you are prepared. If you’d like to review your own retirement outlook, whether you are close to retirement or many years away, get in touch with us today for a complimentary consultation with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.

Inside The Economy: Global Debt & U.S. Trading Partners

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On this week’s Inside the Economy with SH&J, we discuss the rising debt balance in the global economy. How does the total debt in the U.S. economy compare to debt in other parts of the world? The U.S. has imported less from China over the past year and a half due to the change in tariffs. Which country has picked up the slack and increased its exports to the U.S.? Tune in to find out!