2019 is Winding Down:
It’s hard to believe there is less than two months left in 2019! With the Holidays approaching, be sure to call or email today to schedule your year-end review if you have not already done so. Time is running out for this year and a year-end review is beneficial to be sure you start 2020 on the right path. We can review a year-end checklist with you as 2019 comes to a close and we move into 2020.
Thanksgiving Market and Office Schedule:
The U.S. Financial Markets will be closed for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 28th, and will also close early on Friday, November 29th–The major markets will close at 12:00 noon CST, 1:00pm EST. Our offices will close at 3:00pm CST on Wednesday, November 27th, and will be closed Thursday and Friday as well for the Thanksgiving Holiday. We will be back for business as usual on Monday, December 2nd. As always, we will have access to email and voicemail while our offices are closed. We wish you and yours a very blessed Thanksgiving Holiday!
Most Difficult Topic to Discuss?
Surprisingly, it’s no longer politics or religion. It is now personal finances. According to a study in 2014 by Wells Fargo, 44% of those surveyed ranked personal finances as the number one most difficult subject to discuss, compared to 35% for politics and 32% for religion. Also, death came in at 38%, while taxes were 21% and personal health 20%. Sadly, about a third of the respondents said they have a hard time discussing finances with their spouse or partner, and 25% often ended up in heated discussions. Here are some suggestions when discussing money with family:
Talking Money with Your Spouse:
When discussing financial matters with your spouse, it’s important that you find shared ground. Otherwise, you’ll be working toward different goals, and the risk of failure and frustration is high. What might be the best way to talk about money with your spouse? Get away from distractions and leave the kids with a babysitter. Here’s where you’ll discuss goals and craft a plan. Nothing is off limits. You may discuss retirement savings, large purchases, debt reduction, a down payment on a new home, or bolstering your savings. Take one step at a time. Come up with realistic goals together and check in on a regular basis. When you’ve accomplished various goals, reward yourself. Using your MyWealth financial website that we provide is an excellent tool to track your finances, goals, and progress. It provides updated information in one place for both of you to access and keep track of your overall financial picture.
Talking Money with Aging Parents:
Many parents rarely discuss their finances with their children. Their parents didn’t share details, and they don’t feel obliged to break with family tradition. Surveys bear this out. According to [[https://www.gobankingrates.com/saving-money/family/americans-discuss-finances-aging-parents-survey/ GoBankingRates]], 73% of Americans haven’t had this discussion with Mom and Dad. The survey found that respondents ages 45-54 were the most likely to say that they haven’t broached the subject because they are not comfortable with the topic. That’s understandable. Besides, many don’t know how to begin the conversation.
So, here are some tips to help you get the conversation started with your parents:
Express Genuine Concern:
You care about what’s going on with your parents, and it extends beyond their financial situation. While money matters may seem difficult to explore, let them know you are having the discussion because you love them and want to be sure they are being taken care of as they age.
Tell them “My financial advisor made me do it.”:
One way to jumpstart the conversation is to point the finger at us, or another trusted advisor like your attorney or CPA. Leveraging our credibility, or the credibility of another trusted advisor, can go a long way in opening doors.
Elder Fraud may be on their minds:
Scams that target the elderly (and for that matter, all of us) have exploded. None of us want our parents to become victims because there is little we can do to undo the damage. Money lost will never be money recovered. Expressing genuine concern by sharing articles on elder fraud is a good way to ease into the subject.
Give an Example:
If you believe the situation is appropriate, you may talk about a friend or acquaintance whose lack of planning negatively impacted the family. We can also provide several examples in general terms of how families have been disrupted due to lack of planning or knowledge about certain financial situations. Unfortunately, we see this happen quite often.
Discuss your own experiences:
Open up to Mom and Dad about your retirement planning, 401k decisions, debt payoffs, or student loans. When you share something that is personal to you, your parents may become more willing to open up about themselves.
Focus on Estate Planning and on Their priorities:
Stay away from who gets what. Make this about them, not you. The goal is setting up the will or trust. Emphasize they can do what they want with their assets. If it’s something they haven’t done, checking the ‘estate-planning’ box will lift a burden that’s likely been simmering in the back of their minds. Also, naming who will be in charge if their mental capacity becomes diminished is essential. More families end up at odds with each other over this issue and it can be avoided.
Bottom line: Dealing with the “money” issue today can avoid a multitude of potential problems in the future. We’re here to help in any way we can. We might even suggest a “family meeting” in a neutral spot such as our office and we can help be there to moderate the meeting.
The major U.S. stock indices rose in October and have continued their advance so far in November. Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have hampered equities earlier this year. We saw it late last year. We saw it again in May and in August. Tensions began to recede in September, which lent support to the broader market. In October, negotiations between the two economic superpowers concluded an agreement that covers technology, agriculture, and financial services.
The details of Phase 1, as it has been called, are still being hammered out. It’s not the all-encompassing deal that we hoped might be achieved early in the year, but it’s progress, and it’s helped remove a headwind that has enabled stocks to move to new highs. Moreover, the economy is expanding, albeit at a more moderate pace than a year ago. While the Federal Reserve hinted that we’re unlikely to see another rate cut this year after the third rate cut of .25% made in October, policy makers have little inclination to begin raising interest rates anytime soon. While new highs for stocks are welcome, let’s not discount the potential for more volatility. A new round of tariffs slated for December is still on the table, and global growth remains an issue.
We remain in a caution mode for all risk levels and are pleased with the overall net results so far this year relative to risk. We don’t see any major shift or change in our allocations for the balance of 2019, except to continue to move out of our long-term bond holdings to shorter-term fixed income assets. We can make adjustments as warranted and will keep you advised.
We appreciate the privilege to be of service to all of you and look forward to finishing strong in 2019 and working with you in the years to come. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of further service at any time or if you have any questions or concerns.
Your TEAM at F.I.G. Financial Advisory Services, Inc.