Learn the ABCDs of Medicare!

Dear Mr. Market:Understanding Medicare: The ABCDs

One thing any of our readers will know if that we don’t pretend that we (or anyone) owns a crystal ball. The only thing we can promise you about tomorrow is that the day ends in the letter “y”.

One other thing that we know will happen…God willing…is that you will eventually retire or be 65 and eligible for Medicare. In advance of National Medicare Education Week we are doing two things:

(1) We’re sharing this article written by Steven Stasioski and,

(2) We’re happy to announce a free educational event where we’ll be addressing the ins and outs of Medicare. On October 17, 2019 at 6:30pm you can join Matt Pixa from My Portfolio Guide and Steven Stasioski from SCS Tax & Insurance Services at the Seal Beach Yacht Club. Bring your appetite and questions for a great evening of education and camaraderie. RSVP via email at matt@myportfolioguide.com or call (562)799-5595.

Now…on to the article! Continue reading

Social Security Scam Alert

Dear Mr. Market:Scam Alert

We normally pen all of our articles (letters) to you but in this case the work was already done. This one has nothing to do with the stock market or economy but everything to do with your hard earned money being threatened by another scam.

Scams are nothing new but they sure seem to be getting more prevalent and slicker by the day. As you’ll note from the chart below the number of scams are predominantly centered around Social Security and that trend is on the rise.Top Government Imposters

Click here to read an article written by Michelle Singletary in the Washington Post. In the timely article she includes a helpful list and some links that serve as critical reminders of what to be aware of out there.

Have a great weekend and stay alert!

 

Making Financial Decisions After the Loss of a Spouse

Man's Hand Resting On HeadstoneDear Mr. Market:

Our letters to you typically center around the stock market, the economy, and related investment topics. At the end of the day, however, what is wealth (the accumulation, growth, and preservation of it) all really for? That answer is different for everyone but from our experience in meeting with thousands of investors ….it means nothing without family. Losing a loved one is always painful but when it’s your spouse there are also several financial issues that arise and knowing how to navigate is critical.

The following article is written by a guest contributor, Lucille Rosetti (see credits at the end):  Continue reading

Happy (Financial) Independence Day!

Dear Mr. Market:th-21

Apologies in advance for our clickbait headline. We usually aim to talk financial shop in our letters to you…but today is not about the stock market. Today, July 4th, is about independence, freedom, and the greatest nation on earth….the United States of America.

Lately the news headlines have been on an absolute overload of division and finger pointing. Truth be told..we’re absolutely tired and fed up with it. Watching and reading almost all sources of media simply takes its toll on you whether you realize it or not. As it relates to finance it has forced the untrained and emotional investor to make poor decisions. To every person who said I’m 100% out or in the stock market because of [insert political name/party]…you’re part of the problem. Holding this mindset is not using your brain as one may initially think but rather allowing another side of emotion and bias to drive your decision making process.  Continue reading

What is “long-term investing” anyway?

Dear Mr. Market:th-19

Why is the number 15 important for us to share with you today? In our opinion it’s because everyone seems to have a different idea of what “long-term” investing means. The notion that investors should think long-term is fine, and fairly generic advice, but that time frame has never been concretely defined; until now!
My Portfolio Guide defines long-term as being able to invest for at least a 15 year time horizon.
Using our definition even at retirement you could definitely be considered a “long-term investor”. Granted, you may be closer to needing to live on a fixed income or simply not have the stomach for the ups and downs of the stock market, but by our definition you are a long-term investor.
The average person is living longer so if you hung up the work boots at age 65, for example, going out 15 years puts you at age 80. Assuming you need investment funds to last at least to that age it would be wise to have a decent portion allocated towards growth investments. Putting your investments into bonds, CDs, or cash is a losing proposition once you factor in taxes and the silent and ever-growing killer of inflation.
 
168036_600Look…we get it…the stock market can make you lose your lunch. The roller coaster analogies are plentiful and with a 24/7 news cycle it seems like the slightest hiccup can create a bloodbath on Wall Street.  All that being said, the odds of the stock market being positive over time are overwhelmingly in your favor and it’s still the place to be if you want to grow your wealth. Over one-year periods, between 1926 and 1997, Ibbotson found that stock returns were positive in 52 out of 72 years, or roughly three-quarters of the time. Even so there is obvious risk and volatility with the best year having stocks return +54% and in the worst -43%.
 
But now let’s turn to longer periods. Ibbotson looked at five-year rolling cycles over the same era (1926-30, 1927-31, etc.). Out of 68 separate, overlapping periods, stock returns were positive 61 times which works out to be almost 90% of the time! Over 15-year rolling periods (there were 58 of them) stock returns were positive every time.
Since 1926, the stock market – as measured by the S&P 500 with dividends reinvested, has never had a 15-year rolling calendar period with a loss. If that fact doesn’t register…please read it again. Never once in history has the stock market lost money over a 15 year period. The longer your time horizon the more likely it is that you’ll make money in a diversified stock portfolio. 
One of the reasons financial advisors use other instruments in a portfolio outside of stocks is to diversify; that is also a nice way of saying it’s because they know you will likely be an emotional train wreck when volatility enters the arena. If there was a two horse race and we had to bank our entire livelihood on either the Bond horse or the Stock horse…it is without question which we would choose.
Furthermore, imagine if you could only open your investment account statements once every 15 years? Not only would you most likely be a less stressed and more successful investor, but the odds are substantial that you would have positive returns no matter what happened in the world.

REITs: How to Potentially Increase Portfolio Returns without more Risk

Dear Mr. Market

th-1Raise your hand if you would like the opportunity to increase the returns in your
portfolio without taking on more risk? There is indeed a way to help accomplish this and it’s not just by balancing between the two major asset classes of stocks and bonds; take a look at the third largest asset class there is: REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts)

Most investors have little to zero exposure to REITs and they may be surprised to learn how important they can be to a healthy portfolio. This article will give you a better understanding of why adding REITs into your portfolio could improve your diversification, dividends, and ultimately your portfolio performance.

What are REITs and why use them? Continue reading

Financial legislation that finally benefits YOU!

DOL3Dear Mr. Market:

Recently the Department of Labor announced new legislation that will have a profound impact on the financial services industry. What is refreshing is that the focus is on the individual investor, protecting their retirement accounts from predatory practices that have unfortunately become the norm on Wall Street. The new regulations will help protect individuals, and in many cases, open their eyes to what has been unfortunately taking place with their accounts for years.

While the document that addresses the new guidelines is 1,023 pages long, what it addresses at its core is that financial advisors must act as a fiduciary when working with qualified accounts. It is estimated that investors will save $17 billion a year after exorbitant fees and charges are eliminated! It has been well documented that we have a ‘retirement crisis’ as the average U.S. consumer is not saving enough for their retirement. Hopefully the focus and legislation we’re starting to see will give people more confidence to save and invest.

The legislation focuses on advisors that offer advice on qualified accounts (IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Simple and SEP IRAs) and requires that they must act as a fiduciary. This means that advisors must do what is in the client’s best interest and put them ahead of their own. Sounds like common sense, right? What might shock many investors is that the ‘trusted’ advisor they have worked with for years might be anything but a fiduciary, many of them viewing their client’s assets as a revenue-generating machine lining their own pockets and financing their extravagant lifestyles.

With the finalization of this rule, we are putting in place a fundamental

protection into the American retirement landscape. A consumer’s

best interest must now come before an advisor’s financial interest.

This is a huge win for the middle class.”

Tom Perez, Labor Secretary

Continue reading