Nine Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Have you ever thought about striking out on your own? After all, being your own boss can be an exciting prospect. However, owning a business isn’t for everyone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must have — or develop — certain personality traits. Here are nine characteristics you should ideally possess to start and run your own business:

1. Motivation

Entrepreneurs are enthusiastic, optimistic and future-oriented. They believe they’ll be successful and are willing to risk their resources in pursuit of profit. They have high energy levels and are sometimes impatient. They are always thinking about their business and how to increase their market share. Are you self-motivated enough to do this, and can you stay motivated for extended periods of time? Can you bounce back in the face of challenges?

2. Creativity and Persuasiveness

Successful entrepreneurs have the creative capacity to recognize and pursue opportunities. They possess strong selling skills and are both persuasive and persistent. Are you willing to promote your business tirelessly and look for new ways to get the word out about your product or service?

3. Versatility 

Company workers can usually rely on a staff or colleagues to provide service or support. As an entrepreneur, you’ll typically start out as a “solopreneur,” meaning you will be on your own for a while. You may not have the luxury of hiring a support staff initially. Therefore, you will end up wearing several different hats, including secretary, bookkeeper and so on. You need to be mentally prepared to take on all these tasks at the beginning. Can you do that?

4. Superb Business Skills 

Entrepreneurs are naturally capable of setting up the internal systems, procedures and processes necessary to operate a business. They are focused on cash flow, sales and revenue at all times. Successful entrepreneurs rely on their business skills, know-how and contacts. Evaluate your current talents and professional network. Will your skills, contacts and experience readily transfer to the business idea you want to pursue?

5. Risk Tolerance

Launching any entrepreneurial venture is risky. Are you willing to assume that risk? You can reduce your risk by thoroughly researching your business concept, industry and market. You can also test your concept on a small scale. Can you get a letter of intent from prospective customers to purchase? If so, do you think customers would actually go through with their transaction?

6. Drive 

As an entrepreneur, you are in the driver’s seat, so you must be proactive in your approaches to everything. Are you a doer — someone willing to take the reins — or would you rather someone else do things for you?

7. Vision

One of your responsibilities as founder and head of your company is deciding where your business should go. That requires vision. Without it, your boat will be lost at sea. Are you the type of person who looks ahead and can see the big picture?

8. Flexibility and Open-Mindedness

While entrepreneurs need a steadfast vision and direction, they will face a lot of unknowns. You will need to be ready to tweak any initial plans and strategies. New and better ways of doing things may come along as well. Can you be open-minded and flexible in the face of change?

9. Decisiveness

As an entrepreneur, you won’t have room for procrastination or indecision. Not only will these traits stall progress, but they can also cause you to miss crucial opportunities that could move you toward success. Can you make decisions quickly and seize the moment?

 

 

 

Written By: Ruchira Agrawal
Source: Monster

The Truth About Present-Day Retirement

Times have changed and so has retirement! Nowadays, retirement is no longer what people once expected. If you’re preparing to retire, the way your parents did, you might be stuck in the past and need to face present-day reality. So, what has changed in the last 10 years? Well, the factors below will shift your perspective about how you should be preparing for retirement!

First, with all the advancements of medicine and technology that we’ve had in this last decade, it’s no surprise that people are living longer. In the past, living 30 years after retirement, was actually outside the norm of an adult’s lifespan. Therefore, the 4% safe withdrawal rate that many financial planners followed was a valid rule of thumb. This guideline told retirees that if they took out only 4% of their assets and adjusted to inflation in their retirement portfolio, the risk of running out of money 30 years after they retired was very low.

But it’s no longer the case! If you’re saving conservatively for an amount that would last you around 30 years, disregard the 4% rule. People are now living past the age of 95 and a good amount of them are even retiring early. The average portfolio return for the standard investor has also decreased and is subject to more risk from the impacts of market volatility. The chances of outliving your nest egg is a lot higher these days.

Not only are people starting to live longer, the divorce rate is also significantly higher. You can no longer assume that you’ll still be married once you retire! How is that an issue, you ask? Well, a divorce could be a serious stumbling block for your retirement plan since your income might be cut in half during your golden years. Not to mention, your retirement assets might be split among you and your ex-spouse. Because of a divorce, you’ll most likely have to change your retirement strategy and lifestyle.

Have you noticed that everything costs a lot more than it used to? Some of this increase can be a result of natural inflation in prices. But, according to our government, inflation is very tame and under control. Yet, the cost of everyday goods is a lot higher and will keep outpacing inflation throughout your retirement. And it is not just everyday expenses that you’ll need to factor into your budget, there’s the added healthcare costs as well. Given the fact that there’s a good chance you’ll live longer, there are more medical issues you’ll be susceptible to. Not to mention the fact that your chances of getting injured or breaking something will dramatically increase. This means a lot more medical bills and trips to the doctor’s office! On top of that, the fact that a third of us will require some sort of assistance or nursing care, and you can see how retirement costs can skyrocket! Basically, retirement is not as cheap as it used to be.

Finally, if you think about your assets, it’s safe to assume that your home is your most valuable one. You may be able to sell it at a profit, assuming that the value has increased over the years. However, that might be a misconception! In order to determine whether or not you’ll actually get a return on your investment, you’ll need to adjust for inflation and taxes. Also, if we experience any major volatility in the housing market like we did in the past, you might not be able to get as much money for your property as you expected. Like all markets, the real estate market can be unpredictable.

So, with all of these changes, how can one successfully save for retirement? Well, my biggest recommendation for every pre-retiree that I talk to is, BE PREPARED! It’s always better to set your retirement savings goal beyond your expected amount, than below it. With the unpredictability of divorce, age, and the financial markets, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you aim higher and save more, then your risk of running out of money during retirement will be a lot lower. Part of being prepared is to work closely with a financial planner that can guide your through your Golden Years. This ‘financial coach’ should be able to point out pitfalls that you might not have even thought of. It’s their job to make sure that you’re on track and don’t fall victim to your own wrongdoings. As well as to create a retirement game plan and an investment road-map that takes taxes and your risk tolerance into consideration.

Being prepared for retirement can be a daunting task. Especially given all the unknowns out there. But with proper preparation and guidance from a financial professional, you can glide into retirement knowing full well that you’re ready for the challenge!

The 10 Most Commonly Googled Tax Questions — Answered

Taxes can be confusing. We’re here to help. To find out what people’s most burning questions about taxes are, MONEY asked Google for a list of its top tax-related queries—and assembled the information you need.

1. When are taxes due?

It’s April 18 this year. Usually, it’s the 15th — you can read why you get an extra three days here. (If you file for an extension, you get until Oct. 16 to file your return, because Oct. 15 is a Sunday. You must still pay what you estimate you owe by April 18, though.)

2. How to file taxes

This IRS page has links to online forms you can print as well as a locator tool where you can find an office if you prefer to pick up forms in person or don’t have access to a printer. You might also find tax forms at your local library or post office.

If you make less than $64,000, the IRS has a page where you can file your taxes electronically at no charge under the Free File program. If you plan to file with a simple form like a 1040A or 1040EZ, some tax preparation companies like TurboTax, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and TaxAct have their own platforms you can use to do your taxes online for free.

If you’re not sure which form you should use, the IRS spells out the differences here. Not sure how to file state taxes? This IRS page has links to all of the state governments, including tax departments.

3. When can you file taxes?

The IRS began accepting electronic returns for 2016 on Jan. 23, 2017.
You technically have until 11:59:59 p.m. on April 18 to file your taxes if you’re filing online, according to TurboTax, but waiting until the last second is a bad idea: A pokey computer could cost you big in penalties. If you’re using U.S. mail, you have to have your return and payment postmarked by April 18. Some post offices stay open late for Tax Day; you can find out which ones have extended hours here.

If you (or your accountant) file your taxes electronically, you have the option of paying online using the IRS’s Electronic Funds Withdrawal function (which is free). You can also pay via credit or debit card (which will cost you a convenience fee of a bit under $3 if you use a debit card, or around 2% of the charge if you use a credit card).

4. How to file a tax extension

If you procrastinated and April 18 is looking like a long shot, experts say you should file for an extension. This doesn’t get you out of paying any taxes you owe by the deadline, but it gives you an extra six months to file. An extension will keep you from getting hit with a late-filing penalty of 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month you’re late, up to 25%.

That’s in addition to a late-payment penalty of 0.5% of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month—plus interest at a rate of the federal short-term interest rate plus 3%.
If you expect a refund, you obviously have an incentive to get your return in as soon as possible to get those dollars in your pocket. If you file for an extension thinking you’ll get a refund and instead find that you owe, you’ll have to tack on the late-payment charges.

Don’t forget about state taxes. A handful of states will automatically give you an extension if you request one through the IRS, while others require a separate request to that state’s tax department. In some cases, the rules are different depending on whether you owe money or are due a refund.

5. How much do you have to make to file taxes?

There are various thresholds, depending on your filing status, age, and the type of income you receive. For instance, if you’re single, under 65 and your income was below $10,350 last year, you generally don’t need to file federal taxes. This IRS tool can help you figure out if you need to file a tax return.

Even if appears you don’t have to file, experts say it’s generally a good idea to fill in the blanks on a return and see what your bottom line would be. About 70% of Americans are expected to qualify for refunds this year, according to the IRS, but many people never file to collect. The average unclaimed refund is nearly $700. Especially for lower-income Americans, a number of credits and deductions could make you eligible for a refund.

6. How long to keep tax records

The IRS says you should hang onto your tax documents for three years; if you get audited, that’s generally the look-back period they’re allowed to cover. However, if they suspect fraud or underpayment of income tax, or if you’ve written off worthless securities, they can request up to seven years’ worth of tax records. Hang onto documents like receipts that justify deductions like business expenses, charitable donations and so on.

7. When is the last day to do taxes?

Yeah, there are clearly a lot of procrastinators out there. As explained above in No. 1, the filing deadline is pushed back a few days from the usual April 15 this year to the 18th. You have until midnight local time—but if you’re going to put it off that long you should consider just filing for an extension.

8. Is Social Security taxed?

It’s possible. Depending on your income, up to 85% of Social Security benefits may be taxable. If you’re a single filer and your combined income—that is, adjusted gross income, nontaxable interest from municipal bonds and half of your Social Security benefits—is more than $25,000, you will have to pay taxes. If you’re married and file jointly, the threshold is $32,000.

9. How long does it take to get taxes back?

The answer this year might be “longer than usual.” To combat tax fraud, the IRS is taking extra time checking filers’ tax information if they claimed either the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Under a new law, the agency is holding back refunds claiming those credits until at least Feb. 15, and people aren’t likely to see those refunds until the end of February at the earliest. On top of that, “New identity theft and refund fraud safeguards put in place by the IRS and the states may mean some tax returns and refunds face additional review,” the agency warns. For everybody else, the IRS says refunds should be issued in its standard window of 21 days from the time it get your return.

10. Why do I owe taxes?

The first income tax in the U.S. was authorized by Congress in 1861 and levied the following year, to help pay for the Civil War, according to the Civil War Trust, but taxes have been around nearly as long as civilization itself. Historians have found tax records that go back to 6,000 B.C. in what is now Iraq, and the ancient Greek, Egyptian and Chinese cultures all had their own versions. In Biblical times, Roman emperor Caesar Augustus established rules around some personal and inheritance taxes that the English later used to create similar taxes centuries later, according to the Handbook on Tax Administration. Ironically, modern-day Italy has the lowest rate of income-tax compliance out of 10 major developed nations, with less than two-thirds of citizens giving the tax man his due.

And although plenty of Americans have argued in court that they shouldn’t have to pay taxes, the IRS has a helpful 71-page paper that methodically debunks these claims, The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments, (which might be equally helpful as a cure for tax-season-induced insomnia.)

 

 

Written By: Martha C. White
Source: MONEY

Monthly Market Insights | January 2017

U.S. Markets

The post-election rally in the stock market gathered fresh momentum in December, but lost steam following a Fed rate hike and the onset of holiday trading.

For December, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 3.3 percent, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 1.8 percent and the NASDAQ Composite rose 1.1 percent.1

quote

After slipping in the first days of the new month, stocks renewed their climb higher, setting new records on major indices. The market maintained its optimistic view of the anticipated economic direction that a Trump presidency may take, focusing on the potential positive impact expected tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation might have on economic growth and corporate profits.

Fed’s Influence

The climb in stock prices stalled in advance of the Fed decision to raise the federal funds rate by a quarter-percentage point. The Fed also suggested that it might increase rates further in 2017 by three-quarters of a percentage point. This took some of the wind out the equity market’s sails and led to a higher U.S. dollar and tumbling bond prices. (Bond prices move inversely to yields, so as yields rise, bond prices decline.)

Amid thin holiday trading the market moved lower, shaving off some of its December gains.

For the Year

For 2016, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 13.4 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 9.5 percent. The NASDAQ Composite picked up 7.5 percent.2

Sector Performance

Most industry sectors ended higher in December, led by Energy (+6.65 percent) and Financials (+4.46 percent). Other sectors posting gains included Consumer Staples (+1.11 percent), Industrials (+0.18 percent), Materials (+1.25 percent), Real Estate (+0.26 percent), Technology (+1.39 percent) and Utilities (+1.18 percent). Consumer Discretionary (-0.55 percent) and Health Care (-0.32 percent) sustained minor losses.3

charts-table-1

World Markets

Global markets ended the year on an encouraging note, with the MSCI-EAFE Index rising 2.8 percent for the month.4

European stocks staged a broad rally to end 2016. Major markets posted strong gains, including Germany, France and the U.K.5

Pacific Rim markets were mixed, as Australia benefited from higher commodity prices, Hong Kong fell on a weaker Yuan and capital outflows from China and Japan settled higher.6

charts-table-2

Indicators

Gross Domestic Product: An earlier estimate of third quarter GNP growth was revised higher to 3.5 percent, up from 3.2 percent. While the increase represented an exceptional growth rate for the economy, the overall economic growth rate through September 2016 remained consistent with the tepid growth that has marked this long economic expansion.7

Employment: The unemployment rate declined to its lowest level in nine years, dropping to 4.6 percent from 4.9 percent a month earlier. Workers’ wages also gained, rising 2.5 percent over November 2015, as employers competed for workers in a tightening labor pool.8

Retail Sales: Sales at retailers ticked 0.1 percent higher in November, a disappointing slowdown that some attributed to uncertainty about the U.S. election. Nevertheless, retail sales were higher over the same month last year by 3.8 percent, suggesting a better start to the holiday shopping season.9

Industrial Production: Industrial output by factories, mines and utilities fell 0.4 percent as a consequence of unseasonably warm weather in November. Capacity utilization also slipped 0.4 percent to 75 percent.10

Housing: Housing starts fell 18.7 percent from a robust result in October. However, over the last three months, housing starts have been at their highest level since the end of 2007.11

Sales of existing homes rose 0.7 percent, the third consecutive month of higher sales. Thirty-two percent of November sales were from first-time buyers, while over 20 percent of sales were all-cash transactions.12

New home purchases climbed 5.2 percent, the largest one-month gain since July. Through November, sales are 12.7 percent higher over the same period last year.13

CPI: For the fourth straight month, consumer prices moved higher, rising 0.2 percent in November. Prices were also higher when compared to November of last year, up by 1.7 percent—the biggest increase since October 2014.14

Durable Goods Orders: Orders for civilian aircraft dropped sharply in November, leading to a 4.6 percent decline in durable goods orders. Excluding transportation orders, orders for long-lasting goods increased 0.5 percent.15

The Fed

The Federal Reserve announced on December 14 that it would hike the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point, with Fed officials signaling their expectation to raise rates by another 0.75 percent in 2017, which may come in three separate quarter-point moves. The decision to hike rates at a faster pace than previously anticipated reflected the Fed’s escalating conviction in the economy’s strength and stability.16

What Investors May Be Talking About

Markets are expected to watch carefully to see what President Trump attempts to accomplish in the early days of his presidency with a Republican Congress. Many of the initiatives that have been discussed by the President-elect have the potential to further impact stock valuations. Among them are:

  • The rollback of environmental, energy and climate policies enacted by the Obama Administration.
  • Corporate income tax reform to reduce taxes, eliminate deductions and repatriate overseas profits with a one-time reduced tax assessment.
  • The withdrawal from trade agreement talks (Trans Pacific Partnership) or the renegotiation or withdrawal from existing trade agreements (NAFTA) may benefit some companies, but could harm others with substantial exports or overseas manufacturing.
  • The reduction of corporate regulations may influence profits. For example, revamping Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act may prove beneficial to financial companies’ profits.
  • The Affordable Care Act may be up for a significant rewrite or even repeal, though without knowing what replaces it, it is difficult to estimate the impact any health care law changes may have in the market.

Of course, disappointment in achieving some of the anticipated changes that have driven markets higher since the election may be cause for a broad price retreat.

In any event, experience teaches investors that overreacting to current events can be counterproductive to long-term investment strategies, but ignoring them entirely runs its own set of risks.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2016
  2. The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2016
  3. Interactive Data Managed Solutions, December 31, 2016
  4. MSCI.com, December 31, 2016
  5. MSCI.com, December 31, 2016
  6. MSCI.com, December 31, 2016
  7. The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2016
  8. The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2016
  9. The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2016
  10. The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2016
  11. The Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2016
  12. The Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2016
  13. The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2016
  14. The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2016
  15. The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2016
  16. The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2016

 

Source: Lake Avenue Financial

Market Update: January 17, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

  • U.S. markets begin week lower. Stocks opened on a weak note this morning despite upbeat results from Morgan Stanley and United Health. Markets were closed yesterday for the holiday, but the Dow ended flat on Friday while the S&P 500 (+0.2%) and Nasdaq (+0.5%) posted modest gains. S&P sector movements were also muted, driven largely by a rebound in interest rates, as financials (+0.6%) was the best performer and real estate (-0.3%) the worst. Overseas Monday night, the Nikkei shed over 1.5%, dropping to a new low on the year, while the Shanghai Composite (+0.2%) posted a minor gain. European shares are mixed in afternoon trading, although comments from Prime Minister Theresa May have boosted the British pound and lowered the FTSE 100 by 1%. Elsewhere, WTI crude oil ($52.76/barrel) is up 0.7%, COMEX gold ($1214/oz.) is up 1.5% on precious metals demand, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note is down to 2.33%.

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  • Treasury yields move higher through Thursday but finish the week flat. Treasury yields fluctuated on the week with the yield on the 10-year note starting and ending the week just under 2.4%. Prices moved higher based on the success of Wednesday’s $20 billion 10-year Treasury auction, which saw foreign buyers (indirect bidders) buy 70.5% of the auction. Friday opened weaker as Thursday’s $12 billion 30-year auction was not as well received as the 10-year auction, but foreign participation was still significant at 66.7%.
  • Yield curve steepens for week. The 2-year Treasury fell by 1 basis point to 1.21%, while the 10-year finished the week unchanged. This brings the 2-year/10-year slope, a measure of the steepness of the yield curve to 121 basis points (1.21%), higher on the week by 1 basis point (0.01%). A steeper, more positive yield curve generally indicates that the market anticipates higher interest rates and more growth. As such, investors require more yield as they move longer on the yield curve. The 2-year/30-year steepness was also wider on the week by 4 basis points (0.04%) to 180 basis points (1.80%).
  • Inflation expectations remain range bound near 2%. Inflation expectations ticked up slightly from 1.95% on Monday to 1.99% on Friday. This is near the highest reading year-to-date, however the number has yet to hold above the Federal Reserve Bank’s 2% target. We continue to monitor oil prices, which could drive headline inflation above 2% over the course of the year.
  • Municipals outperformed U.S. Treasuries on the week. Municipal bonds, as measured by the Barclays Municipal Bond Index, outperformed U.S. Treasuries as measured by the Barclays US Treasury Index on the week. The 10-year muni finished the week lower in yield by 5 basis points (0.05%) to 2.28%, down from 2.33% on Monday. The longer 30-year maturity also finished lower in yield by 5 basis points. Declining municipal yields led to 10-year and 30-year AAA municipal to Treasury ratios that are on the expensive side of their recent range, finishing the week at 93% and 99%, respectively.
  • High-yield spread holds below the 4% level. High-yield spreads ended the week just below 4% as measured by the Barclays High Yield Index. The additional yield offered by high yield bonds remains attractive in a low-yield environment, though high-yield spreads are pricing in a lot of good news, leaving less room for error for the asset class.
  • Preferred stocks rebound. Positive earnings expectations for financials (which are heavy issuers of preferred stocks) and lower rates helped the Merrill Lynch Preferred Stock Hybrid Index continue its recent uptrend last week, returning 0.7% to beat the Barclay’s U.S. Aggregate Bond Index by 0.5%. Year-to-date, preferreds, as measured by the index have returned 2.6%, regaining some strength after a weak fourth quarter that returned -4.6%.
  • Manufacturing still moving higher. Aided by a turnaround in oil production, a relatively stable dollar, and better economic performance overseas, manufacturing began to stabilize at midyear 2016, and over the past few months, the data suggest some modest reacceleration. The January 2017 readings on the Empire State (+7) manufacturing survey matched expectations and the December 2016 reading. The readings on the Empire State Manufacturing Index in the past few months were the highest in nearly two years. Although manufacturing accounts for less than 20% of economic activity and employment in the U.S., it has a much larger impact on S&P 500 earnings, and therefore, equity markets.
  • Is small cap strength sustainable? Small caps have surged since Election Day, with the Russell 2000 Index outperforming the large cap S&P 500 by 8.5% since November 8, 2016. Given the magnitude of small cap outperformance, investors with previously established small cap stock allocations may want to consider waiting for a dip before adding to positions. The relative strength has been driven by several election-related factors, including prospects for tax reform, deregulation, and President-elect Trump’s focus on encouraging U.S. manufacturing.
  • First busy week of earnings on tap. With results from 29 companies in the books, S&P 500 earnings growth is tracking to 6.2%, driven by financials and technology. The earnings beat rate is a solid 72%, while revenue results have brought more misses than hits so far with a beat rate of 34%. Another 34 companies report this week (January 17-20), dominated by financials and industrials.

011717_earningsdashboard-01

  • How slow is slow? Going back to 1950, the +7.8% rally in the Dow from the Election through year end was the third-strongest rally ever. Yet, over the past month the Dow has held close to the 20,000 level, unable to break above. At the same time, it isn’t selling off either – instead trapped in an incredibly tight range. In fact, using closing prices back to 1900, the Dow has traded in a range of only 1.07% over the past 21 trading days, which is the tightest monthly range ever. Looking at reliable intraday data going back to 1970, the range over the past month has been only 1.42% – again the smallest monthly range ever. Lastly, this is so rare because the Dow has closed within 1.5% of its all-time high for 45 consecutive days – one of the 10-longest such streaks ever.

MonitoringWeek_header

Tuesday

  • Empire State Manufacturing Report (Jan)
  • Dudley* (Dove)
  • Germany: ZEW Survey (Jan)
  • World Economic Forum begins at Davos, Switzerland

Wednesday

  • CPI (Dec)
  • Kashkari* (Dove)
  • Yellen* (Dove)
  • China: Property Prices (Dec)

Thursday

  • Philadelphia Fed Index (Jan)
  • Yellen* (Dove)
  • Eurozone: European Central Bank Meeting (No Change Expected)
  • China: GDP (Q4)
  • China: Industrial Production (Dec)
  • China: Retail Sales (Dec)
  • China: Fixed Asset Investment (Dec)

Friday

  • Inauguration Day
  • Harker* (Hawk)
  • U.K.: Retail Sales (Dec)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. A money market investment is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money markets have traditionally sought to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in such a fund. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. Technical Analysis is a methodology for evaluating securities based on statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices, volume and momentum, and is not intended to be used as the sole mechanism for trading decisions. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead use charts and other tools to identify patterns and trends. Technical analysis carries inherent risk, chief amongst which is that past performance is not indicative of future results. Technical Analysis should be used in conjunction with Fundamental Analysis within the decision making process and shall include but not be limited to the following considerations: investment thesis, suitability, expected time horizon, and operational factors, such as trading costs are examples. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

6 Ways to Nail Your Resolution This Year

Cheers to the New Year! And the new you. It’s one thing to make a resolution, but it’s another thing to actually keep it, right? To keep you on track, here are some foolproof ways to help keep you from falling off the wagon this year. Let’s do this New Year’s thing right!

1. Make it to March 7th and Your Golden

Not like gold rush golden, but you’re in pretty good shape. It takes march-7two months for a habit to stick—66 days if you’re really counting. So write down March 7th on the back of your hand or your calendar or somewhere. Because you’re 80% more likely to keep with it after that day.

2. Dig Deep – Like Real Deep

Basically, try not to generalize. Yeah, that shovel
means “I want to save more money” isn’t cutting it this year. Figure out what you’re saving for, what the goal is, when you want it saved by, and set mini targets along the way.

3. Two’s Better Than One… Kinda Like Chopsticks

Yeah, it’s like teamwork–try eating rice with one chopstick. No, chopsticksactually, don’t. Just take our word for it. Same with resolutions. It’s way easier to keep one if you’ve got a buddy to keep you accountable–then you guys can guide each other.

4. Get Up When You Slip Up

Falling hurts. It hurts a lot. But you don’t let a slip-up banana-pkeep you down. Get back up and keep going–it builds character. And the more times you pick yourself up, the more likely you are to keep with it.

5. Get Your Tape Out – It’ll Help

No, not that kind of tape. Something that measures. Doesn’t matter if duct
you’re using centimeters, inches, marbles, or whatever–if you can measure it, you have a better chance of making it. So track your progress.

6. One Word… Megaphone

Ok, fine, so one word wasn’t quite enough. What we mean is, tell people.Megaphone Show off your resolution. Be proud of it. And one way you can do that is by taking The Relentless Resolutions Challenge. Take it and share your progress along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Ally Bank

Market Update: November 28, 2016

MarketUpdate_header

  • Markets inch lower to begin data-heavy week. U.S. equities are pulling back modestly this morning as investors pause following a record-setting week for major indexes and ahead of a swath of economic data due out this week, including Friday’s non farm payrolls report. Volatility in WTI crude oil prices is also adding to caution amid doubts a deal will be reached at Wednesday’s OPEC meeting. As expected, Friday’s shortened session saw low volume, and the major averages all moved modestly higher (S&P 500 +0.5%); utilities (+1.4%) and telecom (+1.1%) outperformed, while only the energy sector (-0.4%) lost ground on the day, trading lower alongside a 3% drop in oil. Asian markets finished mostly positive overnight Monday, with the exception of the Nikkei (-0.1%) due to a strengthening yen. Italy’s MIB (-0.9%) is leading the retreat in European stocks ahead of Sunday’s constitutional referendum. Finally, oil is back in positive territory by over 2% ($47.15/barrel) after seeing sharp declines overnight, COMEX gold ($1186/oz.) has advanced 0.6% after touching nine-month lows on Friday, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury is down 2 basis points to 2.33%.

MacroView_header

  • Corporate Beige Book shows improved sentiment among corporate executives, based on the use of more strong words relative to weak ones in earnings conference calls during Q3 2016 earnings season. Talk of recession was virtually non-existent, election comments were minimal, and fewer mentions of currency suggested limited Brexit disruption and reflected a smaller currency drag on earnings. Meanwhile, oil and China continued to garner a lot attention. We believe Q3 results were strong enough to justify the improved tone from corporate executives and support our expectation for mid- to high-single-digit earnings growth in 2017.
  • Soft Black Friday shopping weekend reflects shifting retailer behavior, not consumer weakness. The National Retail Federation (NRF) said shoppers spent 3.5% less over the four-day Black Friday weekend than they did in 2015. The NRF said the decline in spending was a function of earlier promotions and longer-lived discounts. The trade group maintained its 3.6% growth forecast for holiday spending. Within these sales totals, online sales were very strong, rising 18% year over year on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, according to Adobe, and more people shopped online than in stores over the weekend.
  • OPEC deal in doubt? Headlines are all over the place regarding the likelihood of a deal. Comments out of Saudi Arabia suggesting the oil market would balance itself in 2017 even without a deal, coupled with Iran’s continued push for an exemption, suggested a deal was unlikely. On the flip side, Saudi Arabia’s comments are likely intended to increase negotiating leverage, while Iraq has stated its desire to cooperate with other OPEC members to reach an agreement. This one is tough to call, but our bias would be to buy on weakness in the absence of a deal should oil prices return to $40 a barrel or lower.
  • S&P 500 scores more new highs. The week of Thanksgiving tends to have a bullish bias and that played out this year, as the S&P 500 gained all four days of the week to close higher by 1.4%, the third straight higher weekly close. Interestingly, this was the third consecutive election year that the week of Thanksgiving was higher all four days. In the process, the S&P 500 closed at a new all-time high four consecutive days for the second time this year (it did it in July as well), but the index hasn’t closed at new highs five straight days since November 2014. Speaking of November, the S&P 500 is now up 4.1% for the month, the second best November return going back 14 years. As another way to show how strong the market has been, the S&P 500 hasn’t violated the previous day’s low for an amazing 14 consecutive days, which is the longest streak since 15 in a row in November 2004.
  • Small caps continue to soar. The Russell 2000 (RUT), a proxy for small caps, is up an incredible 15 days in a row. This now ties the streak of 15 in a row from February 1996 for the second-longest win streak ever. The record is 21 straight green days in 1988. Lastly, the RUT has made a new high nine straight days for the first time since September 1997 and the last time it made it to 10 in a row was May 1996.
  • Here comes December. The upcoming month is full of potential market-moving events. Historically, December is a strong month for the S&P 500; since 1950[1], no month sports a better average gain or is positive more often. Still, with the first Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) rate hike of the year likely coming in the middle of the month, the potential for a volatile month is much higher. Factoring in a highly anticipated OPEC meeting, the November employment report, elections in Austria and constitutional referendum in Italy, and a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting – you have all the ingredients for some big market moves in December. We will take a closer look at all of these events, along with the Santa Claus rally.

[1] Please note: The modern design of the S&P 500 stock index was first launched in 1957. Performance back to 1950 incorporates the performance of predecessor index, the S&P 90.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • ECB’s Draghi Speaks in Brussels
  • OECD releases 2017 Economic Outlook

Tuesday

  • GDP (Q3 – Revised)
  • Dudley (Dove)
  • Germany: CPI (Nov)

Wednesday

  • Personal Income and Spending (Oct)
  • Chicago Area PMI (Nov)
  • Beige Book
  • Mester (Hawk)
  • OPEC Meeting in Vienna
  • China: Official Mfg. PMI (Nov)
  • China: Official Non-Mfg. PMI (Nov)
  • China: Caixin Mfg. PMI (Nov)

Thursday

  • ISM Mfg. (Nov)
  • Vehicle Sales (Nov)
  • Mester (Hawk)

Friday

  • Employment Report (Nov)

 

 

 

 

 

Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. A money market investment is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money markets have traditionally sought to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in such a fund. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. Technical Analysis is a methodology for evaluating securities based on statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices, volume and momentum, and is not intended to be used as the sole mechanism for trading decisions. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead use charts and other tools to identify patterns and trends. Technical analysis carries inherent risk, chief amongst which is that past performance is not indicative of future results. Technical Analysis should be used in conjunction with Fundamental Analysis within the decision making process and shall include but not be limited to the following considerations: investment thesis, suitability, expected time horizon, and operational factors, such as trading costs are examples. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC. 

We’re Going Broke Chasing the American Dream

Provided by MarketWatch

The parlous financial state of many Americans is well-known: My MarketWatch colleagues Quentin Fottrell and Catey Hill had good pieces about it recently.

I’ve written that many Americans take Social Security early or don’t invest in stocks because they just don’t have the money.

But it often takes a personal story to bring it all home, and that’s what writer and critic Neal Gabler did in the May issue of the Atlantic, where he revealed that he’s one of the 47% of Americans who couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency.

With honesty and courage, Gabler describes how he — who according to Wikipedia turns 66 this year — got into such desperate straits after a writing career he modestly calls “passably good,” but is surely far better.

Gabler has written acclaimed biographies of Walt Disney and Walter Winchell (the model for the smarmy gossip columnist played by Burt Lancaster in the classic movie, “Sweet Smell of Success”). “An Empire of Their Own,” about the pioneering producers of Hollywood, is in my opinion one of the best books ever written about the American Jewish experience.

Unfortunately, Gabler was, as he freely admits, “a financial illiterate, or worse — an ignoramus.”

“I don’t ask for or expect any sympathy,” he writes. “I am responsible for my quagmire — no one else.”

His situation is the product of some bad luck and many poor choices. For the details, you should read the article yourself, or better yet buy the magazine on the newsstand (consider it a non-tax-deductible contribution to good journalism). But in brief, here they are:

1. He chose to be a writer, not the most stable profession.

2. He chose to write books, which don’t produce income for years.

3. He chose to live in high-cost New York City.

4. He chose to have two children, whom he sent to private school early on and then to Stanford and Emory for college.

5. His wife quit her job as a film executive to spend more time with the kids when they moved to eastern Long Island.

By making this public, Gabler opens himself up to scrutiny and criticism, and he didn’t respond to my request for an interview. But how many of us can say we haven’t, with the best of intentions, made big financial mistakes?

Gabler touches on what may be one of our biggest problems, yet one that’s almost taboo to mention: Too many of us are chasing the American Dream without having anywhere near the means to pay for it.

“In retrospect, of course, my problem was simple: too little income, too many expenses,” Gabler writes, speaking for many baby boomers and the shrinking professional middle class.

Convinced their lives would be better than their parents’ (who, in the case of early boomers like Gabler, lived through the Depression and World War II) and that their children’s lives would be better than their own, people did whatever it took to maintain at least the appearance of success, if not affluence.

It wasn’t only “keeping up with the Joneses,” as Gabler points out. “People want to feel, need to feel, that they are advancing in the world. It’s what sustains them,” he writes.

Ambition and aiming high are good things. But the American Dream is much more expensive than it used to be. In 2014, I estimated it costs a family of four$130,000 a year to live it, while incomes are stagnating because ofglobalization, technology, trade, immigration, what have you. That’s putting the Dream out of reach of more and more people.

Too many have filled that gap with easy credit card debt, cash-out refinancings and home equity lines of credit (which exceeded $1 trillion from 2002 to 2005 alone), or by emptying their 401(k) accounts. It may have felt good, but it bankrupted their future. What an apt metaphor for a country that’s living way beyond its means!

It’s really, really hard to tell your daughter you can’t afford to send her to Stanford and instead she’ll have to go to Stony Brook (an excellent state university in eastern Long Island, where Gabler now teaches). It’s hard to say “no” to so many things and still think you’re living the Dream.

So maybe we need to redefine the American Dream beyond the purely material goals of the postwar years, when our growth seemed unstoppable. Maybe it should be more about the freedom to succeed or fail on our own terms. It could also encompass pride in achievement, family and friends, community service and leaving a legacy of which we can be proud.

Because we’re chasing a dream that’s becoming more and more unattainable for more and more people, and too many of us, like Neal Gabler, wind up with nothing to show for it.

Written by Howard Gold of MarketWatch 

(Source: MarketWatch)

Here’s a Milestone You Don’t Reach Until Your Seventies

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Provided by LifeHack

The major milestones of older Americans are not attended with the same sense of wonder that accompanies the major milestones of younger Americans. Sure, registering for Social Security benefits and signing up for Medicare are rites of passage, but they don’t hold a candle to earning your driver’s license, receiving your first kiss, winning your first promotion, or dancing at your wedding.

If you have retirement accounts when you become a septuagenarian, then you’ll encounter a milestone the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) strongly encourages you to remember. Beginning April 1 of the year following the year in which you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from most of your retirement accounts. Forbes offered this list:

  • Traditional IRAs
  • Rollover IRAs
  • Inherited IRAs
  • SEP IRAs
  • SIMPLE IRAs
  • 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plan accounts
  • Keogh plans

There currently are no RMDs for Roth IRAs, unless the accounts were inherited.

If you have more than one qualifying retirement account, then a separate RMD must be calculated for each account. If you want to withdraw a portion of each account, you can, but it may prove simpler to take the entire amount due from a single account. Once you start, you must take RMDs by December 31 every year. If you don’t, you’ll owe some hefty penalty taxes.

The IRS offers some instructions for calculating the RMD due. “The required minimum distribution for any year is the account balance as of the end of the immediately preceding calendar year divided by a distribution period from the IRS’ “Uniform Lifetime Table.” A separate table is used if the sole beneficiary is the owner’s spouse who is ten or more years younger than the owner.”

If you would prefer to have some help figuring out the correct amount when RMDs are due, contact your financial professional.

Views From The Lake – Episode 1

In this episode we interview Mike Matthiessen, President of the Tournament of Roses. We also go behind the scenes of the making of a Rose Parade Float as well as get some great footage at the Showcase of Floats. Alex Chalekian discusses the Top 5 Mistakes Made by 30 Year Olds.