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Strong Holiday Spending Expected

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and photostock.

Holiday retail sales in November and December are expected to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over last year. This is according to a recent forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF). That strong holiday spending would equate to total sales of about $717 billion to $721 billion this year.

“Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO.

“Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year. While there is concern about the impacts of an escalating trade war, we are optimistic that the pace of economic activity will continue to increase through the end of the year.”

Holiday sales in 2017 totaled nearly $688 billion. That is a 5.3 percent increase over the year before and the largest increase since the 5.2 percent gain in 2010.

NRF’s forecast for strong holiday spending is based on an economic model using several indicators. They include consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales. The forecast includes online and other non-store sales, as well.

Retail is actually growing faster than the rest of the economy at large, according to research from IHL Group. While the lines between digital and physical shopping experiences are blurring, stores are not going away. IHL data shows that for every single retailer closing stores, two others are opening stores. The group expects stores to be involved in 81 percent of all retail sales in 2021.

By |November 4th, 2018|Current Affairs, Small Business|

Create a Vivid Written Financial Plan

How many times have you been told you’re more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down? More times than you can count? Probably. That’s because study after study has proven it to be true. Is it time to create a vivid written financial plan to achieve your goals?

Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success. People who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t, according to Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, a leadership training and research firm.

“Writing things down doesn’t just help you remember, it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on the truly important stuff,” Murphy stresses. “And your goals absolutely should qualify as truly important stuff.”

When you take possession of something – an item or an idea – you are more committed to it. Neurologists and psychologists call this phenomenon the “endowment effect.” Thus, writing down a goal gives you ownership of that goal. It becomes “yours,” a part of you, something you want to keep and protect.

That’s just one reason why we encourage our clients to have a written financial plan. It’s a way to vividly picture where you want to go and how you will get there.

We also encourage you to revisit that plan periodically – it’s not chiseled in stone; it’s a living document that changes and adapts as you live your life.

October is National Financial Planning Month.

Charles Schwab’s 2018 Modern Wealth Index survey shows that investors with a written financial plan tend to have greater fiscal discipline and better money habits.

Unfortunately, only 25 percent of Americans have a written plan. At Perspective Financial Services, about 50 percent of our clients have a written plan. If you don’t have a written financial plan, talk with your advisor about creating one.

By |October 22nd, 2018|Advisors, Financial Planning|

Understand and Reduce Wi-Fi Risk

Shannon Curkendoll researches cyber security to help clients understand and reduce Wi-Fi risk.

Shannon Curkendoll researches cyber security to help clients understand and reduce Wi-Fi risk.

Cyber criminals continue to come up with new ways to gain access to your electronic devices and, in turn, your most personal data. According to Komando.com, numerous new hacking techniques have emerged in just the past few months that exploit small flaws in routers, browsers and Wi-Fi security. SureCloud recently published a report on how password auto-saving features of internet browsers and unsecured home routers can put you at risk. It’s important to stay up-to-date on cyber secuity issues to better understand and reduce Wi-Fi risk.

“By renaming a malicious Wi-Fi access point to impersonate yours, a hacker then waits until your gadget connects to the fake router under his/her control, hoping that you won’t notice the difference. Once connected, the hacker can then have full control,” Komando reports.

Home Wi-Fi routers aren’t the only systems that are vulnerable. Few public Wi-Fi services have secure routers, even in locations where you might expect high security.

Cloud security company Coronet released a report in July that studied Wi-Fi security in America’s 45 busiest airports. According to the report, to maximize traveler convenience, most airports provide free or low-cost Wi-Fi. Regrettably, Wi-Fi security is often sacrificed in exchange for simplicity, leaving networks unencrypted, unsecured or improperly configured.

“Until such time when airports take responsibility and improve their cyber-security posture, the accountability is on each individual flyer to be aware of the risks and take the appropriate steps to minimize the danger,” stresses Dror Liwer, Coronet’s chief information systems officer. This advice applies to users of any public or unsecured Wi-Fi.

“Most of the time, individuals find themselves hastily connecting to public Wi-Fi networks to save themselves from overage charges on their phone bills,” wrote Justin Dolly, Malwarebytes chief security officer, in an opinion piece at CSO.com. “Investing in an unlimited data plan will not only eliminate your need for accessing insecure Wi-Fi networks, it will also often allow you to use your mobile device to create a personal internet hotspot.”

A personal hotspot creates an encrypted wireless network, which prevents people on devices near you from accessing your network without a password.

If you’ve used public Wi-Fi, SureCloud recommends that you clear your browser’s saved passwords and don’t save credentials for unsecured HTTP pages. Also delete saved open-networks and don’t allow automatic reconnection.

By |October 8th, 2018|Current Affairs|

Think About Estate Planning

Aretha Franklin’s death without a will is a reminder that “you better think” about estate planning.

On August 16, Aretha Franklin passed away in her home after a long, private battle with pancreatic cancer. The Queen of Soul died without having a will or trust in place. Now her family must wrestle with not only their grief, but also the lengthy, complicated and expensive process of probate. Take this news as an important reminder to think about estate planning. Probate is the court-supervised process of gathering a deceased person’s assets and distributing them to creditors and inheritors.

How Often Do You Think about Estate Planning?

Franklin’s exact net worth is unknown, but it is estimated at roughly $80 million and includes the rights to many of her hit songs, according to Wealth Management Magazine. The complete lack of estate planning on Franklin’s part will likely result in the federal government taking a huge tax bite out of that figure, leaving less inheritance to her four sons. At the moment, there are no indications that any of Franklin’s heirs are in conflict regarding next steps. Unfortunately, without documented instructions for distribution of her estate, that could easily change.

When music legend Prince died two years ago, he also left behind no will or plan for what should happen to his $500 million estate. In addition, it was unclear who had control of his royalty rights and his unreleased music. Both performers led deeply private lives. Yet, without a will or trust in place, each of their estates now can and will be laid bare for all to see.

Everyone needs a will. The legal document expedites the settlement of an estate, keeps proceedings from going to probate, and helps keep private matters private. This is true regardless of the size or scope of your estate, legacy or fame.

By |September 24th, 2018|Current Affairs, Estate Planning|