An Eye on Inflation

an eye on inflationBy most measures, the economy is running hot. But even the casual observer can’t help but notice a strong economy can come with a down-side. Inflation is becoming more and more obvious, as we fill our gas tanks and are alarmed by higher prices of everyday items like groceries. Inflation had been for many years an afterthought, but now it is getting more mainstream attention as we all keep an eye on inflation.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’s August reading of the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index — the Fed’s preferred inflation measure — was up nearly 4 percent year over year, the highest inflation in three decades. September’s consumer price index, the more familiar CPI, rose 5.4 percent compared to a year ago.

The price of many basic family goods is up much more than that. For households earning the U.S. median annual income of about $70,000, the current inflation rate has forced them to spend another $175 a month on food, fuel, and housing, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

It’s causing many to ask if inflation will stay elevated or head back down toward the long-term trend. Economic analysts at The Vanguard Group believe inflation dynamics will be volatile in the short-term. This is mostly due to supply shortages and other economic disruptions caused by virus-related shutdowns and the subsequent re-opening. However, Vanguard believes by the end of 2022 inflation will decline back to the 2.5 percent neighborhood.

What can we do to control inflation? The answer is, of course, not much.

You can improve your odds of long-term financial success, though, by working with the right advisor. An independent, fiduciary advisor, like Perspective Financial Services, will help you map-out, document, and stick to a disciplined plan to get you through uncertain times.

By |2021-11-09T08:38:28-07:00November 22nd, 2021|Current Affairs, Financial Planning|

Helping Aging Parents Manage Finances

Helping aging parents manage financesHelping aging parents manage finances: it’s a sticky situation. As our parents age, we worry about their ability to make sound financial decisions. We know they’re targets for financial fraud. How do we protect them, while also respecting their desire to remain independent?

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, CFP®, is president of the Charles Schwab Foundation and has served two White House administrations on financial capability policy. In a recent article, she offered the following insights.

Helping Aging Parents Manage Finances

Communicate: Talking about money can be hard, but it’s the most important first step. Let your parents know you are willing to help and why. Be upfront about the fact that seniors are targets for financial exploitation. Ask them if they have any concerns and in what areas they might welcome some help. Look for cues that might indicate they’re confused or vulnerable. The more two-way conversations you have about money, the easier it will become.

Collaborate: Offer to become part of their team. Beginning a dialogue with their financial advisors and health care professionals will help you spot any troubling signs as your parents age. If you establish clear roles and responsibilities before troubles arise, your parents will be less likely to feel you’re hovering or controlling them. Instead, they’ll know you’re available and informed to offer specific support when needed.

Evaluate: Offer to help assess their assets and liabilities, income and expenses, and insurance needs. If they already have a financial plan, suggest a review. Once you understand their needs, remember to check in with them regularly. Their needs may change. By laying the groundwork now, you’ll be better prepared to help them. And knowing that may make your parents more willing to let you.

Compound Interest and Habits

Eng-WEBHabits – both good and bad – are something we all have. They’re part of our everyday routines, something we often do without any thought. Yet, we can all benefit by giving our habits more thought. As a financial planner, I love the idea that there’s a correlation between compound interest and habits.

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement,” wrote James Clear in his best-selling book, Atomic Habits*.

This idea really resonates with me.

I understand the benefits  of how investments compound interest (we essentially earn interest on our interest). The opposite is also true. If we get into debt and owe interest on the interest that is owed, that negative compounding is a detriment.

Good and bad habits work the same way. Years ago, I was in the habit of eating a bag of chips every day at lunch. I love potato chips, but eating them daily wasn’t a great habit. A good friend knew I was trying to lose some weight, and he suggested I substitute the chips with a piece of fruit. It was a small change, but a significant one for me.

The success that came with that small adjustment led me to rethink my daily soda with lunch, as well. Each small change moved me closer to being the healthier person I wanted to become.

“Success is the product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.” — James Clear

Consistency

Once you decide to make a change, how do you make it stick? Consistency. Making the change automatic and trying not to miss more than two times in a row are two things that can help.

Let’s use a savings example. I have a friend who had never invested in the stock market. When she began a new job years ago that offered a 401K plan, I encouraged her to have automatic contributions withdrawn from her paychecks. Fast forward about 20 years, and she’d accumulated more than $250,000. Even though she did take some money out of the account along the way, she had still managed to save a nice sum of money for retirement.

We’re all human. We all get off track from time to time. Sometimes we miss deadlines, avoid workouts, or skip saving contributions. Give yourself room to be human. Know that you will have setbacks, and know that you can rebound. Commit to getting back at it as soon as possible.

The biggest rewards come when you have been consistent over long periods of time and your habits compound.

*When you  purchase books from Bookshop.org, a portion of the proceeds supports the independent bookstores and authors listed on the site.
By |2021-08-16T12:43:20-07:00August 9th, 2021|Financial Planning|

Begin a Money Conversation

McCann-WEBTeaching children about money management will help set them on the right path to financial independence and success. Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds to begin a money conversation. As a parent, I understand how challenging it can be to impart ideas and wisdom on your own kids. Let’s face it, most young people are inclined to take advice from anyone but their parents. Factor in that many people don’t feel qualified to teach financial topics, and the task becomes even more daunting.

The good news is there are many resources and people to assist in you.

As a long-time and active volunteer for Scouts BSA, one of my regular roles has been as a Personal Management Merit Badge counselor. This badge addresses elements like creating a budget, knowing the difference between saving and investing, and exploring and evaluating careers. The curriculum was developed by Brent Neiser, CFP® and Eagle Scout. It’s a challenging merit badge that takes several months to complete.

I’ve learned a couple of interesting things by teaching the course. First, young people are often eager to talk about money if you approach it in a way that is relatable. Second, they tend to pick up on key concepts more quickly than you might expect.

Here are a few tips to begin a money conversation with a child or young adult in your life.

  • Start with the basics. That means introducing the importance of living within your means. Earning a weekly or monthly allowance for completing chores is a great start. When a child manages an allowance, he or she begins to understand how to balance wants with cash flow.
  • Make budgeting real and personal, not theoretical. Help your child create a budget. Older children can use a simple spread sheet to track spending, saving, investing and charitable giving. Young ones can use labeled envelopes or jars for each category.
  • Show that money can grow over time. Use this simple chart to show how a person who invests $5,000 a year starting at age 25 can end up with nearly $825,000 by age 65, while one who waits until age 50 to invest $5,000 a year would have just $128,000. Then show them a picture of what they could buy with the $697,000 difference. (e.g, a new Tesla Roadster costs about $200,000; they could buy several.)

Our advisors often facilitate family discussions about money. It’s one of our Core Client Services. That’s the value of Perspective.

By |2021-07-15T10:32:04-07:00July 26th, 2021|Financial Planning|