Here are two simple tips to keep you from going crazy with these crazy markets.

1. Avoid selling your investments
It can be tempting to pull your money out of the market when the economy is in a slump. Recessions and market downturns often go hand in hand, and if we experience a recession, there’s a chance that stock prices could fall even further. Any dividends being paid will reinvest on sale that is a good thing.

2. Strengthen your emergency fund
Because downturns are one of the worst times to withdraw your money from the stock market, it’s especially important to have a healthy emergency fund. Ideally, this means having enough savings to cover at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses.

Step back, take a breath, and stay the course. You are investing for the long term.

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Secure Act 2.0 – who knew?!

Apparently, the Secure Act did not provide enough for us, so there is a part 2. Secure Act 2.0 has not passed yet, but here are the provisions:

Starting in 2023, the age for taking RMDs would jump from 72 to 73. Then, starting in 2030, it would creep up again to 74. And, finally, it would rise to 75 in 2033.

Allowing 401(k) safe harbor plans to replace SIMPLE plans mid-year. Penalty-free withdrawals up to $1,000 per year to cover personal or family emergency expenses.

Additionally, under current law, failure to comply with RMD requirements results in an excise tax equal to 50% of the year’s required distribution amount. New proposals would decrease the penalty to 10% or 25% if the individual promptly corrected the failure to take a timely RMD.

I like these provisions, we have no idea if they will pass or not.

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Last week I said goodbye to 5.

Last week I lost 5 clients, they were all between 87-92 and had been clients for 30 years. It is always so hard to say goodbye. I met most of these clients when they were getting ready to retire. I have gone through many life-cycle events with them, met their children and grand-children, many of which are now also clients. Economically, we have been through a lot together. There have been 12 market crashes, countless tax law changes, and many different administrations. Through all of this I am touched by the comments from their families as to how easy their retirement lives were.

I am honored to have known them all.

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How much cash do you have stashed?

We are half way through the worst month in hurricane season, with one month left to go for this year. As we have recently seen, power can be knocked out quickly, but might not be restored quickly. That is why I want to know how much cash you have stashed?

I have always thought it was important to keep cash, real paper money, in our homes, especially during hurricane season. I think having around $3000 in small bills is sufficient to get you out of an emergency situation, some people think $5000 is better. Regardless, you should have cash in $10’s and $20’s in a safe, accessible place in your home for emergencies.

Keep this in mind, if the corner gas station/convenience store is open on generator power, you will be able to buy provisions with cash. Credit cards or debit cards will do you no good as those systems will be down.

Cash is king in an emergency.

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Do you want the Tax Collector to also be the Tax Preparer?

As part of the Inflation Reduction Act just passed, the IRS is working on a program to file your tax return for you.

Here is what has been proposed:
The IRS will send you a pre-filled return that will show either what you owe or what you will be refunded. If you are accepting of this, simply sign and mail back.

Here are my questions:
What data is being used to calculate the return?
What would happen to me if I do not accept their return?
What if I also do my own return and reach a different result, can I re-file or am I stuck?

Most of my clients only pay around $200/year for their returns to be done by an accountant, I would feel more comfortable with that vs. the IRS doing a return for me.

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A lot of people are asking this very question.

Q: We just sold our house but have not found a new one yet. While we are shopping, what should we do with the proceeds from our sale?

A: My rule of thumb is: if you have cash that you will need to use within 18- 24 months, it has to stay in cash. Use a savings or money markets account. You cannot afford to invest the proceeds and subject those dollars to the whims of the markets.

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Here is some sage advice from one of my retired clients.

As I have my regular review appointments the conversations often turn to more than just how their portfolios are doing right now. Recently, one of my retired clients brought up a few points that are worth sharing.

First, he said he would have taken smaller (less expensive) family vacations so he would have been able to save more over a longer period of time. He now shares my advice with his Grandkids, save at least 10% form your very first paycheck for your retirement.

Second, realize that everything will cost more. Sure, there are times when prices go down, but inflation takes a big bite out of your purchasing power.

Third, taxes are forever and will constantly change. There have been a few times during his life that taxes have gone down, but mostly have gone up. Not being prepared for taxes in retirement can take a big bite out of your spendable funds.

Like I said, sage advice.

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What are your numbers?

Numbers are very important to my practice. Annualized rate of return, how much you have to invest, how long will you live? These all figure into my planning done for my clients. Here are a few key numbers I would like you to think about:

How much will inflation impact your investment to and through retirement? Here are a few famous quotes regarding inflation:
“Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for a ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.” –Sam Ewing
“Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” –Ronald Reagan
“Inflation is the crabgrass in your savings.” –Robert Orben

Right now we are seeing some of the highest inflation we have seen in years. When going out to purchase anything, think about whether the item is a need or a want, then shop for the best prices.

What is the average rate of return you are earning? Please keep in mind that we take a long term look at the investments we manage. Let’s look at the S&P 500, in my opinion this is the broadest index used as a measure today.
Historic benchmarks for the S&P: For the previous 10-year time period (2010-2020) the annualized (nominal) return was 13.9%.The average annualized return since its inception in 1926 is 10.49%
The highest annual returns in that time period were 29.6% in 2013.
The lowest annual returns were -6.24% in 2018.*

Health care cost can put the biggest dent in the best planned retirement. According to Fidelity’s Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2022 can expect to spend $315,000 in health care and medical expenses throughout retirement. And, this does not include any money that may need to be spent on long-term care needs.

*Historical returns from Fidelity Institutional.com

These are just a few numbers to think about as you plan your retirement. If you want help with these, please contact me at nancy@financialgroup.com or (407)-869-9800.

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