Wow, can you believe it? June, already! How did that happen? June is such an interesting month, almost halfway through the year, graduations, summer vacations and warmer, drier (unless you live in Central Virginia this year!) and the promise of fireflies, longer days, barbeques and beaches.
It is also time for a reality check on our financial health. Are we where we hoped to be? If we are not, why not? Are we spending too much? Are we tracking in our risk management?
Catherine and I are just like you. We plan and save for our big expenditures, we work hard at keeping a good emergency fund and we do a family budget every month. Here is what we have discovered… we never have any arguments about money. Why not? Because we practice the fundamentals I listed above. As a result, when we come home from vacations or home from the car repairs that are unavoidable with 3 older model vehicles, we don't worry about how we are going to pay for the repairs nor do we suffer from the dreaded vacation hangover!
I want to encourage you to follow those same fundamentals. I have tools I can provide you to help you on this journey back to basics. Knowing where your money is coming from is important but knowing where your money is going is ESSENTIAL to building a strong financial future.
As we hit the mid-year mark, I want you to know that now is the time for us to talk about course adjustments you may need to make to finish the year in as good a position as you can. There is much to be aware of this year with the changes in the tax law. It is critical that we prepare now for those changes in order to take full advantage of them and avoid any unpleasant surprises!
So let's take a look at 5 things you can do now to help you continue to move forward toward your financial goals:
1. Do a cash-flow analysis of the first six months of the year. This includes looking at your cash flow for the first six months of the year, comparing what you actually spent against what you budgeted for and checking your emergency fund balance.
2. Evaluate your debt. Are you comfortable with the debt you are currently carrying? Are you paying off your cards every month? What are your current rates for your debt and how do they compare to what the market is offering today?
3. Do a risk management assessment. Get a comparative quote for your home, auto and umbrella policies. If the quotes come in lower than what your current carrier is offering, call your agent and have a conversation. Call me so we can make sure your life and disability insurance coverages are still where they should be.
4. Review your plans for any short to medium range upcoming cash expenditures. This includes things like vacations, new car, college, etc. Saving a little bit each month for those known future expenditures will definitely help manage both your cash flow and your debt!
5. Finally, talk to your tax preparer! With all of the anticipated changes in the tax law for the 2018 tax year, now is the time to talk to your tax professional to make sure you are properly positioned to take advantage of the changes in the law.
If you need assistance on any of the points I’ve shared, my team is happy to assist. Some items may take effort, but they will pay enormous dividends. Or, if you just want to talk, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on my cell at 850-776-9209.
Table 1: Key Index Returns
|MTD %||YTD %||3-year* %|
|Dow Jones Industrial Average||1.1||-1.2||10.7|
|S&P 500 Index||2.2||1.2||8.7|
|Russell 2000 Index||6||6.4||9.4|
|MSCI World ex-USA**||-2.4||-3.2||1.5|
|MSCI Emerging Markets**||-3.8||-3.3||3.7|
|Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond TR||0.7||-1.5||1.4|
Source: Wall Street Journal, MSCI.com, MarketWatch, Morningstar
MTD returns: Apr 30, 2018-May 31, 2018
YTD returns: Dec 29, 2017-May 31, 2018
**in US dollars
The rock of Gibraltar it ain’t
Since the beginning of the decade, problems in Europe have occasionally drifted across the Atlantic. If it’s not Greece, it’s Portugal. If not Portugal, it might be Italy or Spain. And if not Italy or Spain, Brexit briefly created turbulence in 2016.
More recently cracks in the European financial system have taken a backseat to firmer growth on the continent. But problems are simmering just below the surface. Enter the dysfunctional nature of Italian politics and the two anti-establishment parties that took top honors in an early March election.
A coalition was eventually formed between the two groups, but the president of Italy rejected a finance minister who has expressed doubt about the euro, which unites much of Europe. Concerns the government might ditch the common currency led to a massive spike in Italy bond yields and a global sell-off in stocks the day after the Memorial Day weekend.
We could see new twists and turns, but for now cooler heads have prevailed. Yields came off highs as government officials salvaged the coalition and staved off new elections later this year. My synopsis is simply a thumbnail sketch of events, but you may be asking, “Why the overview of what is only the latest in decades of dysfunctional Italian politics? Why should I care?”
First, it’s a reminder that Europe’s ongoing financial problems haven’t been solved, and what happens in Europe can sometimes trigger uncertainty among U.S. investors…at least temporarily.
Should you be concerned?
Italians aren’t clamoring to get rid of the euro. If it were to happen, it would have enormous consequences for Italy, which would then reverberate throughout Europe. We’d likely see a run on Italian banks, as citizens moved cash to safer shores. The collapse of Italian banks would roil the European financial system, and its impact would likely be felt around the globe.
Yes, we are interconnected today. But odds of a “Quitaly” or “Italexit”–financial commentators are once again trying to coin a new term–remain low. Yet now it’s on the radar. If nothing else, the drama in Italy is simply a reminder that Europe hasn’t solved its financial problems.
I hope you’ve found this review to be educational and helpful. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to reach out to me. That’s what I’m here for. Here is to a Great Summer of fun, sun and safety! Kind Regards, Rudy