Don't Count On It!

 “I am going to retire early.  My investments are doing well and I can now, “ another professional said to me.  This plan was relayed to me by over lunch.  Not my client, I did not have to say much in response but “Good Luck.”

In my head I thought of so many other things.  Mainly, does this person have an investment strategy to carry them through thirty years of retirement?

The Stock Market is up.  I am hearing enthusiasm and optimism all around in public.  In private, I hear financial professionals being cautious.  Perhaps no one knows the future.  What is one to do?  There is not a clear and easy path.  Getting educated is a first step.  Second step, dig deeper into your own financial and investment situation before you follow the herd mentality.

This is the ninth year of the longest running bull market in financial history.  Some sharp investors say it will continue.  Others “in the know” say to brace for a down turn.  Either way, this upswing will not last for the decades that the average person will be in retirement moving forward.  Creating a plan based on the good times and bad will be sure to devise a life of leisure without worries. And Peace of Mind.

We have been through this before or I have seen in as a Certified Financial Planner.  At the beginning of 2000, the tech boom was exploding.  The market was up.  Many, many folks retired based on those numbers.  When the bubble burst, those without a long-term plan went back to work.  This was not work by choice but work for cash flow to support their retirement years.   A little foresight can go a long way and prevent a forced return to the working world.

Think about what you can count on in life.  The list may be short.  We used to have pensions for life, some companies gave medical benefits as well, even our weather was a bit more predictable.  Today the world is a bit more complex and your personal situation has to be considered.  Now is the time to get educated no matter how far you are from retirement.

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A Rainbow Kind of Day......

Amazing! One glance at the sky and I could not stop looking.  The rainbow that greeted me yesterday morning was high, and wide and situated just perfectly for my viewing.    I paused and took the moment to reflect on the beauty before me.  This time of the day I do not typically see a rainbow.  Right or wrong, they seem to me to be an afternoon occurrence. 

What could the rainbow mean?  Why today?  Why right now? The light rain that fell on me was refreshing and matched my thoughts.  This is going to be a rainbow type of day!  I smiled. 

I believe we are all able to put good intentions out there and make the kind of days we want.  Attitude matters as does our intention. 

Smiling, I thanked the universe for the reminder and carried on for my drive through the beautiful roads of Vermont to work. I never saw the rainbow again on my drive.  The smile never left my lips or heart. Rainbows represent so many things to so many people.  There is the LGBTQ movement.  There is the Irish mythology of the pot of gold at the end.  There is the Judy Garland song.  All of them are of hope and possibility.  All of them speak of beauty, of something special.

A couple of hours later, one of my dear clients came in to my office for our meeting.  She had a white paper gift bag that she dropped ceremoniously on my desk. 

“For you,” Patricia says, “I had it made by friend of mine especially.”

Imagine my smile when I opened the bag to a rainbow, a rainbow of peace signs.  I was and am still amazed.  I told her my story of intending to make it a rainbow kind of day.  Her gift radiated beauty of the giver, the purse and the peaceful intention.  I will be telling the story many more times.  I cannot wait to use my new bag!

What is your intention for the day?   Make it a Rainbow Kind of Day!

Stock Market Wave or Wobble?

These are turbulent times.  The stock market is reflective of that on many levels. The average person is watching the financial returns after the stock market “corrected” itself by over 10% on February 8th. A correction is defined by a 10 to 20 % drop from a peak.  The peak of late January was 26,616.  On February 8th, it had the largest one day point drop, losing 1033 points. 

In October 1987, I was in my mid-twenties and working at a large mutual fund company in Boston.      The market dropped 508 points on Monday October 19th.  That was nearly a 22% drop. In a day! There was a sell off across the globe.  The date is now universally called Black Monday.

After that momentous fall when the Dow Jones declined to 1,738, regulators made some changes.  They developed new rules that allowed exchanges to temporarily halt trading if there are large declines.  The idea is to reduce market volatility and prevent large panic sell-offs.  The market can still go down, but more than 20% it will be halted for the day. 

I mention this to add perspective.  Perhaps thirty years ago, you were not invested in the stock market and were not paying attention.  I was because my job was on the line as well as my investments. Now, each time I hear a significant drop in market value, I look to what the percentage of the decline is.  The percentage tells the story.  This is how you should look at your investments as well.   Look at the overall percentages.

We tend to pay closer attention when the stock market goes down then up.  Leading us to be complacent about our investments until something changes.  Fear and loss are strong motivators.

Save yourself some trouble and stress.  Do not watch the stock market every day. There is so much going on in the world complicated by our government, business climate and even Facebook.  There is so much going on for one person to digest and process every day.  Better to turn off the news and take the time to take care of yourself and money for the long-term rather than be reactive in the short term. 

Let the world be turbulent.  You keep yourself on the steady path by managing your expectations, getting educated and focusing on the important things both in and out of the stock market. 


Post Script:

When I started this blog post on Friday afternoon, the market was down thirty points.  When I finished an hour or so later, the market was up 40 points.  This on a day the tariff legislation was expected to be signed and cause a market decline.  At 3 pm, I left my office for a couple of appointments.  At the last appointment as it neared 5 pm, a person commented on the large decline on Thursday.

“Did the market do the same thing today?” he wanted to know. 

My response? “ No last I looked it was up a bit.”  An hour later I saw the news.  The market had dropped by 424 points.  In the last hour of trading. This is why predicting its behavior from past actions are difficult, even during one day.  I will note that the percentage drop of the day was less than 2%.