Dow Sails past Notable Milestone: 20,000

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked over 20,000 in the early morning of Wednesday, January 25. This is the first time that the average has topped this historic level.

The Dow is a stock market index that tracks 30 of the largest publicly-owned companies in the United States. Almost every investor in the United States has exposure to these companies through their 401k or other investment accounts. This rings in an important moment for market watchers and economists alike that have long waited and some predicted this historic day.

What does this signal?
Some are saying that many of Trump's executive orders are driving the increase in our domestic equities; coupled with the fact that consumer confidence is at an all time high. The global economy is also posed to rally as well. The number "20,000" is more of an investor psychology number then a tangible data point. Some claim this signals that the market is wildly overvalued. Either way, it tells us that a lot of people are buying US equities right now.

What should we do?
Be thankful that your accounts are more than likely performing very well. Stay focused and do not make any rash decisions to sell. 21,000 could be hiding behind the next corner.

-Ali A. Criss, CFP

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Your Finances

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Instead of hauling out those familiar New Year’s resolutions about eating less and exercising more, how about focusing on something that’s also very good for you in the long run – and even sooner? We’re talking about your financial plan – your fiscal health, if you will. Now that 2017 is underway, this is a great time to review your plan and make whatever revisions might be indicated. With that in mind, here are five suggested resolutions that, if followed, will go a long ways toward helping to ensure that your later years will be financially secure.

1. Get your balance sheet in order

You can’t realistically expect to reach a goal without knowing where you’re starting from. Using 12/31/16 as the effective date, update your personal balance sheet (assets versus liabilities, broadly speaking). Everything else really proceeds from this, so take the time to bring all the numbers up to date.

2. Review your budget and spending habits

How close did you come to what you had planned to spend last year? Where did you go off-track and what can you do about that? Has something fundamental changed in your life that affected your expenses, and is that a one-time item or an ongoing cost? Where can you trim expenses? Although some budget items are fixed, a sharp pencil can produce significant savings on other costs.

3. Designate and update your beneficiaries

If you don’t correctly document and update your beneficiary designations, who gets what may be determined not according to your wishes, but by federal or state law, or by the default plan document used in your retirement accounts. This is especially important if something has changed in your life that could affect your beneficiaries or heirs, such as divorce, remarriage, births, deaths or your state of residence.

4. Revisit your portfolio’s asset allocation

The ups and downs of the markets will affect your asset allocation over time. Appreciation in one asset class or underperformance in another can leave your portfolio with an asset allocation and risk profile that differs from what you originally intended. It’s important to revisit both your current and ideal asset allocation at least annually and rebalance as needed.
Asset allocation does not guarantee a profit nor protect against loss. The process of rebalancing may result in tax consequences.
5. Check to see if your retirement plan is on track
Many investors have delayed their retirement plans for various reasons. The important thing is to respond and determine – promptly and realistically – what changes might be needed given your current lifestyle and market environment. In evaluating the current state of your plan, don’t fixate solely on a number – “We’ll be fine when our retirement portfolio is worth $X” – that just isn’t the way retirement works anymore, if it ever did. The truth is that retirement has a lot of moving parts that must be monitored and managed on an ongoing basis.

Since we all know that many New Year’s resolutions don’t survive that long, resolve to really follow through on these – and give yourself permission to spend a day lazing around watching movies and eating ice cream when you’re done! Just one day, though.

Q4 Newletter

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We are thrilled to share our latest newsletter with you! Here you will find information on Dorothy's medical update, our community engagement highlights, Medicare supplement changes, tech hacks, what to expect when expecting returns, information on a home mortgage refinance and more. As we jump into the Holiday season, we wish you all the best.

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Enjoy!

A Historic View of Volatility

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A Historic View of Volatility
With the markets reacting to the election results, consider a broader historical perspective before changing your financial course.

November 9, 2016

Periods of market volatility – especially pullbacks – can trigger emotional responses in investors. You may feel upset or worried about the results of the election. It happens. And it’s normal. Volatility can also appear as rapid upswings causing sometimes-unbridled euphoria that can also impact judgment. That’s why the best response to market volatility is to contact your advisor for a heartfelt conversation about what the numbers really mean.

Pullbacks Throughout History
Pullbacks can make investors want to pull up stakes and pull out – a common reaction and a common mistake, especially for long-term investors. The right knowledge can help us avoid this mistake, and when we are willing to learn, there’s no better teacher than history.

By looking at the market over a long period of time, we’re provided with a true testament of resiliency. Each decline along the way felt terrible. And declines today feel just as bad. But when we track the overall growth the market has achieved, we learn a lesson in persistence, patience and commitment.

Remember:

The stock market is cyclical.
You will likely encounter numerous pullbacks and/or corrections as a long-term investor.
A study of the stock market shows its resilience.
The upturns have always been stronger than the downturns in the long run.

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Source: Morningstar

Over Time, Returns Have Been Positive
For every action, there’s a reaction. While Newton applied this law in the physical world, it also holds true in the realm of human emotion. When we perceive that things aren’t going our way, we react. And when coping with seemingly unpredictable returns, knowledge and time can once again be our allies. As shown in the chart below, returns over short periods of time have been typically unpredictable. But things tend to become less volatile when you expand the time horizon to five years or more using rolling returns.

Rolling returns show the behavior of returns for holding periods like those experienced by long-term investors. In the chart below, we see positive returns over every 20-year period in the S&P 500. Remembering your long-term time horizon can help when facing short-term disappointments.

Remember:

Returns have been less volatile over longer holding periods.
Returns over time have been positive.
Dollar-cost averaging can help take advantage of volatility.

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Source: Morningstar

Especially during declines, your advisor can act as a sounding board for your concerns. By talking about current events in light of your overall financial plan, your advisor can help provide reassuring perspective to help you stay the course, even when the market seems relatively tumultuous.

Read the full Weathering Market Volatility brochure.

Past performance may not be indicative of future results. There is no assurance these trends will continue. The market value of securities fluctuates and you may incur a profit or a loss. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of capital. This analysis does not include transaction costs which would reduce an investor’s return. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks. An investment cannot be made directly in this index. Real estate securities are susceptible to the many risks associated with the direct ownership of real estate. International investing is subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, different financial accounting standards by country, and possible political and economic risks, which may be greater in emerging markets. Commodities are generally considered speculative because of the significant potential for investment loss. Fixed income investments may involve market risk if sold prior to maturity, credit risk and interest rate risk. Dollar cost averaging does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss. It involves continuous investment regardless of fluctuating price levels of such securities. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low price levels.

US Election 2016: Market did not react… Neither should you

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Good morning,

What a whirlwind of an evening!
The markets seem to be reacting positively to Donald Trump's election...the DOW is up 1% currently despite the DOW futures being down 600-800 last night.

There is no way to predict what will happen as we move further into the next presidency, but as with other volatile elections and major world events, we plan to stay the course with our target investment allocation. The whole idea of asset allocation is that we do not react emotionally or make large changes based on what is happening in the economy. That's why it works.

We understand it is hard to not be the "emotional investor" during times of change and uncertainty but we urge you to not make any gut reaction decisions.

If you are feeling like you may be less risk tolerant, your goals have changed or if you have any questions about what is happening in the economy, please feel free to give us a call. We would love to speak with you.
253-627-6010

Just remember to breathe..we will get through this.

Best,

Ali A. Criss, CFP

Raymond James donates $50,000 toward Louisiana Flood Relief

Raymond James donates $50,000 toward Louisiana Flood Relief

Louisiana has recently been affected by unprecedented floods that have caused catastrophic flooding and devastation. These life-threatening flood waters have already forced thousands to flee their homes or abandon their vehicles. Flooding is expected to continue for several days, and once waters recede, it will take some time to fully realize the extent of the damage.

Fortunately, community partners such as the Red Cross, the government and citizens are all working together to provide relief and support for the urgent needs of those affected. The Red Cross is working tirelessly to support ongoing relief operations, including emergency responding and providing shelter, food, basic health needs and emotional support for those facing devastating losses.

It’s important to let those whose lives were affected by this severe weather know the rest of the country is here to help, too. To show our support, Raymond James is donating $50,000 to the American Red Cross toward flood relief efforts. This donation will help provide rescue, shelter, food, relief items, emotional support and assistance to those in need. If you would like to help, I encourage you to make a donation – of any amount – through your local Red Cross chapter (redcross.org or 1-800-RED-CROSS) or another relief organization of your choice.

If you have questions about the community efforts of Raymond James, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Raymond James and Financial Insights are not affiliated with the American Red Cross

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