ECONOMIC COMMENTARY (01-11-2019)
Every month we share our personal commentary on economic forces challenging your money. It's not "gospel" but it's what we think. Have thoughts? Please share in the comments below.
I. BEST FINANCIAL PLANNING PRACTICES
- Increase Retirement Saving. Your maximum contributions to a 401(k) have gone up from $18,500 to $19,000 this year (about another $40/mo.). Increase your contributions. And if you turn 50 this year (or older), you can add $6,000 more to contributions ($500/mo.)
- Pull your Credit Report. You get a free credit report every year from each of the reporting bureaus. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to claim yours. The beginning of the year is a great time to see what’s going on there
- Manage Cash Flow. What do you bring home (“net”) every month and what do you spend on average? Put these two numbers next to each other on paper. Your attention will make a difference in what you keep.
II. ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
- TMI (Too Much Information). We are at an interesting point in economic history. More of the large players in the stock market are investing with machines and those machines have access to more information than every before. The economic, political and historical data can be used and confused by robots programmed by humans just as well as the humans. Be a skeptic about headlines you read about. They are usually, just headlines meant to grab your attention. Sometimes they even do (temporary) damage.
- Stock Market. After a wild month of December, the stock market has almost returned back to the November 2018 levels. Pundits point to trade war with China, the FOMC’s (the Fed’s) interest rate policy and consumer sentiment as reasons for the volatility (ups and downs). The short-term (1 year) expectation is that corporate profits will come in lower than last year’s; in part because there are no knew tax stimuli to make them look better. The long-term view (over 1 year) is still actually pretty good; in fact, is always happens to be pretty good over time.
- Politics. The partial, federal government shutdown is not doing any of us any favors. It is providing uncertainty and people who trade the market don’t like uncertainty. It’s (hopefully) a short-term obstacle to overcome but unfortunately a harbinger of what’s to come in a divided congress. Keep the faith. Stay involved.
Jason Howell is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, former U.S. Congressional candidate and President of Jason Howell Company. He believes the American Dream is still attainable despite the unique challenges we face today. He is interested in meeting Gen Xers who still believe they have something important to contribute to their families, their communities and their country.
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