Articles for June 2017

Will You Be Prepared When the Market Cools Off?

Markets have cycles, and at some point, the major indices will descend. 

We have seen a tremendous rally on Wall Street, nearly nine months long, with the S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite, and Dow Jones Industrial Average repeatedly settling at all-time peaks. Investors are delighted by what they have witnessed. Have they become irrationally exuberant?

The major indices do not always rise. That obvious fact risks becoming “back of mind” these days. On June 15, the Nasdaq Composite was up 27.16% year-over-year and 12.67% in the past six months. The S&P 500 was up 17.23% in a year and 7.31% in six months. Performance like that can breed overconfidence in equities.1,2     

The S&P last corrected at the beginning of 2016, and a market drop may seem like a remote possibility now. Then again, corrections usually arrive without much warning. You may want to ask yourself: “Am I prepared for one?”3

Are you mentally prepared? Corrections have been rare in recent years. There have only been four in this 8-year bull market. So, it is easy to forget how frequently they have occurred across Wall Street’s long history (they have normally happened about once a year).3,4

The next correction may shock investors who have been lulled into a false sense of security. You need not be among them. It will not be the end of the world or the markets. A correction, in a sense, is a reality check. It presents some good buying opportunities, and helps tame irrational exuberance. You could argue that corrections make the market healthier. In big-picture terms, the typical correction is brief. On average, the markets take 3-4 months to recover from a fall of at least 10%.4      

Are you financially prepared? Some people have portfolios that are not very diverse, with large asset allocations in equities and much smaller asset allocations in more conservative investment vehicles and cash. These are the investors likely to take a hard hit when the big indices correct.

You can stand apart from their ranks by appropriately checking up on, and diversifying, your portfolio as needed. Thanks to the recent rally, many investors have seen their equity positions grow larger, perhaps too large. If you are one of them (and you may be), you may want to try to dial down your risk exposure.

Do you have an adequate emergency fund? A correction is not quite an emergency, but it is nice to have a strong cash position when the market turns sour. Are your retirement and estate plans current? A prolonged slump on Wall Street could impact both. Many older baby boomers had to rethink their retirement strategies in the wake of the 2007-09 bear market.

Finally, a deep dip in the equity market should not stop you from consistently funding your retirement accounts. In a downturn, your account contributions, in essence, buy greater amounts of shares belonging to quality companies than they would otherwise.

A correction will happen – maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for the rest of 2017, but at some point, a retreat will take place. React to it with patience, or else you may end up selling low and buying high.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.

1 – money.cnn.com/data/markets/nasdaq/ [6/15/17]

2 – money.cnn.com/data/markets/sandp/ [6/15/17]

3 – fortune.com/2017/03/09/stock-market-bull-market-longest/ [3/9/17]

4 – investopedia.com/terms/c/correction.asp [6/15/17]

Can Your Life Insurance Policy Help You Out in Retirement?

Under certain circumstances, it can play a crucial financial role. Besides a death benefit, a permanent life insurance policy can accrue cash value over time (provided the premiums are paid). That cash value could prove useful in or near retirement. If you need to, you could withdraw some of it to pay for medical procedures, home improvements, long-term care, or a child’s college education. It could even provide you with additional retirement income. Moreover, distributions from a permanent life insurance policy are tax free as opposed to distributions from traditional IRAs (and some other retirement plans), which are taxed at regular rates.

There is one notable negative to all this. When you take cash value from a life insurance policy, it is not a withdrawal – it is a loan. You are borrowing against the value of your policy, and in doing so, you reduce its death benefit. You can restore the full value of the death benefit by paying back the loan in full – but that loan may carry 7-8% interest. Also, life insurance premiums and fees can be costly when weighed against other retirement savings vehicles. Dollars that fund a permanent life insurance policy are also dollars that could alternately go into your other retirement accounts, which you do not pay premiums to keep up.

Michael Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or email: www.mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

CITATIONS. 1 – kiplinger.com/article/investing/T034-C032-S014-careful-buying-life-insurance-for-your-retirement.html [5/17]

A Primer for Estate Planning

Things to check and double-check.

Estate planning is a task that people tend to put off, as any discussion of “the end” tends to be off-putting. However, people without their financial affairs in good order risk leaving their heirs some significant problems along with their legacies.

No matter what your age, here are some things you may want to accomplish this year regarding estate planning.

Create a will if you don’t have one. Many people never get around to creating a will, not even buying a will-in-a-box at a stationery store or setting one up online.

A solid will drafted with the guidance of an estate planning attorney may cost you more than a will-in-a-box, but it may prove to be some of the best money you have ever spent. A valid will may save your heirs from some expensive headaches linked to probate and ambiguity.

Complement your will with related documents. Depending on your estate planning needs, this could include a trust (or multiple trusts), durable financial and medical powers of attorney, a living will, and other items.

You should know that a living will is not the same thing as a durable medical power of attorney. A living will makes your wishes known when it comes to life-prolonging medical treatments, and it takes the form of a directive. A durable medical power of attorney authorizes another party to make medical decisions for you (including end-of-life decisions) if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make these decisions.

Review your beneficiary designations. Who is the beneficiary of your IRA? How about your 401(k)? How about your annuity or life insurance policy? If you aren’t sure, then be sure to check the documents and verify who is the designated beneficiary.

When it comes to retirement accounts and life insurance, many people don’t know that beneficiary designations take priority over bequests made in wills and living trusts. If you long ago named a child now estranged from you as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, he or she will receive the death benefit when you die, regardless of what your will states.1

Time has a way of altering our beneficiary decisions. This is why some estate planners recommend that you review your beneficiaries every two years.

In some states, you can authorize transfer-on-death (payable-on-death) designations. This is a tactic against probate: TOD designations may permit the ownership transfer of securities (and in a few states, forms of real property and other assets) immediately at your death to the person designated.2

Create asset and debt lists. Does this sound like a lot of work? It may not be. You should provide your heirs with an asset and debt “map” they can follow should you pass away, so that they will be aware of the little details of your wealth.

* One list should detail your real property and personal property assets. It should list any real estate you own and its worth; it should also list personal property items in your home, garage, backyard, warehouse, storage unit, or small business that have notable monetary worth.

* Another list should detail your bank and brokerage accounts, your retirement accounts, and any other forms of investment, plus any insurance policies.

* A third list should detail your credit card debts, your mortgage and/or HELOC, and any other outstanding consumer loans. 

Think about consolidating your “stray” IRAs and bank accounts. This could make one of your lists a little shorter. Consolidation means fewer account statements, less paperwork for your heirs, and fewer administrative fees to bear.

Let your heirs know the causes and charities that mean the most to you. Have you ever seen bereavement notices requesting that donations be made to an organization or charity in lieu of flowers? If that’s something you would like to happen, write down the associations you belong to and the organizations you support.

Select a reliable executor. Who have you chosen to administer your estate when the time comes? The choice may seem obvious, but consider a few factors. Is there a possibility that your named executor might die before you do? How well does he or she comprehend financial matters or the basic principles of estate law? What if you change your mind about the way you want your assets distributed – can you easily communicate those wishes to that person?

Your executor should have copies of your will, forms of power of attorney, and any kind of health care proxy or living will. In fact, any of your loved ones referenced in these documents should also receive copies of them.

Talk to the professionals. Do-it-yourself estate planning is not recommended, especially if your estate is complex enough to trigger financial, legal, and/or emotional issues among your heirs upon your passing.

Many people have the idea that they don’t need an estate plan because they aren’t “wealthy.” Keep in mind: money isn’t the only reason for an estate plan. You may not be a multimillionaire yet, but if you own a business, have a blended family, have kids with special needs, worry about dementia, or cannot stand the thought of probate delays, plus probate fees whittling away at assets you have amassed, these are all good reasons to create and maintain an estate planning strategy.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com           

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.

1 – thebalance.com/why-beneficiary-designations-override-your-will-2388824 [10/8/16]

2 – fool.com/retirement/2017/03/03/3-ways-to-keep-your-estate-out-of-probate.aspx [3/3/17]

 

 

Why a Gym Membership Can Be a Financial Investment

Did you join a gym this past winter, looking for a way to exercise and avoid cold and wet weather? According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), over 50 million Americans (16%) have an active gym membership. Perhaps there would be a spike in memberships if more people considered the potential long-term financial benefits to joining a gym.3

It isn’t a surprise that exercise helps you feel better and stay healthier. But when you consider the costs associated with disease as you approach middle age, you start to get a perspective on how important an active lifestyle can be not just for your body, but your finances as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are clear that developing a physical fitness regimen decreases your chances of not just obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, but also strengthens your body by decreasing bone density loss, mitigates symptoms of arthritis, and improves mental health. Any one of those factors, on its own, could become a severe drain on your financial resources.4

Where a gym comes into the picture is that it provides you with a place to focus on your fitness routine. While it’s perfectly fine to go jogging, you may not want to go jogging every day or in certain weather. It’s also okay to work out in your home, but the responsibilities and diversions waiting for you there might be distracting. The CDC is clear that the amount of time you’re exercising matters; those who are active as much as 7 hours a week are 40% more likely to enjoy a longer life. You don’t have to become a “gym rat,” of course; the CDC is clear that even 2½ hours of aerobic activity of “moderate-intensity” each week is enough to make a distinct improvement.4                                         

Michael Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or email:  www.mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

3 – sharecare.com/health/gyms-health-clubs/what-percent-americans-health-clubs [2016]

4 – cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm [6/4/2015]

Is Social Security Coming Up Short for Retirees?

The non-partisan Senior Citizens League says yes, charging that the wrong metric is being used to determine cost of living adjustments (COLAs) to retiree benefits. The federal government uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) to figure various COLAs. Younger, employed people usually have lower medical expenses than older people; they also spend more money on gasoline and transportation than retirees do. Senior advocates argue that the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) should be used instead of the CPI-W, especially since medical costs have risen quickly in recent years, while gasoline prices and transportation costs have fallen.

An SCL analysis estimates that if the CPI-E was the COLA yardstick, Social Security recipients would have had COLAs of 0.6% and 1.5% in 2016 and 2017 rather than 0% and 0.3%. Since 2014, the SCL has surveyed retirees annually; in each survey, about 90% of respondents said that their monthly household budgets grew by at least $39 year-over-year. In SCL’s 2017 survey, 37% of those polled said that their monthly expenses were more than $119 above where they had been a year ago. What expenses had jumped the most from last year? Medical costs and food.1    Saving for retirement may seem a thankless task. But you may be

Michael Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or email:  www.mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

CITATIONS. 1 – foxbusiness.com/features/2017/05/07/social-security-not-keeping-up-with-seniors-rising-costs.html [5/7/17]