Here's our latest collection of worthwhile reads on investing, personal finance, and stewardship. We hope you find them interesting and helpful!
When assessing investment risk, it's wise to consider if you are emotionally prepared for what could be a wide range of possible outcomes.
SMI executive editor Mark Biller talked about that on yesterday's MoneyWise Live on Moody Radio.
A friend told me last week that she and her husband had just completed their annual "State of the Union" meeting.
Around the first of each year — while enjoying a leisurely dinner at a quiet restaurant — they review the year gone by and discuss the year ahead.
"I saw a blog post about this 'State of the Union' idea a few years ago, and we decided to start doing it," she told me.
They begin each annual session with a look back. "We talk about our goals from last year — what worked and what needs improvement. Then we pray for the new year. And we talk specifically about our marriage and about how we can pray for each other."
Next, they turn to finances — first reviewing their spending and saving over the past 12 months and then discussing adjustments for the new year. They take careful notes to ensure that talk leads to actions. "If you don't write down your goals, you're going to forget them," she said.
One item they discussed this year, I was told, was how to use the husband's recent pay raise. They agreed the increase should go toward their savings. (Within a few days of their meeting, they implemented that decision by setting up a repeating transfer of a specific dollar amount to a savings account.)
Next, their annual State of the Union talk turns to home improvement projects for the new year (most of them small, but occasionally a larger project, such as renovating a bathroom).
Finally, they discuss one-year and five-year goals for them as a couple and for their family, such as taking a vacation to a particular destination. (Those one-year and five-year goals are written out and hung on the refrigerator as regular reminders.)
Talking it through
I find the idea of having a "State of the Union" meeting once a year intriguing. My wife and I will have to try it (she'll certainly like the "leisurely dinner out" part)!
What about you? Do you and your spouse have an annual "look back/look ahead" session? Or do you use some other approach to planning? Tell us about it in the comments section.
It's Money Roundup time! Here's our collection of some of the best recent articles on investing, personal finance, and stewardship.
SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings have been updated with performance data through Dec. 31, 2019.
• The Portfolio Tracker: The Tracker can personalize SMI's fund rankings to your specific situation, making it easier to apply our momentum-based Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan.
Using the Tracker, you can filter the performance data of 20,000+ funds we follow and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s). If you're new to the online Tracker, watch the introductory video.
We typically update the Personal Portfolio Tracker with the latest month-end data from the research firm Morningstar on the 8th of the new month (except when the 8th falls on a weekend). We wait until at least the 8th because Morningstar's database is subject to revisions during the first few days of the month. By the 8th, the previous month's performance numbers are reliable.
• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 39-page downloadable PDF file containing the latest performance data — along with SMI's momentum rankings — for more than 1,600 no-load traditional funds and ETFs.
The funds included in the FPR are selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability.
Check page 2 to learn how to use the FPR report. Page 3 includes an overview of the 70+ risk categories that will help you compare "apples to apples." Page 4 has explanations of the various data-column headings.
As this new year gets underway, we thought you might like an overview of our 2020 publication days/dates for both web and print.
Money Roundup: What the SECURE Act Means for Your Retirement Accounts, 2020’s Ultimate Market Playbook, and More
Happy 3rd Day of Christmas! (On the Western church calendar, the Christmas season begins December 25 and extends through January 5 — hence the 12 Days of Christmas.)
Here's our final Roundup of the year:
Father, we are in awe of what we celebrate this day.
How can it be that the all-sufficient God of the universe became a helpless child resting in a feed trough? How can it be that the divine Word reduced Himself to unintelligible sounds? How can it be that the hands that once sculpted mountain ranges, now made flesh, reach to grab hold of a loving mother's finger?
Shoppers aren't the only ones hustling and bustling as Christmas approaches.
The U.S. Congress speeded up its typically glacial activity and approved the SECURE Act last week, serving it up just in time for the Christmas recess. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act makes several significant changes in retirement-related law, and includes a few other measures too.
It’s been nearly three years since we introduced SMI readers to the web-based financial-planning software MoneyGuidePro® — the most-popular such software among professional financial advisors — and our affiliates at SMI Advisory Services made it available to SMI Premium-level members for a remarkably low $50 one-time fee.
Now, MoneyGuidePro® has gotten even better with the addition of MyBlocks — a system that offers 1) a simpler "getting started" process for first-time users and 2) helpful new features for existing users.
Think back to your high school algebra class (but don’t freak out!). No longer are you doing math with numbers, as you’ve done since first grade. Instead, your algebra textbook is all about letters: x’s, y’s, and z’s. Your task: solve equations that have unknown variables.
Planning for your financial future is a lot like high school algebra — except that the variables tend to be more numerous and, in some cases, unknowable! For example, maybe you intend to work until age 70, but what would happen to your finances if you lose your job at 66? Or if you had to cut back to part-time to care for an aging parent? What would happen if your spouse dies earlier than expected, and, as a result, you receive only one Social Security retirement benefit instead of two? What if inflation turns out to be higher than anyone expected?
In trying to plan your future finances, how can you “solve for x” when, to borrow words from the Apostle James, “you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:14)? All these uncertainty factors are what make long-term planning such a challenge.
Since there is no way to know what the future may hold, it’s wise to develop a plan that takes into account multiple “what if” scenarios. In other words, you need a plan that — despite all the unknowable variables — can offer a reasonable likelihood of ensuring financial stability in your later years.
That’s a tall order, but unlike a high school algebra test, it’s okay to get outside help! The web-based MoneyGuidePro® software can help you formulate a plan that will enable you to face the financial future with greater confidence and peace of mind.
MoneyGuidePro® isn’t just another planning tool. Among professional advisors, it is considered the best planning software available. Typically, MoneyGuidePro® is available only to clients who are working directly with a financial advisor. But, by special arrangement, we’ve been able to offer the software directly to SMI do-it-yourselfers since 2017. The 1,500 SMI members who have signed up have been equipped to seize control of their retirement preparation, reduce uncertainty, and move toward accomplishing their most important financial goals.