Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Protecting Your Digital Assets

We live in an age where technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that it makes Usain Bolt look slow. Alright, perhaps that's an exaggeration but you understand the comparison I'm trying to draw. If you don't know who Usain Bolt is, google him.
 
Technology is changing everything we do in our daily lives and it's disrupting many of the norms that have long prevailed across all industries. An area I would like to address today is your online presence, including but not limited to; your Facebook profile, your Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, PayPal, Amazon, Ebay so on and so forth. This is an issue I've rarely heard brought up by clients or by anyone for that matter. What happens to these profiles/accounts when you pass away? Who has access to them? Who can login and claim any assets that were left behind? These are all very real questions in a world where your online presence is nearly, if not, just as important as your physical presence. Hence the reason I chose this topic to blog about today; it seems quite relevant and I think people should give this idea more thought.
 
Through research, I've come up with three ways to consider: 
  • For starters, and perhaps the easiest way of handling this situation is to ask a provider if they offer an online option to indicate how the account is to be handled upon your death. Google for example, has an "Inactive Account Manager" that allows the owner to determine how their account should be handled if they pass away.
  • If that is not an option my next recommendation would be to put your instructions into a legal document such as a will, trust agreement, or power of attorney. Having precise instructions written out in a legal document will always hold up in court so this could very likely be your best method of ensuring your wishes are met. Some states have a document called "My 5 Wishes" which is essentially a shortened version of a will which can be used to record your instructions.
  • Finally, if the previous two options are unavailable to you for whatever reason, then it will fall on the terms of service for each individual website to determine how the account or assets will be managed. Clearly, this is a worst case scenario and utilizing one of the previous suggestions would be a far superior plan. However, deaths do occur unexpectedly and truthfully I can see how these accounts would be some of the last that people would ever think to take care of.
My firm has recently introduced a relatively new product in the financial industry called eMoney. This program allows our clients access to an online vault that has data encryption up to the same level that the FBI uses. We urge clients to keep copies of all their important records such as passwords, online account logins, drivers license, passports etcetera in this vault so that they have access to it through their mobile app or client website from anywhere in the world.
 
If you have any questions about how I can help better protect your online presence or about eMoney and all of it's wonderful features I encourage you to reach out to me. My email is Mcirelli@saifinancial.com
 
Invest On & Prosper
 
The services, tools and information, as well as privacy and security measures, offered herein are provided by eMoney Advisor, LLC. For more information on eMoney’s privacy policy and security safeguards, please
visit www.eMoneyadvisor.com. Woodbury Financial and Michael Cirelli
make no representations or warranties of any kind about the information, products or services contained herein.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Time: Your Most Important Investment Tool

I've been fortunate enough to be featured in many different financial articles lately and a common question when being asked for my opinion is, what's an investor's most valuable tool? To which I always respond with the same one word answer: time.
Time is the most precious finite asset we have as human beings and time is undoubtedly an investor's most important tool to leverage when it comes to: saving for retirement, a new home purchase, or any other major life event for that matter. While I started investing at a very young age, I didn't start saving for retirement until my mid twenties. While this may seem early to any baby boomer readers, this is in fact considered late by today's standards. So, why is time more important than things like; asset allocation, investment selection, technology and more? Because time, unlike money, technology, and new investments is irreplaceable. By using a simple interest rate calculator online you can see just how valuable the concept of time can be in real dollars. For example, I conducted a basic compound interest example where you put away $5,000 a year for 25 years earning a very modest 5% annual interest rate (modest considering the S&P 500 has averaged close to 10% over its lifetime). That $5,000 each year earning just 5% on average will give you $267,499 by the 25th year. That's over a quarter of a million dollars saved in 25 years and you're only putting away $5K a year! However, if you take only one year away and save for 24 years, your return quickly falls below that $250k threshold. The greatest part about the initial example is that interest makes up a whopping $137,499 of that total amount. That's more than you contributed yourself, but none of this could even be possible without the time allowed for this investment to grow.
Examples such as these are evidence of how important the concept of time is especially when it relates investing. While I always advocate people start early I also reassure clients that it's never too late either. Older clients may feel that they've missed the boat but I've helped clients in their sixties make minor adjustments that allow them to take advantage of the time they still have even if that time is in their retirement. I do hope that this post was able to highlight the importance of this asset. If you're interested in hearing what specific investment solutions I use to maximize the effect time has on retirement savings I invite you to reach out to me via email at Mcirelli@saifinancial.com or by phone at 630-221-1112.
Invest Long & Prosper






Friday, October 7, 2016

Are The Financial Markets Preparing For A Big Move?

The financial markets have seen a considerable move to the upside since recovering from the initial shock of Britain voting to leave the EU earlier this year. While every analyst and financial guru is trying to call the top I think they're ignoring the silent giant. Both the S&P and Dow Jones indexes have become eerily stable over the past few weeks now with very little movement in either direction. The term used to describe this type of price action is "coiling". The markets seem to be coiling up for what has the potential to be a very significant move but the question that remains to be answered is in what direction will that move be? Logic tells us that 7 years into a bull run with markets sitting at all-time highs that move should be to pull back. Unfortunately, logic doesn't always prevail and that truism can be especially accurate when being applied to financial markets. My belief is that corporate earnings and low interest rates are the only factors that can continue to push our markets higher if that's the direction the move inevitably ends up being. Whereas there is a plethora of reasons for why this market could correct; terrorist attacks, the presidential race, fallout from Brexit, uncertainty in foreign markets, among countless other reasons.
 
So what do you do as an investor? Where do you go for returns on your money? I've noticed a disheartening trend among retail investors lately in that they're taking on undue risk for returns that are less than satisfactory. In baseball they often tell a batter not to chase after a bad pitch, but instead to wait for the right pitch to come to you. I like that analogy as it relates to our current market state. Don't go out chasing after high risk investments that are yielding average returns. Instead, find a safer play to hold onto for the interim while we sit at these all-time highs and watch how everything unfolds. There's no penalty in taking a little risk out of your portfolio but there can be grave penalties for people pursuing undue risk when the market decides it's time to pullback and correct. 
 
Don't let the fact that your IRA, 401k, or brokerage account is at the highest it's ever been blind you from realizing now is as good a time as ever to reach out to your advisor and reevaluate your situation. Cross all the t's and dot all the i's because you can always put a little more money to work if the general trend turns positive, but once the trend goes against you and your account values fall there's nothing you can do to recover those lost assets. I started the process of placing clients into lower risk alternatives weeks ago to ensure they don't bear the brunt of a potential sell off. Something to certainly consider for yourself if you feel that your accounts may be overextended or facing unnecessary risk.
 
I wish, like everyone else I'm sure, that the markets could continue in a straight line upward but we all know that's not realistic. By no means am I out here preaching impending doom. I just hope people are aware of where we are and prepared for the different outcomes we could face going forward. Do yourself a favor and don't roll the dice when it comes to your hard earned money; speak with a professional and ensure that your investments are ready for anything that may lie ahead. Thanks for stopping by and I wish you good luck in all your current and future investing.

Invest Long & Prosper
 

Disclaimer: The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of Woodbury Financial Services Inc, and should not be construed directly or indirectly, as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Individual circumstances vary. Investing is subject to risks including loss of principal invested. No strategy can assure a profit against loss.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

5 Tips To Get Your Financial House In Order

Hi there and thanks for stopping by my blog! We could all benefit from a little direction when it comes to getting our financial house in order. Here's a short list of ideas that I hope will help you get the ball rolling, enjoy!

#1  Meet with a planner: Most planners will provide a free initial consultation to introduce themselves and if you like what they have to offer you can meet with them again for an information gathering meeting. Planners tend to give more holistic advice and look at your total financial picture as opposed to an investment-only advisor.
#2  Pay yourself first: This is one of, if not the most overlooked rule in personal finance. Always set a little money aside into an investment account or at least into a bank account and pay yourself a little bit each pay period. Some will say, “I don’t make enough to do that” but what they’re really saying is they don’t care enough about their financial health to stop making excess purchases that they don’t really need. We all have expenses we could trim down on to pay ourselves, it’s a matter of priority.
#3  Set SPECIFIC short & long term financial goals: Tell yourself that you want to have X dollars saved in your pay myself account by the end of 2016. Or, I want to contribute the maximum amount to my IRA this year. Setting specific goals and writing them down or saying them to yourself daily, subconsciously makes you accountable for achieving them. 
#4  Create a personal cash flow chart: Seeing where your money is being allocated each week/month can be very powerful in helping you redirect that money to better use. You’ll begin to recognize spending habits that may have gone unnoticed prior to creating this flow chart. This task can be made much easier through the use of various mobile apps that will help you track your expenses.

#5 Check your credit report: There are a plethora of websites now (and even credit card companies) that will provide you with your credit score and information related to it, free of charge. Begin by fixing any major issues you see in your credit and if your credit score isn't where you'd like it to be then pick a target number and set that as one of your financial goals.