The stock market has gotten off to a wobbly start in 2016. If this “correction” feels familiar to the one in August of last year, it is because the same reasons are still in play: the economic slowdown in China, fear of Fed rate increases, and the rapid decline in oil prices. World Economic Growth While economic growth in the U.S. remains fair to good, economies in other parts of the world are not doing so well. China, the world’s second largest economy, had been a strong engine of growth. It is now slowing dramatically. Europe is still struggling in the aftermath of the economic meltdown of 2008. Japan is also lagging. Emerging markets have suffered as the threat of Fed interest rate increases spurred investors to look for less risky places to put their money. The U.S. economy does not exist in a vacuum. Weakness in the rest of the world threatens to lead us toward recession.
This week I’ve been reading Thinking Fast and Slow by psychologist Daniel Kahneman. The author received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work on cognitive biases in decision-making. Where finances are concerned, we all like to think we make rational decisions, based upon well-considered reasoning. The studies examined in this book suggest otherwise. What is really behind our financial decisions? Here’s a personal example – my “lettuce story.” I am standing in front of the produce section at the grocery store, eyeing a beautiful head of organic romaine. But I’m frozen.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” I am reminded of a woman who came to see me a few years ago for help with financial planning. She had rescheduled the initial meeting several times. When she finally came in, I could tell that she was upset. After she had talked for awhile I asked her, “How was this process for you, gathering your information for our meeting?” She admitted that she felt embarrassed about being disorganized and not having saved as much as she “should” have at her age.
A silly question – maybe? OK, Halloween is over, but I got a bit of a fright when I reviewed a recent survey done by Harris Poll stating: “Nearly three quarters (71 percent) of Americans say some aspect of talking to a financial advisor scares them . . . ” That’s a huge number. What’s going on here?
How do the services of a financial planner compare with those of an adviser, investment manager or other financial person? What does a financial planner do, exactly?
A seemingly straightforward question, yet the answer may not be simple. I like to refer to my favorite metaphor — food preparation. A financial planner helps you create the […]
People these days seem to spend considerable time and money taking care of their health, paying particular attention to choices about diet, organic food, exercise, different kinds of alternative medical care, and spiritual self-care. But what about the notion of financial self-care? Recently, I facilitated a discussion with a group of women on the topic of financial self-care and some interesting points came out of the discussion. Generally, people seemed to have a good idea of what they need to do to take care of themselves financially, and the statements about the feelings resulting from successful financial self-care were powerful. Consider these comments: “I feel better about myself,” “I feel empowered to make choices,”
It has been 14 years, and yet I feel my emotional scar, healed, yet still tender to the touch. Tears still well up. Unfortunately 9/11 was just the first in a series of events that led to my life-changing discovery about money. This is what 9/11 taught me. I was in Manhattan that week for the Merrill Lynch Financial Services Conference (an ironic coincidence…maybe.) It was held at the Pierre Hotel where we listened to bank management talk about their strategies for gaining a “greater share of consumers’ wallets.” I walked out of a morning session to see footage of the second plane hitting the tower.
The last few years in the stock market have actually been quite boring. Up a little, down alittle. We may be lulled into a false sense of security, believing that making money in the stock markets is a foregone conclusion. We become complacent. Sharp declines over the past couple of weeks have jolted many nerves. The markets are currently seeing the biggest correction to hit U.S. stocks in four years. A 10% drop in value is the definition of a “correction.” The S&P dipped over 10% at one point in just a few days. While this can be alarming, such periodic pullbacks can also be instructive. They help to keep greed in check, and remind us that making money in the stock market involves risk.
I am often asked, "How much do I need in order to retire?" One million? Two million? There is no simple answer. But this is a very good question. Essentially, each person's answer will depend on a variety of factors.
A few weeks ago, I had coffee with a woman who said, “I really love money! I just wish I didn’t feel bad about saying it.” Yeah, I love money too! I identified with her feelings, especially remembering my college years when the prevailing cultural message was that greed and money are bad, suggesting that being poor is somehow noble. It prompted me to think about why loving money feels like an important step toward bringing more of it into your life.
With recent data breaches in the news – from Target and Home Depot to Sony, Anthem and government agencies – I decided to attend a talk last week on identity theft. I used to regard this as one of those “not likely to happen to me” things. Not any more. What struck me most in the presentation was the amount of effort needed to relieve people of their money: i.e., not much!
Lately the media has been frothing over the rocky financial situation in Greece. Banks and stock markets closing, on top of high unemployment and chronic recession – surely these dire circumstances must have important repercussions for investors here, right? How concerned should we be and what should we do?