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eMagazine – June 2016

June 27th, 2016 | Comments Off on eMagazine – June 2016 | Posted in eMagazine


Sometimes the Pundits Get It Wrong

June 21st, 2016 | Comments Off on Sometimes the Pundits Get It Wrong | Posted in Lifestyle

shutterstock_227302225In fact, many predictions about Wall Street have misread the market’s direction. Trying to determine how Wall Street will behave next week, next month, or next year is difficult. Some feel it is impossible. To predict the near-term direction of the market, you may also need to predict upcoming earnings seasons, central bank policy moves, and the direction of both the domestic and global economy. You might as well forecast the future of the world.

That is not to say forecasting is useless. You could even argue that it is a necessity. Every month, economists are polled by various news outlets that publish their median forecasts for hiring, inflation, personal spending, and other economic indicators. Those median forecasts are often close to the mark, and sometimes exactly right.

Figuring out what lies ahead for equities, however, is often a guessing game. Looking back, some very bold predictions have been made for the market – some way off the mark.

Dow 30,000! More than a decade ago, a few analysts boldly forecast that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would climb to astonishing heights – heights the index has yet to reach today.

The first was investment manager Harry Dent, who, to his credit, had written a book called Great Boom Ahead predicting an amazing run for both the economy and the market starting in the mid-1990s. (Indeed, the S&P 500 averaged a yearly gain of almost 29% during 1995-99.) Dent’s 1999 bestseller, The Roaring 2000s, posited that the Dow would top 30,000, perhaps 35,000 in the near future as maturing baby boomers poured money into equities. He was wrong. What happened instead was the so-called “lost decade,” in which the broad market basically did not advance. As for the Dow 30, it ended the 2000s at 11,497.12. 1,2

As a money manager, Robert Zuccaro had been part of a team that had realized triple-digit annual returns in the late 1990s. He put out a book soon afterward called Dow 30,000 by 2008: Why It’s Different This Time. (As the market cratered in 2008, you might say his timing was bad.) Analysts James K. Glassman and Kevin A. Hassett authored a volume called Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market. It came out in 2000, and also proved overly optimistic. 2,3

Dow 3,300! Harry Dent changed his outlook over time. In 2011, he told the Tampa Bay Times that the blue chips would plunge to that dismal level by 2014 or earlier. The Dow finished 2014 at 17,823.07. For the record, Dent now sees a “bubble collapse” starting in 2016 or 2017, soon breeding “widespread civil unrest” in America. 2,4

Sell your shares now! In “Bearish on America,” a 1993 Forbes cover story, Morgan Stanley analyst Barton Biggs urged investors to dump their domestic shares en masse in light of the economic policies favored by a new presidential administration. The compound return of the S&P 500 over the next seven years: 18.5%. 5

The market is done, no one believes in it! Perhaps the most famous doomsday call of all time occurred in 1979 when Business Week published a cover story entitled “The Death of Equities.” Wall Street was emerging from its second awful bear market in less than seven years. The article cited a widespread loss of faith among investors, asserting that “the death of equities is a near permanent condition.” Equities, so to speak, soon proved very much alive: the S&P 500 returned 21.55% in 1982, 22.56% in 1983, 6.27% in 1984, 31.73% in 1985, and 18.67% in 1986.5,6

Recession ahead, the market points the way! Can the behavior of the market foretell a recession? Is there a causal relationship between a down or sideways market and an oncoming economic slump? Some analysts see little or no link. Fifty years ago in Newsweek, the noted economist Paul Samuelson wrote that the equity markets had “forecast nine of the past five recessions.” He was being sardonic, but he had a point. Looking back from 2016 to 1945, Wall Street has seen 13 bear markets, only seven of which (53%) have seen a recession begin within about a year of their onset. 7,8

Take the words of the pundits with a grain of salt. Some have been right, but many have been wrong. While the most radical market predictions may make good copy, they may also lead investors to take bad advice. 5

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.

1 – and-the- chamber-of- poor-returns/ [8/19/13]
2 –^DJI&a=11&b=29&c=1999&d=11&e=31&f=2014&g=d [6/2/16]
3 – invest/10-hilariously- wrong-bullbear- calls/ [1/19/15]
4 – including-tampas- harry-dent- are-back- with-fresh- reports/2270981 [3/28/16]
5 – predictions-that- were-dead-wrong- about-the- market/ [9/14/15]
6 – the-80s- bull-run/ [1/23/14]
7 – markets-predict- recessions-what- we-found- out.html [2/4/16]
8 – prices-are- good-recession- predictor/ [10/3/13]

Electrical Safety Tips for the Home

June 21st, 2016 | Comments Off on Electrical Safety Tips for the Home | Posted in Lifestyle

shutterstock_289804580The amount of electricity in the average home is enough to cause serious injury and death, and, according to the National Fire Protection Association, there are 50,000 electrical home fires every year. That’s why it’s so important to take electrical safety seriously in your home.

Here are some tips to stay safe around electricity:

  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets by only plugging in one high-wattage appliance at a time.
  • Check electrical cords for damage before you plug them in. Cords that are even slightly damaged can lead to electrocutions and fires.
  • Make sure that cords don’t create tripping hazards.
  • Place light fixtures on an even surface, and away from flammable materials. Also be sure to use bulbs that match the fixtures’ recommended wattage.
  • Don’t use electrical appliances like music players and hair dryers near water.
  • Consider having a certified electrical technician install more outlets in your home if you find yourself using extension cords frequently. Also, if there are small children in your home, consider installing outlets that are only powered when an electrical appliance is plugged in.
  • Keep in mind that appliances that are turned off are still connected to electricity until they are unplugged.
  • Unplug appliances from outlets by pulling on the plastic head, not the cord itself.
  • Always unplug an appliance before cleaning or repairing it.
©2016 Zywave Inc. All Rights Reserved.

How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Trip to Italy This Summer

June 21st, 2016 | Comments Off on How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Trip to Italy This Summer | Posted in Lifestyle

Organize a wallet-friendly getaway with these money-saving tips.


Every year, hundreds of thousands of travelers flock to Italy’s cobblestoned streets, rolling vineyards and bustling cities to explore iconic sites, admire world-renowned art and architecture and sample mouthwatering cuisine. For this reason, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Florence and Venice’s increasing popularity have caused hotel room, restaurant and tour prices to skyrocket. But there’s good news: you can still plan a dream trip on a tight budget. To make the most of your vacation to one of the world’s most beautiful and historically significant countries without depleting your savings, follow these tips.

Visit Lesser-Known Villages and Cities

If you’ve never been to Italy, you shouldn’t skip checking out must-see destinations, such as Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Milan and the Amalfi Coast. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still visit the lesser-visited treasures throughout country. During your visit to Tuscany, spend a few extra days exploring Umbria, the neighboring region that’s home to idyllic, rolling vineyards and fresh food that’s plucked and served right from lush gardens. On your way to Milan, make a pit stop to Emilia-Romagna, a region that boasts some of the best food in the country. Take a tour of Bologna and get lost in the porticos; enjoy the sunset of Cesenatico, a stunning portside town speckled with sail boats, or sample the country’s best Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma.

And if you’re planning a trip to Rome, escape the crowds and head to Fiumicino, a coastal town just slightly south of the Eternal City. Here you’ll enjoy authentic local experiences as you stretch out along soft sandy beaches and delight in traditional cannolis. And along the Amalfi Coast, consider skipping Positano in favor of Atrani, a smaller Amalfi village that’s flanked by breathtaking mountains, cobalt blue waters and stacked medieval buildings.

Visit in September

Late April through August is Italy’s peak season, so you can expect steeper airfare costs and higher hotel rates at this time of year. So, if you want to skip the lines, the swarms of tourists and inflated costs, plan a visit in September or October. The weather is perfect, with crisper air and plenty of sunshine. And not only will you enjoy cheaper airfare and discounted rates, your tours will also be enjoyed at a more comfortable pace, without the heavy crowds of the peak summer months.

Think Outside the Hotel Box

Instead of spending all of your hard-earned money on a pricey hotel, opt for an affordable vacation rental and spend extra cash on memorable Italian meals and tours. Vacation rental sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway give you the chance to travel like a local by renting a local home or apartment in and around the cities or countrysides. You’ll get a more authentic experience and you’ll have the added bonus of staying in a home, such as a refrigerator and Wi-Fi access. Alternatively, if you’re on a shoestring budget, another great way to save is couch surfing. That way, you’ll stay on different residents’ couches, which is great if you’re traveling alone or with just a friend. And while may it sound out of the ordinary, couch surfing is a great way to absorb the local culture and meet some friends along the way.

Use a Travel Agent

Travel agents are making a big comeback, and for good reason. A recent study from the American Society of Travel Agents found that the average consumer saves more than $450 per trip when booking through a travel agent. To ensure you’re getting the best accommodation and transportation rates, choose a reputable agent who specializes in Italian vacations. Not only can an agent save you money, he or she can also ensure you get the most from your visit by booking you in a local apartment, direct you to less-trodden and charming villages and guide you to the best under-the-radar restaurants.

Eat Like a Local

Italy is home to some of the world’s most incredible cuisine, much of which is relatively inexpensive to enjoy. Skip the tourist restaurants with the prix-fixe menus and opt for a visit to one of the country’s cornucopia of bakeries, fresh food markets, small bistros, cafes and mom-and-pop restaurants for a traditional and cheap bite. Visit local farmers markets (think: Rialto Fish Market in Venice; Mercato Central in Bologna; Santo Spirito Market in Florence; and the famed Testaccio Market in Rome) and stock up on food to enjoy on the go. And if you’re staying in a vacation rental, these markets will give you everything you need to enjoy an al-fresco meal at home. The best part? Local wine is one of the cheapest drinks in Italy, so you can sip top-notch glasses at every meal without worrying about busting your budget. And if you are eating in a restaurant or bistro, there’s one key rule of thumb to follow: eat at the bar alone or with a small group rather than a table to optimize savings.

Book Your Tours Ahead of Time

If you’re visiting during the high season, it’s imperative to book your tours well in advance, especially if you want to check out iconic attractions. If you can, book tours during off-peak times to both save money and avoid the crowds. The Colosseum, for example, offers tours at night which often come with far less crowds. Plus, you get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the site illuminated by thousands of lights, giving it an almost eerie glow. It’s also wise to schedule tours on weekday mornings or evenings and skipping weekend tours to dodge heavy crowds. You should also book museum tickets, concert tickets and the like ahead of time to avoid lengthy lines at site entrances (especially at the statue of the David in Florence). An increasing number of Italian cities offer city passes as well, which grant admission and VIP access to the hottest attractions, and most can be purchased online or at the tourist office. What’s more, sites like In Italy Online provide tours, excursions and more for a great package price if booked ahead of time.


This Is The Age When You Start Losing Friends

June 21st, 2016 | Comments Off on This Is The Age When You Start Losing Friends | Posted in Lifestyle

Are you younger than 25 years old? You may want to appreciate this moment in life when your social circle is at its greatest. If you’re older, you may relate to what you read next.

Soon after your mid-20s, your social circle shrinks, according to a recent study by scientists from Aalto University in Finland and the University of Oxford in England.

The teams analyzed data from 3 million mobile phone users to identify the frequency and patterns of whom they contacted and when, as well as overall activity within their networks.

shutterstock_154023806Men and women were found to be socially promiscuous — making more and more friends and social contacts — until the age of 25, after which point they started losing them rapidly, with women losing them at an initially faster rate than men. The average 25-year-old woman contacts about 17.5 people per month, while a man contacts 19 people.

No, Facebook friends don’t count.

This decline continues for the rest of your life, or at least until retirement, where it plateaus, probably due to reduced data among this age group.

Why does it happen? It comes down to investments.

What’s it worth?

The theory is that around this age, people begin to decide who is most important — and valuable — in their life and make a greater effort to hold on to those friends.

“People become more focused on certain relationships and maintain those relationships,” saidKunal Bhattacharya, a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University who co-authored the study. “You have new family contacts developing, but your casual circle shrinks.”

shutterstock_49138708This applies to both partners and friends, and it stems largely from people wanting to settle down and raise a family.

“At the beginning of this age range, women are more focused,” Bhattacharya said, meaning women are more intent on finding the correct partner. Once they believe they have, they invest more time in nurturing that relationship and lose others of less value.

“Once you’ve made decisions and found the appropriate people, you can be much less socially promiscuous and invest your time in these people,” added Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford who co-authored the paper.

“But they can’t be just anybody,” he added.

shutterstock_386076844Narrowing down the people you’re close to includes friendships as well as life partners, particularly for women, due to the support and help they can provide in times of need.

“Women have this idea of a best friend, who is similar to a romantic partner … and women work hard at these relationships,” Dunbar said. “Particularly with friendships, if you don’t invest in them or see those friends, they will decay and quite rapidly drop.”

Middle-age reversal

Trends were seen to change slightly in people’s late 30s: Men begin losing buddies at a faster rate. “You get a secondary switchover later in life,” said Dunbar.

By the age of 39, the average man was contacting 12 people, while women were calling 15 people each month.

Initial numbers of contacts during younger years are higher for men, but by these later years, they soon drop contacts faster than women, and their totals become lower.

“You see this [reduction] in them about seven years later,” Dunbar said. “It’s the women who make up their mind very early on.”

The grandmother effect

Though the team emphasized that the rapid loss of friends happens in both men and women, experts generally consider this formation of an “inner circle” to be more important to women, mainly due to them having children.

“You make the effort in return for some benefits,” said Dunbar, who believes that at this point, people will prioritize those who are more useful to them.

“That investment will help certain aspects of your life,” Bhattacharya added.

At this point, contacts such as mothers, mothers-in-law, close friends and family come into play as they help people raise their children, known as the grandmother effect.

“It’s the ‘tend and befriend’ idea, meaning relationships become more important when you have children,” said Michael Price, director of the Center for Culture and Evolution at Brunel University London who was not involved in the study. “You’re now investing in offspring for the rest of your lives.”

In an evolutionary aspect, such such networks are believed to help women raise children.

shutterstock_211711774Price believes that men instead value more individualistic criteria, such as their achievements or status, once they have a family. “It’s well established that close, personal relationships are more highly valued by women in general, while men value status more,” he said.

Though the study was an opportunity to analyze a large data set across many age groups within a population, Price noted that it did not reveal much about the quality of the relationships being counted or what people were actually talking about. “The quantity doesn’t reveal the quality of the relationships,” he said.

Is the future online?

For many years, social networks have been raising people’s “friend” count, making millennials believe they have hundreds or even thousands of friends. But even with these added means of communication, experts believe the time taken to invest in a true close-knit friendship will continue to keep the trend going. Although it may become more international, the value of face-to-face friendship may never change.

“Our natural psychology is small, very small, like a village,” Dunbar said. “The internet may allow you to keep relationships going over a much wider geographical area, but [for now], a shoulder 2,000 miles away isn’t as good to cry on.”


What Are Catch-Up Contributions Really Worth?

June 21st, 2016 | Comments Off on What Are Catch-Up Contributions Really Worth? | Posted in Financial News

What degree of difference could they make for you in retirement?

shutterstock_61228630At a certain age, you are allowed to boost your yearly retirement account contributions. For example, you can direct an extra $1,000 per year into a Roth or traditional IRA starting in the year you turn 50.1

Your initial reaction to that may be: “So what? What will an extra $1,000 a year in retirement savings really do for me?”

That reaction is understandable, but consider also that you can contribute an extra $6,000 a year to many workplace retirement plans starting at age 50. As you likely have both types of accounts, the opportunity to save and invest up to $7,000 a year more toward your retirement savings effort may elicit more enthusiasm.1,2

What could regular catch-up contributions from age 50-65 potentially do for you? They could result in an extra $1,000 a month in retirement income, according to the calculations of retirement plan giant Fidelity. To be specific, Fidelity says that an employee who contributes $24,000 instead of $18,000 annually to the typical employer-sponsored plan could see that kind of positive impact.2

To put it another way, how would you like an extra $50,000 or $100,000 in retirement savings? Making regular catch-up contributions might help you bolster your retirement funds by that much – or more.  Plugging in some numbers provides a nice (albeit hypothetical) illustration.3

Even if you simply make $1,000 additional yearly contributions to a Roth or traditional IRA starting in the year you turn 50, those accumulated catch-ups will grow and compound to about $22,000 when you are 65 if the IRA yields just 4% annually. At an 8% annual return, you will be looking at about $30,000 extra for retirement. (Besides all this, a $1,000 catch-up contribution to a traditional IRA can also reduce your income tax bill by $1,000 for that year.)3

If you direct $24,000 a year rather than $18,000 a year into one of the common workplace retirement plans starting at age 50, the math works out like this: you end up with about $131,000 in 15 years at a 4% annual return, and $182,000 by age 65 at an 8% annual return.3

If your financial situation allows you to max out catch-up contributions for both types of accounts, the effect may be profound indeed. Fifteen years of regular, maximum catch-up contributions to both an IRA and a workplace retirement plan would generate $153,000 by age 65 at a 4% annual yield, and $212,000 at an 8% annual yield.3

The more you earn, the greater your capacity to “catch up.” This may not be fair, but it is true.

Fidelity says its overall catch-up contribution participation rate is just 8%. The average account balance of employees 50 and older making catch-ups was $417,000, compared to $157,000 for employees who refrained. Vanguard, another major provider of employer-sponsored retirement plans, finds that 42% of workers aged 50 and older who earn more than $100,000 per year make catch-up contributions to its plans, compared with 16% of workers on the whole within that demographic.2

Even if you are hard-pressed to make or max out the catch-up each year, you may have a spouse who is able to make catch-ups. Perhaps one of you can make a full catch-up contribution when the other cannot, or perhaps you can make partial catch-ups together. In either case, you are still taking advantage of the catch-up rules.

Catch-up contributions should not be dismissed. They can be crucial if you are just starting to save for retirement in middle age or need to rebuild retirement savings at mid-life. Consider making them; they may make a significant difference for your savings effort.

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.

1 – [11/30/15]
2 – [1/11/16]
3 – [3/21/16]

June, 2016 – Monthly Economic Update

June 21st, 2016 | Comments Off on June, 2016 – Monthly Economic Update | Posted in Monthly Economic Update


Buried in debt? Before filing for bankruptcy, make sure you know these facts

June 21st, 2016 | Comments Off on Buried in debt? Before filing for bankruptcy, make sure you know these facts | Posted in Videos

Filing for bankruptcy may seem like a simple solution to putting a stop to creditors’ calls and tackling that mountain of debt. But in reality, it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card — and comes with a number of restrictions and consequences.

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