Risk Off & Risk On

NERD ALERT: This edition of TGIF 2 Minutes will get a big “wonky” but still worth the read. A good number of people reading are familiar with the terms, “risk off” and “risk on,” terms that are used frequently in financial media and by financial industry traders and risk managers.

Even for a business owner or anyone familiar with risk, the term “risk on” or “risk off” may make sense. But for those still wanting clarification on how these terms relate to personal savings and investments – specifically the stock and bond markets – here are a few details.

First, the reason it made sense to highlight this topic is that just this week the US Fed said,“[The US] economy has made progress toward its goals, teeing up bond taper.” *

Think of “risk ON” as increasing risk and being comfortable with taking on more risk; whereas “risk OFF” would be decreasing risk due to factors that make risk uncomfortable.

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Personal Board of Directors

As has been said, “No man [or woman] is an island.” The deeper meaning of the famous poem by this title may be somewhat philosophical: that we are all part of a bigger unit such as the world, a country, a family, or something. The less deep but equally serious meaning is more like,

  • why go it alone?
  • try reaching out to others from time to time to seek advice and larger perspective.

Regular readers of TGIF 2 Minutes may be thinking that Debbs has lost her mind here but the related idea of having a “Personal Board of Directors” has been worthy of featuring for some time. Coincidentally Brett Danko, my business partner and the principal and founder of Main Street Financial Solutions LLC, recently presented a similar topic including having and regularly consulting with a Personal Board of Directors which inspired this edition.

The Personal Board of Directors can be consulted regarding decisions of all sorts – personal, financial, and professional.

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A Good Time to Borrow Money?

Life without some kind of debt is nearly impossible. Still, there are “good” kinds of debt and “bad” kinds of debt, and timing of taking on debt matters too.

As the US economy emerges from the extended pandemic a number of factors affecting debt and borrowing are at play:

  • Jobs – job openings, job creation and job RE-creation
  • Ability of small businesses to pay workers amidst longer-term uncertainty
  • The presence of Inflation for all kinds of popular products and services – meaning consumers are being forced to pay more, often unexpectedly
  • Changing demographics and geographies around home ownership…
  • …Creating increases in home prices
  • Super low interest rates
  • Plain old desire to spend after year-long restrictions on nearly everything!
As the US economy emerges from the extended pandemic a number of factors affecting debt and borrowing are at play.

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A Quick 2Q Wrap-Up

Just like that it is July 2021! That means both the 2nd Quarter and 1st Half of the year have come to a close. Here are a couple of quick notes about the quarter including a few things that changed and did not change on the year.

Stock and bond markets along with portfolio performance continued to be strong. It seems there is less caution in the air with an economy continuing to come out of the pandemic. Although the expression “the most unloved bull market” is still on peoples’ minds. Reason being that worries abound as the US Fed and Treasury continue to pump record amounts of money into the US economy. And there are plans for the stimulus to continue. This state of affairs risks inflation among other economic maladies.

Stock and bond markets along with portfolio performance continued to be strong in 2Q.

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Family Fireworks

This year’s Fourth of July, celebrated with a long weekend, is lining up to be much more celebratory than one year ago. Thank goodness for that! The 3-day weekend will allow families and friends to spend time together – just like “old times”. Considering the year-long pandemic there may be families who have not been together in one place for over a year, two years or longer. This opens up the opportunity for celebration as well as “family fireworks” that can be just as explosive as the fireworks that will be lit all weekend long at beaches and towns throughout America.

In a prior TGIF 2 Minutes, I referred to “10 Topics Likely NOT Discussed at the Thanksgiving Table”. These included a couple of money and family related topics often not discussed due to their emotional nature. Here, a closer look at two conversations that can prevent much pain and expense at a later time:

“Family fireworks” that can be just as explosive as the fireworks that will be lit all weekend long at beaches and towns throughout America.

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CYA – But it’s Not What You Think!

This week brought long-awaited although not unexpected news from the US Federal Reserve Board: Fed officials expect to raise interest rates from the current level of “near zero” by the end of 2023 instead of sometime in 2024. Earth-shattering? NO. Cause for paying attention? YES. Even though 2023 seems fairly distant, interest rates have already begun to increase. It is not too early to pay attention to, review, and understand your overall Asset Allocation. Thus, today’s title, “CYA”. Cover Your Asset Allocation.

As quick background, the US Federal Reserve System, or the “Fed”, has as its mandate to maximize US employment and allow for stable prices. Its primary tool for accomplishing these goals is the setting of short-term interest rates – which then translate into to interest rates for anything from 30-day Treasury bills to 10-year Treasury notes, to 15- and 30-year mortgages. Even debt issued globally watches the Fed’s interest rate policy.

Fed officials expect to raise interest rates by 2023. It is not too early to pay attention to, review, and understand your overall Asset Allocation.

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Portfolios & Back Pain

Have you ever had back trouble? Boy can it be a pain in the ### (pun intended). Recovery is usually possible by seeking – and taking – proper advice and treatment. Believe it or not, there is a way to relate the recovery process from back pain to the recovery and durability of investment portfolios. Stay with me here!

I will credit my excellent physical therapist, who knows very well my profession as a CFP®, for coming up with the concept. He said to me, “like your advice about my 401k allocation, the physical strength work a person does for years can make recovery from back trouble much swifter and even easier.” Hooray! While the recovery process for a person’s back can take several weeks to several months, the recovery process for properly positioned investment portfolios has been actively taking place for over 12 months and could continue over the life of a portfolio.

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Here’s to the 2021 Graduates!

With inspiration from the Archives of TGIF 2 Minutes… and in light of graduation season, it can be beneficial to celebrate the basics of personal finance for future peace of mind – both for ourselves and the kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews who mean the most to us. 

College graduation may have been a long, long time ago or more recently – and experienced from the perspective of a parent, grandparent, or friend.

Inspired by last weekend’s graduation at the University of Notre Dame and “graduation season” in general, consider these pieces of financial advice that hold meaning for nearly everyone at every age:

Some financial advice holds meaning for nearly everyone at every age, not just recent grads.
Photo by Emily Ranquist on Pexels.com

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White-Hot Real Estate – Pt 1

The real title this week is, “Selling Real Estate in a White-Hot Market”.

Future topics include:

  • Real Estate (in general) in a White-Hot Market
  • How to Handle Real Estate as an Asset in Any Market
  • Renting versus Buying in a White-Hot Real Estate Market

ALL of these topics have come up in conversations with friends and clients over the past year, even more so in the past five months. There is no question that real estate – especially around major cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham, and Atlanta – is sizzling hot. Even cities such as Atlanta where there are residential areas inside of a sprawling city, those “suburban feel” areas are also on fire.

Whether or not to sell their home has come up in conversations with friends and clients over the past year, even more so in the past five months.

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Gut Check in Rocky Markets… 2021 Version

From the 2014 & 2016 Archives of TGIF 2 Minutes comes a timely message – updated for 2021, as markets could get fairly rocky (read: volatile) with inflation fears, unprecedented US government debt issuance and money printing. Caution is warranted. However, timeframe and a PLAN are key.

Have you asked yourself lately…

  • “Is this the ‘Big Dip’ in the markets they have warned about?”
  • “Should I be selling my stocks?”
  • “Should I be selling my bonds?”
I stress to my clients and friends: Do NOT allow short-term market moves to instill fear and lead to poor decisions.

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