From the 2022 Archives of TGIF 2 Minutes with a few updates…
Record-breaking, big outlier events tend to move the needle to extremes in the economy and stock market. Note the word, “outlier”. Outlier events typically are surprises and are often unlikely. In his beyond excellent book The Psychology of Money* author Morgan Housel lists five events that were outliers over history in the US with world-changing consequences:
The Great Depression
World War II
The dot-com bubble
The housing crash of the mid-2000’s.
A conclusion could be drawn from the book’s chapter titled, “Surprise!” that surprises are perhaps the most reliable thing going. But the irony of the reliability of surprises is we do not know what the surprise is until after it has unfolded.
Part 2 of “under the radar” tax law changes. These changes lead to a needed discussion of current, related tax topics applying to ALL ages of savers with 401k accounts – and possibly IRA accounts too. There is still a decent amount of time remaining in 2023 to make a difference in 401k saving.
Remember that Roth 401k plans have slightly different income requirements than Roth IRA accounts:
Roth 401k accounts (which run alongside regular 401k accounts) have NO income limits.
Consider this edition of TGIF 2 Minutes an “automatic Part 1” in a 2-part series on changes to the taxation of 401k contributions.
Calling these tax changes “under the radar” may be underestimating the level of attention paid by the average TGIF 2 Minutes reader to tax news. But fear not! Missing these tax changes is common and mostly due to
the IRS typically making substantial tax law changes overnight in the last two weeks of December (see: 2015, 2017, 2020, 2021, 2022 and prior) thus easily missed by the most attentive of savers amidst year-end and holiday activity,
the complicated language used in the changes, confusing both savers and employers and their HR departments.
Superstition is not a strategy, although elite, professional athletes subscribe to superstitions all the time*. The reason for bringing up the topic is that talking about the stock market’s positive performance year-to-date in 2023 could warrant dialing back the optimism – for superstitious reasons! Hence, the “…” in the title “So Far So Good…”.
This said, the US stock market just finished a strong 2-month set of returns, in addition to an excellent January and stable returns in between. This positive performance has no guarantee of continuing but is evidence that staying in the stock market for the long-term – with a plan – can have positive long-term consequences.
The S&P 500 is up 16.4% year-to-date.
The Nasdaq over the same period is up over 31%.
The Russell 2000 Index of small companies is up 9.2%.
What happens when the house down the street suddenly sells for over $1 million dollars?! (And all the other very nice homes on the street were purchased for $550,000 or less within the past 10 years or so, maybe $700k for a couple of more recent sales?)
A couple of possible answers with explanation:
Real estate in desirable areas is still white hot. And while areas in the US northeast, California, and Florida (among other high-priced areas for homes) commonly see homes priced in the $3 million to $5 million+ range, homes nationally sell for an average of much less. Depending on which source or what inputs (new or existing, list price, sales price, or market price, etc.) the average home sale price in the US is between $391,000 and $507,000*. Therefore, in most neighborhoods when a home suddenly sells for $1.1 million (or $2.1 million) dollars it is consequential for the local market, especially the neighbors!
The question, “Why save and invest?” is one not emphasized nearly enough. Often, savers and investors – whether having accumulated millions of dollars or those just getting started – focus almost exclusively on the various investments themselves, without first and often taking a step back to establish the “WHY” of investing.
The WHY can vary greatly, which is the reason the question is so meaningful.
Just this week I heard about the show currently on Netflix called “How to Get Rich” (haha, I may have just lost a few readers who will jump to find out more about the show). But it is not the show that is the focus of this week’s edition of TGIF 2 Minutes but rather one of the ideas behind the show. The idea comes from the author and successful entrepreneur, Ramit Sethi. One of the key ideas Sethi emphasizes is the “rich life” we all may wish to attain.
For a bond that must be held for a minimum of five (5) years for full interest to be received and can only be bought in amounts of $10,000 per year, I get a lot of questions.
To put the situation in perspective, for clients and friends with high levels of income, in the hundreds of thousands and much more, and high tax rates – marginal rates of over 32% – the interest at stake with an I-Bond is currently $600 to $800 per year and that is before taxes! That level of net interest may pay a portion of one car lease payment per year or weekend gas for a boat (in 5 years). BUT nevertheless, I get questions.
More and more lately, perhaps as a result of the post-pandemic world, I am being asked for basic financial advice – from both young people AND those in the over-55 crowd. By the way, the over-55 crowd who ask this question are typically wealthy with comfortable lifestyles. The basic financial advice they seek includes the question, “Are we OK financially?”
A handful of smart people ask for further definition of “OK” and then ask the same question, “Well then, are we OK financially?” The answer comes down to super-basic elements, and thus today’s short edition of TGIF 2 Minutes.