A Quick Note on Failure
Fed raises rates...what does it mean for me?
Are We Already In A Recession?
I'm not trying to be too philosophical here, because that would be out of character for me. Ha! I read the philosophers, but I'm too lighthearted to spend my days contemplating the meaning of life. However, I love these three words.
Hear. Comprehend. Do. I think the Dalai Lama said it. So, my question is, which of the three words is most important to you when you're trying to attain a goal, complete a task, etc.?
For me, it's DO. For me to comprehend, I have to do, most of the time. But, I think I really need to work on slowing down and comprehending and hearing so that when I do, I'm more effective. What about you? Comment on what you think, I'd love to hear it!
If you'd like a free wristband like this, just go to my homepage www.totalfinancialhealth.com, and fill out the quick form there. Tell me how many you want, and give me your address in the Comments box. I promise I'll just send you some wristbands, nothing more; no obligation, really. Let's do it! #HearComprehendDo
So, quit trying to multi-task. Pick something you need done, and get it done.
I got a call the other day from an insurance carrier. I am contracting with them, and they are one of the big companies, like the type that has been around for over 100 years, so they take their contracting seriously and interview you pretty thoroughly. The question that caught me off guard, was this: “what motivates you?” I honestly had a blank air for a little bit too long (awkward silence is NEVER good in an interview like this). Ha! I’m usually not too speechless…
My answer was this: “I don’t know for sure, but my motivation comes from within. I am self-motivated, I guess.” Gratefully, he liked that answer.
That got me to thinking about motivation, and I’ve spent the last couple of days pondering on it. What is my motivation? Not only what motivates me, but from where does my motivation come? Does it come from outside pressures, or internal demands from myself?
Ultimately, it lead me down the path of thinking about success and motivation. Success is what motivates me, the end goal. Since I’m a top down thinker, I usually think about the big picture first, the whole plan, and the end game, success, is what drives me.
Now, trust me, I’ve failed a lot, and that’s OK. There is a fantastic TED talk on why those who don’t fail are creating a path where they never will have success, and I posted that a while ago on my blog HERE. Failure to me has only turned out to be a delayed success. The only times I allow something to be a failure is if the project ends up being not worth my time or effort. At that point I can walk away as I will see no progress or benefit to me. But, if something is beneficial and worth it, and it’s currently not working, it is success in progress, NOT failure.
So, here are four quick steps for success:
1. Figure out your motivation, and make it internal; by that I mean don’t let external factors define what success is to you in a particular endeavor; do it for YOU, not THEM.
2. Define what is success before you start your project. Make it difficult, but attainable.
3. Measure your steps and keep track of them.
4. Reset, and push yourself farther.
Now, go #DominateToday.
Our 2015 March Madness competition is over, and we have some winners!
1st place $150 - Scott
2nd place $100 - Jacob
3rd place $75 - Nita
So, please get a hold of us and we'll get your prizes out shortly. As always, ladies get their prizes doubled, so if Nita is a lady, congrats!
Thanks to all those that participated, it was fun to hear how people thought their brackets would do. Mine was terrible...thanks a lot Kentucky!
Great article from Clark Capital. Perhaps your investment strategies and goals should be based on your needs and situation, not on simply "diversifying"?
Has Diversification Lost Its Luster?
Dec. 17, 2014 12:25 PM ET
By Patty Quinn McAuley, CFP® Director of Marketing
One of the most basic tenets of investing has been the importance of diversification. Individual investors can quickly understand the concept of "not putting all your eggs in one basket." However, the recent market environment has been punishing the prudent, diversified investor. We've written frequently on what we believe to be the benefits of embracing both active and passive investment styles in an effort to deliver diversification of investment methodologies. And while the headlines might reference active vs. passive, ironically, we believe the real culprit holding back investors is diversification.
Diversification is achieved by combining uncorrelated asset classes, "asset classes" that do not move in the same direction at the same time. It usually becomes more difficult to achieve a diversified portfolio in a bear market, because, as we saw in 2002 and again in 2008, when the market encounters a severe setback, correlations among asset classes spike and all asset classes move together in the same direction: down. Diversification is widely regarded as the key to long-term investment success; however, there will be periods of time when a portfolio diversified globally, across asset classes, and among methodologies will underperform.
Leadership has been exceptionally thin in the equity markets. The S&P has been running the charge up the hill pretty much by itself by outperforming small caps, foreign equities and emerging market equities. As Jason Zweig wrote in The Wall Street Journal on November 28th:
So far this year, the Russell 2000 index of small stocks is up 3.1%, including dividends, while the S&P 500 is up 13.9%-the widest gap in favor of large stocks since 1998.*
The global equity markets have been led by U.S. equities and, within the U.S., large caps have dominated. As I write this article, the S&P 500 is up +13.98% while the Russell 2000 is up only +1.99% and the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) excluding the U.S. is down -0.27%.
While investment professionals know that comparing the S&P 500 to a diversified portfolio is not an apples to apples comparison, a large segment of the individual investor population sees the S&P 500 as the benchmark for the stock market.
(click to enlarge)
The chart above compares a hypothetical asset allocation to the S&P 500 from 12/31/2013 to 11/30/2014.
The large divergence in equity performance gives the false impression that a diversified equity portfolio is underperforming if an investor gauges performance by the S&P 500. For example, a sample portfolio of 40% S&P 500, 20% Russell 2000 and 40% MSCI ACWI ex U.S. would be up 5.88% year to date. Right now, the illusion of underperformance of a diversified portfolio against the S&P 500 is set against the backdrop of a six-year bull market in equities. Naturally, investors are questioning the ability of active managers and stock pickers to outperform.
It may be very tempting for investors to want to add more large cap U.S. equity exposure in light of the strong performance; however, in our opinion adding more large cap exposure decreases diversification and inevitably increases risk in the portfolio. We believe any counter-move downward in large cap U.S. stocks would hit investors who add heavy exposure the hardest, delivering a double whammy of underperformance. For investors who are heavily concentrated in U.S. stock exposure, now may be the right time to take some risk off the table and diversify exposure.
While diversification seems to be out of favor, we believe it is still a key investment principal that should not be hastily discarded. Keeping your clients focused on their goals generally requires continued education on the benefits of meaningful diversification, especially during time periods when the performance of one asset class outshines the others.
Instead of comparing one's investment portfolio to a benchmark, investors should stay focused on their own needs and required rate of return, asking the questions:
- Is risk management important to me now? Would it be more important to me in a bear market?
- Am I seeking to achieve returns in line with a specific benchmark, or am I seeking to achieve personal objectives such as funding my retirement?
- What relevance does the S&P 500's performance this year have to my personal financial needs?
At Clark Capital, we believe that several tools such as an Investment Policy Statement, personal benchmark capabilities, and a well-diversified portfolio can help clients reach their goals.
2014 was a really fun year where we were able to help a lot of clients get on a more sure footing, financially speaking. Some of the companies we work with have been so very good to our clients, so we are loyal to them. One of the great companies that helps us in our strategic planning, especially helping with our clients who are at or near retirement, is Allianz. They are one of the highest rated insurance companies in the world, and maintain the highest of ratings you can get as an insurance company. We did enough business with them that they honored us as Gold member of their network, putting us on their A-list of financial advisors and awarding us this Challenge coin as a token of the large volume of business we did with them. This comes from working with a certain number of individuals and managing a large amount of money with them for our clients.
We're not saying this to brag, it's just exciting to work with companies like this. Imagine you're at or near retirement, and you find a place to put your money where your principal balance (nest egg) is never at risk, and you can still get near market level returns on your money? Oh, and by the way, you can take income on it for the rest of your life, no matter how long you live, and that income also increases to keep up with inflation!
That's our retirement mantra: guaranteed income you can't outlive, keeps up with inflation, and creates a rich and lasting legacy for your family. If your retirement plan isn't accomplishing ALL of those, it may be time to revisit your plan?
Do you know what your 401k or IRA is costing you? When was the last time you went through it to check? It's tough, they make the statements almost unreadable so they can hide the costs of managing the funds (commissions). Maybe it's time to sit down with an advisor that doesn't hide the costs and see what your options are?
It’s been a rough week for me, but not as hard as it’s been for some friends of mine. I’m not an emotional person; in fact, my wife says my tear ducts must have been surgically removed at birth. But, it was an emotional week. You see, I lost a friend last week at the way too young age of 39. He left behind a beautiful wife and two cute girls he adores. I miss him, a lot.
I was shocked by this, and it took me a few days to process it. Why am I writing about this on a financial blog? Because I had done a really good analysis with him over a year ago, and we put some term insurance on his life and had a financial plan going with him. He got a little tight on finances, and he let it lapse late last year, and about three weeks before he passed, we had lunch and I talked to him about getting insurance active again, but it didn’t happen. He was a good man and had great intentions and loved his family, but who could ever guess something like that would happen?
I’m still sick about it. If you know me, I’m pretty low key, and while I do sell some financial products, I’m not a gold chain wearing salesman about it. I don’t push, I persuade and teach, and the products I sell correspond to the financial principles upon which I build my own financial future. But, I think I'm going to change my approach. I don’t want to see this happen to a friend/client/family member of mine again.
Please, if you don’t have life insurance now, and you have a family, with all the energy I have, I’m begging you to look into it. I have an easy Excel calculator on my website that can help you figure out how much insurance you need. It’s located here: http://www.totalfinancialhealth.com/products/.
I have been doing this for going on 15 years now, and I’ve never seen term life insurance so cheap. I quoted a healthy 30 year old friend of mine the other day for a 10 year term policy with a $500,000 death benefit at $17.72 a month. So cheap! But, so important. Can you imagine how much freedom you can provide for a family you leave behind in the case of a tragedy like I described above? If you’re not the breadwinner in the family, are you secure in that if your breadwinner were taken away suddenly, you would get by easily?
Please, if this blog post can at least get you thinking, just look into it. It should be a greater priority than you think, because the future is unknown. This way, you can bring some certainty into your life. I’m not doing this to make a ton of money. Term policies make up about 5% of my income, so it’s not a big deal for me, but seeing what I saw this past week won’t happen again. If you know me, and you’re a friend, family member, client, etc., of mine, and I find out you have no life insurance and you have a family, I’m going to push you from now on. I’ll hound and not sit still until you do. So, I apologize in advance, but you’ll thank me some day.
Hi! I hope this post finds you well and happy, ready for a needed break for Thanksgiving. I’d like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope this week gives you some time to reflect on the things for which you are grateful, and that you can take the time to say thank you to those around who made you who you are, and are helping to make you who you want to become.
I’m grateful most for my family. My wife, Meg, and all my six monkeys (kids) make me a better man each day, and I adore them for the strength and support they are. I’m grateful for a warm home and all these great things in life, and the ability to make it even better.
Tomorrow will be great! I’m grateful and amazed at the excess we have in this country. I’m skipping the Turkey Bowl this year to go get beat up at CrossFit Timpanogos, and I’m grateful I can do that. That should give me enough excuse to wear sweats so I can eat so much tomorrow that my pants won’t fit…right? I’ll be enjoying some football and hanging out with family, and I hope you can do the same.
From us to you, Happy Thanksgiving!
WiserAdvisor announces that John Thomas of Total Financial Health has been awarded admittance as a member of its directory of financial advisors.
Financial advisors are granted admission into WiserAdvisor (www.wiseradvisor.com) based on their credentials and qualifications. All members offer their services to investors with a fee rather than solely with commissions, allowing them to assist investors with a variety of different investment options. All members are also properly registered with the SEC, FINRA or other regulatory organizations.
Since 2003, WiserAdvisor has focused on taking much of the guesswork out of finding a qualified financial advisor or financial planner. This is done both through the stringent admittance guidelines, as well as through the information provided to investors about each member advisor. All members must complete an extensive profile outlining their services, qualifications and credentials, including their education background.
Because of the strict standards that a financial professional must meet in order to become a member, WiserAdvisor only admits a select few high-quality financial advisors and financial planners. More than 600,000 professionals can provide insurance and financial advice. Less than 1% have been granted membership into WiserAdvisor.
Thousands of investors use WiserAdvisor each year to find local financial advisors and planners, and trust that WiserAdvisor will help them find the right professionals to meet their unique needs.
WiserAdvisor is an online service that connects investors to local financial advisors and financial planners. It is an independent and free service provided to investors, allowing them to find local professionals who can help them build their portfolios, plan for retirement, manage their estates, or to help them with other investment issues. More information about WiserAdvisor and its services can be found at www.wiseradvisor.com.
About Total Financial Health
John Thomas is a financial advisor located in Lehi, UT.
More information about John can be found at http://www.wiseradvisor.com/advisor_profile_state~id~1880507.asp
Once again, congratulations on becoming a member of WiserAdvisor.com!
It's a little late, but I'm announcing the winners of our March Madness contest for 2014; we were waiting for some of the swag to be printed. The winners are:
1. Matt Fisler
2. Orchard Park Elementary
Congratulations! Now, I need to know who Orchard Park and Paul are. :) Please respond to this with your emails and I'll get you some details on your prizes. The prizes are cash and some swag, so look for more contests coming up!
Fun contest, and thanks everyone for participating!
A few years back my friend's father took us to see John Wooden speak in Salt Lake City. I was still in high school, and I still remember how Coach Wooden taught me that day. He taught me to succeed, and I wish I had a transcript of that talk, but I don't. I found this video that basically encapsulates what he said that day that has been so formative for me.
In case you don't know who Coach Wooden is, he is the most successful and greatest coach in any sport, ever. I know that's a bold statement, but if you look it up, it's a pretty good consensus that it's true. His words are incredible, a formula for success!
Last time we talked about a tax saving tip of opening up a home-based business. Many people are intimidated by doing this, but it's easier than you think. Our preferred way of doing this is to organize an LLC in your state, because the LLC is the easiest entity to maintain as far as paperwork, taxes, etc. Filing Articles of Organization (three pages) with the state allows you to be in business, then you just need to learn some of the tax benefits you get being self-employed.
To learn these benefits and how to use them properly, I suggest three resources:
www.moneymastery.com (you can find a very useful book they published Money: What the Financial Experts Won't Tell You)
http://www.taxreductioninstitute.com/ (Sandy Botkin is a world renowned tax expert)
www.larrycoxcpa.com (my CPA, who has saved me TONS in the past and helped me with taxes for many years)
So, just get started. Make sure to get a competent CPA to help you utilize our tax system to lessen your tax burden if possible and be smarter with your money. This country was built on self-employed entrepreneurs who acted on ideas and changed the world. Figure out your passion in life and turn it into a business. You'll find you love "working" when it's something you love, and if you can save some taxes and make money, why not? Go get it!
Want some tax saving tips? Need some retirement planning and are worried about taxes? I love those kinds of questions!! Here's the first tax saving tip: start a home-based business. Don't be intimidated, it's not terribly hard, you just need a little guidance, I can show you how. I'm happy to help! What other tax help do you need? I have a team ready to help.
So this is a tough one to write. I lost a friend/client a bit ago in a car wreck. She was just over 50, very healthy and had a long life still ahead of her when a freak accident took her. I’ve known her for nine years and I helped her with some financial issues for a little while and had spoken with her by phone about a month ago as she had moved a few hours away.
It’s one of those things when someone passes away, when you automatically do the thinking back of how you could have said something to them to stop them, or to warn them with 20/20 hindsight. It’s tough, and I hate to think about it; she will be missed by so many people, mostly her family, kids and grandkids.
I don’t want this post to come across as morbid, insensitive or opportunistic, but I deal with life insurance and I have to think about death with my clients, who are also my friends and family many times. It’s hard to do, but so necessary! I didn’t have a life insurance plan for my friend as she had it before I met her, and I can only hope she still had it in place. Tragic things like this happen and can devastate a family, and then the financial devastation can prolong that pain, but the financial part is so avoidable.
If you are married, and especially if you have children, please assess your finances and make sure this simplest of insurance is in place. Even if I’m not the one to help you, get life insurance without hesitating. Quotes only take about three minutes to finish, and term insurance is cheaper than it’s ever been. Just think, to get coverage of $1,000,000 on a 32 year old, fairly healthy male costs $21.81 a month. So cheap, and so easy to protect you and your legacy for your family. Please get it done!
Here's a great little video, an easy way to understand central banks and the problems they cause. If everybody watched this video, then passed it along to a friend and we started to understand it, the Fed would be out of business very quickly! Goodbye to Yellen and Bernanke and all the banksters, back to a free market society. When in doubt in politics and economics, freedom is the answer!
Do you have a debt plan? A week ago I asked for some debt plans from you all, the TFH Community, and I got a huge response! So, we'll start this week with our first debt plan. See if it is anything similar to your situation and maybe it will help? But, first things first, here are the client's debts:
Medical 1: Balance $25 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Medical 2: Balance $28 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Medical 3: Balance $40 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Medical 4: Balance $71 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Medical 5: Balance $128 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Medical 6: Balance $130 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Medical 7: Balance $195 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Medical 8: Balance $216 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Medical 9: Balance $240 Payment $24 Interest Rate 0%
CC1: Balance $1190 Payment $89 Interest Rate 29.4%
Medical 10: Balance $538.65 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Car1: Balance $7000 Payment $300 Interest Rate 8%
CC2: Balance $3000 Payment $127 Interest Rate 25.240%
Medical 11: Balance $866 Payment $25 Interest Rate 0%
Car2: Balance $2700 Payment $89 Interest Rate 10%
Car31: Balance $7000 Payment $186 Interest Rate 8.99%
Student 1: Balance $4800 Payment $100 Interest Rate 0%
Furn.1: Balance $4000 Payment $121 Interest Rate 21.99%
CC3: Balance $2000 Payment $50 Interest Rate 17%
Car4: Balance $7000 Payment $146 Interest Rate 8.99%
Mort.1: Balance $160,000 Payment $1175 Interest Rate 6%
Student 2: Balance $52,000 Payment $387.70 Interest Rate 6.5%
Mort.2: Balance $82,000 Payment $160.16 Interest Rate 2.3%
So, let's analyze this quickly. First, their total debt is $282,714.35, with total monthly debt payments totaling $3,204.86. Not terrible, kind of common. If they paid their minimum payments, they would be out of debt in roughly 34 years. Yuck! What problems do you see here? I described it to them in this way: they are being nibbled to death by ducks. So many little medical debts, and it makes it overwhelming! But, look closer.
Only $1,636.85 of this debt is medical. At this point, these friends are overwhelmed, but when we organized it all it wasn't so daunting. Organizing these debts and paying them off IN THIS ORDER is the fastest way to get out of debt. It's a mathematic fact. Many are tempted to put higher interest rate debts first, or mortgages at the very end no matter what, but take emotion out of it, and mathematically this is the fastest, most efficient way, both in terms of least interest paid and time, to DEBT FREEDOM.
If they follow this plan, paying ONLY WHAT THEY ARE PAYING OUT OF POCKET NOW and no more, they will be out of debt (including mortgages) in 11.43 years!!! Put that in perspective. If they were 30 years old, they were looking at being debt free at 64 with no savings; if they follow this plan, at 42 they are debt free, and at 64 they have $1.5 million in the bank. GETTING A REAL DEBT PLAN IN PLACE IS SO CRUCIAL. IT COULD ADD OVER $1 MILLION TO YOUR RETIREMENT! Getting out of debt COMPLETELY takes off the financial shackles and frees you up to live your own life on your own terms. Doesn't it make you want to get your spending under control and find even MORE money a month to knock this debt out?
We'll follow up later on with another debt plan from another member of our community. One thing to note, if these friends simply sell an asset to pay off the medical debts (an asset that will give them $1700 in their pockets) and pay them off in this same order, adding the payments on top of the next debt in line, they shave almost another year off their debt freedom date…