What Businesses Can Expect From the Phase 4 Stimulus Package

Congress is set to begin negotiations on the next round of stimulus. For business owners, new measures could bring more tax relief, renewed access to forgivable loans, and more.

With prior stimulus measures set to expire in the next few weeks and the economy continuing to falter as the pandemic resurges across the country, Congress will meet this week and next to hammer out a new relief measure. 

The House already passed its Phase 4 bill, known as the Heroes Act, in May. The $3.5 trillion coronavirus relief bill would provide assistance to state and local governments, extend enhanced unemployment benefits, and offer additional economic impact payments to taxpayers, among other things. The bill has been up for review since the end of May, though Senate Republicans, who prefer a measure with a far lower price tag, have been loath to consider it. They’re expected to introduce their own version of a relief bill this week that will have to be reviewed and negotiated between the two chambers before theyrecess in early August.

Several economic proposals that will affect small and midsize businesses have been building consensus among lawmakers for weeks, so the final version of the Senate bill could contain elements of all of them.

Here are six things you likely can expect from the Phase 4 bill.

1. The PPP will go on, but in a different form.

The Paycheck Protection Program, the $669 billion forgivable loan program aimed at beleaguered small businesses, will continue, predicts Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president and chief policy officer. At the very least, he says, there will be a continuation of the program, which was recently extended through August 8.

It’s also possible the PPP will become more targeted. Testifying at a House Small Business Committee hearing Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed interest in “topping off” the approximately $130 billion in remaining funds and extending the program. But he noted that it would need to be focused on certain industries like hotels and restaurants that can demonstrate actual losses, resulting from the pandemic. “This time we need to do a revenue test,” he said. 

A proposal that has been gaining ground with lawmakers, dubbed the Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program Act, or P4, offers to extend the PPP and open it up to companies that already received PPP loans (excepting for publicly traded companies), as long as they can show financial losses as a result of the pandemic.

There’s been widening support for streamlining the PPP forgiveness process, too. While certain loans are now eligible for the EZ loan forgiveness application, there’s greater interest in easing things further for smaller businesses by automatically forgiving all PPP loans under $150,000 or $250,000. On that note, Mnuchin at Friday’s Small Business Committee meeting confirmed interest in blanket forgiveness. “Yes, that’s something we should consider,” he told lawmakers.

2. Local communities will get a boost.

The next iteration of relief funding likely also will focus on companies in low-income and rural areas, as well as minority-owned businesses, which experienced difficulty accessing the PPP. Bradley notes that the Recharge and Empower Local Innovation and Entrepreneurs Fund (RELIEF) for Main Street Actwould earmark $50 billion for cities, counties, and states to support small business local relief funds. One of the key flaws of the PPP is that it failed to reach the smallest businesses and minority-owned companies that often did not have traditional banking relationships prior to the pandemic. As this program would be run through local institutions–and not banks–the effort is seen as potentially better suited to reach these businesses. While the U.S. Treasury would operate the program, as written in the bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate in mid-May, banks would not be involved.

Funding for block grants, operated by states and local governments, could also get replenished. The Cares Act initially provided $150 billion in federal aid to state and local governments across the country, some of which went toward grant funding for local business. 

3. More tax relief is on the way.

Currently, PPP funds don’t count as taxable income, but an Internal Revenue Service ruling prevented businesses from being able to deduct traditional business expenses paid for by those funds if forgiven. That may change soon. A bill that would allow the deduction with some guardrails, called the Small Business Expense Protection Act, was introduced in the Senate in early May.

The Phase 4 bill also is expected to bolster and expand access the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), says Bradley. Currently, companies that have tapped the PPP can’t access the ERTC, which was enacted as part of the Cares Act to incentivize businesses hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic to retain employees. As part of a proposal, dubbed the Jumpstarting Our Businesses’ Success Credit (or JOBS Credit) Act, which was introduced in May, the refundable tax credit–now equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in qualified quarterly wages–would increase to 80 percent of up to $15,000 in wages each quarter for up to three quarters. Bradley adds that there’s also potential for the ERTC to expand eligible expenses to include a limited amount of fixed costs.

4. Stimulus checks will be back but they may be less generous.

The Heroes Act passed by the House supports another round of stimulus checks that the Cares Act authorized in March for millions of taxpayers: individuals earning under $75,000 would get $1,200, while married couples with less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income would get $2,400. The bill also would provide an additional $1,200 for up to three dependents, regardless of age. 

Senate Republicans are likely to take a more conservative approach to the payments. Last week, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the next round of stimulus checks may be less than $1,200, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in early July stated the next round of stimulus checks may be limited to those with incomes of around $40,000.

5. Enhanced unemployment benefits will continue, but get a haircut.

The Cares Act’s enhanced unemployment insurance, which offered an additional $600 per week on top of existing state benefits, is set to expire at the end of July. Many employers found the measure complicated the task of rehiring employees, who were suddenly earning more on unemployment than at their former jobs.

To avoid that issue–but also ensure laid off or furloughed workers have support–Bradley says that lawmakers are considering more targeted subsidies that would vary the amount offered on a federal level to better coordinate with what’s available at the state level. So between the variable federal supplement and those provided by each respective state, unemployment benefits would replace 80 to 90 percent of a worker’s former wages, up to a maximum federal benefit of an additional $400 per week.

The enhanced benefits also may come with a hiring bonus. The Paycheck Recovery Act, proposed in mid-May, offers low-wage workers–those earning less than $40,100 annually–a $1,500 rehiring bonus upon returning to work.

6. Businesses will receive greater liability protections.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made no secret of his desire to see greater liability protections for employers. The details of his approach are still unclear, though Bradley says it’s likely that the Phase 4 bill will allow for some form of safe harbor for companies that make good-faith efforts to follow public-health guidelines.

This article was written by Diana Ransom for Inc.com

Dubai Set To Open Heart Of Europe With 6 Outrageous Themed Islands

Floating Seahorse Villas and skyline

Based on six islands that bring the best of Europe to Dubai, The Heart of Europe is located 2 miles from the coast of Dubai and will offer up a variety of European cultural, dining, and hospitality experiences across resorts, cafés, bars, boutiques, and entertainment. Kleindienst Group developed the $5 billion master-planned tourism island destination that came a long way since its original concept was launched in 2008.

The Covid-19 outbreak may have stopped business on the mainland, but the Heart of Europe islands continued work at an aggressive pace with a goal to open Phase 1 by the end of 2020.

The development will offer “world’s first” attractions such as; the First Underwater Hotel with Gym and Spa, the First Dedicated Wedding Hotel, the World’s First Artificial Rainy Street, the First Floating and Underwater Living Experience and the World’s First Outdoor Snow Plaza.

Phase One opening of The Heart of Europe consists of, Sweden Beach Palaces, Germany Villas, Honeymoon Island, Portofino Hotel, and Côte d’Azur Resort.

Floating Seahorse underwater bathroom
The Floating Seahorse HEART OF EUROPE

THE FLOATING SEAHORSE VILLAS

(3 level villas with underwater living, glass-bottom Jacuzzi, and private man-made coral reefs teeming with marine life)

PROMOTEDCivic Nation BRANDVOICE | Paid ProgramCOVID-19’s Threat To Native CommunitiesUNICEF USA BRANDVOICE | Paid ProgramUNICEF’s U-Report Playing Key Role In Global COVID-19 ResponseGrads of Life BRANDVOICE | Paid ProgramRapid Innovation For A More Equitable Economy

Connected to Honeymoon Island by jetties, the Floating Seahorse Villas were designed for investors and second home end users. Consisting of over 4,000 square feet with three levels, each will feature state-of-the-art technology and outdoor climate-controlled areas. The ultimate attraction will be the underwater level with exclusive views to the coral reefs.

Germany Island
Germany Island HEART OF EUROPE

GERMANY ISLAND

(15 beachfront villas, 17 lagoon villas, offering four or five bedrooms in Bauhaus inspired style)

The horseshoe-shaped Germany Island will face onto an azure-blue lagoon with its own bar, lush gardens, white sandy beaches and bent palm trees. 

There will be traditional German carnivals, Christmas markets, festivals, and the famous Oktoberfest. Famed international chefs will offer up the finest German-style menus as well as the largest selection of German beers and wines.

Viking style villa on Sweden Island
Viking style villa on Sweden Island HEART OF EUROPE

SWEDEN ISLAND

(10 four-story palaces, 7 bedroom waterfront homes, each ground floor has a gym, sauna and snow room, while on the rooftop there will be a glass-roofed party room)

Sweden Island was inspired by Swedish Viking Vessels and will offer up palaces furnished by Bentley Homes with glass roofs and private snow rooms. The $27 million beach palace was among the first properties to sell out on the island. Restaurants will incorporate Sweden’s famed cuisine, featuring items like sour herring, meatballs, Raggmunkar, toast Skagen, smörgåsbord, Snaps, and Glὃgg.

Honeymoon Island surrounded by Floating Seahorse Villas
Honeymoon Island surrounded by Floating Seahorse Villas HEART OF EUROPE

HONEYMOON ISLAND

The unique heart-shaped Maldivian inspired island will be a couples retreat surrounded by Seahorse Floating Villas that will sell up to $5 million each. Next to the island, there is the islands Empress Elizabeth Hotel, the first dedicated seven-star wedding hotel, where couples can celebrate their union overlooking white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.

Floating Venice Resort
The Floating Venice HEART OF EUROPE

FLOATING VENICE

(411 cabins, 180 underwater cabins, underwater lobby, gondola transportation, yacht club)

Inspired by the floating city, this will be the world’s first underwater resort with dining and accommodations located below the surface. Restaurants, bars, and shops will all be underwater with views of coral reefs and passing gondolas above. Entertainment will be offered from masked carnivals to opera performances.

The resort will have 12 restaurants and bars (three of which are underwater) and an underwater spa.

Switzerland Island Ice Cave
Switzerland Island HEART OF EUROPE

SWITZERLAND ISLAND

(Beachfront and lagoon villas, featuring master bedrooms, swimming pools and viewing decks)

Switzerland Island offers villas with water views and access to beaches, a seawater lagoon, and private swimming pools. The villa chalets utilize timber, stone, and glass design. A large blue water lagoon in the center of the island will be reminiscent of the large lakes in Switzerland.

The Côte D’Azur Resort
Monaco Côte D’Azur Resort HEART OF EUROPE

MAIN EUROPE ISLAND / COTE D’AZUR RESORT

The Côte D’Azur Resort comprises of 4 boutique hotels all named after the famous and picturesque cities of Monaco, Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez which are located in the South of France. The 4 boutique hotels will have Suites and penthouses with large balconies offering panoramic sea views.

Monaco will feature French fine-dining with an upscale contemporary décor, high-end fashion boutiques, and a large white sandy beach. There will also be lagoon swimming pools and a replica of the famed Monaco Marina.

Portofino Hotel on Italian Riviera island
Portofino Hotel on Main Europe Island HEART OF EUROPE
Aerial of Portofino Island
Aerial of Portofino Hotel HEART OF EUROPE

PORTOFINO HOTEL

(489 Princess and Queen Suites, Rooftop penthouses, Marina and Lobby with 514 aquariums, 6 Italian restaurants & bars, Women’s only social lounge and spa, Olympic size pool with underwater performances and Kids Club)

Designed to look and feel like the Italian city of Portofino, with colorful terracotta buildings, the Portofino Hotel on the Main Europe Island is a family hotel that will feature Italian-style suites with kids rooms, a kids club operated by a leading kids club operator, restaurants and cafes serving Italian cuisine and organic food. The facade will host an extraordinary hanging garden with 31,000 plants.

There are five swimming pools at the resort and even a snow-play area where children can build snowmen. Add synchronized swimming shows for entertainment.

The island will have its own fully-serviced private Paraggi Bay marina where all guests will arrive by boat. The front of hotel employees will speak Italian and the hotel will even accept Euros as currency.

Floating Seahorse Villas and skyline
Floating Seahorse Villas and skyline HEART OF EUROPE

SUSTAINABILITY

The Heart of Europe will oversee the development of more than 100,000 coral reefs and will also feature centenary Spanish olive trees that were sourced from Andalusia, Spain. The islands will also offer up the world’s first climate-controlled rainy street and snow plaza. 

The development will also use sustainable landscaping that will be pesticide-free and fungicide-free, and all green areas will use recycled water. The island will be totally car-free, use clean energy, and will offer sustainable water transportation to the guests. Designed with a zero-discharge policy and zero micro-plastics policy, the developers hope to ensure the protection of the Arabian Gulf and species of marine life that reside around the six islands.

This article was written by Jim Dobson for Forbes.com

Dwyane Wade Was One of the Greatest Leaders the NBA Has Ever Seen. Here’s What Made Him So Special


Dwyane Wade is so much more than basketball. And leaders should strive to be so much more than business.

Once in a great while, an athlete comes along who performs incredible in-sport feats, all of which pale in comparison to the kind of man or woman they are outside the sport. On Wednesday night, that elite group slipped a member’s jacket over the shoulders of Dwyane Wade.

That’s when Wade played his last NBA game, suiting up for the Miami Heat, who narrowly missed making the playoffs. The Heat lost to the Brooklyn Nets 113-94 but Wade managed 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists–the coveted triple-double.

The class act gave his final act in front of opposing but adoring fans who gave him repeated standing ovations. Also in attendance were friends LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony–an indication of just how respected Wade is.

After the game Wade thanked all the people who helped him along the way–one classy final assist.

You could be dazzled by Wade’s on-court accomplishments: three NBA championships, 12 consecutive all-star appearances, the 2006 finals MVP, and his 2009 scoring title. But Wade’s greatest skill isn’t his basketball prowess. It’s his in-all-ways impressive emotional intelligence. A skill he wields as a leader that every leader should strive to emulate.

In 2011, Wade’s Heat unexpectedly lost in the NBA finals to the Dallas Mavericks. Throughout the season, superstar teammates Wade and LeBron James showed friction that needed mending.ADVERTISING

After that finals loss, their families took a vacation together to the Bahamas. Wade recently told Sports Illustrated that the 2011 season made him realize LeBron was better than he was. It made him want to better himself–off the court. He made his move to do so during that family vacation. As he told SI:

I knew that LeBron could go to a level that I couldn’t go to. And I wanted to take a little bit of that ‘looking over his shoulder’ mentality away. So I said, go ahead bro,’ be your great self and we will all figure out how to be great around you.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said this of the gesture:

How many guys are willing to do that? He’s emotionally stable and has an incredible emotional intelligence. That’s when our team really took off, when LeBron was able to be the best player on the galaxy. Dwyane kicked that off.

Wade’s astonishing EQ was celebrated on Tuesday in a now-viral Budweiser ad that honors Wade for being “so much more than basketball.” Watch for yourself, but be warned, your defenses are useless. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball fan or not: You will need a tissue.

The video lauds Wade for honoring Joaquin Oliver–a Parkland shooting victim who idolized Wade–by writing his name on his sneaker. For taking a family on a shopping spree after their house burned down. For paying full college tuition for a girl whose family couldn’t afford it. For giving words of encouragement to a young man who hailed from a place where people don’t fare well. For supporting his wayward mother through a prison sentence, and buying her a church thereafter.

Wade, as one of the people in the video points out, simply cares.

Of the commercial, Wade said last night on NBA TV, “The people in the commercial reminded me of why I try to be more than basketball.”

Dwyane Wade is so much more than basketball. The best leaders are so much more than business.

That’s the core of emotional intelligence. You either care or you don’t. There’s no gray zone. What’s trickier is whether or not you show it. Intent is the false idol of many a leader.

The single biggest thread connecting all the best, most memorable leaders for whom I’ve ever worked was their effortless way of showing they cared. They didn’t have to work hard to care. They just did. It can be that way for you too–it’s a choice, a matter of prioritization.

Here’s a simple trick you can employ for those harried days when it’s easy to forget that the troops want to know you care about them. Remember the number 29. Is that a new status symbol–29 is the new 30? The legal drinking age in Bulgaria? 

No–it’s a percentage, as in only 29 percent of 1,000 employees I surveyed said they felt their boss genuinely cared about them. Or maybe the inversion of that number, 71, is a better prompt for you, as in 71 percent believe their boss doesn’t genuinely care about them. This is one number you don’t want to hit as a leader.

One thing I can say with great pride about my own leadership is that I’ve never seen myself as “in business,” despite being in business for 30 years. I’ve always been in the people business. And business was always good, which meant–not coincidentally–that business was always good.

Dwyane Wade is now retired. His number will be retired too, soon enough. But his role-model ability to care–those are shoes he’ll never hang up.

Nor should you. And if you haven’t laced yours up yet as a leader–game on.

This article was written by Scott Mautz for Inc.com

A Simple Plan to Achieve More in Life and Feel Good About the Results

a group of coworkers celebrating a big achievement

A Simple Plan to Achieve More in Life and Feel Good About the Results

Mike Desepoli, AskTheAdvisor

We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in the short-term and underestimate what we can accomplish in the long-term. The frustration that results is one big reason why so many New Year’s resolutions die before Spring.

But if you use these key strategies that are supported by deeply-held values – and science!  –  you’ll set better goals, achieve them, and feel better about yourself while doing so.

Know your values.

Knowing your values can provide real clarity on what you want to achieve in your life.

So ask yourself, what’s important to you? What makes you excited to get up in the morning? What are the passions and interests that fill your time when you’re not working? Who are the people you do those things with?

Another way to explore your values is to try new things. For example, volunteering at your local church or community center might reveal a passion for teaching or philanthropy that you never knew you had. These active experiments can become even more important as you age and start thinking about how you’ll stay happy and engaged in retirement.

Align your goals with your values.

Behavioral scientists have found that achieving goals is rarely a matter of ability or knowledge. For example, a person who wants to lose weight knows that eating ice cream with hot fudge five nights a week is not compatible with weight loss. Yet, the reason they keep downing that ice cream is often due to a lack of motivation. They might feel the immediate pleasure from the ice cream outweighs (no pun intended) the longer-term result of no weight loss, or worse, weight gain.

The more important a goal is to us, the more motivated we are to achieve it. Asking “Why?” can help you align your goals with your values and increase that motivational component:

  • Why should you stop eating ice cream five nights a week? Because I want to be healthier.
  • Why do you want to be healthier? So that I can live a longer and more active life.
  • Why do you want to live longer and be more active? So that I can do more things with my children and grandchildren.

Now we’ve identified core values – health and family – that are tied to the goal. These values will make the goal more important, and more likely to be reached.

Develop an action plan.

Asking “Why?” helps us move our goal-setting to a higher, value-driven space.

Asking “How?” helps us drill down into specific actions we can take to achieve those goals.

“I want to lose weight” is the sort of goal many people set and then abandon. That’s because it’s too unspecific. You can’t just “lose weight” every day until you hit your desired number.

So ask yourself, “How am I going to lose weight?” An answer like, “I’m going to exercise more” is closer, but still not actionable enough.

So how are you going to exercise more? Take a bike ride through your neighborhood every morning? Jog for 30 minutes after work three days every week?

Those are small but solid steps that you can use to develop an action plan. You might even go a little further and join a gym, start a neighborhood walk group, or hire a coach to add an extra layer of accountability and keep you on track. And yes, cut out the ice cream and hot fudge!

Measuring is Motivating.

Whatever goal you set, try to keep score. It could be as simple as pulling out a piece of blank paper and putting a checkmark on it for each day you don’t eat ice cream. We find that the act of keeping score creates its own momentum and can be like a “pat on the back” for a job well done.

Be resilient.

Even a perfectly-set, highly-motivated goal will be challenging. Some lazy Saturday you’ll snooze past your workout. You’ll cheat on your diet. An unexpected home repair might throw off your budgeting goals for the month. But that’s ok! We’re all human. Roll with it that day but then get right back to your plan.

All goals and personal improvements require effort. The grit we need to get over those inevitable humps is its own kind of skill that you can cultivate. Try to push yourself above and beyond your smaller targets. Welcome and accept feedback and criticism that can make you perform better. Prepare yourself to do better tomorrow when your alarm goes off.

And most importantly, stay positive. If your goals truly are aligned with your values, then working towards them shouldn’t feel like punishment. When you experience setbacks, try to embrace them as learning opportunities and adjust your action plan accordingly. And here’s an important piece of advice–when you hit small milestones on your way to big goals, treat yourself. We can all use a little positive reinforcement.

We’re here to help you.

What you aspire to achieve may require a financial commitment. Please contact us and we can discuss your particular situation and see how we can help you get on a faster path to achieving your life’s aspirations.

Sources

https://www.belayadvisor.com/behavior/

https://99u.adobe.com/articles/55219/true-grit-how-to-build-up-your-resilience

Are You Living Life On Purpose?

young man sits atop a mountain perch and looks out over the valley below

Are You Living Your Life On Purpose?

Mike Desepoli, Heritage & #AskTheAdvisor 

Why, day in and day out, do you do the things that you do?

Because you have to? Is it because you want to? Or is it because you’ve had the same routine for years and you’re used to it?

If you feel like your life is something that just happens to you, it’s time to reassess how you’re spending your time. Financial security, stability, and creature comforts are all important. But feeling that your life has purpose will become more and more critical to your emotional and physical well-being as you age — especially when you finally retire.

A healthy sense of purpose.

Research into the area of human well-being draws a distinction between happiness (experiencing pleasure and avoiding pain) and the feelings of meaning and self-worth that we derive from our lives (1).

Too often, we focus on the former and neglect the latter. This is why the sheen wears off so quickly from a big-ticket purchase. Buying a new car or big-screen TV gives us a quick hit of pleasure. But sooner rather than later, new things become just more things that we’ve accumulated. Once that initial happiness evaporates, we find there’s no additional layer – no purpose – to improve our well-being.

Researchers have also found that people who feel like their lives have purpose live longer and show decreased risk of cardiovascular problems (2). And as you age and prepare for retirement, living with purpose helps to limit your risk of cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s (3).

The purpose of work and family.

Most of us tie purpose to the things that we spend the majority of our time doing: working and raising our families. Again, it’s important to draw a distinction between simple happiness and purpose.

A doctor who has to deal with ill people and mortality might not consider her job “happy” all the time. But helping people gives her that critical sense of purpose that rounds out her feelings of well-being.

Taking care of children will, at times, make even the most patient parents want to pull their own hair out. But feelings of love, connection, and responsibility make both happy family vacations and frustrating afternoons in timeout purposeful.

If you feel like your life is lacking purpose, start by looking for misalignment in these two areas. Is your job “just a job” that pays the bills? How could you pivot to a career that uses your unique gifts and skills to create purpose? Or are you working so hard that you’re missing key family events, which are also critical to your sense of purpose? Are there ways to improve your work-life balance?

It’s never too late to start living.

Many people believe that living and giving generously with their time, talents, and/or finances is a luxury they can’t afford, especially once children, mortgage payments, and college tuition enter the picture. However, research indicates that senior citizens frequently cite “dying with their music still in them” as one of the biggest areas of regret when they look back on their lives, meaning, chances they didn’t take, ideas they never pursued, or opportunities they watched pass by. It’s not money they’re regretting, it’s the sense of purpose they missed out on that would have improved their Return on Life.

Of course, not everybody can have that “perfect” job. But even in those situations, think of it not so much about the work you do, but “who you bring” to the work you do. Find ways to bring purpose to even the most mundane jobs and how that work is helping others.

And it’s never to late to find that purpose. Even seniors can discover new passions that will give their golden years purpose if they approach retirement with an active, enthusiastic mindset.

If you’re having trouble getting started, try asking yourself, “Why do I get out of bed in the morning?”

Is it to take care of your family? If so, then consider planning a family vacation for the summer. Coaching your child’s youth sports team. Turning dinner time into a group cooking activity. Or setting a regular monthly date night with your spouse.

If you find purpose in helping those in need, consider finding a volunteer position for a few hours a week.

Do you like to express yourself? Then perhaps start a blog or a digital photography website that you can work on in your free time. Turn that spare bedroom into a craft room.

And if you think your purpose is simply to make more money? Well, then maybe you need to start asking yourself better questions. Remember, money is a means, not an end.

We encourage you to come in and talk to us so that we can start a new dialogue about how your financial plan can help you get the best, most purposeful life possible with the money you have.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11148302
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26630073
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/210648

Debt: What’s Your Story and How Do You Feel About It?

a view of a mans back pocket with several credit cards exposed

Debt: What’s Your Story and How Do You Feel About It?

By Mike Desepoli, Heritage

In a recent study, half of Americans said their debt and expenses is equal to or greater than their income. 1 Revolving credit, particularly credit cards, is an increasingly significant part of the equation. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Household Debt and Credit report data, Americans’ total credit card debt hit $905 billion in 2017 – an increase of 8% from the previous year. 2

The phrase “credit card debt” usually triggers red flags when we’re talking about long-term financial planning. And in fact, the average US household now carries $15,654 on their cards, and pays $904 annually in interest. 2 But debt, in and of itself, isn’t good or bad. Instead of making a value judgement about how you use debt, when working with clients we like to understand:

  • What is your debt story?
  • What are your attitudes about debt?
  • Why do you feel the way you do?
  • How are your debt levels affecting the Return on Life your money provides?

Having a deeper understanding of the above helps us do a better job positioning your money to work more effectively for you.

What’s the big picture?

Our current high debt levels reflect a previous generation of low interest rates, an active housing market, a robust credit market, and relative peace and prosperity. This meant more consumers with more plastic and more loans. Again, debt is not bad in and of itself, especially in a healthy economy. But from 2007-2009, many highly-leveraged people and companies were vulnerable to foreclosure and bankruptcy during the Great Recession.

People who were born between the Great Depression and World War II grew up in the daily realities of war and lean markets. Unsurprisingly, this group tends to avoid using credit cards when they can. Instead, they rely on the cash in their hands and the checkbooks they balance with pen and paper.

That credit-aversion seems to have skipped the Boomer generation, who, generally speaking, happily used credit cards and home-equity loans.

The current generation of young workers—Millennials—seem to be warier about carrying debt than their parents were.

Young people are entering the workforce at a time when household income is struggling to keep pace with the cost of living. They believe taking on debt would only widen that gap. In particular, the costs of medical care, housing, and food continue to grow faster than income. 2

Many underemployed Millennials are living at home into their late-20s, so they aren’t using credit cards to finance luxury items or buy first homes. Even for millennials who do find good jobs after college, many start their adult lives in the red because of student loans. As of September 2017, the average US household had $46,597 in student loan debt. 2

Millennials are less enthusiastic about investing in the markets. Growing up during the Great Recession shook their faith in the economy. Growing up in the shadow of 9/11 and terrorism, they’ve only known a world unsettled by global unrest.

Millennials are also a more conscientious consumer group than their parents were. They want to spend their time, and their money, on things that help to make the world a better place. They consider personal fiscal responsibility to be part of a greater good.

What’s your story?

While looking at big picture debt trends is useful for predicting where the economy is headed, your Life-Centered Plan is about you. Now would be a great time to take a minute to consider:

  • How do you feel about debt?
  • Why do you think that you feel the way you do?
  • Are you comfortable with your current level of debt?
  • Is your current level of debt causing any problems with one of your loved ones?
  • Do you pay off your credit card balances in full every month?
  • How do your attitudes about debt align or differ with those of your parents? Why do you think that is?

We encourage you to reach out to us and we can take a closer look at your financial situation and help you get on a more comfortable path. Together, we can create a financial plan that will improve your Return on Life.

 

Sources
  1. Half of Americans are spending their entire paycheck (or more) http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/27/pf/expenses/index.html
  2. Nerdwallet’s 2017 American Household Credit Card Debt Study https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/

Does Your Desire to Save Match Your Reality? – #AskTheAdvisor

a man thinks about spending money but considers his savings plan

Savings: Does Your Desire to Save Match Your Reality?

Mike Desepoli, Heritage Financial Advisory Group

“The only money that’s really yours is the money you spend.

Everything else goes to somebody else.”

-Teddy Chafolious

That piggy bank we remember from childhood wasn’t just a place to store our birthday money and spare change: it was a lesson, a way our parents encouraged us to get into the habit of saving. Many parents even go so far as to deposit half of any monetary gifts their children receive directly into a savings account, just to drive the point home. Adults who took that lesson to heart might set up automatic deposits into long-term savings or retirement accounts from their paychecks every month – a modern mechanism for implementing this age-old lesson.

But the quote from Teddy Chafolious raises an important point: What are we saving FOR? Many new investors come to their financial advisors with a number in mind: “I want to save $1 million before I retire.” There’s even something of a fad among millennials who work as hard as they can, save as much as they can, and try to retire before age 50.

But why? After all, “you can’t take it with you.”

It’s important to have financial goals, and committing to a regular savings plan is good first step towards achieving them. But if you treat your long-term financial planning as just a series of targets to hit, or numbers you have to drive up as much as possible, your return on investment is going to be a lot higher than your Return on Life – the feelings of happiness and fulfillment that your financial planning should provide you.

How much are Americans saving?

According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Americans today are saving a lot less than they have in years past. Personal savings in the United States averaged 8.29 percent from 1959 until 2017. The rate for 2017 is hovering around 3 percent. Experts tie this historically low savings rate to increased household spending, which continues to outpace wage increases, and high levels of revolving debt, like credit cards.

Figures like these drive many people to the opposite end of the spectrum: they save as much as they possibly can, especially if they’re nearing retirement.

Finding balance.

We tend to think that the person saving more is doing a better job of managing his or her money than the person saving too little. But neither extreme is going to maximize your Return on Life. Spend too much enjoying the now, and you might end up having to work much longer than you want to – maybe even all the way through retirement. Save too much too early, and you and your family might miss out on the experiences that you deserve to enjoy with your hard-earned money: big family vacations, a new home, creature comforts, entertainment and culture that will enrich all of your lives.

Worse, new retirees who have spent their lives stuck in “savings mode” often have trouble transitioning to the reward mentality that should provide for a meaningful retirement. These retirees worry so much about running out of money that they often neglect their own wants and needs, to their emotional and physical detriment.

Reality check.

So how do you find that balance between enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow?

First, ask yourself if your rate of savings is in line with your reality. Are you saving so much that you’re not enjoying life as much as you could be? Or are you hovering around that 3 percent savings figure, telling yourself that you’re putting enough money away when you know, deep down, that you’re not?

Next, make an appointment with your Advisor to talk about your financial goals, and your vision for a dream retirement. Work together to find that saving/spending balance that’s going to align your savings with your reality, and hopefully, your goals and dreams. Find that sweet spot, and your money won’t just be numbers on a balance sheet. It will be yours. Don’t have an advisor? Here is a helpful article to show you what to look for.

 

Overlooked Keys to Being a Successful Investor

an investor reviews his portfolio of stocks on his smartphone

Overlooked Keys to Being a Successful Investor

Mike Desepoli, AskTheAdvisor

Does investing strike “fear” in you? We once heard somebody say the word “fear” stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” That seems to apply to investing. Here’s why.

The stock market makes some people nervous. This can be especially true for young people who grew up during the Great Recession. Not only did these folks see market volatility at its worst, but they also came away with negative impressions about the financial markets in general.

The truth is that the market is neither a one-way ticket to instant riches nor a dangerous game for insiders only. There is risk involved in any kind of investment, but if you understand how the market operates in the long run, then the rewards can be significant.

By understanding the following three important facts about the market, you might be able to turn “fear” into “False Evidence Appearing Real” and not get scared out of letting your money work hard for you in the market.

The market tends to move in long cycles.

The amount of info we have at our fingertips makes it tempting to check in on our investments weekly, daily, or even hourly. As a financial professional, though, we take a much wider view of the markets. And while past performance is no guarantee of future returns, the history of the market continues to trend upwards.

Consider the S&P 500 Index. If we go back and look at all the bull (upwards) and bear (downwards) markets from 1926 to 2017, the average bear lasted 1.4 years and resulted in a 41% loss on average. However, the average bull lasted 9 years, and gave investors a 480% gain on average, according to First Trust.

When volatility strikes, patience is usually a good course of action. Your financial plan is designed to provide for the rest of your life, not for one bull or bear cycle. Instead of panicking when the market dips, try to think of volatility as a tax that investors pay on the wealth that the market can create.

And if you do find yourself checking in on your investments as regularly as you check your email, maybe think about uninstalling that app—or calling us.

Make consistent contributions to your portfolio.

Besides struggling to accept volatility, many people are skittish about the markets because they feel powerless. Money goes in, and decades later, who knows what’s going to come out. They feel that politicians, corporations, and geopolitical tumult will have the final say in how big their retirement nest egg grows.

However, often times the biggest factor that determines the success of your investments is simply contributing new money on a consistent basis. As discussed above, the market will most likely trend upwards in the long run. The more of your money that’s along for the ride, the bigger those eventual gains will be.

For example, suppose that you decide to invest $10,000 every year for 10 years into your portfolio. In a flat market returning 0%, that $10,000 would account for 100% of your portfolio’s gains. In a modest market returning 6% per annum, that $10,000 would account for 73% of your portfolio’s gains. And even in a bull market, charging ahead at a rate of 12%, your $10,000 would STILL account for more than half of your portfolio’s gains, according to Invesco.

Focus on what you can control.

To be sure, part of investing involves accepting things you can’t control. A hurricane on the other side of the world might rattle the markets for a couple days. A large company might become embroiled in an accounting scandal. The Federal Reserve might make an unexpected interest rate move. Market corrections might follow.

But if you understand volatility and continue to focus on the big picture, you’ll start paying more attention to the things you can control, like a monthly budget that allows for automatic contributions to your investment and retirement accounts.

Better yet, think about setting a goal to ramp up the size of those contributions. Many people try to save or invest 10% of their income. Can you shoot for 15%? 20%? The bigger the contributions, the bigger the payoff when you retire. And if retirement isn’t on your radar, that big investment cushion will go a long way toward giving you a feeling of freedom.

If you’re still unsure about investing in the markets, make an appointment to talk to us. We can help clear away any misconceptions you might have about investing and craft a plan that makes you comfortable about how your money is working for you.

 

 

Facebook data scandal: Everything you need to know

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Facebook data scandal: Here’s everything you need to know

Mike Desepoli, Heritage

Cambridge Analytica is in the midst of a media firestorm. This came after an undercover sting operation caught senior executives boasting about psychological manipulation, entrapment techniques and fake news campaigns. Alongside social media giant Facebook, the London-based elections consultancy is at the center of an ongoing dispute over the alleged harvesting and use of personal data.

What happened

It started with an explosive expose broadcast by Britain’s Channel 4 News on Monday. In it, senior executives at Cambridge Analytica, were caught on camera suggesting the firm could use sex workers, bribes and misinformation in order to try and help political candidates win votes around the world.

How did this initially come to light?

The Channel 4 News investigation followed articles published over the weekend by the New York Times and U.K. newspaper The Observer. The reports sought to outline how the data of millions of Facebook profiles ended up being given to Cambridge Analytica.

In this way, 50 million Facebook profiles were mined for data. Kogan then shared this with Cambridge Analytica, which allowed the firm to build a software solution. The software was used to help influence choices in elections, therefore spurring the narrative of collusion. This was according to a whistleblower, who revealed the alleged practices to both newspapers.

How has Facebook Stock responded?

As you might expect it’s been under quite a bit of pressure the last few days. It is currently off about 10% from recent all time highs made in February. With growing calls for executives to appear before congress, it will likely continue to be under pressure. In the news today, there is a group of investors who have filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook with the intention to recoup stock losses.

What happens next?

U.S. senators have urged Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress. They will likely ask about how the social media giant will protect its users. Meanwhile, in the U.K., Zuckerberg has been summoned by the chairman of a parliamentary committee in order to explain the “catastrophic failure” to lawmakers.

The head of the European Parliament has also said it will carry out an investigation to see whether data was misused.

For more on this topic check out #AskTheAdvisor 64 on YouTube!

Tariffs & Trade Wars

trump and chinese president in a trade war standoff

Tariffs & Trade Wars

By Emmet Sullivan , Guest Blogger

 

Many consumers, investors, and ordinary citizens often worry when the word “tariff” is thrown around. Instantly signaling an increase in price in imported goods, the word is almost synonymous with a negative economic impact.  Thinking in terms of the big picture, we need not jump to such hasty, and often misguided conclusions.

What is a Tariff?

First, it is important to understand what tariffs are, and what they hope to accomplish. A tariff is an additional tax imposed on imported goods.  By imposing these taxes on imports, national governments hope to discourage large-scale outsourcing. As a result they hope to spur domestic production by driving import prices up. When the prices of imports go up, the hope is that consumers will look to domestic suppliers for goods they would normally obtain from international sellers.

The current tariff talks in the U.S. are based around metals. Specifically, President Trump wants to impose a 25% tariff on imported aluminum and steel.  The levy is intended to increase demand of domestically manufactured metals by increasing the price of their international substitutes.  This in turn might create a number of job opportunities in U.S. metal production related to the surge in demand.

Trade War?

Many worry that this tariff may result in an international trade war between the U.S. and countries like China and South Korea. There is speculation that trading partners might retaliate with similar tariffs. Therefore, this would make it harder for U.S. producers to export their goods.  However, Canada (the U.S.’s largest supplier of both aluminum and steel) and Mexico (the U.S.’s third largest trading partner) are both exempt from the tariff as part of the ongoing re-negotiation of the NAFTA agreement.

In summation, the tariff should not be an immediate cause for worry. As stated, some of the U.S.’s largest trading partners are exempt from its effects, and some speculate that it has been implemented as a negotiation tool for international agreements like NAFTA. The tariff’s long term effects remain to be seen, but we caution against fear of an economically-harmful trade war at present.