ECONOMY and the STOCK MARKET: Everywhere you turn you hear about the struggling economy and how the stock market is down. Some people make a lot of money by scaring everyone they can. Our advice is to ignore the media noise. Truly, anything is possible, but until it happens there is no reason to worry about it. Right now, we’re hoping the market downturn will be over in a few months, as the average length for Bear Markets and recessions is 1.1 years, which means things may improve anytime from February to Spring. We hope it’s sooner, but it may take longer to recover, as well. As we have discussed in the past, portfolios are managed to meet your expressed end goal, not today’s market valuation. Keep in mind just because an opinion is voiced does not mean it is always right or always wrong. But we’ve learned that it’s valuable to keep to the middle of the road rather than veering off into the unknown fringes.
SCAMS: Wow. They are everywhere and are attacking every business. Just today, we had an email that looked like it was sent from “DocuSign”, one of our service companies. It was delivered to nearly all our office computers. The only way we were able to avoid the phishing attack scam was to continue to be vigilant and not trust any email until it is confirmed. If you get something from what appears to be one of your “trusted” contacts, first, carefully look at the email address. Click on the “from” address to make sure that it is not hiding an unknown source email. Then, if it looks legitimate, and we haven’t talked about it, make a quick call to our office to determine that it is authentic. We wish this wasn’t necessary, but it’s better to be cautious and avoid any bad actors from hacking into your private information.
GRANDCHILD SCAM, ETC.: I’ve seen this scam happen to my clients several times over the years. It’s sad some people didn’t think to ask us for advice. The “Grandchild” scam is where someone knows that you have not heard from your young adult grandchild for many years. It’s not hard to figure out once someone gets a hold of your personal information. The scammer will call, saying, “Hi, grandma”. They’ll know just enough about your grandchild to make it sound real, and yes, their voice has changed over the years, hasn’t it? You haven’t heard their voice for so long you feel it must be them. The scam is usually about something that requires an immediate response. Your “grandchild” may say they have to make bail, have been put in jail, and they have run up a big bill. Or, they are stuck overseas somewhere, owe a lot of money, and their wallet and credit cards were just stolen. Another lie is they owe money for next month’s rent. The list goes on. And, by the way, “Please don’t tell mom and dad. They’ll be so mad!” Then, they finish up, sealing the call with, “Love you, Grandma! Thanks so much for your help.” They’ll ask for a gift card or Western Union check to be sent. More than one client has been caught in an expensive scam. Another scam version is “Congratulations. You have received a large amount of money! We just need to meet with you”. Or they’ll say, “Send us a check to get your money transferred, and we’ll need your Social Security number to make it official.” Another scam is, “Buy our stock. We’ll make you a lot of money,” which of course, never happens. I’ve been called on each one of these examples, and after I said, “Don’t do it!”, was told, “But, I think you are wrong, and I’m going to do it anyway.” Okay. Make us at least feel better by calling us if you’re unsure. Then, we won’t feel bad if you can go and get a second opinion.
TAX HARVESTING: While it sounds complex, it is actually very simple. When you have a taxable investment (a non-retirement account), in the last month of the year, it is a good idea to do a quick assessment of whether the “Cost Basis” (the amount you initially invested) is much more or less than your current market value. If you have investments that have decreased in value, you may want to sell some of the stock positions to lock in the loss. Then, take those investments that have made money to offset the gains with the expenses. Once you’ve made that move, which decreases your potential tax owed in the future, you can then buy a similar stock or fund. Even though you may have a close affinity to the original stock or fund (as you’ve been following it for a bunch of years), it is important that you don’t buy right back in. The Internal Revenue Service’s “Wash Rule’ requires that you wait for 30 days before you buy back into the same stock, otherwise you don’t get to use the loss to offset the gains. There are many stock and mutual fund positions that will react similarly to the general market, for example, selling one company like Exxon and buying Chevron.
Like I said, these are just some of the thoughts I have at the end of the year. If you have questions, feel free to call us at any time.
David Hoefferle is a Registered Representative offering securities and advisory services through United Planners Financial Services of America, a Limited Partnership, Member FINRA/SIPC. United Financial Center is not affiliated with United Planners.
Material discussed is meant to provide general information and it is not to be construed as specific investment, tax or legal advice. Keep in mind that current and historical facts may not be indicative of future results.