Growing your wealth is a combination of making money and saving money. Today we’re focused on the latter half of that equation. Current trends in the debt market could save thousands of dollars per year for mortgage borrowers.
Mortgage rates fell to their lowest level on record today, pulled down by fears that the spread of the coronavirus could weigh on the U.S. economy.
The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.29% from 3.45% last week (see chart). This is its lowest level in its nearly 50-year history. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 2.79% from 2.95% the prior week.
Mortgage rates are closely linked to yields on the 10-year Treasury, which this week dropped below 1% for the first time following an emergency Federal Reserve rate cut on Tuesday. Expectations are that the 30-year fixed rate could even drop below 3% in the next few weeks.
These historically low interest rates represent a special opportunity to potentially save thousands of dollars per year by refinancing your mortgage.
Whether it makes sense to refinance depends on a host of factors.
We want to help you do the math and decide if you should refinance. We invite you to share the key parameters of your mortgage loan confidentially and securely using this link:
- Mortgage Loan Questionnaire
(if you own multiple properties, please submit one form per property)
We will dig into your data and make a detailed evaluation. We will come back and advise you on how much you could save now, or what’s your future trigger point for capturing significant savings as rates continue to evolve.
We’re strong believers in the abundance cycle. Please share this offer to family & friends and share the wealth!
(Holiday decorations & countdown courtesy of a very excited 11-year-old named Benjamin Mullis)
Let’s face it. Buying meaningful gifts for our family and friends is really, really hard. If you want to give something that has a larger impact long after the holiday season has passed, why not give the gift of financial education and wisdom for living a fulfilled life?
Given the academic background of our firm, I know the following is going to be a big shocker. Here at NorthStar, we love reading books and we love giving books as gifts! Below you’ll find the NorthStar Guide to Gifts That Pay Off. It’s full of our favorite book and money-related gift recommendations for those ages 4 to 94!
So what’s the most valuable holiday gift of 2019? A fun lesson in financial literacy and living your best life!
NorthStar Capital Adivsors
The end of the year provides a number of financial planning opportunities and issues. These include tax planning issues, issues surrounding investment and retirement accounts, charitable giving, cash flow & savings, and insurance & estate planning issues.
We use the checklist below to proactively scan for many actionables to help serve our clients. In this checklist, we cover a number of planning issues that you need to consider prior to year-end to ensure you stay on track, including:
- Various issues surrounding your investment and retirement accounts including matching capital gains against any investment losses in taxable investment accounts and ensuring that all Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are taken.
- Tax planning issues including moves dependent upon your prospects for higher or lower income in the future. You will also want to review where you sit relative to your tax bracket as this is a good time to make moves to fill out your tax bracket for the current year that also might prove beneficial down the road.
- For those who are charitably inclined there are several strategies that will also help reduce your tax liability that can be considered based upon your situation.
- For those who own a business, tax reform has created some opportunities surrounding pass-through income from your business to your personal return. Accelerating or deferring business expenses presents another solid planning opportunity.
- It’s wise to review your cash flow situation as you near year-end to see if you can fund a 529 plan for children or grandchildren or to see if you can save more in an HSA or employer-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k).
This is a comprehensive checklist of the types of year-end planning issues that you should be discussing with your financial advisor to ensure you maximize cash flow and tax opportunities in the current year and beyond.
Dr Robert Clark (NC State University), Dr. Annamaria Lusardi (George Washington University), and Dr. Olivia Mitchell (University of Pennsylvania) analyzed a unique dataset that combined 401(k) performance data for 20,000 employees plus financial literacy data for the same workers.
Investors deemed to be more financially knowledgeable than peers enjoyed an estimated 1.3% higher annual return in their 401(k)s or other defined contribution plans than those with less knowledge.
According to the study’s authors:
“We show that more financially knowledgeable employees are also significantly more likely to hold stocks in their 401(k) plan portfolios. They can also anticipate significantly higher expected excess returns, which over a 30-year working career could build a retirement fund 25% larger than that of their less-knowledgeable peers.”
Financially savvy people tend to save more and are more likely to invest those savings in the stock market. But past studies haven’t clearly demonstrated that these people necessarily make better investment decisions. The authors look at patterns in 401(k) retirement accounts and find that more sophisticated investors do indeed get better returns on their savings.
Attention high school graduates that were rejected by their first-choice college
A new Gallup survey of 30,000 college graduates of all ages in all 50 states has found that graduation from an elite college provides no discernible advantage over Podunk U.
“It matters very little where you go; it’s how you do it” that counts, said Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education.
Gallup’s data demonstrate that people that feel the happiest and most engaged are the most productive. Those successful people got to that point by developing meaningful connections with professors or mentors, and made significant investments in long-term academic projects and extracurricular activities.
This new study’s results are well aligned with the existing body of academic research. For example, economist Stacy Dale published an insightful paper in 2004 that found that students who were accepted to elite schools, but attended less selective schools, went on to earn just as much money as their elite counterparts.
“Individual traits matter more than where you went,” Ms. Dale said. “It’s a lot more important what you learn later in life than where you got your undergraduate degree.”
The following is a brief excerpt from the commencement address by Dr. Chris Mullis (Financial Planner & Founding Partner at NorthStar Capital Advisors) to the graduating class of Providence Day School on May 31, 2013. The full text of Dr. Mullis’ speech, that includes career advice, financial guidance, and a few pearls of wisdom, can be found here.
At our financial advisory firm, we developed complex computer algorithms and use them to manage our clients’ investment portfolios. But the basic steps you need to take to manage your own money well are deceptively simple. First, live within your means and avoid being caught up in rapid lifestyle inflation. You will not live like your parents when you first start out. Second, save and invest your money wisely. Let me elaborate on this point.
Wealth accumulation depends on three factors: how much you save, the rate at which your money grows, and how long you save. That last factor, time, is very, very important. There’s an urban legend that Albert Einstein once said that compounding interest is the most powerful force in the Universe. That quote is likely misattributed but the message is spot on. If you save $5,000 a year for 40 years and earn 8% annually, you will eventually have $1.3M. But if you delay starting for merely 5 years, your results after 35 years will be only $860k. That 5-year delay preserved $25k of short-term capital but ultimately cost you >$400k in the long run. Time is the most powerful lever in the machinery of investing. Nothing else comes close to it.
So what do you need to do? Start saving and investing right out of high school regardless of how hard you think it hurts or how unpleasant the tradeoffs. Even if you set aside only 5% of your paycheck starting out, do it to get into the habit of saving. Delaying getting serious about investing until my 30s was a significant financial mistake on my part. No one ever sat me down and explained how important it is to start investing early. Now that we’ve had this little talk, you’ll never be able to say that no one told you.
Dana Anspach at MarketWatch wrote about 8 financially devastating mistakes (aka “Code Reds”) that must be avoided:
1. Believe in a stock
The company you work for is doing well. You understand the potential of the business. You should own a lot of company stock. After all, it shows your level of commitment, right?
WRONG! CODE RED!
You can lock in lifestyle by taking risk off the table. If trusted advisers are telling you to reduce risk, listen. You can’t take your “belief” in your company stock to the bank. Owning a lot of company stock doesn’t demonstrate a commitment to your company; it demonstrates a lack of commitment to your own personal financial planning.
2. Get reeled into real estate
Rental real estate is a good way to build wealth with someone else’s money, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what the infomercials say.
WRONG! CODE RED!
Investing in real estate is a profession in and of itself. With real estate prices on the rise again, don’t get reeled in with the lure of easy passive income. It isn’t as easy as it looks.
3. Follow a Tip
An opportunity to double your money is an investment opportunity worth pursuing. It could change your life, right?
WRONG! CODE RED!
Tips are great for your waiter or waitress. But where you family’s future is concerned, avoid the tips, and stick with a disciplined and diversified approach.
4. Change lanes — every year
Smart investors watch the market and frequently move money into the latest high performing investment, right?
WRONG! CODE RED!
You’ve probably noticed if you constantly changes lanes on a backed up highway, always trying to inch ahead, you usually end up farther behind. Driving this way isn’t effective; investing this way isn’t effective either. Pick a disciplined strategy and stick to it. Jumping from investment to investment is only going to slow you down.
5. Play the currency cards
Experts can deliver higher returns, right? Find someone who knows how to trade, and you’ll be set.
WRONG! CODE RED!
If experts could generate such high returns, why would they need your business? Don’t play the currency cards, the expert cards, or fall for any kind of outlandish promises. I’ve yet to see one of these programs work the way it was marketed.
6. Follow your ego
Better investments are available to those with more money, right? If you get the opportunity to participate in something exclusive, it is likely to deliver better returns.
WRONG! CODE RED!
If someone appeals to your ego, walk away. When it comes to investing, the only thing I’ve seen egos do is help someone lose money.
7. Follow their ego
You can trust prestigious people in your community. That’s why you should do business with them, right?
WRONG! CODE RED!
Checks and balances are good in government and in investing. One way to make sure checks and balances are in place is to work with an investment adviser that uses a third party custodian. The third party custodian sends account statements directly to you. The investment adviser can make changes in your account, but the transactions are reported to you directly by the custodian, who isn’t and should not be affiliated with the investment adviser.
8. Leverage up
Borrowing at low interest rates and investing in high growth assets is an excellent way to accumulate wealth, isn’t it?
WRONG! CODE RED!
Think twice before borrowing to invest. It causes ruin more often than it causes riches.
Visit MarketWatch to read Anspach’s full article.
At a 100,000-ft level, we do two things in our financial advisory practice: Asset Management* and Financial Planning. Although these two functions are distinct, they are very much interrelated. Both are essential components for our client families’ long-term success, but it’s important to understand and appreciate the differences:
(* Asset Management also falls under the monikers of “investment management” or “portfolio management”)
Asset management is about asset allocation, expected returns, risk tolerance and time horizons.
Financial planning is about making wise choices about the use of debt, setting up college savings plans, tax efficiency, estate planning and ensuring your insurance needs are taken care of.
Asset management is about managing investments.
Financial planning is about managing investors.
Asset management is about portfolio construction and risk management.
Financial planning is about comprehensive planning and emotional management.
Asset management is about measuring portfolio performance by comparing results to predetermined index benchmarks.
Financial planning is about measuring your performance against your true benchmark — your goals.
Asset management is about allowing your money to work for you to help you reach your financial goals.
Financial planning is about helping people define their goals, dreams, desires and fears.
Asset management is about creating a process that guides your actions in a wide variety of market environments.
Financial planning is about implementing a plan and making corrections along the way as life or market and economic forces intervene.
Asset management is about creating a portfolio that can survive severe market disruptions.
Financial planning is about creating a financial plan that can survive severe life disruptions.
Asset management deals with financial capital.
Financial planning deals with human capital.
Asset management is about growing and/or preserving your wealth.
Financial planning is about understanding why money is important to you personally.
Asset management is about where to invest a lump sum.
Financial planning is about how and when to invest a lump sum.
Asset management is about asset allocation.
Financial planning is about asset location.
Asset management is about creating policies to guide your actions in the face of economic and market uncertainty.
Financial planning is about helping people make better decisions with their money in the face of uncertainty that is impossible to reduce.
Asset management helps you understand how much you need to earn on your investments to meet your future spending needs.
Financial planning helps you understand how much you need to save meet your future spending needs.
Asset management helps you figure out where to take your money from when you need to spend it.
Financial planning helps you figure out where to spend your money in a way that makes you happy.
Asset management helps you grow your savings to meet future consumption needs.
Financial planning helps you plan and budget for future consumption needs.
Asset management is about creating a long-term process to guide your actions in the markets.
Financial planning is about creating systems that allow you to spend less time worrying about your money.
Asset management is about reducing the anxiety that comes from the volatile nature of the markets.
Financial planning is about reducing the anxiety that comes from making important decisions with your money.
Asset management involves growing your wealth so some day you can become wealthy.
Financial planning involves figuring out what a wealthy life means to you.
To get the most benefit from asset management, you really need comprehensive, well thought-out financial planning.
- July 2020
- June 2020
- May 2020
- April 2020
- March 2020
- February 2020
- November 2019
- October 2019
- June 2019
- May 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019
- February 2019
- January 2019
- December 2018
- November 2018
- October 2018
- September 2018
- August 2018
- July 2018
- June 2018
- May 2018
- April 2018
- March 2018
- February 2018
- January 2018
- December 2017
- November 2017
- October 2017
- September 2017
- August 2017
- July 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- Best Practices
- Charitable Donations
- Financial Planning
- Investing 101
- Live Well
- Market Outlook
- Mutual Funds
- Personal Finance
- Saving Money
- Scams & Schemes
- Seeking Prudent Advice
- Weekly Market Review