5 things you need to know about financial planning

Women Helping Women 

You’ve heard about financial planning, but what’s so important about it? Well, a good financial plan maps out where you are, where you want to be, and becomes the roadmap that helps you get from here to there. Here are five main things to understand about financial planning. 

  1. A financial plan helps you define your goals

One of the most important pieces of a financial plan is defining your long-term goals. Maybe you want to own a second home or travel the world. Maybe you want to pay for college and retire comfortably in Napa. Or perhaps you want to ensure you never have to rely on anyone else financially again. Whatever your unique goals, your financial plan should include them. 

  1. A financial plan helps you reach for your goals

Any financial plan worth its salt should map out how you will achieve your goals. It will consider your current net worth, your cash flow, income sources and more. Your plan will include all of your current obligations, like mortgage and insurance, and will outline specific amounts to put aside each month toward savings, college, retirement and other specific goals.

 A financial plan can help you prepare for unexpected events

Good financial plans should include a cushion of extra funds that are set aside to help you pay for unexpected events—both good and bad. So, whether you decide to take your family on a trip to celebrate the end of quarantine, or you need to replace your roof, you’ll be prepared. 

  1. A financial plan helps you stay on track toward your goals

Financial plans can help you stay on track toward your goals in multiple ways. First, they give you a framework for making decisions. For example, if you are considering a major purchase not in your plan, looking at it in the context of how it could affect your plan can be quite helpful. If it has no impact, you may decide to do it, but if it might delay your progress, you have the opportunity to weigh your decision and determine if you think the tradeoff is worth it or not. 

Second, financial plans give you a benchmark to measure against. As such, they should be reviewed regularly in order to track your progress toward your goals. In fact, sometimes, just knowing that things are being looked at regularly can motivate you to stay on the straight and narrow as well. 

  1. Financial plans should evolve

A good financial plan should not be static, but a living document that evolves as your needs and life changes over time. During your regular reviews, you should be considering not only your progress and investment performance, but how your life may have changed. Perhaps you had another child or got a new job, or maybe your mother passed away. Or perhaps you’ve decided that you don’t really want that vacation home anymore, but would rather upgrade your existing home. There are any number of things that may change from year to year, so it’s important to communicate these during your review. 

When done well, with the assistance of a professional, financial planning should help you to reduce financial stress today, while helping you achieve your goals for tomorrow.

 

Gasber Financial is happy to create a financial plan for you or to review and update your existing financial plan in order to help ensure your future is everything you want it to be.

 

Market Noise

What to Make of Recent Market Hype

Women Helping Women  

There’s little doubt that the markets of 2020 acted in some surprising ways, but that was nothing compared to what happened in the markets during the week of January 25th. Whether you invested in it or not, you likely heard about how a group of investors on Reddit drove up the stock price of GameStop from around $39/share on January 20th to a high of $483 on January 28th

So, the questions are what happened and what should we do the next time it happens/how much attention should we give to this type of hype event? 

The short (and long) story

You may already understand what selling short is, but in case you don’t or don’t remember, here’s a refresher. Short selling is when you borrow shares of a stock that you think will go down in price in order to sell it now, with the plan being to buy it back when the shares decrease so you can return the stock you borrowed and profit from the difference. For example, you sell XYZ stock at $100 and it goes down to $50, you buy it and return the shares, keeping the $50/share difference in price. 

The challenge is that if the price increases, you can lose a lot of money. If the shares of XYZ rise to $150, for example, you’re losing $50/share when you have to replace the shares. 

A number of hedge funds had taken significant short positions in GameStop because the stock had been trading under $20 for the better part of 3+ years, so when it went to around $40, they believed it would go down. The group on Reddit could accomplish two things by purchasing the stock en masse:

  • They could start driving the stock price up so they could profit significantly in a short amount of time
  • They could cause significant losses for the hedge funds—who drove the stock up further as they frantically tried to buy back the stock to limit their losses (it’s estimated that this cost hedge funds $5 billion)
  • They could make a political statement about Wall Street institutions 

There were a number of other issues you may have heard about including how RobinHood, a popular investing technology for independent investors, paused trading a few times. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t that they were bowing to pressure from Wall Street, but were trying to meet regulations for deposits on hand and to reduce their own exposure (risk) to the stock. You can learn more about the whole thing from this informative video by the 401KLADY. 

What’s next?

While there currently aren’t regulations to stop this type of investment hyping from happening again, there likely will be in the future. But for now, you may be wondering if you should try to jump in on something like this the next time it happens. To answer that, consider the following: 

  1. We heard a lot about how individuals profited insanely in a short amount of time, but lots of investors lost money too. While the stock is still far above the long-term average (as of February 10th, it was between $50-$60/share), lots of investors who jumped on the bandwagon at $120, $200, $300 and more have now lost significant value per share.
  2. When it comes to investing, you should keep a focus on the long-term. Trying to manage a portfolio by riding these types of waves will be incredibly challenging and more than a little bit painful.
  3. Research has proven that, for most of us, by the time we hear about something like this, it’s already too late to benefit. 

 

Gasber Financial is here to help you simplify the markets and your finances. We’re happy to help you with any questions you may have about this or other events.

Getting on Track Financially for 2021

Women helping women 

To say the least, 2020 was unusual in many respects. With the pandemic, business shutdowns, stay-at-home orders and a highly contentious election, the year was definitely one for the history books. It was also an unusual year from a financial perspective. 

Many individuals saved money, as we were not commuting as much, eating out, spending money on entertainment, or buying as many dressy clothes. On the other hand, we may have been spending more on:

  • The food we were cooking and/or ordering in
  • Utilities with more lights, electronics and networking expenses
  • Online shopping in general to alleviate the boredom and stress from being at home 

And because most of us had our routines completely disrupted, tracking our spending and savings may have fallen by the wayside. The new year is a good time to focus on finances. So here are a few ideas.

 

Get tracking

It’s important to understand where your money is going. And if you didn’t save as much as you expected, to understand why. Consider:

  1. If you did track your money, consider comparing 2020 to 2019. How different was it? Which categories increased and which decreased?
  2. You’ll want to consider categories for income, fixed expenses (such as mortgage, car payments), and discretionary expenses at least.
  3. Now, look your totals. Did your outflow exceed your income, such that you were relying on credit cards? If so, how much debt are you carrying and what is it costing to service the debt? 

If you don’t track your spending, consider doing so now. Grab your checkbook and credit card statements and look at where your money went, trying to get an idea of what changed over time.

If you don’t enjoy doing this by hand, there are a number of apps, budgeting programs, and spreadsheets you can use to keep track of it more easily and follow the process above.

 

One step at a time

If it seems overwhelming to look at the whole year at once, consider looking at it one month at a time. The idea is simply to get a realistic picture of how much you earn and spend over time. We believe you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. So, gaining an understanding of where your money is going is critical to helping you to plan for a better year this year, hopefully increasing your savings over time.

 

Gasber Financial is here to help you plan for the future. We’re happy to help you look at your monthly and yearly spending, to help you determine places where you can save, and to help you best determine how to pay off any debt you may have accumulated. Please call for more information or with any questions you may have.

Three Ways to Make This Year’s Holiday Even Warmer

Women helping women

 

 

The holidays are supposed to be about family, friends, spending time together, being of good cheer and probably a bit of religion thrown in as well. We’re supposed to be merry and maybe smile a little bigger and spread our love. I’m not quite sure when it became about spending the most on gifts or decorating our homes to within an inch of our lives (think I’m kidding? Just google “extreme Christmas decorations”).

 

I admit that this is an unusual year, so we likely not only need more holiday cheer, but may need some new ways to find it, since we may not be able to have the traditional parties and gatherings. Here are a few ideas.

 

Decorations

I confess that I haven’t begun to decorate yet, but I feel uplifted seeing lights on my neighbors’ trees and displays in their yards. And, if that gives you pleasure, then by all means go for it. Just make sure you aren’t going into debt or sacrificing your other goals to buy the trimmings or lights. You don’t want those good feelings to go away when that January power bill arrives.

 

Gifts

Consider setting a budget for what you want to spend on gifts. You could even set a budget that includes everything you want to spend on gifts, decorations and food during the holidays and begin saving for it in January, depositing 1/12 of the total into the holiday account each month. Then when December rolls around, you’ll be golden.

 

And even though it’s too late to do that for this year, it’s not too late to set budgets overall or for each member of your family. Parents often want to give their kids the world—and likely, especially in a year like this where you feel they’ve lost far more than they’ve gained. However, it’s still a good idea to put a limit on things or at least go in with a budget in mind to help you keep things from getting too out of control.

 

Giving

Another idea that can help warm your heart this year is to give a little more. There are more people in need this year than ever before. And even though you won’t see Santa on every corner, there are many ways to give. Did you know that in 2012, the National Day of Giving, or Giving Tuesday, was created as an antidote to the commercialism from Black Friday and Cyber Monday? It’s true. But we shouldn’t need just one day to give. We should be making a plan to give to the causes that matter most to you throughout the year.

 

Try to determine which organizations you want to help and how much you feel comfortable giving and then stick to it. Don’t be swayed by those sad puppy-dog eyes in the ASPCA commercials and go over-budget (guilty as charged!). If you’re not sure where to give, check out www.Charitynavigator.org—an independent non-profit organization that helps you evaluate the choices and determine the best places for you to give.

 

Gasber Financial is here to help you make confident decisions. We’d be happy to help you budget for the holidays, for giving throughout the year, and more. Please call for more information or with any questions you may have.

How to Provide Care When You Can't be There

Women helping women 

COVID-19 has changed a lot of things in our lives—and the lives of our loved ones. And though there is hope now that vaccines will be ready soon, it will still be a while before they are widely available. So, while you need to be prepared to spend some more time caring for yourself and the loved ones in your house, you may also want to continue supporting parents or other elderly loved ones who don’t live with you. Here are a few ways you can do that. 

Help them stay social and active

If they aren’t already familiar with FaceTime, Zoom or any other video calling apps, try to teach them. It’s easy to teach even over the phone. Once they’ve mastered this, it can be a lot easier to keep them social. You can:

  • Host game nights or happy hours with family on a regular basis
  • Encourage them to sign up for online support groups
  • Help them find an online class they’d like to do

You can also go old school and have your family and friends send them cards, letters and pictures once in a while. You can also consider giving them a project to do. Many of the sip and paint places have created painting from home kits where they send the materials and then you attend the Zoom class at a specific time. There are also a number of places creating things like chunky knit blanket kits and classes if dexterity is an issue. 

Make sure they have the care they need

If you cannot be there to help them, there are a number of ways you can still provide care. You can:

  • Hire someone to check on them or to provide nursing assistance if needed
  • Schedule regular grocery, pharmacy, and household good deliveries
  • If they’re not feeling well, encourage them to call their doctor and, if needed, send an Uber to help them get where they may need to go

And if you are able to visit them, wear a mask—for their protection and yours—and consider staying at a hotel. If that’s not possible, just try to be as safe as possible. 

Gasber Financial is here to help you make confident decisions during even the most stressful of life’s transitions. Please call for more information or with any questions you may have.