Apprise’s Five Favorite Reads for the Week of February 18, 2024

beating the winter blues
Our five favorite reads from the last three weeks. Plus: four things you can do to help beat the winter blues.

Beating the Winter Blues

Many people don’t like winter. In most places, winter is cold. While the day with the least amount of daylight each year occurs as winter starts, winter seems like the darkest part of the year, too. Even folks who love speeding down the slopes, gliding across frozen ponds, or building snowmen with their kids can experience mental health struggles during the winter months. Shorter days and gray skies mean less exposure to sunlight, which can affect your mood and sleep cycles. Cold temperatures and snow can make it hard to keep up with your usual exercise routine and favorite outdoor activities. And folks who just can’t stand the cold might spend more time alone at home than usual. If negative feelings pile up, you could risk developing Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a potentially serious form of depression requiring medical attention.

Keeping healthy is commonly part of our clients responses to the three Kinder questions. If not, we find it gets mentioned in their Heart’s Core Grid. The four activities that follow can help brighten your winter blues and warm your Return on Life.

1. Get outside your house.

OK, so cold weather and slushy streets aren’t your favorite. You can still bundle up to walk your dog around the block or check on an elderly neighbor. Or just hop in your car and mix up your routine. When was the last time you went to a movie, relaxed in a coffee shop with a good book, or dined in when ordering food rather than ordering carryout or getting your meal delivered?

Picking up a winter sport could also make the cold months a little more bearable. Rather than compounding your bad mood with frustration and, potentially, injury, learn how to ski or ice skate from a coach. Or take your kids or grandkids sledding. Even if you don’t join them for the ride, their enthusiasm might rub off on you. When my kids were younger, I loved going sledding with them. It was great fun.

2. Exercise.

Inside or outside, getting your body moving and your heart pumping can improve your body chemistry, decrease stress, and improve your mood. If winter sports don’t appeal to you and you don’t want to walk or run in the cold or explore gym memberships or exercise classes. You could also turn your bedroom or living room into a part-time gym. You don’t need to buy new equipment to get in some basic exercise while you’re watching your favorite show or listening to your favorite podcast. Following along with an online yoga or meditation class could help you learn something new. It could also improve your physical and mental health.

Cold temperatures don’t have to keep you from walking either. Just dress appropriately. The fresh air can help you clear your head. It can also benefit your mood. If you go alone, you can pop in an AirPod or an ear pod – just one so you can still hear nearby sounds and passing cars. That way you can listen to podcasts or music while you walk.

3. Spend time with friends and family.

Folks who are susceptible to the winter blues might go through extended periods of isolation. This only makes their depression and anxiety worse. Consider working some time with loved ones into your schedule, like a weekly family dinner or attending your grandkid’s hockey games. You could even offer to host get-togethers. Doing so will give you something to do on those days when you’d rather not brave the cold.

4. Travel someplace warm.

And if you have some family or friends who live in warmer climates, schedule a visit!

A change of scenery and some sunshine could go a long way towards improving your mood. You also might be able to enjoy some of your usual warmweather activities, like taking a morning run or playing a round of golf. If you’re especially vulnerable to winter blues, you might start scheduling an annual winter vacation around a lull at work or a long weekend at your kids’ school. Retirees might consider becoming “snowbirds” who spend the winter months in warmer parts of the world, either traveling or living in a second home.

Whether you need to try some new activities or make a major lifestyle change during the winter months, your Life Plan can help guide you. Schedule an appointment and let’s talk about the resources available to you and how you can get more Return on Life throughout the year.

Your health and your family’s health should be an important part of your Life Plan. Whether you want to set a better budget for meals and groceries or invest in better coaching for your young athlete, our tools and Life Planning process can help you live happier and healthier with the money you have.

This Week’s Favorite Reads

In this week’s favorite reads, we share articles from two of our favorite writers on personal finance. The first reminds us not to pay too much attention to the stock market’s regular gyrations. You will also find some things to consider if you wish to age in place as well as tips to help you protect the data on your iPhone if it gets lost or stolen.

Here are the links to this week’s articles as well as a brief description of each and why you should check it out:

1. What I Learned When I Stopped Watching the Stock Market.

Paying too much attention to the stock market’s daily gyrations can be hazardous to your health. In the past, I’ve shared some suggestions to help you stay sane when market volatility rises. We’ve experienced rapidly falling markets, such as the one driven by the Covid-19 lockdown and rapid recoveries. The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Zweig is one of my favorite personal finance writers. He recently took a long hiatus (about seven months). In this article, he shares some thoughts on what happened while he was gone, as well as what it taught him. The key takeaway: “When you don’t watch the market every day, you can finally see with unquestionable clarity that what you would have expected to happen didn’t. The unexpected did.”

Mr. Zweig also suggests that you think about your future self when making decisions. Hmmm. What does that mean? Imagine the future you. See yourself doing things you would be doing, in the places you would be doing them, surrounded by the people and things you want to be surrounded by. Add colors, sounds, and smells to make the visualization real. You can also consider how you will feel about today’s actions in the future. Taking these steps could help keep you from overreacting today.

2. If you want to age in place in retirement, experts say these are the things you should consider.

When working with clients on their financial plans, an important discussion centers around where they would prefer to live as they age. An overwhelming majority say they would like to age in place. This usually represents a more cost-effective option than a nursing home. The costs are often similar to an assisted living facility. An increasingly popular option is a Continuing Care Community. These facilities endeavor to offer a continuum of care as residents age. If you want to stay in your home, your home may need improvements and upgrades to make it possible. This article shares several things to keep in mind if you want to age in place.

3. A Few Thoughts on Spending Money.

Another of my favorite writers covering personal finance is Morgan Housel. In this article, he highlights two ways we can use money. The first considers money as a tool to help you live a better life. The second view looks at money as a measure of status we use when comparing ourselves to others. We often aspire for the former but fall victim to the latter. This happens more often than we care to admit. At Apprise, we work with clients to develop their life plans. This approach helps our clients align how they spend their money with what matters most to them. We want to help our clients live their most fulfilled lives.

4. Turn On This New iPhone Setting to Protect Your Money and Photos.

Last May, I shared a story that offered ways to help protect iPhone data from thieves. That article suggested that Apple could do more to help users protect their data. Apple listened. Effective with the release of iOS 17.3 in late January, Apple started offering Stolen Device Protection (SDP). This allows you to protect your iPhone if it gets stolen along with your passcode. SDP makes it a lot harder for a criminal to change your passcode and lock you out of your Apple account. When enabled, SDP will restrict the passcode’s power over certain settings when you are away from a location familiar to your iPhone, such as your home or office. After reading this story, I immediately turned this feature on. I suggest you consider doing so as well.

5. 6 Key Reasons Why Investing in a Taxable Account Is Underrated.

When we think about saving for retirement, we often focus on stashing our money in tax-sheltered savings accounts, such as IRAs, company retirement plans, Roth IRAs, 529s, or health savings accounts. We favor these accounts because they can provide tax-deferred compounding. In other words, you won’t pay any taxes on a year-to-year basis if you don’t withdraw any assets. Plus, depending on the type of account, you may also receive a tax break on your contributions and/or withdrawals as well. As a result, many of us think of a taxable account as a last resort when we think about where to save our money.

Most investors should hold taxable accounts as well as tax-deferred accounts. You can read this article – or our previous blog on the topic – to find out some of the reasons why. Keep in mind that holding different types of accounts from a tax perspective can help you lower your lifetime tax bill.

Our practice continues to benefit from referrals from our clients and friends. Thank you for your trust and confidence.

If you would like to talk to us about financial topics including your investments, creating your life plan, saving for college, or saving for retirement, please complete our contact form or schedule a call or a virtual meeting via Zoom. We will be in touch.

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