Apprise’s Five Favorite Reads for the Week of July 25, 2021

Heavy Thunderstorm
Discover Our Five Favorite Reads Discussing Financial Fears, Making the Most of Social Security, and Evaluation Job Benefits. Learn Tips on Financial Planning Here!

As discussed in Apprise’s most recent blog, my family and I were away on vacation last week. We went away with my wife Diana’s siblings and their families. There were 16 of us in all – not counting those with four legs. This group picture was taken on our last day.

One of the vacation tips in my last blog was to make sure to spend some time outside each day. I also mentioned the idea of taking a walk in the rain. Little did I know what that might mean.

Last Tuesday, seven of us went for a bike ride. We stopped for lunch and then checked out a few shops. On the ride back, it started to pour. We rode six miles in a heavy thunderstorm. Fortunately, there were bike paths everywhere, so we never had to ride on the road. I’ve logged a lot of miles on my bike over the years; I’ve never ridden in rain like that before. We were all completely soaked.

Of course, we all survived the rain. The biggest casualty was our shoes. They took a few days to dry out. But they did. The saying I mentioned last time held true. Our skin was waterproof, and our clothes did dry. 😊 We’re left with a story and shared experience that we’ll remember for years.

Our trip also has some connection to this week’s second article. It talks about reconnecting with people you haven’t seen in a while because of the pandemic.

Investment Commentary

The S&P 500 Index closed Thursday at 4419.15 just shy of Monday’s record high. With one day left in July, the S&P is up 2.8% for the month. It’s 17.7% higher year-to-date. The S&P fell 1.1% in January. It has yielded positive monthly returns ever since. The S&P is up 17.7% year-to-date.

Second-quarter economic data was released on Thursday. The U.S. economy delivered strong growth as it exceeded its pre-pandemic size. However, we also face greater uncertainty because of the fast-spreading Delta coronavirus variant.

A combination of fiscal stimulus and a jump in consumer spending drove the growth. More people received vaccinations and businesses reopened. Strong job growth also continued during the quarter. U.S. payrolls expanded by an average of nearly 600,000 a month.

Unfortunately, virus cases are rising again, especially in areas of the country where vaccination rates remain low. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vaccinated people resume masking indoors in places with high or substantial transmission of coronavirus. In response, some local governments and businesses reinstated activity restrictions.

The increase in coronavirus cases has increased uncertainty. Some harbor concerns that consumers and workers will retreat again, as they did last year. So far, forecasters do not expect Delta’s spread to have a major economic impact. Many businesses and consumers have learned to adapt to each of the pandemic’s waves. Expectations are that this will continue.

Against this backdrop, I believe the best approach is to maintain a long-term focus. I continue to have a positive long-term view. At the same time, remember that all roads do not point to the sky. Market corrections and bear markets have happened in the past and will happen again. It’s important to stick to your process. Don’t let the emotions of fear and greed drive your decision-making.

Here are the links to this week’s articles as well as a brief description of each:

1. How to Size up a Job’s Benefits? When evaluating a job offer, you should consider more than the salary. Lifestyle considerations matter. These can include flexible work schedules and remote work options. They are hard to put a dollar value on though. More conventional benefits include healthcare, retirement savings plans, flexible spending plans, and disability insurance coverage. When considering a job offer, you can use this article as a guide to help you evaluate these more traditional benefits.

2. The Best Investment of All: The People You Love MostHas your financial strength improved since the pandemic began? On average, Americans who have been lucky enough to keep their jobs have saved more money over the past year than they have in decades. During this period, many of us have also lost touch with friends and family. This article makes a compelling case that we can use some of our savings to reconnect with long-lost friends or loved ones. How about getting on a plane and going to visit someone who has less money than you?

3. A Woman’s Guide to Making the Most of Social Security. Deciding when to start claiming Social Security benefits matters. Waiting can increase your benefit. This decision often matters more for women than men. Why? Women tend to live longer than men, which means they tend to collect benefits for a longer period. Most men also marry women younger than they are – two-to-three years younger, on average. This article discusses things women should keep in mind when deciding when to start claiming benefits. The recommendations focus on those who are single, divorced, or widowed. For married couples, as a general rule, at least the higher-earning member of the couple should wait until age 70 to start collecting benefits. This helps maximize the benefit for the surviving spouse. For more on this topic, you can also check this blog or this one.

4. Winners and Losers of the Work-From-Home Revolution. More of us work from home today than did before the pandemic started. Most have a positive view of the experience. While some will go back to the office on a full-time basis, many expect to have more of a hybrid schedule going forward. Who will be the winners and losers from this change to our working relationships? High-income workers at highly profitable companies should benefit. Downtown landlords and businesses should be among those who suffer. Check the article for thoughts on other winners and losers. See also: Many People Don’t Want to Work Unless It’s From Home.

5. Nearing Retirement? Kick Your Financial Fears to the CurbOutliving savings in retirement can be a very real risk for many Americans. This article shares several helpful steps you can take before retirement. These steps can help you feel more confident about what your retirement might look like. These steps play an important role in the financial plans Apprise creates for clients. Those who experience stress or anxiety about how financially prepared they are for retirement are not alone. Confronting your fears and concerns ahead of time represents an important first step in reducing these fears. It can make you more confident about what your future may look like. Apprise endeavors to put clients on a “Pathway to an Informed Retirement.” If you would like some help planning for your retirement, please schedule a free call.


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