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The Friday Brief

Hurricanes and Market Turbulence

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The last ten years of fair-weather markets have spoiled us a bit, but storms do come, and they can be ferocious. Just as Hurricane Michael came out of nowhere, so did a stock-selling spree that shaved more than 5% from the S&P 500. We are once again reminded that stock markets do not move in straight lines, and that emotions often get the better of investors. The US economy is strong. Corporate earnings have grown more than 20% for the past two quarters and are on pace to do the same for the third quarter of this year. Unemployment at

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Navigating the Challenges that come with Aging

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It’s safe to assume that, short of an untimely end, we will all continue to age. And yet, as financial planners, our experience has shown us that most address the topic of aging in one of two ways: either by having a vague conversation about downsizing at some point and leaving it at that, or by waiting until a crisis occurs and then being forced into action. With aging an inevitability for all of us, doesn’t it make sense to spend more time planning for what we hope our lives will look like in our 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and

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What Are Your Priorities?

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One of the most important exercises in financial planning is laying out your priorities. A priority list and its order provide necessary guidance as to how we should best go about achieving our goals, and which ones are more important than others. The exercise is made all the more challenging in that we actually have two sets of priorities in our lives: Aspirational Priorities – those that we list when talking to our financial advisor or sharing with friends, and Confirmed Priorities – those actually reflected in our spending. The first represents our hopes and ideals, while the second confirms in

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Health Savings Accounts as a Retirement Planning Vehicle

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Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, were created in 2003 through the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act. Early adoption was slow, but growth in recent years has been impressive as more and more Americans become familiar with their many benefits. For years, HSAs have been used as a means to set aside money for health care expenses and receive an income-tax deduction on the contributions. A downside of HSAs is that they must be associated with a high deductible health plan (HDHP) so they may not be the optimal approach for those struggling with health issues or limited cash

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Disaster Relief? A Call To Action.

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What an odd phrase, if you think about it: Disaster Relief. You can get relief from an itchy bug bite, or from a golf ball on a cart path, or even relief of certain types of debt. But relief from a disaster? It’s oddly inadequate to consider relief in those terms, especially when confronted with the images I’m sure you’ve all seen of towns like Wilmington and New Bern and Lumberton and Fayetteville and all the rest under several feet of water as a result of almost three feet of rain at the hands of Hurricane Florence. I don’t have

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The Cone of Uncertainty

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As Hurricane Florence continues endangering lives and destroying property, many of us wait in uncertainty, wondering how homes, boats, and treasured landmarks are faring. It’s personal and emotional kind of uncertainty, the kind that can’t be addressed by probabilities. But on the statistical side, the National Weather service could not have done a better job of predicting the path of Hurricane Florence, despite the  challenges of several high and low pressure systems, two tropical storms and three hurricanes in the region, each with their own degrees of uncertainty. The image below depicts the cone of uncertainty six days ago. The accuracy has

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In Defense of a Working Retirement

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On Sunday, this “news” came out that Geoffrey Owens–an actor who had a recurring role on The Cosby Show–was spotted working at a Trader Joe’s somewhere in New Jersey, and then shamed for it. The sentiment seems to have been something like, “Poor Geoffrey. If only his former fame had produced a more lasting fortune and the associated work exemption that would make him a happier man by any objective standard…” And on Monday we celebrated Labor Day, a holiday which has its origin in the labor movements of the late 19th century (the first Labor Day was a strike!), when workers–many of whom were

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What’s Your Edge?

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My son, Jack, started kindergarten a few weeks ago. It was a big moment in his life and it was also a big moment in the lives of his parents. It’s when Emily and I started to surrender control of the child we’ve raised the past five and a half years. Emily and I decided to enroll Jack at Neuse Christian Academy, a small, private K-12 school. There are many reasons we chose NCA, most of which are insignificant for today’s post, but can ultimately be summed up by the question: What will give Jack an edge in becoming the

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10 Things to Consider As You Help Your High School Student Prepare for College

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As we prepare to host Brooke Daly and Lindsey Ringenbach of Advantage College Planning on September 13th at 7 PM, we invited them to prepare a guest post for our Friday Brief. Be sure to read all the way through then watch the video below to learn more about the event.   10 Things to Consider As You Help Your High School Student Prepare for College 10. Encourage your student to make connections with her teachers. Your student (as opposed to you) should be the one contacting teachers to ask clarifying questions about assignments or grades. Your student should meet

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