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A Lifetime of Retirement Saving

In the 20th century, the American retirement system was supported by three financial legs: employer pensions, Social Security, and an employee’s personal savings. Essentially, employees shared the responsibility of saving for retirement with their employers and the federal government. Life is different in the 21st century. Now employer pensions are all but history, and there is constant concern for the viability of Social Security. Employees are now principally responsible for saving for their own retirement. Fortunately, employees today tend to have broad access to retirement accounts such as 401(k) accounts, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and Roth accounts. These accounts provide substantial incentives and benefits for retirement savings. Even with these tools, retirement saving is a lifetime endeavor that requires constant diligence and perseverance. David Frederick, J.D., LL.M., SVP First Bank Wealth Management The Early Years Retirement savings is most effective ...

Quarterly Market Review (Third Quarter 2019)

  This report features world capital market performance and a timeline of events for the past quarter. It begins with a global overview, then features the returns of stock and bond asset classes in the US and international markets. The report also illustrates the impact of globally diversified portfolios and features a quarterly topic. Overview: Market Summary World Stock Market Performance World Asset Classes US Stocks International Developed Stocks Emerging Markets Stocks Select Market Performance Select Currency Performance vs. US Dollar Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Commodities Fixed Income Global Fixed Income Impact of Diversification Quarterly Topic: Timing Isn’t Everything Quarterly Market Summary Index Returns       Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Index performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfol ...

August Market Overview - 2019

The Markets (as of market close August 30, 2019) Despite a closing push, August closed on a weak note for stocks, ending a tumultuous month marked by high volatility. Investors moved away from stocks, fearing that the ongoing U.S.-China trade war would negatively impact domestic and global economies. As a result, gold prices surged and long-term bond yields plummeted as prices rose. Despite the wide market swings, consumers spent more of their income as the job market remained strong. By the close of trading on the last day of the month, each of the benchmark indexes listed here fell, with the small caps of the Russell 2000 being hit the hardest, followed by the Global Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P 500, and the Dow, which lost over 1.70% from its July closing value. Year-to-date, each of the indexes remain ahead of their respective 2018 closing prices. However, compared to their values at the end of August 2018, the Dow and the S&P 500 are up 1.70% and 0.86%, respectively, while the Nasdaq (-1.80%), ...

Recent Market Volatility

August 2019 In recent days the increase in volatility in the stock market has resulted in renewed anxiety for many investors. While it may be difficult to remain calm during a substantial market decline, it is important to remember that volatility is a normal part of investing. Additionally, for long-term investors, reacting emotionally to volatile markets may be more detrimental to portfolio performance than the drawdown itself. INTRA-YEAR DECLINES Exhibit 1 shows calendar year returns for the US stock market since 1979, as well as the largest intra-year declines that occurred during a given year. During this period, the average intra-year decline was about 14%. About half of the years observed had declines of more than 10%, and around a third had declines of more than 15%. Despite substantial intra-year drops, calendar year returns were positive in 33 years out of the 40 examined. This goes to show just how common market declines are and how difficult it is to say whether a large intra-year dec ...

Handling a Dispute with Your Insurance Company

From time to time, you may need to resolve a dispute with your insurance company. Disagreements often arise about the amount due on a bill, the amount the company paid on a claim, or the nonpayment of a claim. Here are some steps that can help you resolve a dispute efficiently and agreeably. Know your rights The insurance industry is highly regulated. Your state has laws that dictate what insurance companies can and cannot do when it comes to bill collecting, settling claims, and other matters. The law may be called the Unfair Insurance Practices Act, the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, or something similar. To learn about the laws in your state, call your state insurance department or check its website. Most states have the following regulations in place: An insurance company cannot misrepresent your policy. In other words, the company cannot knowingly tell you that the policy means something that it doesn't actually mean. In addition, the company cannot change the policy without ...

Market Month: July 2019

The Markets (as of market close July 31, 2019) Stocks ran hot and cold in July, influenced by worsening global economic conditions, ongoing trade negotiations with China, and lagging domestic business investment. While the Fed's decision to reduce short-term interest rates was not unexpected, stocks were sent reeling, closing out the month on a bit of a sour note. Despite analysts and Wall Street predicting the interest rate reduction, some experts questioned the timing, particularly in the event of a deeper economic downturn in the future. Corporate earnings reports in July were generally positive, driving stock prices higher. Low unemployment, increased consumer spending, and moderate wage increases helped insulate domestic investors from an otherwise global economic downturn. By the close of trading on the last day of the month, only the Global Dow was unable to surpass its June closing value. Otherwise, each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted monthly gains, led by the Nasdaq and the S&a ...

Timing Isn’t Everything

Over the course of a summer, it’s not unusual for the stock market to be a topic of conversation at barbeques or other social gatherings. A neighbor or relative might ask about which investments are good at the moment. The lure of getting in at the right time or avoiding the next downturn may tempt even disciplined, long-term investors. The reality of successfully timing markets, however, isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. OUTGUESSING THE MARKET IS DIFFICULT Attempting to buy individual stocks or make tactical asset allocation changes at exactly the “right” time presents investors with substantial challenges. First and foremost, markets are fiercely competitive and adept at processing information. During 2018, a daily average of $462.8 billion in equity trading took place around the world. The combined effect of all this buying and selling is that available information, from economic data to investor preferences and so on, is quickly incorporated into market prices. Trying ...

Key Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning is the process of managing and preserving your assets while you are alive, and conserving and controlling their distribution after your death. There are four key estate planning documents almost everyone should have regardless of age, health, or wealth. They are: a durable power of attorney, advance medical directives, a will, and a letter of instruction. Durable power of attorney Incapacity can happen to anyone at any time, but your risk generally increases as you grow older. You have to consider what would happen if, for example, you were unable to make decisions or conduct your own affairs. Failing to plan may mean a court would have to appoint a guardian, and the guardian might make decisions that would be different from what you would have wanted. A durable power of attorney (DPOA) enables you to authorize a family member or other trusted individual to make financial decisions or transact business on your behalf, even if you become incapacitated. The designated individual can ...

Quarterly Market Review (Second Quarter 2019)

This report features world capital market performance and a timeline of events for the past quarter. It begins with a global overview, then features the returns of stock and bond asset classes in the US and international markets. The report also illustrates the impact of globally diversified portfolios and features a quarterly topic. Overview: Market Summary World Stock Market Performance World Asset Classes US Stocks International Developed Stocks Emerging Markets Stocks Select Country Performance Select Currency Performance vs. US Dollar Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Commodities Fixed Income Global Fixed Income Impact of Diversification Quarterly Topic: The Uncommon Average Market Summary Index Returns Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Index performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. Market segment (index representation) as follow ...

Ten Money-Saving Travel Tips

Exploring the world sounds fun and exciting, but it can be expensive to travel. However, there are ways to experience the trip of your dreams on a budget. Follow these money-saving tips when planning your next vacation to help make it more affordable. Join a frequent flyer program. It will probably take time to accumulate frequent flyer points, but the perks can be worth it. Depending on the program, rewards can include cheaper fares, upgrades, free companion tickets, and more. Be flexible with scheduling. Timing your ticket purchases wisely can help you save big. Aim to travel during days of the week when airfare tends to be cheaper. Similarly, try to fly at unpopular hours (e.g., early morning or red-eye flights) for more affordable pricing. Avoid traveling during peak holiday seasons and school breaks, and be aware of big events such as conferences or trade shows that tend to make hotel prices soar. Comparison shop. Research online to find the cheapest flights to your desired destination. Mix ...

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Disclosure

All First Bank blog information and content is strictly informational. It is not intended to be specific investment, tax, or legal advice. If you need detailed financial, investment, or tax advice, please contact a First Bank qualified professional. Please note, First Bank occasionally shares third-party content we find to be relevant and helpful to our audiences.