Thursday, July 23, 2020

Rerouting Your Summer Vacation




All is not lost. If you planned a multicity tour across Europe or Asia this summer, you’ve probably already rethought those plans. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the idea of a vacation altogether. Perhaps a domestic destination, a little ingenuity and a lot of family unity are just what you need.

As far as COVID-19 restrictions go, federal guidelines still do not recommend travel, especially internationally. The CDC advises that if you decide to travel domestically, be sure to take precautions against catching the virus, including washing hands often, socially distancing and wearing a mask.1

In addition, tourism experts recommend avoiding large crowds and choosing outdoor destinations. The key may be to find destinations that fewer people know about.2

Before you go too far down the road, decide how much you can spend. If previous travel plans have been canceled, consider whether you want to use a voucher to rebook in the future or be reimbursed now.3 If you choose the latter option, you might be sitting on cash you are itching to spend. But before you do, it’s a good idea to research where the U.S. is in terms of “flattening the curve” and what the economy — and your job situation — could potentially look like in the future. Many economists are concerned about the effects a possible second wave of COVID-19 infections could have on the economy, so consider whether it’s smart to hold back some that cash you haven’t spent yet.4

If you are concerned about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on your retirement income, we may be able to help. Please feel free to contact us to discuss creating retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that can help you work toward your retirement income goals.

If you are up for rerouting your vacation plans, consider these ideas. On the high end of travel, an upscale hotelier, Auberge Resorts Collection, and a luxury travel company, Black Tomato, have partnered to host “Take the Open Road with Auberge and Black Tomato.” Packages offer the use of a Mercedes-Benz to take you on multiple destinations with unique experiences in a particular area, with options ranging from lobster fishing in Kennebunk, Maine, to hiking, horseback riding and fly fishing in Park City, Utah. All packages feature award-winning hotel accommodations.5

A more budget-friendly option could be a vacation rental. To minimize your risk of exposure to coronavirus, consider renting an all-in-one party house, complete with swimming pool and other kid-friendly accommodations. The extra expense of renting may be offset by preparing meals at home and limiting other excursions. Research to make sure that you don’t choose a “hotspot” experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and that you’ll have access to stores, restaurants and any other venues you plan to visit.6

At Imber Wealth Advisors, we help people in the Ann Arbor area plan for retirement. With a strong financial plan in place, we can help you prepare to leave the workforce and live comfortably. Take control of your financialfuture and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today!


 1 David Oliver. USA Today. May 20, 2020. “Weighing whether to travel this summer during the coronavirus pandemic? What to consider.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2020/05/20/coronavirus-travel-summer-vacation-what-cdc-state-department-say/5198927002/. Accessed June 9, 2020.
2 Ibid.
3 Lisa Milbrand. Real Simple. May 14, 2020. “How to Handle Vacation Plans (Including Your Summer Vacation) During COVID-19.” https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/travel/travel-planning/travel-vacation-planning-covid-coronavirus. Accessed June 9, 2020.
4 Carmen Reinicke. Business Insider. June 8, 2020. “A 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections poses the biggest threat to the US economy this year, economist survey shows.” https://www.businessinsider.com/economy-biggest-threat-second-wave-coronavirus-infections-us-covid19-survey-2020-6. Accessed June 9, 2020.
5 Lauren Mowery. Forbes. June 9, 2020. “Four Ways You Should Hit America’s Roads This Summer With Black Tomato.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/lmowery/2020/06/09/four-road-trips-with-auberge-mercedes-and-black-tomato/#66e874be71f3. Accessed June 9, 2020.
6 Claire Ballentine. Bloomberg. May 21, 2020. “Considering a Vacation Rental? Here’s What to Know Before You Travel.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-21/considering-a-vacation-rental-what-to-know-before-covid-travel. Accessed June 9, 2020.
  
We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies

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Monday, July 20, 2020

How Might the Economic Downturn Affect Dividends?





If a large allocation of your retirement portfolio is invested in dividend-paying stocks, you might see your household income reduced this year. During the Great Recession, dividend payouts dropped by 25% and didn’t fully recover for at least four years. Today’s financial crisis brought on by the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak has once again created a potential reduction in some dividend payments.1

U.S. dividend payers are in a sticky situation. Banks and other lending institutions saw profits drop by 50% by the end of March. These losses are expected to continue as millions of Americans continue to lose jobs and struggle to make rent, mortgage and credit card payments. Other reliable dividend payers include airlines, auto manufacturers and large retailers — also companies that have been hammered by drastically reduced consumer demand. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange recently predicted that S&P 500 index dividends will fall from 2019’s $58.24 to $47.55 this year, and even further ($42.05) in 2021. The impact on retirees could be a 27% reduction in income.2

Dividend payments — or the lack of them — may have an impact on how a company is viewed by investors. Historically, a company that paid out dividends has been considered financially stable with management that was confident about future earnings.3 Conversely, investors may interpret a reduction or halt in dividend payouts as a sign that a company is in trouble.4

Given that it took four years for dividend stocks to recover from the last recession, current retirees may want to start looking at alternative income stream ideas. However, traditional alternatives may also have drawbacks in the current economy. For example, investors may consider turning to master limited partnerships (MLPs). An MLP is a company organized as a publicly traded partnership in the natural resources or real estate sector. Historically, MLPs have been considered low-risk, long-term investments that provide a steady stream of tax-sheltered distributions to investors.5 However, the combination of falling oil prices and falling transportation demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic has put many MLPs under financial stress.6

Today’s crisis has demonstrated that some traditional sources of retirement income are vulnerable to disruption. Now more than ever, it’s important that retirees and pre-retirees develop a financial plan that takes into account their need for asset preservation strategies, growth and reliable income. If you have any questions or concerns about your own financial plan, give us a call. We’ll be happy to talk.

At Imber Wealth Advisors, we help people in the Ann Arbor area plan for retirement. With a strong financial plan in place, we can help you prepare to leave the workforce and live comfortably. Take control of your financialfuture and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today!


1 William Baldwin. Forbes. April 16, 2020. “How Much Will Your Dividends Get Cut?” https://www.forbes.com/sites/baldwin/2020/04/16/how-much-will-your-dividends-get-cut/#17263d3319cf. Accessed June 9, 2020.
2 Ibid.
3 Amy Fontinelle. Investopedia. May 15, 2020. “Companies That Pay Dividends — And Those That Don’t.” https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/12/why-do-some-companies-pay-a-dividend.asp. Accessed June 9, 2020.
4 Chad Langager. Investopedia. June 4, 2020. “Why Would a Company Drastically Cut Its Dividend?” https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/06/dividendpaymentcut.asp. Accessed June 22, 2020.
5 James Chen. Investopedia. Aug. 28, 2019. “Master Limited Partnership – MLP.” https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/mlp.asp. Accessed June 9, 2020.
6 Pensions & Investments. March 24, 2020. “Pipeline funds imperiled with end of MLPs in sight.” https://www.pionline.com/private-equity/pipeline-funds-imperiled-end-mlps-sight. Accessed June 9, 2020.

 We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Social Security Woes




In 2000, actors Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey starred in “Pay It Forward.” The premise of the film is that a person repays a favor by offering small acts of kindness to more people. This concept of paying it forward leads to an exponential movement of goodwill.

Social Security works a bit like that. In other words, FICA payroll taxes collected from today’s workers are used to pay Social Security and Medicare benefits for retirees. When workers retire, their benefits will be paid by tomorrow’s workforce, and so on.1

Investing works a little like that as well. You invest money as you work and hope that the stock market will grow to produce a larger nest egg in the future. However, the stock market can be volatile, so sometimes you can lose the gains you earn and even the principal you invested. There are other ways to pay yourself forward. Call us to inquire how an annuity can provide a guaranteed stream of income during retirement. That way you can be sure that the money you pay forward definitely comes back to you in retirement.

Unfortunately, there are problems with the pay-it-forward strategy used for Social Security. One glaring issue has become evident in the wake of the pandemic. With more than 40 million people out of work, there were less FICA tax revenues paying into the Social Security system. This means that, according to some estimates, the program could be insolvent by 2030.2

Then there is the issue of sustained low inflation due to the current lack of consumer demand for goods. For most people, low inflation is a good thing. However, Social Security beneficiaries receive a cost-of-living increase only when there is a correlating jump in inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Preliminary estimates for a 2021 adjustment is little to none, given today’s current environment. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that things retirees tend to spend a greater portion of their income on, such as health and long-term care, grow much faster than the rate of inflation. Since 2000, the inflation adjustment for Social Security benefits has increased by 53%, but the cost of items purchased by retirees has nearly doubled (99%).3

Then again, we have even bigger problems than benefits not keeping up with inflation. Thanks to the $2.4 trillion (so far) stimulus passed by Congress to help offset the economic impact of COVID-19, America’s debt has risen higher than ever. While it may be necessary to provide funds for individuals, small businesses, large industries and unemployment benefits to help kickstart the economy, that debt creates a long-term challenge for the federal government.4

To reduce debt, fiscal policies will need to be changed to either raise taxes, reduce spending or both. While Social Security is funded by a separate (FICA) payroll tax, legislators may look to cut benefits in the future to reallocate more money to pay down the national debt. Recent proposals to help make the Social Security more viable include reducing disability benefits, increasing full retirement age and/or raising the payroll tax cap, currently at $137,700.5

At Imber Wealth Advisors, we help people in the Ann Arbor area plan for retirement. With a strong financial plan in place, we can help you prepare to leave the workforce and live comfortably. Take control of your financialfuture and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today!


 1 Jean Folger. Investopedia. April 27, 2020. “Why Is Social Security Running Out of Money?” https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/071514/why-social-security-running-out-money.asp. Accessed June 1, 2020.
2 Caitlin Emma. Politico. May 19, 2020. “Coronavirus could push Social Security to insolvency before 2030.” https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/17/coronavirus-social-security-2030-261207. Accessed June 1, 2020.
3 Alessandra Malito. MarketWatch, Inc. May 30, 2020. “Social Security recipients may be in for a rude awakening later this year.” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/social-security-recipients-may-be-in-for-a-rude-awakening-later-this-year-2020-05-12?mod=retirement. Accessed June 1, 2020.
4 Jim Sergent, Ledyard King and Michael Collins. USA Today. May 8, 2020. “4 coronavirus stimulus packages. $2.4 trillion in funding. See what that means to the national debt.” https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/2020/05/08/national-debt-how-much-could-coronavirus-cost-america/3051559001. Accessed June 1, 2020.
5 Aimee Picchi. USA Today. Feb. 12, 2020. “Social Security: Here’s what Trump’s proposed budget could mean for your benefits.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/02/12/social-security-trump-budget-aims-cuts-disabled-workers-program/4738795002/. Accessed June 1, 2020.
  
We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Or firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. Any references to protection of benefits, safety, security, or guaranteed lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investment products. Insurance and annuity product guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies


Thursday, June 25, 2020

How the Pandemic is Affecting the Real Estate Market




Research has found that over a 150-year period (1870 to 2015), owning a home has proved to be one of the most stable and secure holdings compared to other types of investments. While offering the added benefits of providing shelter and leaving it as a legacy, residential property is generally viewed as a financial asset able to withstand most crises — even a pandemic.1

For years, homeowners in many areas of the country have benefited from sustained high prices in the residential real estate market, largely due to the low sales inventory of existing homes. In early March, the housing market appeared poised for a solid spring, particularly in light of high demand and low mortgage rates.2

But all that quickly changed once the coronavirus broke out in the United States. In almost no time, the busy spring season for purchasing and selling homes was cut short by buyers hesitant to venture out — or risk their savings should they lose their jobs — and homeowners not wanting strangers traipsing through their homes. Open houses were canceled, and virtual tours became virtually the only way to check out an occupied property. Some in the industry expect this disruption and its subsequent impact on the economy to shift housing prices into a downward trend.3

For retirees, or workers planning for their retirement, owning your home can be an asset. You can sell it if you need the equity for retirement, assuming you find a cheaper place to live. Or you can draw from that equity if need be while remaining in your home. During this complex time, you have options, and it’s important that you consider all of them before taking any significant financial action.

One of the biggest problems brought on by the pandemic is that business closings, bankruptcies and job losses mean that millions of Americans do not have the money to pay their mortgage or rent. To help provide relief, some states including California, Texas, New York and Florida have temporarily banned evictions. On the federal level, a provision in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed in March allows homeowners with government-backed mortgages to defer payments for up to a year.4

However, that doesn’t help the long-term plight of renters — or their landlords, for that matter. According to the National Apartment Association (NAA), the profit margin for many landlords is very thin, around 9 cents for every $1. Furthermore, about two-thirds of residential rental properties don’t qualify for the federal mortgage deferral because they were purchased outright or through private loans. If landlords can’t make their payments, they may lose the property and tenants could still get kicked out. And in the end, cities and counties lose property tax revenue.5

On the commercial side, the real estate market could be impacted by shelter-in-place workspaces. After all, even if things do return to normal, now that employers and employees have sampled remote work as a viable option, it could become more commonplace. This means companies may need less office space. Is it possible we could see a glut of empty office parks and skyscrapers in the future? The same could apply to brick-and-mortar retailers, as quarantining has exposed the value and convenience of online shopping to even the most diehard mall rat.

But, as usual, where there are holes in the market, there are opportunities for investors willing to take a risk. Well-capitalized commercial real estate owners may look to acquire some of these distressed buildings at bargain prices.6

At Imber Wealth Advisors, we help people in the Ann Arbor area plan for retirement. With a strong financial plan in place, we can help you prepare to leave the workforce and live comfortably. Take control of your financialfuture and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today!

1 Ivan Anz. Utah Business. May 4, 2020. “Here’s what real estate investors should expect after COVID-19.” https://www.utahbusiness.com/real-estate-investors-covid-19/. Accessed May 29, 2020.
2 Jacob Passy. MarketWatch. April 6, 2020. “America’s housing market is showing the first signs of trouble from the coronavirus pandemic.” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/americas-housing-market-is-showing-the-first-signs-of-trouble-because-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic-2020-04-02. Accessed June 2, 2020.
3 Ana Durrani. Realtor.com. April 29, 2020. “What Your Real Estate Agent Wants You To Know About the Housing Market Right Now.” https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/real-estate-agent-wants-you-to-know-housing-market-coronavirus/. Accessed May 29, 2020.
4 Prashant Gopal and Oshrat Carmiel. Bloomberg. May 12, 2020. “If Landlords Get Wiped Out, Wall Street Wins, Not Renters.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-12/if-landlords-get-wiped-out-wall-street-wins-not-renters. Accessed May 29, 2020.
5 Ibid.
6 Ariel Maidansky. MarketWatch. April 29, 2020. “The future of commercial real estate – the weak get shaken out and the strong take over whole new markets.” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-future-of-commercial-real-estate-the-weak-get-shaken-out-and-the-strong-take-over-whole-new-markets-2020-04-29. Accessed May 29, 2020.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

What Might Be Next - Inflation or Deflation?



Consumer prices fell by 0.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, the biggest drop in more than a dozen years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Conversely, prices for grocery items jumped 2.6%, the highest one-month increase in 46 years, with eggs rising by 16%.1

What’s going on here? Well, the devil is in the details, an important lesson to learn about interpreting data. It’s true that supermarket prices are rising, mainly because of two factors: The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted supply lines, and more Americans are eating at home and buying more groceries. Together, these factors have contributed to the tight food supply, and per the economic theory of supply and demand, when supply is low and demand is high, prices rise.2

As for the drop in consumer prices, that’s the other side of the coin. With the nationwide efforts to close businesses and shelter in place, people are simply buying less. They may be out of a job or worrying about that prospect, so they’ve been hanging onto every last dollar — buying only the necessities.

The thing about falling demand is that it requires retailers and manufacturers to drop prices to entice sales. If they can’t sell what they are producing, then they cut back production, and people lose jobs. It’s a vicious circle, and one that can lead to deflation.3

Let’s face it, both inflation and deflation can have negative effects on investment portfolios, so it’s important to take steps to help protect against those risks.4 We have strategies that can help mitigate the effects of volatility on your retirement plan. Give us a call, and we’ll help tailor a plan for your personal circumstances.

Inflation usually gets top billing when discussing the economy because rising prices over the long term cut down on how much a dollar can buy. However, a little inflation, around 2% to 3%, isn’t a bad thing. It’s usually an indicator that people have jobs, spending demand is high and companies can afford to raise prices. Deflation, in contrast, can be more concerning, as it can lead to an economic recession or depression.5

The Federal Reserve, as part of its efforts to shore up the economy during the pandemic, appears just as intent on mitigating deflation as it is inflation. In early May, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, “As long as inflation expectations remain anchored, then we shouldn’t see deflation. Needless to say, we’ll be keeping very close track of that.”6

At Imber Wealth Advisors, we help people in the Ann Arbor area plan for retirement. With a strong financial plan in place, we can help you prepare to leave the workforce and live comfortably. Take control of your financial future and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today!

1 Anneken Tappe. CNN Business. May 12, 2020. “Prices are tumbling at an alarming rate.” https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/12/economy/consumer-prices-april/index.html. Accessed May 21, 2020.
2 David Goldman. CNN Business. May 14, 2020. “Grocery prices are soaring. Here’s what’s getting more expensive.” https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/13/business/grocery-prices/index.html#:~:text=That%20was%20the%20biggest%20increase,demand%20for%20groceries%20shot%20up%20. Accessed June 5, 2020.
3 Anneken Tappe. CNN Business. May 12, 2020. “Prices are tumbling at an alarming rate.” https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/12/economy/consumer-prices-april/index.html. Accessed May 21, 2020.
4 Paulina Likos. U.S. News & World Report. May 14, 2020. “How Inflation and Deflation Impact Your Investments.” https://money.usnews.com/investing/investing-101/articles/how-inflation-and-deflation-impact-your-investments. Accessed May 21, 2020.
5 Troy Segal. Investopedia. March 25, 2020. “Inflation vs. Deflation: What’s the Difference?” https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/111414/what-difference-between-inflation-and-deflation.asp. Accessed May 21, 2020.
6 Paul Davidson. USA Today. May 3, 2020. “Besides millions of layoffs and plunging GDP, here’s another worry for economy: Falling prices.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/05/03/coronavirus-us-deflation-falling-prices-new-economic-risk/3070084001/. Accessed June 5, 2020.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies