Plodding Along

Funny, or actually not so funny, I was reading about the latest unemployment figures for September and noticed that the payroll figures had increased by 103,000. Then as I continued to read, I noticed that the real figure was closer to 68,000. The reason was, 35,000 of those people, who were on strike at Verizon came back to work. Many economists believe we need to have 275,000 new payrolls each month in a thriving economy. Every month we do not hit that figure, it will grow the following month(s) to make up for what we have not achieved. Ben Bernanke told a congressional panel this week that the Fed really can't do much more to move things along. I've heard comments like "the fed is out of bullets". Personally, I found those comments a little unsettling. As I have stated in the past, I think we are going to continue to bump along for the next few years. I read an article last week where they stated the economy was on a knife's edge and made the comparison to a household whereby the primary bread winner was in fear of loosing his/her job and therefore, every financial move that is made in the family unit is critical to maintaining the integrity of the family economy. I thought that was a great descriptive of where we are.

The "Occupy Wall Street" movement has gone global as of the 15th of the month, and many of those people are now calling themselves the 99%, which seems to indicate that 99% believe we are in a world of those who have and those that have not. This movement is getting lots of press but I question the motives, and they lack leadership. It makes for great press and gives people something else to talk about.

We are seeing a shift of money and lots of people are moving to annuities where they can get guaranteed returns and guaranteed future income. I've had more clients and potential clients ask us about these things than I can remember over the past 9 years. Confidence and predictability is where people want to have their money in these times, so it's no wonder inquiries are up on these vehicles. There are lots of traps in annuities, so talk to us before you make any moves.

Some good news, interest rates are at record lows, and a 30 year mortgage is now well under 4%. If you are a new home buyer or considering a purchase, those numbers are about as good as they will get. A good source for checking mortgage rates is: www.bankrate.com. They publish the major lender rates for mortgages, CD's, equity lines, etc. You may want to bookmark that page on your web browser for future reference. We use it all the time.

I felt compelled to write a comment about Steve Jobs and his passing this month. As most of you know, our offices run on Apple Technology because of the security it offers on our database. Steve was a true leader and essentially changed the the computer industry for the foreseeable future. He was and will remain iconic in his ability to create and lead one of the greatest and revered company's in the world. Its almost unfathomable that he started that process from his garage and built brick by brick to what Apple is today. His passing made me reflect on my own mortality, he was 5 years older than me.

Estate Planning & Trusts

Being a trustee is a big responsibility and if you don't perform your duties properly, you could be personally liable. That's why it's important to hire the right people to guide you in this important role. A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm), called a "trustee," holds legal title to property for another person, called a "beneficiary." If you have been appointed the trustee of a trust, this is a strong vote of confidence in your judgment. A trustee's duties include locating and protecting trust assets, investing assets prudently, distributing assets to beneficiaries, keeping track of income and expenditures, and filing taxes. As a trustee, you have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust, meaning that you have an obligation to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries at all times. It also means you will be held to a higher standard than if you were just dealing with your own finances. A trustee is usually entitled to hire an attorney (and other professionals like an accountant or advisor) to assist in trust administration. The professional fees will be paid from the trust funds.

Planning Tips

Safe money is still the name of the game in times like this. Guaranteed income planning is critical and can relieve some of the stress and inconsistencies of managing your money. People want to know if they have enough money, and is it going to last long enough for their retirement years.