Clear it up Fridays: An historic bull market

Next week, you’ll be hearing a lot about an historic bull market. That’s because most analysts agree that on August 22, the stock market is likely to have avoided a 20% or more decline from on a closing basis for 3,453 calendar days making it the longest bull market in history. This calculation tracks the current bull market from March 9, 2009. On that day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 80 points, or 1.2%, to end at 6,547.05, its lowest point since April 15, 1997. The S&P 500 index lost nearly 7 points or 1%, to end at 676.53, its lowest point since Sept. 12, 1996, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 25 points or 2%, to end at 1,268.64, its lowest point since Oct. 9, 2002. Since March 9, 2009, the market has not dropped 20% from its closing day high. A correction is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. While we celebrate this historic milestone, we’re also keeping an eye on factors that might signal a potential slowdown. The spread between the two-year treasury and 10-year treasury appears to be tightening, which can be a leading indicator for a recession (which is defined by two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth). The market breadth is also very narrow and mostly due to the strong performance of the FAANG stocks. (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google). New home sales appear to be slowing down. Student loan and consumer debt is expanding. With strong earnings, low unemployment and a healthy economy, we remain cautiously optimistic that the record bull run will continue.

Clear it up Fridays — The Wisconsin Primary Election

On Tuesday (August 14), Wisconsin residents will vote in a primary election. The rules for primary elections differ from the general election. In a primary, you must only vote within one political party. In a general election, you can vote for the candidate of your choice, regardless of political party affiliation.  For instance, in a general election you could vote for a Republican senator and a Democratic governor, but in a primary, once you vote for one candidate in a party you must stick with that party as you fill in the rest of your ballot. You do not have to cast a vote for each open position. You can leave some blank. Wisconsin does allow same-day registration, so you can register to vote at the polls as long as you have proof of residence, like a driver’s license or a utility bill. You must be a resident of Wisconsin for at least 10 days prior to voting in a Wisconsin election. Even if you are registered, you will need a photo ID to vote. While primary elections don’t draw the same turnout as general elections, they are critical to the political process as they whittle down a pool of candidates. For instance, this year, 10 candidates are running for governor in the Democratic Party and only one will make it out of the primary. Also, in Outagamie County, where we’re located, all three candidates running for sheriff are members of the Republican Party, so the primary election will decide the overall winner. If you have any questions about how to register to vote, please let us know. We’d be glad to help.

Clear it up Fridays — Wisconsin Sales Tax Holiday

This August, we will be featuring a series of short educational posts aimed to clarify trending items in the financial news. We start today with Wisconsin’s Sales Tax Holiday. Today is the third day of Wisconsin’s 2018 five-day Tax Holiday, which means you have until the end of the day on Sunday to make your tax-free purchases. The exemption does apply to on-line sales as well, as long as the item is ordered, paid for and accepted during the sales tax holiday. Purchases do not have to be delivered during the five day window. Each qualified purchase is exempt, so you can make multiple purchases on the same receipt and each one will qualify for the exemption if it meets the requirements. Clothing purchases must be less than $75, computers must be for personal use and must be less than $750, computer supplies must be less than $250 and school supplies must be less than $75. This does not include text books. The price limit refers to the sales price. If you have further questions about the Sales Tax Holiday, please call the office. Now get shopping (but stay within your budget)!   The past does not predict the future, and past results do not predict, guarantee, or indicate future performance.  These explanations are for educational purposes only and should not be perceived as advice, a solicitation to buy or sell, or a recommendation.. The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from proprietary and nonproprietary sources, deemed by Winch Financial to be reliable, and are not necessarily all-inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader.

Six things graduates can do to mitigate loan debt

The statistics have become more alarming with each passing year loan. Currently, more than 70% of all college graduates carry student loan debt into the next phase of their lives. Americans now have more than $1.4 trillion in unpaid education debt, according to the Federal Reserve. Trillion. That’s 1,400,000,000,000. Students graduating today can expect to spend the next two decades of their lives paying down their collegiate debt. In fact, according to a study from the OneWisconsin Institute, it takes graduates of Wisconsin universities 19.7 years to pay off a bachelor’s degree and 23 years to pay off a graduate degree. Fortunately, there are things a graduate can do almost as soon as he or she tosses their mortar board into the air to help mitigate student loan debt. First, consider putting that graduation gift money to good use by investing it in a Roth IRA.  Even $500 accrues handsomely if you invest it early enough in your career. You also can use your graduation gift money to begin making payments on your loan. Most loans allow a grace period after graduation, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it. Interest accrues during grace periods and it’s much better to start knocking down your debt as quickly as possible. Second, choose your next step with care. Consider the options for housing and transportation when you weigh job offers. Also, look at the overall cost of living and how that might affect your social life. The average monthly payment on a student loan in 2017 (for borrowers aged 20 to 30 years) was $351. That’s a sizable chunk to factor into a monthly budget. Third, if it fits with your long-term employment plans, consider a job (like Teach for America) that offers some form of loan forgiveness. It is important to note, however, that you may have to pay income taxes on forgiven loans. Fourth, take advantage of available apps… | Read More »

Five tips for #WorldPasswordDay

When Under Armour announced the My Fitness Pal® data breach earlier this year, my first concern was the potential exposure of my exercise schedule, eating habits and, worst of all, weight. Of course the real risk in any data breach is not potential embarrassment, but actual financial loss. In announcing the hack, Under Armour noted that user names, email addresses and hashed passwords had all been exposed. These episodes remind us how vulnerable we are with so much of our private information stored on line. In honor of #WorldPasswordDay, here are some tips to keep yourself and your accounts as safe as possible: When possible, use multi-factor authentication. This is one of the best ways to prevent hackers from accessing your information and it is well worth the slight inconvenience. This means chose a log in process that requires not only a password and username, but also a piece of information that only you would know. Another form of multi-factor authentication occurs when you are sent a code to input after you enter your password or login. You use multi-factor authentication each time you access your accounts through your debit card, as it requires the physical card, occasionally a chip and a pin number. It’s tempting to avoid these extra layers of security, but, if you take them seriously, they will add an extra level of protection to your account. Consider using a password manager, which will store, encrypt and create passwords for you. Then, all you need to remember is your master password (which you should protect with two-factor authentication). Do not share your passwords via text or email. Choose answers to security questions only you would know. Another trick is to choose the wrong answers to the security questions (as long as you remember what you answered). Choose an answer that is incorrect but related – instead of your mother’s maiden name, maybe use your mother in-law’s maiden… | Read More »