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The Road Ahead: Just When You Thought it was Safe to Breathe: Inflation and Your Portfolio

By Liz Behlke

Remember when the pandemic was going to disrupt life for a few months – okay, maybe a year – and then everything was going to get back to normal? Just when it looked like we had a handle on the virus, the global supply chain falls apart. Then came the crazy swings in the stock market. Now it’s inflation. Sure, wages have been going up for a lot of people, but by many metrics, inflation is wiping out those income gains. It’s enough to make a person want to stop looking at the news.

You’d have to be more than 40 years old to remember inflation like what we’re experiencing today. Breaking news alerts announce new record prices for a gallon of gas. Grocery store receipts contain eye-popping numbers. Everyone is ready to take a much-needed vacation, but it’s hard to relax when all you can think about is the cost of travel. With prices rising as fast as a Covid surge, it’s hard to know whether it’s time to make changes in your financial portfolio – or just hang in there and hope.

Just as no one could predict we’d start 2022 with war in Eastern Europe, there’s no way to accurately anticipate the trajectory of inflation numbers. That said, economists and market analysts spend their lives tracking trends, assessing underlying market conditions, and looking at comparable times in history. Here are some data points that help put today’s inflation in perspective:

  • The overall Consumer Price Index (CPI) is up 8% year-over-year. That’s the highest it’s been since the 1980s. A lot of the rise in prices is being driven by the cost of fuel and food. But there are still impacts related to supply and demand imbalances, which will ease as knots in the supply chain get worked out.
  • Economists and experts expect inflation to increase a bit more before it goes down, but believe that the current trend is transitory, meaning they expect that inflation will slow over the next 12-18 months.
  • The expectation is that long-term stock returns won’t be significantly impacted by inflation since companies tend to pass costs onto consumers over time. But if inflation persists, companies may end up having to take a hit to profits, which could lead to continued weakness in stock prices over the short term.
  • While rising interest rates are the current talk of the town, if the economy does head into a recession, the Federal Reserve may respond by cutting interest rates. This would likely lead to increased bond prices and a reversal of the recent rise in savings rates.

How inflation impacts your financial planning

It’s time again to go back to the basics: A balanced portfolio with a long-term planning horizon continues to be the best formula for protecting against inflation and growing your assets. What you do in response to inflation depends very much on where you are in your life. Strategies will be different for someone who is at or near retirement versus an early-career professional with many years of income ahead of them. A few things to consider include:

  • Your household cash flow. When income doesn’t keep up with inflation, that results in lower purchasing power. In practical terms, it can mean that your exact same lifestyle could be cutting into savings or your ability to accumulate money for retirement. Consider where you may make some short-term adjustments if needed, to stay within your means.
  • Rebalancing your portfolio. Unless you are in retirement and drawing on your portfolio, it’s not a good idea to park long-term investment dollars in low-interest savings accounts, because when inflation is higher than the yield on savings, you’re actually losing money. However, if you haven’t rebalanced your portfolio in a while, consider setting a meeting with your financial planner to look at your options.
  • Social Security timing. Your monthly Social Security benefits will be higher each year you put off receiving them. Payments are also automatically adjusted for inflation. This means waiting to collect Social Security could be beneficial if it works in your overall financial plan.

The economy runs in cycles, and market watchers have been anticipating a cooling off of the stock market for a while. But the past two years have seen so many unique events. It’s difficult to predict what the pandemic, supply chain disruption, war, food and energy shortages, and inflation will do to anyone’s portfolio. A balanced, long-term approach continues to be the best bet for weathering any storm.

If you’re feeling uncertain about whether your portfolio is structured to serve your needs

and in the future, contact your Arrivity financial planner so we can review your situation together.

Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or

if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.

Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or info@arrivity.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.

Liz is a Late Boomer in the sandwich generation who started an independent writing and brand consulting practice after years as a senior marketing executive. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Her mother lives nearby and her daughter comes home during college breaks.

The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.

By |2022-08-01T21:46:26+00:00August 1st, 2022|Categories: News|0 Comments

The Road Ahead: When World Events Rock the Stock Market

By Liz Behlke

It’s a crazy world out there, and it all seems to be happening in real time. Four decades after CNN brought us 24-hour news, we now carry an endless supply of news and information in our pockets. We can see world events unfolding before our eyes, and watch moment-by-moment as they impact the economy and the stock market. Now ‘doomscrolling’ is part of our lexicon and it’s become harder and harder to look away from all that’s going on.

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By |2022-05-25T15:22:54+00:00May 25th, 2022|Categories: News|0 Comments

The Road Ahead: It’s time to talk to your parents about…money

By Liz Behlke

When my dad was around 85 and dealing with health issues, I made some time for the two of us to have lunch together while Mom was off with friends. I told him I’d done some research that I wanted to share.

“Dad,” I said, “A while ago you told me you wanted your memorial to be a bench at the university with your name on it. Well, I called someone to find out if that’s a possibility and what the options are.”

I was a bit concerned that dad wouldn’t want to talk about his mortality, but it turns out he was grateful for the conversation. Later, I was even able to arrange for him to choose the exact spot where his bench would be installed.

Talking about the end of life is difficult, but I’m glad I did. Talking about money can be just as awkward. It’s easy to imagine an older parent feeling like you’re plotting their demise. That’s why these conversations need to happen with sensitivity. In fact, you might find that older parents have been thinking about this more than you realize. It’s important for you to understand your parents’ financial situation, for many reasons.

For starters, you’ll want to know if their money will last, or whether you may have to support them in the future. Also, depending on your parents’ assets there are things they can do while they’re still around to benefit children and grandchildren. But if you’re in the dark about your parent’s financial situation and their wishes, you’re just waiting to be surprised later.

Your parents are probably more ready than you think

If you haven’t had these discussions yet, it could be your own squeamishness that’s holding you back. It’s hard to face the fact that someday the people you love will no longer be with you. The reality is that once someone reaches their 70s and 80s, they’ve lost many friends already and they’re likely to be regular obituary readers. It tends to make them very clear eyed about the future.

Having tricky discussions with your aging parents may just be a matter of finding the right moment. Remember, it isn’t something you drop on them the day you arrive on a holiday visit. If you’ve never broached the topic before, take it slow. It’s important to respect how your parents feel, and that probably means a lot of listening at first.

If you tune into what your parents are thinking about, you may find the right opening for the money conversation. For example, if they tell you about a friend’s passing you could bring up the importance of estate planning. Or discussions about a grandchild’s college plans may be a jumping-off point for broader financial topics. It’s likely that once you open the door, you’ll all begin to feel more comfortable. But also, be sure it doesn’t become the only thing you’re talking about.

Planning together

The process of creating a financial plan can be a useful catalyst for money discussions with older parents. Tell your parents you’re working on your own financial plan and imagine how proud they’ll feel – they raised you well. This also gives you an opportunity to talk about the assumptions you can build into your plan around gifts, inheritance, and even support for your kids’ college.

Your financial plan gives you tangible and objective information to share and discuss. You can also help your parents understand the importance of having a financial plan of their own, with everything spelled out so there’s no confusion or disagreements when the time comes for family members to carry out their wishes.

My dad’s bench has been installed exactly where he wanted it, on the campus where he spent 40 years of his working life. I went by there the other day and sat for a while, thinking about how Dad would be pleased that I’m helping Mom with her finances. How I’m making sure she has a plan for her lifetime and her legacy.

Questions to ask yourself before talking to parents about money

  • What’s important to you – making sure your parents have enough money, supporting the next generation, or just knowing their wishes?
  • Are you open to hearing about their wishes, even if they don’t fully align with your expectations?
  • Are you able to include siblings in the conversation, and what role do you expect them to play?

Action Steps

  • Even if your parents aren’t ready to share the contents of their will, ask them to make sure it’s up to date and to let you know where it’s filed.
  • Talk to your parents about documenting their choice for power of attorney (POA). The individual(s) designated with POA should know where to locate all important documents in case they’re called on to make decisions on behalf of a parent.
  • As your parents begin sharing financial information with you, ask them if you can keep a record of their accounts and passwords in a safe place.
  • Your parents’ interests and values should always be at the forefront. If you’re recommending a certain action, you should be able to explain how it aligns with their wishes.

Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or info@arrivity.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.

Liz is a Late Boomer in the sandwich generation who started an independent writing and brand consulting practice after years as a senior marketing executive. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Her mother lives nearby and her daughter comes home during college breaks.

The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.

By |2022-04-28T21:53:49+00:00April 28th, 2022|Categories: News|0 Comments

The Road Ahead: Into house and home

By Liz Behlke

One recent weekend I painted my bedroom walls a dark cobalt blue. Then I sent a photo to my cousin who said, “That’s going to be hard to paint over when you decide to sell your house.” I know. And I don’t care. The color makes me happy. My home is small and quirky and nearly 100 years old. It’s a reflection of my personality, but also my biggest investment.

There are lots of ways to think about home ownership. For some it’s an investment or a symbol of accomplishment, while for others it’s a place to set down roots and build a family. Many people see their home as an extension of their lifestyle. There’s no right way to feel about home ownership, but the more you understand what home means to you, the less likely it will make you feel trapped…or pinched.

Owning a home is both a joy and a responsibility. You can paint the rooms any shade you like, renovate and remodel, and choose fixtures that make you smile. Of course, you also have to repair leaky toilets, mow the lawn, and have the furnace inspected. I know, because I’ve done all those things. Not to mention sewing curtains, re-finishing doors, and installing shelving. But beyond being a place of your own, a home can also be a tangible financial asset. So you need to balance what you put into it with what you can get out of it.

The changing tide of home ownership

It used to be that home ownership was a rite of passage into adulthood. Things have changed in the last decade and a half. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, many people found themselves trapped in homes they couldn’t afford. They had been lured into mortgages beyond their means. When the housing bubble burst, some owed more on their homes than they were worth.

Now, some young adults are questioning the trade-off between home ownership and the freedom to travel, change jobs, or invest for the future. And with the pandemic, homes suddenly became workplaces, too. But remote work also meant that people didn’t have to live within commuting distance of the office. The little white house with a picket fence is no longer everyone’s dream – nor is it within everyone’s reach.

What kind of home to buy – and whether to buy a home at all – is a very personal decision. A home should fit your family’s needs, lifestyle, and budget. With home prices continuing to rise, it’s important to consider home ownership in the context of your overall financial situation.

Navigating your first home purchase

If you’ve never purchased a home before, there’s a lot to think about. Fortunately, there are resources available so you can study up before you take the plunge. Consider taking a homebuying class through a non-profit group or local credit union. There are also lots of resources online where you can learn the basics. And, of course, friends and family members often have great advice, too. Just remember that someone who has lived in the same place for decades may be blown away by the complexities of today’s homebuying process.

When you begin working with a mortgage loan officer and a real estate agent, keep in mind that they pocket a healthy sum of money when a home sale is finalized. So don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions and being honest about what you want. That’s what they’re there for.

Take your time – the home you buy should fit your needs as well as your financial situation. Be sure you understand all the components of the investment you’re planning to make: Balancing your down payment with monthly payments. How an amortization schedule works. The impact of insurance, taxes, and fees. And how to factor in expenses like maintenance, HOA dues, utilities – and paint for the walls.

Owning a home is a wonderful opportunity, but paying for it shouldn’t restrict you from doing other things in life that are important to you. Your financial advisor can help you factor home buying into your financial plan, whether you’re ready to buy now or you want to save for a down payment.

Questions when you’re thinking about home ownership

  • Has everyone in your household had a chance to express what kind of house they’d like?
  • Which features are you willing to trade off to get what you want in a home?
  • How will you handle home maintenance – will you do-it-yourself, or hire tradespeople?

Action Steps

  • A mortgage pre-approval can show how much home you could buy, but it’s a good idea to run that number by your financial advisor to make sure it’s consistent with your budget goals.
  • If your parents or other family members are willing to help with a down payment, be sure to let your financial advisor know so they can factor that into the budgeting.
  • Consider writing down a list of questions to ask your realtor, loan officer, and financial advisor so you feel fully informed throughout the process.

Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or info@arrivity.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.

Liz is a Late Boomer in the sandwich generation who started an independent writing and brand consulting practice after years as a senior marketing executive. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Her mother lives nearby and her daughter comes home during college breaks.

The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.

By |2022-03-24T17:27:40+00:00March 24th, 2022|Categories: News|0 Comments