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Strategy Financial Group 2016 Year End Market Commentary

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Strategy Financial Group Quarterly Market Commentary Q3 2016

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Stay Plugged in to New Tech Trends

07.20.16: Technology hasn’t just improved over time; it’s also matured its users. Today, the average child gets his or her first cellphone at age 10. In past generations, 10 was about the age when parents finally let their kids use those creepy crawly bug makers that required a heating device. These days, one of the biggest growth trends in IT is wearable technology, such as medical and fitness devices. As much of the nation continues on its prolonged health kick, companies have adapted to consumers’ needs by rolling out wearable technology. The U.S. has accounted for the largest share of these medical and fitness devices that encourage improved health and activity. New products are constantly rolled out with a variety of everyday applications. Click through to see how technology might impact the financial services industry. Read more

Featured in NAIFA’s Advisor Today Magazine

Calvin Goetz was featured in the January/February 2016 issue of NAIFA's Advisor Today. In the article, What's Keeping Your Senior Clients Up At Night?, Calvin speaks to tax and employment concerns as well as financial products that may be helpful to retirees. Click here to read the article.


01.21.16: The study of “emotional intelligence” began in the 1980s as a way to measure one’s ability to identify and manage both his or her own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. In the business world, people with high emotional intelligence, known as a high EQ (emotional quotient) are known to be more empathetic to others, which enables them to more effectively manage conflicts, read and respond to co-worker needs and keep their own emotions from disrupting their performance. A high EQ is particularly important in consulting professions; it’s a skill that we as financial professionals work on as much as understanding financial trends. That’s because we must do more than educate and evaluate our clients’ finances; we must understand the pressures you feel and how you cope with volatility and change in order to offer guidance for your personal situation.  Read more


01.05.16: For many, — hopefully most — “home” represents security and acceptance. A place to retreat when things don’t go your way; a place to celebrate when they do. Not long ago, the holidays were the one time of the year when the family reconvened to spend time together under one roof. Now, it’s not uncommon for relatives to share a home year-round. Gone are the days when a son or daughter moved on to college or a career at the age of 18, only to return on special November and December occasions. For better or worse, boomers are growing accustomed to welcoming back grown children, as well as seniors seeking care from a familiar face. Retirees typically prefer to live in the comfort of their own home as long as possible, but the best alternative may be moving back in with adult children. As your financial professional, we focus on helping clients feel confident in their finances now and in the future, and, if necessary, develop contingency plans, because even the best-laid plans can go awry. If we can help you with your retirement income plan, please contact us for a meeting. Read more

Values of Adulthood: A True Cause and Effect

12.02.15: Sometimes it’s interesting to think back to how our upbringing determined how we developed our specific set of ideals. After all, the situations and experiences we faced early in life can have a big impact on the paths we chose in adulthood. Our earliest impressions of the world are an extension of the behaviors we observed and the lessons our parents taught us. As we grow older, our life experiences often align and reconfirm the validity of those early influences. One aspect of growing up is finding people who share your same values, and this can create strong relationships. As financial professionals, we live and work in the same community as many of our clients, and in many cases, share the same values in terms of work ethic, prudence and money management. Having a similar belief system as our clients has enabled us to develop strong, long-term relationships. Read more


11.17.15: As the 2016 election approaches, immigration is being brought up more than ever. But the issue is nothing new, and will still be around long after the next U.S. President is elected. Some have viewed immigration as a concern since the French, Spanish, Dutch and Swedish settled in America back in the late 16th century, while others argue none of us would be here in the first place if it wasn’t for immigration. We’ve all had a first day at a new school or job where we had to wonder how we would be treated and if we would fit in. Imagine that predicament if you moved to a place where everyone around you had a different native tongue. On occasion, consumers unfamiliar with the world of finance may feel like everyone’s speaking a whole new language. Our job as your financial professional is to clear this confusion and help ensure your financial strategy is suited to your unique needs. Read more


11.03.15: Underemployment is a problem that has been particularly difficult on recent college graduates, but its effects are felt by all demographics. Although the unemployment rate is down, you could say we have the most well-educated bartenders and busboys in history. The World Economic Forum found that most college-educated workers took jobs in low-earning industries between 2000 and 2014, and wages of young college graduates are 2.5 percent lower than they were in 2000. Read more


09.25.15: Planning for retirement income shouldn’t stop just because you retire. It’s a process, much like raising children and pursuing a career. You learn, you implement, you make mistakes, you seek advice. So whether you are already retired, nearing retiring or thinking about it as an abstract concept many years away, we can help you engage in this ongoing process. In addition to general retirement income planning for a couple, it’s a good idea for married couples to also engage in individual retirement income planning. Odds are, one spouse will live longer than the other, so it’s important to plan for financial security once one spouse has passed away. Given that women generally live longer than men, this can be especially important for them. Read more

The Business of Risk

07.07.15: Cyber threats have created an interesting conundrum in which the criminal perpetrators are frequently more tech savvy than those responsible for preventing their crimes or apprehending them. And the situation, at the moment, doesn’t really show signs of improving. Several national security experts recently issued recommendations to help address the problem. They referred to the issue as a “black elephant -- a dangerous crossbreed between the ‘black swan’ risk (capable of producing unexpected outcomes with enormous consequences) and the ‘elephant in the room’ (a large problem that is in plain sight).” Read more


06.02.15: It’s that time of year. Student graduates are crossing the tassel from one side of the cap to the other, parents are both teary-eyed and relieved, and millions of wide-eyed young adults will be flooding both college campuses and the workforce. For young college grads just entering the job market, the news is upbeat. One recent survey found that employers are planning to hire 9.6 percent more graduates in the U.S. than they did last year. Not surprisingly, the most hirable major continues to be engineering, the degree of choice for approximately 72 percent of companies. Other popular majors are business (68 percent) and computer science (58 percent). Sought-after personal traits for first-timers aren’t that much different from what companies seek from experienced workers: critical thinking, problem solving, being a team player, professional demeanor and strong work ethic. Read more


05.05.15: People over age 90 are now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. By mid-century, this population is expected to quadruple. Many researchers currently are studying what the commonalities are for longevity and whether we can replicate them either in lifestyle choices or perhaps even pharmaceutically. A “60 Minutes” episode last year revealed some interesting findings about people over age 90, based on data originally gathered on this group back in 1981. Read more


04.07.15: During World War II, the British government used a poster campaign to help the general public prepare for and deal with the realities of war on their personal lives. The first poster was encouraging: “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory.” The second was a bit menacing: “Freedom is in Peril.” The third and most well-known, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” was ironically never even distributed. It was scheduled to be posted should Germany invade Britain, but that never happened. Perhaps it has been the most enduring missive due to its more tempered message -- both realistic and reassuring. Read more


03.03.15: The hacking incidence at Sony may have hurt actor Seth Rogen and the release of his film, “The Interview,” but it was a boon for actress Charlize Theron. After leaked emails revealed her male co-star Chris Hemsworth was being paid $10 million more than her in their film, “The Huntsman,” she successfully renegotiated equal pay for equal work -- the longtime behest of gender equality activists. A recent study revealed the extent of geographical reach of unequal pay among men and women. In every state in the U.S., men make more money than women. Among the wealthiest women, the vast majority acquired their wealth as relatives of wealthy men. Read more

Political Environment: The Battle Begins in Earnest

02.24.15: The economy is in good shape for starting a new year, but lines have already been drawn in the sand where our political engine is concerned. Republicans have a long list of pent-up priorities, including the Keystone Pipeline, repealing portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and reversing the president’s executive action enabling about 5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. Though wielding somewhat less power, Democrats and the administration will continue to focus on tax reform, infrastructure funding and foreign trade. Read more

2015 Outlook

02.17.15: Last year left the U.S. in decent financial shape. Oil prices tanked and the U.S. dollar surged. Inflationary pressure is low, and the stock market ended the year strong. The analysts at Fidelity believe this positive environment should continue at least early into 2015. The economy is in a mid-cycle expansion with solid employment gains and wage increases -- although not yet across the board -- and the outlook for consumers is good. Read more

Where Does the Money Go?

02.10.15: In December, Congress passed the federal budget for fiscal year 2015 at the last possible moment, avoiding yet another government shutdown. You have to wonder why this is such a difficult process. Within our own households, there are often two people -- sometimes with diametrically opposed opinions on how money should be spent -- who fight these battles and resolve them on a daily basis. Few families that have the resources available let things fester to the point where the mortgage or utilities go unpaid or they fail to shop for food. In other words, if we have the money, we would never let our household shut down while we argue over who gets a gym membership this year or who gets a new car. Read more

American Pride

02.03.15: Bye China. Bye India. Buy Trenton. Who can forget the catchy 1980s union advertising jingle, “Look for the union label”? You can check out one of those ads at the link below -- it’s almost worth a look for the retro-fashions alone. After years of slow economic growth, has America truly recovered? Perhaps not for every single person in the country, but pride in Americana appears to have rebounded nicely. Take the manufacturing industry, for example. Cheaper labor overseas resulted in the loss of 5.8 million factory jobs between 2000 and 2009. Yet since the financial crisis, economists report there has been a renaissance in American manufacturing. An estimated 150 companies have “reshored” (moved positions from overseas to the U.S.) since 2010. Read more

City Burbs

01.27.15: The housing market continues to experience mixed results, depending on the area of the country and demographics. For example, while the homeownership rate for seniors is 80 percent, about 40 percent of those over 65 were still making house payments in 2010, according to a 2014 report from the joint center for housing. While many seniors prefer to stay in their own homes, those that are moving tend to seek out homes located near urban centers. Recent trends lean toward walkable city areas with a multigenerational population rather than retirement communities. Read more

Low Oil Prices: Who Wins, Who Loses?

01.20.15: The national average price for a gallon of gas is less than $3, with further decreases expected. But that’s nothing new. Bear in mind that oil is a commodity, so its price varies according to cycles of supply and demand. For example, in 1986 and 1998, oil dropped below $10 a barrel. In 2008, prices made a dramatic drop from $145 a barrel in July to $33 by mid-December. In early December 2014, oil was about $66 a barrel. For folks looking for extra cash during this holiday season, lower gas prices are a welcome relief. Read more

Retiree Ingenuity

01.13.15: For many, the mind stays sharp as long as it continues to be challenged, and the trend of retirees working and living longer proves just that. Take Hugh Lyman, for example. When he retired, this small business owner pursued a long-standing passion as an inventor. Fascinated with the possibilities of using 3-D printer technology, he felt the expense of the plastic filament used was too high. So he developed his own version using lower-cost plastic pellets, cutting the cost of the material from $40-50 a kilo to $5. Apparently the cost of the original material was inflated due to a patent, so he invented his own workaround. Sometimes it takes a good bit of work experience to understand that there are alternate ways of achieving the same goal. Read more

Is Your Retirement Just a Number?

01.06.15: Throughout our lives, we are identified by numbers. Social Security number. Employee ID number. Driver’s license number. The amount of money that you make. The number of children and grandchildren that you have. The value of your home. Fortunately, those numbers are simply points of reference; they don’t truly define who we are. Our personal accomplishments do this. Our career. Our family. The way we respond in stressful situations. The way we treat people on a daily basis. Read more

Mortgages and Real Estate

12.30.14: Real estate appears to be rebounding slowly but surely. There’s even a push from government regulators to lower the down payment requirements for new mortgages. New analysis shows few borrowers are granted 3 percent to 5 percent down payment loans on their homes, and those that do have excellent credit. The percentage of people receiving that low rate peaked at 3.4 percent in 1999. It remains to be seen if lenders will be amenable to lowering their down payment requirements. Read more

How Year-End Politics May Affect You

12.23.14: The changing of the guard in Congress has begun: out with the old, in with the new. As the GOP prepares to take a majority presence in both the House and Senate, one question looms: Are we in for even more gridlock moving forward? It appears that much is on tap for the lame-duck session of Congress -- the final year-end push to tap votes of exiting congressmen. The first priority will be passing a government funding bill, which can hopefully be resolved without shutting down the government. The most likely scenario is that Republicans will push for another short-term, stopgap resolution until after the New Year, when they can dominate the discussion. Democrats would like to use the lame-duck session to revive expired tax breaks before year end and approve a backlog of presidential nominations. Read more

Is Your Retirement Just a Number?

12.16.14: Throughout our lives, we are identified by numbers. Social Security number. Employee ID number. Driver’s license number. How much do you make? How many children and grandchildren do you have? What’s the value of your home? Fortunately, those numbers are simply points of reference; they don’t truly define who we are. Our personal accomplishments do this. Our career. Our family. The way we respond in stressful situations. The way we treat people on a daily basis. But as we near and enter retirement, we are once again focused on a number: How much money might each of us need saved to live the retirement lifestyle we desire? If you watch the ads on television, you may get the impression that there’s one magical number out there for all of us that can make all of our retirement dreams come true, but that is not the case. Read more

Give Thanks. The Grass is Greener Here.

12.09.14: As we enter this holiday season, it’s worth taking a look at your individual circumstances and gauging whether your financial situation is stronger than it was last year, three years ago or five years ago. We can all find reasons to gripe about one thing or another, even in the best of the times. But that’s why it’s so important to remember when things were more difficult. This may be the very reason why bad things happen to good people -- to help make us stronger. Read more

Small Business, Small Incomes

12.02.14: Large corporations in America have only been around about 13 decades. Before then, America was built on the backs of small business owners. Larger companies started to take root in the mid-19th century, led by railroads and industrial firms. Small business owners took a hit but adapted by developing market niches too small for big companies to accommodate or by serving as suppliers to larger firms. Small businesses have never gone away, and today they provide 55 percent of all jobs in America. Read more

Money: Relatively Speaking

11.25.14: Money is a topic that is on every adult’s mind a great majority of the time. But there’s a big difference in what people are thinking when it comes to money. Some people wonder how their earned income stacks up against others. Some people create financial goals and save and invest diligently to meet them. Others just wonder if they’ll have enough to pay all their bills this month. Read more

A Lifetime of Wisdom

11.18.14: In contrast to popular perception, young adults do not rule. In fact, the 18 to 44 age group currently comprises 36.4 percent of the population, while those age 45 and up represent 40.3 percent. Of course, if you play your teenage child or grandchild in basketball or try to wear the same size dress you wore before having children, being part of the demographic majority may not seem like much of a win. But the older people become, the more they tend to develop a perspective on what they’ve learned and gained versus what they still want out of life. In other words, a lifetime of wisdom might be worth more to you now than a 32-inch waist. Read more

Hospitable Hospitals

11.11.14: Hospitals acquire reputations, just as all companies (and people) do. But there are so many different ways a hospital can be perceived. Some consider them a place where people go to die and should thus be avoided — a commonly held belief of Ebola victims in West Africa. Recently, there’s been press about how hospitals are saving money thanks to Medicaid expansion in some states, citing a reduction in uninsured admissions by 30 percent. As a result, the tab for uncompensated hospital care will be approximately $5.7 billion less in 2014. Read more

Together, We’re Worlds Apart

11.04.14: The world continues to grow (figuratively and virtually) smaller. The economy is more global. We are connected by Facebook and other social media. We can exchange ideas with people in foreign lands. Check out videos and photographs taken in Australia, 10 minutes ago. We’ve learned that our individual — and national — problems are more universal than we ever considered. Yet, perhaps now we wonder why we wanted to be so connected with others. Take Scotland, for example. In a 55 percent to 45 percent vote, the country will remain a part of Great Britain. But leadership has confirmed it will move forward with expanded “devolution” plans, a process started in 1999, to decentralize governing bodies and give more powers to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Read more

Does Your Financial Strategy Take Into Account Unforeseen Retirement Challenges?

10.28.14: Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” However, when it comes to planning for retirement, it may not be a bad idea to develop a strategy that takes into consideration unexpected challenges that could arise. An unanticipated scenario in retirement might include a major medical issue, debilitating illness, or an adult child moving back in after a job loss or even returning home with grandchildren in tow after a divorce. Many people create an income plan for retirement’s best-case scenario, but it may be a good idea for them to consider what may happen to their retirement income if a challenging situation were to arise. Read more

DIY: When It Works and When It Doesn’t

10.21.14: According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau, do-it-yourself (DIY) work accounts for 37 percent of all home remodeling projects in the U.S. Unfortunately, the flip side is that about 30 percent of work performed by the professional remodeling industry represents fixing DIY attempts. We are often tempted to do something ourselves to save money or simply for the satisfaction, but how do you know when it’s OK to do the work and when you should call in a pro? Read more


10.14.14: Who looks for a job in August? Who’s around to interview candidates anyway? August is a popular month for end-of-summer vacations before the school year starts. This trend showed up in the latest jobs report, which revealed a slump of only 142,000 jobs added after six straight months of payroll gains exceeding 200,000. However, there are some interesting recent trends where the job market is concerned. For one thing, a new survey discovered that freelancers (53 million strong) make up 34 percent of the U.S. workforce. That’s not a trend that is expected to slow down, even as the job market grows stronger. Another study predicts that these “contingent workers” will exceed 40 percent of the workforce by 2020. Read more

Sporting Confidence through Ups and Downs

10.07.14: Some of the world’s top sports figures have recently experienced ups and downs in their careers. Take Rafael Nadal for instance, one of the top men’s professional tennis players in the world. Two years ago, Nadal was forced to sit out for seven months due to a knee injury. Then he fought his way back in 2013, winning two Grand Slam titles and ending the year at No. 1 in the world. Just recently Nadal announced a wrist injury that caused him to withdraw from the final Grand Slam event of the year: the U.S. Open, where he was the defending champion. Read more

Transitioning to Retirement

09.30.14: Change is never easy, at least for most people. And the people who do adjust to change well are often serial planners, knowing how to prepare well in advance. But when it comes to retirement, even when you know decades ahead of time that it’s going to eventually happen, you may still have trouble adjusting to change. This can be particularly true if retirement happens earlier than you expected. In fact, 49 percent of Americans retire unexpectedly because of health problems, disability, spousal-care demands and downsizing. For many, this unexpected change in employment can cause a financial hardship. Read more


09.23.14: Retail health care is on the rise. If you’re not familiar with this term, it may be coming to a Wal-Mart near you. In fact, Wal-Mart shoppers in Florence and Sumter, South Carolina, can now get a checkup at an in-store health clinic after they check out with a cashier. Does Wal-Mart care about the health of its customers and employees? Sure. But at the forefront of this business plan is an effort to grasp some of the billions of health care dollars spent by its massive constituency every year. Wal-Mart’s plan is to increase store traffic as a result of customers who come in to fill prescriptions and get a flu diagnosis, then decide to shop for a few household items while they’re there. What does the Wal-Mart approach mean for the health care industry as a whole? Read more


09.16.14: The so-called millennial generation -- those born after 1980 and before 2000 -- continues to suffuse news headlines. There are actually more millennials (80 million) now than baby boomers. Perhaps continued interest in this age group is driven by hope that it will become an economic force to propel our nation’s humdrum growth. Now reaching adulthood, this demographic is poised to spend greater discretionary income, buy homes, have children, start up successful companies and pour its newfound earnings into the securities markets. Read more


09.09.14: According to Guggenheim Partners, the most recent data from leading economic indicators, ranging from hiring to housing, demonstrates that the U.S. economy is “firing on all cylinders.” However, CIO Scott Minerd harkens back to the summer of 1987 when investors, deluded by a benign risk environment, failed to recognize the levels of overvaluation present in the market. This  ultimately led to the dramatic October 19 market drop known as Black Monday. Read more


09.02.14: The U.S. Declaration of Independence declares that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights — such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, new research from Stanford indicates the pursuit of happiness is increasingly aligned with affordability. The study asserts that America’s cities are becoming more divided into two distinct groups, with college-educated workers clustered in more desirable locales that less-educated people cannot afford. Read more


08.26.14: Young adults have had a relatively tough time over the past four or five years. Entry-level jobs have been scant for the onslaught of recent college graduates, many of whom have taken menial jobs to make ends meet until a “real job” comes their way. According to Pew Research, in 2012 only one-third of engineering majors got work as engineers, and only 26 percent of physical sciences majors worked in any science, technology, engineering or math occupation. Read more

More or Less

08.19.14: Sometimes it feels like there’s just more to do these days. Our houses are bigger and our toys more sophisticated, so there’s more to maintain. On the other hand, we can buy prepackaged salads and don’t have to shell peas anymore. Our cars don’t need oil changes nearly as often, and our ovens self-clean. But between checking emails, returning calls, running errands, carpooling children and being on-call for work and family issues 24/7, it’s important to take time out to simply do less. In fact, according to a recent research paper, making time to do absolutely nothing can help foster our imagination and improve mental health. Read more

Lessons We Can Learn from Youthful Transgressions

08.12.14: These days it seems that few people from age ten to 20 can be seen without a cell phone in hand. Now that school is out, parents complain of adolescent boys spending the summer playing video games, while girls are having full-on tête-à-têtes in 160-character text messages. One positive way to look at it is that adolescents can have virtual playdates without tracking dirt throughout the house and pilfering the fridge, not to mention learning the art of give and take in conversation. Read more

Fed Dovetail

08.05.14: In consideration of the current labor force participation rate and the fact that many discouraged workers may re-enter the job market, Scott Minerd — Global CIO at Guggenheim Partners — recently predicted the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) won’t increase interest rates until as late as early 2016. Read more


07.29.14: In recent news, we’ve witnessed the fallout of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where officials falsified records to hide the amount of time former service members have had to wait for medical appointments. As if health care doesn’t get enough bad press, this is just one more scandal indicating the dire need to overhaul the industry, its delivery mechanisms and costs. Both the House and the Senate have passed versions of a VA bill to help rectify the situation, and members of Congress say they are confident of sending a unified version to the president by the end of June. Read more

The Printed Word

07.22.14: We blog, tweet, post. Read, skim, search. We can now receive so much of our information online, on demand, and choose exactly what sources from which to receive it. We’re no longer limited to three nightly newscasts and our daily local paper. Read more

All Things Inflation

07.15.14: At the end of May, the Commerce Department reported that the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased by 1.6 percent in April from a year earlier — the fastest pace since November 2012. This is the latest sign that U.S. inflation is starting an upward trend. Read more

Bully for Us: Consumerism Soars

07.08.14: Summer is here. The housing market has gained strength, jobs and incomes have risen, and overall consumers are feeling bullish. Seeing most of us have had to adjust to the “new normal” since the turn of the millennium, recent conditions are the relative equivalent to “happy days are here again.” As it turns out, we’re also pretty good at turning a negative event into a positive force. For years we’ve been reading about how the “graying of America” will leave shortfalls in the workforce and medical field while spending will increase exponentially in health and long-term care. Fortunately, the market tends to follow demand. Read more

Positive News on Jobs, Food and Fitness Fronts

07.01.14: April unemployment numbers brought good news. About 288,000 new jobs were created, representing the highest one-month total in two years. Unemployment is now at 6.3 percent, its lowest level since September 2008. Employers added an average of 238,000 jobs each month over the last three months, which is a substantial improvement over the average of 167,000 per month in the previous three. Consumer spending is up, but only modestly. Due to the chilly weather, in the first quarter we spent more money on utilities and health care. Spending on consumer goods was relatively flat, but in March Americans bought more cars and boosted retail numbers at shopping malls. Read more


06.24.14: Many Americans tend to assume we’re the greatest nation. After all, people from other countries are frequently trying to move here. For the most part, we have a strong economy, we’re well educated, we make decent money, and we have the NFL, NBA, and MLB for goodness sake. The U.S. rules. Except when it doesn’t. The state of our economy is greatly influenced by what goes on in other countries. For example, as the Ukraine-Russia conflict increases the risk profile in Europe, the United States could benefit from greater global capital inflow. On the other hand, should Russian aggression become more pronounced, our government officials may soften the pressure they have placed on regulators to decrease the U.S. defense budget – requiring politicians to look elsewhere for a solution to the country’s deficit woes. Read more

Live Long and Dance

06.17.14: A recent study reveals that engaging in appropriate exercise after age 65 can help conditions such as back pain and arthritis. Even the Mayo Clinic claims that exercise can be effective at helping prevent and even treat a wide range of age-related health conditions. Read more

“Life” Is Its Own Financial Variable

06.10.14: Retirement income is a common topic in the financial services industry, with 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day for the next 15 to 20 years. One of the biggest questions pre-retirees face today is whether or not they’ll have enough income to support their desired lifestyle when it comes time to retire. Read more

Living and Working (and Thinking) in a Box

06.03.14: In the late 1970s sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” news director Less Nessman would not acknowledge the presence of co-workers unless they simulated knocking on the door of his fake office. His “office” was merely a desk and chair with imaginary walls marked by tape on the floor. Perhaps this was an indication of things to come — the slow evolution of workplace layouts going from private closed-door offices to wide open floor plans filled with individual employee cubicles. Read more


05.27.14: A recent Health and Retirement Study by the Brookings Institution found that life expectancy is rising more quickly for people at the highest ranks of socio-economic status, while declining or remaining static for those in the lower levels. This discrepancy was raised in relation to Social Security benefits and posed the question as to whether raising the full retirement age as a means of sustaining the program is fair to those of a lower socio-economic class — since research shows that this group tends to pass away younger and may thus receive fewer benefits. Read more

Couples’ Angst

05.20.14: According to research done by Fidelity, nearly four in 10 couples don’t agree on the lifestyle they want to have in retirement. Sometimes this discussion gets put off before an efficient financial strategy can be developed. For example, have you and your significant other talked about where you want to live in retirement, and whether that involves selling the family home and moving to something that may be easier to maintain? Perhaps you’d love to retreat to a different part of the country – or move to another country altogether – but are hesitant to bring up such a wild idea with your conservative spouse. Read more

Creative Solutions for Life’s Little Problems

05.13.14: It’s refreshing to see that many people are beginning to implement new and innovative ideas to address some of life’s seemingly little problems that may have a more widespread societal impact. Read more

Retirement or Tuition? The Savings Dilemma

05.06.14: No one, much less a parent, wants to see a young college graduate weighed down by the burden of student loans. And if those student loans weren’t bad enough, some college students open credit card accounts as a right-of-passage of sorts into adulthood. Although a credit card provides students and young adults the opportunity to enter a new world of financial responsibilities, they can also cause those students to end up even further in debt by the time they graduate. Read more

The Power of Optimism

04.29.14: The White House recently announced that it expects the U.S. economy to grow by 3.1 percent this year, up from its 1.7 percent expansion in 2013. Is that a realistic projection, or an optimistic one? While the unemployment rate hovers in the 6.7 percent range, many economists say that rate has dropped recently in part because many people have stopped looking for work. That may be true, but it is certainly a pessimistic viewpoint. Read more


04.22.14: According to a study recently published in the journal Neurology, the number of Americans who die as a result of Alzheimer’s disease has been vastly underestimated for years. New research indicates that since Alzheimer’s is an underlying disease – which leads to complications resulting in death – the number of deaths that may be attributable to Alzheimer’s has been under-reported by as much as half a million people per year. This is six times higher than previously reported, and moves Alzheimer’s up as the number three killer each year, behind heart disease and cancer. Read more


04.15.14: With continued sluggish unemployment reports, are we becoming a nation of part-time workers? A recent report from the U.S. Census of Agriculture revealed that more than half – 52 percent – of American farmers only work part time. The majority of our 2.1 million farmers responsible for day-to-day farm operations do not list farming as their principal occupation. Read more


04.08.14: Mission statements have long been a staple of corporate business strategies. They’re usually bland, jargon-filled platitudes that have been crafted, edited and revised ad nauseam by someone in the marketing department. Then Tom Cruise came along in the 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, and re-energized the mission statement as a guiding life principle, not just a bromide: “What started out as one page became twenty-five. Suddenly, I was my father’s son again. I was remembering the simple pleasures…” Perhaps each of us, as we approach retirement, should write a mission statement about what we want our retirement to be like. Read more

The Peyton Manning Annuity Plan

03.25.14: This article, "The Peyton Manning Annuity Plan", recently featured in Market Watch offers a new and entertaining take on understanding the potential role of fixed annuities in your portfolio. Discussing financial matters can often be a bit on the dry side but this article takes a more lighthearted approach and details how “One of the best quarterbacks in the NFL unknowingly provides a road map to how you should approach the possibility of adding a fixed annuity transfer-of-risk strategy to your portfolio.” Contact us today to review your retirement plan and determine if a fixed annuity is right for you.

Are You Ready for a Long Retirement?

02.25.14: Did you know that, according to recent research, only 35% of retirees are “financially prepared to live into their 90s”? As you’re well aware, one of the key elements to a financially secure retirement is ensuring that you’re not solely reliant on Social Security. In this article from the Wall Street Journal, “Are You Ready for a Long Retirement?” one of the recommended options is an annuity to help ensure you have enough money to cover expenses. Of course everyone’s situation is different which is why we encourage you to contact us today so we can discuss the best strategy to suit your individual needs.

Tax Planning for Retirement

02.11.14: “Tax Planning for Retirement” featured in Kiplinger is a great guide for those nearing or in retirement. As it highlights, “Taxes don’t stop when your paycheck does. In fact, tapping your retirement nest egg comes with all sorts or new rules and opportunities.” The article offers suggestions and tips on how the tax rules change as you move from being in the workforce to becoming a full-fledged retiree. We understand that these changes and options can be overwhelming which is why we're here to help. Contact us today so we can discuss the best options to suit your individual needs.

When Should You Claim Social Security Benefits?

01.28.14: For many retirees, Social Security is an integral part of retirement income planning. But did you know that choosing the “wrong time” to start your benefits could cost you tens of thousands of dollars? This recent Forbes article, “When Should You Claim Social Security Benefits?”, highlights the primary issues to consider  as you decide on when to begin taking Social Security. It can be a pretty daunting task to figure out when to start your Social Security benefits but I’m here to assist you. Contact us today to review your retirement income plan so we can determine the best solution for you.

New Year’s Resolutions Boomers Should Make

01.14.14: Although we’re half way into January, it’s not too late for New Year’s Resolutions that focus on your retirement. As the article, “New Year’s Resolutions Boomers Should Make”, from Fox Business highlights, “Boomers can look to 2014 with hope and determination to improve our financial situation and to keep us on the path to a successful retirement.” The article then offers five key tips on how to keep a successful plan in 2014. Whether you’re looking for an advisor or already have one and are looking for a second opinion on your retirement plan, we're here to help. Contact us today so that we can determine the right plan to take you into 2014 and beyond.

Could You Be Oversaving for Retirement?

12.10.13: While much has been said about Americans not saving enough for retirement, new research shows that perhaps the outlook isn’t quite so gloomy. “Could You Be Oversaving for Retirement?” featured in Yahoo Finance reviews the finer points of the study. The rule of thumb has been that workers need to aim to replace 80% of their income per year. While it’s a reasonable rule, what is clear from the study is that determining your ideal income replacement rate should be “calculated in the most personalized way possible.” The research also addresses the “widely-held assumption that annual retirement spending keeps pace with inflation, both increasing at around 3% to 4% a year” and pokes holes through that assumption arguing that spending rates sometimes decrease in retirement. So what's best way to determine if you’re on track with the right retirement savings plan? Contact us today to schedule a thorough review of your plan to ensure that it’s the right fit for your personal goals and circumstances.

Delaying Social Security Is the Best Inflation Hedge

11.26.13: So much is said of inflation, but did you know that Social Security is one of the best ways for investors to protect themselves from inflation fears? This Wall Street Journal blog post, “Delaying Social Security Is the Best Inflation Hedge”, highlights that while the initial idea is straightforward enough, “there’s an additional layer to the decision that’s often forgotten: Social Security benefits receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to increase benefits for inflation.” Contact us today to discuss any questions you have about ensuring that your retirement plan is set to keep pace with inflation or for any other retirement planning questions you may have.

What You Don’t Know About Social Security

10.22.13: Think you know all that you need about Social Security benefits? Think again. In "​What You Don’t Know About Social Security Can Hurt Your Retirement", the article highlights some key points that many people are not aware of. Did you know that Social Security isn't just a retirement benefit? Or that you can take Social Security benefits early or late? There are many quirks to Social Security, but do you know which benefits you actually qualify for and which can be hazardous to your retirement plan? Read on to learn more and contact us today so we can ensure your retirement income plan provides for you in your retirement years.

10 Reasons Your Retirement Plan Won’t Cut It

10.08.13: This enlightening article in Market Watch, “10 Reasons Your Retirement Plan Won’t Cut It,” highlights why retirement plans are not a comprehensive solution to finance your retirement years. In fact, the article states: “retirement plans, in and of themselves, generally aren't sufficient to meet most individual's financial needs for the duration of their retirement years. Projected longer life expectancies don't make this situation any easier. While Social Security helps soften the blow, it doesn't solve the problem in most cases.” Contact us today so we can evaluate your retirement income plan and ensure that you have what you need to provide for you in your retirement years.

12 Important Retirement Planning Deadlines

09.24.13: U.S. News & World Report offers a summary of the key ages and deadlines to be mindful of when planning for retirement in "12 Important Retirement Planning Deadlines." It’s a great cheat sheet to keep handy so that you make the most of your benefits because “if you don’t make the cutoffs, you could face higher taxes, penalties and fees.” For assistance with your retirement income plan, including assistance with maximizing your retirement benefits, please contact us today to discuss how we can create a comprehensive strategy tailored to your needs.

How to Maximize Social Security Benefits

09.10.13: The age-old question, “When is the best time to turn on Social Security?” is becoming easier to answer these days thanks to a growing number of inexpensive (and in some cases free) online programs that can help you determine the best answer based on your circumstances. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “How to Maximize Social Security Benefits,” evaluates five such programs currently available. Did you know that Strategy Financial Group offers a complimentary Social Security Analyzer report for clients? For your customized report or assistance with your overall retirement income plan, even if you’ve already turned on Social Security, please contact us today.

Deferred Income Annuities Offer Predictability

08.27.13: If you’re looking for a pension-like income stream in retirement, you might want to consider a fixed annuity. A recent article in Kiplinger's Retirement Report, “Deferred Income Annuities Offer Predictability,” explains how these annuities can be used to create a steady source of income. There are so many myths and misconceptions about fixed annuities out there, and sorting it all out can be a rather daunting task. That’s why we're here. Contact us today so that we can review your retirement plan and determine if a fixed annuity is right for you.

Do You Have a Retirement Care Plan?

08.13.13: Have you thought about your care in retirement? It’s not something we like to think about but it’s an often-overlooked yet critical part of your overall retirement plan. According to a recent study, “Boomers are largely uninformed and unprepared for the day-to-day care they may need in retirement." In the article, “Do You Have a Retirement Care Plan?”, U.S. News & World Report presents the studies’ five recommendations for consumers. Please contact us today to review your retirement plan so that we can ensure you’re properly prepared for what lies ahead.

Creating Your ‘Retirement Vision’

07.23.13: Sometimes our clients are so focused on the financial preparation for retirement (which is great) that they forget to take some time to step back and figure out what they’re actually going to do once they retire (which is not so great). As “Creating Your ‘Retirement Vision’” by MarketWatch highlights, “Many people believe all you have to do is show up to retirement and it will somehow all work out and be wonderful. While this does occasionally happen, it’s by no means the norm.” Have you taken the time to envision life in retirement? What you plan to do? What your priorities are? Could you describe your typical day in retirement? Of course, getting the money part right is a critical piece in bringing your vision of retirement to reality which is where I come in. Contact us today so that we can determine the resources you need to fulfill your retirement dreams.

Don’t Let These 6 Surprises Wreck Your Retirement

07.09.13: We’ve all heard that the best laid plans often go astray. That applies to retirement planning as much as anything else in life. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Don’t Let These 6 Surprises Wreck Your Retirement,” highlights the big surprises that await you in retirement and how you can prepare for them. Are you equipped to handle changes in your budget, rising health care costs, inflation and more? Contact us today to schedule a review of your retirement plan to ensure you’re ready for the challenges ahead.

How to Budget for Health Costs in Retirement

06.25.13: When determining your budget for retirement, it’s important to factor in potential health care costs. “Medicare provides near universal health insurance coverage to people age 65 and older, but retirees still face often significant out-of-pocket costs.” In “How to Budget for Health Care Costs in Retirement,” featured in U.S. News & World Report, the article provides guidance on how you can budget for likely health care expenses in retirement. For additional information and to review your retirement income needs, including planning for out-of-pocket medical expenses, please contact us today.

Annuities As Income, Not Investments

06.11.13: In the article, “Annuities as Income, Not Investments,” Market Watch explores the value of annuities as part of your retirement income strategy. In fact, according to one expert, “It is the single best way on a risk-adjusted basis to maximize one’s ability to spend in retirement without concerns about running out of resources. Given that running out of money in retirement is one of the biggest concerns facing pre-retirees and retirees today, annuities are definitely something to consider. Contact us today to review your retirement income needs and determine if a fixed annuity is right for your overall retirement plan.

Draining IRAs Too Soon Poses Big Risks

05.28.13: Did you know that the consequences of dipping into your IRA before you reach 70 ½ are significant? In doing so, you may be putting your standard of living at risk according to “Draining IRAs Too Soon Poses Big Risks” by Market Watch. However, some experts argue that in some cases it makes sense to take money from your IRA before age 70 ½. So how do you determine which strategy is right for you? Retirement income planning can be tricky and the “best strategy” is truly unique to each person’s situation. Contact us today to schedule a review of your retirement plan so we can determine the right plan to fit your lifestyle and retirement goals.

Retiring on CDs Not Viable

05.14.13: Gone are the days when retirees could live off the returns from certificates of deposits.  In fact, “today's low CD rates and rates on other savings vehicles could cause retirees to run out of money before they run out of life.”  In “Retiring on CDs Not Viable” by, the article also warns that the low-yield environment has impacted the old 4% rule to the point that it is no longer viable.  Now that tax season is officially behind us, this is a great time to review your asset allocations and consider if a guaranteed income product is right for you. Contact us today to schedule a review of your retirement plan to be sure that it will support you throughout your lifetime.

What Are Your Real Retirement Costs?

04.23.13: Often times, I find that people who come to me for help are so busy saving for retirement that they haven’t stopped to ask what exactly they’re saving for and, more importantly, how much they will need to live the way they want to during retirement. In “What Are Your Real Retirement Costs?” by U.S. News & World Report, the article reviews the “five important yet often-overlooked retirement costs that you’ll want to consider.” Do you know how much you need in order to live the life you want in retirement?  Contact us today to discuss how we can create a comprehensive retirement plan tailored to your needs.

Preserving Your Assets in Retirement

04.09.13: This article from Fox Business, “Preserving Your Assets in Retirement,” underscores the importance of protecting your retirement assets from losses while ensuring that your money lasts your lifetime and beyond.  With products like fixed indexed annuities, you can do just that. Contact us today to review your retirement income needs and determine if a fixed indexed annuity is right for your overall retirement plan.

What Is The Present Value Of Your Social Security Benefits?

03.26.13: Many Americans are counting on their Social Security income to help support them in retirement. The big questions many people often have are: how valuable are my benefits and how exactly can I maximize those benefits? Forbes helps shed light on the answers to these questions in: “What Is the Present Value of Your Social Security Benefits?

Say Goodbye to the 4% Rule

03.12.13: No doubt you’ve heard about the 4% rule when it comes to the conventional wisdom on retirement withdrawals, but will that strategy actually work for you given the current environment? According to “Say Goodbye to the 4% Rule” from the Wall Street Journal, “it’s getting tougher to tell.” The article then goes on to suggest three options as alternatives to ensure that your nest egg is ready for retirement.

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Social Security

02.26.13: When it comes to Social Security, people often have more questions than answers. In “10 Things Everyone Should Know About Social Security” from U.S. News & World Report, the most important facts about Social Security are readily explained. The article covers everything from how your benefits are calculated to understanding your full retirement age along with eight other important facts that everyone should know about Social Security.

3 Tips for Tapping Your Nest Egg

02.12.13: While much is written about building up your nest egg, do you know what to do when it’s time to start taking money out? The article “3 Tips for Tapping Your Nest Egg” from CNN Money, helps sheds some light on determining your withdrawal strategy. The article discusses what rate you should plan to withdraw at, where you should pull your money from first, and how to continue fine-tuning your plan well into retirement.

Seven Resolutions to Get Your Nest Egg in Shape

01.22.13: In the spirit of New Year's resolutions, we wanted to share with you some great tips on how to get your nest egg in shape for 2013. If getting your retirement plan in order isn't already on your list, it definitely should be. In “Seven Resolutions to Get Your Nest Egg in Shape,” the Wall Street Journal offers advice on how to get back on track in planning and saving for your retirement. Call us today to discuss how we can help you create a personalized retirement plan so that you can enjoy the peace of mind you deserve.

What the Fiscal Cliff Deal Means for Your Taxes

01.08.13: In “What the Cliff Deal Means for Your Taxes,” Market Watch has prepared an easy to understand cheat sheet of the tax changes most impacted by the fiscal cliff deal recently passed by Congress. Significant changes have been made to income tax brackets, the alternative minimum tax, capital gains and dividends, Roth IRA conversions, payroll taxes and estate taxes. Click here to learn more.

Your Retirement Benefits - What to Expect in 2013

12.11.12: With the New Year just around the corner, U.S. News & World Report recaps the changes to expect to retirement benefits in “Your Retirement Benefits: What to Expect in 2013.” Did you know that the costs and benefits of 401(k)s, Social Security and Medicare will all be adjusted next year? Those working will be allowed to contribute $500 more to retirement accounts while retirees will receive slightly larger Social Security checks. Additionally, Medicare Part D coverage will improve although premiums will increase slightly to support this change. For a full list and explanations of the retirement benefit changes you can expect in 2013, please click here.

Retiring On The Edge of The Fiscal Cliff

11.27.12: With the fiscal cliff on the horizon, Market Watch offers 10 ways to protect your retirement savings in “Retiring On The Edge of The Fiscal Cliff.” According to the article, “One of the biggest risks that retirees and pre-retirees face is that of taxes; not just paying them but the risk that tax policy will change and throw a big wrench into one’s plans. Well, that risk - in the form of the fiscal cliff - is now upon us and retirees and pre-retirees must now develop a plan of action for their portfolio should all, some, or none of the scheduled tax changes and spending cuts become a reality on Jan. 1.” Click here to read more.

IRS Guide for Retirement Payouts

11.13.12: The Wall Street Journal recently published the article, “IRS Guide for Retirement Payouts” which examines the idea of utilizing the Internal Revenue Service’s Required Minimum Distribution tables to craft your retirement withdrawal strategy versus the conventional “4% rule.” “Rather than withdrawing a set dollar amount every year as with the 4% rule, a retiree withdraws a percentage of his retirement savings. That percentage rises slightly every year. The idea is to avoid the kind of outsized withdrawal during a market setback that could hurt the retiree later in life.” Determining your retirement income distribution strategy is key to enjoying peace of mind in your retirement. Ready for some peace of mind? Click here to read more.

What’s Your Magic Retirement-Savings Number?

10.23.12: Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest 401k provider, recently released guidelines to help evaluate if you’re on track to meet your retirement income needs based on your current savings. According to Fidelity, “eight” is the magic number meaning the typical person should save eight times their ending annual salary to afford retirement. The catch: most of our situations aren’t typical, they’re unique. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal article, “When ‘Eight’ Isn’t Enough,” which examines Fidelity’s guidelines, there are many variables involved in determining how much you will need in retirement – everything from when you started saving to the return on your retirement funds to when you plan to retire. Additionally, “retirement experts suggest that once you are in your 50s, you should consult a financial planner or experiment with online calculators to figure out the number you need to support the retirement you want.”

8 Social Security Myths Exposed

10.09.12: The most recent government-issued report projects that Social Security benefits will have to be reduced starting in 2033 when funding runs out.  While this may seem like a long way off, this is a year earlier than previously expected and, as pressure continues on the Social Security system, this timeline may be even further reduced.  It’s no wonder then that these days the biggest question on the minds of many pre-retirees about Social Security is: Will it be around when I retire?  In “8 Social Security Myths Exposed,” Money Talks News separates fact from fiction by explaining the most common misunderstandings about Social Security.  Should you begin collecting as soon as possible or hold off?  Will you be able to live comfortably on Social Security alone?  Are you eligible for Medicare as soon as you can collect Social Security?  For answers to these questions and more, please click here

Index & Variable Annuities: Exploring the Similarities & Differences

09.25.12: For those considering investing an annuity, it is important to know the differences between index annuities and variable annuities. While there are several benefits across all annuities such as tax-deferred growth and guaranteed income payments there are also some significant distinctions. As an annuity consumer, you must determine your financial needs, evaluate your risk tolerance and review your goals in order to make the appropriate annuity choice. In the article, “Index and Variable Annuities: Exploring the Similarities and Differences” you can view a side-by-side comparison to help you determine which retirement investment strategy is right for you. Click here to read more about the key differences of index and variable annuities. 

A Retirement Plan Beyond the Financials

09.11.12: U.S. News and World Report recently released a fantastic article called “A Retirement Plan Beyond the Financials. While planning for the financial side of retirement is perhaps the most important (and most discussed) part of retirement planning, we often neglect to plan for the life we want once we're retired. Considering many people will enjoy retirement for 20 to 30 years, it's a good idea to start thinking about what you will do to create a “fulfilling and stimulating retired life.”  To read more about planning the lifestyle you want in retirement and creating your “retirement happiness,” please click here.

10 Critical Retirement-Saving Mistakes

08.28.12: U.S. News & World Report offers excellent tips on how to avoid the “10 Critical Retirement-Saving Mistakes” such as retiring with too much debt and withdrawing Social Security payments prematurely. Many of these classic mistakes can be easily avoided with appropriate planning to ensure your financial security in retirement. To read the article in its entirety and learn all about the retirement savings mistakes you should avoid, please click here.

10 Things You Should Know About Social Security

08.14.12: AARP answers the most frequently asked questions about Social Security in “10 Things You Should Know About Social Security.” This quick read is packed with great information every individual should know about Social Security benefits, covering everything from eligibility to how to maximize your benefits. Understanding your Social Security benefits is critical to your overall retirement plan. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Q&A: Stanford Economist John Shoven on Social Security

07.24.12: Lower interest rates and longer life spans can significantly affect your retirement planning. So how can you get the most out of your social security benefits? One strategy to consider: delay social security benefits and rely on your other investments earlier. Stanford University economist John Shoven offers guidance on how to get the most out of current Social Security benefits and explains the problems at the heart of the retirement crisis. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

IRA Rules Get Trickier

07.10.12: "Uncle Sam is about to get a lot tougher on individual retirement account mistakes - and that could trip up investors who aren't careful." This article, “IRA Rules Get Trickier,” from the Wall Street Journal highlights costly IRA mistakes and reviews the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's report on the hundreds of millions of dollars the IRS is losing by not collecting penalties for IRA errors such as missed required minimum distributions and excess contributions  The IRS will start cracking down on this, possibly beginning later this year. Be sure you're working with an an educated advisor who can help you avoid these costly mistakes. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.