Can you feel it? Change is in the air (along with red tide and pollen). Temperatures are rising; Snowbirds are leaving; and The Masters start next week. Spring is here. Hopefully this note finds you well and making plans for travel and gathering with friends and family.
For our managed account clients, your Quarterly Report and Billing Statement is attached. Stay tuned for more information regarding the TD Ameritrade/Schwab merger – the Labor Day conversion date is not that far away. We will provide updates very soon.
Welcome to March Madness (in my best Jim Nantz voice). While that term normally references the NCAA basketball tournament that starts March 14, one could easily apply it to the traffic congestion. Snowbird season will be over soon – or so we are told.
We could also apply the term to the questionable activities and policies in Tallahassee and our local school boards. But I digress – positivity is the New Year’s resolution.
Tax Identity Theft Update
In the spirit of seasons (tax season in this case), let us do a little reminder that the bad guys love to prey on us during this most fun time.
Tax identity theft has been a threat for many years affecting millions of taxpayers. There are various schemes used by scammers including phone calls and phishing text messages and emails. In recent years, however, we have seen a decrease in successful tax identity theft attacks due to education and some precautionary actions taken by the IRS. Still, it is important to be aware of these threats.
Happy Michael Jordan day – 02/03/2023 (MJ’s jersey number was 23). For the non-basketball or sports fans, happy day after Groundhog Day. Since the gopher saw his shadow, we have to look for six more weeks of 70-degree winter weather in Sarasota (apologies to our clients living in the “cooler” climates).
ZOOM Webinars for Clients – THEY’RE BACK
We are excited (and you can be too) that we are going to have a Zoom webinar on Wednesday, March 1, at 5:00. Please join John (and I) as he presents “The New Retirement Rules: Understanding SECURE Act 2.0.”
Having referenced this many times, it never gets old to repeat the inimitable words of my favorite comic strip character, Calvin (of Bill Waterson’s Calvin & Hobbes fame) as he looked at fresh snowfall on a January 1st morning, “A new year…a fresh clean start”.
Happy New Year to you. Hopefully this note finds you well and rested from a great holiday season. Our hope and wishes for you is a year of good health, much happiness and prosperity as we move forward on our journeys to lives of fulfillment. We are optimistic that better days are ahead for all of us.
Hopefully you have recovered from turkey overload and are getting those voices all tuned up to go caroling (does anyone do that anymore?) In the midst of the busy holiday season, we hope you are looking forward to spending time with family and friends and enjoying yourselves. The holidays are the time for celebration and positivity, and we wish you all the best. If you are travelling, please be careful.
As John so thoughtfully expressed last week, we are truly grateful for the opportunity to be of service to you. This has been a challenging year for so many and we appreciate your confidence by allowing us to help you navigate through these times.
In the spirit of giving, your patronage of Reality Financial Planning Services enables us to help others in need of assistance, and to make its annual contributions to the Community Foundation’s “Season of Sharing”, All Faiths Food Bank, and Mayors’ Feed the Hungry charitable organizations.
We hope you had a spooktacular Halloween with more treats than tricks. While many had to recover from the nasty trick that was hurricane Ian, last month was full of a lot of treats, so we will begin our little update with some good news.
Social Security Benefits Going Up; Medicare Premium going down
As was announced during the summer, social security recipients will receive an 8.5% cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase in their monthly benefits beginning January, 2023. Beneficiaries will be notified by mail in December of their exact amount. For those of you wise consumers that have an online account with Social Security (as you all should), you will likely be notified sooner by text or email.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. We have covered this topic many times. Even this old dog needs to be reminded to be careful from time-to-time. John calls me “Paranoid Pete” for my aversion to most technology – and I own that, but it never hurts to have a reminder. Armed with knowledge, vigilance, and a healthy dose of caution, you can minimize risks and stay safe online.
IBM defines cybersecurity as “the practice of protecting critical systems and sensitive information from digital attacks.”
You may not be in the business of defending critical infrastructure from online threats. But fraud, identity theft, and online scams that target your finances pose significant challenges for everyone in today’s digital world.
The Downturn in Perspective
By now you know that market timers and traders were spooked once again, causing a downward ripple across the U.S. investment markets. It’s not easy to tell what startled them this time. The financial press told us that the reversal was brought on by the release of the August Consumer Price Index report, but one wonders how, at this point, a month-to-month continuation of inflation is much a surprise. And the report was hardly dramatic; the CPI was up 0.1% from July, after no change from the prior month.
Happy Labor Day! For many, this is a nice 3-day weekend. For our retired friends, it is just another day to enjoy the fruits of your hard work and do as you please. Some of us are even relishing the fact that the three major Florida universities won their college football games (had to get that in there).
True confession time: usually I try to get these monthly notes out to you very shortly after the end of a month – mostly to recap the markets' performance and opine on topics important to all of us. This week, I have “labored” with what topics to cover to ensure that we can bring some positivity to you about things as we see them.
Due to the rancor and derision that emanates from some mainstream media us, that is sometimes a difficult proposition.
August 23rd saw the election of a new school board in Sarasota County. For the sake of educators and students, I hope those newly elected members can set aside their politics and remember who they serve and will do the right things to ensure quality education is the number one priority - not pandering.
While it may be wishful thinking, I really hope that as the fall election cycle heats up, the rhetoric will be toned down, compromise can be found, and the insidious anger can be replaced with diplomacy and caring. Or maybe I have spent too much time in the sun.