Friday Financial Five – November 29th, 2013
Friday, November 29, 2013
A strong year for stock markets
Despite general angst about the state of the U.S. and foreign economies, broad stock market performance has been extremely strong this year. Companies large and small, domestic and foreign, have all contributed to all time highs in market indexes. After decades of strong performance in the bond markets, this year saw negative returns in many areas as the prospect of rising interest rates looms large. Diversification and the shortening of bond investment durations remains extremely important going forward.
Positive home equity
Homes are coming out from being underwater and that will have major ramifications for the economy’s future improvement. Positive equity reduces foreclosure time and expense as the property can be sold at a profit. There is increased mobility for the work force. For 2013, the rise in home equity also spurred refinancing activity, alleviating pressure on the nation’s debt burden.
Lower investment fees and increased fiduciary responsibility
A few trends in the delivery of financial services will continue to benefit the consumer. Overall investment expense continues to get driven down as companies compete to deliver mutual funds and exchange traded funds with lower expenses. Meanwhile, the SEC is pushing increased regulatory oversight to make as many investment professionals as possible take fiduciary responsibility for their clients.
Dissenting voices at the Federal Reserve
In 2014, the most important decision for the future of our economy will be how the Fed handles the end of Quantitative Easing. We know for sure that the Fed’s low interest rate policy has helped housing, but the tradeoff has been lower rates of interest for savers and lower income for retirees. There are now a few voices at the Fed asking for a plan to end the easy money policy, while transitioning to a higher interest rate environment.
A continued focus on college tuition’s value
This speech by Malcolm Gladwell reinforces the need to reassess the value proposition of higher education. By comparing the publication rates of the “elite schools” versus the “lousy schools”, Gladwell’s analysis argues against paying as much as possible to attend the most elite institution. Instead, the focus should be on attending a college where the student will thrive most, regardless of the institution's reputation. Elite institutions, many at a cost of over $50,000 per year, continue to fall short in terms of providing proper value to their graduates.
Dan Forbes is a regular contributor on financial issues. He is a CFP Board Ambassador. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in Providence, RI and can be reached at [email protected]
Related Slideshow: 30 Ways To Give In Central Mass This Holiday Season
The Salvation Army’s traditional red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene, with millions of dollars donated each year to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless. Donations provide and financial assistance provides Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys for families in need including families of prisoners. Simply make a donation wherever you see their trademark red kettle or do so online by clicking here.
Goodwill Mass accepts donations of men's, women's or children's clothing and other textiles. Some of the clothing donations are provided to our clients who may need an outfit for an interview or a one week supply of clothing for a new job. Most is sold to neighboring Goodwills, or as salvage with all revenues raised going back into programs and services for Rhode islanders.
You may drop off your old clothing at one of the many clothing donation bins throughout the state or at the drop-box located in 25 Park Avenue, Worcester.
Click here for more information.
Formed in 2002, Operation Homefront is a nonprofit organization developed to support military families. On December 14, Operation Homefront will host a “Holiday Toys for Military Kids” event in Wellesly Hills, Taunton, and Springfield from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Toys are limited and are on a first come, first serve registration process. Once your registration is complete you will receive a confirmation email. Please note that this program is for military dependent children only.
Donate non-perishable food items such as rice, beans, and canned vegetables for Thanksgiving distribution by November 21. Donate new or gently used winter clothing such as boots, hats, scarves, and coats to be distributed to ACE families during the holiday season. Donations accepted November – January.
Contact: Amy Connery (508) 799-3653
Donate new toys, games, and books for children of all ages; grocery store gift cards for holiday food baskets; gifts for teens such as movie passes, music, gaming gift cards, and personal care items; and gift cards to clothing and shoe stores to purchase gifts for children and teens. Adopt a family and provide gifts for Christmas. Call for details.
Contact: Sheryl Spafford (508) 832-5707 ext. 10
Donate holiday gifts for children ages 5 – 18 including gift cards for teens to purchase items such as movies, music, and clothing; grocery store gift cards to purchase holiday meals for families in need; and wrapping paper and supplies such as bows and cards. Adopt a family for the holidays and provide gifts. Call for details.
Contact: Liz Hamilton (508) 754-2686
Donate new toys, books, clothes, outerwear, boots, and gift cards for boys and girls ages 4 – 18; gift certificates for movies, bowling, and other activities; non-religious holiday decorations and gift-wrap; and food for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.
Contact: Anna Berin (508) 853-6988
Donate gifts for homeless children of all ages and new household items for more than 80 homeless families including sheet sets, blankets, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, and gift cards to discount and grocery stores. Gifts for teens especially needed.
Contact: Katherine Kerr (508) 791-7265
Donate winter hats and gloves and gift cards to discount stores, grocery stores, and fast food restaurants.
Contact: Brian Bickford (508) 860-1139
Donate new items for newborns and mothers in need: baby blankets, toiletries, newborn undergarments, socks, bibs, infant equipment such as car seats, new maternity clothes, and gift cards for discount and grocery stores. Donate new items for immigrants/refugees such as gloves and mittens, hats, scarves, and home first aid kits. Donate new household items for homeless families including sheet sets, blankets, cooking utensils, pots and pans, and dishes.
Contact: Georgianna Sgariglia
Donate men’s and women’s clothing in all sizes (especially XL and plus sizes) such as sweaters, sweatshirts, sweatpants, jeans, underwear, and t-shirts; toiletries such as hairbrushes, makeup, shampoo, body wash, and lotion; inexpensive male and female jewelry items such as crosses, watches, and rings; games, cards, word search books, and other small gift items.
Contact: Sandy Epstein
Donate non-perishable food for distribution to area emergency feeding programs. Drop off items Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 474 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury. Please call the office before dropping off. Please visit www.foodbank.org for more information.
Donate navy blue blazers, white button down shirts, khaki pants, belts, and dress shoes for boys in sizes from boys’ small to men’s medium; sports equipment such as baseballs, soccer balls, and related items; art supplies and music equipment such as instruments, scores, and songbooks.
Contact: Patrick Maloney
Join us for our annual “Holiday for Heroes” campaign. Assist by reviewing, categorizing, and bundling holiday cards that will be delivered to veterans in Central MA. You would need to dedicate about three hours for this one-time seasonal event in early December. Call to schedule date.
Contact: Ray Duffy (508) 595-3762
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