Monthly Archives: April 2016

POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 23, 2016

IMG_0874.JPG•Testa’s,  time and a financial literacy lesson.

I’ve substituted my usual Pocketbook photo for this yummy picture of Testa’s 95th birthday party cake.

In case you don’t know, Testa’s is a Palm Beach institution. The family-run restaurant has been serving tasty Italian food since 1921. More than half of those years at their location on Royal Poinciana Way where their outdoor patio and knotty pine booths inside, mixed with the aroma of home-made cooking, keep  customers coming back again and again.

While the restaurant’s look  hasn’t changed much over the decades, dining prices sure have —as is to be expected  given time.

At their party celebration earlier this month, Tom Testa told the crowd gathered in Via Testa that in 1949, a martini, daiquiri and Manhattan could be had for 50 cents,lamb chops and Italian spaghetti entrees started at $1.50.

Two bucks for a drink and dinner. Imagine that.

The financial literacy lesson here? Time and money go hand-in-hand—the more time that passes the more money you’ll need to enjoy the stuff you love.

  • Market Quick Glance

-Indices:

Here are the year-to-date performance figures for the major indices through April 22, 2016  according to Bloomberg. To provide a longer performance perspective, 1-year returns have been added.

Overall it was another winning week for many stocks as the 1-week performance figures were better for three of the four indices below than they were at the end of  the previous week— Nasdaq being the stinker:

Dow Jones +4.16% YTD

1yr Rtn +2.21%

-S&P 500 +3.02% YTD

1yr Rtn +0.93%

NASDAQ -1.62% YTD

1yr Rtn -2.38%

-Russell 2000 +1.41% YTD

1yr Rtn -8.20%

 -Mutual funds

Through Thursday, April 21, 2016 the average U.S.Diversified Equity Fund gained some strength — up on average 1.28 percent year-to-date, according to Lipper.

For the second week in a row Equity Income Funds had the highest returns posting gains double what they were during the previous week: up 3.91 percent, year-to-date.

Three fund categories sported average returns of more than 4 percent: Equity Income Funds up 4.28 percent; Mid-Cap Value Funds up the same at 4.28 percent; and Small-Cap Value Funds up 4.26 percent.

Dedicated Short-Bias Funds continued heading south, down 11.15 percent.

Sector Equity Funds performed well. The 2,275 included under that heading up, on average, 5.47 percent. Precious Metals Funds lead the way, up a whopping 66.82 percent.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see how equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

Lipper’s weekly performance figures for stock and fixed-income funds are at www.allaboutfunds.com in the left column on the home page.

  • We are goofy about money

You know as well as I do that each of us has our own individual point of view about money. And all of it is pretty much nutty. How much we need, how much we spend, how much we lie about what we need, have, spend and save is different  for each of us.

Money, and its many uses,  winds up creating our own personal conundrum.

Proving that point, results from a recent Fifth Third Bank study found our money thinks and money acts are often two different things:

“Forty-eight percent of Americans consider themselves to be financially savvy. Based on survey questions examining financial savings and planning, many have the right to be confident.

  • 45% percent of respondents know 20% of income should be set aside for savings.
  • More than half1 of those surveyed know an emergency fund should hold six months of living expenses.
  • 46% percent of Americans agree retirement savings should begin in a person’s 20s.

But that knowledge isn’t reflected in real-life decisions.

With high marks for understanding financial concepts, Americans have the know-how to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, they aren’t applying the perceived understanding to their own finances.

  • 47% percent of respondents frequently live paycheck to paycheck.
  • 66% of Americans don’t have six months of savings in their emergency fund.
  • 30% percent don’t have an emergency fund at all.
  • Over 50% don’t contribute to a 401K, IRA or other retirement plan.”

 

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Greed: It’s never good

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It’s April and in addition to Uncle Sam wanting a piece of our financial action, it is also Financial Literacy Month.

There is no shortage of ways to gain a financial education—high school, college and after grad classes, websites, investment tips, books, etc.—but year-after-year studies continue to show that most of us still have plenty to learn.

One reason might be because financial literacy—as in learning all about money, it’s management, how to invest it, what to do with it, plus plus—is ever-changing throughout our lives. So, as we age so do our financial and money needs. Learning about all things financial requires attention from pretty much cradle to grave.

Forbes.com ran a piece last year, “11 Financial Words All Parents Should Teach Their Kids”, that suggests parents start teaching their kids about saving money at age 4.

I suggest teaching your little darlings about money and its many uses after the Tooth Fairy makes her first visit—provided that’s something that happens in your home. After all, kids learn to love—and expect—money very early on in life. They also learn money behaviors from their parents and peers; greed being the sourest.

Ask me why America is in the financial fix it is in today—millions not earning enough to pay their way or able to save for their futures, a national debt that’s soaring, incompetence in Congress, a growing ignorant class, too much money in too few hands, etc.—and I’ll say the underlying reason is because too many people have become too greedy.

It would be convenient if there were someone—other than ourselves—to blame for our greediness, but their isn’t. Greed shows up in both our personal and professional lives. It is a choice. We can choose to be greedy. Or not.

I’ve often wondered if Oliver Stone and screenwriter Stan Weiser wish they hadn’t written the line, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good”, spoken by Michael Douglas, whose played the fictional character Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street.

That movie was about the insider trading scandals of the 1980s. But in the 30 years since its release there have been no shortage of scandals on Wall Street, or, greedy behavior within our financial markets. It’s almost as if ‘greed is good” warped into some kind of guaranteed formula for success that has caught on as a value rather than a vice.

As Financial Literacy Month winds down, one practice that can make a positive difference in your life going forward is this: Don’t be greedy. Greed is not good. It never has been or ever will be.

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 16, 2016

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  • SAVE some $ today!

Ya gotta love America and Uncle Sam when one of the rewards everyone can enjoy—whether they are tax payers or not— are Tax Day deals.

USA TODAY, published a list of Tax Day deals  that is worth reading through and sure to appeal. Plus, will save you some money.

Below is the list as it appeared in the USA TODAY story titled, “Where to find the best Tax Day deals and freebies”, published April 18, 2016:

  • “Noodles & Co.: On April 18, buy any entree, get a kids’ meal free. Kids (“your little deductibles”) must be present. From April 11 to 18, order online and use code TAXDAY to get $4 off your order of $10 or more.
  • Staples: April 18 in-store only, shred 5 pounds of paper for free.
  • Boston Market: On Tax Day, buy a half-chicken individual meal with two sides, a regular fountain drink, cornbread and a cookie for $10.40.
  • Great American Cookies: Add some dough to your life with a free original chocolate chip cookie at participating stores on April 18.
  • Hot Dog on a Stick: Get one free Original Turkey Dog on a Stick at participating locations.
  • Kona Ice: Get a free tropical shaved ice on Tax Day. Tweet your ZIP code to @KonaIce to find the Kona Ice truck’s location in your community.
  • Tony Roma’s: Eat here on Tax Day and receive a coupon for a free slice of red velvet cake. Or register for the Tony Roma’s Email Club and have the coupon emailed to you before April 18.
  • Office Depot: Visit the 2015 taxes guidefor a coupon for 5 pounds of free bulk bin shredding in-store through April 23.
  • Sonny’s BBQ: On April 18, get half-price Sweet & Smokey or House Dry-Rubbed Rib dinners.
  • Wayfair: Through April 20, shop discounts up to 60% off on furniture in Wayfair’s Tax Refund Event.
  • McDonald’s: On April 18 at participating restaurants in Arizona, Vermont, Colorado and Wyoming, get a free small coffee. At participating locations in Dayton, Ohio, and Cincinnati, buy one Big Mac or Quarter Pounder and get one for 18 cents. Check your local McDonald’s for deals.
  • HydroMassage: Between April 18 and 22, download a coupon and schedule a free massage.
  • Outback Steakhouse: Take 15% off your entire check with a coupon on April 18. Sign up for the restaurant’s email list or download the Outback app to get the Tax Day coupon.
  • Planet Fitness: Download a coupon from the Planet Fitness site for a free HydroMassage. Must be 18 years or older and have an ID present.
  • Papa Murphy’s: Get 50% off online orders on Tax Day at participating locations.
  • Hard Rock Cafe: Sing a song on the cafe stage in front of the entire restaurant at participating locations on April 18 to receive a free Legendary Burger.”

Read the full story at : http://tinyurl.com/j8ogu8k .

  • Market Quick Glance

-Indices:

Here are the year-to-date performance figures for the major indices through April 15, 2016, according to Bloomberg. To provide a longer performance perspective, 1-year returns have been added.

Overall it was a winning week for stocks as each of the following indices had preformed better last week than they had during the previous one:

Dow Jones +3.52% YTD

1yr Rtn +3.04%

-S&P 500 +2.48% YTD

1yr Rtn +2.18%

NASDAQ -0.99% YTD

1yr Rtn +1.45%

-Russell 2000 +0.00% YTD

1yr Rtn -8.33%

 

-Mutual funds

Through Thursday, April 14, 2016 the average U.S.Diversified Equity Fund was up 0.66 percent percent year-to-date, according to Lipper.

For the second week in a row Equity Income Funds had the highest returns posting gains double what they were during the previous week: up 3.91 percent, year-to-date.

Dedicated Short-Bias Funds were down the most: off nearly 10 percent (9.94 percent).

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see how equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

Lipper’s weekly performance figures for stock and fixed-income funds are at www.allaboutfunds.com in the left column on the home page.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 9, 2016

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•Recession Risk Light Flashing Yellow

Straight from the mouth of FinancialSense comes this: “Though we are not expecting the US to be entering a recession currently, it is clear that the risk of one has increased meaningfully since last year. In the beginning of 2015, our recession model was showing a very low (1-2%) risk of recession. With deteriorating economic conditions, it is now reading a 15% probability, which is not far below the 20% critical threshold. Once we get above that point, economic weakness tends to accelerate……”

And this: “Corporate profits are also giving a very clear warning signal on the US economy and stock market as well. On a year-over-year basis, the current decline is now steeper than the readings we saw entering the 2001 and 2008 recessions.

“If we look at the data going back to 1950, there was only one instance in 1986 (circled in red) where profits have declined this far year-over-year without the US economy entering a recession.”

Read more and view the graphs at: http://seekingalpha.com/article/3964161-recent-data-shows-u-s-recession-risks-rise?ifp=0&app=1

 

•Market Quick Glance

-Indices:

Here are the year-to-date performance figures for the major indices through April 9, 2016, according to Bloomberg. To provide a longer performance perspective, 1-year returns have been added.

Overall it was a losing ground week for stocks as each of the following indices had lower performance returns at the end of this week than they had the previous week:

Dow Jones +1.64% YTD

1 yr Rtn -0.10%

-S&P 500 +0.81% YTD

1 yr Rtn -0.46%

NASDAQ -2.74% YTD—through 4/8/16

1 yr Rtn -1.63%

-Russell 2000 -2.99% YTD—through 4/8/16

1 yr Rtn -11.96%

 

-Mutual funds

Through Thursday, April 7, 2016 the average U.S.Diversified Equity Fund was down1.62 percent year-to-date, according to Lipper. The week before, the average year-to-date return for funds under this heading was only down 0.39 percent.

Small-Cap Growth Funds experienced the biggest losses—down on average 5.74 percent. Equity Income Funds had the highest returns: up 1.72 percent, year-to-date.

Precious Metals Funds continue to rock under the Sector Equity Funds heading. They gained more than 4 percent and closed the week up on average 46.73 percent y-t-d.

Health/Biotechnology Funds got healthier, the average y-t-d performance now off only 10.60 percent. And Global Health/Biotechnology Funds improved as well, now at -9.14 percent.

Under the World Equity Funds heading, Latin American Funds are the big performance winners—now up on average 10.40 percent y-t-d. Japanese Funds, the biggest losers, down 8.66 percent on average.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see how equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

Lipper’s weekly performance figures for stock and fixed-income funds are at www.allaboutfunds.com in the left column on the home page.

  • So sad….

According to the WSJ, the median pay for 300 of America’s largest corporate CEOs fell  by $400,000 last year. Boohoo. Boohoo.

That’s a drop of 3.8 percent for these top dogs who had a median income of only $10.8 million in 2015—- down from the 2014 level of $11.2 million.

Oh how my heart breaks for these select few most of whom,  I would guess,  have clearly forgotten the value of $1  as that level of income translates to about $900,000 a month.

One more thing: Oddly enough, $10.8 million is the same amount of money businessman Donald Trump loaned candidate Donald Trump during the last three moths of 2015 so businessman Donald Trump could run for president, according to USA TODAY.

BTW, the Donald’s loan is an interest free loan and doesn’t have to be paid back to businessman Donald Trump until December 31, 2016.

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Stuck on…Medi-Stickers

IMG_0656Allen Rutman, owner of Green’s Pharmacy on North County Road, holds a package of Dian Vujovich’s  RememberYourPills stickers, which he calls a “novel idea.”

From  the Palm Beach Daily News, Sunday, April 3, 2016:

New product at island drug stores helps residents take prescription drugs correctly.

By Aleese Kopf

Daily News Staff Writer

About two years ago, Dian Vujovich was having trouble remembering which prescription drugs to take when, how many times a day or week she was supposed to take them and whether they had to go down with or without food.

So she developed a sticker system to help her keep track.

“I realized I wasn’t taking my medications correctly,” Vujovich said. “I came up with the sticker idea, had some made, and once I started using the stickers — taking the hot pink one before breakfast and the deep blue one at bedtime — I realized that these really help me, and picking the right pill based on the colored message was an easy habit to get into.”

Now the multi-colored medi-stickers, RememberYourPills, are available to island shoppers as well.

Vujovich, a former Palm Beach Daily News freelance writer, started selling the stickers last month at Green’s Pharmacy, 151 N. County Road, and Lewis Health Mart Pharmacy, 235 S. County Road. They’re also available off-island at drug stores in Lake Park and Jupiter, and online.

“I thought it was a novel idea, and we’re always looking for something unusual,” said Allen Rutman, owner of Green’s. “It’s a great idea to have stickers you can actually put on the bottle so you don’t have to keep reading the instruction label.”

Vujovich said “medication non-adherence,” doctor speak for not taking prescription drugs correctly, is a serious problem.

“Taking your prescription meds wrong is a huge, huge problem and one of the primary reasons people wind up in the hospital,” she said. “And it’s a problem that’s only going to grow as our population ages and more people need to take meds on a regular basis. RememberYourPills medi-stickers help to solve that problem those of us who take multiple medications face each day: Knowing when and how often to take our medication.”

A pack of 24 stickers cost $2.99.

For more information, visit rememberyourpills.com or email Vujovich at rememberyourpills@gmail.com.

– See more at: http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/news/local/new-product-helps-residents-take-prescriptions-cor/nqxYr/#sthash.MWv1jF2p.dpuf

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POCKETBOOK:Week ending April 2, 2016

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  • Play ball

It’s time to head out to the ball parks to watch another, and sometimes sleeper, baseball game. Like everything else, a couple of tickets and beers, hot dogs and parking will set you back what could amount to a high flyer into left field.

GOBankingRates.com compared the costs of four things—two tickets; two hot dogs; two beers; and parking—at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums.

What they found was that the average cost of spending a day at the ballpark was $77.92 for two people. That total cost of averages  broke down like this:

  • Two tickets: $41.41
  • Two hot dogs: $8.73
  • Two beers: $11.89
  • Parking: $15.89

But since nobody ever seems to get an average price on anything, consider the following:

  • Fenway Park, where the Boston Red Sox call home, was the most expensive stadium with that combo costing an average of $157.
  • The cheapest is at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim, where the Los Angeles Angels call home and those exact items can be had for a fraction of the price— only $47.60.

Now that’s a deal.

See all 30 stadium prices, pictures and learn more at:

http://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/ranked-most-least-expensive-stadiums-mlb-fans-watch-baseball-game/

  • Market Quick Glance

-Indices:

Here are the year-to-date performance figures for the major indices through April 2, 2016, according to Bloomberg. To provide a longer performance perspective, 1-year returns have been added.

Dow Jones +2.85% YTD

1yr Rtn +2.79%

-S&P 500 +2.01% YTD

1yr Rtn +2.47%

NASDAQ -1.47%YTD—through 4/1/16

1yr Rtn +1.90%

-Russell 2000 -1.20% YTD—through 4/1/16

1yr Rtn -9.68%

-Mutual funds

Through Thursday, March 31, 2016 the average U.S.Diversified Equity Fund was down 0.39 percent year-to-date, according to Lipper.

Dedicated Short Bias Funds were the week’s worst performing category down on average 6.13 percent.

Precious Metals Funds picked up steam and continue to be the high scorer under the Sector Equity Funds heading. They were up on average 42.21percent y-t-d.

Another bummer week for Health and Biotech funds as they continue to be that category’s worst performers. Of the 96 Health/Biotechnology Funds that Lipper now tracks, the average y-t-d performance is off nearly 14 percent. The y-t-d average performance of the 42 Global Health/Biotechnology Funds improved a tad, now at -11.75 percent.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see how equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

Lipper’s weekly performance figures for stock and fixed-income funds are at www.allaboutfunds.com in the left column on the home page.

•April outlook

Don’t expect much from a month that begins with celebrating fools.

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