Archive for December, 2016

The U.S. Economy’s Health: A Year in Review

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

A year in review

So here’s a big question – was 2016 a good year when you think about the U.S. economy? It was a pretty good year, but not a great one. The economy got off to a disappointingly slow start at the beginning of the year. And despite an impressive third-quarter performance, over the past year the economy has grown at a mediocre pace of about 1.7 percent. But the unemployment rate is down 4.6 percent, a 9-year low.

And the fraction of adults who are working or looking for work was steady, although it’s still lower than it has been over most of our recent history. Employers added 180,000 jobs a month so far this year – pretty good. Nearly all of them were in the private sector. Inflation is quiet. And wages, finally, are beginning to rise faster than prices.

We did just go through a presidential election where all kinds of people were talking about how bad the economy was, so it couldn’t have been all rosy, right? There are some blemishes. One big one is that the amount of stuff we get for each hour of work has been growing at a distressingly slow rate. Now, productivity growth is important. It’s the reason we have more goods and services than our grandparents did, even though we work fewer hours. And lousy productivity growth is a poor portent for future wages. Another thing is that there are still a huge number of people on the sidelines of the job market. 15 percent of the men between the ages of 25 and 54 aren’t working, and that has been rising over time.

But is it just certain parts of the American demographic? Is it just certain groups who are benefiting? That’s a persistent issue. The growth we’ve had has not been enjoyed evenly across the population. If you look at the incomes of people at the middle of the middle class, they’re rising, and they’re back to where they were before the Great Recession – about $58,000 a year. But adjusted for inflation, they’re still lower than they were back in 2000.

More young adults are living with their parents than at any time since 1940, apparently unwilling or unable to get out on their own. And these national averages always obscure the places that are really doing bad. In El Centro, Calif, the unemployment rate is 22 percent. And in Yuma, Ariz., it’s 19 percent – just unbelievable and distressingly poor.

All-in-all, it’s been a tumultuous year, but we’re optimistic. There’s potential for growth, and with our economy’s past, I’m personally grateful for that much.

Accupod Episode 3: Investing in Real Estate with guest Ben Barker – Accuplan’s Podcast

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

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Investing in real estate is one of the more lucrative types of investing, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. While it has it’s challenges, there’s also great reward, especially when it’s paired with a self-directed IRA. How is that done? That’s precisely what we talk about in this episode of Accupod!

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Accupod Episode 4: How The Election Impacts the Economy – Accuplan’s Podcast

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

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Did you know that’s it’s kind of expected for the stock market to drop and then gain on election night, on almost every election year? But yet, everyone is shocked when the market suddenly tanks. Do these fluctuations have a long-term impact on the US economy? That’s exactly what we’re discussing on episode 4, so tune in!

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Preparing for the New Year and Your Financial Well-Being

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Financial new year

A large majority of Americans make New Year’s resolutions for themselves, and they can entail anything from buying a house, getting in shape, or getting a grip on their financial lives. If your resolution is the latter, there are key financial moves everyone can make to make sure you kick off retirement on the right foot.

Take advantage of catch-up contributions

Older workers can make up for lost time by adding catch-up contributions to their 401(k) or an IRA. At age 50, people can contribute an extra $1,000 to an IRA or an extra $6,000 to their 401K, and get an additional tax break.

Reduce your debt

It’ll be easier to save money for retirement and to live comfortably once you get there if you reduce your debt now. While there are multiple ways to approach debt repayment, starting with the account with the lowest balance can help increase your momentum. When people attack the smallest first, they start to feel good about it and build confidence.

Build an emergency fund

One way to eliminate stock market worries is to build an emergency fund. So that if something happens, you’re not tapping into your retirement fund. Should the market tumble right as you retire, you may be able to ride out the downturn by using money from the emergency fund.

Make an appointment with a planner

Meeting with a financial professional is another smart strategy to help you meet your retirement savings goals for 2017. It’s so important that we get the right kind of guidance, small tweaks can lead to large gains. Professional advice may be just what you need to pinpoint exactly how to make this year the one in which your retirement savings plan falls into place.

Learn the Social Security rules

Retirees as young as 62 can begin receiving Social Security benefits, but you’ll get more by waiting until your full retirement age or even delaying the start of benefits until age 70. The ideal time to start benefits will depend on several factors including your health and marital status. However, don’t wait until you’re in your 60s to figure it out. Consider not just yourself, but the impact on your spouse.

Accupod Episode 5: Investing in Gold Pros and Cons – Accuplan’s Podcast

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

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Have you ever thought about investing? How about investing in gold? What are some misconceptions you may have, or have heard about investing in gold? Did you know that you can invest in gold using your self-directed IRA? We have all of those answers plus some in this episode of Accupod! Wonder no more, and come learn why investing in gold with your IRA might be for you.

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