Stocks had a great week last week, with the S&P 500 up about 2%. The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, report was released Thursday, and showed prices declined by a tenth of a percent in December, with prices overall increasing 6.5% compared to last year. Signs are starting to point to a mild recession and still a possible “soft landing” that unicorn of a concept where the Federal Reserve Bank brings inflation under control without a serious contraction in the economy.
Despite all of this, the labor market remains strong, partly due to the number of workers who left the workforce during the pandemic. Unemployment is at a five-decade low, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics measuring it at 3.5%.
And as we start the new year with this uncertainty, now is a good time to do an overall financial check-up. If you have an advisor, this should already happen once a year. For your check-up, start with your estate plan. Do you have a will, financial power of attorney, and medical power of attorney and health directive? If it’s over five years old, check to make sure it’s still in line with your wishes. Make sure your personal representative, what we used to call an executor, has a copy or knows where the original is and can get to it easily. Confirm all of your beneficiaries. Check life insurance, retirement accounts, employer benefits, and pensions.
The next check in is your emergency savings. Long term, you should aim for six months of living expenses in liquid assets. This may be a long-term goal. Start small with setting aside $10-20 a paycheck if that’s what it takes.
Look at your insurance coverages and talk with your home and auto insurance agent. We generally recommend at least $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident of liability coverage.
Review your retirement accounts and other investments. There are several online calculators to help visualize how much your savings will add up to in retirement, including some on our website. Are you saving enough? Are your investments in the right mix of stocks and bonds? Not taking enough risk when you’re young can result in lower retirement balances but taking too much risk late in life can result in losses just when you want to retire.
Finally, look at other goals. If you want to help with college for your children, review your 529 accounts or open them. If you want a second home, or to travel more extensively, open an account and begin contributing.
Reviewing your entire financial picture once a year helps keep you on track for your long-term goals. It also helps to provide a safety net for all the things life can throw at you.
Your action item this week is to start gathering your tax documents. Donation receipts, W2s, property tax information. 1099’s for investments won’t come out for at least a month or so, but many other documents should be on their way to you now.
Our events for the year are being posted, including our Economic Update at Flamant on Tuesday evening. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and check out our website at covingtonalsina.com.
Investment advice offered through Great Valley Advisor Group, a Registered Investment Advisor.
All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
The opinions voiced in this show are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investment(s) may be appropriate for you, contact the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision.
 Stocks erase earlier losses, CNBC by Tanya Macheel and Samantha Subin 1/13/23