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Monday Money Report

| March 04, 2024

I sound like a broken record, because the S&P 500 set another all-time high last week, largely driven by just a handful of stocks. Last week was also the release of the latest Personal Consumption Expenditures Index, or CPE.  This is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, and it was in line with expectations.  The overall CPE came in at 2.4%, and Core CPE, which removes food and energy costs, was 2.8%.

Given that inflation remains higher than the Fed’s 2% goal, unemployment remains low, and the economy appears to be chugging along, we are not expecting rate cuts any time soon.

And it seems like money can barely buy your groceries right now, but there are also three ways money can buy happiness. The first way is when you buy experiences. That may be dinner out with friends, a long-awaited vacation, a concert, or a huge bucket-list item. An experience can also be your home. If you invest in a backyard oasis where your family spends time year-round, lounging in a hammock in the summer or huddled around the fire pit in the winter.  It can be a boat, if you use it regularly. In all of these cases, the memories you are making with family and friends make you happy, and money enables that.

That doesn’t mean you have to spend money to have experiences or make memories. A hike, a picnic, or a trip to a free museum can be enjoyable, without spending a lot of money.

The second way money makes you happy is when you use it to buy time. This can take two forms.  When you outsource chores you dislike doing, like cleaning your house or mowing your lawn. And, when that outsourcing enables you to spend time doing something you enjoy.

The third and final way money makes you happy is when you give it away. If there is a cause that is near and dear to your heart, supporting that cause makes you happy. You may like to perform random acts of kindness, like paying for the coffee of the person in line behind you or gathering friends for dinner out with the intention of leaving your server a really big tip. When we share our wealth, no matter how large or how limited, it reminds us that we have not just enough, but more than enough.

 At our last Women, Wine & Wisdom, our topic was philanthropy, and our speaker said that everyone can be a philanthropist. Small amounts add up and make a difference. For example, the Community Foundation has several giving circles, including Anne Arundel Women Giving Together. It’s $175 a year to join, and they have given over $1.7 million to 52 charities since 2006.

Your action item this week is review your beneficiaries on your investments and insurance policies.

Be sure to check out our website at covingtonalsina.com, or our Facebook page, for more information and to register for our upcoming educational events, including our upcoming classes for elementary, middle and high school students.

CovingtonAlsina is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.