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Chris Hobart on Fox Business News Tomorrow!

Chris Hobart will be featured on Fox Business News’ After the Bell on Wednesday, April 16 at 4:00pm EST. Check your local listings, you don’t want to miss what he has to say!

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Is Part-time the New Normal?

With continued sluggish unemployment reports, are we becoming a nation of part-time workers? A recent report from the U.S. Census of Agriculture revealed that more than half – 52 percent – of American farmers only work part time. The majority of our 2.1 million farmers responsible for day-to-day farm operations do not list farming as their principal occupation.

[CLICK HERE to read the highlight report, "2012 Census of Agriculture," at the United States Department of Agriculture, Feb. 2014.]

Another recent news item highlights the “part-timing” of our university professors. In the last decade, while the cost of college tuition has risen exponentially, some campuses have been cutting back on professor pay and benefits by adding more part-time adjunct professors. Adjunct means professors are hired on an as-needed basis, depending on class enrollment from one semester to the next. In other words, they don’t work full-time, don’t receive benefits, and don’t even know if they’ll have that same job in five months. Among our nation’s college instructors, more than three-quarters – 76 percent – teach part time.

And that’s just the perspective of professors. Representing the viewpoint of students, one co-ed recently tweeted: “Why are ‘part time’ professors even a thing? It’s so inconvenient when you need help & you can’t even see your instructor for office hours.”

According to a report by the Delta Cost Project, while universities, on average, have reduced their full-time teaching staff in recent years, they’ve increased the number of school administrators.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Part-time Professors Demand Higher Pay: Will Colleges Listen?" at NPR.org, Feb. 3, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive?" at Delta Cost Project, Feb. 2014.]

The opinions on whether working from home is more of a slack-off part-time job versus a highly productive one, is also a subject of great debate. Recent findings from a study in China, published by The Harvard Business Review, revealed that customer call center workers assigned to work from home completed almost an extra workday a week. Not only that, the company conducting the study also found that at-home workers were happier and less likely to quit.

One of the study’s researchers observed that:

“At home, people don’t experience what we call the “cake in the break room” effect. Offices are actually incredibly distracting places … people at home worked more hours. They started earlier, took shorter breaks, and worked until the end of the day. They had no commute. They didn’t run errands at lunch. Sick days for employees working from home plummeted.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home," at The Harvard Business Review, Jan.-Feb. 2014.]

As far as the American workweek goes, some would prefer we move more towards the European standard of less work and more time to play. Among other industrialized nations, here’s a quick look at some of the more flexible gems:

  • The four-day workweek is nearly standard in the Netherlands, averaging around 29 hours a week – the lowest of any industrialized nation.
  • In Germany, one in four workers are part-timers. In fact, formal work-sharing policies have been credited with reducing the country’s unemployment rate in recent years.
  • In Italy, employers can be fined if their employees work overtime more than eight hours a week. And the lucky Italians enjoy at least four weeks of paid vacation each year.
  • In Switzerland, workers earn nearly the same as the average American, but work 155 fewer hours each year. While a third of the country works part-time, it enjoys the highest employment rate (79 percent) of any industrialized nation.
  • Every Belgian worker is entitled to a one-year break during their working lifetime, during which time they receive a government allowance.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, "World's Shortest Work Weeks," at CNNmoney.com, July 10, 2013.]
Whether we’re moving to a more liberal work standard – or still experiencing the effects of the recession – part-timers may have the opportunity to experience more free time than fellow full-timers.  If we can help you address your financial concerns and meet your long-term goals, please give us a call.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. It is given for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about their personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the sourced documents or material, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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By contacting us, you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.
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What’s Your Retirement Mission Statement?

Mission statements have long been a staple of corporate business strategies. They’re usually bland, jargon-filled platitudes that have been crafted, edited and revised ad nauseam by someone in the marketing department.

Then Tom Cruise came along in the 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, and re-energized the mission statement as a guiding life principle, not just a bromide: “What started out as one page became twenty-five. Suddenly, I was my father’s son again. I was remembering the simple pleasures…”

Just recently, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees announced his retirement in a long-winded post on his Facebook page. It looks a bit like a post-mission statement, as it talks about living the dream, facing challenges, achieving goals, and looking forward to the future: “Now it is time for the next chapter of my life…I have new dreams and aspirations, and I want new challenges… the ability to move at my own pace.”

Perhaps each of us, as we approach retirement, should write a mission statement about what we want our retirement to be like.

[CLICK HERE to view the Jerry Maguire film clip, "The Things We Think and Do Not Say," at Youtube.com, 1996.]

[CLICK HERE to read the Derek Jeter post, "I want to start by saying thank you," at Facebook.com, Feb. 12, 2014.]

In this industry, we see a lot of advice given about how to prepare for retirement. There can be checklists, readiness quizzes, Social Security strategies, and a plethora of financial moves designed to provide income during retirement.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "5 Retirement Moves Boomers Should Make in 2014," at FoxBusiness.com, Jan. 23, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to access the webpage, "Retirement Planner: When to Apply," at Social Security Administration, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Leverage Your Way to a Richer Retirement," at Forbes.com, Mar. 3, 2014.]

But for some people, retirement is like having children – you’re never really prepared for it. Sure, you can create a financial plan, but you may need to tweak it along the way. You may have grandiose plans to travel or start your own business, but sometimes those dreams can change with unexpected health issues, financial emergencies, or time just seems to fritter away.

But like your plan to save and invest for retirement, perhaps you need a written strategy for how you want to spend your retirement. A mission statement. An itinerary. Consider including benchmarks and timelines, such as by what age you’d like to buy a second home, do all your international travel, or earn your first million in a new business.

And while you’re at it, ask your spouse or significant other to write a personal mission statement as well. Enjoy the process of comparing dreams, sharing resources, and compromising to make sure you each meet individual goals. It’s just like getting married, or having kids, or starting your own business. A retirement mission statement can help you define what you want in the next phase of your life. We’d like to work with you to design a financial strategy to help you achieve it, so give us a call.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Envision your future realistically," at Fidelity Investments, Jan. 22, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Retiring? Time to look for a part-time gig," at CNNMoney.com, Oct. 28, 2013.]

By contacting us, you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

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Chris Hobart in The Wall Street Journal

Chris was featured in a market outlook article inside The Wall Street Journal this week! In case you missed it, check it out here:

WSJ-S&P Starts Quarter With a Record Finish

Thanks for the insight Chris!

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Are You Financially Prepared for Retirement?

Remember when the most pressing matter on your mind was not retirement income, but rather what to do on Saturday nights?

A recent survey found that Generation X — adults now approaching or in their 40s — is poised to face some of the biggest financial challenges in the future. And that while millennials  – those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000 — are not yet engaged in planning for retirement, members of Generation X don’t have as much time as they may think. After all, while you may consider yourself as young as you feel, your finances should represent your actual age. If not, then you could be falling behind with your financial strategy.

[CLICK HERE to read the news release, "Financial Finesse Releases Second Annual Generational Research on Employee Financial Issues," at Financial Finesse, Jan. 14, 2014.]

Interestingly, when it comes to strategizing, new research has found that more than half of the households in America that do engage in comprehensive financial strategies earn less than $100,000. Perhaps that’s because when you don’t have vast coffers of money, it’s that much more important to manage what you have. And the more extensive the household strategy, the more effective they can be at saving, debt management and potentially purchasing insurance products.

 [CLICK HERE to read the news release, "New research shows most American households do financial planning, but the extent of this planning varies greatly," at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Sept. 18, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "Financial Planning Profiles of American Households," at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Sept. 18, 2013.]

Even The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a big proponent of financial preparedness, observing that preparing for challenging times involves much more than just stocking up on water and canned goods. You need good credit and room on your credit cards in case you have to live on them for a period of time — should challenging times happen to leave you homeless and perhaps even jobless. You should put together a kit that contains copies of important financial documents right next to the fresh batteries and candles.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Financial Preparedness," at FEMA, Oct. 31, 2013.]

Since we are at the start of a new year, it may be a good time to review your expenses over the past few months. Holiday shopping aside, there may be aspects of your spending that you can shift over to saving with an eye toward your long-term future. After all, once you’ve left college behind, there’s a lot more to consider than your weekend plans — and having a financial strategy can be one of the best ways to help you meet long-term goals.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Smart Way to Set (And Stick To) a Budget," at Forbes, Jan. 13, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to the video, "Financial Planning Starts with the Truth," at Forbes, Jan. 17, 2014.]

As always, we’re here to help you become better financially prepared. Give us a call if you’d like to get together for a no-obligation meeting.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

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The January Barometer?

A market theory that has developed over the years is called the January barometer. The theory basically asserts that whatever happens in the financial markets in January is a precursor for what will happen over the rest of the year. Unfortunately, January started the New Year with volatility – just a timely reminder that whatever goes up must correspondingly go down at some point, at least where the financial markets and global economy are concerned.

Many industry insiders see the recent sell-off in the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index and S&P 500 Index as an anticipated correction. Rather than cause for concern, it can be viewed as a short-term and healthy pause.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The January Barometer," at Fidelity Investments, Feb. 6, 2014.]

Some have correlated the January drop with the weather, notably the “Polar Vortex” that struck nearly every corner of the U.S. during the first month of the year. Unseasonably cold temperatures are reported to have impacted manufacturing production, with the biggest growth slowdown in factory new orders since 1980. The weather has also been blamed for dismal numbers in job growth since the first of the year. It appears this meteorological connection lends a whole new meaning to the term ‘January Barometer.’

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Pinning down the January effect on U.S. jobs figures," at Reuters, Feb. 7, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Disconnect in the January Effect," at Nasdaq.com, Jan. 11, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "January 2014: cold and snowy compared to average, plus a polar vortex attack," at The Washington Post, Feb. 3, 2014.]

In the U.S., we tend to be challenged by our energy reliance on global oil resources. But elsewhere in the world – particularly emerging markets – they rely on global capital investment to help fuel those economies. Now that the U.S. has resumed its upward growth path, much of that capital is coming back home, and some emerging countries will be challenged. The bright spots are those that rely more on their growing domestic consumption demand, such as India and the Philippines, rather than external capital – such as Turkey.

While U.S. economic policies may influence some emerging nations over the short term, underlying fundamentals such as rising consumer wealth, positive demographics, and untapped economic potential will likely remain intact for the long term.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Emerging Markets: Fighting the Tide," at Fidelity Investments, Feb. 5, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Emerging Market Worries Re-emerge," at Guggenheim Investments, Feb. 3, 2014.]

The reality is that regardless of the factors that influence the U.S. economy or the rest of the world, each of us needs to work toward insulating our own financial situation from the impact of external factors. When it comes to household savings and spending, blaming the weather kind of sounds like a fourth grader telling his teacher that the family Doberman ate his homework. If you’d like help taking a proactive approach to help protect* you from the effects of January – or any other audacious month of the year – please give us a call.

*Guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions.  While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

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Chris Hobart on Fox Business News!

Chris Hobart was featured on the After the Bell segment on Fox Business News last week. Hobart threw out a few stock picks that consumers may find pretty interesting. Check out the segment below.

Chris Hobart- FBN 3.14.2014

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Paying for Healthcare, One Way or Another

Despite a rough start, enrollment in private health plans through The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “Obamacare”) was at three million by the end of January. Some five million are expected to sign up by the March deadline — a considerable improvement from its inauspicious beginnings, but still about two million shy of the White House’s projected goal.

One of the key tenets of the mandated insurance provision is for plenty of healthy young adults to enroll to help offset the costs of those who are older and presumably run up more healthcare costs. The numbers were actually skewed the other way as of mid-January — 55 percent of enrollees were age 45 and above while 45 percent of enrollees were age 44 and younger.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Obamacare Private Plan Enrollment Reaches 3 Million," at Bloomberg Businessweek, Jan. 24, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "States make more progress in Obamacare enrollment," at CNBC.com, Jan. 29, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Who's Buying Obamacare, in Three Charts," at Bloomberg Businessweek, Jan. 13, 2014.]

Medicare Expansion, or Lack Thereof

A 2012 Supreme Court decision held that Medicaid eligibility expansion would be left up to individual states. However, if employer-offered health plans are deemed too expensive (if plans cost workers more than 9.5 percent of their family income or pay less than 60 percent of their medical costs) and workers then buy subsidized Obamacare insurance, businesses may face a tax penalty of up to $3,000 per worker who purchase private health insurance from an exchange.

This Medicaid expansion-related tax will impact employers with more than 50 full-time workers starting in 2015. Presently, there are 25 states that chose not to expand Medicaid coverage, and the collective tax hit to their employers could be substantial: In Texas, as much as $400 million; Florida, as much as $253 million, and North Carolina, as much as $120 million.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Employers face tax hit in states with no Medicaid expansion," at CNBC.com, Jan. 22, 2014.]

Mind the (Income) Gap

According to a recent survey by the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, one in four U.S. families struggled to pay medical expenses in 2012, and one in 10 said they couldn’t pay some bills at all. In fact, unpaid medical bills are the foremost reason why households are forced to declare personal bankruptcy — including those that have health insurance coverage.

However, another study from the Brookings Institution indicates that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help improve the well-being and incomes of Americans in the bottom fifth of the income distribution by increasing their income by as much as 6 percent. The study uses an expansive definition of income to include part of the value of insurance.

ACA employs certain wealth redistribution provisions such as Medicaid expansion, subsidies, higher Medicare premiums, Medicare payroll tax contributions, and a new investment tax on high-income taxpayers. As a result of these redistribution provisions, “the gains and losses cause small proportional drops in income for Americans in the top three-quarters of the income distribution.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "One in four U.S. families struggles to pay medical bills," at Employee Benefit News, Jan. 28, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Potential Effects of the Affordable Care Act on Income Inequality," at The Brookings Institute, Jan. 27, 2014.]

Meanwhile, Republican Congressmen have proposed an alternative healthcare plan to replace Obamacare, with similar-yet-different provisions that also serve to redistribute wealth via tax credits and expanded Medicaid eligibility. According to one health policy academic, “There’s no way a Republican can run for president in 2016 without having a major health-care plan.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Republican Senators Pitch Obamacare Replacement for 2017," at Bloomberg, Jan. 27, 2014.]

If you’re concerned about how healthcare expenses could impact your overall financial picture, please feel free to contact us for an evaluation.

By contacting us, you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions.  While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

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Chris Hobart to be Featured on Fox Business!

Be sure to tune in to Fox Business News, tomorrow, March 14 at 4:00pm EST to catch Chris Hobart on After The Bell. He will be going over a quick economic update and he might even throw out a few stock picks! You don’t want to miss it! 

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Olympi-nomics

In the wake of the recent Olympic winter games in Sochi, Russia, a number of economists have mounted theories linking success at Winter Olympics with economic development for participating countries.

One such research paper by two French professors purports that the number of Olympic medals a country wins is directly correlated to that nation’s population and per-capita income. Based on their calculations, the U.S. was projected to lead in the medal count with 36, followed by Germany (28), and Canada (27), with Russia and Norway tied (24) in fourth place.*

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Predicting the Winter Olympics with Economics," at Freakonomics.com, Feb. 11, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "A Strong Economy Is the Secret to Winning Medals at the Winter Olympics," at BusinessInsider.com, Feb. 9, 2014.]

Then there’s the question of how much being the host country for the Olympics can help that nation’s economy. In the case of Russia, its economy grew by only 1.3 percent in 2013, following a 7 percent average annual rate in the first eight years of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

The Russian government banked on the idea that hosting the Winter Olympics would have a significant long-term impact on the country’s economy. Money that could have been spent on schools, hospitals and general infrastructure was allocated to the construction and modernization of the airport, 260 kilometers of roads, highway interchanges and bypasses; 200 kilometers of railway, 54 bridges and 22 tunnels; 14 brand new venues and 19,000 hotel rooms.

Apparently the winter games are more expensive to plan and train for than the summer games. The investment to host this Olympic event was said to cost around $50 billion. Clearly, a lot of people had to be interested in visiting Sochi — which was only just developed as a ski resort destination in preparation for the event — for the games to deliver long-term returns to the host country.

[CLICK HERE] to read the article, “Are the Sochi Olympics Economically Worthwhile?” at DailyForex.com, Feb. 12, 2014.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Sochi Olympics: Going for the Gold, Spending in the Red," at NBCnews.com, Feb. 14, 2014.]

Then again, a few of those new 19,000 hotel rooms weren’t quite finished. In fact, journalists from around the world had a field day tweeting about their accommodations, ranging from unfinished rooms to undrinkable water.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Journalists at Sochi are Live-Tweeting Their Hilarious and Gross Hotel Experiences," from The Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Images from Sochi: From the Bizarre to the Sublime," at CBSnews.com, Feb. 8, 2014.]

If there’s a lesson we as individuals can take from this year’s Winter Olympic Games, it’s the importance of carefully considering our return on investment before we make an expensive purchase. Well, that and to pursue our dreams with passion and commitment the way our heroic Olympians do.

*Actual medal count rank was Russia (33), United States (28), Norway (26), Canada (25), Netherlands (24) and Germany (19).

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

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