AAM August 2020 Newsletter

August 2020 AAM Newsletter

Hello and thank you for reading my e-newsletter.

I hope you find the information useful.  If you enjoy the newsletter please forward to a friend.   Please also let me know what you like to see so that I may continue to provide relevant content.

If you are a client of mine, thank you for your continued business and please update me on any changes in your situation do that I can make the appropriate changes to your financial plan and investments.

If you are not a client please consider giving me a call or emailing me if you would like to begin a plan to get you to your financial goals.  I consider myself different from many of the advisors out there for the following reasons:
1) You will not be pressured to purchase any products because I am a fee-only advisor and a NAPFA® Member (no commission sales)
2) You will have a comprehensive financial plan completed by a Certified Financial Planner ™ Practitioner or CFP® – I have committed to financial planning and continuing education.
3) You will have a reasonable fee for the services performed.  I charge less than the typical large financial planning firm by being a small shop and keeping my business expenses low.

Ronald J. VanSurksum, CFP®

For more insight on these groups and myself please click on the following links

Please see below for financial articles and tips


Stocks continued higher in July despite no additional Covid financial relief bill and increasing tensions with China.  US Covid cases seem to be flattening once again and 2Q quarter corporate earnings have been mostly better than expected so far.

Index performance                                       July 2020____    YTD 2020_

  • The S&P index                                 +5.51%                 +1.25%
  • Dow Jones industrial 30                +2.38%                 -7.39%
  • The NASDAQ Index                         +6.82%                 +19.76%
  • The Russell 2000 Small cap          +2.71%                 -11.27%
  • EAFE International Index              +1.99%                -10.64%
  • The US Dollar                                   -4.03%                 – 3.17%
  • Oil                                                       +2.55%                 -34.05%
  • Gold                                                    +10.85%              +30.06%
  • 10-Year Treasury Yield                   0.54%                   1.91% on 12/31/2019
  • 30-Year Treasury Yield                   1.20%                   2.36% on 12/31/2019                   

Volatility was moderate in July for the S&P 500 index.  The index began at 3,100 rose to a high of 3,276 on 7/22 before settling at 3,271 to end of the month for a difference of 276 points or about 5.7% from low to high.

Technology and growth stocks continue to lead the market higher while value, small cap and international stocks continue to lag behind.  You may some reductions in international stock holdings in your portfolios in the coming months but we are going to maintain our allocations to small cap and real estate.

Oil prices added 2.5%, Gold surged over 10% while the US dollar slipped another 4%.

A common question I am getting right now is should portfolio changes be made now in light of the upcoming election.  I pretty much have this conversation every four years.  My mindset is (as always) markets are hard to time, you never really know what the market reaction is going to be to a presidential election and it is almost always better to stay invested than to try and time the market.  If the market has a knee-jerk reaction lower you should take advantage and buy.  If you sell before the market moves, you may miss out on gains and it is always difficult to time a re-entry back into stocks once you get out.  Stick With Your Plan!

Please contact me if you have questions or simply just wish to talk.  I am back in the office doing in-person meetings and I will still do meetings over the phone or computer if you are more comfortable with that.

Recent US Economic Data

US Manufacturing –ISM manufacturing rose and beat expectations.
Jobs – The July payroll report added a less than expected 1.76 million jobs, unemployment fell to 10.2% which was lower than expected while average hourly earnings rose 0.2% and beat expectations.
Housing Prices –FHFA home prices fell while Shiller home prices rose but missed expectations.
Housing starts –Housing starts rose and beat expectations while building permits rose but missed estimates.
Existing home sales – Rose and beat estimates.
GDP – 2Q GDP first estimate was better than expected but fell 32.9%.
Retail Sales – Rose and beat estimates.
Leading indicators – Rose but missed expectations.
Durable goods orders – Rose and beat estimates.
Inflation data was mostly higher – producer prices fell more than expected, consumer prices rose more than expected, import prices and export prices both rose while PCE prices rose and matched expectations.

For weekly market updates please visit my blog at www.aamllc.com  

Mortgage Rates
Mortgage rates were lower over the last month.   The national average on mortgage as per Bloomberg.com shows the 15-year rate is now at 2.59% and the 30-year rate is at 3.06%. These rates are as of 08/11/2020 and may include points.   

CD Rates
CD rates were mostly lower over the last month.  Charles Schwab has access to CD’s from banks all over the country.  Here are some of the current CD rates offered.

6 mo CD @ 0.10%            1-Yr CD @ 0.15%

2-Yr CD @ 0.15%             5-Yr CD @ 0.45%

Tips and Suggestions

The next quarterly estimated tax payments are due 09/15/2020 for the 3rd quarter of 2020. 

Time to check your retirement contributions.  Develop a cash flow plan to maximize your health savings account, 401k, 457, 403b or IRA contributions for 2020.

Retirees do not have to take their required minimum distributions in 2020 due to Covid tax changes.  Now is a good time to review your tax plan to decide what makes the most sense for you.

It is time to plan for 2021!  What would you like to accomplish next year?  How much to you want to save and home much do you need to save to reach your financial goals? 

Is your estate plan up-to-date?  This is a good time to review your estate plan and update your beneficiary designations.

Do you have children age 18 years or older?  You may want to plan for an emergency by obtaining HIPPA authorizations or power-of-attorney so that you can get health information, if needed.

ABLE accounts are now available in the State of Michigan.  ABLE accounts are for certain individuals with disabilities to accumulate funds for their long-term needs without disqualifying themselves for Medicaid.  Check it out at www.miable.org or give me a call.

When is the last time you reviewed your insurance plan?  Is your disability income keeping up with your income?  Do you have any term life insurance policies expiring soon?  Do you need additional coverage or less coverage?  Let’s discuss.

Are you on track to meet your financial goals?  Do you have a plan to get you where you want to be?  If you do not you may not reach your goals.  Let’s make a plan to Maximize your financial potential.

Do you need a debt payoff plan?  Let’s work on one together.

Need help with your 401k?  I am now using GoToMeeting.com to allow me to help review your 401k online and help you rebalance.  We can access the plan together online, I can give you control to log in and then we can discuss and make changes together.  Let me know if you want to discuss!

Are your cash reserves earning less than 1%?  Consider a short-term US treasury fund, municipal bond fund or corporate bond fund to give your secondary cash reserves a yield boost.

If you have any questions or if you would like to have help with your financial plan please give me – your Fee-only Certified Financial Planning ™ Practitioner – a call.


All articles are now found on my website blog: www.aamllc.com

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Contact MeDo you want more information on how I can help you?  Give me a call or drop me an email to review or set up a free initial consultation.

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