Monthly Archives: October 2014

Is Your Money Where Your Morals Are?

Blog #1In a world where everything is global and the biggest of companies are often conglomerates of several brands, do you really know what you are invested in? Are your viewpoints on environmental, social and governance being reflected in your portfolio?

Each time a stock is bought or sold, there is a buyer and a seller. Supply and demand definitely impacts the stock market. Often, publically traded companies make decisions based on what they believe will happen to their stock price. The people that determine how a company makes environmental, social and governance decisions are often in the highest places of management of the company, and often they own a vast amount of shares of the stock. Since a decreasing demand for a stock will hurt the price, less buyers can influence company practices.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) involves a screening process that allows you to align your values with your money. What used to be common was for philanthropists to make money anyway they could and then donate to the causes they wish to support. However, the tide is changing.

As individuals become more aware of corporate beliefs and practices, more investors are demanding that their investment portfolios align with their moral compass. For example, if you want to support the American Lung Association, then you wouldn’t want to invest your money into tobacco companies like Phillip Morris or its parent company Altria Group.  Or, if you are against firearms, then you wouldn’t want to own Olin Corporation which owns the Winchester trademark.

With individual stocks it is a little easier to determine what you own, but a full screening of mutual funds, etf’s, or annuity subaccounts would have to be screened constantly to determine if you hold any companies you have objections to. Or, you could choose to invest with a SRI fund company whose objectives are in line with your own.

If you want to align your money with your morals, then make sure you have a discussion with your financial planner. What is important to one client isn’t to another. Making sure that your financial planner understands your wishes can enable you to have your money aligned with what’s important to you.

Margie Shard is a CFP and founder of Shard Financial Services, Inc., a financial planning and investment strategies firm in Fenton, MI. To contact Margie please call (810)714-5566 or email margie.shard@shardfinancial.com. For more information on Shard Financial Services, Inc., please visit www.shardfinancial.com.

 

Securities offered through LPL Financial Member FINRA/SIPC

 

 

Admitted vs. Under Observation: What You Don’t Know Can Cost You Thousands

Blog #1

 

Medicare is another topic that is very confusing. What is covered is determined by which optional parts you elect to buy. However, Part A is the part you pay $0 premium for. It can cover inpatient hospitalization, skilled nursing facilities (with limitation and upon meeting qualification) and skilled home-based and hospice care (not long-term).

Want your Medicare Part A to pay maximum benefits? If you or someone you care for is sick but is able to improve (Medicare words it as you must be improving in quality of care, so no Alzheimer’s, Dementia or other conditions in which you cannot improve) then you can qualify for maximum benefits if you are admitted to the hospital. Make sure your caregiver asks the Head of Admission Department if you have been admitted to the hospital or just under observation. If you aren’t admitted because the beds are full, transferring to another local hospital who can admit you can save you thousands.

Don’t assume that you are admitted because the room you are in looks nice. Many hospitals have entire wings just for those patients who are under observation. And asking your doctor or nurses if you have been admitted may result in you being told one thing that may not be correct. The only way to truly know the answer is to go directly to the Head of Admissions Department and ask.

If you have a loved one who has Medicare coverage, who is under observation and can’t be admitted because of a lack of beds, it pays to call around to other hospitals and request an ambulance transfer to a hospital that does have occupancy as admitted status. The approximate $500 bill for the ambulance may save you or your loved one thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills.

Sharing this information with family and friends who are 65 or older on Medicare, or those who are in charge of their medical needs should anything happen, can pay off big time. Having this knowledge before you need to use it can prevent a big dent in you or your loved ones portfolio. If you have Medicare coverage, providing this information to your family now is important.

Margie Shard is a CFP® and founder of Shard Financial Services, Inc., a financial planning and investment strategies firm in Fenton, MI. To contact Margie please call (810)714-5566 or email margie.shard@shardfinancial.com. For more information on Shard Financial Services, Inc., please visit www.shardfinancial.com.

Securities offered through LPL Financial Member FINRA/SIPC

Why I maxed out my 401k last week…

Blog #1

The old saying, buy low and sell high, doesn’t mean that doing so will feel good.  Last week, we experienced the most volatile market we have seen since 2011.  The Dow had intraday trading lows in the 300-400 point range. For several days in a row the market went down with no bull in site.

Then Wednesday hit and the bulls started showing up by pulling the intraday trading lows up and showing some green for brief periods of the day.

While the market did have a decent gain on Friday, the overall week was down on almost all major indexes. Global worries about falling oil prices, geopolitical issues, Europe’s possible 3rd recession, and Ebola created a mini panic and investors memories of 2008 came flooding back too easily.

News of our federal deficit being lower than they originally anticipated, the unemployment number going down with new numbers of positive jobs being created, higher than expected earnings for several companies and other positive news pretty much went unnoticed.

I admit it – I hesitated. When the closing bell rang on Thursday, I called my Director of Operations, Jen, and told her to submit the remainder of my 401k contribution for the year.  “Max it out fully?” Jen asked.

“Yes, all the way,” I hesitantly replied.

My hesitation wasn’t about whether or not I should contribute; it was about whether I was getting the lowest entry point.  While the market was near the 10% drop that a normal correction experiences, I couldn’t be sure that this was the lowest point. So why did I do it?

The thing I do know for sure is that the market drop we saw last week created a big opportunity for investors because good, solid company’s had their stock price drop due to the correction. So while we may not be past the volatility, and we could see a further drop before this correction is over, I know that the prices we see today are lower than a few weeks ago.

I love a sale and there is a sale right now. When you look at all the current issues that has caused what I believe is a normal correction, there isn’t one issue that right now I believe will turn into a long term issue for the USA. So while the 2008 stock market pain many investors, including myself, won’t soon forget, it’s a lot different than the collapse of Bear Stearns and  Lehman Brothers which restructured our entire financial system.

So if my 401k contribution got the lowest point of the market this year, or if the market drops a little bit further, one thing that I believe is that I will look back a year from now and probably be happy that I invested when it didn’t feel very good.

That’s what buying low and selling high is all about – looking at your long term perspective and seizing the opportunity when others are fearful.

Margie Shard is a CFP® and founder of Shard Financial Services, Inc., a financial planning and investment strategies firm in Fenton, MI. To contact Margie please call (810)714-5566 or margie.shard@shardfinancial.com. For more information on Shard Financial Services, Inc., please visit www.shardfinancial.com.

Securities offered through LPL Financial Member FINRA/SIPC.