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What's Happening Now

 
Crimes against the elderly continue to skyrocket each year. This list of elder scams includes tips on how to avoid becoming a victim. 
 
 


Large businesses are seeking diversity in ad teams in order to avoid blunders.   
 
 

 
A plan to reduce the size of bathrooms on airlines in order to boost profits backfires.

 

 
Funeral home horrors cast spotlight on weak U.S. regulations. 
 
 

 
Being proactive and taking the right steps now can help set you up for more success in 2018.  
 
 
 

Only 60% of a cow is actually used for food. Here's what happens to the other 40%.


   

  
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The most important luggage secrets that baggage handlers need you to know. 

   
November 2017


The decision to pay off or aggressively pay down your mortgage debt is one that must be undertaken with caution. As this month's article from Commonwealth Financial Network points out in the article below, there are several variables that should be considered: nondeductible debt, interest, employer match on your 401(k), your emergency fund, etc. Be sure to read the feature article below. 
 
What are the differences between highly successful people and the average man or woman? The roots are not only job related, but also have to do with social interaction. The basic differences lie in decision making and treating others with respect. See the article from Lifehack below. 
 
We enjoy hearing from our clients and newsletter readers.  Please feel free to contact us at 614-888-2121 or 877-389-2121 toll free , or by e-mail at chornyak@chornyak.com with any financial planning questions you may have. 

Sincerely, 
 
Joe
Should you pay off your mortgage?  
  
 
After years of dutiful payments, you find yourself in the enviable position of having enough accumulated savings or discretionary income that you could aggressively pay down-or completely pay off-your mortgage. But should you? Are there better ways to ensure your financial security?  

Making the best choice for you

Paying down your mortgage faster-or paying it off in a lump sum-seems like a no-brainer. For most Americans, a mortgage represents both the highest monthly expense and the largest liability on a net-worth statement. Intuition tells us that debt is bad, and being out of debt is akin to increased financial security.
 
While it's true that you can save thousands of dollars in interest by paying off the loan early, the interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages are historically low, and your mortgage interest is tax deductible. Depending on your circumstances, there may be better ways to use that extra money to boost your short- and long-term financial security.
 
With that in mind, here are some questions to consider before you aggressively pay down-or pay off-your mortgage:
  • Do you have higher interest or nondeductible debt? If so, it makes sense to pay that off before paying down your mortgage. Credit card debt in particular should be a priority, as it has very high interest rates, and the interest is not tax-deductible the way mortgage interest is.

  • Are you already maximizing the employer match on your 401(k) and your annual contributions to IRAs? If not, you may want to prioritize this over paying down your mortgage. An employer match is essentially free money, and qualified retirement accounts grow tax deferred (or generally tax free for Roth IRAs). These are critical opportunities to boost your retirement savings, and because there are annual limits to how much you can contribute, money you don't invest now is a lost opportunity.
     
  • How is your emergency fund? It is generally recommended that you keep between three and six months of household expenses set aside for emergencies. You'll sleep better at night knowing you have liquid assets if you need them. If your emergency fund is light, it's probably wise to build it up before reducing your mortgage.
     
  • How is your health insurance coverage? Whether it's life, medical, disability, or long-term care, your financial security could be undermined if you're not properly insured. The type or amount of insurance that's right for you comes down to your comfort in managing risk, but addressing potential shortfalls in coverage might be a higher priority than paying down your mortgage.
     
  • Do you have children? If you have kids, putting extra money into a college savings plan now will allow you to maximize tax-deferred savings and growth. You could even be eligible for a state tax deduction for your contributions, depending on where you live and the plan you choose.
While paying down-or paying off-your mortgage early is a worthy goal, it is important to align it strategically with other goals and within the bigger picture of your long-term financial security. If you have questions, we are happy to assist you in planning for these important decisions.

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.
Seven things really successful people do quietly 

Alicia Prince of Lifehack advises us that the main thing that we can do to cultivate success in our lives is to concentrate on making good decisions.

We all want to believe we have the potential to be super successful. When it comes down to it, the prime thing that separates successful people from the rest of us are smart decisions. A common pitfall on the way to success is boasting, exaggerating, or losing your perspective. However, by changing the way we approach challenges, we can better position ourselves to attack the next obstacle successfully. 
 
Let's take a look at this inspiring video first. At 6:17, it's when you have to pay extra attention to.To help unlock the secrets of successful people, the following seven qualities are ones you should try to do quietly.
 
They Network
 
One thing truly successful people do quietly is network. In the professional world, networking is a balance between corporate interests and personal relationships. This means that overwhelming your new connections with business concerns can easily work against you. Not only that, but advertising far and wide your intentions to network could lead to new connections catching wind of your business strategy. This often makes people feel as if the have bee used and will impede your ability to form meaningful connections.
 
They Start New Projects
 
Successful people also start new projects with humility. Whether a new undertaking is at home or work, if your project is ultimately shelved, postponed, or changed, advertising your new undertakings too early could make you look foolish. That and bragging too much about new opportunities can be a tempting setting in which to lampoon your current or old positions. Don't forget that mocking your previous positions is nothing more than ego run amok.   Nearly everyone starts off small small, and making fun of this will likely alienate those beneath your position.
 
Additionally, being too open about fresh projects could give competitors inside information and allow them to offer competing products or services that are better than yours.
 
They Deal With Challenges
 
Other things successful people do modestly is conquer challenges. Much like being too open about upcoming projects, giving away too much information about the challenges you're currently facing might give competitors an extra edge. Not only that, challenges and assignments tend to look more intimidating while you are dealing with them; and seeming too stressed out or swamped could make you appear less capable, especially if your boss, or future employers, are considering you for a project. If you complain widely regarding feeling overwhelmed, you may miss out on a new opportunity or promotion.
 
They Incubate Ideas
 
Successful people also know to consider ideas quietly. Even if an idea you have leads to a successful project or venture, it usually takes time to refine a concept before it makes any sense. In addition, competitors are happy to steal ideas from others, so it's better to quietly sit on a plan until you're putting it into practice.
 
They Interact Socially with Humility
 
Much like networking, interacting socially is something successful people do quietly. Flaunting accomplishments and opportunities is off putting and abrasive. Additionally, nobody appreciates it when somebody habitually drops names. Basically, treat everyone you interact with as equals and value and foster humility.
 
Continue reading here.
 
 
Market Update
Market Update
 
Treats, not tricks, for markets

October was another good month for the economy and markets. Better-than-expected economic data in the U.S., combined with positive corporate earnings news, lifted the major market indices. The S&P 500 Index returned a solid 2.33 percent. The Nasdaq Composite had an even more impressive 3.61-percent return, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average led the way with a gain of 4.44 percent.

This positive performance was driven by improving fundamentals. According to FactSet, as of October 27, the third-quarter blended earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 was 4.7 percent. T his was up from the 4.2 percent projected at the end of September. The improvement can be attributed to positive surprises in the technology and energy sectors. Although the growth rate is down from last quarter-due to the effects of the hurricanes on the insurance sector-10 of 11 sectors reported higher sales and 6 reported higher earnings. Fundamentals ultimately drive long-term performance, so this accelerating growth rate is a good sign. On the technical side, all three U.S. indices remained well above their 200-day moving averages for the month.

International equity markets also did well in October. The MSCI EAFE Index, which represents developed markets, rose by 1.52 percent. European economies have strengthened, driving improving earnings. In addition, an announcement near month-end from the European Central Bank suggested stimulus would continue, buoying results even more. Emerging markets fared better than developed markets in October. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index returned 3.51 percent on continued commodity and export strength. Both indices also looked good technically, remaining above their trend lines for the month.

Unlike the equity markets, fixed income had a more challenging month, as a slight uptick in rates weighed on performance. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index gained a mere 0.06 percent. High-yield bonds did better, with Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield Bond Index notching a 0.42-percent gain. Spreads for high-yield bonds remained co mpressed. Given the low global interest rate environment, these tight spread levels may persist for some time.

Positive economic surprises

October brought more treats on the economic front. Most major data releases beat expectations, pointing to accelerating growth. The first estimate of third-quarter gross domestic produ ct (GDP) growth came in at 3 percent, beating expectations for a more modest 2.5-percent increase. The improvement was driven in large part by increases in business investment and net export growth. Both of these factors have been weak in recent quarters, so the broader base of economic growth is a positive change.

Previously reported improvements in business confidence and spending continued into October. Durable goods orders, which often are used as a proxy for long-term business investment, increased by more than twice the expected amount. Even better, core durable goods orders, which exclude volatile aircraft purchases, also beat expectations for the month. This measure now sits at its second-highest level since the recession.

Businesses continued to show surprisingly high levels of optimism, despite the recent hurricanes. Following last month's unexpected jump to a 13-year high, the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Index drew back slightly. It remains at a high level, however. Given the weakening of the dollar so far this year and current high confidence levels, manufacturing growth is likely to drive faster overall economic growth in the fourth quarter.

Consumers and housing also outperform

Businesses weren't the only drivers of economic growth last month; consumers joined in as well. Consumer sentiment continued to rise in October, with both major surveys at or close to their highest levels since the dot-com boom. These high confidence levels were matched by actual spending growth. Retail sales were at very healthy levels last month, even before adding in the rise in auto sales as owners replaced cars destroyed in the hurricanes.

Housing was also a bright spot. Homebuilder confidence rebounded with a large jump during the month. This was likely driven by very strong levels of demand for new housing, as both existing and new home sales beat expectations. New home sales came in at an impressive 667,000 versus expectations for 554,000. Although low supply remains a concern, and materials and labor shortages continue to constrain the industry, strong demand is apparently keeping activity and confidence high. This bodes well for the future.

Political risks diminish but can still spook markets 

Overall, the news was good this month. Both the domestic and global economies appear to be in good shape, exhibiting solid fundamentals and the possibility of accelerating growth. Risks remain, of course, and they are largely political. Major domestic policies such as tax reform and the pending debt-ceiling vote have the potential to destabilize markets. Policy risks also remain, as we will see a change in leadership at the Federal Reserve, even as it considers faster rate increases. These factors, combined with high market valuation levels, can certainly contribute to increased volatility here in the U.S.

International politics also carries risks. Notably, in Spain, the confrontation between secessionist Catalans and the Spanish government could affect European markets. In addition, the ongoing negotiations around the British exit from the European Union are potentially heating up.

Outside of Europe, political risks have receded compared with last month. In Japan, key U.S. ally Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a snap election and gained more seats in the legislature. Combined with the successful passing of the Chinese party meeting, this suggests more stability in the region. The situation in North Korea appears to have moderated as well, despite the ongoing rhetoric. The risks are still there, but things are actually calmer than they have been in some time.

Fundamentals remain solid but volatility likely

With a growing economy and solid corporate fundamentals, we can reasonably expect more good news ahead. That said, the real risks-both known and unknown-remain. The markets are calmer than they have been in decades, but we need to understand and be prepared for the return of market volatility at some point in the future.

For now, though, the global economy continues to do well-and markets ultimately respond to growth. A well-diversified portfolio, designed to take advantage of that growth, and matched with an investor's time horizon, continues to offer the best path to reaching financial goals over the long term.

Co-authored by Brad McMillan, senior vice president, chief investment officer, and Sam Millette, fixed income analyst, at Commonwealth Financial Network®.

All information according to Bloomberg, unless stated otherwise.