In This Issue
Welcome to MONTH-2-MONTH, an e-Newsletter from Alexander Financial Planning, Inc. MONTH-2-MONTH is intended to provide you with updates on AFP and timely financial planning and investment information on a variety of topics. You are welcome to forward this e-mail on to others.


Marching Forward

March is quickly approaching. Have you completed your tax return? It is a dreaded annual task but thank goodness it is a winter "To Do" for most of us. If it weren't, we might procrastinate ourselves into fees and penalties. The good news is that once the filing date passes, we can rest assured that sunny days are ahead. If you've been dragging your feet, it's time to move forward. Start by marching those tax documents over to your tax preparer. Next, march out and find something enjoyable to do! If you can't get out, escape into a good book!
Happening at AFP:

  • We launched our new website February 9th and hope you've had a chance to visit. We welcome your comments and suggestions, so please share your thoughts! We are continuing to work on Phase 2 of the site, the Communications page. This page will include Current Events, information on key Financial Planning areas, calculator tools, links to other related websites, and recommended books. If you have any content suggestions specific to this page, let us know. Below is a link to the website if you'd like to take a look now!
  • We are starting to work on two client programs this year. One in the spring and another in the fall. Please stay tuned for further details. 
  • Fee Summary Letters for 2018 were not sent this year due to changes in the tax law. Advisory fees are no longer deductible on Schedule A, if you are itemizing. We have had several calls regarding this matter so we wanted to make you aware of this tax law change.  
  • We seem to be sprouting babies (See Bob's update)! Along with Bob's news, we have been increasing the fish population in our office aquarium. If you are the office, come check them out!

On a Personal Note:
Teri's Grandson, Logan
Teri's World - In order to be an approved advisor to invest in Dimensional Funds, Teri spent several days attending a mandatory program at the beginning of this month.  These funds have been popping up on the approved list and it only made sense to go through the process of becoming approved.  Now that we have been approved, Teri has begun incorporating these funds into client's portfolios. She has also begun using a program that enhances the tax efficiency of each client's total investment portfolio. Seeing that we are entering "tax season", much of her time has been spent in the office. She has been doing some hiking on weekends when the weather permits and spending time with family, especially the little ones. The family celebrated Bryce turning one-years old too. Gee that year went fast!  

Teri's reading to Grandson, Jordan.

Teri's Grandson, Bryce

Bob's Grandson, Logan
Wh at a bou t Bob? - Bob & Christine are excited to welcome their grandson Logan Robert. He was born Monday, February 11th; he was 19¼ inches long and weighed 7 lbs 4 oz. Other than a jaundice bout, he is doing wonderfully!!! Brittany's recovery has been much better and faster than she was anticipating. 

Bob, Christine and Bob's parents are spending the final week in February in Phoenix AZ. at the Cleveland Indians' spring training. Looks like temperatures will be in the low 70's during the day and upper 40's at night. Chillier than they thought they would be, but hoping for lots of sunshine!!!

Tracey's Time - We are caught in the doldrums of late winter cold while anticipating our  spring break trip to northern MI. So far the weather looks to be favorable for skiing. Spring sports practices have started and Cayleigh is looking forward to a fun season. Meanwhile, the newlyweds, Carlin and Erin are nearly finished with their DIY kitchen remodel. Andy and Tracey are proud of their efforts, as we recall many of our own past home renovation projects. Cassidy continues to teach 7th grade reading at a Columbus charter school and has recently moved to a new apartment.  

(Current Economic and Investment Information)

  • AAA Mature Operators Class:  AAA Ohio is offering a "Mature Operators" class. Some auto insurance carriers offer a discounted rate to those who complete this class. Check with your auto insurance company to confirm their participation and your eligibility for a discount. Click the link below to learn more.

The Chart below shows a preliminary reading of manufacturing PMI data for the U.S., Europe and Japan. The U.S. held up well at 53.7 (above 50=expansionary, below 50=contractionary). Europe's manufacturing reading, on the other hand, entered contractionary territory for the first time since 2013 at 49.2. This was due to Germany's challenges in its auto and petrochemicals industries. France did experience a slight rebound. Europe is not the only region experiencing a slowdown. Japan's PMI also dipped below 50 for the first time since mid-2016. Although there are no flash PMIs for Emerging Markets, final readings may reflect sluggish growth here as well. Europe and Japan have been caught in the crossfire of global trade tensions, which has likely contributed to weaker growth. Exports account for 19% in Europe and 14% of Japan's GDP respectively. Although U.S. exports as a share of GDP are roughly half that of Europe and Japan, the U.S. is not immune to the effects of trade tensions. Unfortunately, what appears to be a divergence between U.S. and international markets may not yet reflect slowing U.S. growth, which is expected to decelerate from 3Q to 4Q in this week's GDP release. This week, we will receive final PMI prints, and it is estimated that total global manufacturing PMI will recede to 50.3, reflecting a significant slowdown, but not yet a stall, of developed and emerging market growth.

  • U.S. STOCK - Since the beginning of the current bull market for the S&P 500 (on 3/10/09 or 10 years ago), the stock index has suffered 6 tumbles of at least 10% but less than 20%.  The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. (source: BTN Research). 
  • U.S. EMPLOYMENT - 37% of retired Americans report they retired earlier than planned as a result of health problems, buyout packages, layoffs, grandchildren, or caring for an aging parent (source: Health and Retirement Study). 
  • PENSION REFORM - Pension reforms for most of Pennsylvania state employees that were passed in 2017 and implemented in 2019 have increased the retirement age for newly hired workers from 65 to 67(source: PSERS).
  • TARIFFS - The initial tariffs in the US-China trade war were implemented on 7/06/18.  In the 7 ½ months since then, the United States has imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports and China has imposed tariffs on $110 billion of US imports (source: United States Trade Representative). 
  • RETAIL- 5,524 brick-and-mortar retail stores closed nationwide in 2018, down from a record 8,139 closures in 2017.  Another 2,187 retail stores have closed YTD through 2/09/19 (source: Coresight Research).  

Why Seniors Need Travel Insurance
Medicare doesn't cover medical costs outside the U.S.
By Mary Beth Franklin
Investment News

When your newly retired clients chat about their plans for an upcoming dream vacation abroad, are you prepared to raise the topic of travel insurance?

While younger clients might dismiss the added expense as unnecessary, older clients should seriously consider such protection. Why? Travel insurance protects against more than lost luggage and weather-related travel delays. It includes coverage for medical care in a foreign country and, if necessary, medical evacuation.

That's critical because Medicare, the primary insurance for Americans age 65 and older, stops at the U.S. border, and even the most generous supplemental Medigap policy provides limited coverage overseas.

Michael Kirsh, a financial planner in New York City specializing in retirement, has personal experience with travel-related medical costs. When his elderly father-in-law took a trip to Hong Kong eight years ago, he became seriously ill and was hospitalized for over a month.

Far from home and without medical insurance, Mr. Kirsh's father-in-law had to pay for his care on a weekly basis with a credit card. The final tally was more than $100,000.

It is a lesson that Mr. Kirsh has taken to heart and incorporated into his financial planning practice. So has his wife, Marcia Kirsh, who runs a luxury travel agency in New Jersey. She uses the story of her father's health care nightmare as a cautionary tale when discussing international travel plans with older clients.

"People don't realize that they are not covered when they travel abroad," Ms. Kirsh, of Travel Experts in Cresskill, N.J., told me.

"I ask every one of them if they want to purchase insurance," she said. "Some of them buy it. Others say they are willing to take their chances."

A recent survey by TravelInsurance.com of more than 1,000 adults who travel several times a year found that nearly half of the respondents didn't know whether their health insurance provides coverage while they are outside the U.S. For people 65 and older, it's a sure bet that Medicare does not cover medical expenses outside the U.S.

Even the most generous Medigap policy, Plan F, provides limited coverage abroad. The AARP Plan F policy sold by United HealthCare Insurance Co. covers 80% of medically necessary emergency care services during the first 60 days of an international trip, with a maximum lifetime benefit of $50,000 after an annual deductible of $250.

In comparison, a married couple who are both 65 or older could buy a travel insurance policy for a two-week, $10,000 trip to Europe for less than $800, according to TravelInsurance.com, a site that allows consumers to compare costs and features of a variety of travel insurance policies.

For example, a policy from Travel Insured International includes $1 million of medical evacuation coverage per person and $100,000 of medical coverage per person with no deductible. It also includes trip cancellation coverage for 100% of the insured cost of the trip, trip interruption protection for up to 150% of the trip cost and $1,000 per person lost luggage protection.

That same couple could buy a medical-only travel insurance policy with $1 million of medical evacuation coverage per person and $1 million of medical coverage per person for less than $400. Or, for as little as $145, the couple could buy $100,000 of medical evacuation coverage per person and $50,000 of medical coverage per person. That could be a good, low-cost option for someone who's enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers no medical coverage abroad or who has original Medicare and a Medigap supplemental policy that does not offer any medical coverage outside of the U.S.

The TravelInsurance.com survey found that 22% of respondents will spend more than $5,000 on leisure travel this year. Older travelers tend to spend the most as they typically have greater disposable incomes, take longer trips and spend more on vacation travel than their younger counterparts.

"A travel insurance policy could be a lifesaver for some people, between the medical coverage and the medical evacuation protection," said Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com. In addition to the coverage for health care costs abroad, travel insurance provides 24/7 telephone assistance anywhere in the world.

"If you're on vacation and have a medical emergency, you don't have to navigate a foreign healthcare system," Mr. Sandberg said. "You're just a phone call away from help."

Travel insurance is a time-sensitive purchase. It's best to purchase as soon as you book a trip, particularly if you buy nonrefundable tickets. It protects you if plans change, if weather disrupts your trip, or if a traveler or a family member becomes ill. Travelers with health issues can usually purchase a preexisting waiver for an additional fee. Prices are based on trip length, duration, destination and travelers' ages.

For example, when my husband and I took a European river cruise last summer to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, we bought comprehensive trip insurance for about $1,400 - about 9% of the total cost of our trip.

A few months later, we insured a briefer, less expensive trip to London for a total of $170. I bought a similar insurance policy for my 34-year-old son who planned to travel to several European cities after our London visit for an additional two weeks. His policy cost $34 - less than the price of an Uber trip to the airport.


"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, 
you don't know what you're doing. "

-W. Edwards Deming 

Alexander Financial Planning, Inc. | | tguthrie@afp-advisors.com