Greetings from Woodward Financial Advisors.

We hope this email finds you in good health and taking steps to stay safe during this challenging time. Much has changed since our last newsletter in December (2019) and even since the start of the month as we face a global health crisis. Still, we draw attention to one thing that remains constant: your team at Woodward Financial Advisors is here for you. While each our our team members is working remotely for the time being, we have the capability to provide you with the same service we would from our physical office on Franklin Street.

In our March newsletter, we're thrilled to introduce you to our two newest (and fantastic!) colleagues, provide a summary of The CARES (stimulus) Act, offer self-care ideas you may find helpful and fill you in on some of what our advisors have been up to over the past months.
Introducing WFA's Newest Team Members: Megan McManus & Victor Colella
Meet Megan McManus:

What’s the last book you’ve read, or book you are reading right now? Currently, I’m reading the Game of Thrones books by George R. R. Martin after finishing the HBO series. I’m almost finished with book number four, A Feast for Crows

What’s the last country you traveled to outside the US? Ireland

Do you have pets? I have a horse named Reo. Sometime this year I would love to add a dog to the mix!  

What was your first job? My first job was at an ice cream shop. I have a huge sweet tooth! 

What is your favorite website (not related to financial planning!)? I really enjoy Instagram. I think sharing photos is a great way to connect with friends and family you don’t get to see on a regular basis. 

Favorite movie? Love Actually

Favorite quote? “Do not mistake temptation for opportunity” (I received this in a fortune cookie once.)

What was your college mascot? My college mascot was a Hokie bird – Go Virginia Tech!

What is your favorite charity to support? I like supporting the Humane society and other animal welfare groups. 

What is your favorite recipe to make? One of my favorite recipes is a coconut curry. I also enjoy baking – the best thing I made this past year was an apple pie after going to the orchard to pick the apples.
Meet Victor Colella, CFP®:

What is your favorite recipe to make? Homemade marinara and meatballs (It’s a crowd pleaser.)

What’s the last book you’ve read, or book you are reading right now?
Ancient Brews: Rediscovered and Re-Created by Patrick Edwards McGovern, about recreating ancient fermented beverages based on archaeology and science

Favorite vacation destination? I once went to the Grand Tetons / Jackson hole / Yellowstone. It’s perhaps my favorite place I’ve been. I would love to go back.

Favorite board game? Not a board game, actually. I’m an Euchre enthusiast. 

Do you have pets? 8 month old English Cream Golden Retriever named Huckleberry. He’s a good boy. 

What was your first job? Golf Cart Operations at Oak Tree Country Club in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania (cleaning golf carts)

What was your high school mascot? Sharpsville Blue Devils (My Tarheel wife is not at all pleased with this.)

Number one song played on your iTumes/Amazon Music/Spotify account?    “Love is All” by Tallest Man on Earth

What is your favorite charity to support?   Trout Unlimited is a non-profit I’ve been a part of for years. Their mission is protecting and rehabilitating our watersheds, specifically those who support native trout (cold water ecosystems). I was on the board of the Greater Boston Chapter, and am just now getting immersed in the Triangle Chapter.

You can have lunch with anyone in the world (living or not!), who do you pick? My first relative who emigrated from Italy around 1900. His story is unbelievable and full of courageous or desperate risks (tough to know). I would love to pick his brain with a translator. 
The CARES Act Stimulus Package
In response to Covid-19, Congress and the President have enacted a $2 trillion stimulus package titled the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act to aid individuals, businesses, and corporations. We wanted to share some of the most applicable highlights of the CARES Act, some of which will depend on folks’ situations and eligibility.

Direct Government Payments
Many taxpayers will receive payments from the government either as a direct deposit or a physical check. The amount of the payment will depend on a taxpayer’s filing status and the income from the most recently filed return, as described in the table below: 
  • Parents will receive an additional $500 per child listed as a dependent on their most recently filed tax return. 

Required Minimum Distributions from Retirement Accounts
  • 2020 Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) have temporarily been waived for IRA accounts and certain defined contribution plans. This waiver will help by not forcing withdrawals from retirement accounts based on their (likely higher) values from the end of 2019, and allowing the retirement accounts more time to recover from current market downturns.
  • The RMD waiver also applies to those who have inherited IRA or Roth accounts.

Additional   Items
  • Taxpayers can claim an “above the line” charitable deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions. These contributions, however, cannot be to a Donor Advised Fund.
  • The stimulus package will increase every state program’s current unemployment insurance compensation by $600, and for an additional 13 weeks. It also includes a measure for “pandemic unemployment assistance”, which extends the unemployment insurance coverage to self-employed or freelance workers who are not typically eligible. The government will also be covering the typical 1 week waiting period before unemployment benefits begin.
  • Federal student loans will not incur interest through September 30, 2020. Folks with student loans will also have the option to pause federal student loan payments up until that same date. 
  • Provisions in the package include the ability for limited early withdrawals from retirement accounts without incurring the 10% penalty, though such withdrawals will still be taxable.
  • Additionally, the act doubles the eligible loan amounts from retirement accounts for those who have lost their jobs, contracted the virus, or who need to stay at home to care for others affected by the virus. While generous, this should be thought of as a “last resort”, if possible. 

Written by Megan McManus
“Shelter in Place” Self-Care Tips from WFA
We’re all rapidly adapting to our new reality of life in the time of COVID-19. With rules and routines seeming to change daily, it’s understandable to feel like you may not have all the tools to navigate these times with a sane mind and still be there for your friends and family.

Before you can care for others, though, it’s critical to know how to take care of yourself first…but how? We’ve crafted a short list of our favorite self-care tips that have been helpful on a personal level for the team at WFA. We hope they help!

How to work remotely without feeling remote
  • Make time to connect with teammates for your sanity. The WFA team connects with each other at least two times per day on video calls. While we cover business items, these check-ins allow for more personal connections, since we can’t simply walk down the hall for a quick visit.
  • Get dressed! Try to use a change of clothes to trigger a change of mindset and help you separate “Work” from “Home.”

Physical Health: Keep moving while you shelter in place
  • Even a small amount of movement can help both your physical and mental well-being. Short walks or stretch breaks can help break up your day, and long walks before the weather gets too hot are great opportunities for mental refreshers. 
  • Although many gyms are physically closed, many are continuing with online video classes or posting home workouts online.

Mental Health: Staying centered
  • Consider a self-care partner. This is a person who you check-in with daily, whether to vent or to use as an accountability partner for exercise, meditation, or anything you both want to accomplish. Bonus points if it is with someone outside your quarantine.
  • Breathe! Whether it is meditation or breathing exercises, paying attention to your breath has been shown to help keep the anxiety we’re all feeling at bay. Many meditation apps are currently offering discounts or even free access during the stay-at-home period. 
  • Stay connected with friends and family, either through “Zoom” or similar video chats, or through [well-spaced] social distancing gatherings. This technology has never been more available or easy to use.

Be mindful of when “staying informed” becomes harmful to your mental health
  • Check-in with your body when you are consuming the news. If you feel yourself tightening up or feeling otherwise uncomfortable, consider putting the news away for a while.
  • Set aside specific time to check out the latest relevant headlines, but try to set limits and stick to them. 

Written by Victor Colella, CFP ®
What's Been Going On at Woodward?
Here are a few things that happened behind the scenes this past quarter:

  • Jim Miller, Ben Birken and Roni Pflueger attended TD Ameritrade’s annual financial advisor conference at the end of January. This event, gathering close to 2,000 advisors throughout the U.S., provided opportunities for learning with sessions related to investment management, financial planning, financial technology and many other areas.
  • In January, Victor Colella joined Dimensional Fund Advisors researchers and portfolio managers at their headquarters in Charlotte as they laid out the academic research that forms the basis for all of DFA's investment processes. It provided Victor with a greater understanding around the body of independent research on what drives markets and a greater appreciation for the caliber of partner and vast resources we have in Dimensional Fund Advisors. Victor looks forward to continuing to see the benefits of DFA's great work for our clients! Some of you recently participated in the "Perspective on Recent Market Volatility" webcast hosted by DFA. If you didn't get a chance to participate, the recording can be found here.
  • Megan McManus participated in a live, two-day MoneyGuidePro training in Savannah, GA in March to learn best practices for creating financial independence analyses. She received training on the many different reports that can be generated through the platform. Part of the instruction included reviewing several case studies, discussing how other advisors use the program with their clients, and exploring the unique tools that MoneyGuidePro offers.
  • In March, Ben partnered with Angie Spong of Tillman, Whichard and Cagle to host a presentation for residents in Briar Chapel on estate planning and how folks can benefit from working with both an estate planning attorney and a financial advisor.
Thank you for reading our March newsletter. Please reach out if there is anything we can do for you.

Your Friends at Woodward Financial Advisors
Woodward Financial Advisors
1504 East Franklin Street, Suite 105, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.
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