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On the Home Front
Now that you have completed your spring cleaning indoors and out, did you discover anything that needs additional attention?

Your home is typically the largest purchase you'll make. Protecting your investment eventually means repairs or renovations! Address repairs early to avoid additional expense. Caveat Emptor when selecting contractors or considering renovations.

If your home is in tip-top shape, you can divert your attention elsewhere. First, give consideration to your own contentment. Are you satisfied with how you are investing your time and talents? Bringing this into focus can catapult you towards meaningful reaffirmation of your personal goals and values.

Feed your hunger for human contact. Take time to celebrate with family and friends. Get outdoors and attend commencement ceremonies, weddings and barbecues, youth sporting events, concerts, and family reunions. Enjoy each day!


  • AFP Website and Webinars -   The Alexander Financial Planning website is getting a refresh and this should be available sometime in June. Webinars have taken a back seat until this is complete.

  • We plan to offer in-office meetings in June as Covid restrictions are lifted in Ohio. We will continue to host Virtual Meetings using Zoom as an option.

  • For those visiting our office, please remember that several construction projects are currently underway in the immediate vicinity of the office and could result in road closures and delays.

  • Scam Alert - Please be wary of email and/or text messages from banks and credit card companies stating that your Password will Expire. These phishing scams often include a link to update your password. You should never click on these links. If you are concerned phone the institution or go directly to their website and log in as you normally would.

  • June Vacations - We want to alert you that we will be taking vacation time in June. The office will be staffed on weekdays but we will be down by one for most of the month. Please leave a voice message if we aren't able to answer your call. We promise to call you back promptly. Your patience is appreciated as we each recharge our batteries.

  • Update on 2021 Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) - RMD's are required in 2021. RMD forms and letters were sent out in the first quarter. Please contact us if you need a new form or have any questions.

  • Schwab's acquisition of TD Ameritrade crawls forward. The conversion is expected to be completed between April and October of 2023. The client transition process will occur 1-2 months prior to conversion.

  • Orion Portal Reminder - If you cannot access your Orion Portal, contact Tracey to request a password reset. The Orion Portal requires a password reset every 4 months (120 days) and becomes Inactive after 8 months (240 days).
Click below to read our May 2021 Blog edition.

We would enjoy receiving your feedback on our Blog. Please share any comments or suggestions for future topics with us via email.

+ Teri's World
The month of May began with birthday celebrations for two of my kids and trips to garden stores. So fun to just walk around and see how excited people are to grow things!

I successfully helped my son navigate the purchase of an all-electric Nissan Leaf. That was educational on my end. 

We took a weekend trip to Pittsburgh to honor some family members who are no longer with us. While we were there, we also took the little ones on the incline ride which I had been wanting to do for over 40 years!

Getting the community garden ready to be planted and then planting has consumed a bit of my time over the last week, but I have been making progress.

We are heading out for a family vacation next week. I am looking forward to some down time to rejuvenate some human batteries. 
+ What about Bob
May has been pretty active and busy.

Christine has been promoted to Regional Director Human Resources. She covers the markets in Austin Texas, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, North Carolina, Ohio, New York and Hawaii. She will be covering 5 more states starting next year. 

We started construction on our basement and it’s moving along very well. The drywall is being finished and we went to Keim Lumber in Charm, Ohio to pick out the bar tops and bathroom countertop. We found two amazing pieces of live edge walnut for the bar tops and a very interesting piece of spalted maple for the bathroom countertop. Keim Lumber is an amazing place and I felt like a kid in a candy store! We then had a wonderful lunch at a local Amish restaurant.

We are on schedule for our trip to Greece in mid-June and are starting preparations for that.
+ Tracey's Time
Despite some showers, the weather has been nice for working outdoors. We have accomplished several tasks but still have a ways to go on our "TO DO" list. The pressure is on to get the work done so we can move on to vacation preparations.

Six years ago, a skunk burrowed under our front porch. The story is long and worthy of a chapter (or two) in Andy's Memoirs. Unfortunately, another skunk mama has chosen to squat under our porch. These ladies are sophisticated, having no interest in the oily tuna we are using to bait a live trap. I wish the neighbors would stop throwing filet mignon and salmon scraps into their compost piles! If you know of a tried and true remedy to relocate this squatter, please share with me. A porch renovation may in the works for a permanent fix.

The school day countdown has reached single digits. Cayleigh is looking forward to summer break! Andy and I are looking forward to a break from the teen taxi duties.

We quietly celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary this month!
Current Economic and Investment Information
REALLY ROUGH QUARTER - Long-term Treasuries maturing in at least 10 years fell by 13.5% (total return) in the 1st quarter 2021, the worst quarterly performance for this asset group in 41 years or since the 1st quarter 1980 (source: Bloomberg Barclays).

PENT-UP DEMAND - US consumers purchased $234.4 billion of foreign imports in March 2021, the largest monthly total recorded in US history. The low point for the purchase of foreign imports during the pandemic was $166.5 billion in May 2020 (source: Department of Commerce).

PRICE INCREASE - Inflation, using the “Consumer Price Index,” was up +4.2% on a trailing 1-year basis through 4/30/21. The last calendar year that reported inflation of at least +4.2% was 1990 when inflation advanced +6.1% (source: Department of Labor).

WILL END SOMEDAY - Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government has extended 6 times the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions on federally backed, single-family home mortgages. The most recent extension, announced on 2/16/21, expires on 6/30/21 (source: Federal Housing Finance Agency).

TO BE DEBATED - The “American Families Plan” (AFP), proposed by the Biden White House on 4/28/21, includes some tax increases on high-income households, e.g., an increase of the top marginal tax rate from 37% to 39.6%, the removal of the “step-up in basis” on inherited assets for gains above $1 million, and the elimination of a “1031 exchange” tax deferral for gains in excess of $500,000 (source: American Families Plan).

OUT OF WORK - 1 out of every 5 American adults (20%) in their “prime working years” who do not have a college bachelor’s degree lost their job in 2020. 1 out of every 8 American adults (12%) in their “prime working years” who do have a college bachelor’s degree also lost their job in 2020 (source: Federal Reserve Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking).

GIVE ME A HUG - As of Friday 5/14/21, 119 million Americans are fully vaccinated, or 36% of our 332 million population (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

ROAD TRIP - The average price of a gallon of gasoline reached $3.04 last Friday (5/14/21), up 79 cents a gallon YTD. The last time gasoline closed a calendar year above $3 a gallon was 2013 (source: AAA).

THAT’S INFLATION - Inflation, using the “Consumer Price Index” as the measurement, was up +9.0% in 1978, up +13.3% in 1979, followed by +12.5% in 1980, and up +8.9% in 1981 (source: Department of Labor).

IT’S BEEN WORSE - The highest “deficit as a percentage of GDP” in our nation’s history was 29.6% in 1943, the first of 3 consecutive years when the ratio was at least 21% (1943-44-45). Through 7 months of fiscal year 2021, i.e., the 7 months ending 4/30/21, the US government’s $1.932 trillion budget deficit to date represents 8.8% of our $22.0 trillion economy. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the annual market value of all goods and services produced domestically by the US (source: Treasury Department).

BUDGET - The Biden White House will release on 5/27/21 its blueprint for government spending for the 2022 fiscal year, i.e., the 12 months from 10/01/21 to 9/30/22. The broad outline covers both mandatory spending (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) and discretionary spending (e.g., defense, foreign aid, education, transportation). Total outlays are expected to exceed $5 trillion for the entire fiscal year (source: White House).

CASH ONLY - Total US credit card debt peaked at a record $930 billion as of 12/31/19 (pre-pandemic) but has since fallen 17% ($157 billion) to $773 billion as of 3/31/21 (source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York).

WILL IT BE SPENT EVENTUALLY? - The personal savings rate in the US in the 1Q 2021 was 21.0%. The personal savings rate in the US in the 1Q 2001 was 5.0%. The personal savings rate is defined as “savings” (i.e., after-tax income less consumption spending) divided by after-tax income (source: Department of Commerce).

NOT A HAPPY CAMPER - 70% of Americans under the age of 30 believe the distribution of wealth in the United States is “unjust” (source: Cato Institute).
Visualizing Interest Rates by Country in 2021

By Dorothy Neufeld
Visual Capitalist
Going as far back as the 14th century, pandemics have been found to have a negative effect on interest rates.

History shows that this effect is even greater than that of financial crises. Across a study of 19 pandemics since the mid-1300s, real interest rates fell an average of 1.5 percentage points lower in the following two decades than they would have otherwise. And yet, even before COVID-19, structural forces, such as rising debt, were causing interest rates to fall.

The Markets in a Minute chart below from New York Life Investments shows interest rates by country in 2021.

Click here to continue reading this article.
We often think of milestone ages when kids turn 1, 16, 18, and 21. However, as we mature there are other key ages that trigger financial implications you may need to be aware of beginning at age 50. Familiar with the lyrics to a children’s song, “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream…?” We often share a visual of people in a rowboat going down a river with our clients we call “Retirement Row”. The objective is to identify what may be lurking ahead, given different key ages, and the decisions that need to be made to keep your boat afloat.  
The article below does a great job of pointing out these milestone ages and the impact they may have on your financial decisions. Not as fun as our visual, but a great article nonetheless. 
8 1/2 Birthdays That Can Affect Your Finances

By Liz Weston
You hit a lot of milestone birthdays when you’re young. There’s your first birthday, of course, and also the one where you turn 10 (finally, double digits!). At 13, you’re a teenager. At 16, you’re probably thinking about driving. At 18, you can vote; at 21, you can get into bars.

You hit a bunch of milestones later in life as well, and many of them have to do with retirement. Knowing these age milestones can help you better prepare for life after work. They include:

Click here to continue reading this article.
Rising Inflation: Where Will It Go From Here?

Source: Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. - Park National Bank
In March 2021, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.6%, the largest one-month increase since August 2012. Over the previous 12 months, the increase was 2.6%, the highest year-over-year inflation rate since August 2018. (By contrast, inflation in 2020 was just 1.4%.)1

The annual increase in CPI-U — often called headline inflation — was due in part to the fact that the index dropped in March 2020, the beginning of the U.S. economic shutdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the current 12-month comparison is to an unusual low point in prices. The index dropped even further in April 2020, and this "base effect" will continue to skew annual data through June.2

The monthly March increase, which followed a substantial 0.4% increase in February, is more indicative of the current situation. Economists expect inflation numbers to rise for some time. The question is whether they represent a temporary anomaly or the beginning of a more worrisome inflationary trend.3

Measuring Prices

In considering the prospects for inflation, it's important to understand some of the measures that economists use.

CPI-U measures the price of a fixed market basket of goods and services. As such, it is a good measure of prices consumers pay if they buy the same items over time, but it does not reflect changes in consumer behavior and can be unduly influenced by extreme increases in specific categories. Nearly half of the March increase was due to gasoline prices, which rose 9.1% during the month, in part because of production interruptions caused by severe winter storms in Texas.4 Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.3% in March and just 1.6% year over year.5

In setting economic policy, the Federal Reserve prefers a different inflation measure called the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index, which is even broader than the CPI and adjusts for changes in consumer behavior — i.e., when consumers shift to purchase a different item because the preferred item is too expensive. More specifically, the Fed looks at core PCE, which rose 0.4% in March and 1.8% for the previous 12 months, slightly higher than core CPI but still lower than the Fed's target of 2% for healthy economic growth.
A Hot Economy

Based on the core numbers, inflation is not yet running high, but there are clear inflationary pressures on the U.S. economy. Loose monetary policies by the central bank and trillions of dollars in government stimulus could create excess money supply as the economy reopens. Pent-up consumer demand for goods and services is likely to rise quickly, fueled by stimulus payments and healthy savings accounts built by those who worked through the pandemic with little opportunity to spend their earnings. Businesses that shut down or cut back when the economy was closed may not be able to ramp up quickly enough to meet demand. Supply-chain disruptions and higher costs for raw materials, transportation, and labor have already led some businesses to raise prices.7

According to the April Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to increase at an annualized rate of 8.4% in the second quarter of 2021 and by 6.4% for the year — a torrid annual growth rate that would be the highest since 1984. As with the base effect for inflation, it's important to keep in mind that this follows a 3.5% GDP decline in 2020. Even so, the expectation is for a hot economy through the end of the year, followed by solid 3.2% growth in 2022 before slowing down to 2.4% in 2023.8-9

Three Scenarios

Will the economy get too hot to handle? Though all economists expect inflation numbers to rise in the near term, there are three different views on the potential long-term effects.

The most sanguine perspective, held by many economic policymakers including Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, is that the impact will be short-lived and due primarily to the base effect with little or no long-term consequences.10 Inflation has been abnormally low since the Great Recession, consistently lagging the Fed's 2% target. In August 2020, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced that it would allow inflation to run moderately above 2% for some time in order to create a 2% average over the longer term. Given this policy, the FOMC is unlikely to raise interest rates unless core PCE inflation runs well above 2% for an extended period.11 The mid-March FOMC projection sees core PCE inflation at just 2.2% by the end of 2021, and the benchmark federal funds rate remaining at 0.0% to 0.25% through the end of 2023.12

The second view believes that inflation may last longer, with potentially wider consequences, but that any effects will be temporary and reversible. The third perspective is that inflation could become a more extended problem that may be difficult to control. Both camps project that the base effects will be amplified by "demand-pull" inflation, where demand exceeds supply and pushes prices upward. The more extreme view believes this might lead to a "cost-push" effect and inflationary feedback loop where businesses, faced with less competition and higher costs, would raise prices preemptively, and workers would demand higher wages in response.13

Maintaining Perspective

Although it's too early to tell whether current inflation numbers will lead to a longer-term shift, you can expect higher prices for some items as the economy reopens. Consumers don't like higher prices, but it's important to keep these increases in perspective. Gasoline, jet fuel, and other petroleum prices are rising after being deeply depressed during the pandemic. Airline ticket prices are increasing but remain below their pre-pandemic level. Used cars and trucks are more expensive than before the pandemic, but clothing is still cheaper.14 Food is up 3.5% over the last 12 months, a significant increase but not extreme for prices that tend to be volatile.15

For now, it may be helpful to remember that "headline inflation" does not always represent the larger economy. And with interest rates near zero, the Federal Reserve has plenty of room to make any necessary adjustments to monetary policy. Projections are based on current conditions, are subject to change, and may not come to pass.

1, 5, 15) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021
2-4, 7) The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2021
6, 9) U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2021
8) The Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, April 2021
10, 13) Bloomberg, March 29, 2021
11) The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2021
12) Federal Reserve, 2021
14) The New York Times, April 13, 2021
IRS to recalculate taxes on unemployment benefits; refunds to start in May

Source: IRS
WASHINGTON — To help taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that it will take steps to automatically refund money this spring and summer to people who filed their tax return reporting unemployment compensation before the recent changes made by the American Rescue Plan.

The legislation, signed on March 11, allows taxpayers who earned less than $150,000 in modified adjusted gross income to exclude unemployment compensation up to $20,400 if married filing jointly and $10,200 for all other eligible taxpayers. The legislation excludes only 2020 unemployment benefits from taxes.

Because the change occurred after some people filed their taxes, the IRS will take steps in the spring and summer to make the appropriate change to their return, which may result in a refund. The first refunds are expected to be made in May and will continue into the summer.

For those taxpayers who already have filed and figured their tax based on the full amount of unemployment compensation, the IRS will determine the correct taxable amount of unemployment compensation and tax. Any resulting overpayment of tax will be either refunded or applied to other outstanding taxes owed.

For those who have already filed, the IRS will do these recalculations in two phases, starting with those taxpayers eligible for the up to $10,200 exclusion. The IRS will then adjust returns for those married filing jointly taxpayers who are eligible for the up to $20,400 exclusion and others with more complex returns.

There is no need for taxpayers to file an amended return unless the calculations make the taxpayer newly eligible for additional federal credits and deductions not already included on the original tax return.

For example, the IRS can adjust returns for those taxpayers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and, because the exclusion changed the income level, may now be eligible for an increase in the EITC amount which may result in a larger refund. However, taxpayers would have to file an amended return if they did not originally claim the EITC or other credits but now are eligible because the exclusion changed their income.

These taxpayers may want to review their state tax returns as well.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Employment and Training (ETA), over 23 million U.S. workers nationwide filed for unemployment last year. For the first time, some self-employed workers qualified for unemployed benefits as well. The IRS is working to determine how many workers affected by the tax change already have filed their tax returns.

The new IRS guidance also includes details for those eligible taxpayers who have not yet filed.

The IRS has worked with the tax return preparation software industry to reflect these updates so people who choose to file electronically simply need to respond to the related questions when electronically preparing their tax returns. See New Exclusion of up to $10,200 of Unemployment Compensation for information and examples. For others, instructions and an updated worksheet about the exclusion were available in March and posted to These instructions can assist taxpayers who have not yet filed to prepare returns correctly.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more,
so that we may fear less.”

- Marie Curie
Alexander Financial Planning
1621 W. First Avenue
Grandview Heights, OH 43212

Registered Investment Advisor
This material is distributed by Alexander Financial Planning, Inc., (AFPI) and is for information purposes only. Although information has been obtained from sources to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. It is provided with the understanding that no fiduciary relationship exists because of this report. Opinions expressed in this report are not necessarily the opinions of AFPI and are subject to change without notice. AFPI assumes no liability for the interpretation or use of this report. Financial planning, investment conclusions and strategies suggested in this report may not be suitable for all investors and consultation with a qualified advisor is recommended prior to executing any investment strategy. All rights reserved.