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An Attitude of Gratitude
Thanksgiving this year may be different for many us in comparison to years past. You may be planning to attend virtual gatherings with family and friends. Needing to be physically distanced does not mean we must be socially distant. Please be safe if you are planning to attend a traditional holiday gathering.

There are numerous reasons to be thankful. Life, Love, Family, and Freedom are a few top of mind. What else can you think of?

Why not celebrate in a new way by graciously performing random acts of kindness whenever opportunities exist? Some ideas are leaving a thank you note for your mail carrier, exercising more patience when driving or shopping, or covering the cost of the person next-in-line in the drive through or grocery check-out. You might make someone's day and getting a feel-good boost yourself is a bonus. Altruism works!

You could consider a break with tradition. Prepare and enjoy your favorite meal. Is there something you truly desire to do that you've been neglecting because it seems frivolous? Would it bring you happiness? Turning your attention inward to self-care is another method of boosting your moral and feeding your soul.

Below is a message from Dr. Amy Acton we feel is appropriate for the start of the holiday season.

  • Webinars from AFP coming soon We are kicking around the idea of hosting monthly webinars beginning in 2021.These will be about 20 to 30 minutes in length, centered around a topic of interest. Do you have any ideas or concepts you would like us to address? Any thoughts on a clever name for these? Brainstorming has begun! Send us an e-mail or give us a call. We’d love to hear your ideas.

  • The new normal equals status quo at the office and we continue to social distance from each other within our individual offices. We have decided to implement a dress-down policy for the time being. Opting for comfort while working is a small step toward self-care. We may also opt to take break-time away from the office with a brisk walk or stretch. Should a change to working conditions be necessary, we will let you know.

  • We continue to host Virtual Meetings using Zoom for your safety. Due to the size of our office conference room, proper social distancing is a challenge. We will return to face to face meetings when it is safe.

  • For those that must visit our office, please check in with us prior to visiting. Once you are in the parking lot, please give us call so we know you are here. There may be periodic road closures due to construction projects currently underway in the immediate vicinity of the office.

  • Schwab's acquisition of TD Ameritrade has been approved. TD Ameritrade continues to operate independently for the time being although changes are eminent. The process is expected to take 18-36 months to complete. We will notify you of changes that impact us as information becomes available.

  • Orion Portal Update - Orion will be launching a new version of the Client Portal early in 2021. Please stay tuned for more details as the launch approaches. 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).
+ Teri's World
November has been a humbling month and I am continually renewed by the acts of kindness from strangers. The month started with turning another year older. When the weather is good on my special day I typically play hooky and go ride my bike. This year was no exception – 14 miles of fun! While everyone was awaiting the election results on November 7th, my son, Gene and I decided to go hiking in Yellow Springs at Glen Helen Nature Preserve. Not too far in I caught my foot in a tree root and down I went. No broken bones, but lots of bruising and a few cuts on my lower right leg. As fate would have it, the person behind us was a physical therapist. He, his wife, and their 3 grandchildren stopped to make sure I was ok. He assessed my injury, bandaged my cuts and wrapped my leg. I was just amazed at his caring and generosity. Upon leaving Yellow Springs everyone was honking their horn and we soon realized that numbers had been released related to the election. It was a memorable morning. I know these are difficult and disappointing times for many due to Covid. Thanksgiving came early for me through the kindness of strangers. I hope, wherever you are on this journey, that you can find meaning in those that touch or have touched you. I will strive to carry this forward. 

Lastly, I wanted to share a picture of my new tree that was planted by the city yesterday. December 2019 I lost the 250+ year old tree that had been a part of my life for 36 years. I didn’t know I was such a tree hugger until I had to say goodbye to this giant. This summer the city informed me that they were not going to replace it. That was upsetting news so I contested the decision and won. I even got to pick what it should be (from a list of 4 options). Upon coming home last night in the dark, there it was. What a wonderful sight.   
+ What about Bob
We have had a good November! We started it out with a wonderful weekend at Oglebay Resort in West Virginia with my immediate family. It was a great weekend of relaxation and many trips down memory lane!

Layla is doing very well in school and her Teachers love having her in their classes. She finished up volleyball and liked it so much she is going to play Club Volleyball. She has now started basketball and her first game is coming up quickly. 

We are really looking forward to a pretty low-key Thanksgiving and are still working out the family details.

We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope you have a chance to spend it with family. Even if it is via Zoom!
+ Tracey's Time
The Guthrie Family is a small clan. A party in our home meets the governor's gathering guidelines. None-the-less, we have decided to curtail the usual plans. Football will still be on, and a modest bird in the oven. We love the leftovers.

Cayleigh is becoming quite the baker having made her first apple pie from scratch without any help. We did help to make it disappear! She plans to try pumpkin and pecan next.

Our adult children are spreading their wings to begin their own traditions. Missing their presence while having a sense of pride in their success is bittersweet.
Current Economic and Investment Information
MORE BONDS THAN STOCKS - As of 6/30/20, the US stock market was $33 trillion in size. As of 6/30/20, the US bond market was $50 trillion in size (source: Wilshire, SIFMA).

WIND AT THEIR BACK - Every US president since 1993 – Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump – began his first year in the White House with total control of Congress, i.e., Presidents Clinton and Obama began with Democrats controlling both the House and the Senate, and Presidents Bush and Trump began with Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate (source: Congress).

MANY CAN’T WAIT - An American worker may begin receiving a monthly Social Security retirement benefit as early as age 62, albeit at a reduced level from what is available at one’s “full retirement age.” Just under 50% of American “blue-collar” workers take their retirement benefits at age 62, while only 38% of “white-collar” workers begin their retirement benefits early (source: Center for Financial Security, December 2019).

NOT COMING BACK - In the 6 months from 2/29/20 to 8/31/20, 163,735 US businesses have closed their doors, including 97,966 businesses (60%) that are likely closed for good (Source: Yelp Economic Average).

PRETTY GOOD - 95% of apartment households nationwide had paid their November rent as of 10/27/20 (source: National Multifamily Housing Council Rent Payment Tracker).

CALM BEFORE THE STORM? - 46,570 homes have been foreclosed on by lenders nationwide YTD through 10/31/20. That’s down from the 143,955 foreclosures in calendar year 2019 and 230,305 foreclosures in calendar year 2018 (source: Attom Data Solutions).

We have been having several conversations with clients and the one thing we are finding is the need to address personal technology issues. Since the season of giving is upon us, we thought we would provide some Santa suggestions. 

  • Now may be a great time to upgrade your computer and possibly get an all-in-one scanner/printer/copier. There are some great deals right now! 

  • We also recognize this is not an easy area to navigate for many. So we have put together a list of IT providers that may be helpful for services such as setting up your new equipment, retaining to ask questions when needed or just to make sure you are updating your programs when needed. Let us know if you want our IT Provider list or you know of someone/organization we should add to this list.

  • Another item we would like to share is about your passwords. One of the virtual conferences we attended in October had a speaker on Password management. I was shocked at how fast passwords could be hacked. So we have attached a best practice guide for you to review. It may be wise to revisit your passwords and strengthen their hackability (yes, this is a new word just made up). 
Roth IRA Conversions:
What You Need to Know

By Neal Templin
The Wall Street Journal
Here’s how they work, including who can benefit the most from them.

Thirteen years ago, Margie Owen of Atlanta had a large tax-deferred account that she intended to leave to her children someday.

The retired educator didn’t want to create a tax burden for her heirs. So each year, she has taken a chunk of her tax-deferred money, paid taxes on it and converted it to tax-free Roth IRA money. Almost two-thirds of her investments now are in the Roth account, and her children won’t pay a dime of taxes when they take the money out in the future.

“I’m older and have everything I need,” says Ms. Owen, 74 years old. “The Roth has turned out to be wonderful thing to do for my children.”

In Roth conversions, people pay income tax on each dollar they convert. The conversions can make particular sense for early retirees who want to avert higher taxes in the future for themselves or their heirs.

If you have a tax-deferred account, you must begin taking required minimum
distributions at age 72. Those distributions—even if you don’t need the money—can push you into a higher tax bracket or force you to pay higher Medicare premiums. By contrast, withdrawals from a Roth aren’t taxed and you won’t have any required distributions. It is a tax-free money bucket that you can tap whenever needed or leave as a legacy.

There has been a flurry of Roth conversions this year, financial advisers say. Many
investors took advantage of the pandemic-induced market decline this spring to do big Roth conversions and pay less tax on reduced asset values.

In addition, Congress tightened the rules for inheriting tax-deferred assets. Whereas in the past, beneficiaries could empty a tax-deferred account over their lifetime, now most non-spouse beneficiaries have only 10 years to do so. That will mean steep tax bills for many people inheriting tax-deferred accounts, particularly for high earners already in a high tax bracket.
“There’s a strong incentive to get money out of a traditional IRA into a Roth so it’s not a time bomb blowing up for people,” says financial adviser David Maurice of Johnson City, Tenn.

In Ms. Owen’s case, she hopes to leave the entire Roth account to her children. She plans to live off other savings and distributions from the remaining money in her tax-deferred account, which is conservatively invested—80% in bond funds. Meanwhile, her Roth account is aggressively invested—80% in stock mutual funds, to maximize its growth, says Alicia Sher, Ms. Owen’s financial adviser at Bluerock Wealth Management.

“This is not money she is going to need to touch,” says Ms. Sher.

In a Roth conversion, pretax dollars are converted to after-tax dollars. In the simplest type, an in-kind conversion, you notify the custodian of your account that you want to move assets, say $50,000 of S&P 500 index fund shares, from your tax-deferred account to your Roth account on a particular day.

When you file your taxes next year, all of the money you converted is treated as ordinary income. 

Patrick Rush, the 44-year-old chief executive of Greensboro, N.C.-based Triad Financial Advisors, says his firm did a lot of Roth conversions earlier this year for clients after the stock market shed a third of its value amid pandemic fears.

Mr. Rush himself did a $200,000 Roth conversion of stock mutual funds during the market downturn even though he is in the 37% tax bracket and it cost him approximately $85,000 in federal and state taxes. The funds he converted have now bounced back to around $320,000, above where they were before the market decline. If Mr. Rush had left the money in a tax-deferred account, those gains would be taxed in the future. But all the money he or his heirs take out of the Roth in the future will be tax-free.

While market declines can make Roth conversions more enticing at any age, seniors with low taxable income but bulging tax-deferred accounts ought to do them every year before they hit age 72 and begin required minimum distributions which can push them into a higher tax bracket, advisers say.

Michael Gibney, a wealth manager in Westwood, N.J., has a 65-year-old client who retired last year with low taxable income and a $1 million tax-deferred account. Mr. Gibney will be working with the client’s accountants to figure out the maximum the client can convert for the next seven years and still remain in the 12% tax bracket.

Roth conversions are also a good option for people who are still working and have variable incomes. James Bassett, a New York City financial adviser, has a 57-year-old client who helps companies hire executives. She has a $1.2 million tax-deferred account. Her income this year will be down, so she is doing a large Roth conversion to take advantage of the low tax rates.

She plans to retire in a couple of years, and will be making more Roth conversions after she does, Mr. Bassett says.

Roth conversions don’t make sense for everyone. People who expect their future tax rates to be lower than they are now are generally better off leaving the money in a tax-deferred account. Others may be planning to leave their tax-deferred account to a child with a low tax rate. 

“I had to talk one client out of it who was planning on doing a Roth conversion to leave his kid tax-free money,” says Jim Bradley, a financial adviser in Bangor, Maine. In this instance, the client’s child is a social worker, doesn’t earn a lot of money, and won’t be paying high taxes if she inherits a tax-deferred account.

Brandon Jones, a financial adviser in the Minneapolis area, says people need to take a careful look at the entire financial picture before making a decision to go ahead with a Roth. Consider middle-income retirees who are already collecting Social Security. In a certain income range, each additional dollar of income causes 85 cents of Social Security to be taxed, Mr. Jones notes. That could make a Roth conversion, which boosts current income, more expensive than it appears at first glance.

“All of sudden you’re not paying 12%, you’re paying 20% or 30% on every dollar converted,” Mr. Jones says.

He adds: “I’m definitely a fan of Roth conversions. They still make sense in a lot of cases.”

Corrections & Amplifications Most non-spouse beneficiaries of tax-deferred accounts now have to withdraw the inherited assets within 10 years. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that was the case for all beneficiaries. (Corrected on Nov. 19, 2020)
Ranking Asset Classes by Historical Returns

by Jenna Ross
Visual Capitalist

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, is there one asset class to rule them all?

From stocks to bonds to alternatives, investors can choose from a wide variety of investment types. The choices can be overwhelming—leaving people to wonder if there’s one investment that consistently outperforms, or if there’s a predictable pattern of performance.


"When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in. "

- Kristen Armstrong
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.