We are living longer and healthier than our predecessors thanks to dramatic advancements in health care over the last century.  And now, thanks to technological innovations, the way we age is transforming from living longer to living better.  We will discuss the new possibilities through technology that will help you stay healthier, live in your home of choice longer, and remain socially connected as you age.  We will also address the changes in social security rules.  We will share how to make the most of your Social Security decision while integrating your benefit with your other retirement income to maximize your quality of life during retirement.

 “For the next generation of retirees, the question that will trump all others will be a simple one: How do you add life to longer lives? The equally simple answer: technology.”  —Dr. Joe Coughlin Director, MIT AgeLab

 

03.02.17

6pm Thursday • Reunion Grande Resort 7593 Gathering Drive • Kissimmee, Florida 34747

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If you asked your children to define the word rich, what do you think they would say? What’s surprising is that their answer, at its core, would be largely the same at any age including most adults, “Rich is the accumulation of stuff.” The child may say, “lots of toys” or “mounds of candy” or “a giant house with a swimming pool.” The adult may say, “a million dollar income” or “the ability to eat out every night” or “a giant house with a swimming pool.” It is all the same – more and more stuff.

There are two problems inherent with this definition. A definition, by the way, that is repeatedly sounded by every magazine, movie or TV show we come across. The first problem with the ‘accumulation of stuff’ definition is the appetite mentality it promotes. An appetite is never fully and finally satisfied. Therefore, this definition has a constantly moving and unattainable target. For example, will you ever expect to hear your child say, “No more toys, mom. I’m good. I think I have all that I need from here on out.” Think about this, if someone told you as a teenager that someday you would have what your current household income is today, your teenager-self would be excited about the prospect of so much money. Yet you do not feel that way today. This phenomenon is the appetite mentality. No matter what you have, you always want more.

The second problem with the current definition is the ceiling it can subconsciously manifest. Most kids will think you need to be a doctor, lawyer or business owner to have the income needed to be rich in the first place. Why would we want to allow our children to carry a definition that they may see as an impediment for them to attain or fulfill without a specific title?

Time for a new definition that doesn’t suggest that only certain stratospheres of income can reach it. Let’s define rich in such a way that allows our kids to achieve the mark AND feel emotional benefit. To that end, here is your new definition of rich:

Rich is having breathing room in your finances. Rich is spending less than your income.

Let’s look at it from a different perspective…

Imagine you are at the Grand Canyon. You’re standing on the edge of a cliff with your toes hanging over and a strong tailwind behind you. Where is your focus? All of your being is concentrating on not falling. You can’t relate to anything going on around you and you certainly can’t relax. But what if you were 30 feet away from the edge? You’re enjoying the majesty of the site before you, aware of your surroundings and relaxed. Why? Because you have margin, room between you and the chasm. Our new definition of rich centers on the quality of life and the emotional benefits of having distance between income and spending.

Rich = Breathing Room

Wow. Donald Trump has been President of the United States for less than three weeks and he has caused a stir that no one predicted. Okay, perhaps he predicted it, but none of us were taking him at his word by the date of election. As Brian Wesbury (Chief Economist for First Trust Advisors Chicago, IL and our speaker at the annual Lakeland Economic Forecast Breakfast) said, “you don’t necessarily take Donald Trump literally, but you must take him seriously”.

By the way, if you missed the Economic Forecast Breakfast and haven’t heard the podcast yet, go to Allen & Company’s website and find the presentation at:

https://alleninvestments.com/30th-annual-economic-forecast-breakfast-with-brian-wesbury/

Brian is interesting, funny and encouraging and it is certainly worth a listen. Laura Hawley introduces him beginning at the 19:00 mark of the pod cast.

So back to President Trump, what is he going to do next?   It is high entertainment for me to watch the Twitter blasts coming out of the White House and the subsequent wringing of hands in the media each day. It is more interesting than college basketball even…at least until March.

But don’t let my glib statement fool you, while it is interesting, captivating and yes even often entertaining to see the approach to governing this administration is taking, It is deadly serious business for all of us.

As an investor, I am encouraged by President Trump’s commitment to deregulation – the broad statement that departments must reduce the number of existing regulations by 2 to enact one new one is probably a good tone-setting approach to the beginning of this change in Washington. While not all regulations are bad, and many are essential, most of us would agree that the regulations stifling economic growth have swung to the excess level since 2008.

The old debates will remain: can we have economic growth fueled by fossil fuels, and maintain the quality of the environment?   Can we relax banking regulations to encourage lending and support business growth, but not create a lending bubble like we saw in 2008?

I will not try to sort out those arguments here because (a) it would take too many words and pages of carefully reasoned, unemotional thought-filled arguments, (b) at least 50% of you would get angry and stop reading me forever, (c) something closer to 100% of you will disagree with me anyway and find my arguments to be more emotional that factual, simply wrong in too many specifics, and generally ill-informed and unenlightened.   As I say: The debates will remain.

And while our country seems to be divided into camps that hurl the “you are more emotional than factual, simply wrong in too many specifics, and generally ill-informed and unenlightened” responses back and forth, there are a couple of things upon which the investor should focus.

While I was more pessimistic in 2016 regarding the equities markets than I have been in a long time, with the market up 10%+ since October, I am now cautiously about the equities market this year. Why do I feel this way?   Because the Administration’s commitment to cutting regulations, coupled with the commitment to tax cuts by both the Administration and Congress, has the potential to give freer rein to economic growth and could possibly move us above the anemic 1% to 2% growth range we have seen the past 8 years.

On the other side of the coin, I am fearful what a trade war could do to the US, as well as international, economies. The tendency to discuss international negotiations via Twitter is a concern, as is the stance on free trade and threatened tariffs.

But we will save international trade discussions for another day since the topic is too vast and I don’t understand all the nuances of cause and effect (like everybody else that pontificates on that particular subject).

But for now, let’s be cautiously optimistic and enjoy the day. If nothing else, it’s February in Florida and the highs are hitting 75 degrees F!