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Giving back the American Way

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The pandemic has created challenges for a ton of business owners across the globe, but none quite like restaurant owners.  Monarch Wealth Management began initiatives early into the crisis in 2020 and made efforts to spend local and raise awareness to encourage local spending.  This caught fire and a ton of folks ordered food delivered to their home, take our and whatever they could to support these local business owners and help them fight for survival.  When I opened my email from American express and learned of this new program I couldn't help hold back!  What a great way to help give back and keep these places alive!  

We don't promote credit cards or offer them to our clients, but we do get questions about benefits, cashback, and point promotions all the time - and it's hard to deny that these offers are pretty sweet.  We're not just a cookie-cutter money manager or large investment firm flying on auto-pilot.  Our clients want advice and guidance on anything financial that can help.  Take advantage of these, put some money back in your wallet and help out a local business owner fight the good fight.    

??????? In an effort to keep the good vibes flowing this Good Friday I want to start a campaign that will run through the rest of 2021. Restaurant owners have been hit hard and I want to do what I can to help. Below are the details:

1. Read my #FinancialModelBlog post to learn more about the promotions going on right now through various corporations and how you can use those to support local places in your area right now.

2. Vote for your favorite restaurant by using Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and tag Monarch Wealth Management, LLC and the #ROCHESTER #RESTAURANT of your choosing. All votes must be cast by the 15th monthly and I will announce each month's winner by the end of the month.

3. I will commit to visiting the winning restaurant once a week for an entire month. Each month a new restaurant will be chosen based on the votes and I will do this through the rest of the year.

4. I'll also tag a friend to match my efforts each month, post pictures, and tag the restaurant to promote our experience.

??????? This starts now - ready, set, go......

???? I also want to recognize the following organizations for helping with the additional cashback, rebates, and promotions they're running to get things moving.

Americanexpress | Delta Air Lines | Marriott Hotels | Hilton

Take a look at the details from the American Express Website or visit their site for more details. 

CLICK HERE to check out more details or look below for a brief summary of what they're doing!

New Consumer Dining Amex Offers Through 2021

Eligible U.S. Consumer Cobrand Card Memberscan enroll to earn up to $220 in statement credits at U.S. restaurants, whether they dine in or take out through December 31, 2021. Offers include:

  • Delta SkyMiles Amex Offers:
    • Up to $110 in dining statement credits: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Members can receive $10 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $165 in dining statement credits: Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Members can receive $15 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $220 in dining statement credits: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Members can receive $20 back per month (up to 11 times).
  • Hilton Honors “Score More on Dining” Amex Offers:
    • Up to $55 in dining statement credits: Hilton Honors American Express Card Members can receive $5 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $110 in dining statement credits: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Members can receive $10 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $220 in dining statement credits: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Members can receive $20 back per month (up to 11 times).
  • Marriott Bonvoy Amex Offers:
    • Up to $110 in dining statement credits: Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card Members can receive $10 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $220 in dining statement credits: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Members can receive $20 back per month (up to 11 times).

Taxes on the move

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Things have been a little less than concrete since the pandemic and the IRS isn't much different when it comes to tax returns and reform.  What changes should you know about and discuss with your tax professional?  Below are a few things to consider...

1. Relax and enjoy Some Extra Time to File...well - Maybe

We have mentioned in previous blog posts that the deadline to file your return and make those payments has shifted to May 17th.  This was done to help us all as some Americans struggle more than others through the pandemic.  More than likely the IRS is behind schedule as well.  Great news for those of us who like to drag our feet and get things done.  Don't forget to check your state deadline versus the federal extension as they don't necessarily match.

2. More time for...

Let's not forget the people who like to delay filing or request an extension typically wait till the last minute to fund their IRA's and other tax-advantaged accounts.  More time to file means more time to save and that includes your contributions to IRA's, HSA's, and college savings plans.  

3. What about estimated tax payments?

The news about the extension is more time to file, get your tax documents in order, and carefully file for an accurate return.  The delayed filing deadline applies to those who pay estimated tax, but it does NOT delay the due date for estimated payments to be made.  

4. Understand the power of paying now versus later

You might be like a ton of us who hear tax savings today, reduce your tax bill now, and other ways of using tax deferral and tax deductions to help your situation.  Talk to your tax advisor and if your younger, have a long time horizon, the benefits of prepaying taxes now eliminate 100% of the tax down the road.  Of course, we're talking about Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) contributions. 

5. Knowledge is power

Talk to your tax person about any legislation changes, deadlines, or strategies.  If you don't have a trusted CPA or tax professional - get one!  Find someone you trust and can relate to.  Fee schedules vary quite a bit and the advice they give can be quite different as well.  There are a ton of variables to consider so like most consulting it is more of an art than a science.  If things were as simple as using a formula, everyone would use the same calculator and do what's best for their situation.

 

Securities Backed - huh?

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You want to add liquidity to your finances and you have a ton of options, but may not know or realize this could be one if you're working with the right firm.  There are a ton of reasons why someone may want or need to add some flexibility to their current situation.  Tax-time is here and for some that can pose short-term cashflow issues, they'll need to address.  You don't NEED to sell your investments or other assets to pay for short-term obligations to them further magnify a tax obligation. What are we talking about? A Securities-backed line of credit - also known as an SBLOC.  

First, you have to know what it is.  We have talked about it on our #PennyWiseFinancialPodcast in the past, but it's a line of credit that uses your investment portfolio as collateral.  That means you don't have to liquidate securities at an inopportune time, pay the tax, or worse, sell on a market dip.  You can then draw on that line of credit when and if you need to use the funds any way you want.  It will provide you with a ton of flexibility. 

Let's list some of the benefits to better understand the details of how they work.  The application process is streamlined because of our partnership with various lenders.  Again - you have to be working with the right firm and the advisors who know where and how to unlock access to these types of programs.  There is zero application fee, annual fee, or monthly fee for access to these programs.  You might wonder how fees are assessed to the account if there aren't any application fees or annual fees.  The account is charged interest based on the amount you borrow from the line.  So it's only the portion of the line you're using that will be charged anything.  Common uses are for taxes, tuition, real estate transactions, estate settlements, business investment, and other purchases. 

In a nutshell, this program can be another outlet for you so you don't have to submit to using emergency funds, credit cards, selling investments or other assets, or your home equity line of credit if you don't have to.  This is another tool that can make sense for clients that want an outlet to have access to capital they may need in a pinch.  If you have questions about how this works or if you want to learn more about this strategy, SCHEDULE A MEETING NOW!

Better Days Ahead

 
This tracker helps provide an indication of where we stand in our fight against the virus.  The charts have been indicating our progress and increasingly effective reduction in both cases as well as deaths resulting from the virus.  
 
Sources for this data include CDC.gov as well as First Trust Advisors.  The facts found in these charts doesn't mince words or push a political agenda and the results are quite positive.  They are merely numbers proving and tracking our success.  Findings in the study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found the majority of media coverage on the topic and progress has been negative.  This has to stop.  Fear and terror to control the population and perception is just not right.  We get it, declining ratings and a less profitable platform has to make adjustments to "sell" ratings and increase profits, but at who's expense?  Is the virus a risk?  Of course.  Is the "sky falling"?  We don't believe this and we don't think you should either.
 
We need to shred the narrative, keep out the white noise and make sound investment decisions for our clients.  Listening to "Suzie" the neighbor or watching the various media outlets can certainly cloud judgment and impair your investment process.  Discipline and systematic processes may not always be trendy or so popular for a moment, but a reversion to the mean over time has proven otherwise.  Temptation into the "sexy" areas of the market can be enticing but doesn't meet our criteria or long-term approach to asset management.    
 
Stay the course, have a plan and make tweaks along the way!

Taxes - A Moving Target

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Taxes are around the corner, but they're also on the move!  The IRS made the decision to extend the filing deadline until 5/17/2021.  Keep in mind your federal and state tax deadlines are independent of one another and could differ.  This comes as no surprise as the economy and individuals continue to face challenges at the hand of the pandemic.  In addition to the most recent economic impacts, this only makes sense to change in future years as well.  Many 1099's aren't issued until March and some corrected documents are received in mid to late March.  Think about that for just a minute.  If an accountant or CPA has to prepare, review and file hundreds of returns for its clients within such a short period of time, how many mistakes are made?  This isn't an attack on the firms themselves, but more of an obvious concern given the short amount of time allotted for data collection, number crunching, and accuracy. 

What about the other end of things?  I'm talking about the IRS reviewing, approving, and processing the returns themselves.  How much revenue is lost in going through those returns in short order?  The tax code changes almost as often as we change seasons, but there have been some recent improvements that can simplify the process and understanding how much is owed or if you're due a refund.  

More time to file tax returns only seems logical.  Giving people more time to collect all the necessary W-2's, 1099's and other forms needed to prepare the return will reduce stress for all of us.  We have clients that call when they're in a pinch because of lost forms, missing forms, or inaccuracies.  I am in favor of moving the filing deadline for the sake of all parties - especially the CPAs.

Let's not forget the extension also gives individuals more time to consider making contributions to their IRA's, Health Savings accounts, and other accounts.  These decisions are not easy and the extra time will allow those to look back on the previous year, get a better feel for their tax situation and adjust accordingly.       

For More information on those deadlines check out the links below:  

IRS publication --> HERE for details on the change.

State details  -->HERE choose your filing state.  

Time to Go Green!

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It's St. Patrick's day so that means we'll see a lot of "GREEN" - do you expect the same in your wallet from the stimulus, tax refund, or the stock market?  Only time will tell, but one thing we do know is this day typically brings about gatherings, drinking, and some laughs.  Covid has changed that a little and we can expect things to be dialed down a bit, but regardless of restrictions, people will continue to celebrate St. Patrick in their own way.  Parades and streets filled with people will not happen again this year as we continue to watch the virus rates drop through knowledge, vaccinations, and overall awareness.

You may have thought this was going to be a "GO-GREEN", pro EV (Electronic Vehicle) infomercial, but it's far from that.  So what about the EV sector should you know as an investor?  For starters, there are a ton of newbies to the marketplace, and they're popping up as IPO's, direct listings, and SPACS as a way to raise capital and go public with these ambitious ideas.  In reality, I think we're several years away from being solely reliant on electric everything vehicles, Freightliner, ships, air, etc.  In order for all this to work, you have to get a ton of industries on board and working together in unison.  As battery life improves and efficiencies get better, adoption will follow.  One thing to consider about the new players is they have a ton of catching up to do.  The existing auto makers have the infrastructure, factories, distributions, a client base, and revenue that leaves them in good position to flip the switch when ready.  Time will tell, but the selection in this category will be imperative and crucial to the overall performance of your holdings.  Watch closely! 

Another way to get your fill of the color GREEN is to put back some cash into your wallet by reviewing your tax return or start yours to see how things shake out.  You may qualify for deductions, credits or some other form of income tax offset if you dig deep enough.  Prod your accountant or CPA for some guidance on what you can do to improve things.  One thing you should be looking for from your tax person is to be sure they're doing more than taking your W-2's, 1099's, and K-1's and just plugging that information into a program and sending you a bill.  Tax laws change every year and it's a lot to tackle on your own.  Some firms attempt to do both investments and prepare tax returns and that just isn't our cup of tea.  We'd rather give you the very best of what we know well.  

If you're looking for some tax guidance and don't already work with a tax professional, glance over some of the firms our clients have worked with in the past or research some options on your own.  

Our Strategic Partners Page 

Most of all - find your own way of seeing more GREEN this year and have a great St. Patrick's Day!

The Power of Teamwork

Owning any business has its ups and downs, but a common problem among a ton of business owners is finding good "help".  If you or someone you know owns a business, chances are they have faced the challenge of finding or replacing a superstar employee.  That is one problem we have overcome with our most recent hire about a year ago.  To say that he is appreciated, loved and a pleasure to work alongside would be a massive understatement.  Jason T Georgiev celebrated his one-year anniversary last week and we could not be happier.  Please be sure to recognize this rising star and Rookie of the year for our company.  He continues to impress, always shows up prepared to help, and continues to aid in improving the practice and our client experience.

What exactly does Jason do as our Branch Operations Manger you might wonder?  To be Frank, he does just about everything you could hope for.  He handles all the inbound calls, appointment bookings, and questions.  This goes for all servicing-related questions one might have regarding statement requests, missing 1099 forms during tax season, or status updates on processing times.  The knowledge he has with various technology systems allows him to do things more efficiently and timely than ever before.  He has grown into his role and provides a wealth of knowledge in terms of making things work right the first time.  Jason is also the first person people see and hear from when a new client hires our firm.  He is friendly, energetic, and understands the process.  We have had our fair share of good, bad, and great employees, but we are blessed with this one.  

Happy Anniversary Jason!

Do this now to protect yourself!

Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

 

You walk the streets of a big city or a tourist attraction and you're immediately conscious and protective of your wallet, your purse, or that expensive camera you bought to take great photos.  It's a known place of high threat for your belongings and pickpockets are on the prowl.  We all hear about horror stories of people getting scammed, robbed, or falling victim to pickpockets; even my own family has been a victim of this even after warnings before traveling.  For the most part, people understand how these types of crimes are committed and some tips on what to do to prevent them.

Cybercrimes are much more challenging to protect against and these online thieves are becoming more and more creative as time goes on.  This is one of the most written about topics I like to share via blogs, social media, and newsletters and it enrages me every time I learn of a new victim.  Information about all of us is floating around the internet everywhere and our personal information is shared with tons of companies, their affiliates, and their employees.  If you stop and think for a minute about all the people you've given your social security number to for a loan, a utility, an attorney, a credit card application, auto insurance, etc and the list goes on and on.  Let's face it, our information is certainly out there and could easily fall into the wrong hands and get sold via the dark web.   

What do I recommend you do right now?  Freeze your credit immediately!  Can this be a pain when you're going to apply for a new car or home?  Of course, it can be an extra step, but a little bit of frustration is well worth it if you ever become part of a bigger plot to steal your identity and your assets.  

How to go about it?  Take a look before for the sites on how to get you started protecting yourself and your credit right now:

The cost of safety

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When most new or somewhat experienced investors embark on the journey of building their portfolio they'll typically do a ton of research and quickly understand that diversification is one of the most important fundamentals of portfolio construction.  A modern approach to doing this is having a fair share of fixed income based on age or risk tolerance to diminish the violent up and downs of the market.  The diversification is a way to make the ride a little less bumpy.  Their research will also uncover the mere fact that many can win by not losing.  This is a valid point that goes without saying, but the ways and tactics used to diversify and potentially increase the risk-adjusted return could cost more than you might think. 

It can be easy to confuse market volatility and violent stock market moves with risk.  Volatility can create opportunity over time and allow for a reshuffle among your investments, valuations, and market sentiment.  Fixed income may have been a great place to be in order to reduce risk, generate positive returns in a bear stock market, and provider smoother returns, but that is not necessarily true today.  We are in a very different market and at a different time.  We have been in a low rate environment for a very long time and fixed income yields next to nothing.  In order to get acceptable bond yields of 4-5% these days, you'd have to lower your credit quality and seek out undue risk which ultimately defeats the purpose of the investment in the first place.

For this reason, we follow no model mandates of the past which utilize your age as the percentage of investment you should have allocated to bonds.  There is no algorithm or standard that should be carbon copied across the board for all of our investors.  There are more modern ways to invest in other asset classes to further diversify from the equity market and we prefer to look there versus being 100% in fixed income.  We have begun our initial journey in a rising rate environment and this will continue for years to come.  Fixed income was a great place to be in the past; we just don't believe that opportunity exists with the current landscape we find ourselves in at the moment.

Cost is front of mind for all of us including our clients.  We're living in a time when people want to know what they're paying for, what it includes, and if there are any ways to reduce fees by selecting fewer services etc.  One of the not-so-obvious costs is that of including fixed income or bonds as the primary asset class to combat stock market losses.  Bonds have not looked attractive over the past few years and we foresee this trend continuing for the next several years.  This doesn't mean that fixed income is dead completely, but it means that you must be more selective in the bonds you're using and hopefully, your advisor is capable and willing to accept that challenge.  Simply investing your money in a broad basket of bonds facing challenging market cycles and a number of headwinds is not the most cost-effective thing you can do.  The real cost is the money you missed out on by including more fixed income than needed if you have the appropriate time horizon and acceptable appetite for risk.  We believe those who meet those criteria will be rewarded for the less than smooth ride over time. 

 

 

Best Kept Secret

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Picking great stocks, bonds, funds and ETF's isn't as easy as you might think, but it's not Rocket Science either. If you think picking stocks is as easy as the graphic above suggests, hats off to you. Dart throwing is a game of its own, but if you can place trades by randomly throwing money on the table at random stock picks, make money and do this successfully over a long period of time, call us immediately. We want you working on our committee. Monarch Wealth Management's process is much more involved, time consuming and requires a disciplined approach. It's easy to get roped into the "FOMO" (fear of missing out) trades when everyone is making money and getting rich - or are they? Chances are you only hear about their wins, never their losers.

Some of the best investment managers aren't as well known because they aren't always the best marketers.  You could have the best product around, but if people don't know about it, it's worthless.  The reason I say it's not Rocket Science is you should have an investment philosophy, process, and tweak it to adjust for any material changes in the market or trading landscape.

So how are we selecting the investment for our clients, friends, and family?  We use a vetting process to narrow down our selection based on a number of factors including valuation, momentum, growth, EPS, and factor in technicals.  We are by no means technical traders or one of those shops that remove the stock names and trades on technicals alone.  Using that information, we're able to narrow our set of targets down and use that as a guide to choose from.  Numbers, earnings, and other values on paper are a great guide, but they certainly don't tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth so help them......you get the gist. 

Algorithms claim to be better than humans and there has been historical analysis that proves that they can keep pace with some money managers and beat most of the novice retail investors.  We believe in AI-assisted investment strategies to help gather, sort, and prepare the information used to make those decisions.  There are some algo-only platforms that "MANAGE" money for a fraction of the cost of most investment firms, but I beg to point out, you get what you pay for.  Cheap in, cheap out!  Don't get me wrong, there are tons of decent platforms that would certainly help a beginner or even some intermediate traders, but you're not going to the kind of insight from an experienced money manager that can use the data that can't be analyzed or seen in plain sight.  

We are not day traders by any means and we certainly don't follow the crowds into highly speculative stocks that have no revenue or any business model.  There are a ton of things I don't like doing and losing money is one of them; the second is losing money to gambling.  Most of you know I worked in a casino for a number of years and was able to analyze the areas of the casino that were most profitable - hint, hint, it's not restaurants, bars, or shows!  Slot machines are by far the leading revenue source in the casino's, period. 

Anyhow - after our investment lineup is selected and implemented into client's portfolios, they're added to our inventory to be maintained.  We continuously monitor the performance of the investments, earning calls, extrapolate as much data as we can to better understand the financial health of the companies we own or may want to own for our clients.  Some of the best-performing stocks may become too rich to own and it becomes apparent a trim is necessary.   Our decisions are well thought out, stock buys and sells carefully executed and the entire process is happening day in and day out.  It's true, there is no such thing as a "PERFECT PORTFOLIO".  It's like your house, once you think the kitchen layout is great, the color is pleasing and the cabinetry is perfect; things change.  Styles change, trends make you reconsider what you like today and that leaves everything up to question.  The same is true with your investments and that's what we're doing in the background for you on an ongoing basis.  There's no such thing as set it and forget it when it comes to investing.  The minute you get nice and cozy, your world could get flipped upside down.  So you see, we continue to remain diligent, disciplined and work to be the best steward of your assets today, tomorrow and for years to come. 

Disclaimer: The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. Some of this material was developed and produced by Basch Solutions to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. Basch Solutions is not affiliated with the named representative, broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA & SIPC. Investment advice offered through Private Advisor Group, a Registered Investment Advisor.

Private Advisor Group and Monarch Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. Access to BrokerCheck. The LPL Financial Registered Representatives associated with this site may only discuss and/or transact securities business with residents of the following states: NY, FL, OH, TX, NC, SC, IL, AZ.