Watching the news these days has kept all of us up at night with all sorts of anxieties. We are doing all we can to keep your portfolio and you safe. Yet, here are some considerations for how you can help others and yourself as we get through this tough time:
This is certainly the most asked question by you at this time, particularly around donations to Ukraine. We recommend starting with two websites that will tell you how much of your donation actually gets to your intended recipients. Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org/ ) and Guide Star (https://www.guidestar.org ). Each will provide a score to let you know how much of your contribution goes to your favored charity. For example, World Central Kitchen has a perfect 100 score on Charity Navigator. Other charities, particularly those with large marketing budgets, do not score as well. Be aware of these details before you give your money to any charity. (We are glad to guide you through these sites if you have questions on your favored charities.)
Per AAA, here are the top tips to get better gas mileage:
1. Keep your tires properly inflated – Check the manual to determine the optimal tire pressure. I check my tire pressure monthly to make sure they are at the correct level.
2. Reduce your average speed by 5 MPH. I will admit that I have always been a fast driver, eager to get somewhere. For Lent, I am practicing slower, more relaxed driving. And I have seen my MPG average soar. That has translated well into less trips to the pump. Yes, I leave 5 minutes earlier, but doing the math on a 30-minute trip, 5 MPH slower means it takes me only 2 minutes more. Totally worth it!
3. Plan your trips – Map a route before you go to minimize unnecessary turnarounds and backtracking. Avoid peak traffic times. Combine errands and go to “one stop shops” where you can do multiple tasks (banking, shopping, etc.).
4. Use a “fast pass” on toll roads – If you don’t own a “FastPass,” I strongly recommend getting one! They are an immense time-saver (and gas saver) for toll-road trips. And now, you don’t even need a transponder. Just a license plate!
5. Avoid rush hour – Take advantage of flex work hours to avoid commuting during peak traffic times. We are doing this in our office, and it has made our commute lives much better.
6. Use the Waze app to anticipate road conditions – This is my most-used app for travel. This helps you avoid traffic by re-routing away from traffic ahead.
7. Use the GetUpside/Gas Buddy app to determine lowest gas prices around – These are two apps that will help you find the lowest gas price in the area. Very helpful for travel when you don’t know your local “secret” spot for cheap gas.
While the news channels want you to stay up all night sleepless over the fact that your life will cost more, the lesson here is that you control how you spend and what you spend on. We are always here to guide you so that you live within your means. Here are some considerations:
1. Review your spending to see if there are expenses you truly don’t need anymore. The annual spending summary is now available on your credit cards. Review the expenses to make sure you are using what you are paying for. This is particularly the case for streaming channels, gym memberships, subscriptions, and other auto-pay monthly fees you forgot you were paying.
2. Create a spending/saving plan. If you and your spouse have anxiety around how one of you spends and one of you saves, this is common, particularly in times of inflation. We will gladly guide you on creating a better saving and spending plan. This starts with understanding whether an expense was necessary, nice to have, or an impulse. Each of you will categorize this differently and we will guide you on why this is OK and how to grow as a couple through financial differences.
3. Reward yourselves for saving. If your spending habits have been overdone of late, create a savings plan for those things that you really want to enjoy, such as travel, and then consciously save money you would have used for “impulse buys” or meals out for a more rewarding expense, such as a family adventure.
4. If you are gifting to family, consider stating your preferred way that your gift would be used. Do you want your family to save it for their own retirement, spend it on their own family adventure, or perhaps pay down a high credit debt? Gifting with strings attached helps you pass your financial lessons to your children and makes you feel better about how they spend your hard-earned funds. (We are always eager to help guide you and your children on the optimal gifting and subsequent savings strategies.)
And finally, this is a good reminder (and one that I do each morning) to breathe deep and chill (as my daughter would tell me). Keep in mind that everyone is on edge for all the reasons above, if not others. We all want to be as courteous and mindful of the anxiety others around us are feeling. Our team is doing all we can to keep your assets and your family financially safe. You are always welcome to call or email us to tell us how we can do more. We will keep you updated on our investment strategies to keep your assets safe and growing well.
We wish you an enjoyable start to Spring and pray that the people of Ukraine will soon be able to live normal, peaceful lives.