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WHAT MY GRANDMOTHER CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT THE RECENT MARKET VOLATILITY

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the news media drives me crazy.  After almost 2 years of wonderful market returns, everyone seems to be losing their minds because we have seen an increase in volatility recently.  You may have trouble believing it, but this type of volatility is more common than anyone else is telling you.  Since 1980, the S&P 500 usually drops an average of 14% almost every year, despite ending positive over 75% of those years.[1]

This further emphasizes my belief that we are living in a world that thrives on fear.  In the Bible we find God encouraging us to know that, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”[2] I thought I would take some time today and share a story about my grandmother that demonstrates a way of thinking that I believe we’ve lost in today’s culture. 

My grandmother was born in the heart of the depression.  Both she and my grandfather kept fruit trees and a garden in their backyard.  Many of my memories involved spending time from Springtime to Fall picking fruit fresh off the trees and harvesting fresh picked vegetables for an evening meal or salad.  I can’t remember anything tasting better.

As a product of the depression, my grandmother never wasted anything.  Because of this, many of my childhood memories also involve marathon sessions of watching my grandmother, aunts and mother canning those extra fruits and vegetables.  I remember the mason jars used for canning; I remember the steam and pressure cooker that would seal out all the air for preservation.  I remember taking those jars down to my grandmother’s dirt cellar and lining them up on shelf after shelf. 

I remember once asking my grandmother why she spent so much time canning.  Here was her response. 

“Some of those jars are for us to eat through the winter.  There is a season for everything, but during the winter we wouldn’t have anything to eat if we didn’t put some away for later.  Some of those jars are for the years when we don’t harvest as much or the years when we don’t have any harvest.” 

“Not every year is as fruitful as this year.  There are years when the insects swarm and eat everything before it can produce.  There are years when the sky dries up and we don’t have moisture to grow enough food.  We know that most seasons produce a good harvest, but not every season is bountiful.  We spend time canning so that if we have a year when the produce is lacking, we will still have food to eat.” 

You may be wondering why this story seems so relevant today?  It is relevant because it makes me think of investing.  I know you think I’ve lost my mind, but if you will be patient, I think you will find that my grandmother knew more about investing than anyone on Wall Street. 

Just like most of the harvest years are positive, most stock investing years are positive.  As I mentioned above, since 1980 over 75% of annual returns in the S&P 500 are positive.[3]  Just like harvest years, predicting whether the next year’s returns in stocks will be positive is next to impossible.  However, I think we can use the same principles my grandmother used to look at investing in a different light. 

Fundamentally, the reason we own stocks rather than any other asset class is that over the long term they have shown the ability to substantially outperform bonds and inflation.[4]  In a world of rising costs, I want to own things that can help me keep up with those increasing expenses.  However, it would only be fair to acknowledge that stocks come with far more volatility than most other investments.  For example, although large company stocks have averaged a 10% return over the last 80 years there have been years when that investment has been up over 75% and years when it has lost over 50%.  The “average” looks great, but the journey to get there is quite bumpy.[5] 

My grandmother had a Farmer’s Almanac that helped her to understand the best times to plant and the best times to harvest.  This almanac, however, was not predictive of what would happen.  It gave its best guess based on history.  For us, the same is true.  There are two pieces of history that we can reflect on that will help us understand the past, not so that we can predict the future, but so that we have a guide.  On average when we experience a bear market (a drop of 20% or more) it takes 40 months for stocks to get back to even (that’s a little over 3 years).[6] It is also worth noting that since 1950, 97% of 5 year rolling returns for the S&P 500 have been positive.[7]

With this knowledge, there are two pieces of information every investor must know.  “How much will I need to withdraw from my portfolio for the next 12 months?” as well as,”How much will I need to withdraw over the next five years?”[8]  If you don’t need any of your money for withdrawal over the next five years, our investor’s “almanac” would indicate you should probably have most of your investments allocated to stocks. 

However, if you are living off your portfolio or need to take withdrawals within the next five years, I think you will find that my grandmother was a great investor.  My grandmother always had enough jars canned so that her family would have enough to eat for the next year.  Similarly, you should have one year’s worth of withdrawals in cash.

The remaining 4 years are a great lesson in my grandmother’s wisdom.  You should keep the remaining 4 years’ worth of withdrawals in something more liquid like bonds or CDs.  If the next year produces a harvest, then use the excess to build another year of cash to enhance your 5-year cushion. 

However, what do you do when the markets decline substantially?  (And trust me, they will.) While everyone else is panicking, you look at your bond account and say, “Just like grandmother knew there would be a season without harvest, I knew this could happen to my investments.  I’ll sell off some of my bonds to live on and wait until the harvest returns.”  In this example, you’ve given yourself a 5-year cushion in which you can wait.  Will it work perfectly?  I don’t know.  However, based on our “almanac”, it puts the odds in our favor based on average recovery time and 5 year rolling returns.  As the years improve, you begin to use the new harvest to build back up to a 5-year cushion. 

This gives us a plan that even my grandmother, and probably yours, would approve of.  And, as the media goes crazy over things that are completely out of our control, remember that fear is a waste of energy.  Grandmother’s wisdom demonstrates more power, love and a sound mind than any of the talking heads in the media today.   

 

Eric Dunavant, CFP®
President

  

 

[1] “Annual Returns and intra-year declines”, JP Morgan Asset Management Guide to the Markets, Page 13, March 31, 2018

[2] 2 Timothy 1:7, New King James Version®, Copyright©1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved

[3] “Annual Returns and intra-year declines”, JP Morgan Asset Management Guide to the Markets, Page 13, March 31, 2018

[4] Ibbotson SBBI (Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation 1926 – 2017), From Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation (SBBI) Yearbook, By Roger G Ibbotson and Rex Sinquefield, updated annually.

[5] Ibbotson SBBI (Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation 1926 – 2017), From Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation (SBBI) Yearbook, By Roger G Ibbotson and Rex Sinquefield, updated annually.

[6] “Bear markets may not be as ferocious as they appear”, Mark Hulbert, Wall Street Journal, March 8-9, 2014.

[7] “Time, diversification and the volatility of returns”, JP Morgan Asset Management Guide to the Markets, Page 63, March 31, 2018

[8] My position in this article is that we are talking about someone whose withdrawals are not substantially reducing their principle over their lifetime.  No portfolio can overcome excess withdrawals over a lifetime, no matter how well the investment markets perform.  A good analysis of your lifetime cash flow should be conducted before you begin a distribution plan.

 

 

E Six Thirteen, LLC (“E Six Thirteen”) is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).

Optimism In A Crowd of Pessimism

Every time I turn on the news, I seem to get information that tells me how bad things are.  I really wish there was a news station that reported the good stuff.  To fight the news, I usually start by turning it off.  I also try to make sure I am reading and listening to things that help give more of an optimistic point of view.  With that in mind, I thought I would share some of the good stuff I’ve run across with you.  I imagine most of this will be things you haven’t seen anywhere else, so I hope they help to raise your spirits. 
 
The first quote comes from Nicholas Kristof in the January 6th issue of the New York Times. The article was titled, “Why 2017 was the best year in human history.”
 
In fact, 2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity. Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000, according to calculations by Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs a website called Our World in Data. Every day, 325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean water.
 
As recently as the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate and lived in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 15 percent are illiterate, and fewer than 10 percent live in extreme poverty. In another 15 years, illiteracy and extreme poverty will be mostly gone. After thousands of generations, they are pretty much disappearing on our watch.
 
Just since 1990, the lives of more than 100 million children have been saved by vaccinations, diarrhea treatment, breast-feeding promotion and other simple steps.
 
That data simply amazes me at the progress of human achievement.  The improvement in illiteracy and poverty in my lifetime is staggering.   
 
The next quote is from Brian Wesbury, an economist at First Trust.  To slightly modify the old saying, “The only function of economists is to make weathermen and astrologists look respectable.”  I usually don’t put a lot of faith in the comments of an economist, but Brian Wesbury is the exception.  He has such a different way of looking at the data, that I find it refreshing.  He fights the “group think” and that is to our benefit.  On December 11, 2017, he wrote a piece called, “The fallacy of weak productivity.”  I think you will enjoy this insight.  It goes to show, that just because the media says it, doesn’t mean that its fact.  (The emphasis was added.)
 
 
Non-farm productivity growth, as measured by the government, has averaged slightly above 1% per year lately. That’s slow by most historical standards…But can this really be true? New technologies are boosting productivity everywhere. As recently as 2009 it took over a month to drill and complete a new oil well; now it takes around a week. Farmers have boosted the bushels of corn they get from every acre of farmland by 2.4% per year since the early 1990s-while new tech (drones, GPS, ground sensors) help save on inputs of hours, water, fuel, and fertilizer.
 
Smartphones, tablets, apps, the cloud, 3-D printing, drones, and many other new technologies are clearly boosting productivity. And not just in tech industries.
 
So why do so many people think productivity is weak? Yes, government data sources say it’s weak.
But anyone who goes outside instead of living in the data knows nearly everything is getting better, faster and cheaper.
 
I pray both of these brighten your week.  Things are truly getting better more than we realize. 
 
  
Blessings,
Eric Dunavant, CFP®
President
 
 
E Six Thirteen, LLC (“E Six Thirteen”) is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).

 

A TRIP TO THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE!

Over 10 years ago, I started this company with a vision of “Doing Good for You, So You Can Do Good for Others.”  We have had a lot of exciting opportunities during that time, but on Tuesday,   January 30th,  Angel and I were at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with our good friends from Inspire Investing.  Our common vision and focus allowed me the opportunity to be on the podium and “bang the gavel” to officially close trading. 

The opportunity to close the market, while humbling, was an opportunity to further observe a system that, all too often, takes our view off of what is important.  The headlines from January 30th would tell you that the  market dropped a little over 1%. Since then the markets have posted their first 10% correction in over two years, but honestly, in a few months,  I doubt anyone will even remember. 

Our job is to help you stay focused on what is important to you.  How do we know if we are doing well?  We see it in the outcomes of our families and businesses.  We see strengthened relationships.  We see people experiencing less fear and more peace. 

How do we know if we are “Doing Good for You, So You Can Do Good for Others?”  We measure things that matter.  With 2017 now behind us, here is the “Good” that happened through the families and businesses we served over the last 12 months. 

Planning that presented opportunities to save or avoid over $34 million in taxes. 

Planning that presented opportunities to give over $90 million to non-profits and ministries.

In addition, the Employee “Doing Good Fund” was able to support over $48,000 of local, national and worldwide projects that made a difference for today and for eternity. 

In 2018, we are setting our sights even higher in serving you.  We want to achieve more alongside you. 

I invite you to watch the video below of the closing bell at the NYSE.  It was definitely a “bucket list” experience.  However, I never want to lose sight of why we do what we do. We do it for you.  We do it for others!

 

Live at the New York Stock Exchange!!

 

Eric Dunavant, President
 
 
  
E Six Thirteen, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor

2018 Tax Changes

As most of you know, Congress and the President worked to make changes to the tax code over Christmas. Overall, the changes look good, but there is still more information coming out on the details.  We love serving our families and take seriously our mandate to help you and your business Prioritize Value, Minimize Taxes and Optimize Giving. 

Over the next few months our team will be working to make sure we understand the nuances and opportunities available in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017[1].  However, I thought I would highlight just a few of the changes that we believe are worth noting and might be of interest to you:

  1. Reduced Income Tax Rates: The top individual tax rate was reduced from 39.6% down to 37%.  Most families should see a 2.5% to 3% reduction in their average tax rate from 2017 to 2018.
  2. Increased Estate and Gift Tax Exclusion:  The individual estate and gift tax exclusion doubles to $11.2 million.  For married couples this means that there should not be any estate or gift tax issues for estates less than $22.4 million. 
  3. Reduced Corporate Tax Rates:  The corporate tax rate drops from 35% to 21%. 
  4. Reduced Pass-Through Entities Rate: The bill provides a 20% deduction for taxpayers who have qualified business income from a partnership, S corporation or sole proprietorship.  There are phase outs for specified professional service businesses. 
  5. Increased Charitable Deductions:  The AGI limitation for CASH contributions to public charities increases from 50% to 60%. 
  6. Elimination of the Pease Limitation:  The Pease Limitation was effectively a 1% to 1.2% surtax for upper income individuals, so the elimination effectively provides further reduction in marginal tax rates for upper-income individuals. 

As I mentioned, these are highlights of just a few of the changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  We will continue to monitor the application of these and other opportunities as we construct and update your plans throughout the year.  It is always in your best interest to work with your tax professional before implementing any specific tax strategy. 

Please let us know if you have any questions.  It is our honor to serve you.  

 

Eric Dunavant, CFP®
President
E Six-Thirteen

[1] www.irs.gov

 

 

Important Disclosure Information
E Six Thirteen, LLC (“E Six Thirteen”) is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). 

This communication is provided for informational purposes only and for the intended recipient[s] only. This communication is derived from numerous sources, which are believed to be reliable, but not audited by E Six Thirteen for accuracy. This communication may also include opinions and forward-looking statements which may not come to pass. Information is at a point in time and subject to change. 

This information is general in nature and should not be considered tax advice. The views and opinions are subject to change at any time based on market and other conditions. Investors should consult with a qualified tax consultant as to their particular situation. The information provided does not constitute investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. There is no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information and E Six Thirteen shall have no liability for decisions based on such information.

This document may contain certain statements deemed to be forward-looking statements. All statements, other than historical facts, contained within this document that address activities, events or developments that E Six Thirteen expects, believes or anticipates will or may occur in the future are forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and that actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. For additional information, please contact us at (985) 727-0775.

 

Bitcoin: Currency, Investment or Speculation?

Over the last few months I have had several people ask my opinion on Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency markets.  For a while I didn’t think much about it, but as the value has continued to increase substantially I thought it was probably time for me to share my thoughts.  How you view Bitcoin, really depends on what you think it is.  Is it currency?  Is it an investment? Or is it speculation?  I’m going to spend a few minutes breaking down each and give you some things to think about.

When I first heard of Bitcoin, it was described to me as a type of digital currency that can be used without the tracking of the Federal Government.  That sounds good on the surface, but realize this means that many people who would see value in this as a currency would do so for reasons that may be less than legal.  There is a reason they would prefer not to be tracked. 

My biggest challenge with defining Bitcoin as currency comes in the definition of currency itself.  Merriam-Webster defines currency as “something that is in circulation as a medium of exchange” or “a common article for bartering.”[1] In simplest terms, the reason the US dollar and other government currencies works as currency is that, for the most part, something that cost $5 can be paid with a five-dollar US bill today, tomorrow and most likely next week.  We do experience inflation in many of our goods, but most of that inflation happens slowly during the year.  It is a very rare occurrence when something you want to buy today for $5 of US currency will cost $10 of US currency tomorrow.  I’m not going to spend time on hyper-inflation scenarios that have occurred in rare occasions in other countries, because as of today, that is not a scenario we seem to be facing in the US. 

The volatility of Bitcoin is a major concern for its consideration as a currency.  It has risen over 2000% Year to Date as of December 2017.  Anything that can go up that quickly can go down that quickly as well.  If I need to buy bread or eggs tomorrow I don’t want to guess what the value of my currency is going to be.  Anything with this type of volatility would not be considered as a “medium of exchange” or “an article for bartering.” In my mind, it is difficult to take the position that Bitcoin is currency.

If Bitcoin is not currency, then perhaps it is an investment? When I consider investing I have a set definition that I have found serves me and my clients very well.  I’m looking for entities that can provide return of capital and increased cash flow over time.  Here is where I struggle with Bitcoin as an investment.  Bitcoin is not a company that has profits.  The only reason Bitcoin has value is because other people feel it has value as a currency.  Based on the definition of currency above, that leaves us with a problem.  It doesn’t act like a currency.   It isn’t backed by the full faith and credit of any government or institution.  If the faith in its ability to be a currency goes away, so does the value.  

I am not so naïve to say that Bitcoin could never be an investment.  However, as of today it doesn’t fit my definition.  If I’m going to be honest, it looks a lot like 1999 or 2000 when companies that didn’t have any profits or earnings were getting an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the stock market just because they had “.com” in their name. 

If Bitcoin is not a currency or an investment, then it seems that Bitcoin is speculation.  Merriam-Webster defines speculation as an “assumption of unusual business risk in hopes of obtaining commensurate gain.”[2]  Think of speculation as gambling.  You can win big, you can also lose big.  One thing I always ask when I look at any type of speculation is “who is really making any money?”  In Vegas, “the house always wins.”  It might be worth figuring out who the “house” is for the crypto currency markets.  The trading exchanges will certainly make money off those who want to speculate.  I read yesterday that people are taking out second mortgages to buy Bitcoin, so the banks are making money.  The question is will any investors actually keep any profit that they can take home and put in their bank account when the dust settles.  I’m afraid I’ve seen this story before, and I don’t like the ending.  I’ve always said, “When the guy bagging your groceries is giving you investment tips, it’s time to exit the investment.”  Although most of our groceries are now delivered to our home, I’m seeing a lot of people who have never had deep money conversations acting like Bitcoin experts.  If you feel you must venture into these waters, please be careful.    

I’ll conclude my thoughts by quoting from one of the wisest and richest men who ever lived, King Solomon.  He wrote a book of lessons he had learned throughout his life to his sons.  He said, “Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.”[3] At the end of the day, I may end up being wrong about the ability of Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrency) to become a currency or an investment.  As of today, however, it is speculation and my job is to help protect the families we serve from poverty and I take that job very seriously. 

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/currency

[2] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speculation

[3] Proverbs 21:5, The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by     permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

Eric Dunavant, CFP®
President
E Six-Thirteen

Do Unto Others Adventure 2016

2016 is passing faster than anyone can imaging.  Angel and I are already turning our attention towards our summer vacation.  This summer we are planning to take another trip to Mexico for our Do Unto Others Adventure on July 16 – 18 with Amor Ministries.

Many of you have talked about joining us.  Today, I extend the invitation again.  There is no time like the present.   Here is a link with information on the upcoming trip.

Last year Angel put together a great list of FAQ’s that I thought would be helpful and perhaps twist your arm a little.

(more…)

The Charitable RMD

Our focus is to help you find areas to improve your family and business value, your taxes and your giving.  In 2015 Congress made permanent some legislation that may help you manage your taxes while also optimizing your giving.  If you are over 70 ½ and own a retirement account, you may be required to take a certain amount of money out or face a 50% tax penalty.  This is called the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).  Most families think that the only option is to take the RMD and pay the taxes on the distribution.  With the new legislation, you can now send your RMD directly to a qualified charity in the form of a Qualified Charitable Distribution.  Less taxes, more giving… win, win.

If you want more information on how this works, I have attached an article from the American Institute of CPA’s which does a good job of spelling everything out.

Blessings,

Eric Dunavant, CFP®
President
E Six-Thirteen

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be substitute for specific individualized tax advice.  We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

A Biblical View of Planning, Pt. 1

Is there a difference in planning when you take a biblical worldview versus a temporal worldview? This is a question I was challenged with many years ago as I was growing in my faith. The gentleman who challenged me asked me if the faith that I was living on Sunday matched the way that I was running my business Monday through Friday. It was a great challenge and prompted me to dig more into God’s word and what it said about managing finances.

I found that there are over 2,000 scriptures in the Bible about how we should handle our money, and Jesus spent at least one-third of his parables teaching on money and how it relates in our lives. In scripture, God has a great deal to say about how we handle our money. My plan is to use the next few months of emails to highlight some key differences I discovered as I embraced planning done with a biblical worldview.

When running business with a temporal worldview, the fallback manner of planning says, “We made it, so it’s all ours.” Therefore, if there are decisions to be made on how to save or how to invest then we do whatever “feels” best. It also leads to finding self worth in how the world measures wealth. When (more…)

Blessings in the Rain

The Dunavant’s are home and survived the Do Unto Others Adventure 2015 to Mexico.  As always it was an incredible blessing to our entire family.  There is something about serving others that always leaves you more blessed than the family you served.

See pictures here.

This year was a brand new adventure.  On the second day, the region of Mexico we were serving in received more rain in one day than they have had since 1902.  These families don’t deal with rain like this on a regular basis.  Many of the members of the community could be seen sweeping the rain out of their homes and trying to keep their possessions as dry as possible (Not an easy task in a strong rain storm).  It is times like this when you realize how much we take for granted in our day to day lives.  I’ve never had to worry whether an afternoon rainstorm might ruin my food or leave my bedding and clothes unbearably wet for the evening.

When we finished on day 3, we were able to leave the family with a dry home that only needed an application of stucco to the outside.  Fortunately, Amor sends groups down on a regular basis to finish homes that are not completed when the longer trips leave.  We were able to work alongside the family to build them the home and it was an incredible experience to see their joy and gratitude.

We have tentatively set the dates of the 2016 Adventure for July 16 – 18.  Put it on your calendar and consider bringing your whole family to join us.  I promise you won’t regret it.

 

Blessings to you all,

Eric & Angel Dunavant

Does your Monday through Friday work match your Sunday faith?

Have you ever asked yourself if it is possible to effectively incorporate your Christian faith into your practice? Have you ever wondered if applying a Biblical Worldview could be a successful and sustainable business model? Have you ever tried to wrap your head around how to have meaningful conversations with clients about faith and their finances? If any of these questions sound familiar then The Bachelor’s Program, part of E-Six Thirteen’s Kingdom Architecture Learning Path may just be what you are looking for.

The Bachelor’s Program was developed to equip you with the necessary skills and tools to engage clients in new conversations that will enhance their decision making and allow you compensation for your guidance and solutions. We will show you how to genuinely incorporate your Christian Faith and Biblical Worldview into your practice. We have created an entire system to guide the client experience; meeting scripts, client questionnaires, collateral and support materials, everything you need to have effective conversations and to lead your clients into improved Stewardship of their God given resources.

If you would like more information about The Bachelor’s Program and E Six-Thirteen’s Kingdom Architecture Learning Path click here – http://esixthirteen.com/the-missing-piece/more-information/ .