The RPG  Planner

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Dear <<First Name>>:

This RPG Planner edition marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of our monthly newsletter and we hope you have found the prior twelve versions to be useful.  

We were busy in January, authoring three new financial planning articles which are highlighted below in the "Plan Right" section.  We also continued to put the finishing touches on our new website which we encourage you to browse, if you have not already. 

Again, we are thankful for your support and we welcome any input to help make The RPG Planner more informative or useful.
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Plan Right                      

  • Amazon Prime and Mutual Fund Investing.  Our article draws on an example of the ubiquitous Amazon Prime to explain an underutilized technique for minimizing mutual fund transaction costs.
  • Mortgage or Invest. A new abridged version of our 2015 article on the mortgage decision was the most read article on Insurance News Net during its first week after publication in January.  

Around the Web


Investment Commentary

The list of investor-unfriendly headlines in the first month of 2016 was a long one that started with an apparent H-bomb test by the North Koreans and included weak economic reports from China, plummeting oil prices, and contracting corporate profits.  Add increased presidential election uncertainty and there were ample drivers of renewed market volatility.

Global stocks fell by 6.0% (MSCI All World Index) in January, actually recovering in the final two days from a steeper mid-month decline.  Concurrently, oil prices continued their free-fall (WTI Crude -9.3%) and bonds edged up (Barclays Aggregate + 1.4%) as investors gravitated to their safety.  

Despite the contraction of corporate profits (which are largely driven by the decline in energy prices) and slowing growth in China, the threat of recession in the United States seems muted.  Leading Economic Indicators are still positive, global central banks are still extremely accommodative (investor-friendly) and consumer spending remains strong - likely to be further fueled (no pun intended) by the decline in oil prices.  This is not to say that markets will not remain volatile in light of continued Chinese weakness but simply a reminder that domestic economic health remains positive.

We encourage you to call or email us if you have any questions about the markets or your portfolio.  As always, you can reference the RPG Monthly Market Snapshot by clicking here for some key economic data points and index returns.      


  • February 15th is the deadline for employees to update their Form W-4 to change 2016 allowances.
  • For many employees, March 15th is the deadline to use remaining 2015 FSA funds on eligible expenses. 

Fun Stuff and Free Resources

  • Trim is an exciting new service to help quickly find all your paid subscriptions and easily cancel the ones you no longer want or never meant to pay for in the first place.

RPG News and Notes 

  • The RPG office is now geared with Fitbits and we welcome any friends of RPG to join our step challenges.  Brandon McGraw, Jason Lina, and Marjorie Edenfield all spent time at the top in the first month of the office fitness competition.  
  • It is not easy to get all 8 members of the Howard family together in one place with children now spread out all over the country but they enjoyed the rare opportunity to be together in West Virginia over the holidays.
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