The RPG  Planner
A fresh and simplified perspective on personal finance topics

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Plan Right                      

  • The Perils of Shared Home Ownership By Families and Friends.  Buying a vacation home with friends or leaving a family home to your kids for them to share may sound like a good idea but is fraught with challenges that often cause these situations to result in family disputes or broken friendships.  We explain why shared home ownership tends to end badly and what steps you can take to minimize the risk of bad outcomes.
  • Cybersecurity: Resources and Advice to Stay Safe Online. We wrote this article to summarize the excellent advice and resources that noted technology expert Bill Winterberg presented at our cybersecurity education seminar in August.  If you want to be better prepared in the fight against cyber criminals, this advice is worth a read. 

Around the Web


Investment Commentary

The closely watched Federal Reserve meeting in September ended with the same result as the other five Fed meetings in 2016 - no change to the Fed Funds Rate.  This no action decision prompted a resurgence in the economically sensitive asset classes and sectors.  Emerging market stocks, US small company stocks, and foreign developed markets all gained more than 1% in September while US large company stocks were flat.  Moreover, oil prices increased by 8.6% in September and are now more than 30% higher than the start of the year.  You can view our monthly market snapshot to see the various market returns and economic data points.  

The tendency for income-starved investors is to search for yield where they can find it.  The longer that rates stay low, the riskier places that investors go to find such yield and there is good reason to believe that rates may stay low for a good while longer.  

In 2016, high yield (junk) bonds have been a beneficiary of this low yield world.  High yield bonds ended the 3rd quarter with a gain of more than 15% for the year.  Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal referred to this reach for yield as a "reckless lunge" in a good article explaining the dangers.  We also wrote this article explaining why searching for income is ineffective, tax inefficient, and dangerous.  
As always, we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions about the markets or your portfolio. 


  •  Starting for the first time in 2016, financial aid applications (FAFSA) launch on October 1st rather than the typical January 1st start date.  This new schedule means that parents can begin applying for financial aid before children are even admitted to college.  It's important not to procrastinate and to apply as soon as possible since some financial aid is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.  With filing season starting on October 1, applicants will use their 2015 tax return data to apply for 2017-2018 school year financial aid.
  • Medicare open enrollment begins on October 15th and runs through December 7th.  We encourage everyone to review their Part D prescription drug plan each year.  Prices change, formularies change, and the best plan last year is often not the best plan for the coming year.  We also encourage reviewing your Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) policies each year to determine if there is a lower-cost option.
  • October 17th is the last day to file an extended tax return for 2015.  It is also the last chance to complete a Roth IRA recharacterization for 2015.

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