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  • Q4 2016 Investment Commentary: Planning vs. Prognosticating.  Our quarterly investment commentary pokes fun at weather forecasters, pollsters, and market prognosticators while explaining what is happening with stock valuations, the "Trump Bump", emerging markets, interest rates, and inflation

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Investment Commentary

Stocks moved higher in January with emerging market equities leading the way (+5.5%).  For emerging markets, it wasn't so much a recovery in the local stock values as it was a strengthening of the currencies (which helps US investors as the foreign investments become more valuable in US dollar terms).  The Brazilian real, Taiwanese dollar, and South Korean won all gained sharply versus the US dollar.  

Notably, the rebound of emerging market currencies in January comes on the heels of a sharp sell-off in the weeks immediately following the Trump election victory.  This feels like a classic case of investor overreaction.  In this case, investors sold already discounted emerging market currencies after the election on fears that protectionist policies (import tariffs) and higher US interest rates would be negatives for these currencies.  If January was any indication, the fear-induced reaction was overdone as it often is.    

Our quarterly investment letter describes the current environment in more detail and you can click here to view our January market snapshot which features market returns and economic metrics. 
As always, we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions about the markets or your portfolio. 


Revisit 401(k), IRA, HSA, and Other Retirement Plan Contributions.  The start of the new year is a good opportunity to review your retirement savings plan and to adjust automated savings.  Wise planning suggests making IRA, 401(k), and other tax advantaged contributions as early in the year as possible to get the most tax benefit.  
  • 2017 deferral limits for 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans remains at $18,000 for individuals under age 50 and $24,000 if you will be age 50 or older in 2017.  
  • 2017 IRA contribution limits are $5,500 for individuals under age 50 and $6,500 if age 50 or older.
  • HSA contribution limits in 2017 are $6,750 for families and $3,400 for individuals.  Individuals over age 55 can contribute an additional $1,000.
Update Your Tax Withholding.  February 15th is the deadline for employees to update their Form W-4 to change 2017 allowances.  The growing threat of tax related identity theft has become an important reason not to over-withhold taxes in recent years and now the IRS is even encouraging people to adjust their withholding.

Make 2017 Backdoor Roth Contributions.  While the opportunity still exists, those who make too much to qualify for regular Roth IRA contributions should consider making backdoor Roth IRA contributions 

Use Your FSA Funds.  For many employees, March 15th is the deadline to use any remaining 2016 FSA funds on eligible expenses.

Fun Stuff and Free Resources

According to our friend Clark Howard, these are the 10 Kirkland Signature products you should always purchase at Costco.

In honor of RPG Advisor Christian Mauser's big news below, here are five ways parents can save money on kid essentials.

The Top 10 TED Talks that could change your life.

RPG News and Notes 

  • We are so excited to announce the birth of Elliott Mauser to proud parents, Christian and Randi Mauser.  Elliott was born on January 23rd at 7lbs, 10oz and 20 inches long.  Join us in welcoming Elliott to the RPG family!
  • John Howard recently attained the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) designation and is now the only Fee-Only financial planner in Atlanta with this designation.  The ChSNC® program requires knowledge in a broad range of financial topics to help special needs individuals and their families make informed financial decisions.  John is presenting a series of informational seminars to help special needs families beginning in February at local libraries throughout Atlanta.  To check for availability and pre-register, you can call Andrew Shannon at (770) 671-9500.  
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