As the New Year Approaches, It Is a Great Time to Start Fresh and Get Your Financial Life in Order

Provided By Nicole M. Clarke
Financial Advisor

"Although some resolutions are often made at the beginning of the year and forgotten a few months later, just like efforts to improve your health, resolutions for "financial fitness" are worth continued effort.

I found the following article that looks at four financial resolutions worth consideration - evaluating savings goals, paying down debt, automating savings, investing, and bill payment, and organization of financial documents- and how to make progress on them in 2018.  Consider meeting with your financial advisor to make sure your plan is up to date with the goals and objectives that you have established." -Nicole

What financial resolutions should I consider making as I look ahead to 2018? A new year is right around the corner, bringing with it a fresh start for you and your finances. What will you do this year to help improve your financial situation? 

Evaluate your savings goals.
The beginning of the year is a great time to examine your overall financial plan. Maybe you want to buy a new vehicle this year or save money toward a 
Caribbean cruise next year. Perhaps you want to focus less on material items and more on long-term goals, such as your retirement savings. Regardless of what you are setting money aside for, make sure you come up with a realistic savings plan that will help you achieve your goals and avoid the risk of significant loss.

Pay down debt.
Whether you owe money on your credit cards or have student loan payments to make, the start of a new year is a good time to develop a strategy to reduce your overall level of debt. Reducing your debt can help create opportunities to contribute toward other goals throughout the year. But unless you can definitely afford it, don't plan to pay off all your debts in one fell swoop. Set a smaller goal that you'll be more likely to achieve over the course of the year.

Automate as much as you can.
Your plan to pay down debt can be accomplished more easily if you automate your bill paying, saving, and investing. Most banks, credit card issuers, retirement plan providers, and investment companies offer services that make payments automatic – allowing you to worry less about payment dates. The best part is that it might only take a few taps on your smartphone to make these processes automatic.

Think about organizing your financial documents.
If your overall financial situation is already in good shape for the new year, consider taking time now to clear out and organize your financial records. Do you have important documents, such as your tax returns or passport, in a 
safe place? Are you holding on to records that you no longer need? Organizing your financial records now can save you time and frustration later if you need to locate a particular document.

You may email Nicole at


Weekly Market Review

By Bradley J. Rathe
Chief Investment Officer

"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable." -John Kenneth Galbraith

Weekly look back:
  1. US payrolls moved up by a strong 228k and the unemployment rate was steady at 4.1%, however, the earnings number disappointed as wages continue to lag expectations.
  2. Productivity was a reasonable 3% advance but bad news that we actually saw unit labor cost drop by .2%. Expectations are for increased labor costs as we get closer to full employment.
  3. Growth cooled noticeably last month for manufacturing according to ISM Manufacturing.
Weekly look ahead:
  1. Central Bank news with US Federal Reserve announcing interest rate decision on Wednesday and ECB (European Central Bank) and BOE (Bank of England) announcing on Thursday.  Miscues on central bank policy in 2018 is one of the bigger risk going into next year.
  2. Inflation data this week with CPI (Consumer inflation) and PPI (Producer Inflation).  Inflation numbers are expected to come in above the 2% reading the US Central bank is looking for.  Currently, expectations are for 3 rate rises next year, equaling the 3 rate rises this year. Current rate is 1.25% with rates moving up to 1.5% on Wednesday and expectations of moving up to 2.25% by the end of 2018.
  3. US Retail Sales pulled back after hurricane-driven gains and are expected to be moderate again this month. 
World Macro highlights for this week: 

Tuesday: PPI
Wednesday: FOMC Announcement, CPI
Friday: US Retail Sales, Import and Export Prices, BOE and ECB Announcements

You may email Brad at


Strategic Financial Group - Private Trust Services
December Client Newsletter

It is important to understand the philanthropic landscape in order to give in a way that is beneficial to everyone involved. Making the most from gifts to those who have the least is a typical objective, and coordinating this goal with family legacy ties up the gifts with a bow, so to speak. This article will explore some of the ways to give, present pitfalls to avoid, as well as offer strategies to make the most of one's philanthropic endeavors. 

In a recent Gallup poll, it was found the United States gives, per capita, more money annually to charity than any other country in the world. About 95 percent of that giving is by individuals through annual giving, their foundations, and their estates. Unfortunately, Americans often wait until the last minute to make their gifts and, as a result, sometimes do not get the biggest bang for their buck, or they make mistakes that cost them deductions. 

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