Broker Check

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

September 04, 2019
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What does this adage, mean in the realm of financial planning or even in the game of life? With recent news causing the market to gyrate, it is easy to feel like there isn’t much you can control. Thankfully there is MUCH you can control. We have distilled a list of actions you can take today to take the fight to the perils of modern life: protecting your data, credit score, money, time and well being, because in these areas, “the best defense is a good offense”.

CYBER SECURITY

Breaches– Please use the sample letter we prepared for your convenience to opt-out of the Equifax settlement.

Email- Use distinct emails for distinct purposes, i.e. work for work, shopping, sharing with sites for downloads, and a personal email for friends and family. This way if hacked the damage is contained.

Passwords – Use a password manager to store and change your passwords. Password protected spreadsheets, stickies on your monitor and variations of one password simply are simply not safe enough. The other advantage of using a password manager is that you can share it with a trusted person, so in the event of an emergency, they have access.

Cell phone- Do not give out your cell phone number unless you must. It can provide a treasure trove of information about you to hackers. Don’t put it on your business card or website. Sadly, the beloved Airdrop for photo sharing on the iPhone is not secure. Here is what Norton advises to do to reduce the risks if you choose to use it:

  • Be vigilant about installing patches from Apple. Upgrade your devices to iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan as soon as they become available.
  • Turn off Bluetooth and WiFi unless you are actively using it, if possible.
  • Limit AirDrop sharing to ‘Contacts Only’.
  • If you don’t use AirDrop at all, you can disable it by swiping up from the bottom of the iOS screen. Tap on AirDrop and tap on “Off.”

Apps and Browser Extensions – Be very wary before downloading apps and browser extensions. These are chinks in your armor if you aren’t extremely careful. Be stingy when it comes granting apps permission, limit access to your contacts or location data when they are not needed for the app.

To keep current with the privacy settings on your iPhone, check the Privacy area each time you install a new app to see whether it wants access to your personal information. To find the privacy settings, tap the Settings app and select Privacy. The Privacy screen includes elements of the iPhone that contain personal information that apps can gain access to, including Location Services, Contacts, and Calendars.

Documents – Shred all no longer needed documents with identifying information such as account numbers. Please see the details below when we are sponsoring a ‘lunch and shred’ in our building’s parking lot for our clients. Come by and say hello!

INVESTMENTS

Volatility – See the article below.

Liquidity – For emergencies and for your large expenses in the next three to five years or less (depending on the amount needed and your time to retirement), do not have those funds invested in stocks, stock mutual funds or stock ETFs, unless you have another source of ready cash. The volatility is likely to continue, and you don’t want to have to sell during the time of a pullback or correction. You may experience some opportunity cost of lost increases, but if you need to pull funds out of a shrinking pie, that leaves you vulnerable to sequencing risk which is hard to recover from if you are no longer earning income from wages.

Diversify! Make sure you don’t have more than 1-3% in any concentrated position, either company stock or too much in any sector or asset class. If you aren’t sure, we can help you with this.

DEBT MANAGEMENT

Credit Scores – Make sure each spouse has their credit cards, history, and score. It’s easy to add a spouse to a card but make sure both have a personal card that is actively used. Young adults can start with debit and credit cards so they can learn about cash flow before they go off to college and start to build their credit history.

Lower interest costs – Now is a great time to refinance variable-rate mortgages to fixed shorter-term mortgages if you have the cash flow and having a mortgage at all is best for you.

HEALTH

Wait for it – eat your vegetables. Now that that is out of the way, seriously manage your stress with fullbelly laughs. My current favorite is Schitt’s Creek. Don’t let the name of the show turn you off and watch at least three 20-minute episodes before deciding if it is worth your time. Enjoy the quirky wit of Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy from Best in Show fame, and the endearing new characters, Moira, Johnny, Alexis, David, Stevie and Mutt and more. Allowing yourself to play on purpose is an important strategy to aging successfully. The science is in – make time to play, time with fun friends is good for you!

Fun in the sun – see our pics from our offsite planning day.

TIME

Just like snowboarding, you will go where you are looking. Pay attention to where you are spending your time. If you are glued to your phone reading the news or social media, then understand that is where your thoughts will go, and our thoughts lead our emotions and our emotions drive our actions. If you feel you don’t have time to get enough sleep, exercise or time to prepare healthy meals, examine your habits. Don’t squander your attention. Everyone is fighting for your “eyeballs” and “mind share” so create guardrails and “pay yourself first” by putting up boundaries to excessive screen time.

We hope you find the following articles useful, and let us know if you can participate –

  • We created an “opt-out” letter (PDF) to Equifax. Either copy this or email us and we will send you the word version.
  • Market Volatility – What to do.
  • Please see the articles about Apple’s airdrop vulnerability and another about the risk of browser extensions and what to do about them.
  • Fun in the sun. After our annual planning meeting, we enjoyed an afternoon kayaking. It was a perfect day and if you haven’t enjoyed the rivers in Concord, let me know and we will organize an outing.
  • RSVP to our ‘lunch and shred’ on Thursday, September 19th from 11:30 – 1:30. The shredding is at noon, but you can drop your docs off, and we will watch them be shredded for you if you can’t stay.
  • Ride for Food – Here is an opportunity to participate in the community. I am riding to raise funds for Open Table our local food pantry and community dining for our Middlesex neighbors who risk going without food. Please let me know if you would like to ride, volunteer or support the 8th Annual Ride for Food.
  • Vanity Fair review of Schitt’s Creek (available on Netflix).

We want to make it easy for you to do what you can to enjoy life more. Protecting what you have takes some time and attention.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” -Ben Franklin