Three local financial experts share their advice.
Written by Gene Marks
Even as commercial lending rates have more than doubled in the last year, interest rates earned on checking, money market and savings accounts remain stubbornly low as banks seek to maintain their profitability.
That’s not helpful for business owners, who need to earn money on their cash reserves while keeping enough liquidity to meet faily working capital needs. Options remain limited, but the environment is slowly changing, and a number of investment choices with minimal risks are emerging.
Click here to read full article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, featuring Andrew Hipple CFP®, Partner at Lane Hipple Wealth Management Group.
Signs are encouraging and the possibility seems more tangible than ever
In the intricate world of economics, maneuvering the vast U.S. economy without causing disruptions is likened to steering a colossal ship through a tempestuous storm. Since early 2022, U.S. policymakers, including Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, have embarked on the challenging mission of curbing inflationary pressures through heightened interest rates, all the while avoiding economic contraction. This elusive equilibrium, historically challenging to achieve, is what economists fondly term a “soft landing.”
The question that beckons is: are we on the brink of witnessing this rare economic feat?
Historically, efforts to tame inflation with increased interest rates have sometimes led to unintended consequences. Often, rapid rate hikes inadvertently plunge economies into recessions, exacerbating unemployment rates and dampening investment climates. This is because as borrowing becomes expensive, consumers reduce spending and businesses curtail investments, leading to an economic slowdown or even contraction.
Given this background, it’s understandable why the ideal scenario of a soft landing, where price pressures are contained without causing economic downturns, is seen as almost mythical in economic circles.
Recent economic data, however, provides a glimmer of hope. A somewhat declining inflation trend coupled with a sustained growth in economic output has sparked optimistic whispers among economists. Here’s why many believe a soft landing might be on the horizon:
Measured Rate Hikes: Under Powell’s stewardship, the Federal Reserve has been cautious, opting for gradual and measured rate increases rather than aggressive jumps. This approach allows the economy to adjust without being jolted abruptly.
Resilient Consumer Spending: Despite the rate hikes, consumer spending – a significant driver of the U.S. economy – has remained robust. This resilience indicates that the economy still has underlying strength.
Flexible Policy Stance: The Federal Reserve has consistently signaled its readiness to adjust its policies based on evolving economic conditions. This adaptability is crucial in navigating the unpredictable waters of global economics.
Stabilizing External Factors: Global economic conditions, including stabilizing trade relationships and steady growth in emerging markets, have provided a conducive backdrop for the U.S. to manage its internal economic challenges.
Skepticism and Vigilance
While the indicators are promising, it’s worth noting that economic predictions are inherently fraught with uncertainties. There are always external shocks, geopolitical tensions, and unforeseen events that can derail even the most optimistic forecasts. As a result, while there’s growing consensus about the possibility of a soft landing, there’s also a shared understanding of the need for continued vigilance.
Time Will Tell
Achieving a soft landing for the U.S. economy would indeed be a remarkable accomplishment, especially given the historical challenges associated with it. The signs are undeniably encouraging, and under the Fed’s pragmatic leadership, the possibility seems more tangible than ever.
However, in the ever-fluid landscape of global economics, only time will tell whether this optimism translates into a realized economic equilibrium.
According to the NFIB’s Small Business Economic Trends data
The National Federation of Independent Business was founded in 1943 and is the largest small business association in the U.S. The NFIB collects data from small and independent businesses and publishes their Small Business Economic Trends data on the second Tuesday of each month. The Index is a composite of 10 components based on expectations for: employment, capital outlays, inventories, the economy, sales, inventory, job openings, credit, growth and earnings.
Here is what the NFIB released on September 12th:
“NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index decreased 0.6 of a point in August to 91.3, the 20th consecutive month below the 49-year average of 98. Twenty-three percent of small business owners reported that inflation was their single most important business problem, up two points from last month. The net percent of owners raising average selling prices increased two points to a net 27% (seasonally adjusted), still at an inflationary level.
As reported in the NFIB monthly jobs report, 40% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period. Owners’ plans to fill open positions remain elevated, with a seasonally adjusted net 17% planning to create new jobs in the next three months.
Related Article: Job Openings Decline in July
A net negative 14% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, the lowest reading since August 2020. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes declined two points to a net negative 14%.
The net percent of owners reporting inventory gains declined four points to a net negative 7%. Not seasonally adjusted, 11% reported increases in stocks and 16% reported reductions. A net negative 5% of owners viewed current inventory stocks as “too low” in August, down one point from July. By industry, shortages are the most frequent in retail (9%), finance (7%), manufacturing (7%), and services (7%).
The net percent of owners raising average selling prices increased two points from July to a net 27% (seasonally adjusted). Twenty-three percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, up two points.
Unadjusted, 12% reported lower average selling prices and 38% reported higher average prices. Price hikes were the most frequent in finance (52% higher, 7% lower), construction (51% higher, 6% lower), retail (45% higher, 11% lower), and wholesale (36% higher, 20% lower). Seasonally adjusted, a net 30% plan price hikes.
A net 36% reported raising compensation, down two points from July. A net 26% of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up five points.
80% of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem, down two points from July. 24% percent said that labor quality was their top business problem.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that job openings lowered to 8.8 million
On Tuesday, the number of job openings edged down to 8.8 million on the last business day of July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Over the month, the number of hires and total separations changed little at 5.8 million and 5.5 million, respectively. Within separations, quits (3.5 million) decreased, while layoffs and discharges (1.6 million) changed little.
- On the last business day of July, the number of job openings edged down to 8.8 million (-338,000), while the rate changed little at 5.3%.
- Over the month, job openings decreased in professional and business services (-198,000); health care and social assistance (-130,000); state and local government, excluding education (-67,000); state and local government education (-62,000); and federal government (-27,000).
- By contrast, job openings increased in information (+101,000) and in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+75,000).
Total separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations include separations due to retirement, death, disability, and transfers to other locations of the same firm.
The number and rate of total separations in July were little changed at 5.5 million and 3.5%, respectively. Over the month, the number of total separations decreased in accommodation and food services (-132,000).
In July, the number of quits decreased to 3.5 million (-253,000), while the rate changed little at 2.3%. The number of quits declined in accommodation and food services (-166,000); wholesale trade (-27,000); and arts, entertainment, and recreation (-17,000). The number of quits increased in state and local government education (+18,000).
In July, the number of layoffs and discharges changed little at 1.6 million, and the rate held at 1.0%. The number of layoffs and discharges changed little in all industries.
The number of other separations was little changed in July at 378,000.
Establishment Size Class
In July, establishments with 1 to 9 employees saw little change in all data elements. Establishments with more than 5,000 employees had decreases in their quits rates and total separations rates.
The vital role of inflation in financial planning for children’s college expenses
In today’s rapidly changing economic landscape, proper financial planning has become more critical than ever. When it comes to saving for children’s college costs, accounting for inflation is a fundamental aspect that cannot be overlooked.
Inflation, the gradual increase in the cost of goods and services over time, has the potential to erode the purchasing power of your money if not factored into your financial strategy.
Rising College Costs vs. Inflation
Did you know that in 1980, the price to attend a four-year college full-time was $10,231 annually – including tuition, fees, room and board, and adjusted for inflation – according to the National Center for Education Statistics? By 2019-20, the total price increased to $28,775. That’s a staggering 180% increase.
But let’s look at it another (and more sobering way):
If the cost of going to college increased consistently with the U.S. inflation rate over the last 50 years, students today would be paying between $10,000 to $20,000 per year to attend public or private universities.
The Inflation Challenge
Inflation is a natural economic phenomenon that affects virtually every aspect of our lives. From groceries to healthcare to college costs, the cost of living tends to rise over time.
If not addressed in your financial planning, inflation can have a profound impact on your savings’ ability to cover future expenses. This is particularly relevant when it comes to saving for children’s college education, given the long-term nature of the goal.
Preserving Purchasing Power
Imagine you start saving for your child’s college education when they are born. Over the next 18 years, you diligently save a significant amount. However, if inflation averages around 3% per year, the cost of college education could easily double during that time. Without accounting for inflation, you might find that the money you’ve saved falls way short of covering the actual expenses when your child is ready to enroll.
By accounting for inflation, you ensure that the purchasing power of your savings remains intact.
You are essentially future-proofing your investments, allowing them to maintain their value over time. This safeguards your ability to meet rising expenses without compromising the quality of your child’s education.
Realistic Goal Setting
Incorporating inflation into your financial planning helps set realistic goals. When planning for a future expense like college, it’s essential to understand the true cost. Ignoring inflation can lead to underestimating the required savings amount, potentially causing stress and financial strain in the long run.
When you accurately account for inflation, you gain a more accurate understanding of the amount you need to save to cover college expenses. This empowers you to allocate your resources effectively, thereby minimizing the risk of falling short and maximizing the chances of achieving your goals.
The Power of Compounding
Compound interest is a powerful force in wealth accumulation. When you invest your savings, they have the potential to grow over time. However, if you fail to account for inflation, your investment returns might not keep pace with rising costs.
Inflation-adjusted returns are crucial to ensure that your investments genuinely generate wealth and provide the returns you need to meet your financial goals.
Mitigating Financial Stress
One of the primary purposes of financial planning is to alleviate financial stress and provide peace of mind. Inflation, when unaccounted for, can disrupt this objective. Unexpectedly high costs can lead to last-minute financial scrambling, potentially forcing you to compromise on the quality of your child’s education or take on substantial debt.
By accounting for inflation, you are adopting a proactive approach to financial planning. You are preparing for the future’s uncertainties and ensuring that your child’s educational aspirations are not compromised due to financial constraints.
Financial planning is a holistic process that requires careful consideration of various variables, with inflation being a critical one. When saving for children’s college expenses, it’s vital to factor in inflation to preserve the purchasing power of your money, set realistic goals, harness the power of compounding, and mitigate potential financial stress.
By incorporating inflation into your financial strategy, you are taking a proactive step toward securing your child’s education and your family’s financial future. Remember, time is on your side, and early, informed financial decisions can make all the difference in achieving your goals.
Guiding Your Children Towards a Prosperous Financial Tomorrow
With the start of a new school year, the fall season can be an exciting time for parents and children alike. And while you can be sure your kids will learn about math, science, and history, there is a significant subject that is often skipped, regardless of grade level: financial literacy. Even when schools do offer this practical subject, it’s not usually a requirement. This means the majority of children and young adults are lacking in knowledge, experience, and skills related to personal finance. If you’re a parent wanting to help teach your children about financial literacy but you’re unsure where to start, read on to learn more about the significance of nurturing financial awareness in youngsters and discover actionable suggestions for their financial education.
Start Early with the Basic Concepts
Begin teaching financial literacy as early as possible – and start simply. Even preschoolers can learn basic concepts like counting money, recognizing different coins and bills, and understanding the concept of saving. Use real coins or play money to make learning engaging and practical.
Normalize Conversations Around Money
This is a big one, because many people still feel money topics are taboo and to be avoided. Normalize this topic in your home by incorporating discussions about money into everyday conversations. Whether it’s shopping, budgeting for a family activity, or explaining the value of items, these conversations help demystify money matters and make kids comfortable discussing finances.
Use Allowances to Teach About Budgeting
As your kids get older, give them a small allowance, and guide them on how to manage it. Encourage them to allocate a portion to savings, a portion for spending, and perhaps even a portion for charitable giving. This hands-on approach helps them understand the concept of budgeting and gives them confidence in their ability to make smart money choices.
Set Savings Goals
Teach children about setting goals and saving towards them. Whether it’s buying a toy, a gadget, or saving for a future trip, having a goal encourages discipline while also teaching them delayed gratification. Sitting down with your kids and drawing up visual aids like progress charts can make the process more tangible and exciting for them.
Involve Kids in Family Decisions
Here’s a question to ask yourself: if your children don’t hear you discuss money matters, how are they going to learn what managing money in real life should look like? As your kids grow older, involve them in appropriate family financial discussions. This could include decisions about family vacations, major purchases, or even basic bill-paying routines. These experiences will provide practical insights into financial decision-making, while also helping them gain more confidence in their abilities to contribute.
Introduce Banking Concepts
As your children become teenagers, take some time to teach them the basics of banking. Open a checking and savings account in their name, and explain concepts like interest, deposits, and withdrawals. You’re also going to want to be sure that you teach them about the pitfalls of debt. Explain how credit cards work, the concept of interest rates, and the consequences of excessive borrowing. These lessons will help provide a real-world understanding of how banks work, the benefits of saving money over time, and help prepare kids to make wise decisions about credit and debt.
Investing can be complicated even for adults to understand, but to the best of your ability, be sure that you teach the concept of investing to your older teens. Explain the difference between saving and investing, and touch on basic investment options like stocks and bonds. This early exposure can spark an interest in long-term financial planning and help pave the way to a solid financial future.
Promote and Encourage Critical Thinking
Promoting critical thinking in kids is an essential aspect of teaching financial literacy. Encourage kids to think critically about advertisements, deals, and spending choices. Teach them to evaluate whether a purchase is a want or a need, and to consider the long-term value of their choices. By encouraging them to question, analyze, and evaluate financial choices, you’re equipping your kids with valuable skills that extend far beyond the realm of money.
Lead by Example
A lot of the financial literacy knowledge your children will pick up will come from observing your own behavior. So, be sure that you’re modeling responsible financial habits, such as budgeting, saving, and making thoughtful spending decisions. Your actions will have a lasting impact on their financial attitudes and behaviors.
Giving Your Children the Gift of Financial Literacy
Gaining a strong grasp of financial literacy is an essential skill for young minds, enabling them to make well-informed choices and construct a stable economic foundation for their future. By starting this learning process early and seamlessly integrating practical teachings into their daily experiences, you can cultivate a positive and enduring comprehension of effective money management.
If you’d like to discuss financial literacy and financial educational resources further, contact Lane Hipple Wealth Management Group at our Moorestown, NJ office by calling 856-638-1855, emailing email@example.com, or to schedule a complimentary discovery call, use this link to find a convenient time.
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