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Bristlecone Blog

Finding Your Money Thumbnail

Finding Your Money

Our financial lives can be complicated. Between monthly bills, medical costs, bank accounts, credit and debit cards, investment accounts, and taxes, for better or worse each of us accumulates hundreds of financial relationships over the course of our lives.

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Can You Say “Whip-Saw”? Thumbnail

Can You Say “Whip-Saw”?

After a 4th quarter correction which bottomed out on Christmas Eve, U.S. equity markets have rallied for 8 consecutive weeks (through mid-February), with the S&P 500 index up 18% over that span (and 11% year-to-date). Small cap stocks rebounded even more swiftly, with the Russell 2000 index up nearly 24% from its December low (16% year-to-date). Investors shrugged off some negative macroeconomic news (December retail sales declined 1.2%, the largest drop since September 2009), seemingly giving more weight to a host of other positive developments.

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4th Quarter Review: Tough Equity Markets

Global equity markets suffered significant losses during the 4th quarter, which dragged down stock returns across the board for the full year. Our clients’ portfolios, most of which include an allocation to bonds, declined somewhat less. Still, 2018 was unusual in that almost every major investment category experienced a negative total return. The exceptions were cash, US Fixed Income, and TIPs (note: your portfolio’s allocation and results may differ—please refer to your Quarterly Portfolio Review Report).

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Feeling Stressed by the Market?

We are experiencing our first broad-based drop in stock markets for many years. Just last week, the drop in the S&P 500 from its September high surpassed 10%. Moreover, US large company stocks are actually one of the better performing stock asset classes, with declines in foreign stocks and smaller company stocks nearing or even exceeding 20% now. Following on the heels of a calm 2017 (when the S&P 500 rose each and every month), this downturn feels like a genuine shock.

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What Do Millennials Know?

A spate of recent think-pieces, news segments, and even a forthcoming documentary film have popularized an internet subculture called the “FIRE” movement (which stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early”). In a nutshell, FIRE is about achieving financial independence earlier in life via extreme frugality and accelerated retirement savings. Its adherents (typically Millennials) report saving as much as 50-70% of their gross income each year, in a bid to accelerate the point at which their investment portfolio can support their modest annual income needs, freeing them from traditional work obligations.

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