Welcome to the September 2020 Newsletter for MasterPlan Retirement Consultants!

Mark’s Missive

What’s Next for a COVID-19 Economy?

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, even as states have reopened restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses. The crisis brought an end to the bull market that started in 2009 and threatens to usher in a recession.1

What does the future hold for the stock market and the economy? When will the economy recover? And how will this crisis impact your retirement and your financial future?

It’s impossible to definitively answer those questions. In many ways, this event is unprecedented. We don’t know how long the virus will present a threat, so it’s impossible to predict how or when the economy may recover.

However, it is possible to make adjustments to your strategy to minimize risk and take advantage of potential opportunities. It’s also helpful to keep in mind the long-term nature of the economy and the financial markets. Nothing lasts forever, including recessions and bear markets.

Stock Market Performance

The financial markets have been a rollercoaster since the onset of the pandemic. On February 19, the S&P 500 closed at 3386. On March 23, it closed at 2237, a drop of 33.93%. Since that time, the market S&P has climbed to 3236 as of July 28th.2

It’s important to remember that the stock market isn’t the same as the economy. A drop in the stock market doesn’t necessarily signal a recession, just like a rise doesn’t necessarily spell an economic recovery.

It’s also helpful to remember that bear markets are a natural part of investing. They aren’t always caused by global pandemics, but they do happen. There have been 16 bear markets since 1926. On average, they last 22 months and are followed by a 47% gain in the year following the market’s lowpoint.3 We can’t predict when the market will hit its low point, or if it already has, but if history is any guide, the market will recover at some point.

Economic News

While the stock market has bounced back somewhat since its March decline, the overall economic news continues to be negative. Nearly 50 million people have filed for unemployment since late March. In 11 states, more than a quarter of the workforce is unemployed.4

In the first quarter, the economy contracted for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. GDP declined by an annualized rate of 4.8%. That’s not as steep as the GDP decline of 8.4% annualized decline in 2008. However, it’s possible the economy could face a greater decline in the third or fourth quarter. Consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of GDP, fell by an annualized rate of 7.6% in the first quarter. That’s the steepest drop for that metric since 1980.5

Even as states are returning to business as usual, there is still significant uncertainty surrounding the crisis and the economy’s future. The good news is you can take action to minimize risk. If you’re a client and haven’t met with us since the COVID crisis began, contact us for a review. If you are just being introduced to our retirement planning services, contact us for a complimentary initial consultation to begin the process of creating strategies to combat times such as these, as well as other weaknesses that may exist in your overall retirement plan.

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/11/investing/bear-market-stocks-recession/index.html
[2] https://www.google.com/search?safe=off&tbm=fin&sxsrf=ALeKk01UjyvpIcf62vDAgyulZ3dZuL1GWg:1589832165005&q=INDEXSP:+.INX&stick=H4sIAAAAAAAAAONgecRowi3w8sc9YSntSWtOXmNU5eIKzsgvd80rySypFBLnYoOyeKW4uTj1c_UNDM0qi4t5FrHyevq5uEYEB1gp6Hn6RQAAItD1MEkAAAA&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwikycWrmr7pAhWWU80KHfhUBrcQlq4CMAB6BAgBEAE&biw=1536&bih=754&dpr=1.25#scso=_JerCXv0o9o70_A-NwLLYBg1:0
[3] https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/market-and-economic-insights/bear-markets-the-business-cycle-explained
[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/14/business/economy/coronavirus-unemployment-claims.html
[5] https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/29/847468328/tip-of-the-iceberg-economy-likely-shrank-but-worst-to-come

Client Spotlight – WHY I TRAVEL…

Gayle Bailey-Blake

We want to thank our wonderful client Gayle Bailey-Blake for her submission to our newsletter! As you will soon realize, she is a most adventurous lady! Enjoy!

Gayle and Alex in Chefchaouen, the blue city in Morocco.

Merriam Webster defines travel as “The act of traveling; a journey especially to a distant or unfamiliar place”. As a mature single woman, why do I travel? Like everything else, traveling is full of joy and challenges. It can take us out of our comfort zone and into a completely new place filled with opportunities to re-invent yourself. It brings us moments of pure joy, (watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat), cultural awareness (the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam and the Killing Fields of Cambodia) and challenges (riding a camel into the Sahara Desert in Morocco.) It gives us perspective and reminds us that there are many alternate ways that we can choose to live our lives. It gives us the chance to reflect on where we have been, where we are going, and where we would like to end up.

 

Two months after retiring from 30 years of teaching in Georgia schools, I found myself flying to Paris, alone for three months, to an unseen apartment I had booked online. As I look back I am amazed that I was so confident. Within days I was crisscrossing the city, discovering public transportation and eating my way (solo) through France and my three month Julia Childs holiday.

Camel ride into the Sahara Desert

I travel because it is the ultimate adventure. It creates meaningful relationships. It is the prospect of immersing yourself in a new culture, learning a new language, tasting new cuisines, or simply watching the sun set over an unfamiliar landscape. When we travel we interact with so many different people. This interaction teaches us geography, economics, politics and sociology. It can point us in new directions to communicate when language fails us.

In the years since retirement I have explored Europe, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Dubai, Cuba, and Morocco. My son, Alex and I had booked a trip to Guatemala during spring break which was canceled due to the corona virus. I am very much looking forward to travel opening up again, though I think it will forever be different. I am always open to living internationally as I fall in love with almost every country I visit. So much to see…with so little time.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Normandy Beach Memorial, Normandy, France

 

Karen’s Corner

Hi All! Hope this edition of our newsletter finds you happy, healthy and enjoying life! As we considered topics for our newsletter during these interesting and continuing distanced times, we thought about how much we miss gathering together and traveling! Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, we feel it is in the best interest of our clients’ health at this time to cancel our 2020 Christmas party. However, we have high hopes for a healthy 2021 and have already confirmed a date of December 9, 2021 at 7:00 pm for our next Christmas celebration. Please note that we have changed the location as our hostess Lynn at Magnolia House is retiring and we thought it would be a good time to try a new venue. In 2021, we will be partying at Olde Towne Athletic Club in Marietta. Mark your calendars and pray that we will be able to gather together by then, if not sooner, for some fun time together!

As for the traveling, we have so many wonderful clients that love traveling, adventuring and exploring! We focused on some special traveler’s, the Jenks, in our last newsletter and this newsletter spotlights a very adventurous gal we all are challenged by and in awe of, Gayle Bailey-Blake. She has traveled on her own and with her amazing son, Alex, to many wonderful and exotic places. I hope you enjoy her article and photos!

On that note, we have other clients that love to travel that have had some very interesting events occur during their travels. One in particular had a medical emergency and discovered a great company when needing an emergency medical transport. AirMedCare Network is the one they used and it is only $85.00 per year for coverage and $65.00 per year for seniors, with no other out of pocket expenses. Good to know when you find yourself needing emergency medical flight services that can be extremely expensive. These services can get you to an appropriate facility or back to your home area if needed.

While thinking about travel and insurance needs, I decided to do a little research and found some good information in a several articles cited below regarding travel tips for “seniors” and travel insurance information. I also discovered that AARP (aarp.org) has a wealth of useful information about travel as well. I hope these are helpful to you and that we will all be able to use this information soon as our world returns to “normal” and travel resumes to all of our dream destinations!

Travel Tips for “Seniors”
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/trip-planning/savvy-senior-travelers
When to Buy Travel Insurance
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/15/when-you-can-skip-travel-insurance-and-when-you-should-buy-it.html
The 7 Best Travel Insurance Companies of 2020
https://www.investopedia.com/best-travel-insurance-4842641
Accessing Healthcare Abroad
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/getting-health-care-abroad

Don’t let COVID-19 cause you to miss the apple season in Georgia!

Hop in the car and ride up to the mountains to grab a bag to go! (Maybe at a less busy time than on the weekends!) As I was thinking of all the delicious apples we have to choose from in North Georgia and the pears available during this season, I remembered yummy dishes that my mother often served. Thought I would share for some easy and quick sides to accent your entrees. Enjoy!

Dottie’s Apple Salad

  • 4-5 medium apples of your choice that have a good crunch
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 3/4 cup celery (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (lightly toasted and chopped)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup diced bananas (optional)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise to taste

Dice apples into bite sized pieces. Lightly sprinkle and toss apples and if using, the bananas, with lemon juice. Mix together with all other desired ingredients in a large bowl. Toss together with mayonnaise. Chill for about 30 minutes before serving A dash of heavy whipping cream can be added to mayo before tossing together for a milder dressing. Dried cranberries can be substituted for raisins for a holiday flair. Serve on a bed of lettuce or as desired.

Dottie’s Pear Salad

  • 6 pear halves (fresh ripe or canned)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Maraschino or fresh cherries

Chill pears. Place peeled and cored pear halves on a bed of lettuce inside up. Add a dollop of mayo to center of each pear. Grate about a tablespoon of cheddar cheese over mayo. Top with maraschino (absorb extra juice with a slight squeeze with a paper towel) or fresh halved cherry.

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FUN IDEAS TO ENJOY DURING THESE DISTANCED TIMES

Discover Geocaching
https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/gps-geocaching.html

Discover Activities in Cobb County

SWEET THINGS TO DO WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING

Best Atlanta Hikes
https://www.atlanta.net/Blog/The-10-Best-Easy-Hikes-in-the-Atlanta-Metro-Area/

 

Carol’s News

THE SUMMER OF 2020, NOT SOON FORGOTTEN

I think we can all agree, we are living in different times than we have ever seen in the past. My mom was always careful to teach us kids to, “Count your blessings… because there is always something, we can be thankful for.”

To us the phrase, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since our last newsletter is a fitting statement. As I look back over the last months, a couple of things immediately come to mind that have kept me anchored, joyful and content. I believe sharing our joys is a great way to build each other up, and to pass along encouragement, which we all need from time to time. So here goes.

Spend Time Outdoors – I enjoyed the creativity of enhancing our outdoor living spaces with plants that are natural insect deterrents and are also beautiful to look at and have a wonderful fragrance. A few of my favorites are: Rosemary bushes, clumps of Lavender, Spearmint perennial ground cover, and Lemongrass. This combination offers a variety of texture, color, height, and size. As a bonus, can also be used in the kitchen to add flavor to many recipes.

Spending time outside, in God’s creation does wonders for me in many ways. I can be in a sour mood then go out and start piddling in the yard, and all negative feelings are cleansed away. It is refreshing for spirit, body, and soul. Whether you are alone or with others; this brings us to family.

Family – My children and grandchildren enjoy spending time with us in the yard. We all receive a sense of accomplishment as we work and play. 2020, the year many of us opted out of travel, but we still enjoyed our summer vacation with a stay-cation!

Fun Yard ideas

  1. Campfire, hotdogs and smores – Fireside conversations and laughs, creates joy.
  2. Yard games – cornhole, kick ball, pitch, the possibilities are endless…
  3. Homemade slip and slide – grab some plastic, liquid soap, add water… and your off to the races!
  4. Pancake breakfast on the Porch – electric griddle, drop cord & morning sunrise!
  5. Star gazing – Lying on blankets, on the grass, with or without binoculars; use a star gazing app.
  6. Homemade Ice Cream Family Social – complete with plenty of toppings.

Summer 2020. It may not have been the beach, the Lake, the Giant Amusement Park, the Museum, the Cruise, or the Plane trip. However, it was FUN and definitely memorable!
There is always something to be thankful for!

Carol Freeman
MasterPlan Retirement Consultants
Administrative Coordinator

Evan’s News

Digital Evolution in a Post COVID World

Digital meetings will never be as personal as face-to-face interaction. However, the digital technologies that have been made available to the public have presented us with more options to connect than ever before and have become the forefront of communication during this period of physical separation. The current events of late have presented businesses both large and small with an unavoidable decision: adapt or potentially close shop.

We are fortunate and grateful that Masterplan has benefited from some of these forced transitions. Though we have had to limit our face-to-face client meetings (and we sure do miss you all), we have entered a new realm of digital possibility. By now, programs like Zoom and Big Marker are well known to the public and are becoming the new standard. This new level of technological efficiency provides the tools to move business forward faster than ever before; a much-needed counterbalance to staff cuts and overall slowing-down of processing. Whether through digital webinars, digital meetings, online applications and business writing and much more, I believe we are experiencing the early steps of a reformation of business procedure.

This certainly does not mean that once the proverbial smoke clears from COVID-19 that we will continue to be mostly web-based; we look forward to the day when we can meet more clients face-to-face again. We are, however, optimistic at the advantages provided by the ability to meet digitally when the need arises and the scheduling benefits it offers everyone. This is even more true with business processing and establishing your retirement plan and ongoing needs more efficiently than ever before. As always, we are committed to providing our clients with the best care and service possible and to continually seek to be ahead of the status quo.

Prayer Requests and Praises

Did you know that we start our staff meetings off with your prayer requests and praises?

When you share your requests with us, we still make a point to add it to our list and keep it there until we have an update.

We also celebrate your praises!

We know from our own experiences that life will bring us ups and downs.  We want to continue to share in that with you, so if you have a prayer request or praise that you want us to put on our list please feel free to contact us!

 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

– 1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

If you have any questions or comments over the news and need to knows, upcoming classes, reminders or prayer requests, please reach out to Julie Thompson at [email protected]

 

Advisory services offered through MasterPlan Retirement Consultants, Inc. Insurance services offered through Fricks and Associates, Inc. Tax services offered through MasterPlan Tax Services, Inc. The aforementioned are affiliated companies.

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