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Market Commentary – December 2018

Greetings! We hope this email finds you well and looking forward to the holidays. For many of us in the Pacific Northwest, autumn can be a favorite time of year as we transition from the hot, dry end of summer to shorter days, cooler nights, and plenty of color in the trees. Hiking trails tend to be a little less busy (although this is still the Northwest, so that’s relative!) and the fall harvest brings the fruit of the summer season. It’s also a time when daily routines change for those with children, as the structured schedule of the school year replaces the fun chaos of summer.

While autumn can bring back many happy memories, it can be the most unpredictable season in the Northwest. Heavy rain, windstorms, and power outages are all common. A hike can turn into a miserable experience for the unprepared.  That structured routine with children can be a headache for parents trying to juggle soccer practices, ballet lessons, and numerous other activities.

We believe the key to managing this unpredictable season, similar to the investment markets, is with proper planning and coordination. October brought turbulent global markets along with our changing weather. No matter what your personal risk tolerance (which is not a static thing, by the way), most people don’t enjoy watching their hard-earned savings gyrate like a yo-yo.

During periods like this, here are some important things to remember:

  • We continue to believe in the phrase “time in the market” rather than “timing the market”.
  • Volatility in the stock and bond markets is normal. Don’t let recent years with low-volatility lull you into thinking otherwise.
  • Long-term returns in the stock market are “earned” by clients not being swayed into poor decisions during volatile periods like this.
  • Our financial plans do NOT assume that your investments will increase in a nice, orderly fashion. Volatility is an inevitable part of the market cycle, which is why we use Monte Carlo analysis to stress-test your retirement model.

For clients with a decade or more to go before retirement, a market decline provides an opportunity to build wealth as you make regular purchases at lower prices. Think of a market downturn as a giant sale on good quality assets.

For our clients who have reached financial independence (or are very close), periods like this can be a good reminder of why we recommend a 2-3 year cash reserve as you transition into retirement. Having cash on hand to weather market storms has helped many of our retired clients “sleep at night” during past downturns.

Regardless of your stage in life, our recommendation is to STAY THE COURSE and don’t let short-term gyrations derail your long-term financial plan.

Everyone’s situation is unique, so if the recent market performance has you on edge, we’re happy to set up a time to review your plan and your investments with you. If our unbiased advice is needed, please let us know.

Market Commentary – December 20182019-01-21T18:32:39+00:00

October 2017 – Recommendations for Identity and Credit Protection


In light of the recent data breach at Equifax, we would like to share with you some of the information we have gathered to help protect yourself and your family from credit and identity theft. The decision of which lines of defense to take in preventing identity theft is a personal one, and will depend on your individual situation. There is no one right action to take. We’ve divided the lines of defense into two categories – preventive and detective. Preventive measures are designed to prevent credit and identity theft from occurring, whereas detective measures will inform you after the theft/fraud has happened. The lines of defense listed below are not an exhaustive list of precautions you can take. Visit www.usa.gov/identity-theft for other helpful tips and information on preventing various types of identity theft.

Preventive Measures

  • Credit Freeze: This is considered the most extreme, but likely the most effective, measure to prevent identity thieves from opening a new credit card or other line of credit on your credit file. Note that a credit freeze does not protect your existing accounts from fraudulent activity. A credit freeze restricts access to your credit history, without which most creditors won’t open a new account. A credit freeze does not impact your credit score. The downsides to a credit freeze are primarily cost and inconvenience. It may cost up to $20 to both “freeze” and “unfreeze” your credit, depending on the state and the credit bureau. You must freeze your credit with each of the credit bureaus individually. In addition, unfreezing your credit when you need it is not instantaneous, and could take up to a few days. It also requires that you remember or have access to the pin that was established when you originally froze your credit.
  • 90 Day Fraud Alert: This free service warns lenders that you may have been a victim of fraud, and asks them to take extra precautions, such as contacting you, before granting a new line of credit in your name. This initial alert lasts for only 90 days. If you sign up for this free service with any of the 3 primary credit bureaus, they will automatically notify the other credit bureaus. Should you become a victim of fraud, with evidence such as a police report, you can request a seven year fraud alert be placed on your credit file. A fraud alert does not impact your credit score.
  • Opt-out of Pre-approved Credit Card offers: One way to reduce the chances of an identity thief from opening a new credit card in your name (and to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive), is to “opt-out” of the list that credit bureaus provide to credit card and insurance businesses. Visit optoutprescreen.com and follow the instructions if you would like to take this preventive measure and be permanently removed from these mailing lists. This precaution does not impact your credit score.
  • Protect your Passwords: Another preventive measure you can take is to protect your passwords to all accounts in order to prevent thieves from making fraudulent transactions on your existing accounts. Use a secure password manager app on your mobile phone or your desktop/laptop computer, or save your passwords in a password-protected Excel spreadsheet. A few popular password manager apps that use cloud technology include LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password. Other apps such as KeePass, RoboForm and Password Safe use your harddrive for securely storing your password data.

Detective Measures

  • Monitor your Credit Reports: On an annual basis, request your free credit report from each of the four credit bureaus to review for any unexpected activity such as new credit cards or other lines of credit opened in your name that were not authorized by you. This detective measure will make you aware of fraud after it has occurred, although not necessarily in a timely manner, depending on the timing of your report monitoring.
  • Subscribe to a Credit Monitoring Service: The credit bureaus offer monitoring services that will notify you as soon as any changes have occurred on your credit file. Credit monitoring will not prevent you from being targeted by identity thieves, but it can help mitigate the damage by being notified of the fraud in a timely manner.
    • Experian CreditWorks: $24.99 per month (checks your Experian, TransUnion and Equifax credit reports each day, and notifies you when key changes are detected).
    • TransUnion: $19.99 per month
    • Equifax TrustedID Premier: Free for the first year of service.
  • Monitor your credit card/bank statements: An easy detective measure is to get in the habit of regularly monitoring transactions on your credit and bank statements, such as your debit and credit cards, and checking and savings, for unexpected or suspicious activity. This exercise could be two-fold, as you can also track your level of personal spending, an exercise that we recommend most clients do as part of their financial planning.

If you would like to contact us regarding this topic, or set up a meeting with your financial planner, please email: info@goddardfinancialplanning.com

All the best,

Your Team at Goddard Financial Planning

603 Financial, Inc. dba Goddard Financial Planning
1200 Westlake Avenue North / Suite #603
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 217 – 2583

October 2017 – Recommendations for Identity and Credit Protection2018-03-28T18:06:26+00:00

John Goddard’s Blog – May 11, 2016

I’ve been retired for a bit more than a year now. I’m stunned to write this. Where did the time go? Time moves at the same pace, of course, but it seems to be zipping by faster now than in earlier stages of my life. I think becoming more sensitive to time goes along with nearing 70 and appreciating how precious each day has become. So, what have I done with my time since I moved out of my office at Goddard Financial Planning (Blue Canoe) at the end of February in 2015?

First, there’s the time I devoted to my “loves.” I love the freedom that retirement has provided. Each day is all mine! I love having lunch with my wife Sandy. After 47 years, we still have an awful lot to communicate and share. I love walking a few miles with our dog Lucy every day. Being outside is a tonic. I love hour-long phone calls with my children and grandchildren. I have time for real conversations and not just the usual family updates. I love the chance to learn about things like photography and fishing that up to now I had a lot more interest in than I had time to practice.

Along with these everyday pleasures I dedicated a lot of time to two major endeavors. The first was the New Bethlehem Project (NBP). Organized by volunteers within Holy Family Parish in Kirkland, NBP committed to becoming a driving force for the development of an Eastside day center and a 12-month emergency shelter for families dealing with homelessness. Beyond a winter shelter open from October to April, there were no resources for families on the Eastside living in their cars or on the streets. NBP spent a year analyzing the problem, studying other shelters and day centers, and winning the support of key players like Catholic Community Services and the City of Kirkland. A critical step was establishing a partnership with Salt House, a Lutheran congregation, also in Kirkland, that agreed to convert the basement of their church into the day center. NBP raised $500,000 to modify the space and pay for its operating expenses. Families that are homeless on the Eastside will therefore soon have a place to rest, eat, shower, store some belongings, and get professional help. By the end of the year, NBP should also be able to extend the availability of the night-time emergency shelter to a year-round resource for these families as well.

My other big undertaking has been relocating to Colorado Springs, CO. Sandy and I lived in Seattle for 25 years and expected to remain there after I retired. Sure, I would like more sun but winter vacations to sunny spots could help with that. So why did we move? In Kirkland we lived a few minutes from Kris, the oldest of our four children and Mike, her husband, and their four children. Our lives intertwined with theirs seamlessly. We treasured them and all the activities we shared. Imagine the look on our faces when Kris and Mike told us they were moving to Colorado Springs last fall! They decided to move for better weather, less traffic and a lower cost of living. We faced a dilemma: stay in Seattle or move somewhere else. We decided living close to one of our kids’ families was our top priority. Okay, but where? We have one in London, another in Minneapolis, a third in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California, and now Kris and Mike in Colorado Springs. Our initial thought was to move to the Central Coast. Beautiful area with a perfect climate. But, we discovered, a cost-of-living that might make even Seattle blush. The decision eventually brought the financial planner out in me and it did not take too many calculations to conclude that a move to Colorado Springs would not only keep us near our family but would also be far better for our retirement plan. So, we now reside at 6,000 feet with Cheyenne Mountain and Pikes Peak keeping an eye on us. We miss Seattle, of course, but we view the change as a new adventure and are eagerly exploring all the beauty of a different but equally amazing part of the country.

Sandy and I continue to follow our financial plan. I just turned 69 and have another year to go to start collecting my Social Security retirement benefits. Our investments are primarily in low-cost index funds organized into a portfolio that has a target stock allocation of 50%. I rebalance it annually but make no other changes. Sound familiar? The case for market-tracking index funds becomes stronger each year. A recent example is Warren Buffet’s comments on the foolishness of paying investment advisors to manage assets with the expectation that they will be able to beat the market. Evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.

What’s coming up? Lot of visitors. We’re looking forward to most of our family coming to see us and spending some time meandering among the mountains. More photography. More fishing. More hiking. More work on homelessness. More gardening. And more writing.

John Goddard’s Blog – May 11, 20162017-06-30T18:40:24+00:00

Beware of unsolicited offers to buy your home ‘cash, as is’

By Connie Thompson

Komo News

“If you own a home in a popular community, buyers could be about to make you a cash offer- even if you have no plans to sell. The offers may sound good, but there can be a major downside. Demand for homes is so high- some buyers don’t wait for houses to go on the market. If your home fits what they’re looking for- you get what’s know as a cold call offer by card or letter.

Jim LaCour has been getting offers from strangers who want to buy his view home in Seattle.

“Initially I thought that’s probably a good idea,” said LaCour. “You know, someone is interested in our home and wanted to pay cash for it. I didn’t think about the fact that someone might not give you what it’s worth.”

Certified Financial Planner Nancy Dienes urges caution. She says unsolicited cash offers are typically far below market value.

“When they offer you these cash offers, they’re generally at a discount,” said Dienes, Principal at Blue Canoe Financial Planning. “Some of the information I’ve read indicates that a cash offer is going to be somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of what the fair market value would be.”

Remember, a lot of these solicitations are from investors looking to turn a profit. Don’t make their gain be at your expense. Before you say yes, do your “home” work. Compare online value estimates for your address. Have a real estate office do a value analysis. Or consider paying for an independent appraisal.”

Read Full Story on KomoNews.com

Beware of unsolicited offers to buy your home ‘cash, as is’2016-04-13T23:39:35+00:00

John Goddard’s first retirement report.

Here’s my first official report on retirement: it’s great. I talked about retirement every day for years with planning clients who needed help in figuring out how to become financially prepared themselves. I knew I was ready to follow my own advice when the desire to shift into a slower gear, to find time to nurture whatever creative impulses I might have, became insistent. I was pretty confident about our finances because, of course, we had a detailed plan. For example, I recently filed and suspended my Social Security retirement benefit so that my wife Sandy could begin to receive her spousal benefit when she turned 66.

I stopped going to the office in late February and, after a short celebratory trip to San Diego that Sandy put together, I started waking up in the morning with no job to do for the first time since I delivered The Cleveland Plain Dealer as a boy. I knew there could be some surprises – not having a real job after 50 years is a big change — but I didn’t expect the transition to be difficult. And it hasn’t been. My luck continued: I had great jobs and never bemoaned one day of going to work; and, so far, I have not regretted a single day of retirement, either.

I decided to enter this new stage slowly, to let the time that I used to spend at work gradually fill up rather than scheduling myself to the hilt right away just so that I could stay busy. I returned to my natural circadian body clock of staying up late and getting up late. Despite being a “morning person” since college graduation, this change took about a day to feel right! I’ve spent some time helping a group in our church improve the lot of homeless families by developing a plan to create a year-round emergency shelter and a day center on the Eastside. Sandy and I travelled, savoring the freedom of road trips – no airport security lines, no middle seats, no rigid schedule, lots of gorgeous scenery and picnics in mountains and next to rivers — to places in the west that we’d always wanted to visit but never had the time: the Palouse, the Lake Quinault and Sol Duc regions of Olympic National Park, and most of the national and state parks in Utah. We also spent a glorious week meandering along the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys. I’ve had much more time to spend with my family and friends. I especially appreciate all the time now available to just hang out, talking with Sandy and with my daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren who live nearby. Time zips by when I’m taking, organizing and editing photographs; when I make entries in a journal or write essays about some of my experiences; when I’m in the dirt enhancing our garden. Eliminating wheat and most processed foods while walking 2 ½ to 3 miles a day helped me lose about 30 pounds and provided some relief for my beleaguered knees.

You’re probably asking, “Are there any negatives, John? This sounds too perfect.” Fair question. Days with nothing scheduled still make me jumpy. Some old, life-long questions creep up. What do I have to show for the time that passed? Was I being productive? How will I know if I made a difference? Will anyone care what I did? I realize that these are not the really important issues now but they still pop into my head at times anyway. Apparently for me, at least, it’s still too soon for these former yardsticks to fade completely into irrelevance. I’m still working on it. I’ll let you know how I’m progressing.

John Goddard’s first retirement report.2017-06-23T22:11:02+00:00