Tips for Financial Success in 2024

Last year started with consensus expectations of a recession driven by rising interest rates. Despite tightened monetary policy, a banking crisis, and geopolitical tumult, the US economy grew above potential and equity markets boomed. This year is surprising many analysts, too: early expectations of interest-rate cuts have been dashed as stubborn inflation led to Fed caution. The question of rate cuts in 2024 is shifting from when to if.

With equity valuations still well-above year-ago levels, cash yields north of five percent, and inflation still elevated, many investors are reasonably wondering whether it makes sense to get invested rather than waiting out a potential storm. What is an investor to do?

How to Nurture Your Nest Egg to Meet Your Financial Goals 

Despite the risks in the current economic outlook, investors with a long-time horizon have investment opportunities to contemplate if they consider jumping in. Between healthy corporate earnings and the resiliency in stocks despite the challenges, opportunities exist in the market.

For example, higher yields enable investors to lock in income streams that they expect for future needs, while reducing the downside of phasing in gradually to equities. Bursts of volatility have presented opportunities for enhanced outperformance of tax-managed strategies and—to use structured notes—derivative vehicles that facilitate elevated returns accompanied with downside protection.

Areas of market distress can also be interesting if a good active manager is employed both in public and private markets. While pockets of private credit and commercial real estate are facing major headwinds, they also present an opportunity.

In recent years, we’ve observed a massive expansion of private capital markets, both in credit and equity. Accredited investors who can afford to give up liquidity on a portion of their balance sheet could consider an allocation to private investments, including private equity, venture capital, real assets, and private credit.

Pullbacks and periods of uncertainty are normal, but in the end, staying invested in a diversified, goals- aligned portfolio has stood the test of time.

Geoffrey Walsh, Head of Pittsburgh for J.P. Morgan Private Bank


Can I Still Make Money With My Emergency Fund?

Everyone has heard the rule of thumb for emergency funds – keep three to six months’ worth of expenses set aside. While it is important to keep this money easily accessible and readily available, the right type of account can grow your emergency fund, even if you are no longer contributing.

The first option is a high-yield savings account. This is different from a traditional savings account due to a higher interest rate, meaning your money will grow with compound interest over time. Traditional savings accounts typically earn 0.01% annually, whereas current high yield savings accounts can earn over 4.0% annually.

A money market fund is another liquid investment that offers a higher yield than holding cash. While these are still considered investments, they offer lower risk when compared to a mutual fund tracking stocks. Current money market funds can earn over 4.0% annually.

Emily M. Marzina, CFP® VP, Bill Few Associates, Inc. 


How Can I More Reliably Secure My Retirement Savings and Ensure I am Getting a Good Rate in This Uncertain Interest Rate Environment?

In today’s uncertain economic climate, individuals are increasingly seeking reliable avenues to secure their financial future. Fixed Index Annuities (FIA) are designed to provide both stability and higher growth potential. GBU Life’s FIA products, for example, present a compelling opportunity for individuals seeking a balance of security, growth potential, and financial flexibility. By basing earnings off well-established indices, it allows for higher growth potential than a traditional fixed annuity but still offers principal protection when markets trend downward. Additionally, tax advantages, lifetime income options and a shorter 4-year contract term make these FIA products well-positioned to help investors navigate the complexities of today’s financial landscape and achieve their long-term financial goals.

Lesley Mann CMO, GBU Life 


A woman hugs a man with a pair of keys in her hand and a smile on her face.

Should I Wait Until Rates Go Down to Buy or Build a Home?

With higher mortgage rates and homes selling quickly, the housing market can be overwhelming. But, you don’t need to wait to buy or build! Remember that rates dropping may result in housing prices increasing further. If rates are the only thing holding you back from buying your dream house in the right neighborhood, take that next step.
Plus, consider the saying “You date the rate and marry the house.” Even if you buy or build your forever home with a mortgage rate higher than you’d like, you can refinance at a better rate in the future once rates go down.

Dollar Bank


What is the Big Deal with AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to become the most transformative technological innovation in history. Organizations worldwide are actively exploring AI’s potential to drive business value, streamline operations, and catalyze innovation across diverse sectors. AI empowers workers to achieve unprecedented levels of productivity by automating routine tasks and expediting data analysis, thereby affording them more time for strategic thinking, creative endeavors, and product/service development.

Both public and private enterprises are embracing AI as early adopters, spanning industries such as IT, cybersecurity, marketing, sales, customer service, and research & development. Diversifying investments across leading technology, 3D chip manufacturers, e-commerce, consumer devices, and internet search companies allows investors to tap into AI growth potential.

By leveraging AI technologies, organizations can unlock opportunities to streamline operations, reduce costs, and enhance worker productivity. Moreover, AI enables highly skilled individuals to channel their expertise into driving innovation, developing advanced products, and refining processes. The future holds immense promise for those who embrace AI, ushering in a new era of efficiency, creativity, and opportunity.

Schenley Capital, Inc.


An older man signs a paper while his wife holds his arm with encouragement.

Do I Really Need a Will?

Only if you have assets and you want a say in who gets them. How would your spouse feel about splitting your assets with your parents? Are you comfortable with your sibling getting everything? It all depends on your family tree.

We always tell our clients: you don’t get a will for after you die. After all, you’ll be dead. You get a will for the peace of mind it brings you now.

Ryan D. Very, Esq. Very Law 


What is Your Strategy for Managing Taxes Within My Investment Portfolio – Are There Tax Benefits From Building a Financial Plan?

In managing taxes within your investment portfolio, the key strategy is to optimize tax efficiency. This involves implementing a financial plan for every client at YTS. Additionally, we consider asset location, placing tax-efficient investments in taxable accounts and tax-inefficient ones in tax-advantaged accounts. We also implement tax-loss harvesting to offset capital gains and maximize deductions. Furthermore, we diversify your investments to minimize tax impact during withdrawals. A well-built financial plan not only aims for investment growth but also strategically mitigates tax liabilities, enhancing overall returns. By proactively addressing taxes, we can preserve more of your wealth and achieve long-term financial goals effectively.

YTS Wealth


How Do You Handle Market Volatility and Economic Downturns?

Past stock market performance indicates there will be a bear market, on average, every five years. No one can predict when the market will rise or fall. This is why I encourage my clients to strategically diversify their savings and accumulate wealth using tools that provide options to pull from in different market environments. That is the difference between an investment portfolio and a financial plan. This approach toward distribution planning can give my clients the choice to spend confidently regardless of whether the market is up or down. That helps creates financial freedom.

All investments carry some level of risk including the potential loss of all money invested. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss.

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) (life and disability Insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries, including Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (investment brokerage services), a registered investment adviser, broker-dealer, and member of FINRA (finra.org) and SIPC (sipc.org)NM and its subsidiaries are in Milwaukee, WI.

Matthew Reitler, Northwestern Mutual 

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