There are as many theories on how to ride out this economic slowdown as there are pundits and politicians willing to share them. To sort out fact from fiction, we talked to local financial experts about how to navigate the rough waters ahead.
Nick Fafoglia, senior vice president of The Commerce Trust Company, says he expects the economy to continue to be slow for the foreseeable future. “The sub-prime mess has affected other parts of the economy,” says Fafoglia. “It has led to an excess supply of unsold homes in the housing market and lenders reluctant to make loans to borrowers. These issues will take time to get over.” But the news isn’t all bad, he assures. “Serious rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and tax rebate packages for consumers will help address some of the overall economic concerns.”
But what do you do in the meantime? Fafoglia says as in any economic climate, it’s important to touch base with your financial adviser to make sure your plan is sound and that you will continue to move toward your overall financial goals. “It’s not the time to do anything rash,” he says.
Depending on your current portofolio, your stage in life and your financial goals, there are a number of things Fafoglia recommends doing. “We stress quality. High-quality U.S. Treasury bonds have been good performers and can be a safe investment. Blue chip stocks have also performed a bit better in the market,” he says. If you’re tempted by housing stocks, which are currently priced to sell, Fafoglia suggests holding off. “It’s still a little early. There are still a lot of unsold homes out there, and it might be best to hold off before investing in the stock of builders and developers.”
Stocks that are of interest to Fafoglia are the growth stocks. “Those include tech companies, healthcare companies and consumer discretionary stocks (such as retail companies),” he says. Smaller companies and international stocks in emerging markets are also worth looking into, he says. “Smaller companies tend to be the first to recover, and the international stocks in emerging markets can be a sound investment.”
But overall, it’s important to stay in tune with your finances, Fafoglia says. “Everyone’s scenario is different, so there isn’t one piece of advice that works, but taking the time to look at your situation and discuss the options already puts you a step ahead.”
Matthew Wagner, president of Parkside Financial Bank and Trust, agrees. “The more insight and clarity you have on your financial picture, the easier it is to plan and capitalize on opportunities in times like these,” he says. Wagner adds that now is the time to set up an appointment for financial guidance. “It’s a good time to reflect. People tend to be driven by emotions like fear or greed, and it helps to have someone looking out for your financial best interest.”
Jeff Robinson, vice president at Parkside Financial Bank and Trust, agrees with his colleague. “Fear can paralyze your ability to do anything. Sometimes people would rather put off important decisions until the last minute, when the chance of making a poor decision is greater,” says Robinson. Their overall advice? “Rely on your plan,” advises Robinson. “If done correctly, a good, solid financial plan anticipates ups and downs in the economy. The U.S. economy is enormous and on solid footing historically. These problems are cyclical and short term.” SFiller May 9
is the season for garage sales, when one person’s trash is another’s treasure. These sales are an excellent way to remove clutter from your home and also help the environment by eliminatis the is the season for garage sales, when one person’s trash is another’s treasure. These sales are an excellent way to remove clutter from your home and also help the environment by eliminating excess trash from landfills. This year, if you’re preparing for such a sale, invest a little more time cleaning and repairing your items. This will increase interest from potential buyers, and your profits! Weiman Products (www.weiman.com) offers the following tips to help clean common garage sale items and hopefully put a few more pennies in your pocket.
Wash or dry clean all clothing before the sale to make sure it’s clean and spot-free. Also, clothing is much easier to look through when it’s on hangers.
Check wood furniture for any scratches that may have occurred during storage. If scratches are noticeable, select a wax crayon or paste shoe polish that matches the color of your wood and apply it to the scratch to tint the scratch. Then buff the area with a clean, soft cloth. Deep scratches will require professional repair.
White rings on furniture can end a sale quickly. To remove them, use Weiman Lemon Polish with steel wool and rub the stained area to remove the mark. Always rub in the same direction as the wood grain. For gray or dark rings, contact a professional wood refinisher.
For plastic toys, wash with hot, soapy water and a sponge. Then, rinse thoroughly and dry. When washing stuffed animals, put each toy in a pillowcase and tie a knot at the top before placing it in the washing machine.
To remove tarnish build-up from silver, use Wright’s Silver Cream or Wright’s Anti-Tarnish Silver Polish (ranked a ‘Consumer Reports Best Buy’) after a light gold film has formed on silver. Discontinue cleaning silver once it looks shiny, even if the cloth keeps getting blackish. There will always be a slight residue on the cloth.
Use a high-quality leather cleaner/conditioner rich in natural oils to keep leather clean and supple. But test the product on a discrete area prior to use. Also, avoid using cleaning fluid, shoe cream, saddle soap and mink oil, all of which contain ingredients that can damage leather.
For additional expert surface care tips in and around the home, visit www.weiman.com/tips.