Category: Investments/Savings

Key Points to Help you Feel more at Ease with this Nutty Volatility

Epic volatility is the norm? Check out this list from the LPL group. First point they make: This. Is. Normal. I love it. Good stuff. The message is this: Hang in there, you’ll be rewarded. And finally, to make you feel better, you’re not alone…

LPL’s article started off with a reassuring message in these times of nutty volatility. It said, “Although market uncertainty might make you feel jittery, keeping your investment cool is critical to your financial success.” I totally agree. No doubt, it’s difficult watching your cherished portfolio bob up and down. Before you drive yourself batty, consider these six things before, as LPL puts it, “acting out of emotion”:

1. Again, remember “This. Is. Normal.”

It goes with the territory and that is, ‘volatility is part of investing’. Yep, when stock prices steadily rise with little movement, it’s easier said than done, but don’t forget the fact that volatility is incredibly common. It’s the norm, not the exception.

The past teaches. Always remember what happened in the past. If you’re old enough, you’ll recall the early 2000’s ‘tech bust’, then again in 2008 with the big boom. It happens. That’s why they call it, ‘cyclical’. The market dips like clockwork almost annually. Don’t fret, and especially don’t freaking panic. Because, let’s face it, the ‘best part may be what happens after these dips’, says LPL. I agree.

Get this, research show that after a correction, the average returns exceed 23% over the next 12 months.1 Nice!

2. Patience, my friend. You’ll be (typically) rewarded.

LPL did a good job with their research. LPL states, “Investing in the stock market gives you a chance to profit from innovation, economic progress, and compound growth. But to get results, you need patience and time.” LPL went on to say, “On this note, it’s helpful to keep the market’s performance history top-of-mind:

Since 1990, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has achieved 9.5% annualized gains, including dividends. Even if you were to look at shorter time horizons since 1950, the S&P 500 has risen 83% of the time across a five-year horizon, 92% across 10-year periods, and 100% of all rolling 15-year periods.2

And while history can’t predict future performance, it can give you an idea of what could happen if you try to take a shortcut or “panic sell” when markets are fluctuating:

From 1990 to 2020, the S&P 500 Index’s annualized gain was 7.5% (excluding dividends), but the average equity investor’s return was only 2.9%.Why the 4.6% gap? Because when stock prices begin to fall, many investors given in to fear, which drives them to sell their investments – even though it may not be in their best interest.”

My fav investor, like millions of others’ is the ‘oracle of Omaha’, Warren Buffet. He once famously said, investing in the stock market is “a way for the impatient to transfer money to the patient.”4

3. Market timing doesn’t work

We’ve heard it over and over. But clients keep trying to outsmart the smart guys who do this for a living. Analysts and CFA’s keep telling us not to time the market, it could be a costly mistake. Do people listen? Of course, not. We’re human.

LPL says, “It’s impossible to predict when a stock or the market as a whole will peak or bottom, even if you’re an expert. In a market decline, if you sell in fear of losing more, you’ll then have to figure out when to jump back in, which is equally difficult. Plus you risk locking in your losses if you re-enter at the wrong time. For example, between 1990 and 2020, the biggest gains (and losses) in the market happened within days of each other, which means you didn’t have to be out of the market for long to miss out on the upswing.Because even in “bad” markets, there are a lot of good days, and you want to be “in” for those days.”

4. No Sweat, Opportunities abound

The creative analyticals tend to win at this game of looking at volatility from both buying and selling angles. LPL reminds us, “When stocks decline, you can “buy in” at a lower price and potentially make money when the market rights itself. When the decline is part of an overall cycle, this means stocks are trading below their intrinsic values, which means they offer an improved price-to-earnings ratio.”

5. LPL says, “There are ways to enjoy a smoother experience

Good ‘ol dollar-cost averaging(DCA). It’s simple and basic, but it works. DCA can help reduce the overall impact of price volatility and lower the cost per share of your investments. Forget about timing the market; trying to get in and out at the “right” time. Instead, dollar cost averaging can be a better strategy to help you avoid timing mistakes. Ultimately, it removes the dreaded, ’emotion’ from your decision-making process. DCA can help keep your long-term goals in mind.5

6. We’re all in it together. You’re not alone

As a final reminder, LPL tells us that, ‘in times of market volatility and economic uncertainty, remember that you’re not alone.’ Good advice for the wary. The best advice LPL had in their entire article was this: Consult your financial advisor for additional perspective and context, and review your investment strategy from a life-goals perspective to ensure you’re headed in the right direction to pursue your financial goals. As a fiduciary financial advisor, I commend LPL’s wisdom. Smart guys.

Source: LPL Research, Ned Davis Research, FactSet 4/29/22
Source: LPL Research, FactSet 4/29/22
Source: LPL Research, Bloomberg, DALBAR, ClearBridge Investments 6/30/21
Source: “Winning In The Market With The Patience Of The Wright Brothers And Warren Buffett,” Forbes, (January 2018).

This material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC.

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M. Garrett Wheeler


FANG Stock: Be Diligent

fangOut of curiosity I just Googled, “FANG Stock”. Here’s what I got: Diamondback Energy Inc. NASDAQ: FANG – Sep 6, 4:40 PM EDT. That is not what I was looking for. What I was actually in search of was more details on FANG, the acronym for Facebook Inc.,, Inc., Netflix, Inc. and Google (which is now Alphabet Inc.). Because these are top-performing technology stocks, they get a disproportionately large amount of the headlines when it comes to stocks. And that’s for good reason, what they have created is smack-dab-in-the-middle of pop culture. All four companies are disrupters. You could say they run our tech world. Of course there are other major players that I like (i.e. Cisco, etc.). But with my brother, Milton, introducing me to “Narcos,” on Netflix, FANG has been on my mind. That doesn’t mean you should go out and mortgage the house (or short the farm), but to me it’s worthwhile to look at, if you have an interest. And I’m curious.

The companies that make up FANG are popular for good reason. But what does analytics tell us about their past performance? Are they worthwhile investments? You bet they are and have been. Google it. How about moving forward? Your guess is as good as any. But before you pull the trigger, have a plan. Most new traders worry only about when to buy a stock. Experts tell us that we should have an exit strategy as well. That is, when you’ll sell. Investopedia says, “…while buying at the right price may ultimately determine the profit gained, selling at the right price guarantees the actual profit, if any.” (

Most recently (June 2016), headlines like, “US Equity Markets Plunge As ‘FANG’ Stocks Give Up 2016 Gains”, dominated. But today, other analysts are saying, “investors rushing into the safe haven of FANG stocks…all-time highs for Facebook and Amazon”. And course, no one person really knows what the future holds. So if you’re interested in dipping your toes into “FANG”, do your homework. That is, do your own due diligence, study it hard and go with what you know—not exactly like buying fine art, where some say one should buy what they enjoy looking at, aside from upside economic potential. The key to due diligence, I think, is the diligence part. You have to pay attention, be thorough and careful. And that takes time, interest and wherewithal. Right now, I plan to google and study Netflix. Because it’s been a stock that has been haunting me since I did not pull the trigger on a buy when Netflix shares hit a split-adjusted $2.56 per share during the crisis. And by the way, the stock has now risen 1,670 percent since. Ouch! But today Netflix is trading at a very high multiple and doesn’t generate positive cash flow. I think Netflix is good, yet it might be the least impressive FANG stock. As of today, Facebook and Alphabet seem most remarkable. So which FANG stock? Well, there are a lot of factors to consider, but for me the lower risk seems to be Google. But then again, you get to decide which FANG stock is worthy of your hard-earned dollars. Be diligent!

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Retirement Liquidity: The Mango Tree

My-sweet-mango-tree-MyanmarDon’t tie-up all of your assets, but don’t have them all liquid either…

Having your assets liquid may feel good because it’s accessible. But at the same time, let’s consider the big, longevity picture. We American’s are all living longer than ever. And when it comes to generating income during retirement, having your assets liquid at all times may actually increase the risk of your assets not lasting for your lifetime.

Your Retirement Mango Tree

Think of all of your assets as one mango tree with branches (your principal) producing enough mangos (income) you need to live comfortably during retirement. In the beginning, you may think there’s no harm chopping off a branch or two (liquidity) for firewood due to the overall size of the tree. But, when doing this you are “double counting” the asset for being equal to meeting two needs. The number of mangos produced would be lower and if you keep chopping off branches, there may come a point when your tree cannot produce enough mangos and cannot grow new branches, ultimately reducing the life of your tree. No more tree, no more mangos.

There are many decisions you will need to make in your life as you enter into retirement. One of the many financial decisions is what to do with the assets you had accumulated for retirement. Your paycheck is ending. It’s up to you to make a new one to last for your lifetime with your assets.

Retirement at Risk

After the market crash of 2008, percentage of American households who are “at risk” at age 65 increased to 51% (2009) from 43% (2004) according to the National Retirement Risk Index.1


Now, think of your assets as being multiple mango trees…

You fence off and give up your access (liquidity) to some trees so that these trees are only there to produce enough mangos to cover your necessary expenses. The remaining trees are for producing mangos and firewood for when you need it.

Under this approach, you have established sources for solely producing income and you also have sources for your liquidity needs.

Create one mango tree or multiple mango trees?

Your view about retirement should be long-term because it is unknown as to how long your retirement years will be; therefore, you should explore financial products that can provide income for your lifetime and that of your spouse’s lifetime. One of the main reasons that you save for retirement is to produce income (mangos) for your necessary expenditures, like paying your mortgage/rent, food and utilities, so you can live comfortably during these years. In addition, a portion of your income should be independent from and not reliant on market performance. Finishing confident is just as important as beginning confident.

Earlier the Better: Create Your Plan Today

Here are some action steps you can take today to better prepare for retirement:

  • Understand how your lifetime sources of income work, like Social Security, and explore possible ways to increase these sources.
  • Compare your retirement income with the total amount of your expenses — necessary expenses and comfort-living expenses — to see if you have a retirement income gap.
  • Purchase financial products that can provide guaranteed payments for life or for the life of the surviving spouse, and that can provide protection for unexpected events.
  • Follow a distribution/withdrawal plan by accessing pools of assets at certain points in time during retirement. This can help you lengthen the life of your assets, gain the potential benefit of compounding growth and systematically increase your retirement income when you need it most.
  • Work with a financial professional to fully explore your options for developing your income plan for retirement.

1The National Retirement Risk Index measures the amount of American households who are at risk of not being able to support their pre-retirement lifestyle during retirement. This index is calculated by The Center of Retirement Research at Boston College and the report can be found at®

Income Planning: Don’t Eat Your Seed Corn

Growing up on Maui, we drove by several acres of corn fields every day to get to school in town. I always wondered why they chose to grow corn amidst cane fields outside of Kihei. It turns out that the agricultural biotech industry, which includes seed corn research companies like the huge Monsanto Corporation, develop new varieties of corn on the Mainland in the summer and sent it to Maui for multiplication during our mild winter. That lets the seed companies bring new cultivars to market a season earlier. As a Maui boy, all I knew was that we never ate that corn. They were growing seed corn, and unbeknownst to us we were learning a valuable lesson in practical economics.

My dad once told me when I was younger that seed corn is what farmers need to plant now to get a crop to live on in the future. If you eat the seed corn today, it may be tasty and you may live well in the short-term, but you could have some major problems down the road. It’s the origin of an old country saying that’s full of wisdom: “Don’t eat your seed corn.”

The analogy applies to individuals and businesses. One of the purposes of strategic planning is to help ensure that businesses invest their capital for tomorrow. The same holds true for individuals and families, as it relates to retirement income planning. The more seeds you plant today, the better your chances will be of having enough in the future.

Some say it’s the main difference between the rich and poor in America—the ability to delay gratification in anticipation of greater rewards in the future. And because many Americans have been feeding at the trough—stuffing their faces with seed corn—now there’s nothing left.

This is where “retirement income planning” comes into play. If all you do is consume what has already been reaped from prior investments, eventually you will run out of funds. Of course, if you’re a “pensioner”—workers having traditional pension plans through their employers—this doesn’t apply to you as much. I’m directing this article toward those individuals who are relying on personal savings, IRA’s or 401(k) plans to fund their retirement.

It’s not an easy pill to swallow. After spending a career accumulating money for retirement, the idea of cashing in those investments to create income can bring on anxiety for many people. Their common fear is running out of money when they’re too old to do anything about it.

In fact, according to a new poll by Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, of people ages 44 to 75, more than three in five (61 percent) said they fear depleting their assets more than they fear dying.

Fortunately, there’s a financial tool that can help. To learn more about how it can boost your retirement security by transforming a portion of your savings into income that’s guaranteed for life, please feel free to contact me at

Why Many Millionaires Don’t Feel Rich

By Stephanie Christensen

The term “millionaire” once inferred that a person was part of society’s upper crust, able to enjoy luxuries most only dreamed of, including vacation properties and  early retirement. The Gilded Age of the 1980s was all about flaunting excess, as echoed in the movie “Wall Street” and television series like “Dallas” and “Dynasty.” Back then one was perceived to be “rich” if he or she had an income around $100,000, according to a USA Today article released on May 22, 1987. By 1989, American millionaires had become quite common: there were about 1.5 million of them. That number has boomed. As of 2009, there are 7.8 million millionaires living in the United States, according to Spectrem Group. (Making this dream come true takes work, but it’s well worth the effort. See 10 Steps To Retire A Millionaire.)

TUTORIAL: Retirement Planning

The Millionaire Outlook
However, being a millionaire today doesn’t get a person so far as it once did, and the millionaires themselves are painfully aware. Fidelity Investments recently released the findings of its Fidelity® Millionaire Outlook survey, which looks at “investing attitudes and behaviors of more than 1,000 millionaire households,” according to the Fidelity media release. This year’s study revealed that 42% of millionaires surveyed do not feel wealthy; 46% said the same thing in 2009.

Why are American millionaires lacking such self-confidence toward their own success? It may have something to do with relativity. In wealthy West Coast cities like San Francisco and Palo Alto, home to the mega rich like PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, being a millionaire isn’t enough to launch you into a life of luxury – or even make you stand out from the pack. In 2007, founder Gary Kremen, explained to the New York Times that “you’re nobody here at $10 million,” referring to the concentration of money in Silicon Valley.

Increased Cost of Living
In addition to the surrounding competition, the cost of living in millionaire-dense areas is enough to chip away at anyone’s net worth. The ACCRA Cost of Living Index, published by The Council for Community and Economic Research, lists cities in New York and California among the top 10 most expensive places a person can reside. Manhattan is the most expensive, indexing at 207.9.

Another reason millionaires might not feel so rich is that from a day to day standpoint, they’re not actually living much differently than the rest of us. Being coined a millionaire once led to the conclusion that one did a lot more play than work, a stigma that no longer applies to millionaires in 2011. According to Spectrem Group, the average United States millionaire is 62 years old. Just 1% of millionaires are under the age of 35, and 38% of millionaires are 65 and older. West Coast millionaires skew slightly older.

Further, a large number of individuals in the Mountain States and Texas never plan to retire, and millionaires in the Northeast and West Coast make up the largest percentage who don’t have plans to retire for at least 10 more years.

Living on Less
According to “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of American’s Wealthy” by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, frugal living may also contribute to the insecure self-perception millionaires have regarding their wealth. Their research found that the average millionaire lives on less than 7% of his or her wealth, wears inexpensive suits and drives American-made cars that are not the current year’s model. Throw the lagging housing market and volatile stock market into the mix, and it looks like millionaires may not be any better off than the rest of us when it comes to the ability to rest on our financial laurels.

Given all these factors, what will take millionaires to feel rich again? Those surveyed by Fidelity pinpointed $7.5 million as the investable asset level that would make them feel back on top. (Becoming a millionaire is not as hard as you might think – it just takes time. Check out 6 Simple Steps To $1 Million.)

And why pay attention to the millionaire “woe is me” findings? They could truly be the key to your own financial future. While millionaires’ confidence level in the economy is negative, their outlook for a recovery is at the highest level since 2006, the year Fidelity began keeping tabs on them. Of those surveyed, 43% said they plan to return to stock market investing within the next 12 months. In a Fidelity-released media statement Michael R. Durbin, president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services®, explained that  “millionaires’ outlook could be seen as a leading indicator of the direction of the economy, especially since the last time we conducted this survey in early 2009, they forecasted improvement in all aspects of the U.S. economy at the beginning of 2010.”

The Bottom Line
Whether you envy millionaires or shake your head in awe at their lack of financially secure feelings, you can stand to benefit from following their lead, whether you choose to get back into the market, scale back your spending, or continue to live just as you do. One day, you just might be a millionaire, too.

This article was posted on April 13, 2011 in the online magazine, Financial Edge, by

Not Suprisingly, Hard Times Are Tough On Relationships

Relationships really seem to suffer when the economy is in the tank. According to John Ingrisano, author of The Back to Basics Book of Money! A Couple´s Guide to Financial Peace,

“marriage is an economic partnership. Money may not be the sole factor in its success or failure, but it is one of the top three.”

So, when couples run into financial challenges, Ingrisano says that it can impact every other aspect of their relationship. “It can turn your life and your home into a domestic battleground.” What can you do?

Here are just some recommendations from Ingrisano, who is also director of the Family Finances Conference Center.

  1. Keep the channels of communication open. Talk about your fears and concerns. Exchange points of view.
  2. Share money decisions and responsibilities. Pay bills together. Discuss purchases. Most of all, discuss your options if finances become tight. Do you reduce spending (cancel a vacation, dine out less often, give up gym membership)? Take a second job? Sell assets? Map out a strategy for getting through this together … and do it together.
  3. Keep thinking long-term. Identify mutual goals … and put them in writing. Where would you both like to be one year, two years, and ten years from now? In a nicer home? With children who are debt–free college grads? Retired in comfort at age 60? If you have trouble reaching agreement, look for compromises.

At The Wheeler Group LLC, we believe that the best way for you to learn about life insurance and the other financial services products we offer is to consult one of our professionally trained, licensed agents. Simply call us at (808) 216-4147 or easily email: to request a no-obligation, no–cost consultation with us.

The Wheeler Group Participates in First-ever Personal Finance Expo in Honolulu


Over this past weekend, we at The Wheeler Group LLC participated in the first-ever Personal Finance Expo here in Honolulu. The nonprofit Hawaii Council on Economic Education and the Hawaii Event Group hosted this well-received event. The two-day expo took place on Aug. 15 and 16 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and featured more than 30 seminars and a variety of exhibitions from both private companies and the government. The goal of the expo was to educate people of all ages about topics such as debt management, investments, retirement plans, employment and entrepreneurship and even the basics of starting a new business.

titleIn my estimation, Kristine Castagnaro, and her team at The Hawai`i Council on Economic Education exceeded event expectations and did a wonderful job for bringing together participants and exhibitors as resource providers. We were fortunate to meet numerous people interested in learning more about our programs designed to help them with retirement accumulation–saving tax-deferred, as well as distribution planning through tax-advantaged programs. As we shared with visitors to our booth, we believe that annuities and insurance are the essential foundational elements of a diversified portfolio, and we believe in safety through guarantees and asset allocation.

What’s Worse? Paying Too Much or Too Little?

images As English author and art critic, John Ruskin, said so eloquently,

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little…”

Ruskin went on to say, “When you pay too much, you lose a little money, that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot—it can’t be done.” (Or as I recall my father stating, on more than one occasion, and as a matter of fact, “You get what you pay for in this world…” Simple, sage advice–the absolute very best kind!) Ruskin continued and summarized, “If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

And finally, along that same line of thought, Ruskin was quoted as saying, “It is not how much one makes but to what purpose one spends.”

How Does Your Bank Rate?


Of the military-specific organizations that we represent at The Wheeler Group LLC, Trans World Assurance (TWA) was founded by Charles P. Woodbury, a decorated WWII fighter pilot, whose background was in finance. In an April 5, 2009 article that appeared in the Pensacola News Journal, Carlton Proctor ( asked the question, How does your bank rate?

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