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"Your Money, Your Values" Newsletter Archive

Here are past issues of my monthly newsletter. Simply click on the name of the month to download a pdf.

If you have questions on any of this material, or have suggestions for topics I should cover in future issues, please let me know.

If you'd like to book an appointment with me, click here.

Thanks!

Mike (MWapner@BlueLakeWealth.com)

April 2024 (download pdf)

  • Is it Time to Buy Bonds? - Our current position in the interest rate cycle presents an opportunity to consider switching from cash to bonds.
  • Sustainable Investing is Not Dead - Headlines question the health of ESG but the numbers show Sustainable Investing is still very relevant.
  • "Next Year" is Here! (Baseball is Back) - Enjoying Spring Training and the start of the MLB season. (Go Os!)

March 2024 (download pdf)

February 2024 (download pdf)

  • Do You Have a Financial Advisor or Just an Investment Manager? - A Financial Advisor will link your financial goals to your broader life visions.
  • Women Empowerment Funds - Certain mutual funds and ETFs focus on companies that prioritize women's leadership and advance gender equality.
  • Do You Have a Budget for Valentine's Day? - Some people feel they need to spend more on Valentine's Day than they can afford.

January 2024 (download pdf)

  • How Should I Invest for 2024? - How will big questions about the markets and the economy impact investments this year?
  • California Leading in Climate Risk Disclosure - Recent bills require certain companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and other climate-related financial risks.
  • How do I Get Rid of an Earworm? - Some tips for getting that song out of your head.

December 2023 (download pdf)

  • Financial Health – More than Just Wealth - The overall well-being of an individual’s or family’s financial situation.
  • Sustainable Investing is not “Woke” - ESG-type considerations enable investors to integrate material, relevant and useful sustainability factors into their policies, processes and decision-making.

November 2023 (download pdf)

  • 7 More Things to Think About at Year-End - More topics that are not as directly linked to income taxes.
  • What’s Up (Actually Down) with Clean Energy Stocks? - Higher interest rates have created a challenging environment for these capital-intensive businesses.
  • Giving Thanks – Gratitude? - Some science behind the health benefits of gratitude.

October 2023 (download pdf)

  • 7 Financial Topics to Think About at Year-End - It’s a good time for some planning regarding your income tax liability for 2023 and future years.
  • What's in a Fund Name? Combating “Greenwashing” - The SEC updated its Names Rule, which helps ensure that a fund's name accurately reflects the fund’s investments and risks.
  • Personal Stuff – Proud Dad Time! - An update on my two amazing daughters: a Data Scientist with the Orioles and a chemical engineering student heading to Boeing after graduation.

September 2023 (download pdf)

  • Who Should be My Executor? - Some characteristics you should seek.
  • "ESG" - A Problematic Acronym - "ESG" is not well defined and is now politically charged. Focus on the concepts, not the terminology.
  • I Love Maps! - A bit about my enthusiasm for maps and a couple of map-related places worth visiting.

August 2023 (download pdf)

  • Saving for College: 529s and More - There are several savings programs that can help.
  • An "Anti-ESG" Investing Approach? - Some people believe “progressive” sensibilities have no place in the business world.
  • Have You Attempted a Family Reunion? - A family reunion can be a very rewarding activity, but can take a lot of effort to pull off.

July 2023 (download pdf)

  • Which Investments are Best for Me? - What is right for different people will vary with their specific situation. Some of the key factors you should consider.
  • Will Sustainable Investing Cost Me Money? - Sustainable Investing can deliver financial returns that are competitive with more traditional investment approaches.
  • Kids off to College? What's a Parent to Do? - Some tips for navigating this transition.

June 2023 (download pdf)

  • What Should I Know About Saving for Retirement? - Start by thinking about your goals and your resources.
  • How "Green" are the Green Funds (Europe)? - Regulators are pushing back on fund manager greenwashing.
  • Who Can I Connect You With? Introducing "Mikey's List" - What needs taking care of in your business or personal life? What could you use help with? What would you like to learn more about?

May 2023 (download pdf)

  • 12 Reasons to Work with a Financial Advisor - Everything starts with your goals -- what do you really want to achieve in life?
  • Bio-Fuels for Aviation in Europe - The European Union announced an agreement to increase the use of sustainable fuels in aviation..
  • No Mow May - Create a more sustainable and wildlife-friendly environment by allowing native plants to grow and bloom, providing crucial habitats and food sources for pollinators.

April 2023 (download pdf)

  • Should I be Concerned About My Money in the Bank? - Probably not -- explaining FDIC insurance.
  • Positive Changes Due to ESG - Some benefits that companies and the broader society have already achieved.
  • A Genealogy Update - What I've been up to and recommendations for a book and a TV show.

March 2023 (download pdf)

  • Why Should I Care About Diversification? - Diversification helps moderate risk and reduce the volatility you experience.
  • Intro to Sustainable Investing - Part VIII: Organizations - Some of the many organizations that are working to advance Sustainable Investing.
  • How Are Income Taxes Like Trees? - The second best time to start Tax Planning is now.

February 2023 (download pdf)

  • What Should I Know About Secure 2.0? - Congress recently passed a lot of enhancements to retirement savings plans like 401(k)s.
  • Intro to Sustainable Investing - Part VII: Fixed Income - You can also align your fixed income investments (bonds, etc.) with issues you care about.
  • Readers are Leaders: Get to the Next Level with Clever Girl Finance by Bola Sokunbi
    • Ditch Debt, Save Money and Build Real Wealth
    • Learn How Investing Works, Grow Your Money

January 2023 (download pdf)

  • Another Money Conversation: Your Money Mindset - It's very important to understand how you, and the people close to you, think about money.
  • Intro to Sustainable Investing - Part VI: "Engagement" - Investors can choose to engage with companies to influence their behavior.
  • Help for the Young 'Uns - How can you, or someone in your network, help a young person just starting out in the business world?

December 2022 (download pdf)

  • Have That Conversation with Your Family - Families, especially parents and their adult children, should share information about their estate planning and general financial situations.
  • Intro to Sustainable Investing - Part V: "Thematic" Strategies - Thematic investments target ideas, personal values, or trends that don't fit into existing industry classifications.
  • A Nonprofit to Know: Alliance for the Great Lakes - A nonpartisan nonprofit working to protect the fresh, clean, and natural waters of the Great Lakes.

November 2022 (download pdf)

  • Year-End Topics to Think About - Check your beneficiaries, optimize your tax liability, and more.
  • Intro to Sustainable Investing - Part IV: "Impact" Strategies - The "Impact" box in the Five Box Model represents strategies where values are primary and the investment includes an explicit non-financial goal.
  • Lists! - Remembering The Book of Lists and some of my personal lists.

October 2022 (download pdf)

  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are Triple Tax Free! - If your cash flow allows, HSAs can serve as excellent retirement accounts.
  • Intro to Sustainable Investing - Part III: "SRI" Strategies - The "SRI" box in the Five Box Model represents strategies where values are primary and there could be a sacrifice of some financial return. The common element of these strategies is use of a negative screen to exclude certain companies or industries.
  • The Value of Music - Some artists are cashing in big by selling their catalogs.

September 2022 (download pdf)

  • Should I Be Concerned About Capital Gains Distributions? - Be careful about buying mutual funds near year-end. You might be subject to tax on gains you didn't earn.
  • Intro to Sustainable Investing - Part II: "ESG" Strategies - The "ESG" box in the Five Box Model represents strategies where financial return is the primary goal, but factors beyond traditional financial measures are considered when evaluating companies.

August 2022 (download pdf)

  • More Thoughts on Long-Term Investing - The numbers show that stocks come back strong after even the worst quarters in the markets.
  • Intro to Sustainable Investing - Part I - The Five Box Model -- a framework for understanding different sustainable investing strategies.

July 2022 (download pdf)

  • What is a Roth (and Why Should I Care)? - The basics on the differences between Traditional and Roth IRAs.
  • Back to Basics: What is ESG, etc. Investing? - Surveys say a lot of people who would be interested in investing according to their values don't understand how they would do that. Over the next few months I'll cover some of the basics.
  • Get Rid of Those Training Wheels! - Don't use training wheels to teach kids how to ride a bike.

June 2022 (download pdf)

  • Should I Sell? Should I Buy? Help! - Don't let recent market volatility cause panic if you're investing for the long term.
  • Elon Musk Says ESG is a Scam - But Musk ignores the fact that there is no single "ESG investing strategy." Different strategies involve different tradeoffs.
  • Presidential Order on Digital Assets - President Biden signed an Executive Order outlining a national policy for digital assets.

May 2022 (download pdf)

  • Possible Enhancements to Your 401(k) - The "Secure Act 2.0" could include some important changes for retirement plans.
  • European Sustainability Disclosure Rules - Highlights of rules already in effect in Europe.
  • The Myth of Multi-Tasking - You may not be as efficient as you think.

April 2022 (download pdf)

  • 6 Reasons to Consider a Roth Conversion - Is a Roth Conversion right for you? Now? Later? It's all about taxes.
  • SEC Proposes Climate Disclosure Rules - Under these rules, publicly traded companies would
    need to provide certain climate-related disclosures.
  • A Nonprofit to Know: PCs for People - The organization refurbishes donated PCs and distributes them to low-income individuals.

March 2022 (download pdf)

  • Four Simple (?) Steps for Building Wealth - Yes, it's simple. No, it's not necessarily easy.
  • A Course on Sustainable Investing for Beginners - A self-paced course from US SIF that also provides lots of great references.
  • Let's Talk About Money - Some resources to teach people in your family about personal finance.

February 2022 (download pdf)

  • Wouldn't It Be Great To Have a Personal CFO? - The many benefits of having a personal CFO.
  • A Framework for Understanding Values-Aligned Investing - Understand the concepts behind the different approaches in an environment where terminology isn't well defined.
  • Readers are Leaders: Introduction to Investing
    • Investing for Beginners: Steps to financial freedom by Giovanni Rigters
    • Midlife Investing Strategies: A Comprehensive Guide to Investing in Your 40s by Quinton David

January 2022 (download pdf)

  • Five Reasons to Rebalance Your Portfolio - Rebalancing is a key to disciplined investing.
  • What is Impact Investing? "An investment strategy that aims to generate specific beneficial social or environmental effects in addition to financial gains."
  • Your Family Tree - Into networking? Your most personal network can teach you a lot about where you're from, and you can meet very interesting people along the way.

December 2021 (download pdf)

  • Special Deduction for Charitable Giving - People who don't itemize can still deduct $300 ($600 for married filing jointly) of cash charitable contributions for 2021.
  • Check Out iBonds! Inflation-indexed savings bonds might be a great place to park some cash these days.
  • The "S" in ESG - Employee Wellbeing - Companies are starting to explicitly consider the business risks of not paying attention to employee well-being.

November 2021 (download pdf)

  • End of Year Financial Review - The end of the year is a good time to consider these financial matters.
  • ESG: Standards and Disclosure - There's a demand for disclosure standards. A number of organizations are working on this.
  • The Story of Stuff Project - Check out this nonprofit that promotes ways to better manage our global stuff and hopefully produce less of it.

October 2021 (download pdf)

  • Why Should I Care About My Credit Score? Pay attention to this grown up version of "your permanent record."
  • How "Green" Are Your Indexed ESG Funds? The priority for these funds could be matching the performance of a "regular" index, not maximizing their ESG values.
  • National Parks Conservation Association - A nonprofit that helps protect "America's best idea."

September 2021 (download pdf)

  • What Should I Do with My Old 401(k)? You have four basic options. Which is best for you will depend on a few factors.
  • G Is For Governance: Fighting Corruption - A company’s “costs of doing business” related to bribery and corruption, and the associated risks of getting caught, may be a significant factor in projecting the company’s future profitability.
  • Readers are Leaders: Behavioral Investing
    • The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How not to be your own worst enemy by James Montier

August 2021 (download pdf)

  • Should I Use Target Date Funds? These "set it and forget it" investments can be a great option, but there are some things you should check first.
  • ESG Fixed Income: Sustainability-Linked Bonds - This new type of bond lets companies pay less interest if they achieve sustainability targets.
  • Faith in Place: An Environmental Nonprofit - The mission of this interfaith nonprofit is to empower people of all faiths to be leaders in caring for the Earth.

July 2021 (download pdf)

  • What Are Important Financial Planning Questions?- Whether you go through a formal Financial Planning process or are just trying to think ahead, there are key questions you should consider.
  • Big Oil's Watershed Movement - "Green" Directors elected to Exxon-Mobil's Board - How mutual fund managers vote your shares can have a major impact!
  • Readers are Leaders: The Compound Effect
    • The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success" by Darren Hardy

June 2021 (download pdf)

  • Why a Trust? Why a Trustee? - Dan Wlodek of Bank Financial describes basic types of trusts and potential benefits of using a professional trustee.
  • Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk - President Biden's Order instructed government agencies to address risks to the financial stability of the government and the country.
  • Readers are Leaders: Start with Why
    • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

May 2021 (download pdf)

  • How Can I Pay Less Taxes? - Tax Planning is key to Financial Planning. Some considerations to optimize taxation over the long term.
  • Shareholder Engagement: Proxy Voting - An update on how proxy voting is influencing companies around environmental and social issues.
  • Readers are Leaders: No Excuses!
    • No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy

April 2021 (download pdf)

  • What Can I Do About Low Interest Rates? - Some options, at various risk levels, for income in a low interest rate environment.
  • The New Administration and Sustainable Investing - Will actions by the Biden Administration have a long term impact on stock prices in sectors such as Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicles?

March 2021 (download pdf)

  • Your Emergency Fund - Why and how much?
  • ESG: "G" is for "Governance" - Governance policies, such as regarding board and management diversity, will be at the core of how a company performs over time.
  • Market Mania - Be cautious with "meme" stocks.

February 2021 (download pdf)

  • Personal Finance Updates - How might certain items in last year's stimulus bills affect you?
  • How Green / Socially Responsible is My Investment? - Some resources to better understand how companies and funds are performing.
  • Readers are Leaders: Success
    • 100 Things Successful People Do: Little exercises for successful living by Nigel Cumberland

January 2021 (download pdf)

  • Financial Resolutions - What are your financial goals for 2021?
  • Be Part of the Solution - How you invest can help you be part of the solution for environmental and social issues you care about.
  • Readers are Leaders: Listening
    • Listen!: The Art of Effective Communication from Dale Carnegie & Associates

December 2020 (download pdf)

  • Estate Planning - Make things easier for the ones you love in case something happens to you.
  • ESG Thematic: Water - You can invest in companies developing critical water-related technologies.
  • Financial Literacy Education - CARE is a nonprofit that teaches high school students and other groups about the benefits of personal financial management and the consequences of credit abuse.

November 2020 (download pdf)

  • Year-End Financial Planning
  • ESG is NOT Feel-Good Investing for Tree Huggers - Some reasons ESG analysis can help indicate long-term performance.
  • Readers are Leaders: Go-Givers Get More
    • The Go-Giver, A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann
    • Go-Givers Sell More by Bob Burg and John David Mann

October 2020 (download pdf)

  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) - Triple tax free investing.
  • ESG Choices - Big oil companies are shifting strategies to renewable energy.
  • Readers are Leaders: Negotiation
    • Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss

September 2020 (download pdf)

  • Mutual Fund Names - A fund name doesn't always clearly describe a fund's style and objective.
  • ESG During a Pandemic - Luxury or Necessity? - Will investors abandon ESG when times get tough? We haven't seen it so far during 2020.
  • Financial Planning Reduces Financial Uncertainty - Reduce your stress level and increase your confidence about the future.

August 2020 (download pdf)

  • Retirement Plan Rollovers - Pros and cons of the primary options.
  • Green, Social and Sustainability Bonds - ESG for fixed income.
  • Genealogy - Why it's my favorite hobby and how I got started.

July 2020 (download pdf)

  • 529 Plans - A great vehicle for college savings.
  • ESG: "S" is for "Social" - There's been increasing interest in how companies perform around social issues.
  • Readers are Leaders: Referrals
    • Endless Referrals – Network Your Everyday Contacts into Sales by Bob Burg
    • The Referral of a Lifetime by Tim Templeton

June 2020 (download pdf)

  • What is a Financial Plan and Why Have One? - 90% of people who have a financial plan feel greater peace of mind during times of financial uncertainty.
  • Does ESG Investing Pay, or Cost? - ESG investors aren't settling for lower financial returns.
  • Readers are Leaders
    • Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker

May 2020 (download pdf)

  • The CARES Act
  • Roth IRAs - Roths could be good for people in low tax brackets, including young people.
  • The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals
  • Readers are Leaders
    • The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

April 2020 (download pdf)

  • The Financial Markets - March was a sobering month.
  • Environmentally Friendly and Socially Responsible Investing - Defining SRI, ESG and Impact investing.
  • Readers are Leaders: Basic Personal Finance
    • The Index Card by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack
    • The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason

March 2020 (download pdf)

  • Environmentally Friendly and Socially Responsible - My connection and why it's important to me.
  • The SECURE Act - Key provisions related to personal finance.
  • Readers are Leaders
    • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie