BBQin' on Memorial Day!

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Post by: Valley Financial Group

There's no better way to spend a summer day outdoors than with your family and nothing better to do outdoors with family and friends then to have a barbecue and it's no better time to barbecue then on Memorial Day Weekend. We will remember and celebrate the brave men and women who have passed in the service of our country, all the while thanking them for the freedom we have which they have fought to protect.

So with the unofficial beginning of the summer only a few short days away, how are you planning to serve up the season's best burgers, steaks, chicken or weird tofu thing, if you're into that? The answer, besides, you know, good food, delicious recipes, and the ability to cook, is of course with the best BBQin' equipment on the market. AN excellent follow up question to that would obviously be "well, just what is that best BBQin' equipment on the market?" If you have read these blogs before, you may not be so shocked to learn that I know the perfect equipment to grill up your favorite eats, and that I have compiled a list as well. I really like to mix it up, I know. So lets go piece by piece through the necessities of barbecue to get you and/or your family grill master hooked up to make this summer the most delicious one yet.

The beginning and the end, the alpha and omega of all barbecues is the grill. Without a grill, you're all just sitting there eating baked beans and potatoes. A solid meal, for sure, but that is no barbecue. The best grill to get for your buck is the Weber kettle, a smaller gas grill that can grill, roast and smoke all for an incredibly low price compared to other grills with similar features. However, if you don't have a gas grill, there can be nothing more frustrating than trying to light that charcoal or wood grill, especially with a lot of empty stomachs waiting. To the rescue comes the Looftlighter Electric Firestarter, which can light any grill in under 60 seconds, so you can the party started and fight off the dreaded 1000th asking of "is that food done yet?".

So now you have the grill, you've got it lit, but nothing to flip the meat with. Not if the 18 inch stainless steel BBQ spatula with LED light from BBQguys.com has anything to say about it. It as everything you need to flip meat, including an LED light, which only the true experts know is absolutely essential to the complex functions of a spatula. Anything without the LED light has been rendered obsolete. So now, finally, you have completed the perfect barbecue. The grill is off, the food is gone, and just as you go to shut the top of your grill you notice. The unthinkable has happened. You have forgotten to clean your grill top, but your belly is full from the multitudes of delicious food which you had spent hours preparing for your countless guests and family members. You look for someone, anyone, to beg to help you, but everyone else is either fallen into a meat induced slumber, or has sprinted the scene of the crime, knowing full well that there was kitchen cleaning to be done. Have no fear, you and you're full belly can sit and relax while the Grillbot cleans for you. It is essentially a roomba for your grill top. Unneccessary? Perhaps, but it was far too cool to not include on this list. So there you have it, you are all set for the perfect barbecue this weekend.

Have a Happy Memorial Day weekend, enjoy the good times with friends and family, and don't forget to keep in mind the real reason we celebrate every last Monday in May. 

Happy Mother's Day!

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Post by: Valley Financial Group

There are countless holidays, large and small, throughout the course of the calendar year, and although there are the big ones like Thanksgiving, New Year's, and Fourth of July  that will make their arguments, perhaps no holiday is more important than this Sunday, Mother's Day. Firstly, and obviously, this holiday is huge because we, believe it or not, celebrate our moms, grandmoms, or any other maternal figures in our lives, who we know would do anything for their children and their families. We really cannot thank them enough for everything they have done and will do for us. We love you. Secondly, if your family is anything like mine, if you don't do Mother's Day right you may be in immediate and real danger. So with our love for (and fear of) the amazing mothers, grandmothers, and any other amazing women in our lives, here's a list of cool things to do on Mother's Day to show your appreciation and gratitude while also keeping you safe for at least another 12 months.

1) Breakfast in Bed

Ol' Reliable. As cliche as this one may seem, its a pretty awesome way to start the day, and its definitely one that mom will appreciate. There's a reason popularized ideas like this one exist. Its because it works. Only way this isn't a great start to a great day is if you absolutely destroy the food. Just swallow your pride, look up cooking videos on the internet, you're gonna be fine.

2) Take her to a movie

or the theater or a baseball game or anything else you know she will enjoy and appreciate. This one is pretty open ended as no two moms are alike, but you get the general idea I think. 

3) Schedule a Massage or Spa Day for her

"I just want to spend time with the family today, nothing special." The classic mom line for birthdays and Mother's day, but don't be fooled. As much as you love your mom and she loves you, every mom needs a little bit of time to herself now and again, so maybe give her some relaxing alone time by setting up an appointment. Obviously, every mom really does want to be with the family on this day, so make sure to hustle her out of her relaxing massage hour afterwards and bring her back into the craziness of your family.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms, Grandmoms, Aunts and other loving, caring, and extraordinary women in all of our lives. We really, really could not survive without you. Thank you so much for everything you do. We love you. 

 

The Kentucky Derby and Horsepower

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Post by: Valley Financial Group

It’s a common theme in these blogs, but it never gets any less shocking just how fast the years fly. On that note, its already the first week of May, which of course brings us to the 144th Kentucky Derby. Whether you can't get enough horse racing or you only watch for two minutes every first Saturday in May, almost everybody tunes in to the Kentucky Derby. This year's favorite is Justify, who has opened at 3-1 at the beginning of this week.

While we’re on the topic of horsepower, let’s talk about a dilemma which is far more important to the vast majority of us (excluding the occasional horse trainer or jockey which I assume read this blog), the always looming choice for each and every car buyer, to buy or to lease. Like any tough decision, there are pros and cons to both sides. Leasing, for example, allows the customer to trade up every few years to always have the latest technology and styles, while also saving money, particularly in the short run, over paying full price to buy a car. Also, never having to worry about selling your trade-in and having your car most likely covered under warranty for the entire time you’re driving it definitely doesn't hurt either. However, there are a few downsides to leasing, from mileage restrictions and wear and tear fees to the excellent credit that is necessary to even get the lease to begin with.

On the flip side, buying a car has its benefits in the opposites of the cons previously listed. Meaning, lower or no monthly payments, no mileage restrictions or wear fees as well as a much more lenient credit restriction. Whiles the negatives include more expensive costs, particularly up front, and the unpredictable possibility of your vehicle depreciating in value. At the end of the day, there is no right answer, and what you should do relies completely on your current credit and financial situation. So be sure to have all the information you need to make an intelligent decision when car buying. Or you could win big betting the long shot on Saturday. After all, it might land you a nice new ride.

First Quarter in Review

Post by: Valley Financial Group

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We hope you are doing well. It’s that time of the year again:

•     for IRS worriers: tax season

•     for basketball enthusiasts: March Madness

•     for those of you that are done with this horrible winter: Spring!

Also, it is the end of the 1st quarter and time for you to receive your quarterly financial statement. For many of us, the financial markets for the first three months of 2018 have seemed maddening. Here are some of the interesting or “oh no!” topics you have may have read about, watched on the news, or even discussed with family and friends.

1.   North Korea

2.   Rising interest rates

3.   Tariffs

4.   Oval Office adultery

We have received many calls and emails from our clients concerned that all of these news items/problems/whatever you want to call them are going to have a lasting negative impact on their portfolios, which could potentially blow up their retirement (no pun attended).

Well, let’s take a look.

If you close your eyes and think about what is going on in the world, ask yourself these questions:

1.   Is this the first conflict between North Korea and The United States?

The answer is no. There was the Korean War and since 1985 many failed Nuclear Treaties. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/12/north-korea-united-states-a-history/

2.   Has the Fed ever raised interest rates?

The answer is yes. In the 1950s, The Central Bank began to finally raise rates slowly after the Great Depression and they raised rates 21 times in the 1970s. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/10/interest-rate-rise-federal-reserve-growth- crash-richard-sylla

3.   Has the United States ever been in a trade war or imposed tariffs?

The answer is yes. There have been many tariffs through the years. For History Buffs, the 1930’s Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act comes to mind. Also, President Bush in 2002 tried to implemented his own tariffs on steel to try to protect American Companies.

http://fortune.com/2018/03/21/us-not-winning-trade-wars/

4.   Has a president ever had an extra-marital affair?

Unfortunately, yes. According to the New York Times, this has happened 14 times.

https://www.nytimes.com/1998/01/25/us/president-under-fire-history-14-presidents-have- been-talk-pillow.html

There is a famous quote by Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it sure does rhyme.”

How does this relate to financial markets?

The economy, the financial markets, and most likely your own portfolio have been through similar situations and unstable environments before. This noise can have a short-term impact on your portfolio, but it will have a major long-term impact on your portfolio if you allow it to change your investment behavior.

Consider this stat from JP Morgan:

From 1998 – 2017, the S&P 500 returned 7.2%, while the average investor had a return of 2.6%.

Why the discrepancy in return? Emotional reactions to the Noise and Headline Risk are the likely culprit. Markets are noisy and largely unpredictable, and the only way to operate successfully is to avoid being fooled by the messiness. The way we do that at Valley Financial Group is to build globally diversified portfolios that contain both fixed income and equities. This allows us to advise you to control your emotions during periods of volatility in the markets.

We are not sure if the markets are going up or down tomorrow or the next day and we definitely do not know what is going to come out of the Oval Office, but we do know according to the behavioral finance expert, C. Thomas Howard, 55/65/75: the stock market produces a positive return in 55% of days, 65% of months, and 75% of years. Our most successful clients tend to measure their portfolios in years, not days, and months.

Disclosures:

The S&P 500 Index is an unmanaged index of 500 common stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. Performance of an index is not illustrative of any particular investment and performance figures quoted are historical. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be relied upon by the readers as research or investment advice nor should it be construed as a recommendation to hold, purchase or sell a security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Investments will fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than when originally invested.

https://www.jpmorganfunds.com/cm/Satellite?pagename=jpmfVanityWrapper&UserFriendlyURL=browseslides&slide_num=1&src=mobile slide#64                                                                                                  

 

 

How many games will the Phillies win?

Post by: Valley Financial Group

It's a great day for a ball game, Let's play two! - Ernie Banks

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It hasn't really even sunk into completely as of yet, but as of Thursday, March 29, Major League Baseball, and with it our own Philadelphia Phillies, will be back in action. No matter where you're from or who your team is, each year Opening Day shines as symbol of hope for baseball fans everywhere. For just a few short days, 30 baseball clubs from across the country are in contention. It doesn't matter who you're opening day starting pitcher is or who you gained or lost during the winter months, that first pitch symbolizes the singular hope of each and every fan watching; "This could be it. This could be the year." We just saw a magical run that most thought to be impossible, a Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl victory, and while I don't believe this is going to be the year for our beloved Fightin' Phils, I think it is clear to all of Philly that they are trending in the right direction. With big time free agent acquisitions like powerful switch hitter Carlos Santana and former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, the Phillies are starting to combine their young, budding talents with seasoned veterans with very recent Postseason and World Series experience.

Other bright spots to look for as the season progresses is rookie shortstop J.P. Crawford, who will look to see if he can cement himself as the Major League shortstop in Philly for the at least the foreseeable future, as well as second baseman Scott Kingery, who just recently a six year contract extension and will hopefully make his Major League debut sometimes in early to mid-summer. With the two young guns hopefully anchoring the middle infield for years to come, coupled with the aforementioned Santana at first and the inconsistent but talents Maikel Franco at third, the infield has a chance to produce at a high level this year. In the outfield, Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr will return coming off good seasons last year, but the obvious star will be Rhys Hoskins in his second year in the show. He shone bright in his limited time up with the Phils last year, with 18 home runs in just 50 games played last year. If he is able to avoid the sophomore slump that is so common in a game like baseball, Hoskins has a chance to do some truly special things as this team continues to grow and strengthen around him.

Will they win at all when all is send and done come early November 2018? Sadly, the answer is probably not, but for the first time in long time, I can truly say that I believe that they will compete this year. Maybe they have a year that no one expects and sneak into the second wild card slot. Maybe they won't. Either way, the hope is there as spring, in the baseball fan's mind, officially arrives this Thursday at 3 when the Phillies take on the Braves at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, and, whether it be for a few weeks, months, or the whole year, the Phillies compete for a chance to once again play in the Postseason. Happy spring to all, and go Fightin' Phils.