Conversations With My Wife

My wife is wicked smart. She earned her Ph.D. in Gerontology and Public Policy from the University of Southern California. She is a ferocious reader who tackles projects passionately and researches them intensely. Each night we take long walks to discuss various topics and try to solve the world’s problems – including the financial markets. About once or twice a year, however, she freaks out about our financial situation, which forces us to sit down to review our investments and financial plan, and when finished, she feels better.

Her concerns range from losing all our money to living too long. Our conversations run deep when we talk about our future. In addition to her fears, we explore charitable giving and retirement planning.

Let’s explore her main issues.

Will we lose all our money?

The stock market is down significantly; will we lose all our money? It’s a valid concern, especially since the Nasdaq is down 28% and long-term bonds have lost 32%. It has been a brutal year for all asset classes. She sees our account values and pays attention to the market, so she’s aware of the pain caused by falling prices. However, I tell her the odds of us losing all our money are less than zero. It’s impossible because we own stocks and bonds scattered worldwide, diversified by size, category, country, etc. On average, I tell her that stocks drop every four years or so, and I let her know I buy the dips and that the best time to buy stocks is when others are selling. And since the beginning of the year, we have continued to increase our allocation to equities because they will eventually recover. We’ve been married for thirty years, and during that time, the stock market has lost 50% of its value twice and suffered several corrections of 20% or more. Despite the downdrafts, stocks have risen more than 780% since our wedding anniversary, and I’m confident that the market will be considerably higher in another thirty years.

Will we run out of money?

My wife studied and taught gerontology, so she’s aware of longevity and aging. Our family tree also has a history of longevity, and she does not want to run out of money in retirement, which is another valid concern. One of the reasons we allocate more than 80% of our assets to stocks is to not run out of money when we are old and frail. Stocks are the best investment to combat inflation and longevity risk. I tell her I’m not worried about today’s stock market losses because we need our money to last another forty or fifty years. I don’t care that the market is down a few points this year because it will recover and eventually trade higher. Also, if we sell stocks today and buy bonds, we’ll lose money to inflation, a greater risk to our financial future than falling stocks.

What if you die early?

She is worried I might die early and leave her financially stranded. A few years ago, I wrote a love letter to my wife and daughter outlining the steps to take if I die early. The instructions are detailed, and I update them often. In addition to the love letter, we have adequate insurance and a family trust. I also have a succession plan for my business, so we’re covered on multiple fronts when I do pass away. More importantly, I’m going to heaven when I die, so she’ll always know where I hang out.

I treasure my wife and our long walks, and it’s an ideal time to connect and decompress while getting in 10,000 steps. I love our walk and talks because they get us out of the house and put us on neutral territory where all topics are fair game. We’ve solved many problems, but not all of them, so we will continue to walk because it is our most productive hour of the day.

Happy walking.

If you tell the truth, you won’t have to remember anything. ~ Mark Twain

November 18, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

Stay The Course

Stay the course is boring financial advice, and people hate it, especially when stocks fall. Doing nothing is challenging; it’s hard, and it feels like a cop-out. When stocks fall, clients want action; they want to rearrange the deck chairs and take control of the situation, but it could do more harm than good.

Most financial planners recommend a buy-and-hold strategy when managing money which is simple when stocks rise but challenging when they fall. It’s a popular recommendation because stocks rise about three-quarters of the time, and no one can time the market.

Pilots set their coordinates for their final destination and rarely diverge from their route unless necessary. They will change course to avoid storms or turbulence, but, for the most part, they keep the nose of their plane headed toward their target. This past summer, my wife and I drove thousands of miles visiting several national parks. Each day we’d set our GPS for the next park, and we did not deviate from the directions and arrived safely each time.  

I’ve gotten in trouble whenever I ignore a trail map while hiking, biking, or skiing. When my daughter was about ten, we went skiing at Crested Butte, and I decided to take her on an unmarked shortcut back to the ski lift. It did not go well. We got stuck in waist-deep powder and could not move. We had to forge our path; it took a long time before we could return to the trail. It was a scary ordeal.

A financial plan will help guide you to your destination by quantifying your goals, assessing your risk tolerance, and measuring your time horizon. It will lead you through a perilous market and treacherous economy. When markets are falling, and clients are worried about losing money, a financial plan can bring peace. The likely recommendation from the advisor is to remain calm and stay the course because of the plan.

Investors have liquidated nearly $100 billion from growth-equity mutual funds over the past year, likely transferring the money to a money market fund or savings account.[1] This strategy might be safe in the near term, but it could prove disastrous over time. The report ended on September 30, 2022, and since then, the Dow Jones has risen nearly 13%, its best monthly performance in more than 35 years! To get above-average returns, you need to stay in the market. As I’ve told clients, “If you’re not on the plane when it takes off, you’re not getting on.” Selling from a position of fear is not wise. If your plans change, then alter your investment strategy. However, if you don’t need your money and your goals remain intact, stay the course!

I recently met with an individual who is interviewing several financial advisors. He is looking for one who can trade the hottest and most popular sectors, in this case, energy and commodities. I informed him that we select a buy-and-hold portfolio based on his financial goals and do not trade sectors or chase securities. I then showed him a 10-year chart of how the Dow Jones Industrial Average destroyed commodities. He was not impressed and is convinced that there is an advisor out there somewhere who can time the market. I wished him well.

It’s a difficult market; returns stink, but stocks recover. Be patient, follow your plan, and stay the course.

What kind of man would live where there is no daring? I don’t believe in taking foolish chances, but nothing can be accomplished without taking any chance at all.” — Charles A. Lindbergh

October 28, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.


[1] YCHARTS Fund Flow Report – 9/30/2022

Return Expectations

Growing up, I was a picky eater and tried to limit my intake to peanut butter sandwiches, chips, and M&M’s. It worked for several years, but I needed to expand my palate as I grew older. My expectations for fruits and vegetables were low, but I began to appreciate more refined foods as I grew older.

Investment returns are abysmal this year as inflation rises to a 42 – year high. As inflation soars, so do interest rates forcing stocks and bonds to retreat. The S&P 500 is down 22.5%, its worst performance since the Great Recession in 2008, and investors expect further weakening.

Focusing on year-to-date returns is depressing, especially since stocks have fallen significantly. If we step back from the daily moves, we get a better picture of the long-term returns from stocks. Here is an extended view of S&P 500 returns.[1]

  • Three-Year Return: 24%
  • Five-Year Return: 44%
  • Ten-Year Return: 157%
  • Fifty-Year Return: 3,280%
  • Seventy-Year Return: 15,210%

Since 1926, the S&P 500 has generated an average annual return of 10.2%, long-term government bonds returned 5.3%, cash has gained 3.2%, and inflation averaged 3%. Let’s explore expected returns using historical data.

  • 100% stock allocation: If you allocate all your money to stocks, your expected return is 10.2%, and after subtracting inflation, your net return is 7.12% (10.2% – 3% = 7.2%).
  • 100% bond allocation: If you allocate all your money to bonds, your expected return is 5.3%, and after subtracting inflation, your net return is 2.3% (5.3% – 3% = 2.3%).
  • 100% cash allocation: If you allocate all your money to cash, your expected return is 3.2%, and after subtracting inflation, your net return is 0.2% (3.2% – 3% = 0.2%).

Allocating all your funds to one asset class does not make sense, so let’s explore a few asset allocation models using the same historical data.

  • 70% stocks and 30% bonds: The expected return is 8.73%, and the net return is 5.73% after inflation.
  • 60% stocks and 40% bonds: The expected return is 8.24%, and the net return is 5.24% after inflation.
  • 50% stocks and 50% bonds: The expected return is 7.75%, and the net return is 4.75% after inflation.
  • 40% stocks and 60% bonds: The expected return is 7.26%, and the net return is 4.26% after inflation.
  • 30% stocks and 70% bonds: The expected return is 6.77%, and the net return is 3.77% after inflation.

A diversified portfolio owns large, small, and international stocks, short, intermediate, and long-term bonds, and it may hold an alternative asset class like real estate. In a diversified portfolio, one investment is always down; if there isn’t, the portfolio is not diversified. We must apologize for at least one asset class that loses money each year. A typical Wall Street saying is, “Diversification means always having to say you’re sorry.”

Warren Buffett’s holding period is forever, and that’s why he is worth $100 billion. He does not get rattled when stocks fall and has said, “Be greedy when others are fearful.” When we build portfolios, we choose the most prolonged time horizon possible for our review to account for various economic and market cycles. Sometimes, the data goes back more than a hundred years, and we’re not concerned with daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly returns because we think generationally.

A financial plan is a vital component for successful investors, and it will quantify your goals and determine your asset allocation. During difficult economic times, we encourage our clients to follow their financial plans and not lose sight of their goals. If your financial plan is working, there is no need to abandon it or your investment portfolio.

Here are a few suggestions to help you with your investments.

  • Think generationally.
  • Expand your time horizon when reviewing your portfolio.
  • Follow your plan.
  • Rebalance your accounts.
  • Don’t panic.
  • Buy the dip.

As markets oscillate, focus on your financial goals because your future self will thank you.

What the hell is a gigawatt? ~ Marty McFly, Back To The Future

October 20, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.


[1] DFA Matrix Book and Returns Web

My Client Patty

I’ve worked with Patty (not her real name) for the past thirty years. She became a client when I worked for a large Wall Street firm, and in the early 1990s, we developed a rudimentary financial plan that’s still working today. Patty is now in her mid-nineties and does not worry about market corrections, drops, dips, pullbacks, or crashes, and she usually says, “We’ve seen this before, and we know the market will recover.”

Soon after completing her financial plan, she called to ask if she could afford a new car, and I told her she could buy two. Her financial plan allowed us to invest and spend courageously, regardless of economic conditions, and it still does.

Her plan has been in distribution mode from the beginning, and we have sent her more money than her account is currently worth because of the long-term trend of the stock market and the power of compounding interest. Her wisdom and foresight have kept her invested despite the generational headwinds.

A few years ago, she blessed her great-grandchildren by opening education accounts. She had more than enough money for the rest of her life, so she cracked open her nest egg to fund the accounts. Her great-grandchildren may attend college for free because of her generous gift.

Patty is strong in her faith and receives great joy from serving others with her time, talent, and treasure. She is an optimist with a positive outlook on life and does not let a bear market sour her mood.

After each portfolio review, I half-joking ask Patty if she could speak to all my clients because of her positive outlook. She won the race long ago, focuses on things she can control, and ignores the rest.

If Patty had panicked during the past three decades, she would not have the wealth she does today, nor could she have funded her great-grandchildren’s education accounts. She has been able to overcome her fear and focus on the future.

I have a hundred years of data for stocks, bonds, interest rates, inflation, etc., to try and convince clients that markets rebound, but Patty is living proof that if you follow your plan, think long-term, and have faith, things will turn out well.

If you want to succeed as an investor, follow Patty’s lead.

Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. ~ Warren Buffett

October 17, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

Seven Deadly Sins

Here are seven deadly sins to avoid as markets pirouette uncontrollably.

  1. Panic. If you panic and sell your stocks, you could permanently damage your long-term financial goals.
  2. Financial Plan. A financial plan provides benchmarks, goals, and targets to keep you focused on your future. If you don’t have one, you invest blindly and rely on luck.
  3. Cash Balance. A large cash balance provides comfort as stocks fall, but it’s a long-term drag on performance and loses its value to inflation over time.
  4. Rebalancing. Rebalancing reduces risk. If you don’t rebalance your account during market corrections, it may be too conservative when the recovery comes.
  5. Recovery. The stock market has always recovered. It may take days, weeks, months, or years to recover, but it always has rebounded. If you liquidate your portfolio, you may miss a powerful bounce.
  6. Spending and Savings. If you spend too much and save too little, you could impair your financial future. Spending and saving are the only things you can control; everything else is beyond your reach.
  7. Lack of Faith. I know God is in control, I believe in America, and I trust free markets. Faith is paramount.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

October 13, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

100 Years of Data           

When will the market recover? When will inflation fall? Will interest continue to rise? These are the three questions clients ask about the current state of the economy. These are reasonable questions, but I don’t have any idea. I do have, however, 100 years of data to support my thesis that stocks will eventually recover and inflation will subside.

Stocks

Since 1926, the S&P 500 has averaged 10.07% per year despite wars, recessions, corrections, and politicians. The market has risen approximately three-quarters of the time, or three out of every four years, which means one-quarter of the time it falls. The S&P 500 has a winning percentage of 750%. The New York Yankees are considered the best major league baseball team in history, winning 27 World Series titles, and their winning percentage is only 570%. If the market finishes in negative territory this year, it will be the thirteenth time in the last fifty years, in line with historical averages. Since 2015, the S&P 500 has lost money in four calendar years, including this year. In other words, it made money 73% of the time. I don’t know when the market will recover, but I like my odds.

Inflation

Inflation has averaged 3.26% dating back to 1914. In the past, an increase in inflation resulted from an event like WWI, WWII, or the Arab Oil Embargo. I believe the recent spike is due to COVID, supply chain issues, and our government’s response to the shutdown. After each spike in inflation, it started to decline almost as fast as it climbed. We are already seeing signs of inflation easing at the gas pump, shipping containers, and used-car prices.

Interest Rates

Interest rates continue to rise in response to rising inflation. The one-year US T-Bill yields 4.19%; last year, the yield was .09%, an increase of 4,555%. Since 1871, the average long-term interest rate has been 4.49%. And from 1871 to 1967, the rate mostly stayed below the average. It wasn’t until 1967 that rates climbed significantly, rising from 4.59% to a peak of 15.32% in 1981. After the peak, interest rates fell 93% from 1981 to 2020. In 1994, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates by 100% from 3% to 6% before lowering them in 1995, which started an epic run for stocks where they soared 226% from January 1995 to April 2000.

I believe in reversion to the mean, and I expect stocks to rise and inflation and interest rates to fall, but I don’t know when it will happen, but I have one hundred years of data on my side.

History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme. ~ Mark Twain

October 7, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor. Though the Yankees are the winningest team in MLB history, I expect the Dodgers to win this year’s world series.

Is Cash A Refuge?

Cash is a beneficiary when stocks fall, as investors look for peace in large cash balances, especially in a bear market.

The one-month US Treasury Bill is a proxy for cash and is considered the safest investment in the world. It currently yields 2.8%, close to its 96-year average annual return of 3%. The S&P 500 is down 20% this year, so a positive 3% return looks appealing.

Cash is a short-term haven if you need liquidity or safety, but it’s a poor investment. The current inflation rate is 8.25%, and the dollar will lose more than half its value over ten years; at the historical inflation rate, the dollar loses 60% of its purchasing power over thirty years. The S&P 500 has risen 807% over the past thirty years, averaging 7.6%. Cash always loses the inflation battle, but stocks can offer a hedge.

Another negative to a large cash balance is that it will never grow. Stocks are volatile but allow you to recoup your losses over time; cash won’t. Once you sell stocks and park the money in a money market fund, you never recover your losses. For example, if you bought the S&P 500 Index in January 2007, you lost half your investment by March 2009. If you panicked and sold, you never recouped your original investment, but if you remained invested, you could have earned 166%, more than doubling your money. In addition to the Great Recession, stocks fell 20% in 2018, lost 30% during COVID, and dropped 20% this year. Despite the market suffering four significant corrections in fifteen years, it more than doubled. The one-month T-Bill returned 0.80% per year before taxes and inflation during that same time frame.

I recently sold my daughter’s stock investments because she will buy a home next year. It was painful for me to sell because she had owned great companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Pepsi, and Tractor Supply. Amazon was her best-performing investment after purchasing it for $2.25 in 2005. She made 5,320% – not too shabby. However, it’s time to transfer one asset for another. In the meantime, I bought US T-Bills to protect her principal.

Cash is a valuable tool for emergency funds, short-term needs, and liquidity, but if your time horizon is longer than one year, consider buying and holding stocks. Selling stocks when they fall may impact your financial future. Instead of trading stocks on emotions, follow your financial plan and diversify your assets across stocks, bonds, and cash to remain invested.

In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

October 6, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

How To Survive A Stock Market Crash

The first rule for surviving a stock market crash is not to panic, and the second is not to sell on the day of the correction. Markets typically rebound after a sharp sell-off as investors hunt for bargains, so wait before liquidating your portfolio. For example, two days after the 1987 crash, the S&P 500 jumped 15%, and the Dow Jones climbed nearly 20% from December 1929 to March 1930, following Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929. You probably won’t recover all your losses, especially if you bought stocks the day before the correction, but it will help.

The S&P 500 has fallen 23% this year, and the NASDAQ is down 31%. Will markets fall another 25% or 30% from here? It could, I guess, but no one knows for sure, especially the experts. It would be one of the worst corrections in history if it did.

One popular money manager said, “We’re being forced to choose between two overpriced assets. That is not always a terrific choice to make because there is a third choice, and that is, don’t play the game and hold money in cash.” He also recommended investors buy commodities for the next ten or twenty years and encouraged investors to sit in cash until stocks fell. His comments occurred in 2010. How did his prediction turn out? Since 2010, the S&P 500 soared 204%, while commodities dropped 9%.[1]

A famous economist said, “US stocks will fall, and the government will nationalize more banks.” He predicted a correction in 2009 after The Great Recession, where stocks dropped 53%. The S&P 500 has climbed 343%, and the government has not nationalized more banks since his comments.[2]

A prominent author wrote books about a depression starting in 2009 and a stock market crash in 2011, and neither happened. The market climbed more than 300% since 2009 and rose 2.1% in 2011.[3]

The S&P 500 is up 151% this century despite numerous corrections. The index dropped 46% from 2000 to 2003, 53% from 2007 to 2009, 30% during COVID, and it’s currently down 23%. Most investors consider a correction or crash a one-day event like October 19, 1987, or October 29, 1929. However, stocks routinely fall 10% or 20%, and the market usually finishes in negative territory about once every four years. The last down year occurred in 2018 when the S&P 500 fell by 4.4%.[4]

In the twelve months preceding Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the S&P 500 soared 58%, and from September 1926 to August 1929, it generated an average annual return of 40.3%. The S&P 500 rose 167% during the preceding five years and was up 35% through August before Black Monday, October 19, 1987. After the correction, the S&P started to recover, and by January 1990, it erased all its losses by rising by 57%.[5] Before this correction, the market was up 81%. Despite a crash, you may still have significant capital gains if you have been a long-term investor. 

Corrections are scary, violent, and short-lived, so here are a few suggestions to help you survive a stock market crash.  

  • Buy US T-Bills. The one-year US T-Bill currently yields 4.2%, and it’s guaranteed if you hold until maturity.
  • Fortify your emergency fund. We recommend an emergency fund covering your household expenses for three to six months. If you’re concerned about a further drop in the market, extend the duration to twelve to eighteen months.
  • Diversify your assets. A balanced portfolio of stocks, bonds, and cash will soften the blow of a market drop. During market drops, bonds perform well. In 2008, long-term US government bonds rose 25.9%, while stocks dropped 45%.
  • Buy stocks. Buy stocks if your time horizon is three to five years or more. According to Dimensional Funds, the 5-year average cumulative return after a 20% decline is a 72% gain.
  • Rebalance your portfolio. If you rebalance your portfolio, you can buy investments at lower prices. Rebalancing your accounts keeps your risk level and asset allocation in check.
  • Eliminate margin. One way to lose more money than you intended is to use leverage. If you margin your securities, eliminate it. Margin will make a bad situation worse.
  • Think long-term. You may own your investments for years, maybe decades, before you need the money, so think generationally.
  • Markets recover. The stock market has always recovered! It may take time, but they eventually rebound as they did in 2020, 2018, 2008, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1990, 1981, 1977, 1974, 1973, 1969, 1966, 1962, 1957, 1953, 1946, 1941, and 1929.

Stock market corrections come and go, and the market is a long-term wealth creation machine occasionally interrupted by short-term pullbacks. Do not fear a downdraft. Instead, use it as an opportunity to buy excellent companies or funds at enhanced prices.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about fear. For me the crucial question is not how to climb without fear-that’s impossible- but how to deal with it when it creeps into your nerve endings. ~ Alex Honnold

September 26, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management, located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so you can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets. We have waived our financial planning fee for the remainder of the year, so your cost is $0.00.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.


[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2010/11/11/have-cash-wait-for-stocks-to-fall-jeremy-grantham.html, Michelle Lodge, November 11, 2010

[2] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nouriel-roubini-misses-another-prediction/, Larry Swedroe, May 20, 2011

[3] The Great Depression ahead, 2009 and the The Great Crash Ahead, 2011, both written by Harry Dent

[4] YCHARTS

[5] Dimensional Fund Advosrs Returns Web

Investing Is Easy

I recently read a post where an advisor said investing is easy, and he recommended buying two or three index funds and holding them forever. While I agree with his thesis, investing is challenging because it requires emotional fortitude, and that’s where we fail. To create generational wealth, you must buy and hold stocks through the down years, which is the hard part. Shelby Davis said, “You make most of your money in a bear market; you just don’t realize it at the time.”

Since 1926, the S&P 500 has generated an average annual return of 10%, but to receive this return, you had to start investing 96 years ago, allocate 100% of your assets to stocks, and never sell. I doubt this person exists. This year, US stocks are down 18.5%, international equities have fallen 23.2%, and global bonds have dropped 13%. A traditional 60% stock and 40% bond portfolio is down 14.5%. Long-term gains come from short-term pain because risk and reward are related.

Advisors compile raw data and say if you had bought XYZ fund ten years ago, you’d be up X% today, but the numbers do not capture the emotional component of the investor. Emotions make investing difficult. I can access hundreds of thousands of data points, but it doesn’t matter if a client is losing money and panicking. Their primary concern is getting out of the market, and they could care less about historical data.

From 1961 to 1979, inflation soared from 0.7% to 13.3%, an increase of 1,800%. During that time, the S&P 500 produced an annual return of 7.2%, international stocks averaged 9.8%, and long-term bonds gained 2.95% per year. US stocks lost 39% from 1973 to 1974, long-term bonds dropped 12.5% from 1968 to 1969, and international stocks fell 56% in 1975. A few years later, you met the stock market crash in 1987, the Gulf War in 1991, the Tech Wreck in 2000, the Great Recession in 2008, COVID in 2020, and the current correction. However, if you still own your investments from 1961, your equity returns averaged 10.36%, international stocks returned 10.8%, and long-term bonds produced an average annual gain of 6.52%. Small-cap stocks delivered an average annual return of 12.7%. Time in the market wins.

Picking a few funds or stocks is easy, but managing your emotions is challenging. We are our own worst enemies.

Here are a few suggestions to help you improve your investing program.

  • Create a financial plan. Your financial plan quantifies your goals and dreams and can keep you grounded when stocks and bonds fall. It can change your time horizon from days to decades and keep you focused on what is important to you and your family.
  • Ignore the media. Media outlets and social media sites constantly post news about markets, especially when falling. Markets in turmoil? If you want to buy or sell a stock because of a media story, wait a few days to ensure it is the correct decision. In addition, write down the reasons why you want to buy or sell an investment.  
  • Diversify your assets. A balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds, diversified across countries and sectors, and asset classes, allows you to weather financial storms better than concentrated portfolios.
  • Keep your costs low. Buying index funds with low fees and avoiding excessive trading can improve your long-term results.

Investing is difficult, but you can improve your odds by following your financial plan, buying low-cost index funds, and extending your time horizon.

We have met the enemy, and he is us. ~ Pogo

September 21, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

Buy T-Bills?

Stocks, bonds, and Bitcoin are down sharply this year as inflation and interest rates soar. The Federal Reserve continues to raise short-term interest rates to try and combat inflation, and, as a result, cash is an alternative to stocks and other growth-oriented assets. Why is it time to buy T-Bills? Let’s find out.

T-Bills are the safest investment in the world, guaranteed regardless of how much you invest. If you want safety and liquidity, look no further. The current rate for a one-month T-Bill is 2.56%, and if you extend the maturity to one year, it jumps to 4%, a sharp increase from the past couple of years. The 1-Year T-Bill has ranged from a high of 8.64% to a low of zero since 1990, and the 32-year average has been 2.85%.  

According to Barrons, Berkshire Hathaway, led by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, own more than $75 billion worth of T-Bills.[1] They use them to fund their corporate operations and make strategic acquisitions. In last year’s annual report,  Mr. Buffett had this to say about cash and other short-term investments, “Charlie and I have pledged that Berkshire (along with our subsidiaries other than BNSF and BHE) will always hold more than $30 billion of cash and equivalents. We want your company to be financially impregnable and never dependent on the kindness of strangers (or even that of friends). Both of us like to sleep soundly, and we want our creditors, insurance claimants, and you to do so as well.”

Here are a few reasons to buy T-Bills.

  1. T-Bills are an excellent choice if you’re anxious about rising interest rates. They are auctioned weekly with maturities of 4-, 8-, 13-, 26-, or 52 weeks. It’s possible to build a short-term ladder with bills expiring weekly, and if interest rates continue to rise, you can reinvest your proceeds at higher rates without suffering a principal loss.
  2. T-Bills can protect your account if you’re worried about a further stock market correction. Transferring 50% of your account to bonds from an all-equity portfolio can lower your risk by 37%. T-Bills are a hedge against falling stocks because they’re negatively correlated. The S&P 500 lost 8.25% in June, and T-Bills rose 0.06%, and during the initial phase of COVID, stocks fell 12.4%, and T-Bills jumped by 0.13%.[2]
  3. T-Bills can offer you more safety than your bank if you hold a significant cash position. T-Bills are guaranteed, regardless of the amount you buy. Rather than transferring money between several banks to qualify for FDIC insurance, you can purchase T-Bills.
  4. If you need your money in one year or less, T-Bills offer liquidity and safety not found in other investments, like stocks.

Treasury Direct (https://www.treasurydirect.gov/) is an excellent way to buy US Treasuries. After you create your account, you can participate in auctions or buy existing issues. You can also contact your advisor if you don’t want to buy them yourself.

T-Bills are bought for safety, not for growth. You must own stocks to create generational wealth and T-Bills to preserve it.

Bye, bye, and buy bonds.

“Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.” ~ Paul Samuelson

September 19, 2022

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.


[1] https://www.barrons.com/articles/warren-buffett-t-bills-ultra-safe-investment-51660580408, by Andrew Bary, August 16, 2022

[2] DFA Returns Web