Doyle Wealth Management - Making the Most of Your Wealth
Doyle Wealth Management is a privately owned, independent advisor unaffiliated with any bank or broker-dealer, making us free from the conflicts of interest in larger organizations. We work to provide personal solutions for the individuals and families who are our clients
You know those times when you have a million places to be and things to do, and then remember you still need to go grocery shopping? Grocery delivery services are becoming more popular for helping to save you time.
While there is value in getting groceries brought directly to your home without you needing to step foot inside the store, you aren’t necessarily going to save money. But in the case that you are in a pinch for time, or just don’t feel like stepping out to the store, I’ve listed below a cost and value comparison of three popular delivery options out there for your grocery needs.
How They Work
Regardless of which grocery delivery service you use, you can pretty much expect the same process for each one. You order your groceries online via either the website or by downloading the app. Then you search for the grocery item you want and add each item to your online shopping cart. Once you’ve completed your online shopping, a hired shopper goes to the store for you and gets your items, delivering them to your house.
Why use a grocery delivery service?
There are so many reasons why getting groceries delivered to your home might be appealing, here are a few:
You have a cold and can’t make it out to the store.
It’s raining and you don’t want to drive.
It’s too dark outside and you don’t want to drive.
You’re busy doing other things.
You’re tired from running around all day.
You don’t want to carry heavy groceries.
Cost Summary – Know Before You Go
There are two big factors worth knowing up front before using a grocery delivery service, so you can be sure you’re getting the full value out of them: The first is, you can almost always spend less money by doing the grocery shopping yourself at the store. Second, it’s a delivery service, which means you’ll probably want to tip the person delivering your groceries, although it isn’t necessarily required.
The bottom line when it comes to cost: While this isn’t the case for every grocery item with every delivery service listed below, in my research, I’ve found that grocery items online were sometimes 20 cents to 50 cents higher compared to the ones in the store. To limit surprises and help stick to your budget, expect to pay around 5% to 10% or more for your groceries using a delivery service (including tip). Again, this isn’t always the case, but it can be depending on which service you are using and what you are buying.
Despite the costs, there are still reasons (like the ones mentioned above) why people find having the option of using a delivery service so helpful.
So, considering ordering your groceries online? Below are three popular grocery delivery services available in the St. Petersburg, FL area.
Costs: $14 per month / $99 per year, Shipt requires membership fees to use its service, both of which can be canceled at any time. Delivery fees are $7, but this can be eliminated if you spend more than $35.
Grocery Stores Available through Shipt in St. Petersburg, FL: Publix, Winn-Dixie. Also includes CVS and Target (Shipt is owned by Target)
Delivery Time: Your groceries can be delivered as quickly as one-hour after you place your order.
Bonus Feature: You have the option to receive messages from the personal shopper if you’re using the app for Shipt. Let’s say the store is out of the cereal you selected, the shopper can send you a text message asking if another type of bread that is available would be alright. There’s also a feature to shop for savings, helping you to save cash.
Overview: I found Shipt’s website to be very easy to navigate and straightforward about the fees associated with the service.
Cost: Instacart has two service options: $3.99 delivery fee on $35 or more, plus an up to 5% service fee Or, you can opt-in for a subscription service with Instacart Express, which is $9.99 per month / $99 per year, with unlimited free grocery delivery on orders more than $35. They do mention adding a “busy pricing fee” on their website for times when delivery is in high-demand.
Grocery Stores Available through Instacart in St. Pete: Publix, Aldi, The Fresh Market, CVS, Sam’s Club.
Delivery Time: Within two-hours of ordering. Sometimes in one-hour for a fee.
Bonus Features: A coupon section is listed.
Overview: There’s a wide variety of grocery store options. While I had difficulty finding the associated fees listed on their website, it was easy to add grocery items to my shopping cart and schedule customized delivery times.
Cost:$12.99 per month / $119 per year, which is the cost for an Amazon Prime membership, so if you already pay for Amazon Prime, you’re all set to use this grocery delivery service. You can cancel at any time.
Grocery Stores Available through Amazon Prime Now in St. Pete: Whole Foods Market
Delivery Time: Two-hour delivery options at no extra cost. Or one-hour delivery for a fee.
Bonus Features: I found Amazon Prime Now had a very large selection of grocery items to choose from. For example, in the meat & seafood department, there were 86 options for my specific zip code, which ranged from boneless chicken breasts to organic ground beef to kielbasa sausage.
Overview: Grocery prices listed online with Amazon Prime Now appeared to match the cost of groceries in the Whole Foods store. The subscription fees seemed very straightforward and easy to understand. When shopping for your groceries, you can filter by department (dairy, frozen, meat substitutes, etc.) and specific food brands based on what item you are looking to add to your cart.
Pro Tips for Using a Grocery Delivery Service
Take advantage of the on sale items – many delivery service websites offer a feature to shop for sale items or buy specific brands. Also, take into account where you want your groceries from (Whole Foods, Publix, Target, etc). The service you select will determine where your groceries come from, since as pointed out above, different services have different grocery store partnerships.
Curious to learn more about your spending and where you can afford to spend or save money? Contact Us
The phrase ‘Nursing Home’ does not have to be part of your vocabulary as soon as you might think. Did you know there are options to stay in your home well after retirement and late into your “aging” years? Through a design concept called Universal Design, you can make changes to your living environment that help you remain in your home during most (if not all) of your retirement years.
Universal Design for Your Home
As we get older, we tend to be at higher risk for accidents with day-to-day things. This is one of the reasons we move into a nursing home or assisted living facility – as a preventative measure. For example, as we age we are at higher risk of falling, according to the Mayo Clinic. Having a no-step entry at your home reduces that risk. So does having slip resistant floors and more lighting at the inside of your home. These are all examples of a Universal Design concept.
You might be thinking that making renovations to your home has the potential to get expensive and yes, some of the remodeling costs can be pricey, but it doesn’t have to be. Widening your door frames to provide wheelchair access is going to cost a lot more than installing lever door handles.
But here’s another way to think about it: Having a private room at a nursing home will cost on average more than $7,500 per month (or $90,000 per year) according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And more than $3,500 per month for an assisted-living facility ($40,000 per year).
When it comes to remaining in your home while aging, there are big picture, big-price fixes and then there are more low-cost items you could probably take care of over a weekend. If you start early enough (think proactive rather than reactive), these changes can be made over the course of years, helping to spread the costs out over time.
Getting Started: Low-Cost Items
The below are great starter options for extending your time in your home.
Add additional lighting to your hallways, rooms and front walkway
Purpose: By adding night lights and lamps to darker parts of your home (such as hallways), you can reduce your risk of falling.
Estimated Cost: $4 to $15
Installation Cost: Free! These types of lighting updates don’t typically require third-party installation services.
Shower Grab Bar
Purpose: Providing you with stability in the shower.
Estimated Cost: $15 to $80 dollars
Installation Fee: $75+ (it’s worth calling around, as some locations will charge $200+)
Lever handles for doorknobs
Purpose: Lever handles tend to be easier to open than round knobs.
Estimated Cost: $15 to $30 per lever handle
Installation Fee: $100+ (or less, installation fees vary by location, company and, number of doorknobs being installed)
The higher costing items are things like widening door frames (to fit a potential wheelchair) and removing steps from the home. But the costs associated in renovations to your home could very well cost you less than the retirement community price tag. Other ideas you can incorporate into your home include:
Walk-in showers (with no step) and a bench to sit down
No step entry to the home
Lighter color floors (easier to see)
Single floor home, with the main idea being to have same-floor access to the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and laundry, eliminating the use of stairs
Have questions on how to incorporate a design budget into your spending? Or just general retirement questions? Contact Us.
This month’s Employee Feature is Konstantin Bystritsky, CFP® Wealth Manager at DWM. Konstantin brings more than 13 years of experience in the financial services industry, including being part of a team at Fidelity managing more than 450 high-net-worth client relationships. His experience includes creating financial plans for accumulations, preservation and transferring personal wealth.
Are you new to the St. Pete area?
Since departing New England and relocating to Florida, I have resided in the Tampa Bay area for 12 years. I started exploring the St. Pete area when I started my position with DWM.
What do you like about the St. Pete community and the city itself?
St. Pete is home to beautiful beaches, wonderful art, and delicious cuisine. Most importantly, St. Pete exhibits every aspect of a cultural and welcoming community.
When you aren’t working, how do you like to spend your time?
My wife and I have two young boys. All four of us enjoy spending time outdoors. My wife and I love watching the kids play various sports, such as football, soccer, and basketball. We also love taking family rides in our Jeep.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
Thanks to my parents, I am humbled to have immigrated to this country and have the opportunity to learn the culture, the language and gain a great education. I’ve also had the opportunity to create a beautiful family with my wife, who is also my best friend.
What are you most looking forward to in your role as Wealth Manager at DWM?
I look forward to working with the best professionals in the industry and meeting incredible clients of DWM.
What’s a fun fact about you?
I grew up listening to my father play the accordion and piano at home. My father’s love for music also inspired me to have a true passion for music. In high school, I started collecting vinyl records and eventually became a very talented disc jockey. I have been the official DJ for numerous celebrity events, weddings, and birthday parties.
Retirement expenses are not the same for every person and can look a lot of different ways. Where travel might be on one person’s list to include in retirement spending, eating out multiple times per week might be on another’s list. But often times, the expenses that unexpectedly pop-up are not the ones we wanted.
As part of a know-before-you-go approach, I asked retirees, “What is an unexpected expense you’ve had during your retirement?”
This is what they said.
Mack, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Asheville, NC
Age – 88
Number of years retired – 8
Mack worked until he was 80 years old. He lived in Florida for the first year of retirement and then moved with his wife (also retired) to Asheville, NC.
Most Surprising Expense
“Prior to retirement, we had very little medical expenses. My wife and I have led a fairly healthy life. Medical expenses were at a minimum.”
“Although we still enjoy good health with no major illnesses, medical expenses above medicare are surprisingly high. For example, over the past few years, we have spent more than $14k on my wife’s teeth. Even with a medical supplemental policy routine along with specialists, doctor office visits add up.”
Our medical expenses:
2015 – $21,068
2016 – $16,589
2017 – $14,719
2018 – $15,855
“Prescription drugs are another expense that is high. One drug alone (blood thinner) cost $150 per month (prescription drugs run about $3,000 per year).”
Gordon, Asheville, NC
Age – 66
Number of years retired – 5
Most Surprising Expense
“Getting married!” Gordon went into his retirement as a bachelor and got married a few years later. Aside from ceremony expenses, the other big one is Social Security benefits. Your benefits might be affected depending on different factors, such as if you are collecting benefits on the record of a former spouse. Contact us to learn more detail on how this might affect you.
Kim, Asheville, NC
Age – 64
Number of years retired – 4 months
Most Surprising Expense
“Physical Therapy.” Kim had a shoulder injury and had to go to physical therapy for weeks. Her full retirement age is 66, so she isn’t drawing from Social Security, yet. Luckily for Kim, she’s covered under COBRA, which paid much of these expenses. Her out-of-pocket cost was $500.
Didi, Pasadena, CA
Age – 66
Number of years retired – 2
Most Surprising Expense
“The following are not really unexpected or surprising, but their scopes are unknown and therefore hard to plan for: Property tax increases, medical expenses, caregiver expenses, home repairs, HOA assessments, and dues increases. You know they’re coming, but you don’t know how much and when!”
Rich, Seattle, WA
Age – 62
Number of years retired – 7
Most Surprising Expense
“Nothing unexpected, yet!” I asked Rich what he attributed to that and he said, “Good planning and research. It’s a huge decision. I went into it with both eyes wide open. I read a lot and talked to a lot of people. I started planning for retirement in my 20’s.”
Carrie, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico via Kingsport, TN
Age – 66
Number of years retired – 4
Most Surprising Expense
“We really haven’t had any expenses that we weren’t expecting!” Like Rich, I asked Carrie what she attributed that to, she said, “Just knowing ahead of time what your expenses will be I guess. Housing, insurance, car(s), groceries, etc. The givens and knowns. Then having more than that coming in each month to cover anything (little) unexpected. But so far nothing major, knock on wood.”
How To Plan for Unexpected Expenses
Life will always be filled with surprises, no matter how much we knock on wood. While you cannot possibly predict every single cost that will occur, there are things you can do to set extra funds aside and be prepared.
A good start would be having a solid understanding of what your current expenses include and being accustomed to living within your means. Are you having to regularly withdraw funds from your savings to pay for expenses? It’s important to save, but it’s equally important to understand the amount you tend to spend.
This is where developing a plan with a Certified Financial Planner can be a helpful tool. A CFP has a strong understanding of what these “surprise” expenses can look like and can help ensure specific guidelines are in place.
Have questions? We’re happy to speak with you. Contact Us.
Getting married during retirement is an entirely new, exciting chapter in life. But like so many things in life, it doesn’t come free. Trying to figure out the actual ceremony costs is one part of it. Then there’s the in’s and out’s of how Social Security plays into the “I Do” of it all. It can feel like going down the ultimate rabbit hole of confusion.
To help make these waters easier to navigate, I’ve listed below some commonly asked questions surrounding getting married during retirement.
I’m retired and I’m getting married. What’s it going to cost me?
The average cost of weddings in the U.S. in 2017 was $33,000, according to a poll of 13,000 US couples done by The Knot. In central Florida, that cost was just over $26,000 (this includes the cost of a ring, excludes the honeymoon). That’s quite a chunk for some retirees, considering it might be nearly half of their yearly budget or even close to their entire budget for one year.
While 44.5% of newlyweds surveyed had their wedding paid for, just over 40% paid for it themselves. As a retiree, chances are, you’re fronting your own bill.
Ways to Save
Where are these costs coming from? The Knot study showed the biggest expenses were at the venue, coming in at an average cost of $15,000. Then there was the engagement ring cost at close to $6,000 dollars, band costs averaging $4,000, photographer and flowers each costing more than $2,000, $1,900 on a videographer, and almost $1,000 on hair and makeup. Food was $70 per person and almost $2,000 was spent on average for a wedding planner.
Want to save? Keep the headcount low. Use a backyard for the ceremony. Skip the hair and makeup. Trim down the number of flowers used and keep them simple. Utilize the hobbies of family and friends by hiring them to show off their skills. I recently went to a wedding where cousins pursuing music were recruited to sing, in-laws played instruments, a friend who studied photography took pictures, and a daughter of the groom was the wedding planner. It’s your party, make your own rules.
Now for the fun part: Social Security.
Will getting married affect my Social Security retirement benefits?
Social Security retirement benefits are based on YOUR records, so getting married wouldn’t affect this. However, it probably will affect your spousal benefits, if this applies to you.
I’m divorced and collecting Social Security Spousal Benefits. Will this change once I remarry?
According to the Social Security Administration, Yes. It will. You most likely will not be able to collect these benefits unless your new marriage ends.
Here’s how the Social Security cookie crumbles when it comes to divorce: If your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you can collect spousal benefits if you meet each of the following criteria; You are unmarried. You are at least 62 years old. Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits. Your benefit from work (retirement benefit) is less than your spousal benefit.
I’m currently collecting Social Security on my deceased spouse. How will remarriage affect it?
There’s an age timeline with this – If you remarry after age 60 (or 50 if you are disabled), the amount you collect will not be affected, according to the SSA.
What if I receive SSI benefits?
Your SSI might be affected if you remarry, based on your spouse’s income. And if you both receive SSI, it will change to a couple’s rate.
Confusing? It can be. That’s why it helps to speak with a professional concerning remarriage during retirement to make sure you are receiving your maximum benefit.
Looking for a way to save on dinner? Hello, tacos. Making tacos for dinner is so easy and it can be cheap. What’s more, there are always leftover ingredients. But one of my favorite things about them is how versatile they are. Don’t like red meat? No problem, use chicken. Don’t eat meat? Use mushrooms or beans. Below is a great taco recipe for you to enjoy this summer.
This recipe yields at the very least two dinners for two people. Two fully-loaded tacos for two people each and a handful of chips. Most of these ingredients will last you into several dinners, with the exception of the tortillas.
Total Cost for at minimum 4 servings –
$33 or less with beef or chicken tacos
$26 or less with mushrooms
$24 or less with beans
*prices are approximate and will vary depending on where you shop.
Corn tortillas – $2.19 for 10 tortillas *the more you can buy for less, the better!
Romaine lettuce, 1 bag – $3.29
Tortilla chips, 1 bag – $2.99 store brand
Salsa – $2.19 for 16oz store brand
Guacamole – $4.99 for 13oz
Mexican style shredded cheese – $4.99
Taco seasoning, 1 packet – $1.29 (or use your own spices at home, like salt, cayenne, paprika)
Cilantro – 99 cents, 1 bundle
1 pound organic ground beef – $9 per pound
Or 1 pound organic ground chicken – $9 per pound
Ways to Save
The way to save here is on the filling – the “meat.” And mushrooms are a great way to get that “meaty” texture for a less hefty price than chicken or beef. Another option that costs even less? Refried beans. A note on the mushrooms: I like to buy mushrooms from the bulk section, buying a handful or two at a time.
Portabello Mushrooms – $4.99 per pound (one pound is actually quite a bit! I recommend grabbing one or two handfuls)
Crimini Mushrooms – $3.99 per pound (see above for quantity)
Oyster Mushrooms – $2.99 for two handfuls
Refried Beans – $1 per can
Step 1. Sauté your meat with a tablespoon of butter or a few tablespoons of olive oil until cooked thoroughly. This can be either the ground beef, ground chicken or mushrooms. If you’re using refried beans as your “meat” then heat these in a pot.
Step 2. When the meat is halfway cooked, season with the packet of taco seasoning (or add your own spices).
Step 3. While the meat is cooking, heat a cast iron skillet (if you own one) and warm the tortillas on each side for around 1 minute each side. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can wrap all the tortillas in aluminum foil and heat them in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Step 4. Chop the cilantro and romaine lettuce and set aside, keeping them separate.
Step 5. Set out the lettuce, salsa, guacamole, cheese, cilantro, and tortilla chips, buffet-style.
Step 6. Eat! Load your tortillas with all the fillings. I usually like to add everything in this order, but really anything works – Meat (or mushrooms or refried beans), lettuce, salsa, guacamole, cheese, cilantro. Grab a handful or two of chips to go with your tacos and you’ve got a meal!
Expert Tip: Always be on the lookout for sale items. Taco ingredients are a magnet for sales. You can also pick and choose from the above ingredients, depending on what type of tacos you’re in the mood for with dinner.
Trying to free up some cash and set more aside towards savings? Or maybe you’re just getting started with your savings? For the coffee drinkers out there, changing up your caffeine routine might be a firm starting point.
Here are a few key prices to give you an idea of where the cost of coffee stands and how you might be able to save on this daily (or for some, multi-daily) beverage:
*prices mentioned below are approximate.
Coffee at a name brand cafe
Cost of a medium cup of coffee: $2.10
Cost of a medium latte: $3.65
Monthly Cost: $48 / $84 or more
If you buy a cup of coffee Monday to Friday for the month of May, that’s more than $48. A latte could put you over $80 – That can be almost one week of groceries. To paint a bigger picture here, if you buy a regular cup of coffee every day in a year, that’s more than $760.
Ways to Save: If you’re someone who buys coffee by the cup almost every day, try buying it only one or two days per week. For me, those days are Mondays and Fridays.
Buying bulk coffee at a grocery store
12 oz bag price: $7.99 – $12.99
Monthly Cost: $32 / $52 or more
Let’s say you’re buying ground coffee from the grocery store and making one cup of coffee each day. To get a little technical, I’ll give you an example of how this shakes out: In my household, we use two heaping tablespoons per mug of coffee. There’s two of us so that 12 oz bag typically lasts about a week, give or take.
Total monthly cost? Around $32 a month, as long as I stick to buying the lower priced bags. If I spend on the more expensive options, then it gets pricey.
Ways to Save: Your best bet for saving with ground coffee is purchasing larger bags at a lower price (think 16 oz) or getting whatever is on sale. If you aren’t picky when it comes to your coffee brand, you could find some online for less than $6.
Roast your own beans
Cost per pound (16 oz): $5 – $7
Monthly cost: $10 / $14 or more (depending on how strong you like your coffee)
The DIY of coffee – You can buy green coffee beans and roast them yourself at home. There are some upfront costs required to do this – One of which is using a proper roasting pan or popcorn popper. The other is a grinder to use after the beans are roasted.
Ways to Save: If you don’t mind paying the upfront costs for the supplies (roasting pan and grinder) then roasting your own beans might be one of the most cost-effective options. And you can be creative with your flavors, rather than buying whichever ground coffee is the lowest sale price.
Alternatives to Coffee
I’ve noticed sometimes what I’m craving isn’t coffee or caffeine itself, but the temperature – something hot in the morning. For ways to offset some of your coffee costs, you can try once in awhile drinking other beverages.
Hot water with lemon
Cost of lemon: $.50 to $.69 per lemon
Monthly cost: $4 / $6 for 8 lemons per month (if you’re only drinking hot water and lemon)
If you use a quarter lemon per mug of hot water, two lemons should last you 8 days, for just over one dollar. While there’s no caffeine, I find I still get my “fix” with the hot water and sour taste of lemon.
I start most mornings off with a hot cup of water and lemon, which helps me to only drink one cup of coffee a day, versus drinking two cups per day and burning through my ground coffee.
Cost of tea: $4.49 – $6.99 for 20 bags
Monthly cost:$9 / $14 per month (or less, if you’re only drinking tea)
If you find yourself craving both the caffeine and the hot drink, black tea has anywhere from 25 to 48mg of caffeine. Green tea has 25 to 29mg. For perspective, a standard cup of coffee has 95 to 165mg. You can also opt for caffeine-free tea. Your grocery store will sell a large variety of tea, from traditional types like chamomile to more unique flavors with vanilla and honey. You can also order these in bulk online, most likely at a lower price.
Fun fact: Did you know that decaffeinated coffee actually does have caffeine? Around 2 to 5mg.
What It All Means
Looking at the numbers, there are a few ways you can cut costs when it comes to your daily dose of caffeine. Personally, I use a mix-and-match approach. I pick one or two days a week to buy a coffee drink. The remaining days I drink my store-bought ground coffee and / or hot water and lemon. This means I pretty much always have a bag of coffee at home, a few lemons and one box of tea. Depending on how much tea I’m consuming and the other beverage consumption ratios, I can usually stretch all of this into a month.
If you still work and your workplace provides coffee, lucky you! This can be a big cost-saver.
If you want to set aside a few minutes to roast your coffee beans, this could be a really strong option!
Does this mean we should all give up buying cups of coffee? No. There is something to be said for treating yourself, knowing where you like to spend your money and cutting out financial room for those expenses. Plus, for some people grabbing a coffee out of the house is a way to socialize. But if you’re looking for little ways to cut back on spending and set aside cash, knowing upfront the big spending picture when it comes to your caffeine can help you make slight changes over time, when necessary.
Hopefully, the above guide helps you see there are ways to cut spending on caffeine. Get creative and have fun with it!
This month’s Employee Feature is Keith Jaworski. Keith recently joined Doyle Wealth Management as Director of Research, bringing more than 25 years of experience, including experience managing institutional portfolios.
What are you most looking forward to as your role in Director of Research at DWM?
I’m looking forward to collaborating with this group of talented people to deliver great outcomes for the many families that depend on us.
Are you new to the St. Pete area?
Yes. We’re excited about the area and the fun of getting to know a new city. My family is moving from the Atlanta area where we have lived for the past 20 years. That said, I am originally from Chicago, went to high school and college in Pittsburgh and lived in Northern Virginia before moving to Georgia.
What do you like about the St. Pete community and the city itself?
We’re certainly “dog people,” so the community’s dog-friendly culture is pretty fun, especially for my wife Karen who wants to visit with just about every dog that passes by!
When you aren’t working, how do you like to spend your time?
I like to golf and fish. Clearly, the climate and geography here are very conducive to both. I’m hoping that ultimately I can improve upon my typical 6-9 rounds a year! I have a special interest in golf given my son Zack is pursuing the sport professionally.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
While professional accomplishments are very important to me, I am most proud of having been part of raising two fine sons. Our oldest son, Zack, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and is pursuing professional golf after having played collegiately. Kyle is a fourth-year Biomedical Engineering student at Georgia Tech and a very good athlete as well. While they have both accomplished a lot academically and athletically, I consider their work ethic and character most valuable. I think they’re two great young guys and while I give Karen most of the credit, I’d like to think I had a hand in that.
Anne Drake McMullen’s Leadership as Chair of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce concluded on January 24th, 2019. It was a distinct honor to serve as the 119th Chair of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and its 4th female Chair.
The Chamber represents over 1,000 businesses in St. Petersburg, which is a thriving city home to trendy Beach Drive restaurants, funky Central Avenue nightspots, eclectic galleries nestled among wall murals, and the edge district flowing with craft breweries. There is something for everyone, whether you live in a downtown condo, nearby neighborhoods, or are simply visiting the area.
When I began my term of office, I challenged Chamber leaders to tell “The St. Pete Story” to our colleagues, friends, and visitors. As I look back upon our firm’s engagement with the Chamber since 2010, the growth of the community has been nothing short of astonishing. Since the Great Recession, we have witnessed an economic expansion and corresponding construction of many new buildings including condos, research facilities, hotels, university residences and academic buildings, hospital facilities, museums, and more.
The Grow Smarter Initiative ensured that our economic growth focused on inclusive prosperity thanks to our collaboration with the City of St. Petersburg and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete, who provided the Chamber a $1.2 million grant. This grant helped serve 3,286 entrepreneurs through the Greenhouse Small Business Collaborative.
This commitment to diversity and inclusion was built on the legacy of leaders who came before us. I am proud to report that we witnessed, during my term of office, the most diverse Chamber Board, Executive Committee, Leadership St. Pete Class, Entrepreneurial Academy Class, and Policy Committees in the history of the Chamber.
During my term, it was a year of great accomplishments. The Chamber added 316 new members; graduated 50-plus entrepreneurs from the Entrepreneur Academies; celebrated over 78 ribbon cuttings to welcome new members, and over 150 Young Professionals invested over 1,000 service hours in our community.
We also proudly defined the St. Pete Chamber as a “Purple” organization and pivoted away from partisan labels that would seek to define us as a red or blue community. That is the St Pete Story that we told in 2018.
The Chamber looks forward to 2019 and celebrating the city’s economic engine with the planned opening of the new Pier, completion of the One St. Pete condo tower, continuing the ferry to Tampa, and opening the Museum of American Arts and Crafts Movement.
To quote Chris Steinocher, the Chamber’s President and CEO, “We celebrate the gifts of past chamber leaders and gladly accept their challenge to do epic good work today, for the benefit of future generations.” On January 24th I passed the gavel to my successor, Bill Kent, President of George F. Young Engineering. I wish him an innovative, epic, and prosperous year in 2019.
It’s common practice for the president or CEO of a company to include a letter to shareholders in the annual report. Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett, doesn’t buck the trend.
His annual letter (http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2018ltr.pdf) captures plenty of attention, and this year was no exception. The focus is on the investments and operating performance of Berkshire Hathaway, but the Oracle of Omaha also includes many sound principles for wealth creation as well as his general thoughts about the U.S. economy.
Focus on the forest–not the trees
Your financial plan is comprised of many parts. This would equate to what Buffett calls the “economic trees.” In other words, let’s not get to caught up on any one investment. “A few of our trees are diseased and unlikely to be around a decade from now. Many others, though, are destined to grow in size and beauty,” Buffett writes.
He won’t get every investment right. Neither will we. But, if we review the portfolio as we’d view the forest, we find a diversity of trees, wildlife, and plants. It’s a work of beauty. Your portfolio is built from the bottom up. Like the forest it’s very diversified, and it is created with your financial goals in mind.
As Buffett opines (and we agree), “I have no idea as to how stocks will behave next week or next year. Predictions of that sort have never been a part of our activities.” That said, how did the 19.8% drop in the S&P 500 Index (September peak to Dec 24th trough) sit with you? With your input, we do our best to gauge your tolerance for risk. If you found yourself fretting over the volatility, let’s talk. On the other hand, if you slept soundly, it would suggest your investment mix in relation to risk is on target. “At Berkshire, the whole is greater–considerably greater–than the sum of the parts.” We feel the same way about your financial plan.
The American Tailwind
Warren Buffett is bullish on America. In 1942, he and his sister invested $114.75 in three shares of Cities Service preferred stock. At the time, the country was mobilizing for what would be a massive war effort. They sold the stock as soon as it went above the purchase price and they earned $5.00 each on their investment. If Buffett had instead invested his $114.75 into a no-fee S&P 500 index fund, and all dividends had been reinvested, his stake would have grown to $606,811. The U.S. was victorious in WWII, but challenges never cease.
We’ve endured the cold war, the divisiveness of the 1960s, OPEC’s oil embargo, double-digit inflation, soaring interest rates, a rising federal deficit, the tragedy of 9-11, the war on terrorism, the financial panic of 2008, the ensuing Great Recession, falling home prices, and more.
Let’s say that you had had the foresight to see the oncoming explosion in the federal deficit, one that is up 40,000% over the last 77 years. “To ‘protect’ yourself,” Buffett said, “You might have eschewed stocks and opted instead to buy three ounces of gold with your $114.75. And what would that supposed protection have delivered? You would now have an asset worth about $4,200.” Compare that to the performance of the S&P 500!
What is this nation’s secret sauce? The answer is complex and difficult; yet, the overarching theme lies in front of us. The experiment called the United States has birthed and attracted the best and the brightest. Freedom and opportunity are its calling cards. Today, we are the wealthiest nation on Earth, and we continue to ride the wave of innovation and enjoy the benefits.
A recent piece by Morgan Stanley titled “Millennials, Gen Z and the Coming ‘Youth Boom’ Economy” complements Buffett’s optimistic viewpoint. The population of the Millennials will overtake the Baby Boomers this year, and “Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, will overtake the Millennials as the country’s largest cohort by 2034,” it said. For the U.S. economy, “The demographic tailwinds created by these high-population cohorts could be significant, delivering the kind of ‘youth jolt’ that the Baby Boomers were famous for.” Sure, we can’t know when the next recession will ensue or some of the challenges we’ll face as a nation in the coming years. Yet, as Buffett sums up his annual letter, “Over the next 77 years, the major source of our gains will almost certainly be provided by The American Tailwind. We are lucky–gloriously lucky–to have that force at our back.”
Happy Anniversary, Bull Market
On March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 closed at 676. It marked the bottom of the last bear market. On March 19th (the writing of this letter), the S&P 500 finished the day at 2,833. However, as many of you know, it was not a smooth journey upward. In 2011, we saw a near 20% decline, and last quarter another near 20% decline. We also weathered more corrections (10% or greater decline) than I can recall. Regardless, in the face of countless worries, threats and forecasts of doom – the market continues its upward trajectory.
Here are just a few of the worries that temporarily sidelined the bull, but didn’t sideline those with a long-term view:
The European debt crisis…Greece… global growth worries…U.S. growth is slowing…China is slowing…the dollar
is too strong…Japan earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster…U.S. debt downgrade…fiscal cliff…Obama will be reelected…Trump will get elected…Hillary will get elected…the Fed will end bond buys…Fed will start hiking interest
rates…falling oil prices…Ebola scare…Russia invades Ukraine…North Korea…ISIS…Syria…Brexit…trade tensions…
acrimony in D.C….and stocks have risen too quickly.
Shorter-term risks never completely abate. But Warren Buffett’s message has been consistent. Don’t bet against America.
Let me emphasize again that it is our job to assist you! If you have any questions or would like to discuss any matters, please feel free to give any of our team members a call.
As always, we are honored and humbled that you have given us the opportunity to serve as your financial advisor.