10. ‘Tis the Season
Posted on January 15, 2019
Today’s Letter from Grandma Sylvia
December, as the last month of the year, ‘tis the season for looking backwards and forwards, including looking at our investments.
The Big Picture
For many, ‘tis the Season is a time for joy. For Christians, it’s the time for celebrating the birth of the Savior, Jesus. For Jews, Hanukkah is the time for commemorating the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. For others, it’s the season of goodwill and thoughts of peace. For yet others, it’s the passing of the darkest day of the year, the Winter Solstice, and then looking forward to longer days of light.
For children (of all ages) it’s the delight of gifts and the magic of Santa Claus.
Here are some of the thoughts of others that come to mind at this season:
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. Albert Camus
In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. William Blake
One kind word can warm three winter months. Japanese Proverb
How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year! Thomas Wentworth Higginson
The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
My mother never invested in the market. Times were very different when she was young and the Great Depression led people to fear losing whatever they had. What she did do was take the little they had and by wise budgeting and careful planning make many wonderful things happen in our lives. We never knew we were poor.
She had little white envelopes and budgeted every penny spent. In December, there was extra money for baking dozens of cookies, exchanging gifts with friends, and remembering those in need.
Her investing was in US government bonds. The series H bonds provided small checks during the year. The first time we ever had a turkey was when she got H bond interest.
Saving and investing were strong values in our family, along with education. Education didn’t provide cash in hand, but provided remarkable dividends in our future lives.
December is a good month to review the year, plan ahead, and be joyful in the present.
Today’s Topic: Tis the Season
- For anyone who wants to use the calendar year to contribute to an IRA (individual retirement account), December is the time to check to be sure that contribution is made.
- For retirees over 70 1/2 it means there is a minimum distribution that must be taken from any deferred tax accounts, like IRAs. Wherever the money is held, for example in banks or in brokerage accounts, notices are sent to remind investors, but it’s the investor who must ‘pull the trigger’ to take the minimum distribution. Forgetting to do this causes a large financial penalty, so it’s smart to look at this in December.
- Dividends for many stocks come quarterly and December is often one of the months dividends are paid.
- For investors holding mutual funds, these funds often pay out capital gains in December. Capital gains come from the sale of assets in the fund. By law, mutual funds must distribute these gains before the end of the year.
- Except in IRAs, usually there are taxes that must be paid on dividends and capital gains.
This December many investors have seen the value of their assets go up and down, with wide swings in value. Wise investors will hold steady and not make rash decisions to sell.
In many years in the last week of December there is a Santa Claus rally, where the stock market increases in the last five days of trading in December and the first two days in January. Let’s hope that happens in 2018.
♦December is a good month to review the year, plan ahead, and be joyful in the present.
Today I’m going to check that I’ve paid my bills and can take time to meet with family. Wish you were here.