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UNPREDICTABLE TEXAS TEA: The price of oil has increased 23% in the first half of the year. However, it came down 9% in the past week after topping out at $79 a barrel. Since 2000, the average increase in the first half of the year has been 13.5%. OPEC has successfully cut back on production. Venezuela and Libya, two traditionally large suppliers, are essentially out of the market. Worldwide demand has been creeping up. Only continued increased supply by the U.S. has kept prices from increasing further. And now it appears that OPEC and Russia are loosening the valves a bit and more oil is coming online. There are well-known analysts now predicting further increases and decreases in oil prices.

MARKETS JOG IN PLACE: Despite uncertainty in trade and monetary policy, markets treaded water this week as earnings reports continued to provide confidence for current market prices. Quarterly corporate earnings are on pace to record their second best rate of growth since 2010, and U.S. stock prices are up for the year. Growth in stock performance, however, has not been even. Stocks in the Information Technology, Health Care and Energy sectors have all seen double digit growth. But companies in the Consumer Staples, Materials and Financials categories have all shown negative growth numbers.

THE LABOR MARKET IS FAB: In the week ending July 14, the U.S. had 207,000 initial claims for unemployment. That is down 8,000 from the prior week and the lowest level since the Fab Four was still together (I will pause here because some millennials are googling “Fab Four”).

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL: A big part of financial planning now is working with parents of adult children (post-college) who are still a financial burden. The Wall Street Journal recently had a good article on this where they listed several steps to help raise children who don’t drain your retirement dollars after they should be on their own:

  • Start teaching basic saving and comparison-shopping skills when children are small.
  • Require teens to earn at least part of their spending money.
  • Teach teens how to make a budget and give them practice sticking to it.
  • Share and discuss the basics of your household budget with your child.
  • Give teens practice using checks or credit cards to pay for their activities or sports.
  • Start discussing what you’re willing to pay for college by the time a teen enters high school.
  • Talk with your child about your own financial lessons and missteps in the past.


STRESSED OUT: No one wants to live life stressed out. Wallethub recently performed a study of 180 cities to determine which cities had the most (and least) stressed out citizens. Apparently, I am living amongst a lot of stressed out people (Wilmington DE). I have been to seven of the ten stressed-out cities, and none of the non-stressed out cities. Maybe I’m causing the stress.


Most Stressed Out Cities

  • Detroit
  • Newark, NJ
  • Cleveland
  • Birmingham
  • Toledo
  • Baltimore
  • Wilmington, Delaware
  • Milwaukee
  • Gulfport, Mississippi
  • St. Louis, Missouri


Least Stressed Out Cities

  • Fremont, CA
  • Bismarck, ND
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Overland Park, KS
  • South Burlington, VT
  • Scottsdale, CA
  • Irvine, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Madison, WI
  • Lincoln, NE