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The price of a barrel of oil increased to $56.84 this past week, up another 2% from the prior week. The national average for a gallon of gas rose to $2.56, up another 4 cents from the prior week.


Houston hotel occupancy has risen nearly 30% from a year ago because of Hurricane Harvey. Post-hurricane hotel demand may push up 2017 that was close to a record to finish the year as perhaps the best ever.



Every week we are asked if stock prices are too high. They are not too high but that is not necessarily the only predictor of future stock values. When people ask, we are glad to opine as to what stocks will do in the near future as long as you hear our caveat loud and clear (No one really knows!). Nearly every day there are new, published stories about how this or that is a sign that we might see a stock pullback. No one wants to be on record of being the business writer who did not predict the next pullback (too many were embarrassed in 2008). This past week, stocks slipped a little bit, largely because the long-awaited tax reform bill process is disappointing Wall Street, especially the latest version that would delay the cuts until 2019.



People in the “prime working age” are defined as those aged from 25 to 54. It measures population, not work force. The amount of people in that age group in the U.S. climbed for many years, and peaked in 2007. Then it started to decline slowly and move somewhat sideways for awhile. Many thought it would begin to increase again this year, but it looks like we will not quite get back to growth in that age group this year. However, it looks like those in the prime working age will again begin to grow, albeit gradually (somewhere around 0.5% per year) in the next few years, and that should boost economic activity. Many developed economies do not have these favorable conditions. In fact, quite the opposite is true.



If you work for an employer that offers group disability coverage, please, this week, do the following:

  • Find out when the next period of time is that you can enroll (it might be now!)
  • Check to find out exactly what coverage you have automatically, if any.
  • Find out what coverage you can obtain by paying for it yourself through a payroll deduction, and find out how much it costs.
  • If it is affordable, you should probably get it.
  • Find out if there are different levels of coverage. Sometimes basic coverage is something like 50% or 60% of pay, but you can opt to pay for another 10% or 15%. Find out how much the optional additional coverage costs.
  • Whether you pay, or the company pays, find out if the premiums are being paid with pre-tax or post-tax dollars. If you can opt for post-tax dollars, choose it (because if you ever qualify for coverage, the benefits are tax free).
  • Find out how long the benefit pays. It could be until age 65. However, to save money, some companies are pulling back and providing for more limited coverage, such as 5 years (instead of to age 65).
  • Finally, if you are not sure you and your family could withstand your being disabled, despite your disability coverage, see a financial planner. This is often a big hole in people’s financial plans.


A study by Vanguard in 2016 concluded that the greatest value added by financial advisors is what they called “behavioral coaching”. This was more valuable to a client over the long term than asset allocation advice, rebalancing portfolios or investment choices. We have to believe that a big part of the “behavioral coaching” aspect is simply the process of having a sense of accountability. “Boy, I better not spend as much money this year because my advisor will notice, and probably tell me it is wrecking my financial future.” It does not have to be overt or high pressure. We invite you to consider that if you aspect of the relationship if you are trying to decide whether or not to use a financial advisor.




U.S. PRIME WORKING AGE DEMOGRAPHIC IS POISED TO SUPPORT ECONOMIC GROWTH: http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2017/11/prime-working-age-population-nears-2007.html
OIL ADN GAS PRICES RISING: http://leimbergservices.com/finance/finance.pdf
ANOTHER GREAT YEAR FOR HOTELS, AND PERHAPS A RECORD: http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2017/11/hotel-occupancy-rate-decreases-yoy.html
ACCOUNTABILITY: https://advisors.vanguard.com/iwe/pdf/ISGQVAA.pdf