Author Archives: Ashley Vaughn

Staying the Course: Why We Aren’t Afraid of the Economy

By Crawford Asman

While we acknowledge the imperfections of surveys and how they are used, a recent Harris Poll taken exclusively for the Guardian revealed wide-spread pessimism regarding the economy. The results caught our attention not for the accuracy of the results but for how it demonstrates the power of a concentrated narrative on public opinion.  The results showed that nearly 3/5 Americans believe the US is in the midst of an economic recession. The poll emphasized many misnomers about the economy, with the most notable being:

  1. 49% believe that unemployment is sitting at a 50-year high, however, the current rate has been below 4% since February of 2022.
  2. 49% believe that the S&P 500 is down for the year, though the index saw a 26% total return in 2023 and nearly 12% YTD.
  3. 55% believe the economy is shrinking and 56% believe the US is in the midst of a recession – we’ve now had 6 consecutive quarters of GDP growth.

Clearly, financial journalism has a role in creating this sentiment; after all, it’s difficult to think the economy is doing well while being bombarded by click-bait titles citing whatever global issue as the cause for the down markets that day. These headlines are meant to draw you in with borderline “fear-mongering” tactics, and it can lead to a great deal of confusion to the individual investor. However, the real “issue” here is not the election, nor is it the media. Rather, it’s us simply being human.

Humans are inherently very emotional, and there is especially no exception to that rule when it comes to the broader economy and markets. It’s normal to feel uncertain. That’s why, at Cahaba, it’s our job to provide our clients with a personalized financial plan that will give them a sense of security that they can accomplish their  long-term goals. We don’t focus on the “apocalypse du jour”. Rather, we focus on the plan we originally agreed to, and stand by it. While it may not seem logical at first, long-term investors are more successful when they stick to their investment plan. In both bull and bear markets, the key is staying the course.  

The chart above showcases the total return (including dividend reinvestment) of a $1,000 initial investment into the S&P 500 in 1926. You’ll notice that despite the countless recessionary periods and global crises, simply sticking to the long-term plan and allowing the investment to compound is incredibly powerful.

At this point, you may be asking yourself why you need an advisor in the first place if “staying the course” is all it takes to be successful. Well, the true benefit of an advisor is not how good they are at timing the market or their supposed “superior” abilities to pick undervalued stocks. It’s the guardrails they enact to prevent their clients from engaging in poor decisions that can significantly alter their financial futures.

We at Cahaba, like most people, are not capable of knowing what will happen later this year in the markets, or even later today! What we do know, however, is how to control the controllables. In essence, no matter what is going on in the world, it will not dictate your financial plan – your plan’s objectives and goals will always be the focus. I’ll conclude with one final thought from the well-respected behavioral finance expert, Daniel Crosby:

“Maybe we as a human race aren’t very well suited to help ourselves and listen to our own best advice. But we do seem equipped to help each other when times get tough – and that’s worth a whole lot.”

Sources:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/may/22/poll-economy-recession-biden#:~:text=Nearly%20three%20in%20five%20Americans,as%20election%20day%20draws%20closer.
  2. https://www.nickmurraynewsletters.com/members/login.cfm?hpage=June%2D2024%2Ecfm&loggedout=y
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-need-financial-advisor-reason-think-daniel-crosby-ph-d-/

Crawford Asman is a Financial Planning Analyst in the Atlanta office of Cahaba Wealth Management, www.cahabawealth.com.

Cahaba Wealth Management is registered as an investment adviser with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered, or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements. Registration as an investment adviser does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by the SEC nor does it indicate that the adviser has attained a particular level of skill or ability. Cahaba Wealth Management is not engaged in the practice of law or accounting. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation. Content should not be construed as personalized investment advice. The opinions in this materials are for general information, and not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for an individual. Content should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor.

Cahaba Welcomes Landon Cobbs

Landon Cobbs
Administrative Assistant

Cahaba Wealth Management is excited to share that Landon Cobbs has joined our Nashville team as an Administrative Assistant!

Landon brings expertise in administrative support as she joins us from working with a boutique business management firm. In her previous role, she provided comprehensive support to her team, utilizing Quickbooks and offering valuable assistance in bill processing, invoicing, and payment procedures. Landon holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in History from Sewanee: The University of the South. During her time at Sewanee, she was actively involved in philanthropic activities and event coordination within a sorority.

Originating from Birmingham, AL, Landon has also resided in San Francisco and Seattle before settling in Nashville. Outside of work, she enjoys outdoor activities such as walking and white water kayaking, as well as spending time with friends and family. Eager to contribute to the Cahaba team, she is committed to continuous learning and growth within the organization.

Top 3 Actions to Take if Your Tax Outcome Was Unexpected

Receiving a tax refund larger than expected or owing more tax than anticipated can both be surprising. Such scenarios often indicate discrepancies in your tax planning or withholding. Whether you’re puzzled by a hefty refund or a significant tax bill, here are three practical steps to manage and adjust your tax situation for future financial stability.

1. Reassess Your Withholdings

If your tax refund is larger than expected, it could mean that too much tax is being withheld from your paycheck. While a large refund might seem like a boon, it’s essentially an interest-free loan to the government. To optimize your cash flow throughout the year, consider adjusting your withholdings. You can do this by filling out a new W-4 form with your employer to decrease the amount of taxes withheld from your salary. This adjustment will increase your take-home pay, allowing you to invest, save, or spend those funds throughout the year instead of waiting for a lump sum refund.

Conversely, if you owe more tax than you anticipated, this could be a sign that not enough tax is being withheld from your earnings. In this case, you might want to increase your withholdings by updating your W-4 form. For instance, even if you’re married with kids, it may make sense to claim “Single” to ensure more dollars are paid in through payroll. This can help avoid owing a large sum when you file your next tax return, and it can also prevent potential penalties for underpayment throughout the year.

2. Review and Adjust Estimated Tax Payments

For freelancers, self-employed individuals, or those with additional income sources (such as rental income or dividends), large discrepancies in expected tax outcomes may suggest that estimated tax payments need adjustment. If you owe a significant amount, consider recalculating your estimated payments for the current year to better align with your actual income. This proactive approach can help manage cash flows more efficiently and avoid surprises in the next tax season. Conversely, if your payments are too high, reducing them can free up monthly resources for other financial priorities.

3. Consult a Financial Planner and a Tax Professional

Changes in income, life events (like marriage or having a child), or changes in tax law can all affect your tax liability. If you receive a much larger refund or owe more than expected, it may be time to consult with a financial planner and a tax professional. A professional can help you understand why your tax outcome was different than expected, provide guidance on adjusting your withholdings or estimated payments, and help you plan for future tax implications of any major financial decisions you anticipate making in the upcoming year.

In conclusion, an unexpected tax outcome, whether it’s a larger refund or a bigger tax bill, often signals a need for adjustments in your financial planning. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your tax withholdings or payments align more closely with your actual tax liability, avoiding surprises and optimizing your financial strategy for the year ahead. This approach not only helps in better managing your finances but also in making informed decisions that enhance your overall financial well-being.

Cahaba Wealth Management is registered as an investment adviser with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered, or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements. Registration as an investment adviser does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by the SEC nor does it indicate that the adviser has attained a particular level of skill or ability. Cahaba Wealth Management is not engaged in the practice of law or accounting. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation. Content should not be construed as personalized investment advice. The opinions in this materials are for general information, and not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for an individual. Content should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor.