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Spring Cleaning

With spring (finally) just around the corner and the tax filing deadline about a month away, it is important to remember to do a ‘spring cleaning” of your personal financial documents. Below, please find some guidelines for what records to keep, how long you should hold on to them for, and what you can get rid of. It is important to remember, that with the increased threat of identity theft, you must shred any documents with your personal information. Home shredding machines have improved technologically over the past few years and are still relatively affordable.

        

  

How Long to    Keep Documents

  
  

Document

  
  

How Long to Keep It

  

Bank statements

1 year, unless   needed to support tax filings

Birth certificates, marriage licenses,   divorce decrees, passports, education records, military service records

Forever

Contracts

Until updated

Credit card records

Until paid,   unless needed to support tax filings

Home purchase and improvement records

As long as you   own the property

Household inventory

Forever; update   as needed

Insurance, life

Forever

Insurance, car, home, etc.

Until you renew   the policy

Investment statements

Shred your   monthly statements; keep annual statements until you sell the investments

Investment certificates

Until you cash   or sell the item

Loan documents

Until you sell   the item the loan was originally for

Real estate deeds

As long as you   own the property

Receipts for large purchases

Until you sell   or discard the item

Service contracts and warranties

Until you sell   or discard the item

Social Security card

Forever

Social Security statement

When you get   your new statement online, shred the old one

Tax Records

7 years from   the filing date

Vehicle titles

Until you sell   or dispose of the car

Will

Until updated

It is important to remember that each individual feels a different level of comfort when it comes to document preservation / retention. Keeping your documents organized, labeled and accessible is always important, regardless of the amount you choose to retain.

Job Additions Highlight Hopes for Spring

The Labor Department's report of 175,000 job additions last month was much healthier than expected. Economists had been expecting an increase of 145,000 jobs, according to FactSet. Investors had low expectations due to the harsh winter weather that hit much of the country last month. The positive job figures came as quite a relief after the unforgiving weather closed factories, lowered auto sales, and caused existing-home sales to plummet. The unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7% from January’s number of 6.6%. The labor participation rate held steady at 63%.

The February Jobs Report doesn’t change the strong likelihood that the Federal Reserve will cut monthly bond purchases by another $10 billion later this month.

It has become clear that tapering is on a schedule that Fed officials are not going to change unless they absolutely must.

Market update and the crisis in the Ukraine

 

Index

Weekly Return %

thru Feb 28, 2014

YTD Return %

Dec 31, 2013 – Feb 28, 2014

DJIA1

+1.4

-1.5

NASDAQ Composite2

+1.1

+3.2

S&P 500 Index3

+1.3

+0.6

Bond   Yields

Feb 28   Yield & Weekly Change

Yield - % a/o Dec 31, 2013

3-month T-bill

0.05             Unch

0.07

2-year Treasury

0.33           Unch

0.38

10-year Treasury

2.66             -0.07

3.04

30-year Treasury

3.59             -0.10

3.96

Commodities

Feb 28 Price & Weekly Change

Year end 2013

Oil per barrel4

     $102.76             +0.46

    $98.42

Gold per ounce5

$1,326.50             +3.25

$1,201.50

Sources: U.S. Treasury, MarketWatch, St. Louis Federal Reserve, CNBC, Energy Information Admin.

 

A triple-digit gain for the Dow Jones Industrials evaporated in the final hour of trading on Friday, amid reports of a brewing crisis in Ukraine, but buyers stepped in, lifting the average by the close.

 

Ukraine recently installed a pro-Western government, and Russia quickly reacted, purportedly to keep the nation in a pro-Russian orbit.

 

On Saturday, Russia’s parliament authorized the use of Russian troops in Ukraine to protect Russian citizens, which could simply be the pretext for a full-scaled invasion of the sovereign nation (Wall Street Journal).

 

The U.S. and western countries quickly denounced what they saw as unwarranted aggression, but options are limited.

 

From a geopolitical perspective, the situation is extremely fluid right now. So far, U.S. markets have brushed aside the growing crisis. But traders sometimes don a “shoot now and ask questions later” mentality when a crisis emerges. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to unusual uncertainty, and markets loathe unusual amounts of uncertainty.

 

But let me quickly add, geopolitical instability has historically created only temporary jitters. The brutal civil war in Syria and the alleged use of chemical weapons quickly comes to mind.

 

Markets move on when the crisis does little damage to U.S. interests; it’s the devastating humanitarian toll that can be long-lasting.

Record Weather Conditions

From the US National Weather service, Billings MT:

This is now Billings second snowiest month ever in history, with only 42.3 inches in April 1955 having more accumulation.  . 2013-2014 will firmly be in 3rd place for all time snowiest winters by noon today, only trailing 1954-1955 and 1966-1967.

Be safe and stay warm!

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