Operating in a Covid 19 Summer

Operating in a Covid 19 Summer

We at Platt Wealth Management hope that you enjoyed a safe and sane Fourth of July weekend. The dog days of summer are indeed upon us, and we thought it might be a good time to address some of the uncertainty that many of our clients and others are experiencing.

 

Summer in the time of COVID-19

 

Hanging out inside bars is one of the worst things you can do if you want to stay healthy and avoid infection. The good news is that being outside, especially on a neighborhood walk, is relatively low risk. See more details on what’s safe here

If you’re outside and keeping a distance of six feet between your family and other people, you’ll probably be fine. Feel free to enjoy your outside activities, unless they involve packing into a small area where you can’t maintain the distance.

What researchers have discovered about the novel coronavirus should guide your decisions about how you have fun this summer. The good news is that you don’t have to stay in lockdown! Being outside at a safe distance from others is healthy. 

 

Enjoy your summer, stay healthy

 

 

  • You don’t have to show symptoms to infect other people. You could inadvertently spread the virus to anyone because you’re unaware that you have it. You might have come into contact with another asymptomatic person and received it from them. Unknowingly, you could give it to someone who has an underlying condition. 

That’s why it’s still important to take precautions, even if you’re healthy and not in a high-risk group. Not only are you protecting yourself and your family, but everyone around you.

 

  • The virus is typically transmitted through droplets from an infected person within a radius of six feet.

When you stay farther away, the virus has less chance of spreading.

The droplets are why going to large venues is so dangerous, especially if you’re in a choir or cheering on a team. Singing increases the amount of virus that an infected person emits, as you’ve seen in all the news articles about people in choirs getting sick.

Large venues that don’t practice social distancing also accelerate the spread of the virus, because talking also increases the volume of droplets and the volume of contagion from someone infected. The person may not know it, but they could create a lot of sickness.

 

  • Masks reduce transmission, and paper or fabric masks protect others from you.

These types of masks are breathable because air molecules are much smaller than the water droplets you emit while breathing and talking. You can breathe in air and still prevent the spreading of disease if you happen to be infected.

Some people are concerned about whether masks increase the amount of carbon dioxide that you breathe. Doctors and nurses wear masks for most of their working day, and they function just fine. You’ll wear the mask without any side effects when you need to go to the store.

 

  • The US is still in its first wave of infections, and there are still hotspots with significant transmission.

It briefly appeared that the US was experiencing a decrease in transmission, but that was because New York City, which was one of the first places hit by the virus, get a handle on it, and their infection rate improved. However, the rest of the country is still getting sick, and rates of infection have increased in hotspots.

Most of these are places where no distancing or masking is practiced, or where the temporary closure of stores and offices was lifted too early. We are not out of the woods yet. 

 

  • Though some places are open, it may not be safe for you to go there.

The barbershop and hair salon requires people to be very close together, so think carefully about whether you can hold out for a little longer. 

If you do go, make sure they sanitize surfaces often because the virus can survive on smooth surfaces for the duration of your visit (and longer).

 

 Spend time together, take care of each other

 

 

  • People with underlying health conditions are the ones who suffer the most.

COVID-19 appears to target the lungs, particularly, so anyone with lung issues needs to be careful. However, they’re not the only ones. Anyone with heart disease, immune system issues and diabetes, among others, needs to be careful.

 

  • Younger people still spread the virus, are infected by it and can die from it.

Although most of the people who get sick and die from the coronavirus are elderly and/or have underlying health conditions, that doesn’t mean that younger people are immune. Please don’t assume that because you or your kids are in their twenties that it’s safe to go to packed events where everyone squeezes in like sardines.

 

  • PWM continues to work remotely and offer virtual meetings to keep ourselves and our clients healthy.

Although we love to see and visit with our clients, we’re still careful to ensure that we keep everyone as safe as we can. Here at Platt we look forward to long-term relationships, and we don’t want anything to stand in the way of that!

Investing during this time

 

As you’ve no doubt noticed, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the economy, and the stock market is subject to rollercoaster rides right now. Unemployment remains high, and the Fed agrees with many economists that the first round of stimulus was not enough to keep everyone afloat.

However, nothing has fundamentally changed. Retail was already in decline, which has accelerated due to COVID-19. Although we don’t know when the infections will ease, we know that this is most likely a temporary situation. 

The virus requires behavioral changes in how we live and work, but not in how we invest. Once the pandemic slows, we can expect an uptick in the economy and market. Staying invested in your designed allocation is the best way to weather the current uncertainty.

We know this is a difficult time because there is so much unknown. We’re happy to talk to our clients, review their current situation with them, and their investments. 

If you need a refresher on why we chose the investments we did or feel nervous about the ups and downs in the market, please let us know. 

We’re all in this thing together, and we want to help you pull through so you can sleep at night.

 

Give us a call at 619.255.9554 or email us if you’d like to set up an appointment.

 

Staying Productive While Working From Home

Staying Productive While Working From Home

With so many people working remotely, being productive can sometimes be a challenge. Creating an office-like environment is a good start. Try to separate your business space from your personal space as much as you can. Read on for more tips on productivity while you’re working at home.

Old Schedule or New Schedule?

 

There are two ways to best schedule your day when you’re working from home. One is to mimic your usual workday as much as possible. Get up at the same time as you usually would. If you normally exercise and eat breakfast in the morning before work, stick to that schedule.
The other way to schedule your day is to evaluate your new normal. If you used to exercise after work, consider energizing yourself in the morning instead. Now that you’ve reduced your commute time, you might find it works well for you! Get to your home “office” around the same time as you used to.

Working with the same schedule is helpful when you work with a team in the same time zone, and you have meetings or calls with colleagues, clients, or management. Your company might require you to keep roughly the same schedule as before. Staying in the same groove helps keep the boundary between work and home clearer.

However, if you’re able to, you might consider shifting your hours to take advantage of the time when you’re most productive. If you’re a morning lark and your most productive time is earlier in the day, take advantage of that. Use the hours for focused work. By contrast, if you’re a night owl, try adjusting your schedule to take advantage of the afternoon or evening hours when you’re most productive.

You might be amazed at how much you can get done when aligned with your natural circadian rhythm. A “weird” schedule works well for companies with colleagues distributed across the globe. Maybe you’re too early for US peers, but you’re able to connect with the UK or European office in the morning.

Whichever schedule you choose, make sure that you’re also scheduling in breaks. According to Cal Newport, in his book Deep Work, most people have only three or four hours a day of focused, deep work. Give yourself a chance to revive after intense focus and play with the kids, pets, and spouse. Take time to eat and go for a short walk to refresh in the afternoon or whenever your slump happens.

Dress pants optional?

 

Wearing formal business clothing from head to toe might feel strange for days spent working at home. But, there is something to be said for keeping up your professional image during video conferencing. For many clients and coworkers, seeing you in your sweats can have a jarring effect on how they perceive your professional role. Also, if you dress as you usually would at the office, it helps you mark the boundary of work vs. home. Remember the TV reporter caught wearing a blazer and shirt but no pants? If you’re fully dressed in business casual, you don’t have to worry about any accidental Zoom flashes!

Make sure you have an ergonomic workspace

 

You might have worked remotely, occasionally, before the corona virus crisis. Sitting on the sofa with your laptop is fine for the odd day when you’re not in the office.

But when you’re working from home all week, you need to set up your computer, desk, and chair so that you don’t harm your shoulders, back, and wrists.

Even after the crisis passes, more employees are likely to work from home, so investing in the proper equipment will pay off.

Soft tissue injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome may take longer to heal than broken bones. You want to avoid them as much as possible. Not only do they prevent you from working, but they prevent you from doing things with your family and friends.

You can find more details about an ergonomic setup here. The center of the computer screen should be eye level when you’re sitting correctly with a straight neck. Your elbows are at a 90-degree angle when you’re typing and mousing, and your wrists are straight.

In other words, you can’t work ergonomically on just your laptop! You’ll need a monitor if nothing else can put your keyboard at the correct height and not strain your neck while typing. Most laptop keyboards are a little challenging to type on correctly. Adding on an external keyboard and mouse, particularly an ergonomic mouse, will help enormously.

Your chair height should allow your knees at a 90-degree angle, your thighs supported, and your feet at rest on the floor. Shorter workers often need a footrest, so their legs don’t dangle when their knees are at the right height.

If you’ve got the necessary equipment (or you’re willing to buy it), consider a sit/stand setup. Sitting all day is unhealthy, so the easier you can make it to switch between standing and sitting, the better. Creating a tread-desk might be worth looking into, especially if you already have a treadmill at home. Switch out your chair for a stability ball or wobble stool for some time during the day.

 

Reduce distractions

The key to productivity, both at home and at the office, is to reduce distractions. Make it as easy as possible to get your work done. Once you’re interrupted, it takes nearly 25 minutes to get back into focus! Stay one task as much as possible, and you’ll get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time. When you’re at home, that’s more time for yourself and your family.

  • Phone

Your phone may be the most distracting tool of all. Place it face down to hide the notifications. Turn off push notifications from any apps on your phone. If you have a work phone, delete any social media apps unnecessary for your job. 

 

  • Household

Create and enforce boundaries while you’re working to avoid interruptions as much as possible. That’s why having a room with a door that you can close is best for working at home, but that’s not always possible or useful. Make sure everyone knows when you’re at your desk that it’s work time (or whatever signal you have that you’re “at work” and not “at home”), and you’re not to be disturbed. 

You have to enforce this boundary with yourself, too. If your kids see on you on Facebook while you’re at your desk for “work time,” obviously not working, they’ll think they can come in and bug you.

 

  • Pets

If you have someone else at home with you to take care of them, that’s great. Otherwise, they may need to be crated or shut out of the room so that you can work in peace. Play with them on your scheduled breaks too, so they get some time to interact with you. Even cats need playtime to stay socialized and healthy.

Here at Platt Wealth Management we’re working remotely, and we’re happy to answer questions or schedule a virtual meeting. Feel free to call us at 619.255.9554 or email us.

The CARES Act Required Minimum Distribution Updates

The CARES Act Required Minimum Distribution Updates

The CARES Act has suspended Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) for 2020.

This update applies to qualified retirement accounts, IRAs, and inherited IRAs. If you have already taken a distribution and you don’t need the money, you may be able to undo your distribution if you meet two rules:

 

  • Distributions must be rolled back into the account within 60 days of the distribution.

 

  • You must meet the once-per-year rule. If you receive a distribution, you cannot roll that distribution into an IRA tax-free within 12 months of another distribution that was rolled over into an IRA.

Generally, RMDs cannot be rolled over back into retirement accounts. However, the CARES Act was retroactive to the beginning of 2020. Since RMDs are suspended, distributions are no longer considered RMDs and are eligible for rollover treatment.

Beneficiaries of inherited IRAs that have already taken distributions are out of luck. They cannot undo the distribution. Inherited IRAs are not eligible for rollovers unless the sole beneficiary is the surviving spouse of the deceased account owner.

RMDs and the two rules for rolling distributions back can be complex with serious tax consequences. Please call your advisor if you have questions or want to discuss your options.

 

Are you on track for retirement?

Making sure you will be ready for retirement can be overwhelming. Funding your retirement accounts over the years is just one part of your journey to the retirement of your dreams. A Certified Financial PlannerTM can help you navigate the complexities of financial planning. Talk to a Financial Planner>

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

Find Out How The CARES Act Affects You

Find Out How The CARES Act Affects You

What is the CARES Act?

 

The CARES Act is a 2 trillion-dollar coronavirus economic stimulus bill signed into law on March 27, 2020. It is designed to offer relief for businesses, families, and individuals who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

From direct payments to unemployment to student loan relief and more, the bill is aimed at combating the economic ramifications of the coronavirus. Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights.

An overview of CARES Act provisions

There are many provisions associated with the CARES Act. Below is a list of the top changes that could impact you.

Direct payments to Americans

Probably the most widespread aspect of this bill is its stipulation to make direct payments to American citizens. All taxpayers will receive $1,200 if they filed single or $2,400 for married couples, with an additional $500 per child. There is an income threshold for direct payments which is $75,000 or under for those who filed single and $150,000 or under for those who are married and filed jointly. If your AGI is above those numbers, the payments begin to phase out.

Unemployment

The CARES Act provides an additional $250 billion for extended unemployment insurance programs. It expands eligibility while also providing qualified workers with an additional $600 per week for 4 months. Unemployment benefits will also be extended through December 31, 2020. 

Who does this apply to?

  • W2
  • self-employed
  • contractors
  • gig economy workers

The CARES Act and your retirement funds

The bill waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 for coronavirus related purposes. This applies retroactively to distributions as early as January 1, 2020. Even though the penalty tax is waived, you will still need to pay income tax on the withdrawals, but it is spread over a three year period. 

The 401(k) loan limit has also increased from $50,000 to $100,000.

• There will be no Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for retirement accounts in 2020. Read our updates regarding RMDs.

Charitable contributions

To further incentivize charitable contributions, the CARES Act establishes a new above-the-line deduction for cash contributions up to $300 made in 2020 to be put on next year’s filing. The limits on deductions for charitable contributions are also changing which especially impacts individuals who itemize deductions.

Business owners

Business owners have had a difficult time navigating the changes to their business in light of the coronavirus. The bill allows employers to delay the payment of their portion of 2020 payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022.

The bill also provides $350 billion dollars to help prevent layoffs and business closures. Companies with 500 employees or less who remain in business are eligible for up to 8 weeks of cash flow assistance.

Several other pieces of the CARES Act impact larger businesses and corporations as well. 

Hospitals and healthcare

With the potential for our health care system to be overwhelmed, the bill provides $140 billion in appropriations to the US health system. $100 billion+ will go directly to the hospitals while the remaining amount will be allotted for providing equipment, testing, Medicare, and other health initiatives.

Coronavirus testing

All coronavirus testing and potential vaccines will be covered to patients at no cost.

State and local government

These branches of government, including tribal governments, will receive a total of $150 billion for education institutions ($30 billion), disaster relief ($45 billion), and transit ($25 billion).

We would love to learn more about you.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

U.S. Posts Record Layoffs

U.S. Posts Record Layoffs

A business financial advisor can help you avoid costly mistakes and maximize your business returns.

We send our best wishes to you, your family, and friends during these difficult times. We are all in this struggle together and we have to support one another. It’s important to be vigilant when it comes to practicing good health habits, social distancing, and self-quarantine. By implementing these measures, the sooner we will be able to adjust to our new normal.

The recession is here. The questions are for how long and how drastic. It’s still hard to tell at this point. The Coronavirus is something we have never seen before.

For instance, initial claims for unemployment insurance surged in the week before last to 3,307,000. To put that into perspective, the week before claims were 282,000. The historic high (the DOL started tracking the data in 1967) was 695,000 in October of 1982. Even at the depth of the Great Recession the highest number of weekly claims was just 665,000. On the morning of April 2, the weekly number skyrocketed to 6,648,000. Unfortunately, we expect the number to rise even more in the next few weeks as the self-quarantine is expanded and businesses lay off more workers.

 

The good news is that the government is doing everything it can to help both business and workers during this time.

 

Congress recently passed the CARES Act which was signed into law on March 27. 

The 2 trillion-dollar coronavirus economic stimulus bill is designed to offer relief for businesses, families, and individuals who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Read more about the CARES Act here.

Are you on track for retirement?

Making sure you will be ready for retirement can be overwhelming. Funding your retirement accounts over the years is just one part of your journey to the retirement of your dreams. A Certified Financial PlannerTM can help you navigate the complexities of financial planning. Talk to a Financial Planner>

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

Why You Need to Clean Out Your Computer Regularly

Why You Need to Clean Out Your Computer Regularly

Depending on how you feel about technology, your computer may or may not spark joy, as Marie Kondo would have it. However, it’s important to clean out your computer from time to time. Just as you clean out your closets and do a spring cleaning.

What parts of the computer should be cleaned?

Both the machine itself, and its inner workings and software.

Make a habit of cleaning your computer physically, following these steps. After you’ve turned it off and unplugged it, of course.

Clean out your computer #1: dust it off and wipe it down weekly.

A soft, dry cloth will do the dusting perfectly well. You can also find special cleaning fluid for your monitor at the store.

 

Regular household cleaners might damage your screen, so just use a soft cloth like microfiber to wipe it. If you’ve got smudges you want to remove, dampen your soft cloth with water (preferably distilled or filtered to avoid streaking) to wipe it.

 

Still have smudges? Mix up a 50/50 blend of distilled water and distilled white vinegar and use that to dampen your cloth. Ammonia may potentially harm the screen, so don’t use commercial glass cleaners as they usually contain ammonia.

 

 If you’ve got a laptop that needs some TLC, wet a clean sponge with water and (mild) dish soap and then wring it out. Use that to wipe the front and back of the laptop, not the screen and laptop inside.

Clean out your computer #2: Clean your keyboard

Turn your keyboard over the trash can and pat it on the back (!) to get rid of crumbs, bits of dirt, hair, etc. If you’ve got some dirt that remains, use a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol or one of the solutions above. When you wipe around the keys, you can prevent them from sticking.

 

You can also get a can of compressed air at most office supply stores and blast out the buildup.

 

If all that isn’t enough, the manufacturer may provide instructions on opening it up so you can clean out the inside.

Clean out your computer #3: Blow dust out of vents, fans, etc.

Compressed air yet once again is your friend. Use a screwdriver to open up the exterior of your desktop, following the manufacturer instructions and making sure the vents and fans are clear of buildup.

 

You might or might not be able to perform the same operation on a laptop, so check the instructions.

 

Clean out your computer #4: Check your surge protectors

You know that power surges can damage your devices. Did you know that one power surge is all it takes to wipe out your surge protector? The light may be on, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually protecting your electronics.

 

Unfortunately there’s no way to know for sure if your surge protector has worn down, unless you purchased one that comes with warning lights. They’re rated in joules. Which means a 1,000-joule surge protector can weather 1,000 joules worth of surge.  If you get one surge of 1,000 joules, your protection is gone. If you get 10 100-joule surges, same thing.

 

If you’ve experienced a major power surge, you should probably replace the protector. A rule of thumb is to get a new one every two years, but that varies. A good way to keep your surge protectors working longer is to unplug devices when you’re not using them.

Do some preventative maintenance on a regular basis for your software.

 

You’ve probably been told to back up your data, and this is very important. You can set up a weekly routine to ensure that if something happens to your computer – it dies, someone spills coffee on it, someone takes the wrong computer at the security checkpoint, or whatever – you haven’t lost the data.

You can use a physical backup such as an external hard drive or a thumb drive. Or use the cloud, in the form of Google Docs or online document storage.

You should also back up your system, not just the data. This usually means selecting a “restore point” (using system restore in Windows) that the computer can roll back to if disaster happens. It’s best to do this on an external drive, because it does require a lot of free space.

We’ve posted some cybersecurity tips, including making sure you have anti-malware software installed, and that you update it when asked. Worms, phishing, hacking and other dangers to your computer mutate all the time. If you don’t update, you’re not protected against the latest threat.

 

Declutter your software.

 

There are a number of ways you can clean up your software.

When you’re not using programs or files on your computer anymore, delete them. This frees up some memory. It ensures your computer doesn’t drown itself in unnecessary data, which slows down its speed. Removing these programs also removes a potential point of entry for hackers.

Clean out your Windows registry, which contains all the details on everything that’s happened on your computer. Make sure you back it up first, in case you make a mistake and have to reinstall the operating system. This isn’t a guaranteed way to make your computer operate more efficiently, but it often does the trick.

Clean out your cookies! Cookies are little text files that apps and browsers install on your computer to make your web browsing experience faster and easier. However, they compromise your privacy because they can be used as spyware. Too many cookies also slow down your system.

It’s a good idea to periodically clear them out: both the text-based cookies and flash cookies. Each browser has a slightly different way of clearing cookies, so follow the instructions for the one(s) that you use.

Run hard drive maintenance. With Windows-based systems this is usually defragmenting and disk cleanup. Your computer might do this automatically, especially if you bought it recently. But you can also run it yourself.

 

We hope you’ve found these computer cleaning tips helpful, and are well on your way to a sparkling PC both inside and out!

 

If you’d like to schedule a financial planning consultation with us to see if your finances need a little TLC, please email us or give us a call at 619.255.9554.

 

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