Syverson Strege and Company | Sherpa Investment Management - Blog

Stop Worrying!

by sscosherpablog

stop_worrying_road_signA recent study indicates that Americans are in an almost perpetual state of worry and anxiety over their financial situation.  In the study, 85% of interviewees felt financial anxiety in some form.   Also, 70% said it impacted their home life and 51% saw it negatively change their social life.

Here are the top 5 sources of the financial anxiety, according to the study’s participants:

  1. Unplanned emergency (38%)
  2. Unplanned medical expense due to illness (34%)
  3. Insufficient savings to retire (32%)
  4. Outliving my retirement savings (21%)
  5. Becoming a financial burden (20%)

The study can be summed up this way: we fear what we do not know.  This makes sense; if you’re uncertain as to whether you can financially withstand an unplanned emergency, or have the ability to retire, that can create unease.

Do any of these worries sound familiar?  The best approach to ease your worries is to plan ahead and re-examine that plan on an annual basis.  A trusted advisor, such as a fee-only financial planner, will work through these types of scenarios with you and help you build a plan in advance.  This plan should be reviewed annually to assess if you’re on track or whether circumstances have changed.

Lance Gunkel, CFP®, CFA

Protecting Your Social Security Number from Identity Theft

Theft of Social Security cardHaving your identity stolen is a pain.  It is also much more prevalent.  This article from the Social Security Administration provides a couple of tips to help protect your identity.  The article also provides a few key steps of what to do when you discover that someone else is using your social security number.

David Strege

The Planning Paradox of Social Security

The US Government and the Social Security Administration is trying to keep the funding feasible going forward.  This ever evolving issue requires further changes to have all eligible retiring Americans receive their full benefits.  If this isn’t accomplished there may be a group retiring after 2035 that receive lower benefits.  Late in 2015 some changes were made taking away some payout options for Social Security retirement benefits.  This article digs into this topic further and the challenge of  trying to figure our future social security retirement benefits and the impact on retirement planning.—a-planning-paradox-28195.html?section=197

-David Strege, CFP®, CFA

Government Rules Traps Disabled in Poverty

When you have a family member that has an extended health issue and disability the Government rules can cause them to lose benefits when they work full time.  They end up with limited resources and financially insecurity.  There are about 50 million Americans with disabilities.  How does a family provide assistance to a disabled family member without causing them to lose benefits because too much is in their bank account?  A recent movement is some States are approving ABLE legislation.  Click on the link to learn more about these accounts if it applies to your situation.

-David Strege, CFP®, CFA

Education About Life Transitions

by sscosherpablog

As life transitions occur additional education and guidance is sought.  Retirement from full time employment is one of those transitions that most of us go through.  We normally have recommended “The New Retirementality” by Mitch Anthony as one such resource.  Another book for other transitions like mid-life crises or selling a business is “Half Time” by Bob Buford .  We would like to know what books you have read that have helped you through life events.  If you have a guiding book that you would recommend to others please share the book title and author with us by sending an email to David Strege at  We would like to restock our reading library to be able to share these books with others.

-David Strege, CFP®, CFA

Be Ready for this Journey and the Next – an article from Social Security

Do you have your checklist ready for your next vacation?  Planning ahead and making a list helps make such trips more enjoyable.  Do you have a plan and checklist for the next transition in your life.  If entering retirement is your next transition then one of the steps needs to be to make sure to set up your access to your Social Security reports at my Social Security. Additional layers of security have now been added to access you Social Security benefit information online with a cell phone text code authorization.

More information is found in this article at

-David Strege, CFP®, CFA


How to determine SPAM mail

Sometimes it’s noteasy to determine if an e-mail that has arrived in your inbox is SPAM (Phishing/Spoof) or not. Spammers are very good at disguising their e-mails to look legit. I am hoping to provide you with some tips that could help you make your decision.

Example is in a picture below.

blog post graphic

Most SPAM (Phishing/Spoof) e-mails are looking for you to open either an attachment (NEVER DO THIS IF YOU ARE UNSURE) or to click on their link. (Like above in the picture.) To determine if the “click here” link is relevant, hover over the link with your mouse pointer and it will show what URL the link will be directing you too. For safety reasons, DO NOT click on the link until you know for sure it is going to the website you are comfortable with. The URL in the example above has no connection with the domain from which the e-mail came from.

When you hover over the link and the address’s domain ends in a different country’s top level domain (like the one above is: .in) such as .jp for Japan, .in for India, for the UK, you should try to avoid them. Common domains would include more common extensions like .com, .gov,.edu, & .mil. This doesn’t mean all of the common domains would be safe, but it is a start. Spammers are really devious in that they can build web pages that look very similar to known websites.

If hovering over the link does not provide you with the info you would like, you can also copy and paste the URL into a Word document. Once in the Word document, you should be able to right click on the URL and select “Edit Hyperlink”. Selecting “Edit Hyperlink” will pop up a window that will show the web address this link is trying to get you to follow.

Lastly, if you are unsure of what to do and you have received an e-mail that is very convincing, call your contact of the company this e-mail claims it is generated from. They will be able to tell you if this is a spoof or scam e-mail.

I hope this helps you in the future when you receive a questionable e-mail and are unsure of what to do.

– Tim Schau

Brexit commentary

This morning we awoke to the news that Britain voted to depart the European Union.  This is an important change that will alter economies worldwide and for which there is very little precedent (Greenland departed in 1982).

Below are a few key points:

  • The investment markets are currently falling as a reaction to the news, while investors continue to determine the long-term consequences.
  • We anticipate the British pound to fall in value against the US dollar and Japanese yen, as it is currently doing.
  • Nothing immediate will happen to businesses and individuals as a result of the vote.
  • Negotiations will take place to lay out the details of Britain’s exit; it’s likely that Britain will invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which will give Britain two years to agree to terms of the departure.
  • During departure negotiations, Britain must choose one of two paths, and neither is particularly attractive:
    • Become a member of the European Economic Area, and then contribute to the EU’s budget and allow for the free movement of people across borders.
    • Opt out entirely, then trade with EU member nations under the rules of the World Trade Organization (this is how America and China trade with EU nations).  According to many economists, this second option is more unattractive from an economic standpoint.
  • A British pound that declines in value relative to other currencies has several consequences, including:
    • It will be more difficult for other countries to sell goods in Britain as they become relatively more expensive.
    • British ex-pats will find their cost of living rise substantially (there are many living in Western Europe and Asia).
    • US companies doing business with Britain will see earnings decline as they convert their revenue (received as pounds) back to US dollars.

The team at Syverson Strege and Company & Sherpa will continue to watch the news coming from the UK and look for signals that may alter our investment course.  As of today, we find that our strategies are well-diversified to withstand economic and political shocks such as this.

If you have any questions, please give us a call or an email.  We are here to help guide you through rocky economic terrain, and that’s exactly what Brexit represents.

– Lance Gunkel, CFP®, CFA

Why So Many Americans Have No Savings

This link shares the results from a recent survey that 47% of Americans don’t have immediate access to $400 without borrowing or selling something.  This study then dug deeper and found 40% can’t raise $2,000 within 30 days.  This PBS interview discusses the author’s challenges with maintaining a cash reserve.

– David Strege, CFA, CFP®

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day ribbonWorld Elder Abuse Awareness Day occurs in June.  The link below takes you to a Social Security page to help understand some of the issues that elders deal with.

More information on this topic can be obtained by watching David Strege’s presentation on Economic Security.  This was part of the Calvin Community Embrace Aging initiative.  All of the previous months presentations are also available for viewing.