News & Info

Making Sense of Market Headlines

 
In a brief video, Loring Ward’s Director of Investment Research, Matt Carvalho talks about the latest market headlines and events from the past quarter. Click on link to watch the video: Making Sense of Markets - Headlines Q4-2016.
 
Information in the video is for educational purposes only. Loring Ward is not affiliated with Houston Asset Management, Inc. or SagePoint Financial Inc.
 

Expect to Pay More for Valentine's Day Tokens of Affection; 2017 Cost of Loving Index Tracks Prices of Popular Gifts

 
Expressing your love this Valentine’s Day doesn’t come cheap with higher price tags on several popular tokens of affection, according to the 2017 Cost of Loving Index. However, you can share a romantic toast with a bottle of Simi chardonnay for 33 percent less than it cost last year.
 
The annual Cost of Loving Index, compiled by Houston Asset Management, has tracked the prices of nine popular Valentine’s Day gifts since 1990.
 
The not-so-sweet news this year is that the Simi wine uncorked the only price decrease on the index, with five items costing more than last year and three gifts remaining price stable. Overall, the index shows that couples can expect an eight percent increase over 2016 prices to show their love. By comparison, the 2016 index was less than one percent higher than 2015.
 
“The Cost of Loving Index is not scientific and intended to be a fun play off of the national cost of living index, which is a theoretical price index that measures relative cost of living over time,” said Bob Frater, CFP®, CEO of Houston Asset Management. “We have found that both indexes end up with about the same rates over a long period of time. Although some luxury Valentine’s Day gifts will experience spikes.”
 
Houston Asset Management tracks the price of each particular item being sold at the same store or online from year to year.
 
“Our clients look forward to receiving the Cost of Loving Index each year, and as financial planners, it’s one way to remind them about the rising costs of common items and the benefits of long-term saving,” said Frater.
 
This year’s index marks an 8.34 percent increase for a dozen long-stemmed roses delivered to your loved one at a cost of $140.73, or almost $12 a stem. The cost of a romantic candlelight dinner for two at a top restaurant is a whopping 30 percent higher than last year at $363. Add a first-run movie to the date and spend $23.80 for tickets, which is 8.18 percent more than last year.
 
The other two items with price increases this year include a classy men’s designer silk tie, six percent higher at $175, and a $5.25 Valentine Day greeting card, which is 16.67 percent higher than 2016.
 
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an average of $136.57 this year on Valentine’s Day gifts and experiences, down from a record high of $146.84 last year. The organization reports that the number of people who plan to celebrate the holiday has fallen 10 percentage points since 2007, to 54 percent this year.
 
The three romantic items rounding out the Cost of Loving Index with the same price as last year are heart-shaped box of Godiva chocolates at $100, a silk nightie at $68 and a $325 one-ounce bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume.
 
Item

1990

2016

2017

1-Yr

Inception*

Simi Chardonnay - Russian River Valley $26.00 $44.64 $30.00 -32.8% 0.53%
Dozen Long-Stemmed Roses Delivered $65.00 $129.90 $140.73 8.34% 2.90%
Godiva Chocolates in Heart-Shaped Box $70.00 $100.00 $100.00 0.00% 1.33%
Candlelight Dinner $140.00 $280.00 $363.00 29.64% 3.59%
First Run Movie for Two $12.00 $22.00 $23.80 8.18% 2.57%
Chanel No. 5 Perfume - 1 oz. $195.00 $325.00 $325.00 0.00% 1.91%
Valentine Greeting Card $1.75 $4.50 $5.25 16.67% 4.15%
Designer Silk Tie $60.00 $165.00 $175.00 6.06% 4.04%
Lingerie $30.00 $68.00 $68.00 0.00% 3.08%
TOTAL $599.75 $1,139.04 $1,230.78 8.05% 2.70%

 *Annualized Inception percent change since 1990.

 

 

Stratford High School Senior Awarded HAM CF Scholarship to Pursue Business Career

Justin Carlin, a graduating senior at Stratford High School with aspirations of a future career as a CFO, has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship from Houston Asset Management Charitable Foundation. He will be attending Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
 
“Justin is an impressive young man who is focused on his goal of pursuing a career in business management at a Fortune 500 company,” said Bob Frater, CFP®, CEO of Houston Asset Management, a Houston financial management firm. “He has exhibited strong leadership skills and an excellent academic track record. We are confident in his career vision and proud to award him our scholarship.”
 
Recognizing a need to help deserving business students, Houston Asset Management has awarded more than $88,000 in scholarships made possible by donations from the firm and its clients who participate in an annual golf tournament.
 
“Degrees in business help develop a variety of skills,” said Justin. “I learned from my school advisors that there is a 60 percent increase in job opportunities for accounting and finance majors, with rewarding salaries. I have always been interested in business and this scholarship will help me pursue my goals and will lessen the financial strain on my family. I hope to be able to give back to them some day if they need it.”
 
Texas A&M University was Justin’s first choice for college because his family members are “die hard Aggies.” He plans to take advantage of the internship opportunity offered by Houston Asset Management during the summer between his junior and senior year.
 
 
 
Pictured (l-r) are: Rich Welsh, CFP®, Bob Frater, CFP®, Richard Hollis, Justin Carlin and Christopher M. Brown, CFP® and Bob Hampton, CFP®.
 

Go ahead and spoil loved ones
2016 Cost of Loving Index Shows Steady Prices for Popular Valentine Gifts

 
Toasting Valentine’s Day with a Russian River Valley chardonnay will cost a lot more this year, but a dozen long-stemmed roses are surprisingly less expensive, according to our 2016 Cost of Loving Index.
 
Our annual report tracks the cost of nine popular Valentine’s Day gift items. Overall, romantics can expect to spend about the same to express their affections as only two items on the index increased in price.
 
According to the National Retail Federation, February 14th is the fourth-largest occasion in terms of consumer spending, averaging $142 per person.
 
“As investment advisors, we enjoy sharing the index with clients as a fun way to demonstrate the impact of discretionary spending, ” said Bob Frater, CFP®, CEO of Houston Asset Management. “In 1990, the total cost of the gifts on the index was about $600, and this year the price almost doubles at $1,139. Only two items increased in price this year, and the overall index is less than one percent higher than 2015—so that’s good news. ”
 
The Cost of Loving Index shows that the price for Simi chardonnay increased $19 a bottle, or a whopping 75 percent, while the cost for delivery of long-stemmed roses reverted to its 2014 price of $129.90 for a 12 percent decrease. Last year, the roses cost $147.22—about 14 percent more.
 
Expect to spend the same for a sweet heart-shaped box of Godiva chocolates ($100), two first-run movie tickets ($22), a romantic candlelight dinner ($280), or the enticing scent of Chanel No. 5 perfume ($325). A designer silk tie for him increased three percent ($165) while an alluring nightie for her costs the same at $68. Add a suggestive greeting card to the gift ($4.50) and pay five percent less for it than last year.
 
For gift-givers who are budget-conscious, or those wanting to spend-to-impress, highlights from the 2016 Cost of Loving Index can help guide purchase decisions.
 
2016 Cost Of Loving Index
Item 1990 2006 2015 2016 1-Year Annualized 10-Year Annualized Inception 1990
Simi Chardonnay – Russian River Valley $26.00 $25.00 $25.40 $44.64 75.75% 5.97% 2.10%
Dozen long-stemmed roses delivered $65.00 $121.00 $147.22 $129.90 -11.76% 0.71% 2.70%
Godiva chocolates in heart box $70.00 $85.00 $100.00 $100.00 0% 1.64% 1.38%
Candlelight dinner $140.00 $260.00 $280.00 $280.00 0% 0.74% 2.70%
First run movie for two $12.00 $17.00 $22.00 $22.00 0% 2.61% 2.36%
One ounce Chanel No. 5 Perfume $195.00 $260.00 $325.00 $325.00 0% 2.26% 1.98%
Valentine greeting card $1.75 $5.00 $4.75 $4.50 -5.26% -1.05% 3.70%
Designer silk tie $60.00 $120.00 $160.00 $165.00 3.13% 3.24% 3.97%
Lingerie $30.00 $65.00 $68.00 $68.00 0% 0.45% 3.20%
Total $599.75 $958.00 $1,132.37 $1,139.04 0.59% 1.75% 2.50%
*The Cost of Loving Index is prepared annually by Houston Asset Management, Inc., a registered investment advisory based in Houston.
**Annualized
 

Houston Asset Management Awards $10,000 Scholarship to Bellaire High School Graduate Headed for Princeton

Houston Asset Management Charitable Foundation has awarded a $10,000 scholarship to Bellaire High School Graduate Marina Finley to pursue a degree in economics at Princeton University and its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Marina was one of 57 applicants from all over Houston to apply for the scholarship dedicated to a student pursuing a career in business with a major in a financial-related discipline. This will be our 9th scholarship award, now totaling more than $78,000 in scholarships to deserving students in the greater Houston area.
 
“We were very impressed with Marina’s focus and commitment to her career goals,” said Bob Frater, CFP®, CEO of Houston Asset Management. “The panel that interviewed her included several of our clients and we admired her confidence, her educational performance and her involvement in school activities. She is the only applicant we have ever had with a career goal to impact public policy in emerging countries through private market investment and implementation of microfinance programs that spur entrepreneurship. She has a bright future ahead of her.”
 
Marina said she has always wanted to attend Princeton University. She was reminded of that when her fifth-grade teacher mailed her the letter she wrote to herself as part of a class assignment to capture written goals at the time. “The letter was a time capsule experiment and I was so excited to open it and read my own words written a long time ago that I wanted to attend Princeton,” said Finley. “It is such an honor to receive this scholarship that will help me achieve that goal.”
 
Marina credits the Bellaire High School Model United Nations program for sparking her interest in economics and public policy. The program is an extra-curricular activity in which students typically role play delegates to the United Nations and simulate committees. Finley served as its president for two years.
 
Marina also hopes to take advantage of the internship opportunity offered by Houston Asset Management during the summer between her junior and senior year.
 
 
 
Pictured top row are: Rich Welsh, CFP®, Richard Hollis and Christopher M. Brown, CFP®. Bottom row: Bob Frater, CFP®, Marina Finley and Bob Hampton, CFP®.
 

Volunteering with Fort Bend Habitat for Humanity

On June 5, 2015, Houston Asset Management, Inc. participated in its third annual community service project with Fort Bend Habitat for Humanity. Due to the recent rains, we were unable to help with construction on the new house project. Instead, we volunteered clearing debris from a demolished home that previously occupied the lot in preparation for the next Build in Richmond, Texas.
 

 
 
We started with an empty dumpster and piles of debris.
 
    
 
By noon, we had the lot half cleared and the dumpster completely full.
 
  
 
We have now participated in three different phases of a Habitat Build and hope to experience more phases years to come. Habitat for Humanity strengthens communities through the building of homes, hope and opportunities for families to help themselves. For more pics, click here.