A Lot To Be Thankful For

Budgeting, Investing & Retiring, Retirement

Our 24-hour news cycle may seem to bring us nothing but an endless series of conflicts and depressing news – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Good news is available if you are willing to dig for it and look at things in a positive context. And we don’t mean “fake news”.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, why not brush all the pessimism and petty behavior to the side for a bit? Instead, let’s be thankful for these economic highlights of the year.

Record-Setting Stock Market – The stock market continues to rise, defying skeptics. As of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Index hit record highs on 54 different days in 2017 – just over one-quarter of the days that the Dow was open for trading.

The Dow is up 18.9% for the year, the S&P 500 is up 15.2%, and the NASDAQ is up 24.7%. This doesn’t guarantee that your 401(k) is generating plenty of money for your retirement, but it certainly increases the chances. Let the free Retirement Planner by MoneyTips help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.

Low Unemployment – The unemployment rate dropped to 4.1% in October, the lowest value since February 2001. The U-6 unemployment value that also includes “marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons” is at 7.9%, the lowest value in over ten years. By the end of October, there were a record 85 straight months of job growth.

If you are looking for a job, this is good news. Low unemployment means less competition for any job opportunity that catches your interest, and it should lead to higher wages (although that effect is lagging behind).

Low Inflation – The core inflation rate (excluding food and energy prices) has been at 1.7% for the past six months as of October 2017 – a two-year low. Gas prices are slightly higher than a year ago – approximately 26 cents on average – but they are falling after a hurricane-induced spike. Should this trend continue, the overall inflation rate might stabilize below 2% as well.

Inflation erodes your purchasing power over time. Currently, your purchasing power is in good shape, especially in historical context. If you are old enough to remember the double-digit inflation of the early 80s, a prolonged inflation rate near 2% is hard to believe.

Low Interest Rates – How long can mortgage interest rates stay near historically low levels? It appeared that 2017 may break the trend with 30-year fixed rates starting the year over 4.2%, but rates have dropped to around 3.9% as of late October.

Interest rates are still quite low compared to the double-digit interest rates of the 1980s – or even the 6% to 7% interest rates from 2000-2008.

Rising Home Values – Homeowners who made it through the housing crisis have reason to smile these days. The Zillow Home Value Index reached $202,700 at the end of September, showing a steady rise after bottoming out at $151,000 at the end of 2011.

With more equity in your home, you may now qualify for refinancing that can save you significant money – thanks to those low interest rates noted above. MoneyTips is happy to help you get free refinance quotes from top lenders.

Of course, all of these economic blessings will change over time. Stock markets dip and rebound, home prices fluctuate, and employment goes through cycles. But why think about that now? Counter the daily blasts of negative news with some positive economic perspectives, and go into your Thanksgiving holiday thankful for all the blessings that you currently have in life – economic or otherwise.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/fstop123

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