10 Books to Help You Make Smart Choices With Your Money


money book

Books are valuable, expecially books about money.


When you think about successful money management, what comes to mind? Where do you receive good information? How do you know what books to read to help guide you down the right path?  Most people don’t just obtain wealth out of the blue sky.  If you were to ask most successful people how they obtained their money, they would tell you they worked hard, had some luck/blessing, and they read voraciously. When I first entered the financial planning business, my mentors assigned me a list of books to read to help me understand more about money and how it works.  Since that time 15 years ago, I’ve come across many great financial books and I’d like to share ten books to help you make smart choices with your money.  I’m sure 15 years from now, I’ll have a different list of books that every successful investor should read, but for now, please enjoy.

Disclosure: While I find these books helpful, I don’t agree with every concept illustrated in every book. On your quest for knowledge, you need to determine what works for you and your family.  These book recommendations are not considered to be a solicitation of advice.

If you need help making smart choices with your money, please email me at jose@wisdominvestments.com

Visit our website at www.wisdominvestments.com


10) Rich Dad Poor Dad By Robert Kiyosaki:

This was the first book I read when I entered the financial planning industry. Robert Kiyosaki describes how he had two dads. He takes the time to describe each father’s financial and life philosophies and how each dad is deemed with the names Rich Dad and Poor Dad.  The book does a great job of detailing financial ideas and concepts that allow Rich Dad to be rich and Poor Dad to be poor.  The book would be great for the person who is paying their bills first and feels like there is nothing left to save at the end of the paycheck.


9) The 7 habits of highly effective people By Stephen Covey:

While this book isn’t necessarily about money, I believe this book gives a great blueprint of how to achieve success in your life.  The 7 habits help you to obtain structure to achieve the goals you are looking to achieve in life.  I have found that while the 7 habits aren’t necessarily financial principles, they can be used in almost any financial situation.


8) The Millionaire Next Door By Thomas Payne

The Millionaire Next Door is one of the best books I’ve read that smacks American Consumerism right in the face.  This book details for you what a normal Millionaire looks like, what she might drive, and how he might live.  With today’s images of what it looks like to be a millionaire, this book is a breath of fresh air describing how most millionaires are made and live.

millionairre next door

7) The Investment Answer By Daniel Goldie & Gordon Murray

The Investment Answer helps give every investor an idea of what they should be looking for when they invest money. The book addresses concerns such as how to understand the markets, how to pick a financial advisor, & how to make great financial choices. We love to give this book to potential clients.  Even if a client doesn’t choose to work with us, this book will help them make the best decision possible about whom they should hire.

The Investment Answer

6) How to Think Like Benjamin Graham and Invest Like Warren Buffet By Lawrence Cunningham

This again is one of my personal favorites. This book showcases some of the great ideas of Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffet.  If you don’t have time to sit down and read the 725 page book Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham, then this book is for you. This book challenges some of the stereotypical types of investing methods and dives into value investing.  We again like this book because it compliments some of our own investment management philosophies.

How to think like benjamin graham and invest like warren buffet

“Wisdom Investments has been helping individuals and businesses make smart choices with their money since 1999”.

5) Values-Based Financial Planning By Bill Bachrach

This book describes the need for financial planning according to your unique values. Investing according to your unique values allows you to determine what is really most important to you when planning for your future. We all have values that are important to us. Why would you not consider those values when you are planning for your most important goals in life?


4) Total Money Makeover By Dave Ramsey

Dave’s advice focuses on living a life free of debt and investing money for the long-term. Many people focus on utilizing debt to achieve the things they want in life.  Dave’s radical concepts of approaching all situations without debt can help the individual who has become too reliant on credit cards and bank loans.


3) The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge By Ted Klontz, Rick Kahler, & Brad Klontz

The Five principles to transform your relationship with money” will help you understand the love affair you’ve had with money and how to change it.  Some people tend to focus on attaining more of this and more of that. This book suggests that if we are constantly seeking for more when it comes to money, we may need to start doing some things differently.

financial wisdom of ebeneezer scrooge

2) The Treasure Principle By Randy Alcorn

Where is your treasure? What kind of riches are you seeking? We’ve all heard it is better to give than to receive. The Treasure Principle seeks to show you how to experience joy through the giving of your money.  Maybe many of us haven’t thought about giving as being a gift, but some people have an inborn desire to give of their resources. How much better could your life be if you decided to “Discover The Secret of Joyful Giving”.

the treasure principle

1) Master Your Money By Ron Blue

Ron’s book shows individuals how to manage their money with a Biblical perspective in mind. Many of us who believe in the teachings of Christ already know the Bible has a great blueprint for money management. Master Your Money looks to describe those concepts in detail while giving real world applications and scenarios to help you understand how you can Master Your Money.

Master Your Money


I hope you make time to read some of these great books about money.

“My people are dying because of lack of knowledge”.    

If you need help making smart choices with your money, please give us a call.

Jose Cuevas
Vice President
Wisdom Investments


Prediction Season

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Prediction Season

December 2016

The close of each calendar year brings with it the holidays as well as a chance to look forward to the year ahead.

In the coming weeks, investors are likely to be bombarded with predictions about what the future, and specifically the next year, may hold for their portfolios. These outlooks are typically accompanied by recommended investment strategies and actions that are aimed at trying to avoid the next crisis or missing out on the next “great” opportunity. When faced with recommendations of this sort, it would be wise to remember that investors are better served by sticking with a long-term plan rather than changing course in reaction to predictions and short-term calls.


One doesn’t typically see a forecast that says: “Capital markets are expected to continue to function normally,” or “It’s unclear how unknown future events will impact prices.” Predictions about future price movements come in all shapes and sizes, but most of them tempt the investor into playing a game of outguessing the market. Examples of predictions like this might include: “We don’t like energy stocks in 2017,” or “We expect the interest rate environment to remain challenging in the coming year.” Bold predictions may pique interest, but their usefulness in application to an investment plan is less clear. Steve Forbes, the publisher of Forbes Magazine, once remarked, “You make more money selling advice than following it. It’s one of the things we count on in the magazine business—along with the short memory of our readers.”[1] Definitive recommendations attempting to identify value not currently reflected in market prices may provide investors with a sense of confidence about the future, but how accurate do these predictions have to be in order to be useful?

1. Excerpt from presentation at the Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles, April 15, 2003.

Consider a simple example where an investor hears a prediction that equities are currently priced “too high,” and now is a better time to hold cash. If we say that the prediction has a 50% chance of being accurate (equities underperform cash over some period of time), does that mean the investor has a 50% chance of being better off? What is crucial to remember is that any market-timing decision is actually two decisions. If the investor decides to change their allocation, selling equities in this case, they have decided to get out of the market, but they also must determine when to get back in. If we assign a 50% probability of the investor getting each decision right, that would give them a one-in-four chance of being better off overall. We can increase the chances of the investor being right to 70% for each decision, and the odds of them being better off are still shy of 50%. Still no better than a coin flip. You can apply this same logic to decisions within asset classes, such as whether to currently be invested in stocks only in your home market vs. those abroad. The lesson here is that the only guarantee for investors making market-timing decisions is that they will incur additional transactions costs due to frequent buying and selling.

The track record of professional money managers attempting to profit from mispricing also suggests that making frequent investment changes based on market calls may be more harmful than helpful. Exhibit 1, which shows S&P’s SPIVA Scorecard from midyear 2016, highlights how managers have fared against a comparative S&P benchmark. The results illustrate that the majority of managers have underperformed over both short and longer horizons.

EXIBIT 1.      Percentage of US Equity Funds That Underperformed a Benchmark


Source: SPIVA US Scorecard, “Percentage of US Equity Funds Outperformed by Benchmarks.” Data as of June 30, 2016.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment; therefore, their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. The S&P data is provided by Standard & Poor’s Index Services Group.

Rather than relying on forecasts that attempt to outguess market prices, investors can instead rely on the power of the market as an effective information processing machine to help structure their investment portfolios. Financial markets involve the interaction of millions of willing buyers and sellers. The prices they set provide positive expected returns every day. While realized returns may end up being different than expected returns, any such difference is unknown and unpredictable in advance.

Over a long-term horizon, the case for trusting in markets and for discipline in being able to stay invested is clear. Exhibit 2 shows the growth of a US dollar invested in the equity markets from 1970 through 2015 and highlights a sample of several bearish headlines over the same period. Had one reacted negatively to these headlines, they would have potentially missed out on substantial growth over the coming decades.


In US dollars. Indices are not available for direct investment. Their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. MSCI data © MSCI 2016, all rights reserved.


As the end of the year approaches, it is natural to reflect on what has gone well this year and what one may want to improve upon next year. Within the context of an investment plan, it is important to remember that investors are likely better served by trusting the plan they have put in place and focusing on what they can control, such as diversifying broadly, minimizing taxes, and reducing costs and turnover. Those who make changes to a long-term investment strategy based on short-term noise and predictions may be disappointed by the outcome. In the end, the only certain prediction about markets is that the future will remain full of uncertainty. History has shown us, however, that through this uncertainty, markets have rewarded long-term investors who are able to stay the course.

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Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.
Diversification does not eliminate the risk of market loss. Investment risks include loss of principal and fluctuating value. There is no guarantee an investing strategy will be successful.
All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This article is distributed for informational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services.






7 Ways To Teach Your Kids About Money


A couple of weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity to spend some one on one time with my oldest son. He is 8. You would think that me being in the financial services industry, I would talk to my kids constantly about money. Well, I don’t. We have some conceptual conversations here and there, but we don’t really talk about money the way we should. Well, that all changed two weeks ago.

As my son and I sat in the car talking, he asked “Dad, how much money do you have?” I paused for a moment and then replied with the approximate dollar amount of my portfolio. My son’s eyes lit up and he said “Wow, that’s a lot of money”! Now, you may be saying to yourself, why on Earth would you tell your child how much money you have? The answer to that is I wasn’t completely certain at the time. However, the conversation went further. “Dad, how did you save that much money”? I replied, “Son, I saved that money little by little and I invested in the market, so I could earn a return which would help my money grow”. He says “How”? At that moment, we were sitting in the car outside of Wal-Mart. I had the perfect opportunity to show him. I said, “Son, what is Wal-Mart”? He responds, “A store to buy things”. I said, “Yes, and that store sells items made by other companies”. You can take your money and give it to Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart then takes your money and tries to make more money with it. “Does that make sense, Son”? “Kind-of, How does Wal-Mart make more money”? “Wal-Mart buys products at a discounted price, then they increase the price, sell it to you and basically that’s how they make money”. “So, do you think Wal-Mart would be a good place to invest your money” I asked.  “I don’t know”, said my Son. “Ok, Son. Tell me, do you like watching the Disney channel?” “Yes”. “Do you think the Disney channel will be around for a while”? “Yes”. “And, what about Disney World? Do you think people will continue to want to go to Disney World”? “Oh Yes, definitely”, said Zj. “Well, do you think Disney would be a good company for you to invest some of your money”? “Yes”. Our conversation continued to talk about companies that made toys, food, toilet paper and more. This conversation had me thinking about how people talk to their kids about money. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Somewhere along the line, we were taught that talking about our money was taboo. We were taught it’s even worse to tell your kids about your money. The other day I had a choice to make. I could be transparent with my son and share how much money I have or I could have skated around the subject. The fact that I shared the truth allowed my son to ask me more questions, which helped me talk about money in a way he could understand. This of course came with a disclaimer to my son that he can’t tell anyone how much money we have, including his little brother who can’t keep a secret to save his life. If you tell the little one something and say “don’t say anything”, he literally looks like he’s going to explode with excitement to tell someone. We can all utilize different means of talking to our children about money. Just because this was a good approach for me, doesn’t mean it is the best one for you. However, there are some universal concepts that we need to begin to embrace with our children.

Without further ado here are the seven ways to teach your children about money

1) Money is a tool:

Money shouldn’t be used to manipulate people or show your success. You have money so that you can Live, Give, & Enjoy. You should balance how you live, with what you give and what you enjoy. If there is a balance in these three areas, then you will be content.

2) Give 10%.


Teach your children to give 10% of everything they earn before they do anything else with their money. Some people may say “why on Earth would you give 10% before anything else?” The answer is because we are taught to do this in the Bible. We are taught to give of the first fruits of what we receive. Giving before you spend helps you guard your heart against the love of money. Even successful people who aren’t believers of the Bible utilize this concept when giving money.

3) Save 10-20%.


Kids love to buy things with the money they earn. If you don’t take the time to show them how to save the money, they will spend every dime before you blink. Set up a bank account at your local credit union so your child can experience going to the bank to deposit their funds.

4) Enjoy what you’ve earned.


After you’ve saved and given, It’s ok to buy something nice for yourself or for someone else. If you save every penny of what you earn you will not be a very happy person and people probably won’t want to be around you.  Getting an ice cream or a Spider-Man action figure is ok if you’ve already set some money aside.

5) Start a business.


This could be as simple as setting up a lemon-aide stand for a young child or as complex as trading bit-coin on the computer for your teenager. The point is that you should teach your child to learn how to create wealth rather than just getting a job to work for someone else. While it is important to teach kids the value of work, I’d rather teach mine how to work for themselves.

6) Take your kid to sit in a meeting with your financial advisor.

If you prepare your advisor ahead of time, she will know what she can and can’t say in front of your son. Having your child sit and listen in on a conversation about money from the professional shows your child that the advice of a professional is useful. Your child also realizes meeting with a financial advisor is common and normal. You also set the stage that you don’t have all the right answers and even you need to surround yourself with wise counsel to make good decisions.

7) Set a spending budget for your children.

This one comes from me watching a friend give his debit card to his son the other day. His son wanted to buy something from the coffee shop. Dad handed him his debit card and said “your limit is $10”. His son is 11. This one act does so much, but I’ll focus on a couple of things. One, the child knows he can’t spend more than the budget Dad set. This idea naturally implants the idea of limits being put on spending. Dad could have said, here go by what you want, but having a set limit helps his son make good choices while at the store. The #2 thing this example shows is how much trust you can build with your child with this simple act. By giving that debit card, Dad said without using words “I trust you. Make a good choice”. His son will benefit from that for years to come.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these 7 tips.

Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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If you’d like to learn more about how we help you “Plan with Purpose”. Please visit our website at www.highfivefinancial.com or call us at 847-290-0753.

Jose Cuevas

Presidential Elections and the Stock Market


Picture Courtesy Of CBS.COM

Next month, Americans will head to the polls to elect the next president of the United States.

While the outcome is unknown, one thing is for certain: There will be a steady stream of opinions from pundits and prognosticators about how the election will impact the stock market. As we explain below, investors would be well‑served to avoid the temptation to make significant changes to a long‑term investment plan based upon these sorts of predictions.


Trying to outguess the market is often a losing game. Current market prices offer an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the aggregate expectations of market participants. This includes expectations about the outcome and impact of elections. While unanticipated future events—surprises relative to those expectations—may trigger price changes in the future, the nature of these surprises cannot be known by investors today. As a result, it is difficult, if not impossible, to systematically benefit from trying to identify mispriced securities. This suggests it is unlikely that investors can gain an edge by attempting to predict what will happen to the stock market after a presidential election.

Exhibit 1 shows the frequency of monthly returns (expressed in 1% increments) for the S&P 500 Index from January 1926 to June 2016. Each horizontal dash represents one month, and each vertical bar shows the cumulative number of months for which returns were within a given 1% range (e.g., the tallest bar shows all months where returns were between 1% and 2%). The blue and red horizontal lines represent months during which a presidential election was held. Red corresponds with a resulting win for the Republican Party and blue with a win for the Democratic Party. This graphic illustrates that election month returns were well within the typical range of returns, regardless of which party won the election.

Exhibit 1.        Presidential Elections and S&P 500 Returns
Histogram of Monthly Returns, January 1926
–June 2016

election-and-returnsPast performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment; therefore, their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. The S&P data is provided by Standard & Poor’s Index Services Group.


Predictions about presidential elections and the stock market often focus on which party or candidate will be “better for the market” over the long run. Exhibit 2 shows the growth of one dollar invested in the S&P 500 Index over nine decades and 15 presidencies (from Coolidge to Obama). This data does not suggest an obvious pattern of long-term stock market performance based upon which party holds the Oval Office. The key takeaway here is that over the long run, the market has provided substantial returns regardless of who controlled the executive branch.

Exhibit 2.        Growth of a Dollar Invested in the S&P 5election00, January 1926–June 2016

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment; therefore, their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. The S&P data is provided by Standard & Poor’s Index Services Group.


For More Information on how we help clients “Plan With Purpose”, please Contact Us.


Jose Cuevas
President & CEO
High Five Financial

Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This information is intended for educational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services.

Diversification does not eliminate the risk of market loss. Investment risks include loss of principal and fluctuating value. There is no guarantee an investing strategy will be successful.

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment; therefore, their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. The S&P data is provided by Standard & Poor’s Index Services Group.

Equity markets can help investors grow their assets, but investing is a long-term endeavor. Trying to make investment decisions based upon the outcome of presidential elections is unlikely to result in reliable excess returns for investors. At best, any positive outcome based on such a strategy will likely be the result of random luck. At worst, it can lead to costly mistakes. Accordingly, there is a strong case for investors to rely on patience and portfolio structure, rather than trying to outguess the market, in order to pursue investment returns

Three things you can do today to save money

If you’re like most American families, you are always on the lookout for a deal or ways you can save money.  Today I’d like to share three quick an easy ways you can save some of your hard-earned money.

1) Appeal your property tax assessment:property-tax

Last week I received my new assessed value for my home.  The value of my home for property tax purposes was increased by 23%!!! You can imagine the sticker shock I felt as I reviewed that bill.  In a perfect world if I were to sell my house today, MAYBE I would get what the county assessors have declared, but it’s doubtful. So, I could accept what Cook County says about the value of my home or I can take a couple of minutes and do some research to find homes in my neighborhood that have recently sold for less than what the County is saying my home is worth.  If you are time strapped there are companies who will do the 10 minutes of work for you.  If you live in Cook County like I do, the times vary to file your appeal. Click here to see your appeal timeline. I’m sorry Schaumburg Township, it appears your time has already passed. The rest of you, your time is running out. So, get busy.  Here is a link to the property search on the cook county assessor’s website.

2)  Refinance Your Home:


With interest rates still hovering at record lows, you could refinance your home to take advantage of cheaper borrowing costs. Last year, I took the time to refinance my home from a 30 year mortgage down to a 15 year mortgage. I’m not saving money right away.  As a matter of fact, I’m paying about $150 more per month than I was on my 30 year mortgage. That small increase on today’s mortgage is going to save me approximately, $175,000 in interest I would have paid the bank. Refinancing to a 15 year mortgage is not the only option you have.  You can use 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 year options to refinance your home at the best rate possible and term for your situation.  It is important to talk to a qualified professional before refinancing. A contact I’ve come to trust over the years is Bianca Stone with Guaranteed Rate mortgage. High Five Financial does not receive compensation of any kind from Bianca Stone or Guaranteed Rate Mortgage company. However, I do know her to be a trustworthy person. There are other professionals you can speak with as well. If you would like more names, please contact me.

3)  Start a systematic savings program


This tip is literally “Saving” money.  Many people receive their work paycheck, they saved something to their 401k and then they spend the rest of their money on bills, living and luxury. Saving money into your 401k or retirement plan is a great thing. And, it’s not the only place you need to save. There are many places you can save outside of your 401k like savings accounts, money markets, and mutual funds. Contact us to learn more. The trick to having a good savings program is deciding in advance what you would like to save from paycheck to paycheck.  Sometimes $50 is all you can afford.  Other times you can save an entire paycheck.  Obviously the more money you choose to save the better off you’ll be. However, every little bit you are able to sock away will make your financial situation that much better. Many companies make it very easy for you to set up a systematic savings program. Somes companies don’t make it easy as it’s not their primary business objective. Find the person and company you are comfortable working with to help you achieve your savings goals.

There you have it. Three quick and easy ways you can save money today. I hope you found this helpful.  If you would like to receive more tips, sign up for our blog. If you have a question about a financial issue, contact me at 847-628-9777.

Many Blessings,

Jose Cuevas
President & CEO
High Five Financial


Don’t Get Distracted


As you’ve probably noticed, volatility in the markets has increased over the last few days and it’s probably not going to change in the short term.  The VIX, which measures current volatility in the markets or what investors think will happen in the stock market has increased by more than 15%.  We find a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the world  from “What’s going to happen when Trump or Hilary become President” to “How long can the Fed justify keeping interests at their current level”.  We have crises happening across multiple zones of our world.  Oil prices don’t seem to want to stay stable and we continue to see Corporate greed in the headlines of our newspapers. The latest scandal involves Wells Fargo.  To quote Bill Hybels, we find ourselves in “Uncharted Waters”.

For most Americans, we probably think of volatility or uncertainty a bit differently. We measure in terms of, “Will I be able to pay for daycare this month”, or “Have I saved enough money for my retirement considering the rising cost of health care”.  We tend to translate what’s happening in the Macro down to our micro level.  That’s ok, but we need to remember that those things really don’t affect some of the fundamentals of what you need to do to be successful and accomplish your goals. Sure, if rates are low and you like to invest in cd’s for income, you’re going to need to search for a different vehicle.  But, it shouldn’t change what your long term outlook should be of your overall situation.

I’ve said this before, but we tend to let today’s headlines distract us from our more long term goals. We think because Fox News, CNN & NBC say it’s true, then it must be.  I kid you not, as I was writing that last sentence, my partner unprovoked, came into my office and commented on a couple of news articles that he found ridiculous this past week.  One article about Hilary Clinton and another about standing during our National Anthem.  That right there tells me I’m right about my thinking.  What am I thinking? I’m thinking that most of the junk we see on the tv and in the papers distracts us. What do these articles distract us from? You take your pick.  But, I’ll stick to what’s relevant to finance. It distracts you from making sound financial decisions for your future.  Divisive articles distract you from developing your own thoughts and opinions about the current state of our economy.  They distract you from sitting down and spending time to analyze your goals. They stop you from reading intelligent material that would make your life better.  And so on. My rant is over….

My point in all of this is that you have a goal. You have a purpose. You are trying to get from “here to there”.  You need to drown out all of the noise that distracts you from making the decisions necessary to make your life better. Stop listening to the talking heads and focus and what you can do to get where you need to be.

What are you going to do today to look past the headlines and take charge of what you want for your life?


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Back To School


See what we think about College Education Costs: http://mediahub.financialpicture.com/view/10197/493

Back to School

September 2016

With school back in session in most of the country, many parents are likely thinking about how best to prepare for their children’s future college expenses. Now is a good time to sharpen one’s pencil for a few important lessons before heading back into the investing classroom to tackle the issue.

THE CALCULUS OF PLANNING FOR FUTURE COLLEGE EXPENSES According to recent data published by The College Board, the annual cost of attending college in 2015–2016 averaged $19,548 at public schools, plus an additional $14,483 if one is attending from out of state. At private schools, tuition and fees averaged $43,921. It is important to note that these figures are averages, meaning actual costs will be higher at certain schools and lower at others. Additionally, these figures do not include the separate cost of books and supplies or the potential benefit of scholarships and other types of financial aid. As a result, actual education costs can vary considerably from family to family.

Exhibit 1.        Published Cost of Attending College Annually


Source: The College Board, “Trends in College Pricing 2015.”
To complicate matters further, the amount of goods and services $1 can purchase tends to decline over time. This is called inflation. One measure of inflation looks at changes in the price level of a basket of goods and services purchased by households, known as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Tuition, fees, books, food, and rent are among the goods and services included in the CPI basket. In the US over the past 50 years, inflation measured by this index has averaged 4.1% per year. With 4% inflation over 18 years, the purchasing power of $1 would decline by about 50%. If inflation were lower, say 3%, the purchasing power of $1 would decline by about 40%. If it were higher, say 5%, it would decline by around 60%. While we do not know what inflation will be in the future, we should expect that the amount of goods and services $1 can purchase will decline over time. Going forward, we also do not know what the cost of attending college will be. But again, we should expect that education costs will likely be higher in the future than they are today. So what can parents do to prepare for the costs of a college education? How can they plan for and make progress toward affording those costs?
To help reduce the expected costs of funding future college expenses, parents can invest in assets that are expected to grow their savings at a rate of return that outpaces inflation. By doing this, college expenses may ultimately be funded with fewer dollars saved. Because these higher rates of return come with the risk of capital loss, this approach should make use of a robust risk management framework. Additionally, by using a tax-deferred savings vehicle, such as a 529 plan, parents may not pay taxes on the growth of their savings, which can help lower the cost of funding future college expenses. While inflation has averaged about 4% annually over the past 50 years, stocks (as measured by the S&P 500) have returned over 9% annually during the same period. Therefore, the “real” (inflation-adjusted) growth rate for stocks has been around 5% per annum. Looked at another way, $10,000 of purchasing power invested at this rate for 18 years would result in around $24,000 of purchasing power later on. We can expect the real rate of return on stocks to grow the purchasing power of an investor’s savings over time. We can also expect that the longer the horizon, the greater the expected growth. By investing in stocks, and by starting to save many years before children are college age, parents can expect to afford more college expenses with fewer savings. It is important to recognize, however, that investing in stocks also comes with investment risks. Like teenage students, investing can be volatile, full of surprises, and, if one is not careful, expensive. While sometimes easy to forget during periods of increased uncertainty in capital markets, volatility is a normal part of investing. Tuning out short-term noise is often difficult to do, but historically, investors who have maintained a disciplined approach over time have been rewarded for doing so.
Working with a trusted advisor who has a transparent approach based on sound investment principles, consistency, and trust can help investors identify an appropriate risk management strategy. Such an approach can limit unpleasant (and often costly) surprises and ultimately contribute to better investment outcomes. A key part of maintaining this discipline throughout the investing process is starting with a well-defined investment goal. This allows for investment instruments to be selected that can reduce uncertainty with respect to that goal. When saving for college, risk management assets (e.g., bonds) can help reduce the uncertainty of the level of college expenses a portfolio can support by enrollment time. These types of investments can help one tune out short‑term noise and bring more clarity to the overall investment process. As kids get closer to college age, the right balance of assets is likely to shift from high expected return growth assets to risk management assets. Diversification is also a key part of an overall risk management strategy for education planning. Nobel laureate Merton Miller used to say, “Diversification is your buddy.” Combined with a long-term approach, broad diversification is essential for risk management. By diversifying an investment portfolio, investors can help reduce the impact of any one company or market segment negatively impacting their wealth. Additionally, diversification helps take the guesswork out of investing. Trying to pick the best performing investment every year is a guessing game. We believe that by holding a broadly diversified portfolio, investors are better positioned to capture returns wherever those returns occur.


Higher education may come with a high and increasing price tag, so it makes sense to plan well in advance. There are many unknowns involved in education planning, and there is no “one size fits all” approach to solving the problem. By having a disciplined approach toward saving and investing, however, parents can remove some of the uncertainty from the process. A trusted advisor can help parents craft a plan to address their family’s higher education goals.



Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This information is intended for educational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of market loss. Investment risks include loss of principal and fluctuating value. There is no guarantee an investing strategy will be successful. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment; therefore, their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. The S&P data is provided by Standard & Poor’s Index Services Group.