FINANCIAL CONCEPTS BLOG

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A Trumpet Call of Freedom

Everyone knows that July 4th is “America’s birthday.”  It’s the commemoration of our national independence.  A day for fireworks and fun, patriotism and pie.  A celebration of America itself. 

But in a sense, the Fourth of July is even more than that. 

Two-hundred and forty-two years ago, a group of Americans gathered together to sign one of the most extraordinary documents ever written.  We’re referring, of course, to the Declaration of Independence.  Historians debate which day the signing actually took place, but in the grand scheme of things, details like that don’t matter. 

What matters is what came next. 

A Trumpet Call of Freedom

President John F. Kennedy explained it best in a speech he gave on July 4, 1962.1 Standing inside Independence Hall, the same place the founders gathered almost two centuries before, he said:

[The Declaration of Independence] was, above all else, a document not of rhetoric but of bold decision.  It was, it is true, a document of protest – but protests had been made before.  It set forth grievances with eloquence – but such eloquence had been heard before.  But what distinguished this paper from all the others was the final irrevocable decision that it took – to assert the independence of free States in place of colonies, and to commit to that goal their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. 

That Declaration, whose yellowing parchment and fading, almost illegible lines I saw in the past week in the National Archives in Washington, is still a revolutionary document.  To read it today is to hear a trumpet call.  For that Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs.  Its authors were highly conscious of its worldwide implications, and George Washington declared [later]that liberty and self-government everywhere were, in his words, ‘finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.’ 

This prophecy has been borne out.  For 186 years this doctrine of national independence has shaken the globe – and it remains the most powerful force anywhere in the world today.  There are those struggling to eke out a bare existence in a barren land who have never heard of free enterprise, but who cherish the idea of independence.  There are those who are grappling with overpowering problems of illiteracy and ill-health and who are ill-equipped to hold free elections.  But they are determined to hold fast to their national independence. 

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln spoke in this hall, [paying] a brief but eloquent tribute to the men who wrote, who fought for, and who died for the Declaration of Independence.  Its essence, he said, was its promise not only of liberty ‘to the people of this country, but hope to the world…hope that in due time, the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.’ 

The theory of independence is old as man himself, and was not invented in this hall.  But it was in this hall the theory became practice; that the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson’s phrase, that “the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. 

When word first came out that the United Colonies were henceforth free and independent States, it didn’t stop at this country’s borders.  As if carried on the wind, it flew across oceans and over mountains.  It rang in valleys and swept across desert plains.  It penetrated walls and fortresses and iron curtains.  It launched revolutions and birthed democracies.  It was a trumpet call that reached every corner of the world – one that still echoes to this day. 

When we celebrate the Fourth of July, we’re observing more than just our nation’s birthday.  We’re commemorating an event that shook the world off its old axis.  We’re participating in a grand, ongoing experiment.  An experiment to maintain, to protect, to uphold certain truths – that all people are created equal.  

This Independence Day, take a moment to look over at your friends and family as they look to the skies.  And when the first glint of rockets reflects in their eyes, ask them if they hear it.  The word.  The prophecy.  The trumpet call. 

Because there’s no sound more beautiful. 

On behalf of all of us at Financial Concepts, we wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!

 

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24/7/365

 

We are all bombarded with information and headlines from various news organizations and social media platforms, 24 hours a day. The power of technology has put a world of information at our finger tips. We are all just one click away from infinite information at any given moment. The more eye-catching the headline the more likely we are to click, read, or watch. And unfortunately, the more dramatic or sensational the story, the better it sells, making it more likely we will tune in and stay glued to the screen. A recent Nielson & Pew Research Center study found that heavy cable TV news viewers watched an average of 72 minutes of news every day…or 26,280 minutes a year.

 

With a world of information readily available, it’s harder than ever to stay focused on our financial plans, plans that our built around our own individual goals and objectives, rather than reacting to the headline of today. We recently sent our clients an article by one of our favorite authors, Nick Murray. Nick takes a fascinating look at recent headlines compared to what actually happened. We loved how the article breaks down what the financial media reported compared to what actually happened, giving truthful context and perspective along the way. If you’d like a copy, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

For over 30 years, we have had the privilege of helping folks plan for their financial futures. Serving as our clients financial guide, we promise to help them stay focused on your long-term financial future instead of the latest headline. We know that this is sometimes easier said than done, and if you ever feel anxious or concerned about something you’ve read, seen, or heard, please know that we are just one phone call away, 662-327-1480.

 

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Did you know doing nothing is taking action?

We are bombarded every day with information that tells us we should be doing something with our money. But sometimes doing nothing is the most important action we can take.

 

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The Power of Gifting

The Power of Gifting

With Christmas just a few days away, it’s probably not a stretch to think that you may have last minute Christmas shopping on your mind. With gifting in mind, we want to quickly outline some of the benefits of investment-related gifting.

First of all, financial gifting can have both positive financial and also internally gratifying results. Gifting can be a great estate planning tool that allows you to transfer your wealth to others during your lifetime.

Another great part of gifting is that you can see the gift put to good use. Some of the non-tax related benefits include the joy of being able to see your recipient enjoy your generosity. This may be helping a child or grandchildren gain financial independence, or it could be seeing your favorite local charity put the funds to use to help those in need.

Another benefit is that you control the distribution of your property. You express how you want your property distributed after your death by executing a will. However, since you won't be around to see what actually happens (for example someone may disclaim your gift), you won't be able to react to any change in circumstances. Lifetime giving allows you to adjust your gifts to changing circumstances and, at the same time, provides the most control over how your estate is distributed.

One of the major financial benefits of gifting is the gift tax exclusion. The annual gift tax exclusion is a federal exclusion that allows you to give $14,000 in 2014 per donor to an unlimited number of recipients/charities/organizations without incurring federal gift and estate tax.

There are many advantages and benefits to gifting. Some are gratifying while others are financially beneficial. As you make your gifting plan, remember the true meaning of the season!

From all of us at Financial Concepts, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

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Cyber Security

October is synonymous with fall, Halloween, and more recently Breast Cancer Awareness, but what many don’t know is that October is fast becoming Cybersecurity Month.

With the internet becoming more prevalent worldwide in the last decade, it’s important for everyone to be secure when accessing the internet. There are many different ways your computer may be targeted. From using a credit card to purchase things from your favorite store online, to accessing the internet at the airport, there is potential for your computer to be targeted.

Most computers hold copies of important and private documents. Personal documents such as bank statements, birth certificates, and even something as innocent as your daily calendar can be useful to a person with malicious intent.

But don’t fret! There are some very simple, inexpensive ways to protect yourself against a cyber-break-in.

  • Use a prepaid debit card for online transactions
    • If there were a security breach and the prepaid card number was stolen, there would (ideally) be nothing left for them to take. If it were your personal debit card number, they would gain access to your entire account.
  • Invest in malware protection for your personal computer
    • In many cases, your local computer store or shop will have great recommendations for which malware protection software to buy based on your type of computer and what you use it for.
  • If you keep a calendar on your computer, keep it somewhat vague
    • Do this in whatever way works best for you. If you keep a calendar for meetings, try imputing either the first or last name of the person you’re meeting instead of both. Keep locations out of the description. If this isn’t possible, try investing in a password protected calendar.
  • Set a lock screen on your cell phone
    • Your phone holds lots of personal information, from text messages and emails, to the personal contacts of family and friends. Most lock screens employ a four digit passcode. This will deter someone from breaking into your phone and accessing your personal info.
  • Once you’re done with a site, log out
    • This will lessen the time window for someone or something to access your page. Even something as innocent as social media contains sensitive information. The security questions for lots of sites ask for your mother’s maiden name, first pet etc. Many times, this information is readily available to someone looking at your social media profile.
  • Never accept a free USB or device charger (cell phone, laptop, tablet etc.) from a stranger
    • This could be an attempt to gain access into your devices and corrupt your files.

For more information on this topic on protecting yourself visit www.dhs.gov/cybersecurity or www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/computer_protect.

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Financial Concepts is a registered investment adviser located in Columbus, MS. Financial Concepts may only transact business in those states or countries in which it is registered, or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. For non-clients of the firm, Financial Concepts’ web site is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its investment advisory services.
 

Please contact Financial Concepts at 662-327-1480 to find out if we may conduct advisory business in the state or country where you reside. Accordingly, Financial Concepts does not, and will not, effect or attempt to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, through this website. Any subsequent, direct communication with a prospective client shall be conducted by a Financial Concepts representative who is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state or country where the prospective client resides.