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Welcome to The Essential Blog. Here, Tommy discusses timely financial topics and life strategies you can use to filter the noise and maintain an Essential perspective.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Investors are increasingly worried about a bear market and recession. What does history tell us about these periods? Here are 3 keys for proper perspective:

Monday, May 16, 2022

As investors adjust to a seemingly new economic landscape, many wonder if "it's different this time." In this challenging market environment, have the rules of investing changed?

Thursday, May 12, 2022

With inflation hovering near 40-year highs, some investors are looking for alternative ways to weather the storm. For many, a Series I Savings Bond is just the ticket. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting started with I Bonds.

Monday, May 9, 2022

The market environment has been challenging all year. What lessons can remind investors that nothing worth doing is easy?

Monday, May 2, 2022

The negative GDP report for the first quarter has some worried about a recession. How can investors stay optimistic in this difficult environment?

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Monday, April 25, 2022

Diversification can help investors during this period of market uncertainty, despite challenging performance across many asset classes. Here's perspective to help you stay focused amid day-to-day market swings.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Time and patience are the key ingredients to successful long-term investing. In this environment, how can investors focus on these time-tested investment principles to achieve long-term financial goals?

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Markets have stabilized after a rocky first quarter of 2022. What drove this volatility and how could it impact the rest of the year? Here are 5 insights for perspective for Q2 and throughout the remainder of 2022.

Monday, March 14, 2022

The U.S. dollar has had a tumultuous few years. The U.S. government is also exploring the possibility of a “digital dollar.” What does the strengthening dollar mean for investors and consumers in the months ahead?

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Geopolitical risk is an unavoidable part of long-term investing. How can investors stay level-headed amid all the headlines today?

Monday, February 14, 2022

It's important to keep inflation, consumer sentiment, and the overall growth of the market in perspective when making long-term financial decisions. Here are three relevant impacts of rising prices:

Monday, February 7, 2022

How can investors view government spending with the right perspective and stay focused on what drives markets in the long run?

Monday, January 24, 2022

At the moment, headlines are focused on the stock market correction. Here is some perspective to help understand and navigate the volatility.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Financial markets have had a rocky start to the year. Here are 3 key reminders for investors during this period of uncertainty.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Investors are adjusting to a more hawkish Fed. What perspective can we take as markets price in higher rates?

Monday, January 3, 2022

Markets have performed well over the past two years despite the on-going pandemic and economic concerns. What lessons can investors use from this as we move into 2022? Here are 5 Insights:

Monday, December 13, 2021

Inflation has reached its highest level in almost four decades. What does persistent inflation mean for long-term investors?

Monday, November 29, 2021

The latest COVID-19 variant, omicron, has some investors concerned. What lessons learned from the pandemic can be applied to this latest strain?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Investing is often as much about psychology as it is about facts and figures. The holiday season is the perfect time for investors to remember that there is still much to be thankful for amid the uncertainties.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Inflation continues to be a hot topic as markets adapt to worsening supply chain disruptions. However, not all inflation is the same and requires a clear understanding of what's driving prices higher. Here's some essential perspective:

Friday, October 22, 2021

To help raise revenue to pay for President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan, Congress is considering a number of tax law changes, including adjusting estate taxes. One of the proposals would reduce the estate tax exemption to...

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

There are a lot of questions about President Biden’s Build Back Better plan and potential tax law changes, including an adjustment to capital gains taxes. Here’s a look a some of the proposed changes:

Monday, October 18, 2021

Earnings season for Q3 is already off to a strong start. Concerns over supply chain bottlenecks, the delta variant, rising rates and more threaten company bottom-lines. Here's what to expect from corporate profits in the quarter ahead:

Monday, October 4, 2021

As we begin the final quarter of 2021, the economy is shifting from a recovery phase to a sustained expansion. Investor sentiment has shifted alongside this, swinging from bullishness to bearishness. What's next? Here's our Q4 Outlook:

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Partisan drama is once again center stage as the debt ceiling deadline approaches. Although this has become a regular occurrence in Washington, many investors are still understandably nervous. Here is some essential perspective:

Monday, September 20, 2021

As concerns grow about risks building within the global financial system, remember that there are always reasons to fear that the sky is falling. Rather than overreact to every new headline, investors should maintain perspective:

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

There are perhaps no two topics as controversial as deficits and taxes. With new spending and tax proposals being released, it's important to distinguish your personal views from how taxes affect markets.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Markets are increasingly concerned about tighter monetary policy by the Fed and its impact on valuations, interest rates and more. How can long-term investors navigate the policy changes and economic uncertainty that lie ahead?

Monday, August 16, 2021

One of the risks that all investors must manage is geopolitical uncertainty. Headlines on regional and global crises are not only alarming but can take investors by surprise. How can you stay calm in the face of global events today?

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The economy has officially surpassed pre-pandemic levels after the sharpest recession and recovery in history. Here's how the next phase of the business cycle affects investors:

Monday, July 19, 2021

As it often does, the stock market has hit a rough patch due to concerns around the delta variant, economic growth, interest rates and more. Here is some perspective on the market decline:

Monday, July 12, 2021

The housing market continues to heat up alongside the post-pandemic boom. Where will prices go from here? And as the market further eclipses pre-2008 levels, how does this affect investors?

Monday, June 28, 2021

2021 has been a historic year for the economy and stock market with economic activity recovering at a once-in-a-lifetime pace. As we consider the past few months and look toward the second half of the year, here are 5 issues to consider:

Monday, June 14, 2021

With equity markets again at or near all time highs, some investors are enthusiastic about this momentum while others may be worried that stock prices have run too far too fast. How can all investors stay disciplined in this environment?

Monday, May 24, 2021

These days, financial markets may feel more uncertain than ever. Most headlines seem to serve as a catalyst for more and more concern. Against this backdrop, how can investors stay focused on their long-term financial plans?

Monday, May 17, 2021

What's going on with inflation? It's on the rise and investors are raising concerns. Here is some perspective:

Monday, May 10, 2021

As with many things in life, investing is often about managing expectations - for markets, portfolio returns and the economy. Here are some essential insights to help put recent economic and market expectations in perspective.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Will your retirement dreams match your reality? That's perhaps the most critical question asked of people who are currently retired. Here are some highlights from the 2021 Retirement Confidence Survey that might surprise you.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Exceptional growth and soaring market returns also call into question the sustainability of the business cycle. What does this mean for Investors?

Friday, April 23, 2021

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have been the recipient of the latest buzz. What are they? Here's the scoop:

Thursday, April 1, 2021

If you're curious about how Inflation, Interest Rates and Taxes might affect the markets, this one is for you. Get into the details with these 5 Insights from our Q2 2021 Outlook.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Even with the S&P 500 and Dow both reaching new all-time highs last Friday, there are often gaps between what we believe may matter and what actually does. Here's how to balance fear and complacency in spite of the headlines:

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

There’s an old Wall Street maxim that says, “markets climb a wall of worry.” And these days, there’s plenty to worry about with the trend in long-term interest rates. The 10-year Treasury yield in recent weeks...

Monday, March 15, 2021

With the latest $1.9 trillion stimulus package now signed into law, over $5 trillion has been authorized over the past year. How does this massive new stimulus package impact investors? Here are 3 key insights.

Monday, March 8, 2021

How everyday investors react to uncertainty is often more important than what they are reacting to. Here's why you should focus on years instead of days or weeks:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Rising bond yields dampened investor enthusiasm for high-multiple growth companies last week, sending market averages mostly lower in a holiday-shortened week of trading.The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.11% for the week. But...

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

It can be easy to overlook the nation’s solid economic fundamentals when the financial media splashes stories every day about an army of amateur traders, short-selling mania, and initial public offerings (IPOs) that double in...

Monday, February 8, 2021

Investors often find it more natural to be pessimistic. After all, with one's hard-earned savings on the line, it's hard not to focus on what can go wrong. Here is some perspective on economic trends and a few reasons for optimism.

Monday, February 1, 2021

What captures the attention of investors, the media and the general public is often not what matters for portfolios, saving for retirement or achieving financial security. Here are 3 things you may have missed as Reddit took on Wall Street:

Friday, January 29, 2021

You may have heard the news about stocks for certain companies suddenly ballooning, quickly going from lunch money prices to several hundred dollars a share. In one case, the shares rose over 1700% since December 2020.1 So, what...

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

With financial markets recovering due to economic optimism, reduced political uncertainty and the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, interest rates have also increased. What signals are interest rates sending today and what should we expect?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

As the stock market's steep climb continues, some investors worry about the possibility of a bubble. While major stock markets are certainly expensive by historical standards, here are 3 important points to consider.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

For investors, the new year is a time to reflect on the lessons of the past twelve months. As we begin 2021, here are seven important lessons and insights for the coming year to help you maintain perspective.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The U.S. is beginning to roll out the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week just days after it was approved by the FDA. Investors should maintain realistic expectations and stay disciplined in the short term for these 3 reasons:

Monday, November 30, 2020

As we approach the end of 2020, the stock market is hovering near record highs. What do these recent new highs mean for investors? Here's our perspective:

Monday, November 16, 2020

As COVID-19 cases rise, new restrictions are being considered. This has been a heated political issue as the balance between economic activity, personal liberties and control of the coronavirus is debated. How should investors react?

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Now that several major news groups have projected Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election here's a review what type of legislative support would be needed to pass certain proposals.

Monday, November 9, 2020

After this heated election, investors need perspective. Where does the market conversation go from here?

Monday, November 2, 2020

Despite short-term uncertainty around the presidential election and recent stock market turbulence, there are clear signs that the economy continues to recover. Here is some timely perspective on the bigger picture:

Monday, October 26, 2020

With the Election just around the corner, it's important to remember what affects markets in the long run. While our votes should reflect our personal beliefs and preferences, here's why it's best for our portfolios to stay out of politics.

Monday, October 19, 2020

As the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, it's likely that corporate profits will follow suit. Some recent headlines suggest a two year earnings recession. Is this to be expected and how would it affect investors?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The stock market's strong performance since March has not been shared by all parts of the market. Some sectors have fared much better than others. It may feel "fragile", "unsustainable" or even "artificial" to some. Here's some perspective.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Recent economic data show that we may be near the halfway point in the recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown. However, there is evidence that the second half may take much longer. Are there 2 recoveries? Here's our perspective:

Thursday, October 1, 2020

After what has been a challenging year, many investors are worried about how markets may react in the fourth quarter. Grab a cup of coffee and read on for our Q4 2020 Outlook and 5 insights to help put the uncertainty in perspective.

Monday, September 21, 2020

After a historic six-month rally, the stock market has fallen from its all-time high at the beginning of September. Should investors be concerned about a market correction as uncertainty remains?

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The stock market has hit a rough patch with high-flying tech stocks facing pressure. After such a swift recovery for the stock market, is this the beginning of a more severe correction or perhaps a repeat of the late 1990s dot-com crash?

Monday, August 31, 2020

How do presidential elections affect the stock market? Should investors fear either party winning the White House? Is it best to sit on the sidelines until the dust settles? Check out the blog for answers to these questions and more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

With the markets now calm, it's more important than ever for investors to reflect on the last several months. Here are 3 important lessons from this period that can serve investors throughout their financial journey.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Two high-profile companies—Apple and Tesla—have announced stock splits in the past few weeks, which makes it a great time to discuss what’s involved when a company announces a stock split. Here are the details:

Monday, August 17, 2020

After only six months, the stock market has surpassed where it started the year and is near a new record high. This is further evidence that by staying disciplined and invested, investors are more likely to achieve their financial goals.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

How do the markets usually react to elections? Was the 2016 election any different?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Rather than react to daily coronavirus headlines, you should continue to stay disciplined. Job trends matter more than scary headlines. Here are the facts:

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Last week's GDP data for the second quarter showed that the economy suffered its worst decline in history over those three months. What does this mean for Investors? Check out this week's blog post.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Once again, the stock market is back to where it started. However, not all parts of the market have behaved the same. What's driving the performance?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

While there are still many challenges with COVID-19, there are also reasons to be optimistic. These 2 critical factors, which were sources of concern in March, are important to understand as we approach the rest of 2020. Here's the data:

Monday, June 8, 2020

The stock market has recovered swiftly. Curious how this affects Investors? Check out our latest blog post.

Friday, June 5, 2020

What's happening in the Market?? We are not out of the woods yet, and there will be more bad economic data to come, but a clear light at the end of the tunnel can help investors stay on track and help to justify recent market performance.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

As states cautiously begin the process of relaxing their COVID-19 restrictions, some are wondering, “Why is the stock market doing so well when the economy is doing so poorly?” It’s a great question, and fortunately,...

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably been thinking about your health quite a bit lately — especially if you’re approaching retirement. Anticipating your future medical costs can feel daunting. Here is some essential info.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Even in “normal” times, the news can be depressing. But these days, it can seem like there’s an awful lot to worry about. Here’s a sampling of the types of headlines I’ve seen recently. Feel free to give yourself a mental break.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

As of Friday, April 24, the Internal Revenue Service said it had issued 88 million payments to individuals across the country. Here are 7 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to consider.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Here are two key changes you should know about Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) tucked into the gigantic “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security” (“CARES”) Act.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up nearly every aspect of American life. To say it’s been a difficult time would be an understatement. However, difficult times may open doors to new possibilities. Businesses are changing their...

Monday, March 30, 2020

Tired of the "Bad News" news cycle? The relentless headlines and soundbites can cause anxiety and negatively impact our general outlook. It's time to turn off the news and replace it with these 4 practices.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Air travel is stressful. While some stress may be unavoidable, dealing with stress from luggage check-in and baggage claim can be reduced. Here are 5 simple strategies that may help you make next getaway with only carry-on luggage.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Apps. We all love ‘em and there are millions available, but most aren't worth your attention. We’ve highlighted 5 that we’ve tested, regularly use and approve...

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The US equity markets have been setting records recently and are sitting near all time highs. Are you excited or concerned? Either way, if you’re led by your emotions, you will more than likely fail...

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

If you’ve ever wondered why a molehill turned into a mountain on a simple task, it could be due to lack of process. Having a process makes tasks not only efficient, but in most instances, a process can create desired outcomes....

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September is officially National Preparedness Month, and it is no coincidence that this national awareness month happens to take place during peak hurricane season. As I am writing this, tropical storm Gordon is quickly approaching...

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Whether or not you have children back in school, this can be a great time of year for all of us to incorporate some discipline and focus into the routine. These 4 productivity tips can help in any season of life...

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

When you look at your life today, are you where you thought you'd be 5 years ago? Do you wonder how you ended up here? In this post, we'll show you how to connect all the dots and develop a clear plan for your future...

Monday, July 23, 2018

In 2014, after stumbling upon Essentialism by Greg McKeown, I was grabbed by definition of Essentialism - really it's the subtitle on the book: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It has impacted me both professionally and personally,...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

It has been 242 years since this great country first declared it’s freedom but in today’s world of constant distractions and concerns about security, liberty is easily taken for granted. I know I’m guilty....

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A budget is essential to attaining and maintaining a work-optional lifestyle. Hidden expenditures can potentially snowball into unwanted debt. In this post we list out four hidden expenses you may have forgotten to add to your budget!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The road to financial independence is fluid and dynamic. As life unfolds, you inevitably face what we call Critical Financial Events. Some will be surprises, but many you can predict and prepare for. This post outlines...

Thursday, May 31, 2018

When we visit with the families we serve or those who’ve been introduced to us, there are common questions that always come up. In this post we answer four of these frequently asked questions...

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Have you ever found a charge on one of your bank cards that wasn’t yours? Well, one of our team recently did, and this post gives you the process you should use to get your money back! We also outline a few strategies to being...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and if you struggle every year to find that perfect gift for your mother, grandmother, or spouse then this article is for you! Below is a list of the best items we’ve seen over the...

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Now that spring is here everything snaps back to life, including things around the house! Which is why we covered this list of six essential spring cleaning items around the house on our podcast, one of which you can do from the...

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

If you have visited my office, you have probably seen a copy of the book Essentialism on my desk. This book has been pivotal in helping me discover where my highest point of contribution should be. If you haven't read it, I highly...

Friday, January 5, 2018

The new year brings new resolutions and goals for everyone, Barko Financial is no different. This year we look to move our practice further into to a stewardship role for our clients and we will be adding additional valued services....

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The need to care for special-needs children may continue into their adult years, and even after the passing of their parents. The care choices are wide ranging—family, health-care aides, special-care facilities, day programs, and...