Look to Japan for the future of robotic checkout

This year, the talk of robots taking over our jobs has grown louder. Robots can build cars and even quick serve restaurants are using more technology at the front of the house. But you have to look to Japan for the future of self-checkout systems as they are already going live. Thanks to an aging population, Japan is searching for answers to mitigate expected labor shortages in their homeland. Because of this, the government in conjunction with their five major convenience stores plans to introduce self-checkout in the next several years. The new age registers will instantly calculate the prices of all items in a basket at once and also bag them for you.

The shift to passive investing and the coming "perfect storm"

I just read an interview with retired fund manager Bob Rodriguez who managed award winning FPA mutual funds in stocks and bonds. Like us, Rodriguez believes in owning cash when there is a storm on the horizon and he held significant amounts of cash (30-40%) in 2000 and 2008 in his actively managed stock mutual fund. He is now retired but he is seeing a perfect storm developing thanks to the huge shift into passive management where there are NO cash holdings. When the next downturn hits, many of those invested strictly in passive instruments will likely be hit extremely hard and their timing will be poor to hit the sell button. Here are his insights on the coming storm:

Confident Americans set to spend record amount on summer vacation

For the next couple of months, your Facebook and Instagram feeds will likely be dominated by beach holiday photos, beers in the sand and people's legs at the pool. School is out for summer and people are ready to vacation!

American consumers are as confident as ever and this should translate to a great summer spending season. This summer, Americans are expected to spend a total of $101.1 billion on vacations this year, representing a robust 12.5% increase from 2016, according to projections from the Vacation Confidence Index released Wednesday by insurance company Allianz Global Assistance. This is the first time in the index’s eight-year history that spending has exceeded $100 billion. 

This is why the stock market will go up from here

The first half of the year has come and gone. The S&P 500 ground its way higher and finished the first half up 9.3%. Unsurprisingly it has been robust S&P earnings that drove the markets to new all-time highs. Reported earnings were up 18% year over year. Despite the new administration's failure to pass new tax policy so far, analysts weren't expecting much movement in 2017 so earnings estimates haven't disappointed in the least. In fact, companies have continued to beat expectations on the top and bottom line and we expect more of the same in the second half. This has the Runnymede investment team optimistic heading into the second half of the year. As the market continues to hit new highs, there seems to be a guru warning of the next crash on a weekly basis. Just ignore the noise for now.

This $60 gadget will make you work out harder and get fit

You may be wondering if you are in the right place. Did the Runnymede blog suddenly switch gears and turn into a fitness blog? Now don't you worry, we are still writing about finance and investments but we also believe in 4 pillars of health -- physical, mental, spiritual and financial. While the blog focuses on financial health, we believe that you should work on the other pillars as wells. I thought you may find this interesting because I did when I saw this short video by Bloomberg writer Aki Ito who tried 17 wearable technologies in her quest to get fit.

What Financial Health Means to Me #FinHealthMatters

We all "get" physical health.  There are 15 gyms within a 2-mile radius of my house.  Even the bag of corn chips on my desk is trying to convince me that it's healthy -- natural, organic, non-GMO.  But we know better.  We know that we need to exercise regularly and should forego the chips for an organic apple.  On the other hand, financial health is often the neglected step-child to physical health, mental health, and spiritual health.  In my nearly two-decades working with clients as an investment adviser, I know that even the fittest crossfitter needs to address and nourish her financial health in order to achieve balanced, good systemic health. 

Would you entrust your investments to a guy named Dr. Doom?

I recently went to see a local production of "The Emperor's New Clothes" which is based off a short story by Hans Christian Anderson where two weavers promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that they don't see anything for fear that they will be seen as unfit or stupid. Finally a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" and the weavers are exposed for the frauds that they are. Sadly this happens in real life and market gurus who get airtime on popular financial TV programs are there for entertainment, not for actual substance. Make sure that you know the difference.

5 reasons why I enjoy making loans on Kiva

Almost 10 years ago in October 2007, I made my first loan on Kiva.org whose mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. My loan was to Mrs. Doung in Cambodia who needed $1,200 to purchase a motor-bike to transport her children to work. She was earning just $4.80/day in revenue and her husband was earnings $3.60/day. Such is life in the developing world and they were probably considered lucky earning more than $1/day;. In the end she made her payments on time and 20 months later, her loan was paid off in full. Since then I have made 2410 more loans in 79 countries around the world and I have enjoyed helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses and help their families in the process. It is thrilling to know that Kiva just passed an unbelievable milestone -- Kiva lenders created over $1 billion in loans! I'm honored that I could be a part of it. Here are 5 reasons why I enjoy making loans on Kiva.

3 essential financial tips for recent college graduates

It is that time of year where college graduates enter a new phase of their lives. Yes that is me from 20 years ago after earning my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Richmond. I can't believe that so much time has passed but I thought I would share 3 financial tips for recent college graduates because most people learn little to nothing about it in school -- which is pretty crazy to think that our kids aren't taught crucial life skills like finance but I will leave that topic to another day. Let's dive right in.

Using a 529 plan to pay for gap year

Last year, Malia Obama made headlines when the White House announced that she would take a gap year between high school and college. The hiatus from classrooms, textbooks and tests has been a common occurence in other countries like Australia, UK and Israel; and it has become an increasingly popular choice in the US. I didn't take a gap year but I studied in the UK during my junior year of college and backpacked across Europe with friends. Traveling certainly expanded my worldview and I would encourage my own daughter to consider a gap year. In today's global economy, it can only help to have more experience with other cultures and a perspective that expands well past any borders. The concept is that college bound students go on an adventure, do something meaningful and arrive as a freshman a year later more mature and focused. This can be a year of travel, community service, interning, language immersion or working -- or a combination of any of those.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Runnymede Capital Management, Inc.), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Runnymede Capital Management, Inc. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Runnymede Capital Management, Inc. is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of Runnymede Capital Management, Inc.’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.