Regarding Relationships: Conversations or Connections

Published 04/11/2019

On March 13, the unthinkable happened when social media giants Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook since 2012) were unavailable for more than 12 hours. While some were frustrated by the service outage, others were reminded of a time when social media was not a permanent fixture in our everyday lives.

As Facebook worked on resolving the issue, people found other ways to pass the time. Social media devotees had the opportunity to come up for air, straighten their posture and look around to see the friends and family in the room with them.

The more time we spend online, the less time we spend with the people around us. A Pew Research survey conducted in 2018 found that 68% of people surveyed use Facebook with 74% visiting the site at least once a day.1

Regarding relationships, author Cal Newport argues there is an important difference between real conversations and social media connections: “Conversation is the good stuff; it’s what we crave as humans and what provides us with the sense of community and belonging necessary to thrive. Connection, on the other hand, though appealing in the moment, provides very little of what we need.”2

Consider the three best conversations you had last week. Perhaps they were with family members, friends visiting from out of town or the barista at your favorite coffee shop. It is likely that these moments rise above the routine online interactions that briefly held your attention the rest of the week. 

Real conversations are what we value in our client relationships, particularly around interests and goals, both short term and long term. We are here to remind everyone that just three months ago, turbulent markets were a cause for concern for many investors, but those who remained disciplined were vindicated as markets recovered during the first quarter.

As for days when the markets experience a surge of volatility, Dimensional Fund Advisors offered this advice: “Investors should be cautious when interpreting headlines that reference point movements, as a move of, say, 500 points in either direction is less meaningful now than in the past largely because the overall index level is higher today than it was many years ago.”3

With the winter’s gloomy forecasts now in the rearview mirror, it is a great time to sit down (or virtually connect) with your advisor to review your financial plan. These topics deserve time for discussion:

  • Vehicles for Charitable Giving — Because of the new tax law, fewer households are itemizing their deductions. For these households, charitable giving may not be tax deductible. Donor advised funds are just one option to solve this issue. Which vehicles are appropriate for your charitable giving goals?
  • Potential Benefits of Refinancing — Interest rates have not been this low in a few years. Should you refinance your mortgage?
  • Asset Location and Retirement Planning — There are many different types of retirement accounts, only some of which are offered by employers. Based on your income tax bracket, should you make contributions to a Roth 401(k), a traditional 401(k) or both? Should you make a Roth IRA contribution? If you are a business owner (large or small), have you considered establishing a retirement plan such as a SEP IRA, solo 401(k), profit-sharing plan or cash balance plan that could have a significant impact on your taxes and your long-term retirement goals? 
  • The Power of Health Savings Accounts — The Health Savings Account is the only triple tax-advantaged account, which makes it the most tax-advantaged account in which to save and invest. How can contributions be maximized? 

If you would like to discuss any of these topics with a Forum advisor, please contact us to start a conversation.


1 John Gramlich, “10 Facts About Americans and Facebook.” Pew Research Center, February 1, 2019.

2 Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Portfolio/Penguin, 2019, p. 150.

3 “Getting to the Point of a Point.” Dimensional Fund Advisors, March 2019.