Investing

  • Welcome to A Deeper Look series. One of the ways of understanding finance is understanding many of the terms you are not used to hearing every day. These terms may sometimes be confusing, so it helps to get some background and perspective.

    Today, I would like to share the term “asset allocation.” Asset allocation is an investment strategy that incorporates the risk tolerance and investment time horizon of the investor. It may sound simple, but there are many ways to allocate assets within an investment portfolio. Most approaches consider three main sets of asset classes: equities, fixed-income and cash or cash equivalents.  Each class has a different level of risk and expected return, and each will generally perform differently than the other. There are additional classes such as “alternatives,” real estate and precious metals that can also be considered as part of an allocation.

  • We know each generation is unique, and that doesn’t change when it comes to money management. Technology changes, the economy changes and attitudes change. It makes sense, then, that Generation X (ages 35-50) and Millennials (ages 18-34) sometimes think differently about finances. Here are some trends we’ve seen with these two younger generations.

  • Truth, responsibility, respect, compassion and fairness tend to be the global understanding of the values we associate with ethics. But what about financial ethics? How do we teach our children to be ethically responsible with money?

    Research shows that the best way to teach children morals and ethics is through example. From an early age, children observe their parents spending, saving and discussing money. They pick up on their parents’ views regarding money just by watching them.  

  • It’s a horrible situation to be in, but it’s one that is all too common. A loved one becomes seriously or terminally ill, and insurance does not cover even half the costs. Not only does the family worry about their loved one, then, they begin to wonder where the funds will come from to pay for quality care. But this is not a blog about health insurance or long term care insurance. It’s about having an emergency fund.

  • A financial advisor is a professional who helps you manage your finances and investments, teaches you about important options and aids you in making smart decisions toward your overall financial goals. But did you know that in order to maintain their license, your financial advisor must pass a rigorous national examination and complete ongoing educational requirements annually? Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs) and Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) must adhere to a strict code of ethics and work in the best interest of their clients, disclosing any conflicts of interest. These advisors must act as a fiduciary, and typically are paid solely from client fees and do not sell products. They truly value their relationship with you, the client.

  • It is a different world when our grandchildren are around. We invest time to spend and we relive so many wonderful memories. Investing in our grandchildren is also an investment in the future of our communities, and many people consider it a financial investment as well. And doing it while you are still living can serve to reduce your potentially taxable estate.

  • Do you find the idea of creating a plan for allocating your assets overwhelming? How about choosing a mutual fund? Or designing your investment portfolio? If you’re like many people, investing in your future can be confusing.  

  • Last week, we discussed two types of funds – lifestyle funds and lifecycle funds – that aim at simplifying investment strategies for individual investors who may be choosing their employer retirement plan investments with limited options, or just beginning to invest. Lifestyle funds blend stocks, bonds and other investments in order to maintain a consistent level of acceptable risk. Lifecycle funds on the other hand, focus on managing your investments towards a target end date. This week, we will look at whether or not these are options that will best help you meet your financial planning goals.

  • Last week, we discussed various types of popular retirement accounts. This week, we tackle more as a way for you to compare and contrast what’s out there and how each plan could potentially make your golden years comfortable and enjoyable. Here are three more popular types of retirement accounts for you to consider. 

    401(k), 403(b), TSP

    These examples of employer-offered retirement savings accounts are the accounts most people are already familiar with. These are called “defined contribution plans,” and they are primarily funded by you.  Most employers allow you to withhold some of your paycheck and stash it away in one of these accounts, and many employers offer to match some of the savings. These accounts provide for investment options that you choose, with the idea of growing the account beyond what has been put into it. If you leave your job, you can roll over your account contributions into a new 401(k) or 403(b), or you can roll them over into an IRA. In some cases, the employer match must be “vested” over time and may be lost if the time period is not met. What’s the difference between these types of accounts? 401(k)s are usually offered by for-profit companies, while most nonprofit companies use a 403(b), including schools, hospitals, and some governments. Some employers are also offering a Roth 401(k) option, which provides for deferral of after-tax salary and grows tax-free. The TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) is offered by the federal government to its employees, including the military. 2016 contributions allowed are $18,000 ($24,000 over age 50).

  • In Part I of this series, we provided a basic definition of deferred compensation plans and introduced questions to ask your financial advisor.

    We said a deferred compensation plan is one in which a portion of an employee's pay is held until a specified date, usually (though not always) retirement. A deferred compensation plan:

  • While we have enjoyed steady gains in the equity markets, corrections do happen. When the next correction occurs we offer the following thoughts for investors to keep in mind.

    A stock market correction is often announced with attention-grabbing headlines. The effect can be scary and overwhelming to any investor. It’s hard to stay calm and not panic when bright red numbers and flashy headlines tempt you to take immediate action. Let’s discuss what a correction in the market means and how it may impact you.

  • Life transitions can be complicated, which is why we decided to write a series on how they affect finances and financial planning. This series will look at three major life transitions: retirement, entrepreneurship and career change. Each one is a process, with specific strategies that have been used to make the transitions a success.

    Retiring is a major life event. There is no one path to follow in order to ensure a perfect retirement. However, planning and focus have been shown to make a difference when preparing for and entering such a challenging transition.

  • The stock market continues to trend upwards. According to industry analysis it is expected to remain positive for 2017 and enter 2018 strong. This may have some people questioning why they still need a financial advisor. The truth is a good financial advisor may be the key resource between reaching your financial goals or spending your lifetime worrying about them. Below we’ll delve into a few reasons why people need a financial advisor — even when the market is up.

  • Purchasing a new home at any stage in life brings up various financial considerations and opportunities, but for retirees considering buying a home, there are some extra things to think about.

  • Go onto the IRS website or any financial planning site and start looking up retirement plans. Assuming you don’t work in investing or human resources, we can almost guarantee you will be tilting your head and asking, “What the…?” by the time you hit the second or third paragraph. No, it’s not just you. The way this information is presented is daunting at best.

  • Last week, we discussed various reasons why women are anxious about their financial security and stability as they approach retirement. Many women are unaware or are not taking full advantage of the opportunities available to them for planning and saving for their golden years. This week, we will review ways that women (and men) can improve their outlook for financial stability in retirement.

  • Are you planning out your retirement strategy but are puzzled about required minimum distributions (RMDs) and what they mean for you? If so, the good news is you’re not alone. The bad news is that failure to set a proper RMD withdrawal strategy can result in significant tax penalties.

    RMDs are annual distributions required from a tax-deferred retirement account once you reach the age of 70 ½ years old. (Note that you can take withdrawals of any amount without penalty once you reach age 59 ½.)  They are also required if you inherit an IRA or 401(k) type account at any age. Distributions are subject to income tax, since they were saved “tax-deferred” during your working years. A key component of your retirement planning is taking required minimum distributions from your retirement accounts. But there are rules that govern when you must start taking withdrawals and the minimum amount you must withdraw from specific retirement accounts. Below are some tips you should know about RMDs:

  • After years of being focused on managing personal finances to ensure they have the resources available during retirement to sustain their lifestyle, there is a new trend growing in America. Instead of kicking back and enjoying spending their life savings, affluent retirees are cutting back and being frugal.

    A Vanguard study estimates that affluent retirees spend only 60 percent of the money they withdraw for retirement. They are spending the majority on routine expenses (mortgage, household transportation, etc.) or discretionary expenses (medical, entertainment, credit cards).

  • Buy low and sell high. It’s pretty simple. The problem is knowing what’s low and what’s high.” - Jim Rogers, Chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc.

    Buy low, sell high, four words that make the idea of investing in the stock market seem exciting and simple. The reality, however, can be overwhelming and frustrating, particularly if your investments aren’t performing as well as you expected in the markets. Maybe you heard the latest buzz about a new and upcoming technology that had you jumping at the chance to be a part of the action – only to realize later that you purchased high and now their stock price is dropping. You’re not alone.

    Blackrock reports, “The average investor, over a 20-year span ending in 2015, underperformed the S&P 500 by six percent.”

    Below are a few key reasons that uninformed investors don’t make more money in the stock markets.

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