bonds http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4414/all en-US Don't Be Fooled by an Investment's Rate of Return http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/investor_compares_quotes_from_newspaper_and_tablet.jpg" alt="Investor compares quotes from newspaper and tablet" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you invest, you are looking for return. You want your money to grow over time, preferably at a rate that will allow you to achieve your financial goals.</p> <p>An investment's rate of return can be a deceptive thing, however. The amount of money that an investment has made in the past isn't a guarantee of future returns. Moreover, these returns by themselves don't tell you a whole lot about what you are investing in.</p> <p>Learning how to analyze an investment's returns &mdash; and understanding its limitations &mdash; will help you on the path to financial freedom. Just remember these key facts about an investment's return when examining it.</p> <h2>Short time frames don't tell you much</h2> <p>&quot;Hey, this mutual fund went up 29 percent last year! Woo hoo!&quot; That's great, but what did it do the year before? And the year before that? How has it performed over the last decade? Looking at the rate of return for a single year is not particularly useful, as any investment can have a hot 12 months. To get a sense of how an investment may perform in the future, it helps to have a long record of performance to examine. Fortunately, most brokerages and financial websites have comprehensive information on historical returns, so you're not simply looking at the performance of the last year.</p> <h2>It offers no information on the type of investment</h2> <p>It's great if an investment has a solid rate of return, but that should not be the only consideration when looking to buy shares. If you are buying a stock, you need to ask yourself key questions aside from just looking at performance. What industry does the company operate in? How big is the company? Does it operate internationally? If you're talking about a mutual fund, what is the investment mix? Answering these questions will help you understand whether you already own similar investments, and whether it makes sense to add them to your portfolio.</p> <h2>It's almost useless without context</h2> <p>Let's say you come across a mutual fund that earned a 9 percent return last year. You might think that is pretty good, right? Well, it doesn't look so good when you consider the S&amp;P 500 returned 11.96 percent. Information on returns is only meaningful when it is paired with information about the broader stock market, comparable investments, and specific indexes. A small cap ETF, for example, should be examined alongside the Russell 2000 index. A mutual fund focused on technology should be compared to prominent technology indexes. Fortunately, most brokerage firms and financial websites do provide this, so it's important to analyze market returns using that context.</p> <h2>It does not always factor in all costs</h2> <p>If you purchase a mutual fund or ETF, a certain portion of your investment is taken in expenses and fees. While mutual fund returns are usually reported net of expenses, not every cost is included in this calculation. Many funds have sales charges and commissions (also known as loads) that you pay when buying and selling. Your brokerage firm may also charge a commission to execute the trade. This can reduce your overall return. The good news is that there are many good no-load mutual funds out there, and many can be traded without a commission, depending on the broker.</p> <p>One more caveat regarding costs. Capital gains taxes will also reduce your balance when you sell. Be sure to factor in these costs when examining an investment's rate of return.</p> <h2>It does not offer detail on volatility</h2> <p>Let's say you have a stock that rose in value from $50 to $90 in five years. The annualized return on that stock is 16 percent. But that does not tell you whether the stock's performance has been consistent or wildly up and down.</p> <p>For example, during that five-year period, that stock may have risen 20 percent, then dropped 25 percent, then risen 44 percent, dropped 10 percent, and finally rose 53 percent. That's pretty volatile, and may be outside the comfort zone of many investors even though the overall return is good. To get a better picture of the investment's performance, you need to look at the returns from each individual year, but even that offers no insight into price swings within any given year.</p> <h2>It can't answer the question &quot;Why?&quot;</h2> <p>An investment's rate of return may be the crucial piece of information you need to know before investing, but there's a lot that it doesn't tell you. Perhaps most importantly, it does not offer any insight into <em>why </em>an investment's price moved up or doing during a certain period.</p> <p>Investment values go up and down for a variety of reasons, not all of them related to company performance. Perhaps a retailer saw its shares fall sharply during one quarter due to a series of natural disasters. Perhaps another company saw shares rise dramatically because of hype over its Super Bowl commercial. Returns on investment are crucial to know, but if you are an investor, it's important to do your own homework to understand why a price went up or down. Doing so will help you better understand how an investment may perform in the future.</p> <h2>It gives you no information on fundamentals</h2> <p>An investment's historical rate of return can give you insight into how it might perform in the future. But the company's actual financial performance may be even more important. It's not enough to just examine an investment's return. You should also look at company balance sheets, analyze earnings reports, and look at things like cash flow, debt, and price-to-earnings ratio. This will help you understand whether an investment's price is justified. Examples abound of companies that saw share prices skyrocket based on speculation although earnings weren't there to support it.</p> <h2>It tells you nothing about taxes</h2> <p>Let's say you invested $1,000 in a company stock and it earned an annual return of 9 percent a year over five years. That means you'll end up with $1,450 when you sell, right? Well, not exactly. Remember that unless you are investing in a tax-advantaged account such as a Roth IRA, the government takes its share when you sell. Assuming that you'll be taxed at the long-term capital gains rate of 15 percent, suddenly, that 9 percent annual return became something closer to 7 percent. Keep this in mind when trying to calculate how much money you'll actually walk away with.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know">The 3 Rules Every Mediocre Investor Must Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-investing-tips-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self">11 Investing Tips You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing">4 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-foolproof-ways-to-protect-your-money-from-inflation">4 Foolproof Ways to Protect Your Money From Inflation</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment balance sheet bonds fees mutual funds rate of return returns roi s&p 500 stock market stocks volatility Fri, 08 Dec 2017 10:00:07 +0000 Tim Lemke 2068609 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Investing http://www.wisebread.com/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/businessman_cowering_on_blue_blackboard_background.jpg" alt="Businessman cowering on blue blackboard background" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're nervous about investing in the stock market, you're not alone. Stock ownership in the U.S. is down, and a recent poll indicates that frightening memories of the last bear market may be to blame.</p> <p>According to a Gallup survey, just 54 percent of U.S. adults own stocks, including those owned through mutual funds that people invest in via their 401(k) or other retirement accounts. That's down from 62 percent who owned stocks before the last bear market. During that devastating downturn, which began at the end of 2007 and ran through early 2009, the market fell by more than 50 percent. In part, Gallup blames the decline in stock ownership on that painful, fearful time.</p> <p>&quot;It appears the financial crisis and recession may have fundamentally changed some Americans' views of stocks as an investment,&quot; the company stated on its website. &quot;The collapse in stock values in 2008 and 2009 seems to have left a greater impression on these people than the ongoing bull market that has followed it, as well as research showing the strong historical performance of stocks as a long-term investment.&quot;</p> <p>If that sounds like you, here are some suggestions for overcoming your concerns. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-over-these-5-scary-things-about-investing?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Get Over These 5 Scary Things About Investing</a>)</p> <h2>1. Develop a healthy fear of not investing</h2> <p>If it's safety you're after, there are few safer places to put your money than a bank. Because deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, you could put up to $250,000 in a bank account and rest easy knowing that if the bank went out of business, the federal government would make sure you got your money back.</p> <p>While a bank account can be a good place to keep some savings for emergencies, right now many banks are paying just .01 percent interest, making them a horrible place to pursue long-term goals like retirement.</p> <p>For example, let's say you're 30 years old and deposit $10,000 at .01 percent interest. In 40 years, your $10,000 will have turned into &mdash; wait for it &mdash; $10,040. That's right. After 40 years, you will have made just $40 on your 10 grand. And once you factor inflation into the mix, the buying power of your $10,000 will have taken a big step backward.</p> <p>Let's say you earn 7 percent interest instead. In 40 years, your $10,000 will have turned into $150,000. And 7 percent is a very conservative assumption since the stock market's long-term average annual return has been 10 percent.</p> <p>So, instead of being fearful about investing, it is more logical to be fearful about not investing.</p> <h2>2. Learn a little market history</h2> <p>Many of the mistakes investors make are due to their emotions. If the market falls, some people get scared and pull money out of the market, usually to their detriment. A little knowledge of market history can help you stay the course.</p> <p>The longer you keep money in the market, the more likely you are to make money. When Morningstar analyzed the stock market's performance during each one-, five- and 15-year period from 1926 to 2016, it found that 74 percent of the one-year periods showed positive returns, 86 percent of the five-year periods generated gains, and 100 percent of the 15-year periods were up. In other words, based on 90 years of history, if you stay in the market for at least 15 years, it's a virtual certainty that you will make money.</p> <p>Putting time on your side is also the key to surviving a significant market downturn. According to Morningstar, someone with $100,000 invested in the stock market at the beginning of 2007 would have lost nearly half that amount by early 2009. Brutal, right? However, if they had stayed invested, by January 2017 their portfolio would have been worth nearly twice its value on January 2007. Despite that horrible downturn, their average annual return over those 10 years would have been nearly 7 percent. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a>)</p> <h2>3. Start small</h2> <p>If you have a chunk of money to invest but just can't work up the courage to hit &quot;buy,&quot; consider investing a little at a time through dollar-cost averaging. The idea is very simple. Just take the total amount (let's say $12,000), divide by the number of months you plan to invest (let's use 12), and invest that amount at the same time every month ($1,000 per month).</p> <p>If the market has a good month, your money will buy fewer shares. If the market has a bad month, your money will buy more. You never have to worry about getting the timing just right. By spreading your investments over a year a more, you minimize the risk of losing a lot of money through an immediate downturn. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-dollar-cost-averaging-the-right-strategy-for-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Is Dollar Cost Averaging the Right Strategy for You?</a>)</p> <h2>4. Keep it simple</h2> <p>Investment terminology can be confusing. Diversification. Asset allocation. What does it all mean? You can put these helpful concepts to work without qualifying for a job on Wall Street by investing in a super simple target-date fund.</p> <p>Because they are mutual funds, target-date funds are inherently diversified &mdash; that is, the money you invest is spread out among multiple stocks, bonds, or other investments. And they take care of asset allocation decisions for you. That means they are designed with an appropriate mix of stocks and bonds for someone your age. They even automatically adjust that mix as you get older, tilting their stock/bond allocation more toward bonds to make your portfolio appropriately more conservative as you near your intended retirement date.</p> <p>It's understandable that the last bear market may have dampened your enthusiasm for the stock market. However, the market continues to offer most people their best opportunity for building wealth. The steps described above should help you wade back into the investment waters without fear.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F4%2520Simple%2520Ways%2520to%2520Conquer%2520Your%2520Fear%2520of%2520Investing.jpg&amp;description=4%20Simple%20Ways%20to%20Conquer%20Your%20Fear%20of%20Investing"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/4%20Simple%20Ways%20to%20Conquer%20Your%20Fear%20of%20Investing.jpg" alt="4 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Investing" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50">7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know">The 3 Rules Every Mediocre Investor Must Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-types-of-investors-which-one-are-you">8 Types of Investors — Which One Are You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment allocation bonds dollar cost averaging fears losing money not investing risk stock market stocks target date funds Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:30:11 +0000 Matt Bell 2066563 at http://www.wisebread.com How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/business_team_thinking_about_risk_management.jpg" alt="Business team thinking about risk management" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The stock market can be risky. Just 10 years ago, due to the financial panic and subsequent Great Recession, stocks lost half their value in the course of not much more than a year. But the stock market is also a great investment: Long term gains are large, and even the biggest losses are routinely reversed in a matter of a few years.</p> <p>The upshot is that you should almost certainly have at least some money in the market.</p> <p>But since it's always either rising or falling, and since nobody wants to be foolish, it's often hard to get into, or back into, the market. And yet, because of the large gains the market routinely offers over the long term, it's absolutely worth doing &mdash; even for those terrified of risk. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-over-these-5-scary-things-about-investing?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Get Over These 5 Scary Things About Investing</a>)</p> <h2>Figuring out how much to invest</h2> <p>The best way to think about your portfolio when you're risk-averse is by recognizing that a significant amount of your money is <em>not</em> part of it and should not be invested at all. If you cover your other important financial bases first, you may feel better about investing.</p> <p>First, make sure you have adequate liquidity balances &mdash; that's cash on hand to deal with the fact that your income arrives on one schedule (biweekly paychecks, perhaps) while your bills arrive on a different schedule (some monthly, others perhaps annually or semi-annually).</p> <p>Second, make sure you have an adequate emergency fund to deal with events like an unexpected loss of income, or expenses that come out of the blue. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</a>)</p> <p>Third, make sure you have a plan to fund medium-term expenses (a savings account or CD or maybe an intermediate-term bond fund). These are things you know you're going to buy in the next few years.</p> <p>Once you've got those bases covered, the rest of your money is your investment portfolio.</p> <p>By identifying how much of your money is <em>not</em> part of your investment portfolio, you may find yourself much more comfortable thinking about committing some fraction of the rest of your money to the stock market.</p> <p>However, maybe you've done that and you're <em>still</em> not comfortable. That brings us back to where we started. In particular, it raises the question: If you know the market is the right place for a sizable chunk of your portfolio for the long term, why are you hesitating to commit funds now?</p> <h2>Ask yourself why you're afraid</h2> <p>There are probably two big reasons why people hesitate to get into the stock market: Either because the market seems &quot;too risky,&quot; or because they're &quot;waiting for the right time.&quot;</p> <p>The way to get yourself to make the move into the stock market depends on which reason is blocking you right now.</p> <h3>Too risky</h3> <p>If it's just that the market seems too risky, you can often get started investing by going small. If you can't bring yourself to put 70 percent of your portfolio into stocks (which is actually a reasonable allocation if you're fairly young), can you bring yourself to put 5 or 10 percent in?</p> <p>When I was first starting to invest, most mutual funds had minimum investments that were pretty large (compared to the size of my portfolio), but there are now ways to invest amounts as small as just a few hundred dollars into stocks.</p> <p>If the market seems very risky, pick a very small amount of money &mdash; small enough that you could absorb even a 50 percent loss without endangering your long-term goals &mdash; and take the plunge. Put that small amount into the market. Better yet, set up some sort of automatic investment (a payroll deduction into a 401(k) or an automatic transfer to a mutual fund or brokerage account) that would send a small amount away every month or every paycheck.</p> <p>If you can find an amount small enough that you're willing to risk it &mdash; and especially if you can set up some sort of automated further investments &mdash; you set yourself up to get past your risk aversion the easy way: By seeing gains start piling up right away. And if they don't &mdash; if your investments start off by losing money &mdash; you'll still be OK, for two reasons. First, you'll know that your losses are so small that they scarcely matter over the long term. Second, you'll know that your future investments are buying stocks at a lower price (and buying low is an essential part of &quot;buy low/sell high&quot;). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-invest-if-youre-worried-about-a-stock-market-crash?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Invest If You're Worried About a Stock Market Crash</a>)</p> <h3>Waiting for the right time</h3> <p>If the issue is that you accept that the market is the right place to be for the long term, but <em>right now</em> is the wrong time to get in (perhaps because the market seems kind of high, perhaps because it has recently dropped and you worry it might drop further, perhaps because you see major risks to the economy from business conditions or the international situation or Congress), I have two thoughts.</p> <p>First, understand that it hardly matters. I saw a study some years back that compared two hypothetical brothers. Each had invested $2,000 a year in stocks in his IRA, but each year one brother had the good luck to make his investment on the day the stock market hit its low for that year. The other brother had the bad luck to make his investment on the day that the market hit its high for the year.</p> <p>The result? After 10 years, it barely mattered. The lucky brother had a tiny bit more money, but both of them had a lot more money than the guy who kept his money in cash waiting for a &quot;better time&quot; to invest that never came.</p> <p>Second, approach it just as I advised the person who thought the market was too risky: Start small.</p> <p>Maybe now isn't the right time to jump in with 70 percent of your portfolio, but surely having 0 percent of your portfolio in the market is the wrong choice.</p> <p>Go ahead and put a little money in. It doesn't have to be a lot. (And, once again, even better if you set up some sort of automated investment so you're continuing to put money into the market regularly over time.)</p> <h2>Finding the right balance</h2> <p>Suppose you do start small, but through a combination of further investments and growth in the market, find yourself a few years down the road with a sizable portfolio and with a large portion of it invested in stocks. When do you have too much in stocks?</p> <p>One answer is that you have too much if it's worrying you. If you're having trouble sleeping at night, or if hearing the market report on the news ruins your appetite, then by all means sell some stocks and put the money into a CD or something. If you're still anxious a month later, sell some more. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-the-investing-style-thats-right-for-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Find the Investing Style That's Right for You</a>)</p> <p>I would advise that you <em>not </em>use this as an excuse to time the market. The market will always be going up or down and neither circumstance is a good reason to change your mind about having stocks in your portfolio.</p> <p>Instead, you should probably have a target asset allocation. Figure out what you want in stocks (and bonds, real estate, gold, cash, etc.) and buy and sell as necessary to return to that target allocation from time to time &mdash; usually annually is good. This is a process called rebalancing your portfolio. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-basics-of-asset-allocation?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Basics of Asset Allocation</a>)</p> <p>An old rule of thumb is to set your stock allocation percentage at 100 minus your age, and invest the rest in bonds. So someone in their 20s would put 70 to 80 percent into stocks while someone in their 60s would put 30 to 40 percent into stocks. That's a perfectly good rule, although with people living so much longer now than even a generation ago, it should probably be a bit more aggressive for people in the years just before and just after retirement. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50</a>)</p> <p>Your asset allocation is important, but don't let that paralyze you. The worst thing you can do is agonize over your asset allocation to the point that you never get around to investing.</p> <p>Put a little money in stocks right away. Set up some sort of automatic investment. Once you have a tidy sum invested in stocks, start putting some of the new money in bonds. Only after those investments start getting large do you need to think about whether it's time to add some more exotic choices.</p> <p>Start small. Start simple. But above everything else: Start.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520the%2520Risk%2520Averse%2520Can%2520Get%2520Into%2520the%2520Stock%2520Market.jpg&amp;description=How%20the%20Risk%20Averse%20Can%20Get%20Into%20the%20Stock%20Market"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20the%20Risk%20Averse%20Can%20Get%20Into%20the%20Stock%20Market.jpg" alt="How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know">The 3 Rules Every Mediocre Investor Must Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing">4 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-types-of-investors-which-one-are-you">8 Types of Investors — Which One Are You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-mediocre-investor-prospered-after-the-market-crash">How One Mediocre Investor Prospered After the Market Crash</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment asset allocation bonds gains investing fear portfolio rebalancing risk averse stock market stocks Mon, 06 Nov 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Philip Brewer 2045391 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50 http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_sitting_on_floor_with_piggy_bank_under_money_rain.jpg" alt="Man sitting on floor with piggy bank under money rain" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Conventional investing wisdom says that as people age, they should put less of their money in stocks and more into stable investments such as bonds and cash. This is sound advice based on the idea that in retirement you want to protect your assets in case there is a major market downturn.</p> <p>But there are still strong arguments to continue investing in stocks even as you get older. Few people recommend an all-stock portfolio, but reducing stock ownership down to zero doesn't make sense, either.</p> <p>Consider that many mutual funds geared toward older investors still comprise hefty doses of stocks. The 2020 Retirement Fund from T. Rowe Price, for example, is made up of 70 percent stocks for retirees at age 65, and is still made up of 25 percent stocks when that same retiree is past 90 years of age.</p> <p>Why does owning stocks make sense even for older investors? Let's examine these possible motivations.</p> <h2>1. You're going to live a lot longer</h2> <p>If you are thinking about retirement as you approach age 60, it's important to recognize that you still may have several decades of life remaining. People are routinely living into their 90s or even past 100 these days. Do you have enough savings to last 40 years or more? While it's important to protect the assets you have, you may find that higher returns from stocks will be needed in order to accrue the money you need.</p> <h2>2. You got a late start</h2> <p>If you started investing early and contributed regularly to your retirement accounts over the course of several decades, you may be able to take a conservative investing approach in retirement. But if you began investing late, your portfolio may not have had time to grow enough to fund a comfortable retirement. Continuing to invest in stocks will allow you to expand your savings and reach your target figure. It still makes sense to balance your stocks with more conservative investments, but taking on a little bit more risk in exchange for potentially higher returns may be worth it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-retirement-planning-steps-late-starters-must-make?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Retirement Planning Steps Late Starters Must Make</a>)</p> <h2>3. Other investments don't yield as much as they used to</h2> <p>Moving away from stocks was good advice for older people back when you could get better returns on bonds and bank interest. The 30-year treasury yield right now is about 2.75 percent. That's about half what it was a decade ago and a third of the rate from 1990. Interest from cash in the bank or certificates of deposit will generate a measly 1.5 percent or less. The bottom line is that these returns will barely outpace the rate of inflation and won't bring you much in the way of useful income.</p> <h2>4. Some stocks are safer than others</h2> <p>Not all stocks move up and down in the same way. While stocks are generally more volatile than bonds and cash, there are many that have a strong track record of steady returns and relative immunity from market crashes. Take a look at mutual funds comprised of large-cap companies with diversified revenue streams. Consider dividend-producing stocks that don't move much in terms of share price, but can generate income. To find these investments, search for those that lost less than average during the Great Recession and have a history of low volatility.</p> <h2>5. Dividend stocks can bring you income</h2> <p>Dividend stocks are not only more stable than many other stock investments, but also they can generate cash flow at a time when you're not bringing in other income. A good dividend stock can produce a yield of more than 4 percent, which is more than what you'll get from many other non-stock investments right now. This will help ensure the growth of your portfolio is at least outpacing inflation.</p> <p>If you are unsure about which dividend stocks to buy, take a look at a well-rated dividend mutual fund. The T. Rowe Price Dividend Growth Fund [NYSE: PRDGX], for example, has a three-year total return of more than 10 percent, outpacing the S&amp;P 500. Its overall returns also dropped less than the S&amp;P 500 during the Great Recession.</p> <h2>6. Busts are often followed by bigger booms</h2> <p>A person who retired 10 years ago would have stopped working right when the market crashed, and there's a good chance they may have lost a significant chunk of their savings. That's bad. But it's important to note that in the decade since, the S&amp;P 500 has gone up every year at an average of more than 8.5 percent annually. In other words, someone who lost a lot from the crash of 2007&ndash;2008 will have gotten all of their money back and much more if they stayed invested in stocks.</p> <p>This is not to suggest that older investors should be unreasonably aggressive, but they should be aware that a single bad year or two probably won't completely wipe you out financially. If your retirement is long, you may see some market busts, but you'll also see some long stretches of good returns.</p> <h2>7. You may still be helping out your kids</h2> <p>When you're retired, you're supposed to be done with child rearing and helping out your kids financially, right? Unfortunately, it seems that older Americans are continuing to lend a hand to their children even as they grow into adulthood and have children of their own.</p> <p>A recent survey from TD Ameritrade said that millennial parents between the ages of 19 and 37 receive an average of more than $11,000 annually in the form of money or unpaid child care from their parents. With these additional costs on the horizon, those approaching retirement age may still want to invest in stocks to build their nest egg further. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-ruining-your-retirement-by-spoiling-your-kids?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Are You Ruining Your Retirement by Spoiling Your Kids?</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Reasons%2520to%2520Invest%2520in%2520Stocks%2520Past%2520Age%252050.jpg&amp;description=7%20Reasons%20to%20Invest%20in%20Stocks%20Past%20Age%2050"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Reasons%20to%20Invest%20in%20Stocks%20Past%20Age%2050.jpg" alt="7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing">4 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-safe-investment">Is There Such a Thing as a &quot;Safe&quot; Investment?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-far-1-million-will-actually-go-in-retirement">Here&#039;s How Far $1 Million Will Actually Go in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-protect-your-retirement-from-inflation">4 Ways to Protect Your Retirement From Inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement">How to Make Sure You Don&#039;t Run Out of Money in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Retirement adult children bonds cash dividend stocks giving money to kids income late starters life span living longer risk saving money stocks yields Thu, 05 Oct 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Tim Lemke 2031342 at http://www.wisebread.com Bookmark This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing 401(k) Investments http://www.wisebread.com/bookmark-this-a-step-by-step-guide-to-choosing-401k-investments <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bookmark-this-a-step-by-step-guide-to-choosing-401k-investments" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/real_estate_agent_working_with_client_online.jpg" alt="Real estate agent working with client online" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's no secret that 401(k) fund options are notoriously opaque. While target-date funds provide convenience to investors, they often come with higher fees than alternative investment vehicles, have highly variable returns, and aren't a good fit for many retirement savers. Let's simplify things, and review a low-stress strategy for building a solid two-to-three-fund portfolio for your 401(k).</p> <h2>The downsides to target-date funds</h2> <p>Designed to gradually adjust your investment mix as you approach retirement age, target-date funds have exploded in popularity since their designation as qualified default investment alternatives by the 2006 Pension Protection Plan. The upsides of target-date funds are that they're easy to select (96 percent of Vanguard plans make it the default investment option), they automatically rebalance, and they offer appropriate investment diversification. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-easiest-way-to-save-for-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What You Need to Know About the Easiest Way to Save for Retirement</a>)</p> <p>However, all that convenience comes at a high price. A 2015 review of over 1,700 target-date funds by FutureAdvisor determined that their average expense ratio (the annual fee charged to shareholders to cover operating expenses) was a relatively high 1.02 percent, meaning that you'd pay $51 every year for every $5,000 in your balance. Assuming an average investment return of 7 percent per year, you would miss out on an extra $4,998 in retirement savings over a 30-year period.</p> <p>On top of high fees, some target-date funds' returns barely cover their high annual expense ratios. The same review of 1,700 target-date funds pointed out that the lowest five-year average annual returns were 2.9 percent. (Returns are expressed net of expense ratios.) As of September 2017, 2.9 percent is not that much higher than the rate of a five-year CD at a credit union.</p> <p>Here's a better alternative to target-date funds.</p> <h2>Your guide to choosing your 401(k) investment options</h2> <p>In his 2013 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Warren Buffett (aka The Oracle of Omaha) provided an investment strategy that would &quot;be superior to those attained by most investors who employ high-fee managers.&quot; Buffett recommended putting 90 percent of one's investments in a very low-cost S&amp;P 500 index fund, and the remaining 10 percent in short-term government bonds. This is the same advice that he has set in his will. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-warren-buffett?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Warren Buffett</a>)</p> <p>More and more 401(k) plans are offering passively managed index funds that track a benchmark, such as the S&amp;P 500. And for good reason: The Vanguard 500 Index Investor Shares Fund [Nasdaq: VFINX] has an annual expense ratio of 0.14 percent, just a $7 annual fee for a balance of $5,000. That's $44 in annual savings when you compare it to a target-date fund with a 1.02 percent annual expense ratio.</p> <p>Worried that this approach doesn't provide you enough diversification? Think again: An index fund tracking the S&amp;P 500 is investing in 500 large-cap companies. That's as diversified as you can get. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Too Much Investment Diversity Can Cost You</a>)</p> <p>Let's use Buffett's advice to build your 401(k) plan's portfolio.</p> <h3>Step 1: Check your plan for a U.S. equities index fund</h3> <p>There is a good chance that your 401(k) plan offers a low-cost S&amp;P 500 index fund. Buffett personally recommends an S&amp;P 500 Vanguard index fund. Vanguard is an investment management company known for having very low fees compared to competitors, especially on its index funds. In 2016, close to 60 percent of Vanguard plans offered an index core giving you access to broadly diversified index funds for U.S. stocks. In truth, you can do just as well with other index funds tracking the S&amp;P 500, such as the Fidelity 500 Index Investor [Nasdaq: FUSEX] and the Northern Stock Index [Nasdaq: NOSIX].</p> <p>In the event, that you don't have access to a low-cost index fund tracking the S&amp;P 500 through your workplace 401(k), you have two action items. First, see if your plan offers another large cap index fund (one investing in large U.S. companies based on a market index). This type of fund normally invests at least 80 percent of its assets in securities within its benchmark index, such as the Fidelity Large Cap Stock Fund [Nasdaq: FLCSX] and the Vanguard U.S. Growth Fund [Nasdaq: VWUSX]. Second, contact your plan administrator and request adding a low-cost S&amp;P 500 index fund.</p> <h3>Step 2: Check your plan for a fund of short-term investment-grade bonds</h3> <p>Just like there are index funds for investing in equities, there are also index funds for investing in bonds. For example, there is the Vanguard Short-Term Investment-Grade Fund [Nasdaq: VSFTX], which has an annual expense ratio of 0.20 percent, or $10 in fees for a balance of $5,000.</p> <p>Don't have access to such a fund? Look for a low-cost fund giving you the most exposure to high- and medium-quality, investment-grade bonds with short-term maturities, including corporate bonds, pooled consumer loans, and U.S. government bonds. Why short-term maturities? Short-term bonds tend to have low risk and low yields, ensuring that one portion of your nest egg remains stable at all times &mdash; something you'll really benefit from during any recessions.</p> <p>Then, request that your plan administrator add a low-cost index fund for domestic bonds.</p> <h3>Step 3: Allocate 90 percent to the equities index fund and 10 percent to the bonds index fund</h3> <p>Now you're ready to rebalance your portfolio. Using your online portal, look for an option that says &quot;exchange funds&quot; or &quot;transfer money between funds&quot; to move your nest egg dollars from your existing investments into the equities index fund and bonds index fund. (Note: Depending on your plan rules, including vesting rules, you may not be able to move 100 percent of your balance until a certain date. In that case, move everything that you can and the remaining once it becomes eligible.)</p> <p>Exchange your entire 401(k) balance and allocate 90 percent of that amount to the equities index fund and 10 percent to the bonds index fund. Confirm your transaction.</p> <h3>Step 4: Adjust your future contributions</h3> <p>To keep future contributions going into the right place, adjust your paycheck investment mix so that 90 percent of withholdings go to the equities index fund and 10 percent go into the bonds index fund.</p> <p>If your 401(k) offers an automatic rebalance feature, opt-in for it so that your portfolio is automatically readjusted to the 90/10 without you moving a finger. If your 401(k) doesn't offer that feature, plan to manually rebalance your account once a year.</p> <h3>Step 5: Revisit the 90/10 allocation at important life changes</h3> <p>Marriage. Birth of your first child. Purchase of your first home. Being able to start making catch-up contributions. Reaching age 59 1/2. These and more critical milestones in your life may require you to adjust your 90/10 allocation. As you get closer to retirement age, you should gradually shift from a growth strategy (selecting funds that exhibit signs of above-average growth) to an income strategy (picking funds that provide a steady stream of income) so that you hold fewer stocks and more bonds. The beauty of a target-date fund is that is does all of this for you automatically as you age. Without one, you'll need to stay on top of this occasional rebalancing yourself.</p> <h2>The bottom line</h2> <p>One of the main reasons that your 401(k) will perform better is that you're minimizing fees. If you were to allocate 90 percent of a $5,000 401(k) balance into the Vanguard 500 Index Investor Shares Fund [Nasdaq: VFINX] and 10 percent into the Vanguard Short-Term Investment-Grade Fund [Nasdaq: VSFTX], you would just pay $7.30 in annual fees. That's $43.70 in annual savings over putting the entire $5,000 in a target-date fund with a 1.02 percent annual expense ratio. It doesn't sound like a large amount of savings, but compounded over the years it can add up to thousands of dollars more in your retirement fund.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fbookmark-this-a-step-by-step-guide-to-choosing-401k-investments&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FA%2520Step%2520By%2520Step%2520Guide%2520To%2520Choosing%2520Investments.jpg&amp;description=A%20Step-by-Step%20Guide%20to%20Choosing%20401(k)%20Investments"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/A%20Step%20By%20Step%20Guide%20To%20Choosing%20Investments.jpg" alt="A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Investments" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bookmark-this-a-step-by-step-guide-to-choosing-401k-investments">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-warren-buffett-says-you-should-invest-in-index-funds">Why Warren Buffett Says You Should Invest in Index Funds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-outside-the-index-when-you-rebalance-your-investment-portfolio">Think Outside the Index When You Rebalance Your Investment Portfolio</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement">How to Make Sure You Don&#039;t Run Out of Money in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Retirement 401(k) bonds equities expense ratios fees index portfolio rebalancing s&p 500 short-term bonds target-date funds Warren Buffett Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:31:06 +0000 Damian Davila 2023013 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Make Sure You Don't Run Out of Money in Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/nest_made_of_american_currency_horizontal.jpg" alt="Nest Made of American Currency Horizontal" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>An annuity is a stream of fixed payments that's guaranteed, often for as long as you live. Having an annuity can make retirement more secure, but it's hard to recommend them as investment vehicles, because almost every annuity on the market is a terrible investment. They tend to be sold by salesmen, so they're often loaded with fees. And, because being upfront about the fees would make them hard to sell, these fees are obscure (often outright hidden) and are typically different for every product, making it especially hard to comparison shop. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-know-what-annuities-are-you-might-be-missing-out?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Should You Get an Annuity?</a>)</p> <p>But my experience these past few years &mdash; helping older relatives with their finances, and starting to take the little pension I earned as a software engineer &mdash; has given me a new perspective on annuities. Having an annuity is more than just nice: It's wonderful! It's just <em>buying</em> them that's usually terrible.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are a few that are worth buying. You don't hear about them often, because they don't siphon off a big chunk of your investment to pay a salesman, so salesmen don't push them.</p> <h2>Why annuities are great</h2> <p>It used to be that anyone with a good job retired with an annuity in the form of a pension. This is how I've gotten my recent experience with just how great it is to have an annuity: All my older relatives are now receiving pensions.</p> <h3>You never outlive your income</h3> <p>The main thing that's great about an annuity is that having one means you're never going to be broke. Even if you overspend and run down your savings, even if the stock market crashes or you make terrible investment decisions and your investment portfolio takes huge losses, you'll still get that monthly check for as long as you live.</p> <p>You don't <em>need</em> to have an annuity to arrange that &mdash; you can live off capital in a way that makes it last the rest of your life &mdash; but an annuity makes it much easier.</p> <h3>They can raise your income</h3> <p>The other thing that's great about an annuity is that it can, at least potentially, be more money to live on. See, the only safe way to live off capital is to just spend the income from your investments. But that's not much money (especially these days).</p> <p>If you knew how long you were going to live, you could spend down your capital so that you'd die with just enough money to pay off your last month's bills. But since you don't know how long you're going to live, you have to make a conservative estimate, holding back enough capital so that you won't go broke even if you live to 100. (Of course even that might not be enough. What if you live to 114?)</p> <p>The company that provides your annuity has a much easier job. They don't need to know whether you'll live to 97 or kick the bucket at 67. They count on the fact that the average person will live an average life span. They can arrange the terms of the annuities so that the payouts don't exhaust the total pool until the last person dies. The fact that some people die the month after their pension starts means that there's enough money to pay for the people who go on to live for decades.</p> <p>Offset against that is the fact that the company that's providing your annuity needs to make a profit, and it also needs to hold back a reserve against the possibility that it'll get unlucky and a bunch of their customers will live longer than average &mdash; but both of those factors are relatively small.</p> <h2>Annuitize, but how much?</h2> <p>If you accept the idea that you probably ought to have an annuity of some size, the next question is: How big should the annuity be?</p> <p>At one extreme, you could just annuitize all your money &mdash; take all your savings and investments (except your checking account and your emergency fund) and buy an annuity. Then you'd know what your income would be for the rest of your life and you could budget for it.</p> <p>I recommend against that. There are many reasons why it's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-the-importance-of-having-capital" target="_blank">worth having some capital</a>. Your capital earns an investment return and it also provides a measure of safety as a backup to your emergency fund. It makes it possible to fund expenses beyond your bare-bones budget. Perhaps most important, having some capital saves you money in all kinds of different ways &mdash; because you have funds on hand, you can take advantage of deals, you can avoid high-interest borrowing, and you have money to put down a large security deposit in cases where that will save you money.</p> <p>At the other extreme, you could annuitize none of your money and just live off your capital. I've just explained the downsides to that.</p> <p>You want to be somewhere in the middle. With a modest annuity, you're protected from running your income down to zero, and yet you can preserve some amount of capital.</p> <p>My advice is this: You should annuitize <em>enough to cover your rock-bottom expenses</em>, the lowest amount you could live on indefinitely. That way, you're putting yourself in a position where you can be sure you can get by no matter what happens to your investments, while preserving enough of an investment portfolio to fund your other life goals &mdash; travel, making a major purchase, leaving an estate to your heirs, etc.</p> <p>Before you start shopping for annuities, be sure to take into account any annuities you already have. But unless you're old, and even then only if you had a pretty good job at a pretty big company for many years, you probably aren't going to have a great pension. (If you're only kind of old, and worked at a pretty big company for a few years before they all phased out their traditional pensions in the early 2000s, maybe there's a small pension waiting for you. If so, that's great. Even if it's not enough to live on, it's a very positive contribution to your retirement income.)</p> <p>However, most people reading this probably won't get a good pension.</p> <p>Fortunately, there is an annuity you very likely do have.</p> <h2>The annuity you already have</h2> <p>You almost certainly already have an annuity in the form of a national pension scheme, such as Social Security. The amount of Social Security you will get depends on your own employment history. For most people, it will provide a large fraction of the &quot;rock-bottom expenses&quot; I recommend you cover with an annuity, but you can generally expect there to be some gap.</p> <p>If you have an employer-sponsored pension, even a small one, it may well cover the gap. If you don't, I recommend that you cover it with an annuity that you buy.</p> <h2>How to buy an annuity</h2> <p>As I said at the beginning, most of the annuities you can buy are terrible investments, but there are good ones. It is possible to buy an individual annuity and get an OK deal. It's just hard because the companies that sell them make it virtually impossible to compare one annuity to another.</p> <p>This is especially true for the sorts of annuities that are most like a pension: The ones set up so you make a payment every month starting in your 30s or 40s, then get a check every month starting when you're 65.</p> <p>Those are called deferred annuities (because you defer getting your money until age 65), and they're always terrible. They always have what are called &quot;back-end&quot; fees &mdash; money that the salesman gets to keep when you figure out that you've made a terrible deal and want to get (some of) your money back. The rules on back-end fees are always different.</p> <p>To make it even harder, these sorts of annuities are usually bundled with some sort of life insurance (supposedly so that if you die before you retire your estate won't &quot;lose&quot; all the money paid into the annuity) &mdash; and of course the details of those insurance policies are always different as well.</p> <h3>Comparison shopping</h3> <p>It is possible to buy an annuity in a way that does allow you to compare them. Don't buy one with monthly payments. Instead, save and invest the money in the stock market yourself during your working years. Then, when you're ready to retire, buy what's called a &quot;single premium immediate annuity&quot; &mdash; you put up a big chunk of money today, and then start receiving monthly payments immediately that last for the rest of your life. (The monthly payments, of course, should equal the gap you identified between your Social Security and your rock-bottom budget.)</p> <p>That is something that's easy to compare: How much do you have to pay today for a stream of income that starts next month and lasts the rest of your life? You can get a few quotes and pick the best deal.</p> <p>These sorts of annuities usually don't have the life insurance policy that supposedly protects against your dying before you start taking payments, because the payments start immediately. That's good. Bundling in life insurance just makes it harder to compare prices. If you need life insurance, buy a life insurance policy separately.</p> <p>Be very careful of letting them include any sort of survivor benefit, because that can also make the annuities harder to compare (although as long as the rules are exactly the same, it is at least possible). One alternative, if you need a survivor benefit, is to buy a life insurance policy that will pay off enough for your spouse to buy his or her own annuity.</p> <p>As an aside, let me mention that the annuity salesmen among you are going to jump in and point out that you're giving up an important tax advantage if you only consider an immediate annuity. This is technically true, but in fact is pretty unimportant. Let me just say this: If you are maxing out your 401(k), <em>and</em> your IRA, <em>and</em> your Roth IRA, there is an opportunity to tax shelter a bit more money through an annuity contract. In practice, I'm willing to bet that the tax advantage will never equal the fees you're going to end up paying.</p> <p>If you do save your money in a 401(k) or IRA, there are tax rules for using that money to buy your annuity. Follow the rules and you won't owe any taxes when the money is used to buy the annuity. You will, however, pay taxes on the annuity payments when you receive them (just like you would if you'd taken distributions from the tax-deferred plan directly).</p> <h3>Where to buy</h3> <p>Pretty much any life insurance company will sell you an annuity, but I only know of two places to get a good one: Vanguard and TIAA-CREF. (There used to be a third, but Berkshire Hathaway got out of the business a few years ago.)</p> <p>The main problem with buying directly from an insurance company is just that their annuity sales operations are organized around their annuity salesmen, who will immediately start trying to sell you something that's more profitable (to them) than a single premium immediate annuity &mdash; that's the step you avoid by going through Vanguard or TIAA-CREF. (They also have enough buying power to get especially good rates, because they bring in large numbers of customers.)</p> <p>If you're sure you can bear up under the sales pressure, there's no reason not to get quotes directly from the insurance companies. (Just because I don't know of any other good places to buy one doesn't mean there aren't any.) Insurance companies that sell annuities will be very easy to find &mdash; just do an internet search for information about annuities and you'll get a dozen ads for them and for online tools to compare their offerings.</p> <p>You're handing over a large fraction of your wealth and counting on the insurance company to be around for the rest of your life, so you want to have considerable confidence in the financial soundness of the company you pick. I would not consider any company rated less than A by the insurance grading firm A.M. Best, and I'd be happier with one rated A+.</p> <h3>Buy when rates are high</h3> <p>To buy an annuity, you have to put up a pretty sizable chunk of cash. (Vanguard quotes the cost today to a 65-year-old male buying a single premium immediate annuity of $1,000 a month for the rest of his life as being $180,052.)</p> <p>Unless you're rich, the cost of an annuity that covers your rock-bottom expenses is going to be a large fraction of your entire retirement savings &mdash; which is OK, because it's going to be a large chunk of your entire retirement income.</p> <p>The insurance company that sells you your annuity is going to invest that sizable chunk of cash in a portfolio of stocks and (mostly) bonds, and then use the dividends from those stocks and (mostly) the interest payments from those bonds to pay your annuity. Because of this, an annuity is much cheaper when interest rates are high.</p> <p>If you bought an annuity right before the financial crisis, you made out very well. If you wanted to buy one in the past eight or nine years, you probably found that they were incredibly expensive. But in the current era of rising interest rates, annuities are becoming more affordable again.</p> <p>Still, if you're approaching retirement age, understand that there is no rush. Figure out your rock-bottom expenses &mdash; and then live with that budget as an experiment. Maybe you'll find that you'll need more than that in retirement. Maybe you'll actually need less. Do some comparison shopping. Take your time. Then, when you've got a pretty good handle on the expense of your retirement lifestyle, at a time when interest rates are up a bit and you're ready to quit working, go ahead and buy that annuity.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50">7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bookmark-this-a-step-by-step-guide-to-choosing-401k-investments">Bookmark This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing 401(k) Investments</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-easiest-way-to-save-for-retirement">What You Need to Know About the Easiest Way to Save for Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Retirement annuities benefits bonds fees interest rates investment vehicles life insurance pensions stocks Fri, 26 May 2017 08:30:09 +0000 Philip Brewer 1953940 at http://www.wisebread.com Start Planning Now for When Your Target-Date Fund Ends http://www.wisebread.com/start-planning-now-for-when-your-target-date-fund-ends <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/start-planning-now-for-when-your-target-date-fund-ends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-174631043.jpg" alt="Start planning now for when your target date fund ends" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a reason why so many people invest their retirement savings in target-date mutual funds offered within their 401(k). These funds are designed to be simple: Your money is automatically invested in a mix of stocks, bonds, and other asset types based on your age and the year you plan to retire.</p> <p>As you get closer to your target date (the year you expect to hit retirement), the managers of your target-date fund gradually ramp down your risk &mdash; moving more of your dollars away from high-risk, growth-oriented investments like stocks, and focusing instead on safer, more conservative investments like bonds or cash. This &quot;set it and forget it&quot; approach allows you to easily stash money away for retirement without constantly rebalancing the fund yourself.</p> <p>The goal is to have the right asset mix when your target-date fund hits its target. But this leads to the big question: What do you do when your target-date fund finally does reach this endpoint?</p> <h2>Reaching the target date</h2> <p>According to the Investment Company Institute, the target date isn't a date when investors should automatically cash out their entire target-date fund. It's simply an estimate of when investors will retire, and therefore stop making new investments in the fund. Most target-date funds can be kept open beyond the target date.</p> <p>What happens when the fund reaches that target date depends on whether the fund is guided by one of two basic investing approaches.</p> <p>If a target-date fund has what is known as a &quot;to&quot; glide path, the fund manager will stop adjusting the fund's asset mix once it hits the target date. In this scenario, your investment mix will remain in place until you cash out the fund.</p> <p>There's also the &quot;through&quot; glide path. In this approach, the fund manager will continue to adjust the fund's mix of investments even as the target date comes and goes.</p> <p>It's important to remember that target-date funds offer no guarantees. Your fund manager will rework your asset mix as your target date approaches to minimize your investment risk. But no manager can guarantee any set amount of dollars by this date.</p> <h2>What can you do when your target date arrives?</h2> <p>When your target-date fund hits its target date, you have three basic choices of what to do with your money.</p> <h3>1. Do nothing</h3> <p>First, you can essentially choose to do nothing. You can instead leave your money in your target-date fund after you retire. You won't be able to make new contributions to the fund, of course, but as with all 401(k) investments, your target-date fund will continue to grow on a tax-deferred basis. This will remain the case until you begin making withdrawals from the fund. You are required to begin taking your minimum withdrawals from your 401(k) by age 70 &frac12; at the latest.</p> <h3>2. Roll over funds into an IRA</h3> <p>If you want to be more hands-on with your investments, you can instead roll over the target-date fund, and any other investments in your 401(k), into an IRA. If you roll the money into a traditional IRA, you can continue to make contributions until you hit the year in which you turn 70 &frac12;. If you roll your 401(k) funds into a Roth IRA, you can continue making contributions as long as you are earning income. If you are not working, though, and not earning income, you can't contribute to a Roth no matter your age.</p> <h3>3. Cash out your fund</h3> <p>Finally, you can cash out your 401(k) (and the target-date fund within it) once you stop working for the employer who offered it to you. If you rollover your 401(k) into an IRA, you won't have to pay taxes. But if you cash out, you will owe income tax on the amount you withdraw from the plan. If you cash out before you turn 59 &frac12;, you'll have to pay income taxes and a 10 percent penalty.</p> <p>The best option of the three depends on how much time you want to spend focusing on your investments. If you prefer to let others manage your investment, the &quot;do-nothing&quot; approach might be your best move. If you'd rather have more control, on the other hand, rolling over your target-date fund into an IRA is probably the better choice.</p> <p>If you need liquid cash immediately, cashing out your fund might be necessary &mdash; but the tax hit you'll take often makes this the least attractive option.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-planning-now-for-when-your-target-date-fund-ends">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-easiest-way-to-save-for-retirement">What You Need to Know About the Easiest Way to Save for Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing">4 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-meeting-the-2018-401k-contribution-limits-will-brighten-your-future">6 Ways Meeting the 2018 401(k) Contribution Limits Will Brighten Your Future</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement assets bonds investments mutual funds rebalancing rollover stocks target date funds Fri, 12 May 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1942910 at http://www.wisebread.com What You Need to Know About the Easiest Way to Save for Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-easiest-way-to-save-for-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-easiest-way-to-save-for-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-649699796.jpg" alt="Learning about the easiest way to save for retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you have a 401(k), chances are you've been given the option to invest in a &quot;target-date&quot; fund. This is a balanced mutual fund that gradually changes its investment mix depending on how close you are to retirement. It's designed to hold a higher percentage of riskier, growth-oriented investments like stocks when you're young, and increase the proportion of more conservative investments, such as cash and bonds, as you age.</p> <p>Many brokerage firms offer target-date funds, which come with names like Fidelity Freedom 2050 or Lifepath Index 2045. The idea is to pick one associated with the year you expect to retire.</p> <p>There are advantages to these funds, especially for those who don't want to spend a lot of time managing their investments. But there are some drawbacks, too.</p> <h2>Pros</h2> <p>Let's start with the upsides.</p> <h3>1. They automatically rebalance</h3> <p>Target-date funds are designed to build wealth while you're working, and protect it as you approach retirement. They accomplish this by gradually and automatically changing the investment mix over time, which is referred to as rebalancing. Because it's not particularly easy for the average investor to make these kinds of changes on their own, a target-date fund offers the convenience of &quot;set it and forget it,&quot; saving you time and extra work.</p> <h3>2. They are easy to select</h3> <p>Picking which mutual fund is right for you is tricky, because there are often so many choices. There are funds for specific industries, funds for growth, and others for income &mdash; it can be overwhelming. When choosing which target-date fund is right for you, though, all you need to do is pick one that lines up best with the year you expect to retire. So if you are now 30 years old and plan to retire at age 63, you would pick a fund labeled with the year 2050.</p> <h3>3. They offer diversification</h3> <p>Most target-date funds are essentially &quot;funds of funds.&quot; In other words, they are comprised of a mix of mutual funds, which are already made up of a blend of stocks and bonds. Thus, investors are hardly at risk of placing too much of their money in any single investment.</p> <h2>Cons</h2> <p>All that convenience comes at a price.</p> <h3>4. They have high fees</h3> <p>If you invest in target-date funds, you can expect that fund managers and brokerage firms will take a bigger chunk of your money than they would for basic index funds. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the average expense ratio on more than 2,200 target-date funds was more than 0.9 percent. Meanwhile, there are many basic index funds that have ratios of less than 0.1 percent.</p> <p>An expense ratio measures what it costs an investment company to run a mutual fund, and is calculated by the fund's annual operating expenses divided by the average dollar value of its assets under management. Those operating expenses are taken out of the fund's assets and lower the return for investors. Over time, a higher expense ratio could impact your overall investment balance by thousands of dollars.</p> <h3>5. They aren't one-size fits all</h3> <p>Not everyone generates the same amount of income during their lifetime, and expenses in retirement can vary wildly. Thus, the right mix of bonds, stocks, and other investments will differ depending on the investor. Target-date funds don't take this into account. One investor may be able to retire comfortably with a portfolio of bonds and cash, while another might need more growth stocks to meet their retirement goals.</p> <h3>6. Funds with similar names may actually be quite different</h3> <p>There are thousands of target-date funds out there. Many of them have very similar names and similar goals, but differ in their investment mix. For example, the Fidelity Freedom 2035 fund is currently comprised of 64 percent U.S. stocks, 31 percent international stocks, and 5 percent bonds. The Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 fund, however, is 48 percent U.S. stocks, 32 percent international stocks, and about 20 percent bonds. Thus, the performance and risk of these funds may vary even if their names and goals are very similar.</p> <h3>7. They may not be aggressive enough for some older people</h3> <p>On one hand, you probably don't want to be investing in all stocks when you are approaching retirement age. But if you become too conservative, you might miss out on big returns. There are some financial advisers who argue that it's OK to stay aggressive in retirement as long as you have enough saved to endure a possible downturn. In fact, one 2013 study argued in favor of a <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2324930" target="_blank">counterintuitive approach to retirement saving</a> &mdash; more conservative investing when you're young, and more aggressive investing as you get closer to retirement.</p> <p>If you think you want a more aggressive fund than the target date that corresponds with your projected retirement age, you can always choose one with a later target date. For instance, if you're planning on retiring in 15 years, but want a fund that's more aggressive now, you might choose a 2040 or 2050 target date fund.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-easiest-way-to-save-for-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing">4 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement">How to Make Sure You Don&#039;t Run Out of Money in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50">7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bookmark-this-a-step-by-step-guide-to-choosing-401k-investments">Bookmark This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing 401(k) Investments</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Retirement 401(k) aggressive bonds conservative risks stocks target date funds Tue, 09 May 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Tim Lemke 1940329 at http://www.wisebread.com How One Mediocre Investor Prospered After the Market Crash http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-mediocre-investor-prospered-after-the-market-crash <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-one-mediocre-investor-prospered-after-the-market-crash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-516182744.jpg" alt="Learning how a mediocre investor prospered after the market crash" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know" target="_blank">mediocre financial advice</a> I've offered in my last few posts boils down to this: Use low-cost funds, establish an appropriate asset allocation, and rebalance it annually.</p> <p>It's not new advice. My own portfolio was strongly influenced by it back in the early 1980s. By the 1990s, it was pretty much the standard advice you would get anywhere. Many studies at the time showed that a very simple portfolio &mdash; just an S&amp;P 500 index fund, plus a long-term bond fund &mdash; tended to outperform managed funds, especially after the costs of the managed funds were taken into account.</p> <p>I haven't seen as many studies in the years since the financial crisis, so I thought I'd take a quick look at how this sort of basic asset allocation held up in the aftermath.</p> <p>Most people date the financial crisis from 2008, but I tend to date it from June of 2007, because that's when I found out that I'd be losing my job. For that reason, the graphs below run from then through the latest data available as of March 29, 2017.</p> <p>As it turns out, a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-surprising-truth-of-investing-mediocre-advice-is-best" target="_blank">mediocre portfolio</a> held up pretty well.</p> <h2>Criteria for success</h2> <p>To decide whether a particular style of investing is a success, it helps to know what your goals are. Most people would include &quot;maximum return&quot; as at least part of their goal, but instead, I suggest that your portfolio provide an investment return that supports your specific life needs.</p> <p>A portfolio that comfortably beats inflation is part of that. It's also a plus if the portfolio doesn't swing wildly in value &mdash; in case your circumstances require you to cash out a significant amount on an emergency basis. It's nice, too, if the portfolio provides a mix of income and growth, so that if changes in what's in fashion among investors push one category of stocks up or down, the overall value of your portfolio doesn't take too big of a hit. (Personally I've always had a sneaking preference for income, even though tax policy has often favored growth.)</p> <p>With those criteria in mind, let's look at how some of the pieces of a mediocre portfolio have done.</p> <h2>Pieces of a mediocre portfolio</h2> <p>The most basic mediocre portfolio is just an S&amp;P 500 index fund and a long-term bond fund, with the ratio between those two gradually shifting from mostly stocks (for a young person) toward mostly bonds (for someone who has already retired).</p> <h3>Stock market investments</h3> <p>The value of an S&amp;P 500 index fund dropped dramatically during the crisis itself, but it hit bottom well before the end of the recession, recovered all of its losses by 2013, and is now about 50 percent above where it started &mdash; meaning that on stock price alone, you've got an annual return of well over 4 percent. With dividends reinvested, your annual return comes to nearly 7 percent (take a look at the 10-year average annual return of your favorite S&amp;P 500 index fund).</p> <p><iframe src="//fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/graph-landing.php?g=dyOc&amp;width=605&amp;height=340" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="overflow:hidden; width:670px; height:525px;" allowtransparency="true"></iframe></p> <p>(Source: <a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=dbdN" target="_blank">St. Louis Federal Reserve</a>)</p> <h3>Bond market investments</h3> <p>There isn't an exact bond-market equivalent for the S&amp;P 500 index fund, so it's a little hard to say how your investments would have done during the crisis and since. (I poked around at a few major mutual fund companies and found average annual total returns on various long-term bond funds for the past 10 years ranging from 3.6 percent to 6.1 percent, depending on the fund.)</p> <p>The return on a bond fund depends on interest rates. If you buy a bond that pays X percent and rates go up, your old bond is worth less (because otherwise people will just buy the new bond that pays more). Conversely, if rates go down, your old bond is worth more.</p> <p>With that in mind, here's a graph of the interest rate paid on a U.S. government 10-year treasury bond:</p> <p><iframe src="//fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/graph-landing.php?g=dyOf&amp;width=605&amp;height=340" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="overflow:hidden; width:670px; height:525px;" allowtransparency="true"></iframe></p> <p>(Source: <a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=dbfK" target="_blank">St. Louis Federal Reserve</a>.)</p> <p>Long-term interest rates dropped steadily before and during the recession. They rebounded modestly as the recession wound down, but then plummeted as it became clear that the economy needed, and would continue to need, extraordinary support from the Federal Reserve. Even now, long-term rates are about half what they were before the crisis began.</p> <p>The upshot is that the value of bonds purchased before the crisis would have soared during the crisis. Bonds purchased during the crisis would also have gone up. Bonds purchased in the aftermath might be up or might be down, depending on exactly when they were bought.</p> <h2>Rebalancing</h2> <p>If you'd just had a portfolio of stocks or bonds, you'd have done ok. Your stocks would have gone down a lot, but they'd have eventually recovered. Your bonds would have gone up a lot, and would have since eased off. But the mediocre asset allocation is more than that. The essence of a mediocre asset allocation is annual rebalancing.</p> <p>At the end of 2007, and again at the end of 2008, you would have sold some of your bonds &mdash; which would have jumped a great deal as interest rates fell ahead of and during the recession &mdash; and shifted that money into depressed stocks to restore your asset allocation.</p> <p>New stocks purchased on the last day of 2008 would have been bought with the S&amp;P 500 at 891 (down from close to 1,500 when you started). At the recent price of 2,359, those shares are up 165 percent. At the same time, you would have harvested much of the gains in your bond portfolio.</p> <p>Really, the rebalancing is where the magic is.</p> <h2>Success</h2> <p>As I mentioned at the beginning, the criteria I'm using as indicators of success are return, stability, and providing a mix of income and growth.</p> <p>The mediocre portfolio did a fine job of providing a return &mdash; especially if you rebalanced annually, thereby automatically buying stocks when they were at their lows.</p> <p>Stability is always a problematic goal, because it's almost the opposite of growth &mdash; the most stable portfolio would be one invested 100 percent in cash, which would show no growth at all. The point here, just as it is with return, is not maximum stability, but rather a degree of stability that supports your life goals. Here again, the mediocre portfolio did fine, especially for older people with a larger bond portfolio, which is where it is most important.</p> <p>Finally, the mediocre portfolio did a fine job at balancing income with growth. An S&amp;P 500 index fund has produced a pretty good yield, especially compared to cash and bonds during this period of historic lows in interest rates. Annual rebalancing will have automatically shifted money out of bonds as interest rates fell (reducing the fraction of the portfolio invested where income is low) and future rebalancing will be shifting money back into bonds as interest rates rise.</p> <p>I would hesitate to call its performance better than mediocre, but that's really the point: A mediocre investment portfolio, providing mediocre performance, is all it takes to support your life goals.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-mediocre-investor-prospered-after-the-market-crash">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know">The 3 Rules Every Mediocre Investor Must Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing">4 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bookmark-this-a-step-by-step-guide-to-choosing-401k-investments">Bookmark This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing 401(k) Investments</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment asset allocation bonds financial crisis low-cost funds mediocre investments performance s&p 500 stock market Tue, 02 May 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Philip Brewer 1938294 at http://www.wisebread.com Want Your Investments to Do Better? Stop Watching the News http://www.wisebread.com/want-your-investments-to-do-better-stop-watching-the-news <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/want-your-investments-to-do-better-stop-watching-the-news" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-510572840.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you pay close attention to investment news, it'll either make you laugh or it'll drive you bonkers. Within the same hour, and on the same market news website, you will often see completely contradictory articles. One says the market is headed higher; the next says the market is about to tank.</p> <p>What's a smart investor to do? Be very careful about your information diet.</p> <h2>More Information, Less Success</h2> <p>In the late 1980s, former Harvard psychologist Paul Andreassen conducted an experiment to see how the quantity of market information impacted investor behavior.</p> <p>He divided a group of mock investors into two segments &mdash; investors in companies with stable stock prices, and investors in companies with volatile stock prices. Then he further divided those investors. Half of each group received constant news updates about the companies they invested in, and half received no news.</p> <p>Those who received no news generated better portfolio returns than those who received frequent updates. The implication? The more closely you monitor news about your investments, the more likely you are to make changes to your portfolio &mdash; usually to your detriment.</p> <p>In another study, renowned human behavior researchers Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Richard Thaler, and Alan Schwartz <a href="http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/richard.thaler/research/pdf/The%20Effect%20of%20Myopia%20and%20Loss%20Aversion%20on%20Risk%20Taking%20An%20Experimental%20Test.pdf" target="_blank">compared the stock/bond allocations</a> of investors who checked on their investments at least once a month against those who did so just once a year. Those who took in the <em>least</em> information about their portfolios made fewer investment trades and generated higher returns.</p> <h2>When Helping Hurts</h2> <p>One factor at work here is &quot;loss aversion.&quot; First quantified by Kahneman and Tversky, it's the idea that people feel the pain of loss more acutely than the pleasure of gain. The frequent monitoring of investment portfolios brings every downward market move to the attention of investors, who tend to react by moving money into less risky assets (bonds instead of stocks), thereby locking in their losses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-trick-yourself-into-better-credit-card-behavior?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Trick Yourself Into Better Credit Card Behavior</a>)</p> <h2>Misinformation Is Not Power</h2> <p>Another factor has to do with the tales told in the investment press. Each day's market performance is reported &mdash; what happened, and <em>why. </em>The first part is factual. The market either went up or down and by a certain amount. The second part is mostly opinion. No one can say with certainty exactly what moved the market. Was it fear over the growth rate of China's economy, a contraction in the oil supply, or that XYZ company missed its quarterly earnings projection by a penny? No one really knows. But that doesn't stop the explanations from flowing across the pages of investment news sites.</p> <p>Late December and early January are especially dangerous times to read market news. That's when market forecasters spin their yarns, undaunted by their previous year's miss or economist John Kenneth Galbraith's scolding that &quot;The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.&quot;</p> <p>We pay attention to such forecasts &mdash; and even worse, we change our portfolios because of such forecasts &mdash; at our peril.</p> <h2>Selective Listening</h2> <p>You can't control the stock market or what is said about it, but there are certain factors you <em>can</em> and <em>should</em> control, such as:</p> <ul> <li>Estimate how much you need to invest each month in order to accomplish your goals;</li> <li>Determine your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-basics-of-asset-allocation?ref=internal" target="_blank">optimal asset allocation</a>;</li> <li>Choose a trustworthy <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-essentials-for-building-a-profitable-portfolio?ref=internal" target="_blank">investment selection process</a>;</li> <li>Add to your portfolio regularly;</li> <li>Expect market turbulence;</li> <li>Be very, very careful about what investment news you take in and how much;</li> <li>Keep moving forward.</li> </ul> <p>Of the many factors involved in successful investing, selective listening may be the most important.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-your-investments-to-do-better-stop-watching-the-news">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-simple-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-investing">4 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know">The 3 Rules Every Mediocre Investor Must Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-types-of-investors-which-one-are-you">8 Types of Investors — Which One Are You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-loss-aversion-is-costing-you-more-than-your-fomo">Your Loss Aversion Is Costing You More Than Your FOMO</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment bonds loss aversion misinformation news psychology reactions returns risk stock market Mon, 13 Mar 2017 11:00:09 +0000 Matt Bell 1904508 at http://www.wisebread.com The 3 Rules Every Mediocre Investor Must Know http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-508414008.jpg" alt="Learning three rules evert mediocre investor must know" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Mediocre financial advice can earn you mediocre investment returns &mdash; and mediocre investment returns are all you need to save for a house, send your kids to college, and fund your (potentially early) retirement. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-should-take-investment-advice-from-a-mediocre-investor" target="_blank">Mediocre investment advice</a> is pretty straightforward. In fact, the only thing that's complicated about getting mediocre financial results is the stuff that comes before investing: Things like earning money, keeping your debt in check, finding a career, living frugally, and most crucially, building an adequate <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund" target="_blank">emergency fund</a>.</p> <p>Once you've got those things taken care of, you're ready to start investing. If you're at that point, here's my mediocre investment advice: Create a diversified portfolio of low-cost investments and rebalance it annually.</p> <h2>Diversified Portfolio</h2> <p>It's important to have diversity at several levels. Eventually you'll want diversity in investment types &mdash; not just stocks, but also bonds, real estate, precious metals, foreign currency, cash, etc. More importantly, you want finer-grained diversity especially in the earlier stages of building your portfolio. Don't let your portfolio get concentrated in just one or a few companies. (For what it's worth, don't let it get concentrated in the stock of your employer, either. That sets you up for a catastrophe, because if your employer runs into trouble, the value of your portfolio can crash at the same time your job is at risk.)</p> <p>In the medium term &mdash; after you've got a well-diversified stock selection, but before it's time to branch out into more exotic investments &mdash; you'll want to expand the diversity of types of companies. Not just big companies, but also medium-sized and small companies. Not just U.S. companies, but also foreign companies. Not just tech companies, but also industrial companies and financial companies, and so on.</p> <p>Diversity wins two ways. First, it's safer: As long as all your money isn't in just one thing, it doesn't matter so much whether it's a good year or a bad year for that thing. Second, it produces higher returns: No one can know which investment will be best, but a diversified portfolio probably has at least <em>some </em>money invested in <em>some </em>investments that will do especially well. (Of course retrospectively, there will have been one investment that does best, and risking having all your money in that would have produced the highest possible return &mdash; but that's exactly what a mediocre investor knows better than to attempt.)</p> <p>Of course, you don't want a random selection of investments, even if such a thing might be quite diverse. You want a reasonably balanced portfolio &mdash; something I'll talk about at the end of this post.</p> <h2>Low-Cost Investments</h2> <p>The less money you pay in fees and commissions, the more money you have invested in earning a return.</p> <p>Getting this right is so much easier now than it was when I started investing! In those days, you could scarcely avoid losing several percent of your money right off the top to commissions, and then lose another percent or two annually to fees. Now it's easy to make a stock trade for less than $10 in commissions, and it's easy to find mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that charge fees of only a fraction of 1%.</p> <p>Still, it's easy to screw this up. Any investment that's advertised is paying its advertising budget somehow &mdash; probably with fees from investors. Any investment that's sold by agents or brokers is paying those agents or brokers somehow &mdash; probably with commissions or fees from investors.</p> <p>All those costs come straight out of your return. Keep them to a minimum.</p> <h2>Rebalance Annually</h2> <p>Your diversified portfolio will immediately start getting less diversified: Your winning investments will become a larger fraction of your portfolio while your losers will become a smaller fraction. In the short term, that's great. Who doesn't want a portfolio loaded with winners? Pretty soon though, you start losing the advantages of diversification. Last year's winners will inevitably become losers eventually, and you don't want that to happen after they've become a huge share of your portfolio.</p> <p>The solution is to restore the original diversity. Sell some of the winners, and use the resulting cash to buy some more of the losers. It's the easiest possible way to buy low and sell high. (Maybe you don't want to buy exactly the losers &mdash; not if their poor performance leads you think there's something really wrong with them. But buy something kind of like them. Health care companies probably belong in your portfolio, even if many of them did badly this year.)</p> <p>There are costs to rebalancing &mdash; costs in time and effort (figuring out what to sell and what to buy), and actual costs in commissions and fees. Because of that, you probably wouldn't want to rebalance constantly. You could make a case for monthly or quarterly rebalancing, but even that seems like a lot of effort for a small portfolio. Annually seems to hit the sweet spot.</p> <h2>What Goes Into a Diversified Portfolio?</h2> <p>What I'm going to suggest is that you start with a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds.</p> <p>It's not that there aren't plenty of other worthy investment options &mdash; cash, gold, silver, real estate, foreign currencies, etc. &mdash; it's just that they all have complications of one sort or another, and you can get started on earning your mediocre returns without them.</p> <p>My mediocre investment advice then is that your portfolio should be a balance of stocks (for maximum growth) and bonds (for income and stability).</p> <h3>Finding the Right Balance Comes Down to Age &mdash; Yours</h3> <p>What's the right balance? An old rule of thumb was that 100 minus your age would be a good target percentage for the stock portion of your portfolio. At the start of your career, you'd have nearly 80% of your investments in stocks, and that fraction would gradually decline to about 35% as you approached retirement. The theory was that a young person can afford to take big risks, because he or she has time to wait for an eventual market rebound (and because during the early phase of building up a portfolio, even a large percentage loss is a small dollar amount). This makes a certain amount of sense. In fact, you could argue that a stock market that collapsed and then stayed down just when you started investing would be great &mdash; it would give you decades to buy stocks cheap.</p> <p>That rule of thumb isn't bad, although with people living longer these days, it probably makes sense to keep a higher portion of stocks in your portfolio during the last years before and first years after retirement. Once you hit 50, maybe only cut your stock portfolio by 1% every two years.</p> <p>When you're just getting started, feel free to keep it very simple. Perhaps just start putting money into a broad-based stock fund (such as an S&amp;P 500 index fund). You can add a bond fund right away if you want, or wait until your annual rebalancing.</p> <p>There are mutual funds that will manage this balance for you, holding stocks and bonds with a balance that shifts over time to some target date, at which point they'll hold a portfolio suitable for someone who has retired. You don't need them. In particular, they tend to have higher expenses, violating the &quot;low cost&quot; principle. You can do it easily enough for yourself. (Of course if you find that you don't do your annual rebalancing, then maybe paying a fund to do it for you is worth the expense.)</p> <p>As an alternative to mutual funds, you can use exchange traded funds or ETFs. It doesn't matter.</p> <p>Once your portfolio of stocks is large, you probably want to move beyond a single fund. Look at the other low-cost funds offered by the same fund family that provides your S&amp;P 500 index fund. Consider adding a fund that includes foreign stocks (especially if the dollar seems strong at the time you'll be buying). Consider adding a fund that includes dividend-paying stocks (especially if interest rates are low relative to dividends).</p> <p>Follow these mediocre tips, and you'll be racking up mediocre returns in no time! And remember &mdash; mediocre returns are all you need to live well and retire well.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-choosing-the-right-fund-for-your-portfolio">Are You Choosing the Right Fund for Your Portfolio?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-types-of-investors-which-one-are-you">8 Types of Investors — Which One Are You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-investing-tips-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self">11 Investing Tips You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment advice balancing bonds diversification ETFs mediocre investments mutual funds portfolio returns stock market stocks Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:30:46 +0000 Philip Brewer 1896815 at http://www.wisebread.com Your 401K in 2017: Here's What's New for You http://www.wisebread.com/your-401k-in-2017-heres-whats-new-for-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/your-401k-in-2017-heres-whats-new-for-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-502449548.jpg" alt="Learning what&#039;s new for your 401K in 2017" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There aren't many 401K rule changes to keep up with this year, but that doesn't mean you can't bring about some of your own positive changes to your retirement savings. Let's take a look at what you need to know to make the most of your 401K in 2017.</p> <h2>No Changes in the Contribution Limits</h2> <p>The amount the IRS allows you to contribute to a 401K plan this year remains as it was last year &mdash; $18,000 if you're younger than 50, or $24,000 if you're older. However, the Feds did make two changes to the retirement savings landscape, which pertain to people on either end of the income spectrum.</p> <h3>1. More May Qualify for the Saver's Credit<strong> </strong></h3> <p>Low and middle-income earners should be aware of the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-savings-contributions-savers-credit" target="_blank">Saver's Credit</a>, a tax benefit that rewards those who save for their later years through a 401K or IRA. Depending on your income and filing status, the credit is worth 10%, 20%, or 50% of up to $2,000 of contributions per person (for married couples, that means up to $4,000 of contributions).</p> <p>Married couples filing joint returns can claim at least a 10% credit as long as their adjusted gross income (AGI) is no more than $62,000. That maximum income amount is $500 more than in 2016, so more households should qualify. However, the most generous 50% credit is allowed only for those couples making no more than $37,000 &mdash; the same threshold as in 2016.</p> <p>The credit/income limits for married couples filing jointly are:</p> <ul> <li>50% if AGI is $37,000 or less</li> <li>20% if AGI is $37,001&ndash;$40,000</li> <li>10% if AGI is $40,001&ndash;$62,000</li> </ul> <p>For singles, or married couples filing separate returns, the maximum amount you can earn and still qualify for a credit is $31,000, which is $250 higher than in 2016. In order to qualify for the maximum 50% credit, your income has to be no higher than $18,500.</p> <p>Here are the details:</p> <ul> <li>50% if AGI is $18,500 or less</li> <li>20% if AGI is $18,501&ndash;$20,000</li> <li>10% if AGI is $20,001&ndash;$31,000</li> </ul> <p>Keep in mind, a tax credit is much more valuable than a tax deduction because it is a dollar for dollar reduction of taxes.</p> <h2>2. Higher-Income Earners May Get More</h2> <p>On the other end of the income spectrum, the IRS expanded the contribution parameters pertaining to the retirement plans of well-paid workers. For example, contributions &mdash; by the employee and/or his or her employer &mdash; are limited by how much an employee is paid in total. In 2017, the amount of compensation on which contribution amounts can be based was increased by $5,000 to $270,000, and the maximum total contribution amount was bumped up by $1,000 to $54,000.</p> <h2>What Changes Will You Make?</h2> <p>Even if the two changes noted above don't pertain to you, that doesn't mean you need to &mdash; or should &mdash; stay the course with your retirement savings. The start of a new year is a good time to re-evaluate your goals and see if you're on track.</p> <p>Here are two areas to review.</p> <h3>1. How Much You Need<strong> </strong></h3> <p>Do you know how much you should have saved by the time you retire? Do you know how much that means you should be saving each month right now? If not, take a few minutes to run some numbers. If you're not saving enough, consider increasing your contributions.</p> <h3>2. How You Should Allocate</h3> <p>Do you know your optimal asset allocation? That pertains to how much of your investment portfolio should be in stocks, and how much in bonds (or stock and bond mutual funds). Vanguard offers a well-designed, free <a href="https://personal.vanguard.com/us/FundsInvQuestionnaire" target="_blank">asset allocation questionnaire</a>, so give it a try. Then try to bring your portfolio more in line with your optimal asset allocation.</p> <p>While tax credits and employer contributions are significant benefits, the most important factors that determine your investing success are the amount of money you save each month, and whether your asset allocation is appropriate for someone of your age and risk tolerance. Take the time to evaluate your individual retirement savings scenario, and see how you can make it even better for 2017.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-401k-in-2017-heres-whats-new-for-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-crucial-things-you-should-know-about-bonds">5 Crucial Things You Should Know About Bonds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-meeting-the-2018-401k-contribution-limits-will-brighten-your-future">6 Ways Meeting the 2018 401(k) Contribution Limits Will Brighten Your Future</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50">7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement">How to Make Sure You Don&#039;t Run Out of Money in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k Adjusted Gross Income asset allocation bonds changes contribution limits employers investing saver's credit stocks Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:00:11 +0000 Matt Bell 1892607 at http://www.wisebread.com Is There Such a Thing as a "Safe" Investment? http://www.wisebread.com/is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-safe-investment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-safe-investment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_umbrella_coins_516182744_0.jpg" alt="Man learning if there&#039;s such a thing as a safe investment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Safety. We all look for it in our investments, while also seeking out the highest return. As we get older, safety becomes more important as we get closer to retirement age.</p> <p>Is there such a thing as a truly &quot;safe&quot; investment? The short answer is that no investment is 100% safe. But there are certainly some investments that are better than others at protecting your hard-earned savings.</p> <p>Let's examine some of the most common &quot;safe&quot; investments and learn how good they actually are at shielding you from financial losses.</p> <h2>1. Cash</h2> <p>You may not be able to stomach the ups and downs of the stock market, and don't want your money tied up in bonds or other fixed-income investments. So you just hold on to large quantities of cash in a basic savings account, a money market account, or certificates of deposit.</p> <h3>Why It's Safe</h3> <p>Cash won't dive in value if the stock market crashes. You can get a predictable return from interest by keeping it in a bank account. And you can access it any time you need it.</p> <h3>Why It's Not</h3> <p>If you have a lot of cash, you can actually <em>lose </em>money in the long-term if there is inflation. But most importantly, putting too much of your investment portfolio in cash will make it hard for you to accumulate the kind of wealth you'll need for a comfortable retirement. Cash is also easy to access, which means it's too easy for you to spend.</p> <h2>2. Dividend Stocks</h2> <p>Dividend stocks are generally issued by companies that don't usually see a lot of volatility, but will pay out a healthy percentage of their income back to shareholders. Dividend stocks are often used by older investors or anyone looking to boost income without a lot of risk.</p> <h3>Why It's Safe</h3> <p>Good dividend stocks will pay out a consistent amount to shareholders each quarter, and it's usually a better return than bonds. By nature, dividend stocks won't go way up and down in price like other stocks, so they aren't as vulnerable to big market downturns.</p> <h3>Why It's Not</h3> <p>They are still stocks, and any stock is potentially vulnerable to market swings. Even dividend stocks will lose value in a down market, so it's still possible to lose money. On the flip side, dividend stocks won't rise in value like other investments when the market goes up. Moreover, dividends are never guaranteed; a company can cut its dividend at any time if its revenues drop.</p> <h2>3. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)</h2> <p>TIPS are popular investments because they allow you to invest in bonds while seeing the value of the investment rise along with the rate of inflation. They are a common part of many retirement portfolios and can be helpful in diversifying holdings.</p> <h3>Why It's Safe</h3> <p>Investing in U.S. treasuries is about as safe a bet as you can get, as the U.S. government has always paid its obligations. And TIPS have the added benefit of rising in value along with consumer prices, so you're never at risk of losing your investment due to inflation. You are protected even if there is deflation, because in that case, the price at maturity will revert to the price at purchase.</p> <h3>Why It's Not</h3> <p>TIPS aren't great investments for building wealth. There are other, better investments that offer a combination of safety and growth. TIPS are also vulnerable to interest rate moves, just like most bonds.</p> <h2>4. Gold</h2> <p>We've seen gold hailed as a &quot;safe&quot; investment because it's considered a hedge against inflation and a protection against a major economic disaster. History has shown that those who held on to gold during times of crisis held onto their wealth.</p> <h3>Why It's Safe</h3> <p>Gold can protect against inflation and historically has been known to retain its value even during disastrous times. That's why gold became a popular investment during the recent debt crisis in Europe, for example.</p> <h3>Why It's Not</h3> <p>Many financial experts note that gold's reputation as a hedge against inflation is often overstated, and gold has been known to lose value. It is also no less volatile than stocks, and generally does not have the same return on investment. In other words, it's not as &quot;safe&quot; as you think, and you won't necessarily get wealthy by holding onto it.</p> <h2>5. REITs</h2> <p>A real estate investment trust (or REIT) allows individual investors to own shares of real estate without the hassle of being a landlord. REITs trade like stocks, and can also be included in mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.</p> <h3>Why It's Safe</h3> <p>REITs are generally pretty stable investments, especially if the company has many long-term leases. REITs also usually pay out a hefty dividend.</p> <h3>Why It's Not</h3> <p>Real estate can still drop in value, especially if the REIT you buy is focused on one sector of real estate. Moreover, because REITs don't have to pay corporate-level income tax, dividends from REITs are taxed at the normal income rate, not the dividend rate paid out by other stocks.</p> <h2>6. Target Date Mutual Funds</h2> <p>Most brokerages offer mutual funds that start off with an aggressive investment mix and then get more conservative as the investor ages. These are a popular &quot;hands off&quot; part of many portfolios.</p> <h3>Why It's Safe</h3> <p>These funds are designed to build value during your younger years and protect your retirement nest egg as you get older. When properly managed, you'll be able to hold onto more of your money when you are close to retirement, even during down markets.</p> <h3>Why It's Not</h3> <p>Generally speaking, targeted mutual funds come with higher fees than many other funds, and that can cut into your overall earnings over time. And while the funds are comprised of more conservative investments as you approach retirement age, they are still prone to the ups and downs of the stock market in the earlier years.</p> <h2>7. Peer-to-Peer Lending</h2> <p>In recent years, companies such as Lending Club and Prosper have allowed individual investors to profit from the debt of other regular people. These platforms match investors up with those looking to borrow money. Individuals can invest based on their own risk tolerance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-money-with-peer-to-peer-lending-service-prosper?ref=seealso">How to Make Money With Prosper</a>)</p> <h3>Why It's Safe</h3> <p>The most popular peer-to-peer lending sites report a fairly low default rate on loans. This means that those who purchase debt are likely to generate a solid return. Lending Club reports that the median adjusted net annual return is 5.1% for those who have purchased at least 100 notes.</p> <h3>Why It's Not</h3> <p>There's always a risk of loans defaulting, especially if you don't buy quality loans. Buying risky loans, or failing to diversify your loan portfolio, can lead to less-than-stellar returns.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-safe-investment">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50">7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know">The 3 Rules Every Mediocre Investor Must Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-ways-to-invest-50-500-or-5000">The Best Ways to Invest $50, $500, or $5000</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-reasons-to-start-investing-in-bonds-now">The 5 Best Reasons to Start Investing in Bonds Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment bonds cash dividend stocks mutual funds peer to peer lending REITs safe investments tips Mon, 12 Dec 2016 11:00:07 +0000 Tim Lemke 1850785 at http://www.wisebread.com Could Trump Bring Higher Interest Rates and Inflation? Consider These Money Moves http://www.wisebread.com/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/donald_trump_98978789.jpg" alt="Donald Trump could bring higher interest rates and inflation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a matter of weeks, America will have a new President, and people are already speculating as to what a new man in the White House will mean for the economy.</p> <p>Donald Trump outlined a series of policy proposals on the campaign trail, including some that, according to economists, may impact inflation and interest rates. This comes at a time when the Federal Reserve has been hinting at raising interest rates for a while. So if all of this happens, what should you do with your money? Here are some ideas.</p> <h2>If There's Inflation</h2> <p>Ifd the federal government opens up the fiscal spigot, inflation is sure to follow.</p> <h3>1. Take a Look at Gold</h3> <p>Gold has long been a popular investment for those seeking protection against inflation, especially during times of political and global uncertainty. Prices for gold spiked in the immediate aftermath of Trump's election, but are still quite low from a historical standpoint.</p> <p>There are several ways to purchase gold. You can buy gold bars or bullion and store it, or purchase shares of companies involved in gold mining. There are also exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the performance of gold or gold-related industries.</p> <h3>2. Get Into TIPS</h3> <p>The U.S. Treasury offers something called Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS. These are pegged to the Consumer Price Index, so when the index rises, the value of the investment rises with it. These are solid, low-risk investments that are perfect for when inflation is a possibility, and they are exempt from state and local income taxes. It's also possible to own TIPS in a retirement fund, via an ETF or mutual fund.</p> <h3>3. Invest in Commodities</h3> <p>In addition to gold, there are other commodities that can be used as a hedge against inflation. Many commodities, including oil, wheat, and even live cattle naturally rise with inflation. If you're unsure of which commodities to buy, consider looking at a fund or ETF that invests in commodities broadly. The PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund [NYSE: <a href="http://www.google.com/finance?cid=722064">DBC</a>]) and the Fidelity Series Commodity Strategy Fund [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=FCSSX&amp;ei=4G48WJC_BdWNmAHcobLABw">FCSSX</a>] are two examples.</p> <h3>4. Get Real With Real Estate</h3> <p>Real estate is another area that often does well during an inflationary period. There are many ways to obtain real estate, either by purchasing property directly, or by buying shares of real estate investment trusts, or REITs. The caveat here is that if interest rates rise, then the cost of a mortgage to purchase real estate will also go up. So it may be smart to get in now while interest rates are still at historic lows.</p> <h2>If Interest Rates Rise</h2> <p>The Federal Reserve is expected to tick interest rates up a bit soon, while Trump's economic proposals could accelerate that process.</p> <h3>1. Invest in Banks</h3> <p>Banks generally do better when interest rates are higher than they are now. Right now, these companies have a low &quot;net interest margin&quot; &mdash; the difference between the interest they earn and the interest they pay out. Higher rates will increase this margin, thus increasing the bank's profitability.</p> <h3>2. Lock in a Fixed Rate</h3> <p>If you have a mortgage with an adjustable rate, now is the time to lock into something more stable, before interest rates rise. Convert your mortgage to a fixed-rate loan now, while interest rates are low. If you don't do this, your rate could adjust upward to a level that you may find unsustainable.</p> <h3>3. Switch to Short-Term Bonds</h3> <p>If interest rates are about to go up, you don't want your money tied up in something that's not paying a high rate. Placing your money in shorter term bonds and bond funds will allow you to remove your money earlier and then reinvest it in something with a higher return once rates rise. Long-term bonds do pay a higher rate than short-term bonds, but you lose flexibility.</p> <h3>4. Bolster Your Cash Holdings</h3> <p>With interest rates at ultralow levels, there hasn't been much incentive to hold on to a lot of cash. But if interest rates rise, you may find it's worth it to have a little more cash on hand, as it will generate some income for you. Stocks and other investments will probably still be more lucrative, but higher interest rates means there won't be as much downside to having more liquid savings, and it may give you more peace of mind.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oh-noes-inflation">Oh noes! Inflation!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-investments-that-may-soar-during-trumps-term">8 Investments That May Soar During Trump&#039;s Term</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-with-inflation">How to live with inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver">7 Best Money Management Tips From John Oliver</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-rising-interest-rates-can-help-your-wallet">8 Ways Rising Interest Rates Can Help Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Financial News bonds donald trump federal reserve gold inflation interest rates investing president Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:00:11 +0000 Tim Lemke 1843966 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Best Money Management Tips From John Oliver http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/john_oliver_12450865504_98a7a40631_z.jpg" alt="Learning money lessons from John Oliver" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don't often admit to it, but I have a little crush on comedian and <em>Last Week Tonight</em> host, John Oliver. I mean, what's not to like? There's his adorable British accent, his hilarious takes on the modern world, his dimples, his sound money advice&hellip;</p> <p>No, really. John Oliver is actually a pretty solid source for financial tips. Over the past few years, he has cemented his place in my heart by using his comedic platform to educate his audience on everything from credit scores to debt management and retirement savings</p> <p>If you haven't had a chance to watch all of John Oliver's money-related episodes, here are my favorite financial funnyman's seven best money management tips:</p> <h2>1. Before Taking a Payday Loan, Be Absolutely Sure There Are NO Other Options</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PDylgzybWAw" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_959988635&amp;feature=iv&amp;src_vid=aRrDsbUdY_k&amp;v=PDylgzybWAw" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Predatory Lending</a></p> <p>Wise Bread readers are likely very well aware of the predatory nature of payday loans. Taking a short-term loan can kick off a terrible cycle of debt with annual interest rates as high as 700%. But, as John Oliver points out in his rant, a Pew survey found that &quot;a majority of borrowers say payday loans take advantage of them, [but] a majority also say they provide relief.&quot;</p> <p>The point is that there will be times when people need money in a hurry and feel that their choices are limited. However, most borrowers have more choices than they think they do. Prospective payday loan customers could always borrow from a family member or friend, pawn or sell an item, or even sell blood or plasma. In other words, it's a better idea to do almost <em>anything </em>else to generate some quick cash than visit a payday loan store. (Although some of the ideas suggested by Sarah Silverman, the official spokesperson for <em>doing anything else</em>, are clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek.)</p> <p>Many payday loan borrowers end up turning to these anything else options in order to get out of the cycle of payday loan debt, so it would be better to just start there.</p> <h2>2. Start Saving for Retirement Now &mdash; And Build a Time Machine and Start Saving 10 Years Ago If Possible</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gvZSpET11ZY" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1249&amp;v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>We all need to be saving more money for retirement, and the earlier you start, the more time compound interest has to work its magic. According to a 2014 study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, a 25-year-old would only need to set aside <a href="http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/IB_14-111.pdf">15% of her income</a> each year to adequately replace her income as of retirement at age 62 &mdash; but if she started at age 35 she would need to save 24%, and 44% if she waited until age 45.</p> <p>While I have no issue with encouraging people to save more (really &mdash; save more!), I do have a quibble with the slight whiff of shame clinging to the build-a-time-machine portion of this advice. We can't change our past financial behavior, but we can feel bad about it and let it affect our present behavior &mdash; which too many people tend to do. There's no point in offering coulda-shoulda-woulda advice when time machine technology is still a couple of thousand decades away from reality.</p> <p>However, the basis of this advice is more than sound. Don't waste your money on Elf School in Reykjavik. Put it in your retirement account where it can do you some real good.</p> <h2>3. Check Your Credit Report Every Year</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aRrDsbUdY_k" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRrDsbUdY_k" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Credit Reports</a></p> <p>Your credit history can affect everything from whether you qualify to make large purchases, to your ability to land a job or rent an apartment. Unfortunately, credit reports are not always accurate, even if you have been a boy scout when it comes to your responsible credit usage.</p> <p>As John Oliver reports, the credit reporting bureaus make major mistakes in one out of every 20 credit histories. That may be a 95% accuracy rate, but it does leave 10 million consumers to deal with critical mistakes on their credit reports.</p> <p>The only thing we can do to fight mistakes (and identity theft, which <em>Last Week Tonight</em> did not even get into) is to regularly check our credit reports. We are legally allowed free access to a credit report from each of the major reporting agencies &mdash; TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax &mdash; once per year. You can access that information at annualcreditreport.com.</p> <p>If you're particularly organized, you can keep an eye on your credit on a rolling basis by checking one of the three agencies every four months.</p> <h2>4. Invest in Low Cost Index Funds</h2> <p>As seen on: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>Seeing this particular piece of advice had me standing up and cheering in front of my laptop. The financial industry likes to tout the superiority of actively managed funds since there is an individual making decisions for your investments &mdash; which has got to be better than doing nothing.</p> <p>Except the active managers who are tinkering with investments have a couple of big detractions. First, they are human, which means they are subject to emotional reactions to market volatility. It is very hard to stick to a plan when ego, panic, or greed is driving the train. According to research by Nobel laureate William Sharpe, you would have to be correct about timing the market (that is consistently buying low and selling high) 82% of the time in order to match the returns you will get with a buy-and-hold strategy. To put that in perspective, Warren Buffett aims for accurate market timing about 2/3 of the time.</p> <p>In addition to the difficulty of market timing, an actively managed fund will have higher transaction costs because of all the active buying and selling (each of which generates a fee) going on. Even if you have the world's most accurate active manager, a great deal of your returns will be eaten up by your transaction costs.</p> <p>Low cost index funds, on other hand, keep their costs low by having fewer managers to pay, and they tend to outperform actively managed funds because they are simply set to mimic a certain index. The majority of consumers will not beat low cost index funds for satisfactory retirement investment growth.</p> <h2>5. If You Have a Financial Adviser, Ask if They're a Fiduciary</h2> <p>As seen on: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>A financial adviser is a fiduciary if he or she is legally required to put your economic interests ahead of their own. This is an important distinction because the terms financial adviser, financial planner, financial analyst, financial consultant, wealth manager, and investment consultant are unregulated &mdash; which means someone introducing himself by any of these titles might not have the expertise to back it up.</p> <p>But even if your financial adviser does have the credentials necessary to help you manage your money, she might be paid via commission, which could mean she recommends products to you that help her bottom line more than your retirement.</p> <p>Since a fiduciary is legally obligated to put your interests above their own, you are more likely to get objective advice from them.</p> <p>While John Oliver recommends running the other direction if you find that your financial adviser is not a fiduciary, that may not be necessary as long as you understand how your adviser is paid and you are willing to commit to due diligence in double-checking your adviser's recommendations.</p> <h2>6. Gradually Shift From Stocks to Bonds As You Get Older</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gvZSpET11ZY" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>This advice is part of target-date retirement planning. The thinking behind it is that you need to be invested in riskier (and therefore higher-earning) investments like stocks when you are young, because you have the time to ride out the volatility and reap the returns. But as you age, you need to be sure your principal is protected, which means gradually shifting more of your investments into bonds, which are more stable but have lower returns.</p> <p>This is pretty good general advice, and I love the show's take on when to remind yourself to shift more to bonds &mdash; whenever a new James Bond actor is chosen. (I'm team Gillian Anderson!)</p> <p>The only nuance I would like to add to this piece of advice is to remind investors that retirement does not mark the end of your investing days &mdash; and you should not be entirely invested in bonds by then. Theoretically, you still have 25 to 40 years ahead of you as of the day you retire, and you will still need to be partially invested in aggressive assets like stocks in order to make sure your money keeps growing.</p> <h2>7. Keep Your Fees, Like Your Milk, Under 1%</h2> <p>As seen on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>Except for the fact that skim milk is a watery horror I would not wish on my worst enemy's morning Wheaties, this is probably my favorite of John Oliver's money tips.</p> <p>Fees on your investments work a lot like interest &mdash; in that they compound quickly. <em>Last Week Tonight</em> showed a clip from the 2013 PBS documentary The<a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/retirement-gamble/"> Retirement Gamble</a>, which illustrated how compounding interest would eat up 2/3 of your investment growth over 50 years, assuming a 7% annual return and a 2% annual fee.</p> <p>The only way to combat such termite-like destruction of your investment growth is to keep your fees low &mdash; under 1%. And the lower you can get your fees under 1%, the better you are. As John Oliver's segment points out, &quot;Even 1/10 of 1% can really [bleep] you.&quot;</p> <h2>Money With a Side of Funny</h2> <p>The majority of financial information is not exactly fun to read through. That's why it's so important for a satirist and comedian to take on these vitally important issues and make them entertaining. I'm thankful that John Oliver has decided to make money one of the issues he illuminates for his audience.</p> <p><em>Are you a regular watcher of Last Week Tonight? What valuable advice have you gleaned?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-paying-off-your-mortgage-early-costing-you-money">Is Paying Off Your Mortgage Early Costing You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-fantasy-football-teaches-us-about-personal-finance">What Fantasy Football Teaches Us About Personal Finance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-putting-off-these-9-adult-money-moves">Are You Putting Off These 9 Adult Money Moves?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-so-simple-6-steps-to-a-stable-retirement">It&#039;s So Simple: 6 Steps to a Stable Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Entertainment bonds credit reports fees index funds investing john oliver money advice payday loans retirement stock market Mon, 08 Aug 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1766934 at http://www.wisebread.com