The slumping Chinese stock market combined with concerns about Federal Reserve tightening sent U.S. equities sharply lower in August, ending an unusual period of low volatility. This was the first correction in the S&P 500 stock index in four years and pushed the index into negative territory on a year-to-date basis. Market volatility is officially back.
To better prepare yourself to manage the ups and downs, while still achieving your long term financial goals, consider incorporating key investing fundamentals into your overall investment plan. Some fundamental investment principles may include: diversification, and adherence to a long-term financial plan.
In times of uncertainty, investors often allow their financial decisions to be based upon emotions, which may not always prove to be the best approach in the long run. By allowing emotions to drive your investment decisions, you run the risk of missing out on the rewards when the financial markets rebound.
Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, those who have stayed invested for the long-term have generally been rewarded for their patience. In fact, many investors perceive market declines as an opportunity to expand their financial portfolios. Warren Buffet is quoted as saying, “Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.” During these volatile times, investors should re-evaluate, and then stick to their financial plan, putting fears aside as to not cloud their thinking.
Reassess Your Portfolio
According to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the practice of spreading money among different investments to help reduce risk is known as diversification. If your investments are heavily weighted in just one or two asset classes, then diversifying your portfolio might help minimize the volatility of your portfolio should turbulent markets continue. A regular review of your investment portfolio holdings can help keep you on track to attain important financial goals without incurring unnecessary risk.
Who Can Help Me?
CFS* Sr. Investment Advisor Bradley Schwab will work closely with you to conduct a financial review. Together, you can analyze your portfolio to ensure that it is properly diversified.
As tax filing season begins for 2014 we are reminded how we could have effectively lowered our taxable income. Start your 2015 tax planning with some helpful tips.
Donate to your Favorite Charity
Along with helping others, charitable donations are a great way to lower your taxable income. Take the time to sort through old clothes, and other belongings that you no longer use or need. Clean out your food pantries and find some local food drives. Make sure you keep your receipts; they will be needed for tax purposes.
Health Savings Accounts
Individuals under age 65 and covered by a high deductible health plan may establish an HSA (Health Savings Account) which allows participants to save money for the payment of health care expenses on a tax-preferred basis.
HSA distributions are generally tax-free if they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Distributions made for any other purposes may be taxable. Please contact your health care provider for more information about high-deductible health plans and HSA accounts.
Annual Gift Tax Exclusion
Consider gifting to reduce some tax burdens. In 2014 you could have gifted up to $14,000 to each person, and to as many individuals as you want, without triggering the gift tax. That gift amount stays the same in 2015. In addition to the annual exclusion amounts, you can also give charitable gifts, gifts to a spouse, gifts of educational expenses and gifts of medical expenses without triggering the gift tax.
One of the best ways to lower your tax bill is to reduce your taxable income. You can contribute up to $17,500 to your 401k or similar retirement savings plan in 2014 or $18,000 in 2015. Money contributed to the plan is not included in your taxable income. If you don’t have a retirement plan at work, you can invest in an IRA. You can contribute up to $5,500. Depending on your income, you may be able to deduct some or all of your IRA contribution.
Who Can Help Me?
With the overall objective of minimizing your taxable income, there are some great tax planning tactics that can help you for 2015.
Take this time to speak to our CFS* Sr. Investment Advisor Bradley Schwab, along with your tax advisor to help minimize your tax burden in the coming years.
You have many choices when searching for help in reaching your goals. In particular, the financial professionals here at Widget Financial will work closely with you to clarify your retirement goals, help you develop and implement a plan, and provide ongoing advice in pursuit of those goals.
You most likely get an annual physical with your doctor. During the appointment, he or she will ask you about any concerns, make note of your blood pressure and other vital signs and have you on your way in short order. An annual review of your finances is a necessity just like your physical checkup, not just for tax planning purposes, but because a financial plan is dynamic; needs and goals change, new savings, investment, and insurance products become available, family incomes increase, children are born, others are off to college, estates increase and jobs change. Here are some topics to consider before meeting with your financial professional.
Have Any Life Changes Occurred?
List any changes in your work or personal life that took place in the last 12 months. These may include a job change or retirement, the purchase or sale of a home, birth of a baby or marriage or divorce. These changes can alter your income and lifestyle significantly.
Are You Still Adequately Insured?
Review your long-term care and life insurance needs. Many financial experts consider life insurance to be the cornerstone of a sound financial plan. It can offer the protection you need to help cover potential risks and liabilities. Life insurance may also provide an income that allows your heirs to maintain their standard of living and cover everyday expenses such as bills, rent and mortgages.
Does Your Portfolio Require Any Maintenance?
Many financial professionals state that you may need from 70-80% of your pre-retirement income in order to maintain your standard of living in retirement. These numbers have increased over the years for many reasons, including increasing life spans, inflation and medical costs. Retirees today have redefined retirement as more of an exciting time to start a new chapter. It’s no longer considered the end of work life, but perhaps the start of a new career, continuing education, world travel or volunteer work. Take a look at your retirement accounts and review each plan’s annual statement. Talk to your financial professional about any performance issues that might be of concern. Review the performance of any stocks, bonds and mutual funds you own. Finally, make sure that the characteristics of your portfolio support the goals you’ve set.
Who Can Help Me?
With all the investment options available today, staying on track to reach your financial goals might seem like a daunting task. As you prepare to review where you stand on your “financial checkup”, it may be helpful to consult with a professional who can aid in making those informed decisions. A qualified financial professional can help ensure that your financial affairs are consistent with your current needs, risk tolerance and long-term goals.
How much life insurance do you really need? It’s a great question, and it’s especially pertinent now as the life insurance industry is planning a month-long campaign to encourage customers to consider their life insurance needs. The main purpose of life insurance is to provide financial security for your family. Life insurance helps ensure that, when you die your family will have the financial resources it needs to provide for your spouse, children, an elderly parent or some other dependent. Life insurance also may be used to meet a variety of long-term financial planning goals. It can help provide educational funds for your children or funds for your own retirement.
So How Much is Enough?
There are no hard and fast rules for determining how much life insurance is enough, because no two families have exactly the same needs. The bottom line is; if you provide financial support for people who depend on you, you probably need life insurance.
The Importance of Life Insurance Policy Review
As part of your life insurance review, some additional components can be critical to your plan and to keeping pace with changing lives.
Beneficiary designations – those who will receive proceeds – may need updating
Health may have improved since the policy was purchased, creating an opportunity for lower cost insurance
Premiums on term insurance can increase upon renewal, prompting a move to consider a permanent, fixed premium policy
Loans or withdrawals may affect your policy performance
Take the time today to help ensure you family’s financial security. Talk to your financial advisor and get help in finding the right products to fit your specific needs and budget.
Who Can Help Me?
As there often seems to be an unmanageable number of variables in navigating your unique financial situation, the aid of an experienced financial professional can be a valuable resource. The financial professionals here at your credit union will work closely with you to help assess your needs. Contact Brad Schwab today!
Markets will always go up and down, and that is a fact of life that cannot be controlled. With the volatility experienced in today’s market, it comes as no surprise that many people are left in an emotional whirlwind, feeling a bit uneasy, and perhaps even hesitant to enter the markets. However, it is important to leave those emotions aside, and reacquaint with some of the basic rules of investing.
In times of volatile market fluctuations, it is a good idea to review the basic concepts of investing. Diversification and asset allocation may prove to be useful investment strategies to follow during times of market instability. Diversification can help an investor manage risk, and reduce the volatility of an asset’s price movements. In basic terms, diversification is the process of spreading a portfolio among major asset categories such as bonds, stocks or cash. Another good rule of thumb is to avoid investing too much of your retirement plan in your company stock. Remember though, no matter how diversified your portfolio is, risk can never be eliminated completely.
We have all heard the term but what exactly is it? It is systematic allocation of the client’s investments across asset classes, with the objective of maximizing returns for the amount of risk taken. Asset allocation helps to reduce the risk of market fluctuations, because as some assets’ value may go down, others may go up and offset losses. Asset allocation may seem a bit confusing at first, but it really isn’t. No one mix of assets is right for everyone all the time. Be sure to work with a financial professional to choose the appropriate mix of investments for your goals and investment needs.
Surviving a down market can be very difficult and discouraging, but there are various strategies to implement today that may help to reduce the impact in the future. Some of those strategies may include:
Formulate a well-defined investment plan and stay on course
When making investment decisions, think long-term as opposed to short-term
Think of a down market as a buying opportunity
Consider working with a financial advisor
Who Can Help Me?
Are you unsure about the diversification of your portfolio? Now may be a great time to visit us at Widget Financial, and meet with Brad Schwab, your CFS* financial advisor, for a portfolio checkup. You can revisit your portfolio together and check to see if you are properly diversified. You can also decide if your current portfolio still matches with your long-term financial goals. To learn more about working with Brad Schwab, contact us today!
Retirement provides a chance to enjoy the fruits of one’s hard work. However, an enjoyable retirement requires proactive planning. In putting together your plans, be sure to ask yourself these five questions.
Where Should You Live in Retirement?
You’ll need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of any new potential location and choose the one that best suits your lifestyle. If you want to live in a city where you can take advantage of culture attractions, convenient mass transit and excellent doctors and hospitals, you must be prepared to pay a premium for real estate and higher taxes and expenses.
Meanwhile, that affordable country home may take you many miles from friends and family. While a carefully chosen retirement community would provide security and lots of organized social activities, you may find that you miss being near young people. Only you can decide what’s important. The good news is that there is a wealth of material on the Web and in print to help with your research.
Should You Plan to Work in Retirement?
Retirement isn’t what it used to be. Today, most people say they plan to work in retirement because they’ll need to supplement savings or because they want to stay connected. The key is being able to work on your own terms, with less stress and flexible hours.
How Do You Navigate the Medicare Maze?
AARP found that 62% of boomers have not fully accounted for health care expenses in their planning. To keep yourself in the know, stay up on the health care reform bill changes. Each year choose your policy wisely.
How Will You Live When the Paychecks Stop?
Working longer, saving more today and being realistic about spending assumptions will all help make for a workable plan. Take a look at your self-directed and self-funded tax advantage savings accounts, including IRAs and 401 (k) s. How can you optimally fund these accounts in order to draw them down to a sustainable rate during retirement?
Who Can Help Me Plan?
You have many choices when searching for help in building and managing a retirement plan. In particular, the financial professionals here at your credit union will work closely with you to clarify your retirement goals, develop and implement a plan, and provide ongoing advice in pursuit of those goals.
Routing # 243381117 | “APY” refers to “Annual Percentage Yield” | “APR” refers to “Annual Percentage Rate”
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