Navigating the Stock Market: Tips for Millennials

Understanding the Stockmarket

Navigating the stock market can be daunting for anyone, especially if you’re new to investing.

Between struggling to pay off student loans, finding jobs in a difficult market, and setting goals for financial independence in a stressed market environment, it’s been a daunting few years in general for many Millennials, who may have put off investing because they just don’t feel comfortable or ready.

Feeling comfortable with investing – and understanding how the stock market works – is critical, however, as you start gaining independence and start making important financial decisions. If you get started now, you’ll be maximizing your chances of hitting those marks on your way to achieving your goals!

Here are some basic tips to help you get started.

7 Tips For The Long Term Investor

Start today: Procrastination can put a large dent in your ultimate savings. Whether you’re investing in a retirement savings plans or a regular investment account, it’s important to start early so that your investments compound. Remember, even small amounts add up over time!

Create a plan and stick with it: There are many ways to be successful and no one strategy is inherently better than any other. Once you find your style, stick with it. Bouncing in and out of the market makes is just as likely you will miss some of the best days and hit the worst.  Readjust your portfolio when necessary, but not too often.

Think long term and be disciplined: Be prepared to buy and hold your positions. Big short-term profits can be enticing when you’re new to the market but short-term wins will get you off track. Start a program, stay invested, and don’t be too concerned with day-to-day profits and losses.  Warren Buffet once asked, “Suppose you’re going to be investing for the next several years. Do you want the price of the stocks to go up or down?” While everybody assumes it’s “up,” in reality, it’s only people who are withdrawing in the near future who really want stocks to go up!

Do your research: Always be an informed investor. Do your own due diligence with companies you’re interested in. Don’t go for a ‘hot tip’ just because there’s a lot of buzz; research companies, get advice, and decide if they’re investments that are right for you.

Never let your emotions influence you: The markets move in cycles. When the markets are up, we feel elated about our investment decisions. When markets start to move down, we may experience anxiety and panic. Reacting emotionally can lead to spur of the moment decisions that don’t benefit you in the long run. Again: think long term.

Always have a margin of safety: The first rule anyone new to investing needs to learn is that there are no guarantees in the stock market. An investment that looks great on paper does not always pan out in real life.  Know how much risk you are willing to take and make sure your investments are aligned with your risk tolerance.

Diversify: Never put all your eggs in one kind of basket. It’s important to make sure your portfolio includes both stocks and yield-producing assets, such as bonds, to cushion you against market volatility. Diversification doesn’t just mean investing in multiple companies either; investigate ways to invest in different markets, bother national and international, as well.

One final tip: find an experienced financial planner you trust, who “gets” you, your goals, and your timeline, and who can guide you as you invest in your future.

Brad Sherman is a financial planner who is committed to helping individuals and families achieve financial independence and gain confidence with regard to financial issues.

Call or contact him today to see if his services are a good fit for your needs.

Related Reading:

What is Dollar Cost Averaging?

5 Things Investors Get Wrong

5 Big Picture Things Many Investors Don’t Do

Why and How to Get Started Investing Today

Mitigating Your Investment Volatility

The Psychology of Investing

Rebalance Your Portfolio to Stay on Track With Investments

Behavioral Investing: Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus!

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Discussing Personal Finance is Difficult for Many – but Critical

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Money can be a difficult subject for any of us to talk about, although it seems to be particularly challenging, statistically, for women.

According to a recent study released by Fidelity, 80% of women surveyed said that they had refrained from discussing financial issues with friends or family, despite the fact that over 92% of those surveyed expressed an interest in learning more about financial planning. Among those surveyed, some of the most common reasons given were that money was too personal a topic, it felt uncomfortable to talk about, or it was considered “taboo.” Additionally, women are also more likely to feel that they don’t know enough about the subject to speak about it intelligently. This is despite the fact that studies have shown that women tend to be better investors than men.

Money is, however, a critical subject that we all need to discuss – and discuss often – in relationships. A little while ago I wrote about the 7 Things Married Couples Should Discuss Today, where I talked about why it is critical that married couples go over their finances together. Marriage is not, however, the only relationship that requires having difficult conversations about money.

We need to communicate with our parents and children about money, and even friends, coworkers and extended family members in some cases.

With money playing such an important role in our daily lives, it’s critical that we learn to overcome our desire to avoid the topic and learn how to effectively and confidently communicate about financial matters.

Fortunately there are a few things you can do to make the topic of money easier to discuss:

1. Realize that difficult conversations are sometimes necessary

Whether you need to confront your parents about their retirement plans, your spouse about where to allocate investments, or your children about their spending habits money can be a difficult topic to talk about. By reminding yourself that these are conversations that you will ultimately need to have however you are setting yourself up for success.

2. Find someone knowledgeable about finances who you can trust

No one has all the answers when it comes to money, which is why it is often helpful to turn to others for ideas and suggestions. You should find someone – whether it’s a friend, family member or a financial advisor – who is knowledgeable, who you know has your best interests at heart, and with whom you feel comfortable speaking.

This will give you the opportunity to ask questions, bounce around ideas, and learn and grow. It will also give you the confidence to discuss finances with others.

3. Get educated

One of the best ways to feel comfortable discussing money with others is by learning as much about the subject as you can. Read books, ask questions, and get help when needed. By learning as much as you can, you feel more comfortable giving advice, making financial decisions and having what would otherwise be difficult conversations.

4. Don’t procrastinate when discussing finances

If there is a money-related conversation that you have been putting off, bring it up now or at the next time possible. Don’t wait!

Here are a few more suggestions for important conversation starters:

With your spouse:

  • Family’s budget
  • Retirement savings
  • Saving for children’s college fund
  • Where to invest money

With your children:

  • Allowance
  • Spending
  • Basic financial principles

With your parents:

  • Their retirement plans
  • Location of legal documents including wills, trusts and insurance paperwork

If you’re like most people, chances are there are many other subjects that you need to discuss with those you’re close to. It may be a good idea to contact a financial advisor to help you with these as well as other issues revolving around money.

Brad Sherman is a financial planner in Gaithersburg, Maryland who is committed to helping individuals and families achieve financial independence and gain confidence with regard to financial issues.

Call him today to see if his services are a good fit for your needs.

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Financial Planning for Millennials: Overcoming the Fear Factor

financial planning for Millennials

What do you think of when you think of Millennials? The media loves to paint Millennials as “adventurous”, “risk takers,” and “thrill seekers.” But, surprisingly, when it comes to financial planning for Millennials, their behavior is anything but risky.

In fact, there is evidence that, while emotions and biases play a large part in Millennials’ investment decisions,  fear leads the list of behavioral influences.

We Millennials grew up during the Internet crash and have witnessed one of the most turbulent market cycles in recent U.S. history. With the financial crisis of 2008, and the housing bust leading to a recession, many of us have watched our parents struggle with financial security and worry about whether they’ll ever be able to retire. Many recent grads have experienced unemployment as a result of the crisis, and many are burdened with significant student loan debt. Good times? Not.

These experiences during their impressionable years have led many Millennials to take an emotionally driven approach to Financial Planning for Millennials and to adopt conservative money habits that analysts have compared to the investment behavior of young adults during the Great Depression.

They tend to be wary of investing in equities, for instance, resorting to a behavioral bias that favors peer narratives and unscientific anecdotes – such as stories of retirement-age people whose nest eggs were destroyed by the financial crisis – over careful data analysis.

In May 2013, Wells Fargo released the results of a study surveying more than 1,400 Millennials, that found that Millennials view the stock market, and most investments, as a risk not worth taking. More than half of Millennials are “not very confident” or “not at all confident” about the stock market and many of the Millennials who do consider investing in stocks see the market as a short-term investment. The survey also found that Millennials’ primary concerns were student loan debt and paying their monthly bills.

In fact, Millennials have not only taken on more student loan debt than any previous generation but they continue to struggle in a challenging job market. With many Millennials remaining unemployed or underemployed, and with bills and debt as their top priorities, they have very little disposable income for investing. Many, according to a Pew Research poll released in October 2013, did not even begin thinking about saving or establishing a 401(k) until about five years into their careers.

Additionally, a UBS Wealth Management survey report featured on Bankrate.com found that, more 39% of the Millennials surveyed – more than any other age group – said that cash is their preferred way to invest money that they don’t need for at least ten years. That’s three times the number who chose to invest in the stock market, despite the fact that the S&P 500 has gained 17% over the past year while most cash investment yields remain below 1%.

The Danger of Playing it Safe

The problem with short-term stock investment approaches and dipping in and out of the stock market is that it can work against investors, because short-term investments may be subject to a higher rate of volatility. Instead of looking at the long-term data, which shows that stocks typically outperform other more conservative asset classes over the long run, those young investors are fearful of the short-range volatility, clouding data about the positive potential of long-term investing.

That reluctance to get into the market can be problematic for long-term portfolio growth because, without the returns from stocks, it can be difficult to reach savings and retirement goals.

Bigger is Not Always Better…When Finding a Financial Advisor

With the crash of the big banks and the negative publicity surrounding Wall Street financial firms, Millennials became a generation that looked at financial professionals with mistrust. Instead, they rely more heavily on the Internet, social media, and personal networks for financial advice. Their experience with market volatility and lack of job security has had a significant impact on their attitudes and behaviors toward investing. With very little disposable income after bills and debt payment, Millennials want to feel a sense of security with their investments.

When it comes to working with a financial professional, ‘old school’, traditional banking services are of no interest to them. Bigger is not better in their minds; a smaller, more independent financial planning firm may be able to offer a more hands-on and collaborative approach to investing that Millennials feel more comfortable with.

It’s important to Millennials that they find someone they can trust and who can relate to their concerns and be open to new ideas and methods of investing. Sherman Wealth Management understands that being a part of the investing process is a must in financial planning for Millennials. We fill a role for clients who can no longer relate to, or trust, the large financial institutions that once held a stronghold in the marketplace. The professionals at Sherman Wealth Management provide a personalized plan for investing and help our clients navigate through the difficulty of prioritizing financial obligations.

Remember how it was the overconfidence of the large financial firms and irresponsible investors that brought us the financial crisis in the first place? That Millennial reluctance to let history blindly repeat itself may turn out to be a pretty good thing after all!

Learn more about Financial Planning for Millennials and our Financial Planning services.

Related Reading:

5 Planning Tips for New Parents

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Why Reducing Your Tax Refund is a Good Thing

With tax day fast approaching, many people are counting on receiving a big check back from the Government. While you’re probably looking forward to this windfall, there are reasons why you may wish to minimize your end-of-year refund.

Why Big Refunds are Bad

Taxes are refunded to you when the Government takes too much of your pay each pay period. By overpaying each paycheck, only to get the money returned to you once a year, you are essentially lending the Government money at zero percent interest.

This is money that could have been budgeted for and spent, or invested, throughout the year. Even if you had put the money in a savings account over the year, you still would be better off.

How to Minimize Your Refund

In order to adjust the amount that is withheld for the IRS each pay period you need to fill out/change your W-4 form.

The W-4 allows you to specify allowances or exemptions that you are eligible for.

These can include:

  • Donations to charitable organizations
  • Interest on a home mortgage
  • Interest on student loan debt
  • Contributions to traditional IRAs

The W-4 form estimates the amount that you would receive from a tax refund. This amount is then distributed over the number of weeks remaining in the tax year, lowering the amount withheld from your paycheck each pay period.

You should also look into filling out a new W-4 every time you have experienced a major change in your life. Examples of this include:

  • Switching jobs
  • Marriage
  • Having a child
  • Losing a dependent (They either file their own tax return, or you can no longer claim them)

While trying to lower the amount that is withheld in taxes each pay period generally makes sense, it may be prudent to not list all of the exemptions you are eligible for on your W-4.

Why You May Not Want to Claim all Your Allowances

While having too much in taxes withheld can be compared to lending the Government money at a rate of zero percent interest, the reverse is also true.

If you underpay in taxes each paycheck, you end up owing money to the Government. In theory this is great. You could put the money in a savings account, and then at the end of the year pay back the Government while pocketing the interest that you collected.

In practice however this is not a prudent strategy for most people.

Individuals have a tendency to spend money that they have, and forget about longer-term consequences of their actions. Additionally while receiving a refund at the end of the year is exciting, the opposite is also true.

This is why it may make sense for you to leave a few deductions you are eligible for unlisted on your W-4. This ensures that you receive a tax refund, albeit a smaller one, rather than owing money.

What to Do When You Do Receive a Refund

While this advice can be helpful for next year, chances are this year’s tax season will provide you with a large refund.

If you do receive a large refund there are a series of things you can consider to maximize its value. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Invest in yourself – Sometimes the best investment you can make is in yourself. Consider buying a book or taking a class to help improve your performance in work or at life.
  • Get your will done – this can often cost less than a $1,000 in total but can save your beneficiary’s significantly more both in terms of money as well as headache
  • Put money into a college savings plan
  • Pay down your mortgage
  • Invest in a non-tax-exempt account – if you have already maxed out your IRA
  • Save for a rainy day
  • Open/add to an IRA
  • Pay off student loan debt
  • Pay off credit card debt – if you have any credit card debt, this should be an immediate priority
  • Save the money and increase your 401(k) contributions – put your money in a safe place such as a savings account, and bump up your 401(k) contributions to reflect the fact that you have this money sitting on the side.

Regardless of what you do with your tax refund, it is important that you come up with a plan. A trusted financial planner can help you in the process of creating one.

With over a decade’s worth of experience in the financial services industry Brad Sherman is committed to helping individual investors plan and prepare for retirement.

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

Having the Money Conversation

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Millennials have a tremendous advantage over their Baby Boomer parents because they are comfortable talking about money. Having grown up with social media and the internet, this generation is not as private as their parents and grandparents are, especially about subjects like money and finance. The advantage is that open conversations can reduce fears and increase understanding, which can result in better decision making.

Yet, with all this comfort in discussing financial matters, many Millennials are hesitant to meet with a financial advisor. It’s one thing to gather information from family and friends or read articles about investing, it’s another to discuss your personal information with a financial advisor. That’s when it moves from theoretical to personal and that can create a great deal of fear and discomfort.

Why Fear Gets the Best of Us

How Much Do You Really Know About Finances? As educated professionals, it’s common to feel like you should know everything. After all, if you don’t understand it, a few internet searches should provide the answers!

When it comes to money matters, though, many Millennials feel like a fish out of water. Internet searches can provide information that’s both confusing and conflicting, and that doesn’t answer individual questions about strategy and direction.

Then there is the question of what information can be trusted. Is the site legitimate and can the writer’s – and site’s – motivation be trusted? While financial information is plentiful, much of it’s either very general or coming from a sales site that promises a secret formula that will turn you into a millionaire.

Financial decisions by nature are very individual and personal. Because there’s no one-size-fits-all investing strategy, personal consultations are invaluable.

Advisor motivations. Can the advisor be trusted? A trusted advisor needs to understand your circumstances, goals, dreams, and aspirations. Once they do, they can help to create a long term strategy that will help to make those dreams a reality. But you must be able to trust that your advisor will make recommendations that are most beneficial to you, the client, not the best for them, the advisor.

Addressing these concerns in an open conversation will go a long way. No one wants to be sold a product. We all want to invest money in a sound strategy. Understanding the reasons for the recommendation will help you understand how it may benefit you and help you pursue your long term goals.

Fear of not being understood. As complicated individuals we want to appear like we have everything in order. In reality, sometimes we’re confident, other times not so much.

Financial advisors have seen nearly every level of financial preparedness. They have seen financial messes and worked with clients to get things corrected. They have seen strong portfolios, weak portfolios, no portfolio, and everything in between.

Even if you don’t feel you have all your ducks in a row, an advisor can help. If you’ve made bad decisions in the past, they can make recommendations for corrective action. If you’ve been unable to get things in order on your own, working with a professional can be the fastest way to get on track.

Markets not doing as expected. This can go two ways. If you invest conservatively and the market takes off you might end up kicking yourself for not being more aggressive. If the markets are slow and you invest aggressively you can end up wishing you’d been more conservative.

When you meet with an advisor, you’re meeting with a professional who understands the investment business and who can make recommendations that are consistent with your financial goals. An advisor does not have a crystal ball; remember that long term investing is not about beating the markets, it’s about making strong financial decisions that over time will lead to increased confidence in financial matters.

Pulling the Trigger

The first step is always the hardest. This is true whether you’re trying to establish a workout routine, learn a new language, start a new job, or change your investing strategy. Resisting change is natural and we are creatures of habit. However, there comes a point when, in order to grow and progress, we have to stop making excuses and get started by meeting with a financial advisor.

Make the appointment. Even if you don’t think you know enough, have enough money to invest, have a good enough paying job, or whatever the excuses for delays have been.

Before you meet with the advisor, write down questions you have. What things have you heard and what things do you want to understand. This can guide the conversation as you begin to develop a relationship with an advisor.

A financial advisor at Sherman Wealth is someone you’ll want to get to know! You’ll want them to know everything about you and your family’s needs. As your advisor learns more about you, they’ll be able to make the appropriate recommendations as opportunities arise.

Learn more about our Financial Advisor services.

Related Reading:

The Top 10 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor
Transparency on Both Sides

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7 Things Married Couples Should Discuss Today

Financial Planning for Married Couples

We all know that being a part of a couple takes work and that open, honest communications is key!  In order to have a relationship that is strong financially, as well as emotionally, remember to regularly discuss and review your finances and goals to help make sure that you and your partner are not only on the same track, but on the right one for you as a couple.

Here are 7 of the most important things that couples should regularly review:

  1. Retirement Plans – If you’re a young couple, retirement may seem far off, but it’s important to remember – through compounded interest –  a small amount invested now may go a long way in the future. Be sure to reexamine your goals and your portfolio to make sure that you’re both saving enough for retirement, and that you maintain a proper asset allocation.
  2. Life Insurance – While not a pleasant topic, it’s important to discuss with your partner what will happen in the event that one of you passes prematurely. If one, or both of you, are dependent on the other person’s income, you may want to consider purchasing a term-life insurance policy.
  3. Wills and Trusts – Like life insurance, wills and trusts also are important for protecting your loved ones. They’re especially critical if you have children, or a significant amount of assets. Make sure that your assets are directed in a way that’s consistent with your wishes.
  4. College Funds – If you have children, or are considering having children, you definitely want to discuss a saving strategy to help pay for college tuition. Like retirement savings, a little bit now can go a long way.
  5. Health Insurance – Make sure that you and your partner are both covered, and that you understand the differences – and overlaps – in  your plans. Is there any unnecessary overlap? Should you purchase more coverage to protect yourself? Or should you switch to a high-deductible plan to save money? These are questions that should be reviewed at least once annually!
  6. Major Purchases – If you are planning to make a major purchase such as a home, or a new car, you’ve probably already talked with your partner about it. You may not have talked about how you’ll pay for it though! Some questions to consider: whether or not you’ll pay cash for the purchase;  if you finance it, what type of down payment you will make, and over what period of time; and if you need to cut down on expenses elsewhere to save up for the purchase.
  7. Monthly Expenses – Review your expenses each month to see where you can make changes and cut back. Consider making a budget together to make sure that you are allocating your income in the best possible way for both of you.

While financial topics can be difficult to discuss, they’re an important part of a happy and successful relationship. Make sure that both you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to finances, and set short and long term goals together to help keep you both on track.

If you need help going over your finances or coming up with a plan, it may be wise to contact a financial planner. Financial planners can help point you in the right direction, based on your own goals, and help facilitate difficult, but important, discussions.

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

What is Dollar Cost Averaging?

Dollar Cost Averaging

The concept of dollar cost averaging is investing a set amount of money at regular intervals. This might mean a percentage of every paycheck that is used for investing or a specific dollar amount. You might start with as little as $50 a month or $50 a pay period and that will begin to create a portfolio that pays for future needs.

Advantages of Dollar Cost Averaging

1) Establishes a habit of investing. One of the largest benefits is you begin to pay yourself first and take care of future needs today. Establishing a habit of setting aside a little money for tomorrow will help you live within your means, have more thoughtful budgeting, and be better prepared.

2) The investment is built into your budget, and you learn to live on what remains. The interesting thing about money and finances is that you tend to spend what you have. If there is a little less in the account each month you will adjust spending to accommodate for what you have. Even if it does not appear that there is money for investing you might be surprised how easy it is to “find” a small amount that can be earmarked for investments. A simple thing like bringing lunch twice a week instead of eating out can result in saving over $50 a month to use for investing.

3) Dollar cost averaging purchases shares at a set time each month regardless of where the investment price is. This means if the price is lower you purchase more shares. If the market is higher less shares are bought. The result is a greater tolerance for market fluctuations because you gain a better understanding that the markets move every day.

4) No Large Sums Required to Begin. Dollar cost averaging can be started with small amounts of money. One possible strategy is to increase monthly contributions at least annually. The more you raise the contribution amount the larger and faster your investments may grow over time.

5) Flexibility. Monthly contribution amounts can be changed at any time. The amounts can be raised or lowered depending on life events that impact your budget. In a perfect world the contributions would always increase, but sometimes that does not match real life events. The ability to adjust contributions reduces risk and allows for greater flexibility to meet current demands.

6) Great long-term strategy. Building a portfolio from the ground up can be accomplished through dollar cost averaging and regular contributions. Your investment should grow over time through both additional contributions and portfolio growth. As you receive bonuses or other financial windfalls you can make additional one time contributions as your finances allow.

When it comes to investing there are no short cuts. Starting early and making regular investments will help to provide financial security and accounts that will build over time. When you start early you are less tempted to take on more portfolio risk and are better able to reach long term financial goals.

The future is uncertain and setting aside a little each month to pay for long term financial needs is one of the soundest ways to pursue financial security.

“Dollar cost averaging does not protect against a loss in declining markets. Since such a plan involves continuous investments in securities regardless of the fluctuating price levels, the investor should consider his or her financial ability to continue such purchases through period of low price levels.”

Learn more about our Investment Management services.

Related Reading:

Tips for Millennials to Understanding the Stock Market

5 Things Investors Get Wrong

5 Big Picture Things Many Investors Don’t Do

Why and How to Get Started Investing Today

Mitigating Your Investment Volatility

The Psychology of Investing

Rebalance Your Portfolio to Stay on Track With Investments

Behavioral Investing: Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus!

 

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5 Things Investors Get Wrong

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Humans have a tendency to behave irrationally when it comes to money. Here are the five things investors get wrong that can harm their returns.

Believing They Will Beat the Market

Study after study shows that investors, including professionals, continually under perform the S&P.

In their most recent SPIVA (S&P Indices vs. Active) report, released in September, McGraw Hill Financial found that more than 85% of all funds underperformed the S&P 500, the index found to represent the overall market. (1).

What’s scarier is the fact that individual investors do even worse. In a 20 year study conducted by Dalbar, a financial services research firm, the average investor has seen a return of just 2.1% compared with the S&P’s annualized return of 7.8% (2).

What causes this under performance?

According to Dalbar the biggest reason for this under performance by investors is due to irrational behavioral biases. These include panic selling, under-diversifying, and chasing momentum (3).

Chasing Hot Stocks 

In a study done by the University of California Berkley, as well as UC Davis, researchers found that investors are much more likely to purchase shares in companies that have recently been in the news (4), bidding the price of these stocks up.

Additionally many investors make the mistake of trying to chase performance by buying investments that have already risen significantly. A 2011 study by Baird, a wealth management firm, suggests that investors generally chase short-term performance by buying funds that have risen in the short run, and selling those that have performed poorly (5).

The same can be said about the market as a whole where investors tend to purchase stocks after they have seen a large rise, and subsequently sell into weakness (6).

In short, investors sell low, and buy high.

Ignoring Fees 

You probably know that fees are important, what you may not realize is just how important they are.

Take for example two 30-year-old investors who each contribute $5,500 annually to their IRAs. They both achieve 9% annualized returns, before fees, over the next 35 years. The only difference between them is that one investor pays annual fees of .5%, while the other investor pays 2.5% in total fees. Over the course of their working career, investor A will have accumulated $1,059,859.21 in their account while investor B will have $682,190.80.

This is a hypothetical illustration only and is not indicative of any particular investment or performance. Return and principal value may fluctuate, so when withdrawn, it may be worth more or less than the original cost. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

In this example, Investor B’s IRA will be worth less than 65% of Investor’s A account as a result of a 2% difference in fees!

Not Re-balancing

While buy-and-hold is usually a good strategy for most people, it is sometimes necessary for individuals to make slight tweaks to their investments.

This is particularly important if you have had one asset class or investment rise or fall significantly more than the rest of your portfolio. In this case it is a good idea to re balance your portfolio in order to realign it with your target allocation. This ensures that you not only maintain diversity, but also that you buy low, and sell high, by buying assets that have fallen significantly and selling assets that have risen.

Turning to the Wrong People for Advice 

Financial advice and information has never been more accessible to the average investor than it is today. Between TV and the Internet, investors are bombarded with information on a daily basis. Unfortunately not all of this information is sound.

Investors should consider carefully the source of any advice they receive, watching out for potential conflicts of interest. Before making any investment decisions you should carefully consider all options, and consider speaking with a financial advisor.

Learn more about our Investment Management services.

Related Reading:

Tips for Millennials to Understanding the Stock Market

What is Dollar Cost Averaging?

5 Big Picture Things Many Investors Don’t Do

Why and How to Get Started Investing Today

Mitigating Your Investment Volatility

The Psychology of Investing

Rebalance Your Portfolio to Stay on Track With Investments

Behavioral Investing: Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus!

References:

1. http://us.spindices.com/resource-center/thought-leadership/spiva/

2. http://www.thestreet.com/story/11621555/1/average-investor-20-year-return-astoundingly-awful.html

3. http://www.advisorperspectives.com/commentaries/streettalk_100814.php

4. http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/odean/Papers%20current%20versions/AllThatGlitters_RFS_2008.pdf

5. http://www.rwbaird.com/bolimages/Media/PDF/Whitepapers/Truth-About-Top-Performing-Money-Managers.pdf

6. http://theweek.com/articles/487000/sell-low-buy-high-are-investors-being-stupid-again

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Finding Financial Independence

Financial Independence

Financial Independence has become the goal for many who struggle with the overwhelming task of funding a long term retirement strategy that is so far away. In a world where jobs are constantly changing, skills need continual updating and stability is hard to find, many are rethinking how retirement is viewed. Instead of thinking of retirement as a destination 30 or 40 years from now that must be funded with a huge cash reserve, thinking of creating financial independence through passive income streams feels more attainable.

If financial independence is a strategy that will provide ongoing income there are several things that must be accomplished to make this a reality. Here are some tips and ideas on creating passive income.

What Is Passive Income

Creating a passive income stream, looks at investment opportunities through the lens of providing ongoing income, rather than accumulating large amounts of investments that will be withdrawn at some point in the future. The traditional passive income streams were social security and pension plans which would pay a set amount of money each month until you die. With these passive income streams additional work was not required and the funds would last until you died, ensuring you would never outlive the money.

Today those traditional passive income streams like pensions cannot be relied on. This has left workers with 401ks and IRAs as the funding options for retirement. These are great options, but with jobs changing and the average worker going through a dozen or more jobs in a career, even this is not enough to provide ongoing security. This has required Millennials to be more creative when they think about savings, investing and preparing for an uncertain future.

Having an investment portfolio that can provide a monthly income stream, a business that produces ongoing income, rental property, part time work or freelancing are all options for ongoing income. In the beginning these options require work and forethought but over time they can produce a passive income stream that can provide much higher levels of security.

Keys to Building Passive Income

Start Early

As with all investments the more time a plan has to work and develop the better it will work for you. If you have a hobby you are passionate about that you can build into a viable business, starting now will give you decades to build the business into an operation that requires less of your time and attention. This income can then provide as a respite if you have employment gaps throughout your career. With both nontraditional and traditional investments alike, starting early will reap the highest level of benefits and income.

Watch Spending

Living frugally became a buzzword a few years back as it became more mainstream. Living within your means will always provide money that can be invested in your future, instead of paying for yesterday’s spending. The other advantage to frugal living is that you need less passive income to maintain your quality of life. As your income increases throughout your career, keeping your spending in tact will be rewarded with more investments that can be directed toward passive income opportunities.

Keep Your Eyes Open for Opportunities

Passive income requires creativity with investments. It means thinking in terms of multiple streams of income and investment options that will grow during your working years and then produce income when you need it. Many opportunities do not produce passive income immediately, but will over time.

When you look at adding activities to your life that are more fulfilling, investment opportunities will present themselves. This might be a chance to earn a second income doing something you love. It might mean nontraditional ways of earning money. Thinking outside the box is the key. One friend buys fireworks when they really inexpensive, before the season and then sells them during the holidays where fireworks are popular (4th of July and New Year’s being the two best holidays). This gives him a boost of several thousand dollars a few times a year. He then takes those earnings and invests them to build a portfolio of passive income that he can later use. Income and investment opportunities are everywhere when you are looking for them.

Be Patient

While we get used to instant gratification, the best things in life take both our time and energy. They do not always work out like we planned but they are worth our time and effort because in the end they pay off. Investments are the same way. When looking for passive income streams be willing to look at the long term benefits and dedicate the time necessary to grow your investments in a strategic way.

It is a lot less overwhelming to think in terms of establishing an income stream of $3,000 to $4,000 a month, than to think in terms of needing to save a million dollars for a comfortable retirement. Changing the way you look at investments might be just what you need to get started on your way to financial independence.

Learn more about our Retirement Planning services.

Related Reading:

Four Things Entrepreneurs Can do Now to Save for Retirement 

YOLO (You Only Live Once) so you Need a Retirement Goal

Your 401K Program: A Little Savings Now Goes a Long Way

How Much Money do you Need for Retirement These Days?

The Benefits of Saving Early for Retirement

Advantages of Participating in Your Workplace Retirement Plan

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7 Ways to Maximize A Bonus or a Raise

Pre Retiree

Just got a bonus or a raise? Read these tips before you start Googling airfares to Thailand…

Using a bonus or a raise to catch up in financial areas where you’ve fallen behind is a great way to jump start 2015. From paying off high interest debt to setting up a college savings plan, there are plenty of smart ways to put that chunk of change to good use.

Pay off High Interest Loans

It may feel impossible to escape the credit card damage you did in college or mounting loans. But you actually can make a dent in your debt by using your bonus for a large payment. This lowers your balance and minimizes some of those high interest charges moving forward. Get a snapshot of where you stand with the Debt Repayment Calculator from Credit Karma.

Rebalance Your Investment Portfolio

Those extra funds are a great reason to take a closer look at your assets and determine what’s working and what’s not. We can help you adjust to create the right balance between return and risk, ensuring you’re pursing both long and short-term financial goals.

Start a College Savings Plan 

Even if your kids are in diapers, it’s never too early to start saving for their college education. By starting early and using the variety of college savings programs available today, you can get a good head start on a college savings account.  There are a couple of different types of college savings savings plans and each has different features and potential tax benefits.    A financial advisor can help you determine the plan that suits your situation.  The College Savings Plan Network also offers great resources and tips for getting started.

Think About Retiring

Unless you received a really enormous bonus, we don’t mean retire now. But if you haven’t reached your company’s 401(k) contribution limits, use your bonus to max out those weekly or monthly contributions. If your employer matches… consider that bonus doubled.

Open an Investment Account

Planning for the future can be daunting, especially when you have large expenses to deal with now. But the earlier you start investing (even low monthly contributions), the longer your money has to grow.  Rather than let it sit in your checking account, create an investment account with your bonus to kick-start a financial safety net.

Prep for an Emergency

Fun? No. Smart? Yes. Unexpected issues pop up and can throw your monthly budget off track. Get prepared by setting up a fund for irregular expenses and circumstances like job loss, repairs, or costly medical bills for people and pets. A good rule of thumb is to have three to six months of expenses saved up for those worst-case scenarios.

Save for a Rainy Day

It may be tempting to book a trip somewhere warm or buy a TV that covers every square inch of your wall space. While it’s best to take care of outstanding debt and invest wisely, you deserve to have a little fun for burning the midnight oil at the office all year. Be sure to put a small portion of your bonus aside to treat yourself or your family to something special when the time is right.

 

 

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