March 20, 2017
Trying to make sense of the investment headlines we read in newspapers, magazines and various investment publications can confuse the best of investors. Our rule of thumb is if you can’t control it, then don’t worry about it. Understand that it is normal for the market to go down. What you don’t want to do is change your long-term course based upon fluctuating, short-term data.
This is why it is so important to identify your long-term goals and write them down. When people follow their natural instincts, they tend to apply faulty reasoning to investing. They tend to follow the crowd and more often than not, the crowd is wrong.
March 19, 2017
Every investment incurs a cost to be created, managed, distributed and regulated. Some of these are costs are transparent, easily identified and comparable. Others are not. I wish there was an easy way to make sure every investor knew the costs of their investment portfolio and whether it is below, at, or above average. One of the best questions you can ask any financial advisor, brokerage firm, custodian or financial representative is “How do you get paid?” Then probe further, “Is there any other way that you get paid?” Keep on asking that same question over and over until you understand how everyone gets paid.
In the long run, you want to align yourself and your portfolio with low-cost or cost-effective investments and advisors. You want to work with people and firms that have a clear fiduciary standard to put your financial interests ahead of their own. You want to find good coaches and teachers who can help you reach your goals and are willing to be transparent at every step of your journey about how they are compensated. Ultimately, you will need to decide if the investments they recommend and the services they provide are valuable to attaining your financial goals.
March 18, 2017
It’s hard to know when it is a good time to “sell” an investment. But most of us know when it is a good time to “buy” an investment. It is important to remember the market will decline three to nine percent around five or more times a year. A more closely watched decline is considered to be a correction, defined as 10% or more, and it happens on average, once per year. When the market declines more than 20%, it’s usually called a bear market and happens once every 3-4 years on average.
Warren Buffet has insightful advice regarding investing: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” When the market is down 10-20% or more, it is generally a good time to invest some extra cash for the long-term investor.
March 16, 2017
Academic research has identified specific characteristics or “dimensions” of risk that produce higher expected returns over the long run. Over the long run, stocks out-perform bonds, smaller companies out-perform larger companies, value companies out-perform growth companies, and higher profitable companies out-perform lower profitable companies.
Once you have established how much you should have in stocks, then “tilt” your stock portfolio to the areas that drive long-term returns. For your bond portfolio, there is no need to take on more risk than you carry in your stock portfolio, so stick to bond portfolios that are designed more for principal protection than the highest yield (income) possible.
March 15, 2017
Once you start saving, make sure you have the proper asset allocation. This starts with selecting the right amount of stocks and bonds that fit you and your goals. It’s more than just a risk tolerance questionnaire. It’s knowing how fast you want to get to your goals and what risks are acceptable to you along the way. Everything is a trade-off but asset allocation – the balance between riskier assets (stocks) and less risky assets (bonds or cash equivalents) is what matters most in determining the risk and return for your portfolio.
There are no shortcuts to building wealth. You never know what market segment will outperform or underperform from year to year, so don’t try to guess by timing the market. You are better served by setting up your balance to “fit” you and your goals and then rebalance regularly. Don’t fall in love with your company stock. Remember, in a well-diversified portfolio, there should always be something down or underperforming your other investments each year.
March 14, 2017
You can determine whether you are saving enough later, but in the short term, you need to start the discipline of saving and investing. Investing really is delaying a current “want” for a future “need” so just get it started and learn to increase your savings every year. While an advisor can help you make specific allocations for your saving priorities, you should generally be maxing out your 401k/403b/457 plans, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, regular investment accounts, etc.
If your company provides a match, make sure you are contributing at least the amount to get your full match. Participate in employee stock purchase plans if they provide a discounted purchase price. Take advantage of every beneficial saving opportunity provided to you because there are
no scholarships or student loans for retirement.
March 13, 2017
This is the first step. Most people don’t know exactly what they are going to do in retirement or exactly where they are going to live. But without at least a basic goal, you won’t know how much you should be saving each year for your retirement or your child’s college education.
Your goal(s) can be very detailed or broad. In the beginning, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have goals and that you write them down. It’s also never too late to start planning for a financial goal. If you have a belated start or don’t really know what you want, that is okay because goals change, lives change and what’s important changes. However, what doesn’t seem to change is people wishing they had started goal planning and financial planning sooner.
March 12, 2017
When it comes to investing and building our wealth, we can’t control whether the market goes up or down. We can’t control whether interest rates fluctuate or what decisions the Federal Reserve will make for key interest rates. We can’t control whether the economy is heading into or out of a recession nor can we control what happens in Greece or China. We can’t control what happens with inflation, the price of gasoline or the cost of our basic food items. The list goes on and on.
Thankfully, these items actually have little impact on our retirement plan, college savings strategies or any long-term financial goal for which we are saving.
As you might guess, building our wealth has a lot more to do with the things that we can control.
So, if you want to be on track, in control and achieving what matters, then you need to focus on
what you can control. The remaining rules of BetterWealth are disciplines you can control.
December 14, 2016
Scott Stauffer, Managing Partner, of BetterWealth, has been a teacher, coach and mentor and is not complacent with plug and play strategies for clients that don’t adapt to individual conditions and prepare for how things can change when it comes to game time. Just as athletes require the discipline of maintaining a positive attitude, setting goals, managing their emotions and staying focused, Scott understands his role as a wealth advisor is to accomplish this by helping to educate clients each step of the way.