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Month: January 2014

Plan for the worst, hope for the best

By any historical standard, 2013 was a great year for the U.S. stock markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 each rose more than 25 percent and the majority of investors enjoyed a profitable year. In addition to great gains, 2013 was marked by historically low volatility. In most years, the markets experience a decline of 10 percent or more at some point. But not in 2013 when the single biggest dip was a relatively minor 7 percent drawdown.

And as if that wasn’t enough to get investors feeling good, there’s a historical precedent for one positive year to be followed by another. Data from the independent investment research group BCA Research shows that since 1870, there have been 30 years in which the U.S. stock markets increased by at least 25 percent. Out of those 30 years, 23 were followed by another year of positive return. That’s a 77 percent success ratio.

But before you get too excited and carefree with your money, there’s another bit of research to consider.

According to the Stock Trader’s Almanac, 35 of the past 41 Januaries in which positive gains were experienced during the first five days of trading were followed by full-year gains. Unfortunately, the first five trading days of 2014 saw a small cumulative loss.

So what’s an investor to do with contradicting indicators?

My advice: plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Now, while all is well, is the time to review your risk tolerance and financial objectives and to develop a sell-discipline. That is, determine now what will be the triggers or specific points at which you will sell your investment(s). Establishing those points now, rather than when things are looking bleak, will make it easier to follow through with your decision. A well-thought out plan for the worst will actually help you get through the worst.

And because every storm eventually passes, you also need to develop a plan for how and when you’ll respond to positive market changes. Like your plan for the worst, establish what it will take to get you back in the game. Do it now while you’re not feeling gun shy from a few losses.

While nobody knows for certain if the markets will soar or suffer in 2014, disciplined buy and sell strategies that plan for the worst and hope for the best will help you brave the year with confidence. And in a world of volatile investing, that very often is the best for which you can hope.

401k Resolutions for 2014

If you are a 401k participant, this article is worth a read.

This article by Catherine Golladay, from Schwab, was published on her blog featured on the Huffington Post website. 

Click Here:  “401k Resolutions for 2014”

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A Prosperous New Year (and beyond) Is Within Your Reach

Written by Minich MacGregor Wealth Management.  Originally published in the Saratogian December 22, 2013.

Christmas and New Years are behind us and if you’re like most folks, your mind was filled to capacity with lists of errands to run and gifts to pick up, and, of course, the obligatory visions of sugar-plums.  

But now that the holiday is past and the New Year rung in, I would encourage you to give a wee bit of headspace to your financial future. And, no, I don’t mean the pending Visa bill or even the state of the stock market the first week of January. That’s all short-term, temporary stuff. What I’m talking about is BIG picture, life stuff.

The beginning of the year is a great time to re-assess your priorities and make any necessary adjustments that reflect new goals as well as any recent or pending changes in your life — think approaching retirement, new houses and expenses, or even new jobs.

An assessment doesn’t have to be difficult or protracted but it does have to be honest. I suggest starting with a few questions related to the following areas:

Your planning process: If you are still working, are you consistently making good decisions on a monthly and quarterly basis to ensure you have enough to retire and maintain the lifestyle you want? If you are nearing or in retirement, have you developed a plan to convert the money you have accumulated into an income stream that you won’t outlive?

Your investment process: Have you developed a process to invest your money confidently in a manner that gives you peace of mind regardless of what happens in the market?

Your education process: Are you regularly learning something new about the world of investing?

Each of these questions is important as they touch on a different aspect of your financial life. The first examines whether or not you are on track to meet your goals; the second evaluates whether or not your investment process can withstand different market conditions; and the last is about becoming a better investor. The capital markets are constantly evolving, thus there is always something to learn that will help you make better investment decisions.

The days and weeks ahead will be filled with celebration and probably a few resolutions. If you intend to include “find financial security” on your list, remember this: the best way to ensure a prosperous New Year and beyond is to plan for it.

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