Financial Matters

Tips and news from the financial experts at Attentive Investment Managers.
May
23

401(k) Options After Separation from Service or In Retirement

401k-options

When you have a job change or are facing retirement there are a number of decisions that need to be made. One of the more significant ones is what to do with your 401(k). The choice may seem straight-forward but it is anything but. When making this decision it is critical to weigh in all the factors to your decision.

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Apr
02

In-Service Withdrawals

withdrawal

Many believe that their money is locked in when you are a participant in a 401(k) or profit sharing plan through an employer where you are a participating and current employee. However, certain qualifying events allow employees to access their vested balance to either withdraw and/or roll over money from those accounts and still continue to contribute.

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Mar
01

What is Dollar-Cost Averaging?

dollar-cost-averaging

Market moves can be choppy at times and downright terrifying. This is one reason many would-be investors never take the leap into investing their savings. We know that in order to make your dollars last, we must take on some risk in order to grow them. Then our rational minds try to determine that perfect moment to begin, which in itself is an impossible task - as we all know that trying to time the market is a fool’s errand. You can avoid the stress of getting together a lump-sum to invest and make saving possible without having to overthink it by utilizing the principle of dollar-cost averaging.

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Dec
04

’Tis the Season

busy-season

The period between Thanksgiving and the end-of-year holiday season would seem like a sleepy time for financial planners, but in fact it is anything but. You might be surprised at how much activity takes place on behalf of you and your investments in the final month of the year.

For instance? Even though this has been a good year in the markets, not all investments will have gained value. This is the last opportunity to harvest any losses we find in taxable accounts, by selling investments that have gone down and “booking” the loss. Then we can look for investments that have gained value, sell some of those to offset the losses, and thereby save capital gains taxes in the future. Up to $3,000 of ordinary income can be offset by investment losses as well.

This is also the time of year when mutual fund companies post, in advance, the amount of ordinary income and capital gain distributions they will make to their shareholders. Since the value of the shares drops by the amount that is distributed, this would seem like a non-event performance-wise. But in fact some mutual funds are poised to make 20% or even 30% distributions, and this cash is immediately taxable, unlike gains in the share values, which are only realized when you decide to sell. By selling funds before the distributions, and buying them back later, we can reduce your tax bill this year.

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Dec
01

Dollar-Cost Averaging

dollar-cost-averaging

Are you retiring or changing jobs and have a rollover? Getting a bonus or expecting a large tax-refund. Let’s invest it!

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Jun
06

Risk Management / Long-Term Investments

risk-management

What is your Risk Tolerance? Identifying and analyzing your preferred level of potential loss is essential in Financial Planning. Once you have saved toward any given goal, the idea is to leverage it so that you can gain more. Risk Management involves the trade off – how much you are willing to risk on the downside to potential gain on the upside.

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Mar
21

Clear Long-Term

Clear Long-Term

The Federal Reserve has once again raised interest rates by 25 basis points, but is still maintaining their placid stance toward economic policy. This allowed equities last week to end a tumultuous week with a slight uptick. The expectation is that the Fed is going to continue to raise rates very slowly.

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Jan
03

The Role of Bonds

The Role of Bonds
Bond prices go down when rates go up, and rates are beginning to do just that. Preceding the current environment, we had nearly 30 years of declining interest rates and about 8 years of nearly zero rates. U.S. equities are up, and we are all holding our breath in anticipation of the all-time high 20,000 mark on the DOW so why would someone want to buy bonds? The purpose of bonds in a portfolio is not to generate massive returns.Bonds are an agent of protection against the most dreaded market risk – a crash in equities.In 2008, the last time the markets crashed a allocation that included bonds could have achieved a positive return while at that time stocks were losing 37%, meaning bonds were outperforming stocks. This is not to say that we are going to have a market downturn however, over time, investors holding bonds in their portfolio often experience a less bumpy market ride and fewer losses during downturns. In the bond markets, it's possible that the decades-long bull market—which ...
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Dec
15

Higher Rates: The Tempest in the Teapot

Higher Rates: The Tempest in the Teapot

Anybody who was surprised that the Federal Reserve Board decided to raise its benchmark interest rate this week probably wasn't paying attention. The U.S. economy is humming along, the stock market is booming and the unemployment rate has fallen faster than anybody expected. The incoming administration has promised lower taxes and a stimulative $550 billion infrastructure investment. The question on the minds of most observers is: what were they waiting for?

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Aug
05

Diversification

Diversification
So far, we have discussed the concepts surrounding building a financial pyramid, risk vs reward, and understanding your own risk tolerance. These ideas give you a clear path in which to create your ideal allocation of investments. Here is where diversification comes in. Whatever your risk tolerance level or what your goals are you must use diversification as part of your investment strategy. So what exactly is diversification? Diversification is allocating your assets across the major asset classes (stocks, bonds and cash) in order to make your best possible return within your risk spectrum. Each class then has a deeper diversification capability – you may take advantage of different investment styles such as growth or value stocks and even further by sector such as technology or healthcare. Diversification is a balancing act that encompasses your risk tolerance. All investments have a certain amount of risk and by utilizing diversification strategies your goal...
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May
25

Risk v. Reward

Risk v. Reward
If you desire high long-term returns, you must be willing to accept the high levels of volatility associated with the types of asset classes that produce such returns. There is a wide spectrum of risk levels among asset classes. Risk is defined as fluctuations in returns from one period to the next. Lower-risk investments, such as cash alternatives (for example, Treasury bills or certificates of deposit), have averaged modest long-term historical returns. Higher-risk investments, such as large, small, and international stocks, have averaged higher returns historically but with more volatility or fluctuations in value. One of the first steps in developing an investment plan is to determine which is most important: return stability or long-term investment performance. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest, while stocks and corporate bonds are not guaranteed. Certificates of...
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Apr
26

IRA Options

IRA Options
Almost everyone can have some sort of IRA. There are Traditional & Rollover IRA's and Roth IRA's. Annual contribution limits have increased over the years, making IRA's much more attractive for saving for retirement. Individuals over age 50 can make additional "catch-up" contributions each year. If you are not participating in an employer sponsored 401(k) plan you may contribute to a deductible Traditional IRA at a maximum of $5,500 per year or $6,500 for those over 50 years of age. Additionally, if you do participate in an employer sponsored plan and income allows you may make a non-deductible contribution to a Traditional IRA and then further transfer the contributions to a Roth IRA, making them non-taxable upon withdrawal through the use of a Roth Conversion. The Roth IRA has become a popular way to expand retirement investing for many investors because, although contributions are not tax deductible, Roth distributions can be tax free if certain conditions ar...
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Apr
26

What is Compound Interest?

What is Compound Interest?
Compounding can seem like a complex concept however, it is quite simple – the longer amount of time you give your money to accumulate the more they have the potential to accrue. Compounding can be thought of interest paid on interest, in other words, deposits can grow at a faster rate. As an example, Investor A saves $2,000 per year for the first 10 years of a 20 year time period. Assuming a 6% annual return her investment would be worth $50,042. Likewise, Investor B saved $3,000 per year during the second 10 year period of a 20 year time period. Assuming the same annual rate of return Investor B would have only accumulated $41,915. Even though Investor B saved more principal than Investor A the earnings of Investor A had longer to grow and therefore they ended up with a larger nest egg. Albert Einstein called the power of compounding the 'eighth wonder of the world'. The bottom line here is to make your money work for you, start saving early and often.
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Mar
04

Difference between a Traditional IRA & a Roth IRA

Difference between a Traditional IRA & a Roth IRA

Do you know the difference between a Traditional IRA & a Roth IRA??

IRA accounts, otherwise known as, Individual Retirement Accounts are a way for to save for retirement. A Traditional IRA can be funded with pre-tax contributions and can be a tax deductible (check with your tax advisor) and grow tax-deferred until age 70 ½ (when the IRS requires you to begin distributing the assets).When you retire and draw on the funds, the money would be taxable as ordinary income.Theoretically, you would be in a lower tax bracket during the withdrawal phase.It is important to note, that any distributions taken prior to 59 ½ are subject to both taxes and an early withdrawal penalty from the Fed of 10% and the State of 2.5%. 

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Jan
11

2015 Year End Report:

2015 Year End Report:
​In the past year, we experienced many things—a prelude to a Presidential election, a renewal of terrorist concerns,—but in the investment markets, we will look back and yawn. Despite some entertaining ups and downs, particularly in the third quarter of the year, the markets ended pretty much where they began, eking out small gains and losses pretty much across the board. The final three months of the year provided investors with gains that were tantalizingly close to wiping out the losses of the previous three quarters. What's going to happen in 2016? Of course, nobody knows with any degree of certainty. But many professional investors are approaching the new year with an unusual degree of caution. By most metrics, U. S. stocks are slightly pricier than their historical averages. That doesn't mean they can't get more so, but it seems unlikely that people will pay a lot more for a dollar of earnings in the coming year than they will today. Meanwhile, economic growth is moderate at best...
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Dec
30

How the Feds Rate Increase Impacts Bonds

How the Feds Rate Increase Impacts Bonds
Prior to a couple of weeks ago, the last time that the Fed raised interest rates was 2006 – now with a mending economy the Fed Committee has increased the federal funds rate to 0. 25%-0. 50%, up from a range of zero – 0. 25%. It is quite likely that the Fed will continue to slowly raise rates over the coming months which will bring a mix of good and bad trends for the investment markets. An important component for investors, with regard to interest rates is the effect rates have on bond holdings. As seen in the example below, there are two major risks to bonds. 1) Interest Rate Risk – As interest rates climb the value of existing bonds decreases. Also, the longer the maturity the bigger the decline will be. The technical term for maturity is "duration", which is defined as a measure of the sensitivity of the price of a fixed-income (bond) investment to a change in interest rates. 2) Credit Quality – Think of this like a FICO score with a 'AAA' bond rating being an 820 FICO, while a 'B'...
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Dec
14

Mike's "Rule of Thumb"

Mike's "Rule of Thumb"
Creating an appropriate allocation in a portfolio can be difficult. Aside from utilizing a risk tolerance profile there are some other methods for determining an appropriate mix of stocks and bonds for investors. One we utilize is Mike's take on the standard "Rule of Thumb" – which uses a factor of 100 minus the client's age to determine the percentage that should be invested in equities (stocks). Mike's "Rule of Thumb" takes into consideration the fact that everyone now, for the most part, is simply living longer. With our longer lives, not only will we need to provide income for a longer period of time we will also have potentially more time to grow that money. With this in mind, Mike uses a factor of 120 minus the client's age to derive the equity allocation. This guideline creates an allocation that is slightly more aggressive to facilitate faster growth accommodating the need for the longer income needs. As an example, with a 48 year old individual&nb...
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