Five things to consider before you invest

Five things to consider before you invest

Zubair Khan, CFA®, CFP® Many investors share a common worry: figuring out the best time to get started.  Their concern often comes from negative news about the markets. But if you waited until the news about markets was all good, you might never take the plunge. Pundits usually seem fixated on telling us either how bad the market is or when an up market might be ready for a correction. Fear of a correction exists because corrections truly are always just around the corner. Markets never move in a straight upward slope. Stock charts look like an outline of a mountainous horizon off in the distance, peaks followed by troughs running into more peaks. Fortunately, for most investors, despite the ups and downs, market prices rise over longer periods of time – just not as smoothly as we would all hope.  So, how should investors time their entry into the market?  First, consider your goals for the savings you are considering investing. Most investors have long-term goals like saving for college and retirement. If that’s the case, then timing the market has very little effect over what could be potentially a few decades of savings and market cycles. Most experienced

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Coronavirus infects financial markets

Recent news about the coronavirus outbreak is tragic, with unimaginable and unmeasurable implications for the many affected. As we attempt to discern incoming economic data, our goal is not to diminish the harsh realities faced by those affected, but to keep in mind that there are economic impacts on investors and to make sense of a market environment that reacts in real time to public health emergencies. What’s happening? Global equity markets sold off sharply today following reports over the weekend that coronavirus infections are spreading outside of China at an alarming rate. The global demand shock will be hard to quantify for some time as the scope of the social and economic impacts in affected countries remains fluid. Governments are trying to balance the need to provide the public with information against the risk of causing panic. We are observing confusion among governments and policymakers, which is spurring risk-off behavior among investors. Yesterday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that policymakers would explore options to respond to coronavirus. We think elevated levels of two-way volatility will follow today’s initial reaction to the spreading of the virus. Therefore, we caution investors against reacting to these acute price moves. Bigger

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The single best move to make money in stocks

Stocks closed out 2019 in stellar fashion. That should be cause for celebration. But there’s one group that has missed out on much of the market’s gains–millennials. Just 49% of millennials in the United States (those ages 23 to 39) held stock at any given time in the last two years. Because a much larger percentage of Americans in the same age range held stocks before the Great Recession, observers say that stock performance in 2008 is the main reason that many millennials steer clear of equities. Who can blame them for being a little gun shy? In 2008, the S&P 500 plunged more than 38%. But holding on to that kind of trauma can be dangerous. The turmoil that shaped the economy during millennials’ formative years has kept them away from recent market successes. The timing of the Great Recession meant that a group of millennials started their careers in a tough job market, and those who found jobs faced wage stagnation in the early years of their careers, making it less likely that they would have extra money to save and invest and therefore harder for them to accumulate wealth. According to a report by the Federal Reserve

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Are you a risk taker? If you invest, the answer is yes.

For each individual, the word “risk” evokes a different image or experience. A person’s perception of risk can be shaped by past experiences, recent stories in the media, the latest investment-related study, and incidents recounted by friends and associates. Too often, it’s these factors and not actual probabilities that shape an individual’s expectations for the future. “Recency” is the tendency to place more weight or significance on recent and current events than on past events. From a recency perspective, when the market is going up, investors project that it’s going to keep going up, and therefore invest more money. When the market is declining, investors don’t invest — or they sell — because they project that the market is going to keep declining. In the excitement of sustained bull markets, such as the exceptionally strong bull market of the late 1990s, investors become overly optimistic and underestimate or ignore risk altogether. Ironically, at times like those, many investors view the level of risk as being very low. Actually, it’s the opposite. It’s only when things go badly that investors realize they should be thinking about risk. Sometimes, they discover they are not as willing to take on as much risk

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Understanding capital gains in light of new tax laws

The U.S. stock market this year has given total returns so far of close to 10 percent, which is a good thing for investors. But with the exception of savings in retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs), Uncle Sam will probably take a cut of your newfound wealth in capital gains tax. An increase in the value of your assets is called capital gains, and how much tax you pay depends on how long you held the investments and how much other income you make. Long-term vs. short-term capital gains taxes Long-term capital gains applies to gains (increased value) on investments or other assets you’ve owned for more than a year. The current capital gains tax rates under the new 2018 tax law are zero, 15 percent, and 20 percent, depending on your income. This chart shows the brackets. 2018 long-term capital gains tax brackets For example, a married couple filing jointly pays no capital gains tax if their total taxable income is less than $77,200. They’ll pay 15 percent on capital gains if their income is between $77,201 and $479,000. For couples above that income level, the rate is 20 percent. In addition, capital gains may

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