Investors: Prepare for Whatever the Rest of 2018 May Bring With These 3 Steps
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After a bumpy start to the new year, stock markets seem to have settled down a bit. But even if bullish trends remain intact, it’s a fair bet that at some point in 2018, we’ll experience further bouts of volatility. That’s why good preparation is always important.
Here are three moves to consider this spring to freshen up your investing outlook for the rest of the year:
1. Review your portfolio mix.
When was the last time you looked at how your money is allocated? While the start of a new year is a great opportunity to check on your investments, if January came and went without your taking action, that doesn’t mean you missed the boat. Spring is as good a time as any to take the necessary steps to rebalance your portfolio. If, for example, you were heavily invested in a sector that overperformed in 2017 (such as tech or international stocks), your mix could be skewed. The percentages you thought you had — let’s say 60% stocks and 40% bonds — could be closer to 70% and 30%. And that could put your money at risk.
All too often, investors end up with a large position in a portfolio or sector, only to see it eventually fall. The opposite can be said for a sector that has underperformed for quite some time, then ends up picking up. To get back to your desired allocation, talk to your adviser about selling some of your big winners and buying some underperformers. One of the most potent defenses against an uncertain market is a diverse portfolio. Rebalancing will keep you true to your proper asset allocation and the comprehensive financial plan you designed based on your personal goals.
2. Reach out to your adviser.
Even if you don’t have any major changes you want to make, take the time to meet with your adviser and touch base on where you are personally and professionally. When you do:
- Even as you work on your 2017 tax return, it’s not too early to talk about how you could lessen the burden in 2018 — and beyond. (And, of course, meet with your accountant or tax attorney about these issues, as well.) If you wait until you’re preparing your 2018 return again toward the end of the year, you’ll miss out on some useful strategies.
- Discuss any major changes you plan to make in your life, or any significant purchases you might be considering (a new home, college tuition for your kids or grandkids, your dream vacation to Europe).
- Ask about how national and global current events might affect inflation, debt defaults, interest rates and tax rates, and what impact those changes might have on your investment strategies and retirement.
Even if you speak to your adviser regularly by phone, email or text, you’d be surprised at what comes up in a face-to-face meeting. It may seem as if it’s just one more thing to worry about at a busy time of year, but in my experience, most clients come away from these talks feeling reinvigorated about reaching their goals.
3. Resolve to learn more.
Pay attention to what’s happening around you, but don’t react emotionally. The more you understand how the markets work, the better you’ll be able to ride out any rough times and avoid making knee-jerk decisions.
- Learn the basic terms used in investing and taxes (try http://www.nasdaq.com/investing/glossary/ or Kiplinger’s Tax Glossary for taxes).
- Look at your monthly or quarterly statements.
- Cultivate a healthy skepticism about the strategies and products you hear about from neighbors, friends or family members. Always keep your own needs in mind.
No matter what your financial priorities are for the rest of the year — and beyond — there’s no better time than the present to get a fresh perspective and to start working toward your goals.
Kim Franke-Folstad contributed to this article.
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