Does market volatility scare you?

Halloween is almost upon us. Of course, on Halloween night, you may see a parade of monsters, demons, Transformers and other frightening individuals stopping by your house, exercising their right to demand candy. Fortunately, their appearance will be unlikely to cause you unpleasant dreams. But some people seem to have real fears about other things, such as what may happen in the financial markets. One way to keep those fears at bay is to avoid certain impulsive moves, such as the following:
— Avoid ducking out of the market. Consider this: In March 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at about 12,275 points.

International investing: Still a journey to consider

Columbus Day is observed on Oct. 9. And while it may be true that Leif Erikson and the Vikings beat Columbus to the New World, Columbus Day nonetheless remains important in the public eye, signifying themes such as exploration and discovery. As an investor, you don’t have to cross the ocean blue, as Columbus did, to find opportunities. But it may be a good idea to put some of your money to work outside the United States.

Not investing carries risk

You’ve no doubt heard about the risks associated with investing. “This investment carries this type of risk, while that investment carries another one.” And it is certainly true that all investments do involve some form of risk. But what about not investing? Isn’t there some risk associated with that, too? In fact, by staying on the investment sidelines or at least by avoiding long-term, growth-oriented investments, you may incur several risks.

When to diversify, and when to consolidate

You have probably heard that diversification is a key to investment success. So, you might think that if diversifying your investments is a good idea, it might also be wise to diversify your investment providers. After all, aren’t two (or more) heads better than one? Before we look at that issue, let’s consider the first half of the “diversification” question — namely, how does diversifying your investment portfolio help you? Consider the two broadest categories of investments: stocks and bonds.

Don’t let your investments take a ‘vacation’

It’s summer again. Time for many of us to take a break and possibly hit the open road. But even if you go on vacation, you won’t want your investments to do the same — in summertime or any other season. How can you help make sure your portfolio continues to work hard for you all year long? Here are a few suggestions:
— Avoid owning too many “low growth” investments.

What does conservative mean for older investors?

If you’re a certain age, or getting close to it, you might hear something like this: “Now that you’re older, you need to invest more conservatively.” But what exactly does this mean? For starters, it’s useful to understand that your investment preferences and needs will indeed change over time. When you’re first starting out in your career, and even for a long time afterward, you can afford to invest somewhat aggressively, in stocks and stock-based investments; because you have time to overcome the inevitable short-term market drops. At this stage of your life, your primary concern is growth — you want your portfolio to grow enough to provide you with the resources you’ll need to meet your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But when you finally do retire, and perhaps for a few years before that, your investment focus likely will have shifted from accumulation to preservation.

Free yourself of some investment-related taxes

Tax Freedom Day generally falls on a day in the later part of this month. This is the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay off its total tax bill for the year, according to the calculations made by the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. So, you may want to use Tax Freedom Day to think about ways you can liberate yourself from some of the investment-related taxes you may incur. Of course, Tax Freedom Day is something of a fiction, in practical terms, because most people pay their taxes throughout the year via payroll deductions. Also, you may not mind paying your share of taxes, because your tax dollars are used in many ways — law enforcement, food safety, road maintenance, public education, and so on — that benefit society.

Time for some financial spring cleaning

Spring is in the air, even if it’s not quite there on the calendar. This year as you shake off the cobwebs from winter and start tidying up around your home and yard, why not also do some financial spring cleaning? Actually, you can apply several traditional spring cleaning techniques to your financial situation. Here are a few ideas:
— Look for damage. Damage to your home’s siding, shingles and foundation can eventually degrade the structure of your home.

What’s smarter — Paying off debts or investing?

If you’re just starting out in your career, you will need to be prepared to face some financial challenges along the way. But here’s one that’s not unpleasant: choosing what to do with some extra disposable income. When this happens, what should you do with the money? Your decisions could make a real difference in your ability to achieve your important financial goals. Under what circumstances might you receive some “found” money?

Reed Wilcox

Vote for smart investment moves

The presidential election is little more than a month away. Like all elections, this one has generated considerable interest, and, as a citizen, you may well be following it closely. But as an investor, how much should you be concerned about the outcome? Probably not as much as you might think. Historically, the financial markets have done well — and done poorly — under both Democratic and Republican administrations.