Financial Planning Resources

Eleven Ways to Help Yourself Stay Sane in a Crazy Market

A qualified reservist distribution is a distribution (1) to a reservist or national guardsman ordered or called to active duty after September 11, 2001, for a period in excess of 179 days or for an indefinite period, and (2) that’s made during the period beginning on the date of such order or call to duty and ending at the close of the active duty period.

Keeping your cool can be hard to do when the market goes on one of its periodic roller-coaster rides. It’s useful to have strategies in place that prepare you both financially and psychologically to handle market volatility. Here are 11 ways to help keep yourself from making hasty decisions that could have a long-term impact on your ability to achieve your financial goals.

1. Have a game plan

Having predetermined guidelines that recognize the potential for turbulent times can help prevent emotion from dictating your decisions. For example, you might take a core-and-satellite approach, combining the use of buy-and-hold principles for the bulk of your portfolio with tactical investing based on a shorter-term market outlook. You also can use diversification to try to offset the risks of certain holdings with those of others. Diversification may not ensure a profit or guarantee against a loss, but it can help you understand and balance your risk in advance. And if you’re an active investor, a trading discipline can help you stick to a long-term strategy. For example, you might determine in advance that you will take profits when a security or index rises by a certain percentage, and buy when it has fallen by a set percentage.

2. Know what you own and why you own it

When the market goes off the tracks, knowing why you originally made a specific investment can help you evaluate whether your reasons still hold, regardless of what the overall market is doing. Understanding how a specific holding fits in your portfolio also can help you consider whether a lower price might actually represent a buying opportunity.

portfolio, find out. That knowledge can be particularly important when the market goes south, especially if you’re considering replacing your current holding with another investment.

3. Remember that everything’s relative

Most of the variance in the returns of different portfolios can generally be attributed to their asset allocations. If you’ve got a well-diversified portfolio that includes multiple asset classes, it could be useful to compare its overall performance to relevant benchmarks. If you find that your investments are performing in line with those benchmarks, that realization might help you feel better about your overall strategy.

Even a diversified portfolio is no guarantee that you won’t suffer losses, of course. But diversification means that just because the S&P 500 might have dropped 10% or 20% doesn’t necessarily mean your overall portfolio is down by the same amount.

 4. Tell yourself that this too shall pass 

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In-Service Withdrawals from 401(k) plans

A qualified reservist distribution is a distribution (1) to a reservist or national guardsman ordered or called to active duty after September 11, 2001, for a period in excess of 179 days or for an indefinite period, and (2) that’s made during the period beginning on the date of such order or call to duty and ending at the close of the active duty period.

You may be familiar with the rules for putting money into a 401(k) plan. But are you familiar with the rules for taking your money out? Federal law limits the withdrawal options that a 401(k) plan can offer. But a 401(k) plan may offer fewer withdrawal options than the law allows, and may even provide that you can’t take any money out at all until you leave employment. However, many 401(k) plans are more flexible.

First, consider a plan loan

Many 401(k) plans allow you to borrow money from your own account. A loan may be attractive if you don’t qualify for a withdrawal, or you don’t want to incur the taxes and penalties that may apply to a withdrawal, or you don’t want to permanently deplete your retirement assets. (Also, you must take any available loans from all plans maintained by your employer before you’re even eligible to withdraw your own pretax or Roth contributions from a 401(k) plan because of hardship.)

In general, you can borrow up to one half of your vested account balance (including your contributions, your employer’s contributions, and earnings), but not more than $50,000.

You can borrow the funds for up to five years (longer if the loan is to purchase your principal residence). In most cases you repay the loan through payroll deduction, with principal and interest flowing back into your account. But keep in mind that when you borrow, the unpaid principal of your loan is no longer in your 401(k) account working for you.

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All about IRAs

CaptureAn individual retirement arrangement (IRA) is a personal retirement savings plan that offers specific tax benefits. In fact, IRAs are one of the most powerful retirement savings tools available to you. Even if you’re contributing to a 401(k) or other plan at work, you should also consider investing in an IRA. Click Here to download

 

An IRA dilemma: To roll or not to roll

InvestWhen you take a distribution from your company’s retirement plan – at retirement or when you change jobs – you may find yourself with a sizable sum of money. This windfall is often referred to as a lump-sum distribution. In addition to wondering what you should do with this money, you also may have concerns about taxes and investing issues that you never had to think about before, such as early withdrawal penalties and a 20% mandatory withholding. Click Here to download

 

401(K) plan choices for job changers

commonfactorsWhen you change jobs, it can be for any number of reasons.  Regardless of what triggers a job change, however, most experts agree such an even creates a perfect opportunity to reevaluate your long-term financial plan.  After all, this is one of the few times – aside from actual retirement – that you will be faced with making decisions about what to do with the money you have been saving in your 401(k) plan.  Reviewing your situation at this transitional time cannot only help you feel better about your new job, it can get you refocused on your long-term savings plan.  Click Here to download