Market Update: July 3, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

Last Week’s Market Activity

  • Stocks end first half with down week. Nasdaq lost ~2% on tech weakness, Dow -0.2%, S&P 500 Index -0.6%; Russell 2000 ended flat. Market weakness partly attributed to hawkish global central bank comments, which pushed yield on 10-year Treasuries up 15 basis points (0.15% to 2.30%), pressured the dollar. Favorable bank stress test results boosted financials, renewed focus on reflation trade into banks, energy.
  • Oil bounce continued, WTI crude oil +7%, bringing session winning streak to seven and price back above $46/bbl. Friday brought first weekly drop in rig count since January.
  • Strong first half despite recent choppiness. Nasdaq rallied 14%, its best first half since 2009, S&P 500 (+8%) produced its best first half since 2013 (Dow matched S&P’s first half gain).

Overnight & This Morning

  • S&P 500 higher by ~0.3%, following gains in Europe. Quiet session likely with early holiday close (1 p.m. ET).
  • Solid gains in Europe overnight– Euro Stoxx 50 +0.9%, German DAX 0.6%, France CAC 40 +1.0%. Solid purchasing managers’ survey data (June Markit PMI 57.4).
  • Asian markets closed mostly higher, but with minimal gains.
  • Crude oil up 0.4%, poised for eighth straight gain.
  • Treasuries little changed. 10-year yield at 2.29%. Early bond market close at 2 p.m. ET.
  • Japanese Tankan survey of business conditions suggested Japanese economy may have increased in the second quarter, manufacturing activity is at multi-year highs.
  • China’s Caixin manufacturing PMI, generally considered more reliable than official Chinese PMI, exceeded expectations with a 50.4 reading in June, up from 49.6 in May.
  • Today’s economic calendar includes key ISM manufacturing index, construction spending.

MacroView_header

Key Insights

  • Several key data points this week, despite the holiday-shortened week. Today brings the important Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), followed by minutes from the June 13-14 Federal Reserve (Fed) policy meeting on Wednesday and Friday’s employment report. Key overseas data includes services PMI surveys in Europe, China’s manufacturing PMI, and the Japanese Tankan sentiment survey (see below). Market participants will scrutinize this week’s data for clues as to the path of the Fed’s rate hike and balance sheet normalization timetables. Views are diverging again, though not as dramatically as in late 2015/early 2016.

Macro Notes

  • The first six months in the books. It was a solid start to the year, with the S&P 500 up 8.2%, the best start to a year since 2013. Yet, this year is going down in history as one of the least volatile starts to a year ever. For instance, the largest pullback has been only 2.8%–which is the second smallest first-half of the year pullback ever. Also, only four days have closed up or down 1% or more–the last time that happened was in 1972. Today, we will take a closer look at the first half of the year and what it could mean for the second half of the year.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • Markit Mfg. PMI (Jun)
  • ISM Mfg. (Jun)
  • Construction Spending (May)
  • Italy: Markit Italy Mfg. PMI (Jun)
  • France: Markit France Mfg. PMI (Jun)
  • Germany: Markit Germany Mfg. PMI (Jun)
  • Eurozone: Markit Eurozone Mfg. PMI (Jun)
  • UK: Markit UK Mfg. PMI (Jun)
  • Eurozone: Unemployment Rate (May)
  • Russia: GDP (Q1)
  • Japan: Vehicle Sales (Jun)

Tuesday

  • Happy July 4th Holiday!
  • Japan: Nikkei Japan Services PMI (Jun)
  • China: Caixin China Services PMI (Jun)

Wednesday

  • Factory Orders (May)
  • Durable Goods Orders (May)
  • Capital Goods Shipments and Orders (May)
  • FOMC Meeting Minutes for Jun 14
  • Italy: Markit Italy Services PMI (Jun)
  • France: Markit France Services PMI (Jun)
  • Germany: Markit Germany Services PMI (Jun)
  • Eurozone: Markit Eurozone Services PMI (Jun)
  • UK: Markit UK Services PMI (Jun)
  • Eurozone: Retail Sales (May)

Thursday

  • ADP Employment (Jun)
  • Initial Jobless Claims (Jul 1)
  • Trade Balance (May)
  • Germany: Factory Orders (May)
  • ECB: Account of the Monetary Policy Meeting
  • Mexico: Central Bank Monetary Policy Minutes
  • Japan: Labor Cash Earnings (May)

Friday

  • Change in Nonfarm, Private & Mfg. Payrolls (Jun)
  • Unemployment Rate (Jun)
  • Average Hourly Earnings (Jun)
  • Average Weekly Hours (Jun)
  • Labor Force Participation & Underemployment Rates(Jun)
  • Germany: Industrial Production (May)
  • France: Industrial Production (May)
  • Italy: Retail Sales (May)
  • UK: Industrial Production (May)
  • UK: Trade Balance (May)

 

 

 

Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

The Truth About Present-Day Retirement

Times have changed and so has retirement! Nowadays, retirement is no longer what people once expected. If you’re preparing to retire, the way your parents did, you might be stuck in the past and need to face present-day reality. So, what has changed in the last 10 years? Well, the factors below will shift your perspective about how you should be preparing for retirement!

First, with all the advancements of medicine and technology that we’ve had in this last decade, it’s no surprise that people are living longer. In the past, living 30 years after retirement, was actually outside the norm of an adult’s lifespan. Therefore, the 4% safe withdrawal rate that many financial planners followed was a valid rule of thumb. This guideline told retirees that if they took out only 4% of their assets and adjusted to inflation in their retirement portfolio, the risk of running out of money 30 years after they retired was very low.

But it’s no longer the case! If you’re saving conservatively for an amount that would last you around 30 years, disregard the 4% rule. People are now living past the age of 95 and a good amount of them are even retiring early. The average portfolio return for the standard investor has also decreased and is subject to more risk from the impacts of market volatility. The chances of outliving your nest egg is a lot higher these days.

Not only are people starting to live longer, the divorce rate is also significantly higher. You can no longer assume that you’ll still be married once you retire! How is that an issue, you ask? Well, a divorce could be a serious stumbling block for your retirement plan since your income might be cut in half during your golden years. Not to mention, your retirement assets might be split among you and your ex-spouse. Because of a divorce, you’ll most likely have to change your retirement strategy and lifestyle.

Have you noticed that everything costs a lot more than it used to? Some of this increase can be a result of natural inflation in prices. But, according to our government, inflation is very tame and under control. Yet, the cost of everyday goods is a lot higher and will keep outpacing inflation throughout your retirement. And it is not just everyday expenses that you’ll need to factor into your budget, there’s the added healthcare costs as well. Given the fact that there’s a good chance you’ll live longer, there are more medical issues you’ll be susceptible to. Not to mention the fact that your chances of getting injured or breaking something will dramatically increase. This means a lot more medical bills and trips to the doctor’s office! On top of that, the fact that a third of us will require some sort of assistance or nursing care, and you can see how retirement costs can skyrocket! Basically, retirement is not as cheap as it used to be.

Finally, if you think about your assets, it’s safe to assume that your home is your most valuable one. You may be able to sell it at a profit, assuming that the value has increased over the years. However, that might be a misconception! In order to determine whether or not you’ll actually get a return on your investment, you’ll need to adjust for inflation and taxes. Also, if we experience any major volatility in the housing market like we did in the past, you might not be able to get as much money for your property as you expected. Like all markets, the real estate market can be unpredictable.

So, with all of these changes, how can one successfully save for retirement? Well, my biggest recommendation for every pre-retiree that I talk to is, BE PREPARED! It’s always better to set your retirement savings goal beyond your expected amount, than below it. With the unpredictability of divorce, age, and the financial markets, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you aim higher and save more, then your risk of running out of money during retirement will be a lot lower. Part of being prepared is to work closely with a financial planner that can guide your through your Golden Years. This ‘financial coach’ should be able to point out pitfalls that you might not have even thought of. It’s their job to make sure that you’re on track and don’t fall victim to your own wrongdoings. As well as to create a retirement game plan and an investment road-map that takes taxes and your risk tolerance into consideration.

Being prepared for retirement can be a daunting task. Especially given all the unknowns out there. But with proper preparation and guidance from a financial professional, you can glide into retirement knowing full well that you’re ready for the challenge!

Market Update: March 27, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

  • Equities slip after healthcare reform shelved. U.S. indexes are tracking global stocks lower this morning after Congress was unable to push through the American Health Care Act, casting some uncertainty over prospects for tax reform as well. On Friday, the S&P 500 (-0.1%) closed modestly lower, dragged down by materials (-0.9%) and energy (-0.5%); utilities (+0.4%) was the best performing sector. Overnight, Asian markets were led lower by Japan’s Nikkei (-1.4%) on yen strength; Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (-0.7%) and China’s Shanghai Composite (-0.1%) fared better. Stocks are also lower across the board in Europe, notably in Germany’s DAX (-0.9%) and Italy’s MIB (-0.9%). Elsewhere, the recent weakness in WTI crude oil ($47.21/barrel) continues, while the risk-off sentiment is boosting COMEX gold ($1262/oz.) and Treasuries, lowering the yield on the 10-year Note by five basis points (0.05%) to 2.35%.

MacroView_header

  • Our Final Four factors in today’s Weekly Market Commentary. With college basketball’s Final Four set, this week we share our “Final Four factors” for the stock market in 2017. We expect a hard-fought battle between these factors and market risks. But when the “tournament” is over on December 31, depending on the path of policy out of Washington, D.C., we expect the S&P 500 to be at or above current levels.
    1. Economic Growth – We continue to expect a modest pickup in economic growth in 2017 to near 2.5%, based on gross domestic product (GDP), supported by increasing business investment, steady consumer spending gains, and, later in the year, pro-growth fiscal policy to be enacted.
    2. Earnings – We expect high-single-digit S&P 500 earnings growth in 2017[1], supported by better U.S. economic growth, rebounding energy sector profits, a stable U.S. dollar, and resilient profit margins.
    3. Corporate Tax Reform – Corporate tax reform, which remains the centerpiece of the Trump economic agenda, is still likely to get done in the next year despite the failure to get the healthcare bill through the House last week. The Trump administration will immediately pivot to tax reform, though a comprehensive overhaul will be difficult to achieve.
    4. The Fed – We expect the Federal Reserve (Fed) to hike interest rates twice more in 2017 following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) rate hike on March 15. We are encouraged by the Fed’s acknowledgement of the improved economic outlook and its stated plan to hike rates gradually.
  • Down seven in a row. The Dow closed lower on Friday for the seventh consecutive session. The last seven-day losing streak was ahead of the U.S. election, and it hasn’t been down eight in a row since August 2011. The S&P 500 meanwhile has closed lower six of the past seven days. Taking a closer look at the Dow’s seven-day losing streak, it has been green at some point each day. Also, the total loss during the streak is only 1.7%. To put this in perspective, since 1980, there have now been 20 seven-day losing streaks. The average drop during the previous 19 was 7.3% and the current drop of 1.74% ranks as the second smallest loss.

MonitoringWeek_header

 Monday

  • Evans (Dove)
  • Eurozone: M3 Money Supply (Feb)
  • China: PBOC’s Zhou Speech

Wednesday

  • Evans (Dove)

 Thursday

  • GDP (Revision) (Q4)
  • Eurozone: Industrial, Services & Consumer Confidence (Mar)
  • China: Mfg. & Non-Mfg. PMI (Mar)

 Friday

  • Personal Income (Feb)
  • Kashkari (Dove)

 

 

 

 

[1] We expect S&P 500 gains to be driven by: 1) a pickup in U.S. economic growth partially due to fiscal stimulus; 2) mid- to high-single-digit earnings gains as corporate America emerges from its year-long earnings recession; 3) an expansion in bank lending; and 4) a stable price-to-earnings ratio (PE) of 18 – 19.

 

Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Many Big Companies Live in Fear for their Future in Digital Age

© REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
© REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The top executives of many a corporate giant must feel like the fictional character Gulliver, waking up to find themselves under attack from modern-day Lilliputians, small start-up companies which overwhelm their established rivals with new technologies.

The old powers of market incumbents – massive scale, control over distribution, brand power, millions of customer relationships – are no longer seen as the obstacles they once were to agile rivals with innovative business models.

A new survey finds business leaders believe four out of 10 top-ranked companies in their industries worldwide won’t survive the next five years.

They blame the accelerating change in technology, shifting business models and a need to merge to cut costs in order to ensure they don’t become footnotes in someone else’s corporate history.

“Not just lone companies, but entire industries are being side-swiped by these effects,” said James Macaulay, co-author of the study, which polled 941 business leaders from a dozen industries in the world’s 13 biggest economies.

“Digital disruption now has the potential to overturn incumbents and reshape markets faster than perhaps any force in history,” the survey states. The report can be found at http://bit.ly/1IyV1cK

The survey was conducted by a research center at top-ranked Swiss business school IMD, the International Institute for Management Development, with backing from Internet equipment maker Cisco, where Macaulay works as a consultant.

INDUSTRIES AT RISK

Industries with the highest number of top-rated companies at risk were hospitality/travel, media and entertainment, retail, financial services and consumer goods/manufacturing, in that order, the survey showed.

Meanwhile, industries which still largely deliver physical products or services such as pharmaceuticals, utilities and the oil and gas sectors were rated the least likely to be disrupted.

Michael Wade, another co-author of the survey, said there were some things software could not replace. “Consumers are still unlikely to take an app if they get a headache,” joked Wade, a professor of strategy at the Lausanne-based IMD business school.

But even for industries such as pharmaceuticals, where regulatory protections, high capital costs and complex production processes still rule, Wade said new threats are coming from start-ups analyzing “big data” to offer a personalized approach to medicine, for example.

Meanwhile in travel e-commerce aggregators have taken millions of customers from direct bookings with hotels and airlines already struggling with a decade of decline in business travel amid the economic and structural challenges.

“Disruptive players are coming from out of nowhere,” says Macaulay. “Now it’s individuals who want to rent their homes and vehicles,” he said, referring to home rental service Airbnb, office-sharing firm LiquidSpace and similar “sharing economy” start-ups.

Karl Ulrich Garnadt, chief executive of the German Airlines division of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, told venture investors in Berlin this month that his industry still spends too much time worrying about direct competitors in Asia or the Mideast.

He noted how the industry missed the rise of mobile travel apps, the top dozen of which now collectively have a valuation around 88 billion euros ($99 billion), while the market capitalization of Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline group, has shrunk to 5.5 billion euros from double that a decade ago.

“Today we are too limited in our thinking. We need to widen our horizon, we need to think like the customer,” the airline industry veteran said.

Toward that end, Lufthansa is seeking ways to woo back customers who expect them to deliver more than boarding passes to their mobile phones. With free on-board Wi-Fi soon to be available on every plane, he wants flight attendants to use new apps to help frequent travelers make new travel bookings in mid-air.

In banking big lenders are now all at giving board-level attention to the rapid growth of “fintech” start-ups in markets from mortgage-lending to wealth management to small business loans.

In an era of cloud computing and services delivered to smartphones, fintech start-ups have no need to duplicate the retail branch networks that tied customers to banks. And new players aren’t saddled with making heavy investments in creaky, decades-old back-office banking systems.

“Lending remains pretty much an archaic process for banks, largely based on paper forms that are designed to give customers a poor experience,” said Martin McPhee, a senior vice president at Cisco who heads the company’s consulting arm.

“Research shows that four out of five banking customers will happily leave their banks for a better customer experience,” he said.

HUNT OR BE HUNTED

In corporate circles, the most common sobriquet for these digital threats is Google or, less frequently, Amazon.

But, depending on the industry, the big threat goes by different names: for automakers and transport companies, it is Tesla, the luxury electric car company, or Uber, the online taxi service. For hotels and airlines, it’s Airbnb or Trivago, now majority owned by Expedia.

Tesla has also hit the radar of utilities with its announcement in April on its “energy storage” business, which aims to produce batteries capable of solving the elusive problem of storing electrical energy produced at optimum times for use at other times.

“Everyone thought (Tesla founder) Elon Musk was building a car company, but now we find he is building an alternative energy company,” McPhee said.

There is also mounting wave of digitally inspired, cross-border mergers, stepped-up corporate venture funding and a willingness to place bigger bets on risky business models that can undermine a company’s existing activities.

BMW-owned British carmaker Mini said this week customers would in the future be able to offer their private vehicles for car-sharing, mindful of a trend amongst younger drivers to not have their own cars.

The challengers offer massive improvements in how customers use the products or services of established businesses. They combine that with finding ways to slash costs and enter markets without investing heavily to own physical assets or distribution infrastructure, says McPhee.

Uber, the online taxi-hailing service is now applying similar strategies to sign up drivers to deliver everything from groceries to heavy equipment, in a challenge to logistics giants like FedEx and UPS.

McPhee notes the historical parallel to what occurred after the advent of the Web in the mid 1990s: Just 25 percent of the Fortune 100 top U.S. companies were still in existence 15 years later.

Written by Eric Auchard of Reuters

(Source: Reuters)

7 Stock-Picking Mistakes Even Savvy Investors Make

© peepo/Getty Images
© peepo/Getty Images

Everybody loves a winner.

That explains why America seems to be obsessed with stories of amazing stock pickers, such as the New Jersey teen wonder who allegedly turned $10,000 into $300,000 by trading penny stocks from his smartphone.

However, even some of the smartest (and luckiest!) investors make mistakes sometimes. Here are seven dumb mistakes to watch out for the next time you’re picking investment options.

1. HAVING NO INVESTMENT GOALS

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you get there.

However deeply people may agree with this statement, there are still those who lack clear investment goals. Your first step in investing is defining these goals.

Here are three examples of good ones:

— In order to avoid the extra cost of private mortgage insurance, you would like to save for a down payment that is at least 20% of a $300,000 apartment in your city within the next 10 years.

— You first child is just born and you would like to have $35,000 available for his or her college tuition by their 18th birthday.

— Planning to retire 33 years from today, you and your spouse calculated you’d need $3,000 every month to cover your expenses during retirement.

Notice the two things that these goals have in common: a specific dollar amount and a target date. These two elements are the starting point for any discussion about investing. They allow you to establish a timeline and select benchmarks to evaluate your performance.

Before you even think about stock picking, establish your investment goals.

2. IGNORING YOUR RISK TOLERANCE

There are two key elements to determining your risk tolerance.

First, there is your time horizon. A rule of thumb is that the longer your time horizon, the riskier your investments may be. Since you don’t need the funds for quite a while, you can better sustain the ups and downs of the market and chase higher returns. On the other hand, if you need the funds a year from now, you’re better off taking more conservative investments.

Second is your available “play money.” A person with a net worth of $1 million is more likely to better stomach the price fluctuations of a $25,000 investment than a person with a net worth of $75,000. Also, don’t forget about potential liquidity issues. The second individual would be in a really tough situation if he were to suddenly need those $25,000 to pay damages from a lawsuit or meet another type of big financial obligation.

Pick investments according to your time horizon and bankroll.

3. SPENDING INSTEAD OF INVESTING

While some people are very eager to start stock picking, others think they can’t even afford it.

Or it could be that those others may be listening to their “lizard brain” a bit too much. The idea of the “lizard brain” refers to the instincts that helped our ancestors to survive back in the stone age. Given scarce resources and the ever-present possibility of death, our ancestors prefered to enjoy things right away instead of waiting.

Old habits die hard. Given the choice of enjoying $500 right now or receiving $3,000 in five years, most of us would chose the first option. However, this is a bad idea.

4. PAYING TOO MUCH IN FEES

This is one of Warren Buffett’s top three investing mistaketo avoid.

While you can’t be 100% sure about the return of your stock picks, you can be 100% sure of how much money you’re paying in management and trade fees. For example, if you were to invest $10,000 in the average actively managed U.S. mutual fund, you would pay $132 in fees. On the other, you would pay just $17 by investing the same $10,000 in the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index, the largest index mutual fund.

5. TRYING TO BEAT THE MARKET

Here’s another reason to choose index mutual funds.

Most actively managed funds fail to achieve returns above their respective benchmark. Only about 20%–35% of fund managers are able to “beat the market.” These are the pros that do this for a living. Are you sure that you can do better than them on your spare time while juggling your job and family life?

Over the long-term, index funds are typically top performers and do better than 65%–75% of actively managed funds. And index funds cost you less than a fund manager, too.

6. BETTING ON A SINGLE STOCK

There are too many stories about people getting filthy rich by putting all their money on Apple stock.

Before you decide to put all your eggs in one basket, consider the performances of these two other past media darlings.

Groupon

Launched in November 2008, Groupon quickly became the leader of the deal-of-the-day movement. Groupon became one of the fastest companies to reach a $1 billion valuation. Heck, Groupon was doing so well that it turned down a $6 billion buyout offer from Google. However, an original investment of $10,000 in Groupon on November 7, 2011 would only be worth about $2,554.66 today.

Enron

It’s hard to believe that Enron was once a media darling. Back in 2001, Enron’s stock was priced at 70 times earnings and 6 times book value. Out of the 22 analysts covering Enron, 19 of them rated the stock a “buy.” The maximum stock price of $90 in August 2000 convinced several people to put all their nest eggs on Enron. A little over two years later, the stock was trading below $1.

The lesson is that history tends to repeat itself, so don’t bet all your money on a single stock.

7. NOT REBALANCING YOUR PORTFOLIO

Last but not least, remember that asset prices vary over time.

Your investment plan sets a target allocation of your monies in different types of investments. For example, you may have 50% in domestic stocks, 30% in foreign stocks, 20% in bonds, and 10% in T-bills.

Let’s imagine that your foreign stock holdings had a nice upward ride for the last five years. So, now they represent 50% of your total investment portfolio’s value. It’s a good idea to rebalance your portfolio to set back your allocation of funds to the target 30% so that you’re not taking more risk than you’re comfortable with.

It’s shocking how simple it can be to avoid these seven investing mistakes. There’s no secret to stock picking — it just requires planning and sticking to that plan. It may not sound exciting, but it’s more likely to make you a profit. And isn’t that why you really invest?

Written by Damian Davila of Money

(Source: Time)

The 10 Commandments of Wealth and Happiness

© Stuart Dee/Stockbyte/Getty Images
© Stuart Dee/Stockbyte/Getty Images

I’m now financially independent. I didn’t get this way overnight, nor did I do it by selling books or advice. I did it the same way you can: one paycheck at a time over many years.

One of my young staffers recently asked if I could condense everything I’ve learned into 10 simple ideas that would serve as a guide to those starting out, starting over, or maybe beginning to realize they’re not where they’d like to be. While certainly a challenge, it’s a worthy one. So here goes: the 10 commandments of achieving financial independence and being happier while you do it.

1. LIVE LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO DIE TOMORROW, BUT INVEST LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO LIVE FOREVER

The ease of making money in stocks, real estate, or other risk-based assets is inversely proportional to your time horizon. In other words, making money over long periods of time is easy – making money overnight is the flip of a coin.

Money is like a tree: Plant it properly, care for it occasionally, but not obsessively, then wait.

Stare at a newly planted tree for 24 hours and you’ll be convinced it’s not growing. Fixate on your investments the same way, and you could miss out on a game-changer.

The biggest winner in my IRA is Apple. I don’t remember exactly when I bought it, but I’m guessing it was in 2002 or 2003. My split adjusted price is around $1/share: As I write this, Apple’s trading at around $126/share. Had I been listening to CNBC or some other outlet promoting constant trading, I almost certainly wouldn’t still own it.

The lesson? Enjoy your life to the fullest every day – live like you’re going to die tomorrow. But since you’re probably not going to die tomorrow, plant part of your money in quality stocks, real estate or other investments; then hold onto them. Don’t ignore your investments entirely – sometimes fundamental things change indicating it’s time to move on – but don’t act rashly. Patience pays.

2. LISTEN TO YOUR OWN VOICE ABOVE ALL OTHERS

My job as a consumer reporter has included listening to countless sad stories about nice people being separated from their money by people who weren’t so nice. While these stories run the gamut from real estate deals to working from home, they all start the same way: with a promise of something that seems too good to be true.

And they all end the same way: It was to good to be true.

If someone promises they can make you 3,000 percent in the stock market, they’re either a fool for sharing that information or a liar. Why would you send money to either one? When you hear someone promising a simple solution to a complex problem, stop listening to them and start listening to your own inner voice. You know there’s no pill that’s going to make you skinny. You know the government’s not handing out free money for your small business. You know you can’t buy a house for $300. Stop listening to infomercials and start listening to yourself.

3. COVET BAD ECONOMIC TIMES

Wealth is realized when the economy is booming, but that’s not when it’s created. Wealth is created when times are bad, unemployment is high, problems are massive, everybody’s freaking out, and there’s nothing but economic misery on the horizon.

Would you rather buy a house for $400,000, or $200,000? Would you rather invest in stocks when the Dow is at 12,000 or 7,000?

Nobody wants their fellow citizens to be out of work. But the cyclical nature of our economy all but assures this will periodically happen. If you still have a job, this is the time you’ve been saving for. Stop listening to all the Chicken Littles in the media_ The sky isn’t falling. Get busy – put your cash to work and create some wealth.

4. WORK AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE

A friend of mine, Liz Pulliam Weston, once wrote a great story called Pretend You Won the Lottery. She asked her Facebook fans to describe what they would do if they won the lottery. From that article:

Most of the responses had a lot in common. People overwhelmingly wanted to:

◦Pay off all their debts.

◦Help their families.

◦Donate more to charity.

◦Pursue their passions, including travel.

Note these goals are largely achievable without winning the lottery. And that was her point: Listing what you’d like to do if money is no object puts you in touch with the way you’d really like to spend your life.

My philosophy takes this concept a step further: When it comes to work, you should try to do something that you regard as so fulfilling that you’d do it even if it didn’t pay anything. In other words, the word “work” implies doing something you have to do, not something you want to do. You should never “work.”

If you’re going to spend a huge part of your life working, don’t fill that time with what makes you the most money. Fill it with what makes you the most fulfilled.

5. DON’T CREATE DEBT

I’m always getting questions about debt. “Should I borrow for this, that, or the other?” “What’s an acceptable debt level?” “Is there such a thing as good debt?”

There’s way too much analysis and mystery around something that isn’t at all mysterious. Paying interest is nothing more than giving someone else your money in exchange for temporarily using theirs. Rule of thumb: To have as much money as possible, avoid giving yours to other people.

Don’t ever borrow money because you want something you can’t afford. Borrow money in only two circumstances: when your back is against the wall, or when what you’re buying will increase in value by more than what you’re paying in interest.

Debt also affects you on a level that can’t be defined in dollars. When you owe money, in a very real way you’re a slave to that lender until you pay it back. When you don’t, you’re much more the master of your own destiny.

There are two ways to achieve financial freedom: Have so much money you can’t possibly spend it all (something exceedingly difficult to do) or don’t owe anybody anything. Granted, since you still have to eat and put a roof over your head, living debt-free doesn’t offer the same level of freedom as having massive money. But living debt-free isn’t a matter of luck or even hard work. It’s a simple choice, available to everyone.

6. BE FRUGAL – BUT NOT MISERLY

The key to accumulating more savings isn’t to spend less – it’s to spend less without sacrificing your quality of life. If going out to dinner with your significant other is something you enjoy, not doing it may create a happier bank balance, but an unhappier you: a trade-off that is neither worthwhile nor sustainable. Eating an appetizer at home, then splitting an entree at the restaurant, however, maintains your quality of life and fattens your bank account.

Finding ways to save is important, but avoiding deprivation is just as important.

Diets suck. Whether they’re food-related or money-related, if they leave you feeling deprived and unhappy, they’re not going to work. But there’s a difference between food diets and dollar diets: It’s hard to lose weight without depriving yourself of the foods you love, but it’s easy to reduce spending without depriving yourself of the things you love.

Cottage cheese isn’t a suitable substitute for steak, but a used car is a perfectly acceptable substitute for a new one. And the list goes on: watching TV online rather than paying for cable, buying generics when they’re just as good as name brands, using house-swapping to get free lodging, downloading books from the library instead of Amazon. No matter what you love, from physical possessions to travel, there are ways to save without reducing your quality of life.

7. REGARD POSSESSIONS NOT IN TERMS OF MONEY, BUT TIME

You go to the mall and spend $150 on clothes. But what you spent isn’t just $150. If you earn $150 a day, you just spent a day of your life.

Almost every resource you have, from physical possessions to money, is renewable. The amount of time you have on this planet, however, is finite. Once used, it can never be replaced. So when you spend money – especially if you earned that money by doing something you had to do instead of what you wanted to do – you’re spending your life.

This doesn’t mean you should never spend money. If those clothes are all that important to you, by all means, buy them. But if it’s really not going to make you that much happier, don’t. Think of it this way: If you can live on $150 a day, every time you forgo spending $150, you get one day closer to financial independence.

8. ALWAYS CONSIDER OPPORTUNITY COST

This is related to the commandment above. Opportunity cost is an accounting term that describes the cost of missing out on alternative uses for money.

For example, when I said above that not spending $150 on clothes puts you $150 closer to independence, that was a gross understatement. Because when you save $150, investing those savings gives you the opportunity to have more savings. If you’re earning 10 percent, $150 invested for 20 years will ultimately make you $1,000 richer. If you can live on $150 a day, ignoring inflation, you can now retire nearly a week sooner, not just a day.

One of the exercises in my book, Life or Debt, is to go around your house and identify things you bought but probably didn’t want or need. A quick way to do this is to find things you haven’t touched in months. These were probably impulse buys. Add up the cost of these things, multiply them by 7, and you’ll arrive at the amount of money you could have had if you’d invested that money at 10 percent for 20 years rather than wasting it.

And when you do this, consider the stuff in your closet, the stuff in your garage, the rooms of your house that you heat and cool but don’t use, the new cars you’ve bought when used would have worked. The truth is that most of us have already blown the opportunity to achieve financial independence much sooner. Maybe now’s the time to stop.

9. DON’T PUT OFF TILL TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN SAVE TODAY

Shortly after I began my television career in 1988, I went on set with a pack of smokes, a can of soda, and a candy bar. I explained that these things represented the kind of money most of us throw away every day without thinking about it; at the time, about $5. But compound $5 daily at 10 percent for 30 years, and you’ll end up with about $340,000. That’s why learning to save a few bucks here and there and investing it is so important.

Fortunes are rarely made by investing big bucks, nor are they often made late in life. Wealth most often comes from starting small and early.

There are limited ways to get rich. You can inherit, marry well, build a valuable business, successfully capitalize on exceptional talent, get exceedingly lucky – or spend less than you make and consistently invest your savings over time. Even if you’re on the road to any of the former, why not do the latter?

10. ENVY IS YOUR ENEMY

You can either look rich or be rich, but you probably won’t live long enough to accomplish both. I’ve lived both ways, and trust me: Being rich is way better than using debt to appear rich.

Most of us will admit that, when on the verge of making a purchase, we’re often thinking of what our friends will say when they see it. Normal human behavior? Sure, but it’s not in your best interest, or theirs. Making your friends jealous isn’t nice and feeling envy for other people’s possessions is silly. Possessions have never made anyone happy, nor will they.

Decide what really makes you happy, then spend – or not – accordingly. When your friends make an impressive addition to their collection of material possessions, be happy for them.

One of the stupidest expressions ever coined was: “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” When you’re on your death bed, you won’t be thinking about the things you had – you’ll be thinking about the times you had.

Written by Stacy Johnson of Money Talks News

(Source: Money Talks News)