Did You Learn from the Crash of 2008?

Many investors and young potential investors are still scared out of their minds because of what happened to a lot of innocent investors in 2008.  I have heard a few horror stories of people who supposedly lost all of their retirement money because of the crash.  Many young professionals are scared of the stock market because of the stories they have heard from their parents and grandparents.  But is the stock market really the issue, or is bad decision making also involved?

The Horror Story known as 2008

This is what happened to the average investor in 2008, instincts kicked in.  What I mean by that is that the average investor thinks that when the stock market is headed downward, it is going to keep going downward in a never ending spiral until the world ends.  That is just our instinct as human beings.  So as an investor, the obvious thing to do if you believe that, is to take your money out of stocks and put it in bonds, a bank account, or even under your mattress.  But the term that I use for that is selling low.  By the time most investors could get their money out of the stock market in 2008-2009,  it was already down 20 maybe even 40%.    Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Pain and Pleasure

On your statement at the end of 2008 you see that your small US stocks were down 38.67%.  You lost almost half of your hard earned money!  You also notice on the news that long term bonds were up 25.8% during 2008.  What does instinct tell you to do?  It tells you to leave the pain that stocks are inflicting upon you and go to the pleasure of bonds.   But is that really the best decision?

Regardless of what we know happened after the crash, it is ALWAYS a bad decision to sell low, and buy high.  But in the moment it doesn’t seem like that is what you are doing.  So let’s say you sold out of stocks and bought into bonds at the beginning of 2009.  Then at the end of 2009 you get this horrifying statement.  Long term bonds are down 14.09%.  What?  How could this happen?  You then search online and see that small US stocks were up 47.54%!   You managed to lose half of your money while those stock investors who didn’t do anything during this time did twice as good and made their money back.

I personally know people who did this, and their families are now forever afraid of the stock market.   These people blame the stock market when it was really their own emotions and fear that was the problem.   The stock market is way higher than it was before the crash in 2008 and continues to reach new highs as usual.

The Success Story known as 2008

Those investors who saw the largely negative numbers and heard the panic throughout the world, yet stayed disciplined made out like a bandit.   The best investors did exactly the opposite of what instincts told them to do, that is they bought more into stocks when the crash was happening and the prices were discounted, and sold some bonds while they were high.  Those people especially have been rewarded for their discipline.

The Next Crash

We all know crashes are a part of the stock market and are a regular thing.  The stock market has always come back lightning fast after a crash.  So are you going to go with your instinct and panic, or are you going to stay disciplined.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1. Matson Money. Mind Over Money Powerpoint. Mason, OH: Matson Money, 2 Aug. 2016. PPT

 



If You Made Less Than $63,000 Last Year, Read this Before You File

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for low to middle-income families to save; however, the IRS allows a Saver’s Credit that could mean a $2,000 tax credit per family. Of course, it depends on the tax filer’s status as well as their adjusted gross income, or AGI.  The tax benefit is to increase the incentive for lower income families to put money away for retirement.  Every family that qualifies should be taking advantage of this bonus tax credit.

To be eligible for the Saver’s Credit…

  1. You must be 18 years or older
  2. You must not have been a full time student (you can be a part-time student)
  3. You must not be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return.
  4. Your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) must be below $63,000 (married filing jointly), or $31,500 (single).

How it works…

In 2018, if your tax status is married filing jointly and your AGI is not more than $38,000, and you meet the other requirements, then you qualify for an additional 50% tax credit.  If you are above that income level it goes to a 20% tax credit from $38k up to $41k. Then it is a 10% tax credit from $41k until you are phased out above the $63,000 threshold.

Let’s say that you earned $38,000 for all of 2018, and your spouse was unemployed for the entire year. If you made a $2,000 contribution to your Qualified Plan (ie IRA, Roth IRA, 401K, 403B) for 2016, then you can receive that 50% tax credit which in this case is $1000 against any taxes owing or to add to your refund.  On top of that you can contribute $2000 to your spouses Qualified Plan and get an addition $1000.   That is $2000 cash money in your pocket for contributing $4000 into a retirement account.  $2000 is the maximum tax credit any family can receive.

This tax credit is in addition to the tax benefit you get within the IRA such as being able to deduct from your income all contributions to a Traditional IRA.

Don’t miss out on this too little known tax credit that can save you big money on your taxes this year.

Also, if you don’t have any investment account currently, and you know you qualify for this credit, why would you forego getting 50 cents cash back for every dollar invested.  And at the same time you are putting money into a growing retirement account. A win win for sure.  You can open up an IRA and contribute to it for tax year 2018 up until April 15th  and still get the credit this year.  Give us a call and we can get you set up with a Roth IRA or similar,  no upfront costs.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

  1. IRS. “Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver’s Credit).” Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver’s Credit). IRS, 13 Dec. 2018. Web. 4 Feb. 2019. <https://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Savings-Contributions-Savers-Credit>.

Keep these 3 Rules and You Will Be a Successful Investor

Investing can be very complicated and confusing, but it also can be very simple.  Today I am going to try to simplify investing with these 3 rules.

1. Own Equities

Equities is just another word for stocks.  Why is this the first and most important rule?  Stocks have historically out performed fixed income (Bonds/Money Market/Savings Accounts) over the long term, and that is including the few crashes we have had.  In fact, that battle is not even close, especially now that fixed income has stayed so low the past few years.  Check out this chart which compares the annual return from 1926-2013 of the S&P 500 (Stocks) with Treasury Bills (Fixed Income).

stocks vs bonds

You can see Stocks have outperformed Fixed income by over 6% per year over the long term.  It is obvious to see the long term advantage of owning stocks in your retirement portfolio.

2. Diversify

Diversification, if done correctly, can increase return and decrease volatility (Risk).  Diversification in your investment portfolio is measured in part by the number of stocks you are invested in, as well as the different categories and countries those stocks are located in.   For example, if you invest in the S&P 500 Index, you are investing in 500 very large US companies.  You are not really diversified if you only invest in the S&P 500.

There are many different categories of stocks to invest in.  There is Micro cap (very small companies), Small Cap, Value, Growth, International.  Matson Money specifically invests our clients in over 12,000 stocks in all of those categories throughout the world.

The benefit of diversification is to lessen the risk that any one stock or group of stocks will crash, go bankrupt etc.   The standard deviation (volatility) of your portfolio can also be managed through proper diversification.

3. Rebalance

Rebalancing at a simple level is just buying low and selling high.  If your portfolio is 50% in Stocks and 50% in fixed, rebalancing would keep it that way through many different market swings.  If stocks go up faster than fixed, then you need to sell stocks (high) and buy fixed (low), and the other way around if the opposite happens.

Rebalancing most importantly keeps your portfolio at the risk preference that you choose, and especially helps to reduce risk in down markets.   It can also give your return a slight boost over the long term as well.

Now that you know the 3 rules of investing, you need an investment coach that understands and implements these rules as well.  If you can keep these 3 rules then your retirement portfolio will be in good shape over the long run.

By Jimmy Hancock



Reference

Matson Money. The Market Factor. Digital image. Matsonmoney.com. N.p., 23 July 2014. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <https://www.matsonmoney.com/>.

What are the Cost’s Associated with Investing?

There are many different ways in which costs are charged to your investment portfolio.   Many of these are hidden and are basically untraceable.  Today we are going to discuss a few of the hidden costs, and a few of the transparent costs.

Costs you should know about

Management Fee/Commission

Whoever your investment advisor is is making a percentage of their money from your portfolio.  This is necessary, but you need to make sure that the fee or commission you are being charged is not over the top. You will usually be charged just commissions or just a fee, not both.

If your working through an advisor that works on Commissions, then he legally cannot charge you more than 8.5% as a shave off the top of any new money coming in.  That is a big percentage.  For example, if you transfer in just $10,000 to an advisor that works on Commissions, they could take $850 out of the $10,000 thus lowering the value to $9,150 right off the bat.  Commissions are also dangerous because it makes the advisor more focused on the sale and initial transfer then he is on helping you ongoing.  He gets almost all his money upfront.

A management fee is a percentage charged each year as a much smaller percentage than commissions.   If your manager is trying to actively trade, he will usually charge a higher fee.  Management fees are based off of the total amount invested.

Mutual Fund Loads

A lot of mutual funds come with loads.  These are additional costs to you that are basically penalties.  They can be for different reasons, but many times it is to keep you from switching out of the fund.  They can either be front end loaded, or back end loaded, meaning the charge comes when you buy in, or when you sell out.  They also can charge you if you move your money out before a certain time frame.  Not all mutual charge a load, so make sure your funds are no load funds.

Hidden Costs

Trading Cost

One of the main hidden costs comes from the Bid Ask Spread.  The Bid Ask Spread is the difference between the buy price and sell price of a stock.  The guy on Wall Street who actually performs the trade gets paid the difference.  There is a cost to you every single time a stock is bought or sold by a fund.  If your mutual fund is being actively traded by a manager trying to beat the market, then more likely than not they are losing you money on the way.   If you are invested in institutional funds, aka passively managed funds like with Matson Money, then the trading cost you pay is minimal.

Expense Ratio

The expense ratio is how the mutual fund company pays for their operational costs.  Operating expenses are taken out of a mutual fund’s assets and in turn lower the return to the fund’s investors.   Usually retail mutual funds that are popular due to advertising have very high expense ratio’s.  This is another cost that comes to you in the form of a lower return.  The actual amount that it is costing you is very hard to quantify.   You want to invest in funds with very low expense ratios.

There are a few other costs involved as well, but are only for specific accounts and situations.  These costs are not necessarily a bad thing as long as they are kept low, and reasonable.  Even with these costs, investing in stocks is the greatest wealth creation tool on the planet.  To limit you costs you need to avoid actively traded funds and managers, and invest in a diversified efficient portfolio.

We try to keep our costs low by not charging any commissions, and instead charging an annual management fee based on the total amount invested.  We don’t charge to meet or set up new or additional accounts.   We also keep costs lower by avoiding actively trading within clients accounts.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1.Bold, Adam. “4 Hidden Costs in Investing – US News.” US News RSS. US News and World Report, 8 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. <http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-smarter-mutual-fund-investor/2011/02/08/4-hidden-costs-in-investing>.

2.”Expense Ratio Definition | Investopedia.” Investopedia. Investopedia US, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2014. <http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/expenseratio.asp>.