What Are Your Funds Really Costing You?

In one of my recent conversations with an employee preparing for retirement, we covered a lot of territory over a number of sessions. In running his retirement projections, he was WAY ahead of the curve. He had his estate plan prepared by an excellent attorney.  Read more

What Makes A Good Mutual Fund?

That’s a common question I get in our investing workshops. Most people instinctively look at performance. After all, that’s how we typically measure ability and try to predict future performance in most areas but investing is different. Read more

The “Hidden” Sales Charge

I received a call recently from an investor that was a little confused about differences in mutual fund share classes. It seems this individual opened an IRA with a financial advisor a few years ago and purchased an “A” share mutual fund. Then, just a few days ago, they received a letter from the custodian informing them that “B” shares would no longer be available for purchase. The investor had never heard of a “B” share and wasn’t quite sure what this meant, so they decided to call the Financial Helpline.  Read more

When Should You Sell Your Mutual Fund?

As the stock market reaches new highs, have you been wondering if you should sell and take profits before the next eventual dip? If the stock market does take a dip, should you sell and cut your losses? With the launch of our “Ask a Planner Week” on Monday, here was the first question we received: “I have absolute percentage rules for taking profits and losses on individual stocks. When should one consider taking profits or losses on index funds?” Read more

Not All Index Funds Are Created Equal

One of the most common bits of investment advice is to invest in index funds. But which index funds? Are all the index funds the same? If not, what should you look for in choosing an index fund?  Read more

How to Invest in Mutual Funds

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written about the advantages of investing in individual stocks and some tools to make the process simpler and easier. However, most people don’t invest directly in individual stocks. After all, it’s more time consuming and is generally not available in the employer-sponsored plans like 401(k)s that people generally do the bulk of their investing in. Read more

Time to Dump Your Mutual Funds?

No, I’m not talking about “sell in May and go away.” If you invest in stocks, you probably do so through mutual funds. After all, they’re available in your employer’s retirement plan and you get a degree of instant diversification even if you don’t have much to invest. But here are some reasons you might want to consider investing directly in individual stocks: Read more

Understand the Facts About Target-Date Funds

During a recent series of retirement workshops geared toward early and mid-career employees, I received numerous questions regarding the role of target date funds in their 401(k).  This brought up an interesting discussion about hands-on vs. hands-off investing options. Target-date funds are supposed to provide simple solutions for people seeking an all-in-one fund that is diversified.  Yet, a tremendous amount of confusion surrounds these seemingly basic asset allocation tools.  Furthermore, not all target date funds are created equal so it’s essential to first look under the hood if target date funds are a part of your investment plan for retirement. Read more

What Eating Halloween Candy Can Teach Us About Financial Success

When I was a little kid, I used to look forward to being able to gorge on all my Halloween candy. It didn’t take long for me to realize what economists call “diminishing marginal utility.” Each additional piece of candy would bring me less pleasure than the last. It would eventually get to the point where eating more candy would only make me feel sick. Read more

Following the Herd to My Worst Investment Ever

Back in early 1999, as Internet stocks were all the rage, I invested that year’s Roth IRA into the Putnam New Opportunities Fund, which had double digit returns for their 1 and 3 year historical performance. Now, I know past returns don’t indicate future performance,  and I also had that little voice in the back of my mind that was saying it was too good to be true, BUT the Putnam wholesaler had recently visited my office and was saying how hot the fund was, and as a broker myself, I was able to buy in at NAV, meaning I didn’t have to pay the front end sales charge. I couldn’t resist.  Read more

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