A new year does not just come with resolutions at the gym or goals for becoming a better person, but a new year resets the clock for your savings and finances as well. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up substantially over the last 24 months, many investors cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and let value buys in the market pass them by. There are actions that we can take as investors aside from picking the next Apple or Google to help our portfolios.
Employer Sponsored Retirement Plans: We have written on numerous occasions about how important it is to maximize your employer sponsored retirement plan, especially if your plan has matching provisions. What many employees neglect to realize is that the matching provisions of your plan function as an immediate 100% return on your money, but it is your employer providing the return and not the market. We also encourage those without plans to explorer Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), not only for the savings aspect but for the tax benefits as well.
Health Savings Accounts: For individuals under 55 years of age, you can contribute up to $3,300 to a Health Savings Account (HSA) in 2014. An HSA is a form of saving for medical expenses with pre-tax dollars. We recommend readers consult a tax professional about how an HSA may be right for them.
Charitable Contributions: Not only are charitable contributions a great way to help the causes that are near and dear to your heart, but they are also tax deductible. We recommend that everyone keep a file on hand throughout the year of any and all donations made to qualified charities/entities so that write-offs at tax-time are easy and organized.
These are some simple steps that can be taken towards securing a solid financial future, but there are still doubts on everyone’s mind going into 2014 about the markets.
We wrote months ago that we expected to see equities run up due mostly in part to low interest rate policies of the Fed. Once the Federal Reserve begins tapering and rates begin rising, we would not be surprised to see a pullback in equities and funds fly out of the bond markets (bond prices vary inversely with yields, thus if yields rise, then bond prices fall).
There are certainly value buys out there, but they are becoming more of a rarity. As with all of our clients, we suggest that investors be patient, rational, and humble. We have a name for those who invest in a hurry to make a quick profit on the “latest and greatest” stock; broke.
Here is to a bright and successful 2014 to all!