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Retirement, investments, financial planning for every stage of life—learn about it all here at Invested,
a blog from your Wealth Management Advisors at Kirtland Financial Services.

All Posts > Investments

Investments Retirement Estate Planning

Investment planning during retirement is not the same as investing for retirement and, in many ways, is more complicated.

Your working years are your saving years. With luck, your income increases from year to year as you receive promotions and/or pay raises; those increases offer some protection against rising costs caused by inflation. While you're working, your retirement objective generally is to grow retirement savings as much as possible, and investments that offer higher potential reward in exchange for greater potential for volatility and/or loss are often the focus for those retirement savings.

When you retire, on the other hand, spending rather than saving becomes your focus. Your sources of income may include Social Security, employer pensions, personal savings and assets, and perhaps some income from working part-time. Typically, a retiree's objective is to derive sufficient income to maintain a chosen lifestyle and to make assets last as long as necessary.

This can be a tricky balancing act. Uncertainty abounds--you don't know how long you'll live or whether rates of return will meet your expectations. If your income is fixed, inflation could erode its purchasing power over time, which may cause you to invade principal to meet day-to-day expenses. Or, your retirement plan may require that you make minimum withdrawals in excess of your needs, depleting your resources and triggering taxes unnecessarily. Further, your ability to tolerate risk is lessened--you have less time to recover from losses, and you may feel less secure about your finances in general.

How, then, should you manage your investments during retirement given the above complications? The answer is different for everyone. You should tailor your plans to your own unique circumstances, and you may want to consult a financial planning professional for advice.

The following discusses two important factors you should consider: (1) withdrawing income from retirement assets, and (2) balancing safety with growth.
 

Choosing a sustainable withdrawal rate

A key factor that determines whether your assets will last for your entire lifetime is the rate at which you withdraw funds. The more you withdraw, the greater the likelihood you'll exhaust your resources too soon. On the other hand, if you withdraw too little, you may have to struggle to meet expenses; also, you could end up with assets in your estate, part of which may go to the government in taxes. It is vital that you estimate an appropriate withdrawal rate for your circumstances, and determine whether you should adjust your lifestyle and/or estate plan.

Your withdrawal rate is typically expressed as a percentage of your overall assets, even though withdrawals may represent earnings, principal, or some combination of the two. For example, if you have $700,000 in assets and decide a 4 percent withdrawal rate is appropriate, the portfolio would need to earn $28,000 a year if you intend to withdraw only earnings; alternatively, you might set it up to earn $14,000 in interest and take the remaining $14,000 from the principal. An appropriate and sustainable withdrawal rate depends on many factors including the value of your current assets, your expected rate of return, your life expectancy, your risk tolerance, whether you adjust for inflation, how much your expenses are expected to be, and whether you want some assets left over for your heirs.

Fortunately, you don't have to make a wild guess. Studies have tackled this issue, resulting in the creation of tables and calculators that can provide you with a range of rates that have some probability of success. However, you'll probably need some expert help to ensure that this important decision is made carefully.
 

Withdrawing first from taxable, tax-deferred, or tax-free accounts

Many retirees have assets in various types of accounts--taxable, tax-deferred (e.g., traditional IRAs), and tax-free (e.g., Roth IRAs). Given a choice, which type of account should you withdraw from first? The answer--it depends.

Caution: Roth IRA earnings are generally free from federal income tax if certain conditions are met but may not be free from state income tax.

 

Retirees who will not have an estate

For retirees who do not intend to leave assets to beneficiaries, the answer is simple in theory: Withdraw money from a taxable account first, then a tax-deferred account, and lastly, a tax-free account. This will provide for the greatest growth potential due to the power of compounding.

In practice, however, your choices, to some extent, may be directed by tax rules. Retirement accounts, other than Roth IRAs, have minimum withdrawal requirements. In general, you must begin withdrawing from these accounts by April 1 of the year following the year you turn age 70½. Failure to do so can result in a 50 percent excise tax imposed on the amount by which the required minimum distribution exceeds the distribution you actually take.


Retirees who will have an estate

For retirees who intend to leave assets to beneficiaries, the analysis is more complicated. You need to coordinate your retirement plan with your estate plan.

If you have appreciated or rapidly appreciating assets, it may be more advantageous for you to withdraw from tax-deferred and tax-free accounts first. This is because these accounts will not receive a step-up in basis at your death, as many of your other assets will, and your heirs could face a larger than necessary tax liability.

However, this may not always be the best strategy. For example, if you intend to leave your entire estate to your spouse, it may be better to withdraw from taxable accounts first. This is because spouses are given preferential tax treatment with regard to retirement plans. As a beneficiary of a traditional IRA or retirement plan, a surviving spouse can roll over retirement plan funds to his or her own IRA or retirement plan, or, in some cases, may continue the deceased spouse's plan as his or her own. The funds in the plan continue to grow tax deferred, and distributions need not begin until the spouse's own required beginning date.

For retirees who have a "stretch" IRA, you may want to take advantage of your ability to defer taxes over a number of generations.

Tip: Retirees in this situation should consult a qualified estate planning attorney who has some expertise with regard to retirement plan assets.
 

Balancing safety and growth

When you retire, you generally stop receiving income from wages, a salary, or other work-related activity and start relying on your assets for income. To ensure a consistent and reliable flow of income for your lifetime, you must provide some safety for your principal. This is why retirees typically shift at least a portion of their investment portfolio to more secure income-producing investments, and this makes a great deal of sense.

Unfortunately, safety comes with a price--reduced growth potential and erosion of value due to inflation. Safety at the expense of growth can be a critical mistake for some retirees. On the other hand, if you invest too heavily in growth investments, your risk is heightened, and you may be forced to sell during a downturn in the market should you need more income. Retirees must find a way to strike a reasonable balance between safety and growth.

One solution may be the "two bucket" approach. To implement this, you would determine your sustainable withdrawal rate (see above), and then reallocate a portion of your portfolio to fixed income investments (e.g., certificates of deposit and bonds) that will provide you with sufficient income for a predetermined number of years. You would then reallocate the balance of your portfolio to growth investments (e.g., stocks) that you can use to replenish that income "bucket" over time.

The fixed income portion of your portfolio should be able to provide you with enough income (together with any other income you may receive, such as Social Security and required minimum distributions from retirement plans) to meet your expenses so you won't have to liquidate investments in the growth portion of your portfolio at a time when they may be down. This can help you ride out fluctuations in the market, and sell only when you think a sale is advantageous.

Be sure that your fixed income investments will provide you with income when you'll need it. One way to accomplish this is by laddering. For example, if you're investing in bonds, instead of investing the entire amount in one issue that matures on a certain date, spread your investment over several issues with staggered maturity dates (e.g., one year, two years, three years). As each bond matures, reinvest the principal to maintain the pattern.

As for the growth portion of your investment portfolio, common investing principles still apply:
  • Diversify your holdings
  • Invest on a tax-deferred or tax-free basis if possible
  • Monitor your portfolio and reallocate assets when appropriate

Caution: For retirees investing in bonds, don't assume that individual bonds and bond funds are the same type of investment. Bond funds do not offer the two key characteristics offered by bonds: (1) income from bond funds is not fixed--dividends change depending on the bonds the funds has bought and sold as well as the prevailing interest rate, and (2) a bond fund does not have an obligation to return principal to you when bonds within the fund mature. Additionally, the risk associated with bond funds varies depending on the bonds held within the fund at any given time, whereas the risk associated with individual bonds generally decreases over time as a bond nears its maturity date (assuming the issuer's financial situation doesn't deteriorate). Finally, fees and charges associated with bond funds reduce returns. Even so, you may still find bond funds attractive because of their convenience. Just be sure you understand the differences between bond funds and individual bonds before you invest.

Get started with Kirtland Financial Services today!


 
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax planning or legal advice. We suggest that you consult with a qualified tax or legal professional. LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

Investments

Just what you need, right? One more time-consuming task to be taken care of between now and the end of the year. But taking a little time out from the holiday chores to make some strategic saving and investing decisions before December 31 can affect not only your long-term ability to meet your financial goals but also the amount of taxes you'll owe next April.
 

Look at the forest, not just the trees

The first step in your year-end investment planning process should be a review of your overall portfolio. That review can tell you whether you need to rebalance. If one type of investment has done well — for example, large-cap stocks — it might now represent a greater percentage of your portfolio than you originally intended. To rebalance, you would sell some of that asset class and use that money to buy other types of investments to bring your overall allocation back to an appropriate balance. Your overall review should also help you decide whether that rebalancing should be done before or after December 31 for tax reasons.

Also, make sure your asset allocation is still appropriate for your time horizon and goals. You might consider being a bit more aggressive if you're not meeting your financial targets, or more conservative if you're getting closer to retirement. If you want greater diversification, you might consider adding an asset class that tends to react to market conditions differently than your existing investments do. Or you might look into an investment that you have avoided in the past because of its high valuation if it's now selling at a more attractive price. Diversification and asset allocation don't guarantee a profit or insure against a possible loss, of course, but they're worth reviewing at least once a year.
 

Know when to hold 'em

When contemplating a change in your portfolio, don't forget to consider how long you've owned each investment. Assets held for a year or less generate short-term capital gains, which are taxed as ordinary income. Depending on your tax bracket, your ordinary income tax rate could be much higher than the long-term capital gains rate, which applies to the sale of assets held for more than a year. For example, as of tax year 2020, the top marginal tax rate is 37%, which applies to any annual taxable income over $518,400 ($622,050 for married individuals filing jointly). By contrast, long-term capital gains are generally taxed at special capital gains tax rates of 0%, 15%, and 20% depending on your taxable income. (Long-term gains on collectibles are different; those are taxed at 28%.)

Your holding period can also affect the treatment of qualified stock dividends, which are taxed at the more favorable long-term capital gains rates. You must have held the stock at least 61 days within the 121-day period that starts 60 days before the stock's ex-dividend date; preferred stock must be held for 91 days within a 181-day window. The lower rate also depends on when and whether your shares were hedged or optioned.
 

Make lemonade from lemons

Now is the time to consider the tax consequences of any capital gains or losses you've experienced this year. Though tax considerations shouldn't be the primary driver of your investing decisions, there are steps you can take before the end of the year to minimize any tax impact of your investing decisions.

If you have realized capital gains from selling securities at a profit (congratulations!) and you have no tax losses carried forward from previous years, you can sell losing positions to avoid being taxed on some or all of those gains. Any losses over and above the amount of your gains can be used to offset up to $3,000 of ordinary income ($1,500 for a married person filing separately) or carried forward to reduce your taxes in future years. Selling losing positions for the tax benefit they will provide next April is a common financial practice known as "harvesting your losses."

Example: You sold stock in ABC company this year for $2,500 more than you paid when you bought it four years ago. You decide to sell the XYZ stock that you bought six years ago because it seems unlikely to regain the $20,000 you paid for it. You sell your XYZ shares at a $7,000 loss. You offset your $2,500 capital gain, offset $3,000 of ordinary income tax this year, and carry forward the remaining $1,500 to be applied in future tax years.
 

Time any trades appropriately

If you're selling to harvest losses in a stock or mutual fund and intend to repurchase the same security, make sure you wait at least 31 days before buying it again. Otherwise, the trade is considered a "wash sale," and the tax loss will be disallowed. The wash sale rule also applies if you buy an option on the stock, sell it short, or buy it through your spouse within 30 days before or after the sale.

If you have unrealized losses that you want to capture but still believe in a specific investment, there are a couple of strategies you might think about. If you want to sell but don't want to be out of the market for even a short period, you could sell your position at a loss, then buy a similar exchange-traded fund (ETF) that invests in the same asset class or industry. Or you could double your holdings, then sell your original shares at a loss after 31 days. You'd end up with the same position, but would have captured the tax loss.

If you're buying a mutual fund or an ETF in a taxable account, find out when it will distribute any dividends or capital gains. Consider delaying your purchase until after that date, which often is near year-end. If you buy just before the distribution, you'll owe taxes this year on that money, even if your own shares haven't appreciated. And if you plan to sell a fund anyway, you may help reduce taxes by selling before the distribution date.

Note: Before buying a mutual fund or ETF, don't forget to consider carefully its investment objectives, risks, fees, and expenses, which can be found in the prospectus available from the fund. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.
 

Know where to hold 'em

Think about which investments make sense to hold in a tax-advantaged account and which might be better for taxable accounts. For example, it's generally not a good idea to hold tax-free investments, such as municipal bonds, in a tax-deferred account (e.g., a 401(k), IRA, or SEP). Doing so provides no additional tax advantage to compensate you for tax-free investments' typically lower returns. And doing so generally turns that tax-free income into income that's taxable at ordinary income tax rates when you withdraw it from the retirement account. Similarly, if you have mutual funds that trade actively and therefore generate a lot of short-term capital gains, it may make sense to hold them in a tax-advantaged account to defer taxes on those gains, which can occur even if the fund itself has a loss. Finally, when deciding where to hold specific investments, keep in mind that distributions from a tax-deferred retirement plan don't qualify for the lower tax rate on capital gains and dividends.
 

Be selective about selling shares

If you own a stock, fund, or ETF and decide to unload some shares, you may be able to maximize your tax advantage. For a mutual fund, the most common way to calculate cost basis is to use the average cost per share. However, you can also request that specific shares be sold — for example, those bought at a certain price. Which shares you choose depends on whether you want to book capital losses to offset gains, or keep gains to a minimum to reduce the tax bite. (This only applies to shares held in a taxable account.) Be aware that you must use the same method when you sell the rest of those shares.

Example: You have invested periodically in a stock for five years, paying various prices, and now want to sell some shares. To help reduce the capital gains tax you'll pay on them, you could decide to sell the least profitable shares, perhaps those that were only slightly lower when purchased. Or if you wanted losses to offset capital gains, you could specify shares bought above the current price.

Depending on when you bought a specific security, your broker may calculate your cost basis for you, and will typically designate a default method to be used. For stocks, the default method is likely to be FIFO ("first in, first out"); the first shares purchased are considered the first shares sold. As noted above, most mutual fund companies use the average cost per share as your default cost basis. With bonds, the default method amortizes any bond premium over the time you own the bond. You must notify your broker if you want to use a method other than the default.

Need some help making year-end investing decisions? Kirtland Financial Services specializes in helping create comprehensive, personalized financial plans, including potential investments. Make an appointment today!


 
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax planning or legal advice. We suggest that you consult with a qualified tax or legal professional.

LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

Investments

A successful investor maximizes gain and minimizes loss. Though there can be no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful, and all investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, here are six basic principles that may help you invest more successfully.
 

Long-term compounding can help your nest egg grow

It's the "rolling snowball" effect. Put simply, compounding pays you earnings on your reinvested earnings. The longer you leave your money at work for you, the more exciting the numbers get. For example, imagine an investment of $10,000 at an annual rate of return of 8 percent. In 20 years, assuming no withdrawals, your $10,000 investment would grow to $46,610. In 25 years, it would grow to $68,485, a 47 percent gain over the 20-year figure. After 30 years, your account would total $100,627. (Of course, this is a hypothetical example that does not reflect the performance of any specific investment.)

This simple example also assumes that no taxes are paid along the way, so all money stays invested. That would be the case in a tax-deferred individual retirement account or qualified retirement plan. The compounded earnings of deferred tax dollars are the main reason experts recommend fully funding all tax-advantaged retirement accounts and plans available to you.

While you should review your portfolio on a regular basis, the point is that money left alone in an investment offers the potential of a significant return over time. With time on your side, you don't have to go for investment "home runs" in order to be successful.
 

Endure short-term pain for long-term gain

Riding out market volatility sounds simple, doesn't it? But what if you've invested $10,000 in the stock market and the price of the stock drops like a stone one day? On paper, you've lost a bundle, offsetting the value of compounding you're trying to achieve. It's tough to stand pat.

There's no denying it — the financial marketplace can be volatile. Still, it's important to remember two things. First, the longer you stay with a diversified portfolio of investments, the more likely you are to reduce your risk and improve your opportunities for gain. Though past performance doesn't guarantee future results, the long-term direction of the stock market has historically been up. Take your time horizon into account when establishing your investment game plan. For assets you'll use soon, you may not have the time to wait out the market and should consider investments designed to protect your principal. Conversely, think long-term for goals that are many years away.

Second, during any given period of market or economic turmoil, some asset categories and some individual investments historically have been less volatile than others. Bond price swings, for example, have generally been less dramatic than stock prices. Though diversification alone cannot guarantee a profit or ensure against the possibility of loss, you can minimize your risk somewhat by diversifying your holdings among various classes of assets, as well as different types of assets within each class.

Spread your wealth through asset allocation

Asset allocation is the process by which you spread your dollars over several categories of investments, usually referred to as asset classes. The three most common asset classes are stocks, bonds, and cash or cash alternatives such as money market funds. You'll also see the term "asset classes" used to refer to subcategories, such as aggressive growth stocks, long-term growth stocks, international stocks, government bonds (U.S., state, and local), high quality corporate bonds, low-quality corporate bonds, and tax-free municipal bonds. A basic asset allocation would likely include at least stocks, bonds (or mutual funds of stocks and bonds), and cash or cash alternatives.

There are two main reasons why asset allocation is important. First, the mix of asset classes you own is a large factor — some say the biggest factor by far — in determining your overall investment portfolio performance. In other words, the basic decision about how to divide your money between stocks, bonds, and cash can be more important than your subsequent choice of specific investments.

Second, by dividing your investment dollars among asset classes that do not respond to the same market forces in the same way at the same time, you can help minimize the effects of market volatility while maximizing your chances of return in the long term. Ideally, if your investments in one class are performing poorly, assets in another class may be doing better. Any gains in the latter can help offset the losses in the former and help minimize their overall impact on your portfolio.
 

Consider your time horizon in your investment choices

In choosing an asset allocation, you'll need to consider how quickly you might need to convert an investment into cash without loss of principal (your initial investment). Generally speaking, the sooner you'll need your money, the wiser it is to keep it in investments whose prices remain relatively stable. You want to avoid a situation, for example, where you need to use money quickly that is tied up in an investment whose price is currently down.
Therefore, your investment choices should take into account how soon you're planning to use your money. If you'll need the money within the next one to three years, you may want to consider keeping it in a money market fund or other cash alternative whose aim is to protect your initial investment.

Your rate of return may be lower than that possible with more volatile investments such as stocks, but you'll breathe easier knowing that the principal you invested is relatively safe and quickly available, without concern over market conditions on a given day. Conversely, if you have a longtime horizon — for example, if you're investing for a retirement that's many years away — you may be able to invest a greater percentage of your assets in something that might have more dramatic price changes but that might also have greater potential for long-term growth.

Note: Before investing in a mutual fund, consider its investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses, all of which are outlined in the prospectus, available from the fund. Consider the information carefully before investing. Remember that an investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporate or any other government agency. Although the fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the fund.
 

Dollar cost averaging: investing consistently and often

Dollar cost averaging is a method of accumulating shares of an investment by purchasing a fixed dollar amount at regularly scheduled intervals over an extended time. When the price is high, your fixed-dollar investment buys less; when prices are low, the same dollar investment will buy more shares. A regular, fixed-dollar investment should result in a lower average price per share than you would get buying a fixed number of shares at each investment interval. A workplace savings plan, such as a 401(k) plan that deducts the same amount from each paycheck and invests it through the plan, is one of the most well-known examples of dollar cost averaging in action.

Remember that, just as with any investment strategy, dollar cost averaging can't guarantee you a profit or protect you against a loss if the market is declining. To maximize the potential effects of dollar cost averaging, you should also assess your ability to keep investing even when the market is down.

An alternative to dollar cost averaging would be trying to "time the market," in an effort to predict how the price of the shares will fluctuate in the months ahead so you can make your full investment at the absolute lowest point. However, market timing is generally unprofitable guesswork. The discipline of regular investing is a much more manageable strategy, and it has the added benefit of automating the process.
 

Buy and hold, don't buy and forget

Unless you plan to rely on luck, your portfolio's long-term success will depend on periodically reviewing it. Maybe economic conditions have changed the prospects for a particular investment or an entire asset class. Also, your circumstances change over time, and your asset allocation will need to reflect those changes. For example, as you get closer to retirement, you might decide to increase your allocation to less volatile investments, or those that can provide a steady stream of income.

Another reason for periodic portfolio review: your various investments will likely appreciate at different rates, which will alter your asset allocation without any action on your part. For example, if you initially decided on an 80 percent to 20 percent mix of stock investments to bond investments, you might find that after several years the total value of your portfolio has become divided 88 percent to 12 percent (conversely, if stocks haven't done well, you might have a 70-30 ratio of stocks to bonds in this hypothetical example). You need to review your portfolio periodically to see if you need to return to your original allocation.

To rebalance your portfolio, you would buy more of the asset class that's lower than desired, possibly using some of the proceeds of the asset class that is now larger than you intended. Or you could retain your existing allocation but shift future investments into an asset class that you want to build up over time. But if you don't review your holdings periodically, you won't know whether a change is needed. Many people choose a specific date each year to do an annual review.

No two people’s investment situations are the same. Kirtland Financial Services offers a personalized, comprehensive look at your investment strategy.

Make your appointment today!

 

Investments

Why do so many people never obtain the financial independence that they desire? Often, it's because they just don't take that first step — getting started. Besides procrastination, other excuses people make are that investing is too risky, too complicated, too time consuming, and only for the rich.

The fact is, there's nothing complicated about common investing techniques, and it usually doesn't take much time to understand the basics. One of the biggest risks you face is not educating yourself about which investments may be able to help you pursue your financial goals and how to approach the investing process.
 

Saving versus investing

Both saving and investing have a place in your finances. However, don't confuse the two. Saving is the process of setting aside money to be used for a financial goal, whether that is done as part of a workplace retirement savings plan, an individual retirement account, a bank savings account, or some other savings vehicle. Investing is the process of deciding what you do with those savings. Some investments are designed to help protect your principal — the initial amount you've set aside — but may provide relatively little or no return. Other investments can go up or down in value and may or may not pay interest or dividends. Stocks, bonds, cash alternatives, precious metals, and real estate all represent investments; mutual funds are a way to purchase such investments and also are themselves an investment.

Note: Before investing in a mutual fund, carefully consider its investment objectives, risks, charges, and fees, which can be found in the prospectus available from the fund. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.
 

Why invest?

You invest for the future, and the future is expensive. For example, because people are living longer, retirement costs are often higher than many people expect. Though all investing involves the possibility of loss, including the loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful, investing is one way to try to prepare for that future.

You have to take responsibility for your own finances, even if you need expert help to do so. Government programs such as Social Security will probably play a less significant role for you than they did for previous generations. Corporations are switching from guaranteed pensions to plans that require you to make contributions and choose investments. The better you manage your dollars, the more likely it is that you'll have the money to make the future what you want it to be.

Because everyone has different goals and expectations, everyone has different reasons for investing. Understanding how to match those reasons with your investments is simply one aspect of managing your money to provide a comfortable life and financial security for you and your family.
 

What is the best way to invest?

  • Get in the habit of saving. Set aside a portion of your income regularly. Automate that process if possible by having money automatically put into your investment account before you have a chance to spend it.
  • Invest so that your money at least keeps pace with inflation over time.
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Though asset allocation and diversification don't guarantee a profit or ensure against the possibility of loss, having multiple types of investments may help reduce the impact of a loss on any single investment.
  • Focus on long-term potential rather than short-term price fluctuations.
  • Ask questions and become educated before making any investment.
  • Invest with your head, not with your stomach or heart. Avoid the urge to invest based on how you feel about an investment.
 

Before you start

Organize your finances to help manage your money more efficiently. Remember, investing is just one component of your overall financial plan. Get a clear picture of where you are today.

What's your net worth? Compare your assets with your liabilities. Look at your cash flow. Be clear on where your income is going each month. List your expenses. You can typically identify enough expenses to account for at least 95 percent of your income. If not, go back and look again. You could use those lost dollars for investing. Are you drowning in credit card debt? If so, pay it off as quickly as possible before you start investing. Every dollar that you save in interest charges is one more dollar that you can invest for your future.

Establish a solid financial base: Make sure you have an adequate emergency fund, sufficient insurance coverage, and a realistic budget. Also, take full advantage of benefits and retirement plans that your employer offers.
 

Understand the impact of time

Take advantage of the power of compounding. Compounding is the earning of interest on interest, or the reinvestment of income. For instance, if you invest $1,000 and get a return of 8 percent, you will earn $80. By reinvesting the earnings and assuming the same rate of return, the following year you will earn $86.40 on your $1,080 investment. The following year, $1,166.40 will earn $93.31. (This hypothetical example is intended as an illustration and does not reflect the performance of a specific investment).

Use the Rule of 72 to judge an investment's potential. Divide the projected return into 72. The answer is the number of years that it will take for the investment to double in value. For example, an investment that earns 8 percent per year will double in 9 years.
 

Consider whether you need expert help

If you have the time and energy to educate yourself about investing, you may not feel you need assistance. However, for many people — especially those with substantial assets and multiple investment accounts—it may be worth getting expert help in creating a financial plan that integrates long-term financial goals such as retirement with other, more short-term needs. However, be aware that all investment involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful.
 

Review your progress

Financial management is an ongoing process. Keep good records and recalculate your net worth annually. This will help you for tax purposes and show you how your investments are doing over time. Once you take that first step of getting started, you will be better able to manage your money to pay for today's needs and pursue tomorrow's goals.

Get started with Kirtland Financial Services today!
 

Investments Retirement

Only about 23% of American workers say they are "very confident" they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement.¹ To help reduce such uncertainty in your life, consider these five common investment pitfalls—and how you might avoid them.

Mistake #1: Waiting to Maximize Your Contributions
The sooner you start contributing the maximum amount allowed by your employer-sponsored retirement plan, the better your chances for building a significant savings cushion. By starting early, you allow more time for your contributions -- and potential earnings -- to compound, or build upon themselves, on a tax-deferred basis.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Specific Financial Goals
It is difficult to create an effective investment plan without first targeting a specific dollar amount and recognizing how much time you have to pursue that goal. To enjoy the same quality of life in retirement that you have become accustomed to during your prime earning years, you may need the equivalent of 80% or more of your final working year's salary for each year of retirement.

Mistake #3: Fearing Stock Volatility
It is true that stock investments face a greater risk of short-term price swings than fixed-income investments. However, stocks have historically produced stronger earnings over the long term.² In general, the longer your investment time horizon, the more you might consider adding stock funds to your portfolio.

Mistake #4: Timing the Market
Some investors try to base investment decisions on daily price swings. But unless you have a crystal ball, "timing the market" could be very risky. A better idea might be to buy and hold investments for several years.

Mistake #5: Failing to Diversify
Investing in just one fund or asset class could subject your investment portfolio to unnecessary risk. Spreading your money over a well-chosen mix of investments may help reduce the potential for loss during periods of market volatility. Diversification may offset losses in any one investment or asset category by taking advantage of possible gains elsewhere.³

Now that you are aware of these five common investment errors, consider yourself lucky: You are ready to potentially benefit from other people's experiences—without making the same mistakes.

Adding the guidance of a Wealth Management Advisor can help you navigate your investment decisions as part of a larger financial plan for retirement. Make an appointment online today or call 505-254-4363. We’re here to help!

 
1. Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, "The 2019 Retirement Confidence Survey," 2019.
2. Source: SS&C Technologies, Inc. Stocks are represented by total returns from Standard & Poor's Composite Index of 500 Stocks, an unmanaged index generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. Fixed-income investments are represented by annual total returns of long-term (10+ years) Treasury bonds. Indexes do not take into account the fees and expenses associated with investing, and individuals cannot invest in any index. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. With any investment, it is possible to lose money.
3. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in any market.

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2020 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.

 

Investments
The markets are offering a wild ride for investors recently. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to duck and cover.
  
Be Willing To Take Advantage of Market Downturns
Anyone can look good during a bull market. Smart investors are prepared to weather the inevitable rough patches, and even the best aren't successful all the time. When the market goes off the tracks, knowing why you originally made a specific investment can help you evaluate whether those reasons still hold, regardless of what the overall market is doing.

If you no longer want to hold an investment, you could take a tax loss, if that's a possibility. Selling locks in any losses on an investment, but it also generates cash that can be used to purchase other investments that may be available at an appealing discount. Sound research might turn up buying opportunities on stocks that have dropped for reasons that have nothing to do with the company's fundamentals. In a down market, most stocks are available at lower prices, but some are better bargains than others.

There also are other ways to reap some benefit from a down market. If the value of your IRA or 401(k) has dropped dramatically, you likely won't be able to harvest a tax benefit from those losses, because taxes generally aren't owed on those accounts until the money is withdrawn. However, if you've considered converting a tax-deferred plan to a Roth IRA, a lower account balance might make a conversion more attractive. Though the conversion would trigger income taxes in the year of the conversion, the tax would be calculated on the reduced value of your account. With some expert help, you can determine whether and when such a conversion might be advantageous.

Continuing To Invest May Help You Stay On Course
In the current market environment, the value of your holdings may be fluctuating widely — and it's natural to feel tentative about further investment. But regularly adding to an account that's designed for a long-term goal may cushion the emotional impact of market swings. If losses are offset even in part by new savings, the bottom-line number on your statement might not be quite so discouraging. And a basic principle of investing is that buying during a down market may help your portfolio grow when the market turns upward again.

If you are investing a specific amount regularly regardless of fluctuating price levels (as in a typical workplace retirement plan), you are practicing dollar-cost averaging. Using this approach, you may be getting a bargain by continuing to buy when prices are down. However, you should consider your financial psychological ability to continue purchases through periods of fluctuating price levels or economic distress; dollar-cost averaging loses much of its benefit if you stop just when prices are reduced. And it can't guarantee a profit or protect against a loss.

If you can't bring yourself to invest during this period of uncertainty, try not to let the volatility derail your savings program completely. If necessary to help address your concerns, you could continue to save, but direct new savings into a cash-alternative investment until your comfort level rises. Though you might not be buying at a discount, you could be accumulating cash reserves that could be invested when you're ready. The key is not to let short-term anxiety make you forget your long-term plan.
 
A volatile market is never easy to endure, but learning from it can better prepare you and your portfolio to weather and take advantage of the market's ups and downs. For more information on these strategies, contact us. We're here to help.

Book your appointment with a Wealth Management Advisor today by calling 505-254-4363 or online at KirtlandFCU.org/Schedule.

 
All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful. Although there is no assurance that working with a financial professional will improve investment results, a professional can evaluate your objectives and available resources and help you consider appropriate long-term financial strategies. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings (and assets converted to a Roth), Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement, and the distribution must take place after age 59½ (with some exceptions). Under current tax law, if all conditions are met, the account will incur no further income tax liability for the rest of the owner's lifetime or for the lifetime of the owner's heirs, regardless of how much growth the account experiences.

Investments

The longest bull market in history lasted almost 11 years before coronavirus fears and the realities of a seriously disrupted U.S. economy brought it to an end. 

If you are losing sleep over volatility driven by a cascade of disheartening news, it may help to remember that the stock market is historically cyclical. There have been 10 bear markets (prior to this one) since 1950, and the market has recovered eventually every time. 

Bear markets are typically defined as declines of 20% or more from the most recent high, and bull markets are increases of 20% or more from the bear market low. But there is no official declaration, so in some cases there are different interpretations regarding when these cycles begin and end. 
  
On average, bull markets lasted longer (1,955 days) than bear markets (431 days) over this period, and the average bull market advance (172.0%) was greater than the average bear market decline (-34.2%).
 
Bear Market Since 1950 Calendar Days to Bottom U.S. Stock Market Decline (S&P 500 Index)
August 1956 to October 1957 444 -21.5%
December 1961 to June 1962 196 -28.0%
February 1966 to October 1966 240 -22.2%
November 1968 to May 1970 543 -36.1%
January 1973 to October 1974 630 -48.2%
November 1980 to August 1982 622 -27.1%
August 1987 to December 1987 101 -33.5%
July 1990 to October 1990 87 -19.9%*
March 2000 to October 2002 929 -49.1%
October 2007 to March 2009 517 -56.8%
*The intraday low marked a decline of -20.2%, so this cycle is often considered a bear market.

The bottom line is that neither the ups nor the downs last forever, even if they feel as though they will. During the worst downturns, there were short-term rallies and buying opportunities. And in some cases, people have profited over time by investing carefully just when things seemed bleakest. 

If you're reconsidering your current investment strategy, a volatile market is probably the worst time to turn your portfolio inside out. Dramatic price swings can magnify the impact of a wholesale restructuring if the timing of that move is a little off. A well-thought-out asset allocation and diversification strategy is still the fundamental basis of good investment planning. Changes in your portfolio don't necessarily need to happen all at once. Try not to let fear derail your long-term goals. 
  
No matter where the market goes, the team at Kirtland Financial Services is here for you, delivering the support and financial guidance you need.

Book your appointment with a Wealth Management Advisor today by calling 505-254-4363 or online at KirtlandFCU.org/Schedule

 
The return and principal value of stocks fluctuate with changes in market conditions. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Asset allocation and diversification are methods used to help manage investment risk; they do not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged group of securities that is considered to be representative of the U.S. stock market in general. The performance of an unmanaged index is not indicative of the performance of any specific investment. Individuals cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Actual results will vary. Source: Yahoo! Finance, 2020 (data for the period 6/13/1949 to 3/12/2020) The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax planning or legal advice. We suggest that you consult with a qualified tax or legal advisor. LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

Investments

During this time, it may be somewhat comforting to remember that you are not alone. Everyone is wondering what the immediate future holds for the impact of the COVID-19 virus. Everyone else has the same fears and anxiety that you are feeling right now.

When it comes to your investments, all you can really control is how you react. Sticking to sound, fundamental investing principles and staying the course will help you make it through this difficult time. Here are some practical tips for surviving market volatility in the face of what may seem like an extraordinary crisis right now.

Avoid Hitting the Panic Button
During this time, it’s very tempting (and very normal) to think about getting out of the stock market. Especially on March 16, when the S&P 500 suffered its worst decline since the 1987 stock market crash (also known as Black Monday). But selling solely because the stock market has suffered a big decline over a very short period of time may be the worst thing you can do.

It’s understandable if you’re struggling to keep fear in perspective right now. Over time, however, the stock market has historically risen despite economic woes, terrorism, the burst of the housing bubble in 2008 and countless other calamities. Investors should try to always separate their emotions from the investment decision-making process. What seems like a massive global catastrophe one day may likely become a distant memory a few years down the road. After all, when was the last time you thought about Black Monday (if you are even old enough to remember it)? Or the Great Recession?

Keep a Long Term Perspective
For many people, a retirement account such as an IRA may be their largest investment asset. And that’s probably the one you are most concerned about right now. Keep in mind that if you are investing for a long-term goal such as retirement, which may not begin for two or three decades — and could last two or three decades — you should have plenty of time to ride out this current market downturn. The same may be true with regard to some intermediate-term financial goals you may have, such as saving to buy a home, start a family or fund a college education.


Maintain a Diversified Portfolio
Having a percentage of your portfolio spread among stocks, bonds, and cash assets is the core principle of diversification. Doing so helps manage your risk because historically not all parts of the market move in the same direction at the same time. Losses in one asset category (such as stocks) may be mitigated by gains in another (such as bonds and cash)1 .

Consider This a Great Buying Opportunity
Experienced investors often view bear markets as great buying opportunities because the valuations of good companies get hammered down due to circumstances beyond their control — such as what is happening now with the airlines, hotels, oil companies and many other industries and sectors. If you’re looking to put some extra cash you may have to work, this may be a good time to consider value stocks and stock funds.

Keep on Dollar Cost Averaging
The principle of dollar cost averaging means you simply commit to investing the same dollar amount on a regular basis. When the price of shares in a stock or investment portfolio drops (like it is now) — you’re actually buying more shares. Conversely, when the price goes up, you’ll be buying fewer shares. Over the long term, this provides you with an opportunity to actually lower your average cost per share2 . If you haven’t already, setting up an automatic savings program for your IRA (versus making one annual contribution) or other investments may make sense.

Be Real About Your Tolerance For Risk
When you started saving for retirement or other financial goals, you went through the process of assessing your comfort level with risk and made investment decisions accordingly. However, you probably never thought your risk tolerance would be tested like it is right now. If you are literally not able to sleep at night right now due to all the market volatility, that’s probably the most reliable sign that you may need to consider a larger allocation to more conservative investments. However…make sure you consider the next and final tip before you do anything!

Think, Reflect, Sleep on it….and Consider Talking to a Financial Professional
If you are strongly considering making changes to your investments, do so in a thoughtful way and after careful consideration. And if you haven’t already, consider talking with your Wealth Management Advisor at Kirtland Financial Services. We are here to give you the perspective and guidance you need to help weather this storm. Don’t hesitate to call us today at 505-254-4363 or learn more at Kirtland Financial Services.

 
1. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
2. Dollar cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuation in price levels of such securities. An investor should consider their ability to continue purchasing through fluctuating price levels. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in declining markets.

This material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC.

Investments Savings Retirement
Investing is risky! Right?

You have many options for investing your money, each with a different potential for risk and return. Many options offer the potential for higher returns but pose a risk to your principal balance. Other investing options, such as the Market-Linked Certificate of Deposit (CD), offer an alternative path for potentially growing your money.

Kirtland Financial Services can help you invest in several different ways—now including Market-Linked CDs.

A market-linked CD offers the same type of security for your principal investment as a traditional certificate of deposit but with the potential to earn more than investing in a traditional bank CD.

WHO MIGHT CONSIDER A MARKET-LINKED CD?
  • Anyone who has suffered market losses in the past and is hesitant to risk principal again.
  • Anyone who wants to grow their money beyond the constraints of traditional savings methods.
  • Retirees and others who are in risk-averse situations.

ARE MARKET-LINKED CDs INSURED?
Yes, Market-Linked CDs carry federal deposit insurance administered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and are backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government up to a maximum amount for all deposits held in the same legal capacity per depository institution. In general, the FDIC feature guarantees principal of, and any accrued interest on, the Market-Linked CDs up to $250,000 if held to maturity.

ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?
Market-Linked CDs are highly versatile instruments that may fit a variety of market outlooks and may hedge a variety of existing positions.

They also offer an estate feature known as a “death put” or “survivor’s option”—a benefit that may be appealing to investors concerned about their estate because their beneficiaries may be able to redeem the Market-Linked CD at par, without interest, before maturity upon death or adjudication of incompetence, subject to the terms and limitations of the issuer.

The Wealth Management Advisors at Kirtland Financial Services are ready to discuss the ins and outs of Market-Linked CDs as a possible investment option as part of your overall financial strategy.

Let the team at Kirtland Financial Services help you focus your goals and make an investment plan that’s right for you and your situation.

Make your appointment now!

 
Principal protection is the return of an investor’s initial principal amount if held to maturity. MLCDs should be purchased with the intention of holding until maturity. Some MLCDs may offer an early redemption opportunity, allowing holders the option to redeem prior to maturity. Generally, MLCDs held to maturity are entitled to full return of the principal amount invested. A secondary market for the MLCDs may develop, although there is no guarantee that any person will maintain a secondary market. The value of the MLCD sold prior to maturity in the secondary market will be subject to the prevailing marketing conditions and may include a transaction charge. The sale proceeds may be less or more than the original purchase amount paid. Market-Linked CDs are FDIC insured up to the FDIC limits. Any amount that exceeds the FDIC limits is subject to the credit and claims paying ability of the issuer. 

Subject to particular offering documentation. Participation in any underlying or linked product is subject to certain caps and restrictions. There is no guarantee of return above principal.

Return of principal is subject to the credit risk of the issuer.

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