I Feel Weird Saying This, But I Have Too Much Money

Dear Emilie: I’m panicking because I’m sitting on a pile of cash and feel paralyzed. What should I do with it? Save it for an emergency? Pay down my mortgage? Invest it? – Super Saver

Dear Super Saver: This is a good problem to have! Let’s set some priorities for using this money wisely and minimizing taxes.

First, do you have an emergency fund of readily accessible cash? Set aside three to six months of living expense in a money market fund or savings account. This is the money you can easily tap to cover living expenses if you lose your job. (more…)

A New Perspective on Risk Tolerance

When you are making an investment decision, do you intentionally weigh the potential risks and rewards?  Is weighing that balance more of a rational or emotional process for you?  In other words, do you tend to rely more on facts or on feelings?

For investors, “risk” is defined as the chance to experience loss versus the chance to experience a gain.  At one end of the risk tolerance continuum are those individuals who are averse to risk.  They focus their thinking on the “loss” part of the equation.  For them, risk is anxiety producing and a factor to be avoided.  They want to stick with the known and predictable.  In addition, those who are risk averse value financial stability above all else.  Therefore, they are willing to sacrifice higher returns to achieve that sense of guarantee. (more…)

Tune Out the Noise

There’s a reason that investors tend to only hear about “looming” market doom or “imminent” market growth. While many news outlets have incentive to draw viewer attention with wildly bullish or bearish predictions, these sensationalized views may be a distraction to a sound investment approach. When tempted to make a radical change to your investment portfolio based on these headlines, it is important to recall some basic fundamentals to keep your plan on track.

Drown out the noise. Market movements are notoriously difficult to predict. The media outlets that scream the loudest are not always the most accurate. The fallout from attempting to time the market in response to one of these predictions can be dangerous to your portfolio. (more…)

Risk, Not Volatility, Is the Real Enemy

What would you do if your investments lost 10% in a single day? A) Add more money to my account. B) Hold steady with what I’ve got. C) Yank my money; I wouldn’t be able to stand any more losses.

If investors buy the right investments but sell them at the wrong time because they can’t handle the price fluctuations, they may have been better off avoiding those investments in the first place. Most investors are poor judges of their own risk tolerance, feeling more risk-resilient in up markets and more risk-averse after market losses. However, focusing on an investor’s response to short-term losses inappropriately confuses risk and volatility. Understanding the difference between the two and focusing on the former is a potential way to make sure you reach your financial goals. (more…)

Picking Winners and Losers – It’s Anyone’s Guess


When you lay out the returns of a variety of asset classes over time it’s hard to find any meaningful patterns. The chart below shows the returns on 10 different asset classes over time and it’s quickly evident that what was the star of last year rarely shines the brightest the following year.

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Buying Your First Home

buying-first-homeHome ownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream. But before you start looking, consider a number of things.

First, look at buying a home as a lifestyle investment and only secondly as a financial investment. Over time, buying a home can be a good way to build equity. But as recent history has shown, house prices can go down as well as up. Like many other investments, real estate prices can fluctuate considerably. If you aren’t ready to settle down in one spot for a few years, you probably should defer buying a home until you are. If you are ready to take the plunge, you’ll need to determine how much you can spend and where you want to live. (more…)