Should Bonds still be part of your Portfolio?

Dear Mr. Market –

BondsWe are only a little over half way through this year yet you have already taken investors on a very interesting ride.  From posting impressive results through the first half of the year and then allowing volatility to enter the market through various headlines and worldwide economic news you’ve certainly kept us all on our toes.

As investors look at their portfolios and their performance results we have seen one alarming statistic over the last month and half.  In June alone individual investors took over $80 billion dollars out of their bond positions!  Investors moved out of their fixed income positions quickly due to rising interest rates and to chase the impressive returns that the equity markets have been posting.  Bonds are often treated as the ugly stepchild of investing but we find that they are typically not truly understood by the majority of investors.  Lets take a moment to get a better understanding on the basics of fixed income investing and more importantly how and why they have a place in your portfolio.

 Bonds/Fixed Income 101:

In their most basic form bonds are essentially a promise to repay money, with interest, on a certain date in the future.  Think of them as an IOU where the borrower is obligated to pay the lender (the investor) a specified amount of money at regular intervals and then to repay the principal amount at the bonds maturity date.  There are several different types of bonds available in today’s market, the following bullet points will focus on the most common ones: Continue reading

10 Ways to Save Money

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(1) Write it down! – You’ve probably heard this before but the act of simply writing down a goal considerably increases the chances of you actually accomplishing it. One of our favorite quotes is: “A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de-Saint Exupery

One major thing to remember when writing down goals is to make them concrete and specific. “Saving money” is not good enough. “Saving $10,000 for an exotic family vacation” is better…

(2) Set up your “buckets”– Regardless of the stage of life you are in it’s smart to have different accounts (or buckets as we call them) assigned for specific goals and needs. Initially everyone needs to at least start with their “emergency bucket” where at least three months living expenses is tucked away. Get a few other goal buckets lined up as well. If you’re working you’re likely to have a retirement bucket (401k, 403b etc). If you’re self-employed or own a business set up a SEP IRA or a Simple IRA. (there are plenty of choices here but you get the idea) Do you have a “vacation bucket” or an “automobile bucket” ? Get them established and then start filling them up!

(3) Tackle dumb debt Credit cards are NOT dumb or evil; not paying them off in full each and every month is.  We won’t get preachy here and to state the obvious the past few years have truly tested many Americans who had to do their best to make ends meet. What we’re pointing out here is that it makes absolutely no sense to hold a balance on a card when you have cash or other “non-performing” assets elsewhere. For example: If you have $5,000 on a card that charges you anywhere from 13% to 22% and your friendly neighborhood bank is ‘generously’ giving you 0.01% to hold your money….there is a serious disconnect. Continue reading