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RFM Financial Solutions, LLC

Archive for March, 2014

A bear market might be good news for young investors looking to buy stocks on the cheap, but budget-priced stocks are thin gruel for retirees and pre-retirees who are relying on their portfolios to fund living expenses. A deep and protracted down market, such as the one we encountered in 2008 through early 2009, carries some takeaways for retired investors or those looking to retire within the next few years.

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As trade barriers continue to break down, the world economy has become a small neighborhood. Should investors seek to participate in this wave of globalization, or are they getting all they need here at home?

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International funds have received a lot of attention in recent years, and this should come as no surprise. For starters, it has become increasingly common for investors to build multi-fund international portfolios rather than rely on individual foreign offerings for all their overseas exposure. Further, international funds have posted exceptional gains in recent years (except in 2008 and 2011). This may sound good if a significant part of your portfolio is devoted to international funds, but be sure the popularity and performance of overseas offerings hasn’t made you complacent.

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Dividend-paying stocks have enjoyed a renaissance during the past several years. Despite the high-profile blowups of many financial stocks, dividend payers generally outperformed non-dividend payers during the financial crisis. Further burnishing dividend payers’ appeal is the currently benign tax treatment of dividends: Those in the 25% tax bracket and above pay taxes at a 15% rate on qualified dividends, while those in the 10% and 15% tax brackets pay no taxes at all on such dividends. That’s a big attraction, but investors need to do their research before embracing dividend payers for their taxable accounts. Here are some dos and don’ts.

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Income is important to consider when choosing an investment. Especially important for investors approaching retirement, income can add meaningfully to one’s total return, which comprises income and price return (capital appreciation). Investors can pursue income returns in many ways including bonds, real estate investment trusts, and stocks.

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