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Dollar-cost averaging—the practice of purchasing securities at fixed intervals and in equal amounts over time rather than in one lump sum—has long been used as a way to avoid jumping into the market at the wrong time. Read more

It is certain that, after a series of fast-paced increases that peaked in late 2013, the rate of home price increases is moderating. As of November, the Case-Shiller Index is showing that home prices are growing at 4.3% year-over-year, which is a much slower rate compared to nearly a 14% pace reported in 2013. The prices recovered about 82% of the previous high, and 14 states are currently either above or close to the previous 2006 peak. Nonetheless, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, and a few other states still remain 20% or more below the peak, and it will certainly take many years for those prices to return to their pre-recession level. On the positive side, slower-growing prices are good news for prospective buyers and for the health of the housing market in general, as they should improve housing affordability, providing an essential boost to this so far anemic housing recovery. Read more

Some investors make the mistake of treating a mutual fund’s share price the way they would a stock’s share price, but they’re actually quite different. When considering two mutual funds of comparable quality, choosing the one with the cheapest share price may not be the best way to go. Read more

But before you do anything, consider the following for some perspective. Let’s go back in time to May 2013, when interest-rate concerns also were running high because of fears that the Fed would soon begin tapering its bond-buying stimulus program. Rates climbed throughout the summer, and for the year the Barclays Aggregate Bond Index, a proxy for the U.S. investment-grade bond market, lost 2% of its value. By comparison, funds in the Age 13–18 Low Equity category actually gained 1.62% (the category includes conservatively invested age-based portfolios designed for 529 beneficiaries between the ages of 13 and 18 and currently averages a 66% allocation to bonds and a 10% allocation to stocks, according to Morningstar data). Not great, but hardly the disaster some had feared amid a rising-rate environment. Read more

Bond investors have been worried about a rise in interest rates for years now, pretty much ever since the Fed lowered rates in response to the 2008–09 financial crisis. Any rise in rates hurts the value of existing bonds (on the contrary, a drop in rates helps it), and rates have been hovering near historic lows for quite a while. Read more

The formerly unimportant job openings report has taken on a new significance since U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen has included this metric in a list of labor market reports that she is watching closely. And this relatively new report is now sending a message that we really haven’t seen before. Job growth isn’t much better than it has been in the past three or four years, while the number of openings per person employed is now at its best level since 2001 and way above year-ago levels. Read more

There is a clear connection between educational attainment and unemployment rate. As expected, the people with the highest rate of unemployment are the people without even a high school degree. The unemployment rate for this group is almost triple that of college graduates. In general, the more education you have, the better off you are. Read more

Q: Under current law, at what age can you begin receiving Social Security benefits?

A: The earliest age at which you can begin receiving Social Security benefits is 62. However, you will receive a reduced benefit if you retire before your full retirement age.

Q: What are some big mistakes that people make concerning their retirement? Read more

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. Read more

Deciding what to do with your 401(k) balance when you leave a job does not have to be difficult. It is something that almost everyone will have to do at some point. The best approach is to look at the various options, understand the differences, and figure out how your decision will impact your ability to save for retirement. In general, here are the options available: 1. Keep your savings in your previous employer’s 401(k) plan (typically allowed if you have a balance of $5,000 or more); 2. Transfer your savings to your new employer’s 401(k) plan; 3. Transfer your savings to a Rollover IRA; 4. Take a cash distribution. Read more