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All posts in Personal Finance

Accumulation is a key facet of reaching your retirement goals. However, we tend to see far less about portfolio drawdown, or decumulation—the logistics of managing a portfolio from which you’re simultaneously extracting living expenses during retirement. This can be even more complicated than accumulating assets. Read more


The Risks You Do Take Are Manageable

The good news is, even if you have to take some short-term risks you’d rather not, you can take the edge off in a number of ways. Diversification among asset classes may reduce marketwide or so-called systematic risk. In 2008, the bond market held up just fine even though stocks uniformly fell on their face. Holding assets that move in different directions at the same time makes for a smoother ride overall and gives you more options should you need to liquidate a portion of your holdings for some reason. Read more


There is no question that risk carries a negative connotation for investors. But the simple fact about risk is that it’s ever-present. There is more to risk than market volatility, and trying to avoid risk is like trying to avoid the oxygen in the room. You might think you’re avoiding it by sticking with safer investments, such as bonds. But when you make moves like this, you’re usually just swapping one kind of risk for another. In this case, you may have reduced short-term volatility risk, but you likely increased long-term shortfall risk: With a heavy emphasis on lower-yielding “safe” investments, your portfolio may not grow enough to meet your retirement needs or overcome inflation over the long term. Read more


Fund-flow data can be a useful for analyzing where investor money is going and how fund-flow trends are correlated with asset-class performance. Between 1994 and 2001, equity flows were higher than bond flows, but all that changed after the dot-com crash when investors started losing confidence in stocks. Read more


Accumulation is a key facet of reaching your retirement goals. However, we tend to see far less about portfolio drawdown, or decumulation—the logistics of managing a portfolio from which you’re simultaneously extracting living expenses during retirement, which can be even more complicated. Read more


Of course, holding a higher equity weighting also means higher short-term volatility, but that may be an acceptable trade-off when considering the bigger risk of running out of money prematurely. Read more


OK, folks, here’s what we’re asking you to do. First, save as much money as you can while you’re working, despite ongoing expenses. Next, figure out how to invest the money and, once you’ve gained critical mass on your savings, determine if it’s going to be enough. Is it any wonder so many pre-retirees are overwhelmed by retirement planning? Read more


Looking at where investor money is going may provide useful insight into what’s happening in a financial market. The image below illustrates annual flows for U.S. open-end mutual funds, divided by category: U.S. equity funds, international equity funds, and bond funds. Read more


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