Those Free Financial Dinner Seminars May Give You Indigestion

Ever get those invitations for a free financial seminar at a restaurant? “Nothing will be sold – we only want to educate you on your financial future,” is the typical pitch. Most specify that “financial professionals may not attend.” However, I recently received one that didn’t exclude me, and decided to see what I might learn about my financial future. Here’s my experience and what you need to know. First, this wasn’t just some seminar at a local restaurant; this …

Planning for a Strong Financial Future

By Lee Baker, CFP One of my favorite things as a child was reading comic books. To be honest, if I had more free time, I would probably read them now. Like me, most of you probably remember the Charles Atlas ads in comic books and other magazines. You know the story: A bully kicks sand in a skinny kid’s face. Deciding to do something about it, the skinny kid sends for a free book from Charles Atlas that promises …

Is U.S. Stock Trading Rigged?

In his new book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt (W.W. Norton & Company, 2014), Michael Lewis, author of  Moneyball and The Big Short, says stock market trading may be rigged by so-called high frequency traders using supercomputers. During an interview about his book Sunday on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Lewis discussed the impact of high frequency trading in what’s known in the brokerage world as front-running. To explain what this is, let’s say you wanted to buy 100 shares of …

More Investors Choosing Target-Date Funds for Retirement Savings

Target-date funds are growing in popularity among investors in workplace retirement plans because they’re so easy to manage. You pick a retirement date, and the mix of investments automatically adjusts to a more conservative allocation as you move closer to that date. No muss, no fuss. If you’re not investing in a TDF, chances are you will be. A new study says that by 2018, nearly two-thirds of all 401(k) savings contributions will go into these funds. TDFs have become …

The Danger of Acting on Stock Market Headlines

Over the past five years, U.S. stocks have tripled in value. For example, the Wilshire 5000 total return index increased from 27.50 to 82.62. Yet paranoia about the market has caused many investors to miss out. The chart below shows the return an investor would have received just by owning a total U.S. stock index fund and reinvesting the dividends. A total U.S. stock index fund essentially owns every publicly held company based in the U.S. Though the chart tracks …

Stock Gains Push 401(k)s to Record Highs

Last year’s gangbuster stock market pushed 401(k) savings account balances to record highs, according to two major retirement account providers. Fidelity Investments says the average account balance at the end of last year reached $89,300, a 15.5 percent increase over the year before. For workers age 55 and older, balances averaged $165,200. Many workers roll over their 401(k) into an individual retirement account when they leave a job.  Adding up the balances of those who have both a 401(k) and …