fundamentals of investing

Most individual investors immediately look at an investments past returns when determining which investment to select. Too many people skip the important step of understanding the fundamentals of investing, including diversification and asset allocation. My wife and I personally have three retirement investment plans (401a, 401k, IRA) with contributions spread across different classes of mutual funds: aggressive funds and corporate bond funds; we have international equity and international bond funds; we even have a fixed rate fund. I utilize an advisory service offered by the 401(a) provider to keep me in check for my diversification, which is set at 70% equity (stock funds) and 30% bond/cash. I also track my investments on a monthly basis (along with a net worth chart) using Excel. For those that don’t know where to start, this is probably the first step — develop your own retirement chart listing your investments, their share price (or net asset value/NAV), and the amount as of a certain date. This information is even more important once you retire.

How do you track your investments? Do you even look at your statements? And better yet, how did you determine which investments to make? I personally use sources such as Morningstar, Money magazine, Kiplinger’s personal finance magazine, and Marketwatch.com, plus I meet with a financial advisor once a year.

 #2

How have the needs for life insurance changed with the increasing number of two-income households? Remarried households? What are the implications for these changes when considering the need for income replacement and funds to replace household services? (Participation in this part of the discussion question is required.)

Please share scenarios from friends or relatives describing the financial impact of death when the household had either adequate or inadequate life insurance coverage. What were the implications for the financial situation or lifestyle? (Participation in this part of the discussion question is voluntary because some students may not have an example to relate.)

 #3

“My husband is 53, and I am 13 years younger. During our 20-year marriage, I have been in and out of the workforce, raising children, and getting my education. Now, I plan to return to full-time employment. I am essentially just getting my career under was as my husband approaches the completion of his. None of the retirement seminars address the issue that not all husbands and wives are the same age, nor do they retire at the same time.”

What unique problems do couples with a wide age gap face as they plan for retirement? What are some solutions to the situation? What should be the investment strategy?

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