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Ponderings For the Week of May 10 to 16, 2021

Unexciting Week

Technology stocks underperformed last week as Wall Street posted mixed results. For the third week in a row, value stocks as a group outperformed the previously hot growth stocks. While fear of the near future of the markets is hardly widespread, recent market action has reflected an inclination to seek safer harbors within the equity sector.

First quarter corporate earnings season is almost over. While in more normal times, we could expect such data to affect stock prices, the latest batch has had little impact due to the difficulty drawing conclusions from such an uncertain corporate operating climate.

Economic reports for the week were largely uninspiring. While the week started with concerns that the economy is overheating, a shocking report later in the week suggested that it was not growing as fast as expected. While the consensus opinion was that a million jobs were added in April, the Labor Department reported that only a quarter of that amount was added and the unemployment rate ticked up slightly.

401(k) and 403(b) Plan Advisory

Don’t let your retirement plans from former employers suffer from benign neglect. Many people simply leave their money in a former employer’s plan when it’s almost always preferable to roll it over to an IRA. Worse, the money in the former plan may not even be monitored, so the plan holdings may be the same as they were years ago.

It’s better to roll the money over to an IRA because there will be more and better choices available in the IRA. Most workplace retirement savings plans have limited choices. Even when there are many choices in the plan, it’s often difficult to change the investments. Monitoring and changing investments in an IRA, on the other hand, are usually much easier. Many financial companies have a very extensive array of available mutual funds as well as exchange-traded funds. Some to consider are Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, Charles Schwab, and Vanguard. Rolling the money over is easy once you have an IRA account. Simply request the paperwork from the administrator of your former plan to arrange a tax-free rollover.


Smart Money Tips

  • Continue your education, whatever your age. If you’re still a member of the working cohort, one of the best investments you can make is to obtain more education and training in your chosen line of work. Maintaining top-notch skills is doubly important amidst what is likely to be the onslaught of artificial intelligence and disruptive innovation in many professions. Those who have topnotch and up-to-date skills in their line of work are most likely to thrive in the new work environment. Your career is the key to your future financial security. If you think a career change makes sense, enroll in programs that will get you up to speed in your next career. If you are retired, check out the many continuing education programs available in your community or elsewhere. At last, you can learn about subjects that you had always wanted to better understand.    
  • Don’t let too much money languish in low yield accounts. Whether on purpose or through neglect, many people are letting too much money sit in bank accounts or money market accounts that are paying little or no interest. That may have been okay a decade ago when savings were earning about 5%, but not now. While everyone needs to keep some money safe to pay looming bills or meet unexpected expenses, invest any excess savings to give them a chance to grow. Otherwise, this money will continue to lose purchasing power.   

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