Several years ago, I flew from Connecticut to Los Angeles with a layover in Chicago. Nearing Chicago, the pilot informed us we were in a holding pattern due to a winter storm. I was stuck and could not do anything, and it lasted several hours before we finally landed.
Stocks are in a holding pattern as inflation and interest rates continue to rise, and there is no near-term catalyst for them to trade higher. Nor is there one to take them lower, an actual holding pattern. The Dow Jones is down 1.2%, while international stocks are down 0.30% over the past year. The markets remain stuck until inflation and interest rates turn lower.
Here are a few ideas to improve your portfolio since we are in a holding pattern and range bound.
- Build a financial plan. As markets meander, now is an ideal time to build your financial plan, and it will guide your steps, give you a roadmap to financial freedom, and help you form a solid foundation for your future. At our firm, our clients with financial plans were calmer and less likely to panic during last year’s market rout.
- Buy US Treasuries. If you hold a significant cash balance, buy US T-Bills. The 1-Year T-Bill yields 5.03%, better than CDs, money market funds, or savings accounts.
- Review your asset allocation. Do you have the proper asset allocation based on your goals and risk tolerance? If you ignored your investments in the past year or two, your portfolio has probably drifted from the original allocation. As a result, your assets could be too aggressive or conservative for the next move in the market. Establishing an annual rebalancing program will solve this problem.
- Buy dividend-paying stocks or funds. Companies that pay dividends have solid balance sheets and positive cash flow. Also, they tend to raise their dividends annually, giving you a raise. For example, Pepsi has grown its dividend by 102% over the past ten years, and the stock is up 117%. The dividend was $2.27 in 2013, and it is now $4.60. If you bought Pepsi in 2013 at $77, your current yield is 6%!
- Increase your 401(k) contribution. If you’re not maxing out your 401(k) contribution, consider raising your amount by 2% to 3%. If you contribute 5%, increase it to 7%.
- Consider a Roth conversion. Your IRA account balance is likely down in value over the past couple of years which is an excellent reason to consider a Roth conversion. After you convert your IRA to a Roth and the market recovers, all your gains are tax-free. And you no longer need to take your required minimum distribution.
- Create an emergency or opportunity fund. Consider moving money from your checking account to your savings account each pay period. Most banks allow you to transfer funds automatically between accounts, and the funds in your savings account are liquid and accessible if you need them for any reason.
- Pay off debt. Regardless of your interest rate, consider paying off your debt, especially if you carry a balance on a credit card. Returns are fleeting, but expenses are forever. You can give yourself a raise by eliminating your debt.
- Give. You don’t need to wait until December to give money to charities or groups you support. People are hurting now and need help, and donating to your local food bank, non-profit, or church pays enormous dividends.
Stocks eventually recover, but it may take time. Be patient and follow your plan. In the meantime, use the current holding pattern to fortify your financial foundation.
Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. ~ Napoleon Hill
March 4, 2023
Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on your asset level.
Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor. Prices and yields are for today only and are subject to change without notice.