Seniors: Beware Of The Gift Delivery Scam A new, nasty scam targets elders, but could fool you too. A scammer calls and says their company is going to deliver a git to you. They show up in uniform and give you flowers and wine, but ask for a credit card to pay the "delivery charge" because the gift contains alcohol. If you give them a credit card (they won't take cash), they swipe and steal your card info and make a dummy card from it. They use your card until the're caught. Don't give your credit card to any unknown courier or company. It could be a trick.
Stocks: Did You Match The Market This Year? The end of 2014 is closing in rapidly and it's beginning to look like another double-digit year for the broad index of stocks known as the S&P 500.
At this writing, the index is up 10.65% year to date. If you owned it through an index fund such as the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) you also got the dividends paid out, at this point a return equal to 1.79% on top of your price gain.
If the market stays at about this level, that's comfortably over 12% on the year just for holding a single index fund. You didn't have to buy and sell. You didn't have to guess which stocks would do better or worse. All you had to do was match the market.
Yes, some individual stocks did much better. And some individual stocks did much, much worse. You might have picked the right 10 or 12 stocks — or not.
At the beginning of the year, more than a few pundits predicted a weak year for stocks, particularly after the huge run-up we saw in 2013. Many of them now call stocks "expensive" or "fully priced."
Some are projecting a lower return from stocks for years to come. And maybe they're right. All we know for sure is that if you spent 2014 sitting on cash, you absolutely missed another double-digit year and even lost a little ground due to inflation.
That's the whole point of portfolio indexing. Guessing right the direction of any given asset class is not just hard to do, it's nearly impossible. The pundits lose nothing by going on the air or taking to the Internet to predict bad times ahead or, conversely, by forecasting blue skies forever.
Rather, they only need to keep saying the same thing over and over and at some point along the way they are likely to be "proven" right by events. I could pick an NFL team as a sure playoff winner each season and, if I stuck to a single likely team, I would eventually be right, too.
More importantly, all the seasons I am wrong costs me nothing. To my friends, I'm just a fan. No big deal.
Real investors can't afford to be "fans" of a given market prognostication. If you bet wrong, you lose big. If you do nothing, your money doesn't grow at all.
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