POCKETBOOK

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For the week ending March 19, 2016

  • Feeling financially well?

Lots of talk these days about financial wellness. It’s a term used in relation to retirement and how well—or stressed, ill or sick to your stomach—you feel about the money accumulated that you’re hoping will be there to use during retirement.

(I made up that part about being sick to your stomach about the success of your retirement savings plan but sure do know people who feel that way.)

Anyhow, according to a recent Fidelity focus group study of 483 individuals, one-third had never head the term “financial wellness”.

Of those interviewed, 83 percent did agree that being financially well helped them feel physically well. There’s definitely  a lot of truth to that.

Leaving the study behind, consider yourself to be financially well if you’re a solid saver, have actively and aggreesively  contributed to any number of qualified retirement plans along with personal savings accounts, married well or inherited a bundle.  If that’s you, congrats. You are clearly in the minority.

The financially unwell include those living paycheck to paycheck who have little left over to put into a retirement plan or rainy day savings piggy bank.

From where I sit– and given America’s huge income divide– the financially unwell outnumber the financially well by a large percentage.

Anyone who doesn’t see this as posing a future financial problem of avalanche proportions is wearing rose-colored financially unwell glasses.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

-Indices:

Below are year-to-date performance figures for the major indices through March 18, 2016 according to Bloomberg. To provide a longer performance perspective, 1-year returns have been added.

Dow Jones +1.72% YTD

1yr Rtn -0.35 %

-S&P 500 +0.80% YTD

1yr Rtn -0.66%

NASDAQ -3.90%YTD

1yr Rtn -3.33%

-Russell 2000 -2.72% YTD

1yr Rtn -11.75%

 

By the end of the week, both the DJIA and S&P500 had turned positive.

A closer look showed that 45 of the S&P 500 stocks had reached new 52-week highs and 2 new lows, according to Reuters. NASDAQ scored 84 new 52-week highs and 42 new lows.

 

-Mutual funds

Through Thursday, March 17, 2016 the average U.S.Diversified Equity Fund was down only 1.57 percent year-to-date, according to Lipper. That’s 2 percent better than the previous week’s performance.

Small-Cap Growth Funds were last week’s worst performing category under that heading and down on average 7.32 percent.

Precious Metals Funds continue to be the high scorer under the Sector Equity Funds heading, up over 3 percent better than the previous week, and up 45.97 percent, on average, y-t-d.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see how equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

Lipper’s weekly performance figures for stock and fixed-income funds are at www.allaboutfunds.com in the left column on the home page.

 

  • Mutual fund expense ratios

Yahoo. Mutual funds expenses, those pesky fees every fund shareholder pays for the privilege of investing into a basket of securities referred to as mutual fund, are the lowest they’ve been in 20 years.

The average expense ratio on stock funds was 0.68 percent last year, down from 0.70 percent a year before and 1.04 percent in 1996, according to TheStreet.com.

Translate that into real world dollars and cents  and, according to that same source, $1,000 invested into a stock fund with a 0.68 percent ratio means $6.80 dollars would be taken out that year to cover the fund’s expenses; $7 in the previous year; and $10.40 two decades ago.

Don’t forget, mutual fund expenses are an annual on-going cost to fund shareholders each and every year they own fund shares. That includes funds held in retirement accounts, such as IRA, ROTH, and 401k’s, and personal portfolios. Another don’t forget is a fund’s annual expense charges are not the same as a fund’s sales charge—it is a a 1-time fee.

 

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