Bring On ’07 Was 2006 as good as it could have been? Brian D. Brogan fills you in on how to make 2007 a successful year. BY BRIAN D. BROGAN
2007 looks a lot brighter with the proper investment
As the New Year approaches, now is a great time to look back and review. For many of you, if asked "How was your year," you may pause for a second to decide from which perspective to answer. If you welcomed a new baby into this world, your answer would probably be, "An incredible year!" If you lost your job and/or battled with physical illness, "Challenging and bad" may be your answer. It all depends on where you place your attention.
I like to take a holistic approach when taking stock of my past year, with a strong belief that even the most challenging events have a reason and purpose in my life, even if that reason is unavailable to me at the present moment. This rings so true when it comes to investing either by oneself (self-directed) or via a financial advisor.
Like life, investing success is defined not by the number of times you get knocked down, but by how many times you get up. For many of you, 2006 has had its share of excitement and fear. I use these two words specifically because I once heard that excitement is nothing more than controlled fear. This is very important to the average investor because working from controlled fear is one of the most common characteristics that great professional investors possess. The ability to have an objective and emotionally controlled perspective is the key to successful investing.
At this point you’re probably saying, "Ok Brian, that’s great, but how do I invest and what investments will give me peace-of-mind in the New Year?" So here I go!
After being professionally trained by a major brokerage firm at the start of my career to reading several hundred investment books and thousands of articles, I have gained this key to investing; this ability to have a self-awareness and objective perspective to investing in general.
You can have it too! All it takes is increasing your level of awareness to financial matters in general. If this process is taken seriously, it will lead you down a path of emotional exploration and dynamic discoveries. Translation, you will get to know yourself and your spouse better. The greater this knowledge about yourself and your spouse and how you both relate to money and investments in general, the greater the chances are for your success in your financial plan for 2007 and beyond.
One pure way to gain this knowledge is by reading the right books. But before I state the one that would help you jumpstart this process, I would like to share with you a publishing industry secret—especially about financial books. Roughly 88 percent of all people who purchase personal financial books don’t finish reading them cover-to-cover. I recommend purchasing one book at a time and reading it to completion. This should be your first financial New Year's resolution. The first book I would suggest is "Smart Couples Finish Rich" by David Bach. This is the only book I have been able to find that is easily understandable and invites couples to work together in financial education and planning.
So now that you've got new knowledge under your belt, what’s hot for 2007? Well, the international political environment for one. This will have a very strong impact on the economy—and not for the better!
What are safe bets for your money? Easy, lock in an ING Direct 12-month CD at a 5.10 percent rate with money you know you won’t need for at least 12 months. Do it today and thank me later. And while you’re at it, open an orange checking account to get close to 3 percent on your checking balance. But beware! This is for those of you who are comfortable paying their bills electronically and who use internet banking.
What were the pitfalls of 2006 and how to avoid them in 2007? One are ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages). They should be a four-letter word! Real estate experts, say they are great if you are only going to be in the house 3 to7 years. What they don’t tell you is that you have to know with good certainty what several environments will look like at those future times. I am good at timing and anticipating 6 to 9 months, but no one has a crystal ball. The cure—get a fixed mortgage. Rates are still very low for a 30-year or even a 40-year if you need your payments to be low. The equity and fix income markets will be the main focus in 2007.
The only thing in 2007 for certain is that the VIX (volatility index) will be low, and when traders are complacent and markets steadily rise, this is usually a recipe for strong violent moves in equity markets. Increase your cash position above 20 percent and wait for the opportunity. When it presents itself, use exchange traded funds (ETFs).
A fixed income market has to go higher in yields. It’s been lacking a normal yield curve for years. The cause may already be in play due to a lack of demand for our U.S. bonds from the international community, which translates into a weaker dollar. Instead of a bond fund, purchase the ETF, AGG (Lehman Aggregate Bond I-Share). If your interested in bonds but don’t know how to invest in them directly, do a search on AGG and start reading.
Good hunting in 2007!
Vice President Brian D. Brogan is a Financial Therapist and Wealth Advisor for The Brogan Group of H.G. Wellington & Co. Inc. Mr. Brogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-896-8823.