It was not a kind year for investors in 2018. Stocks have fluctuated wildly, bonds have not delivered the returns we have been used to, and there is no shortage of headlines that will keep us guessing and worrying about the next “shoe” to drop. There is enough empirical evidence out there to make any case you want to about whatever direction you think things are heading. The fact is, no one knows what will happen tomorrow, let alone next month, or next year. If someone claims to know, run and don’t look back. No one can see into the future.
In lieu of that omnipresent, all-knowing scenario, stick to the basics and focus on the same things you have always focused on. If you are an investor, overweight quality. If you have debt, continue to pay it down. If you are in over your head in anything you think is not good for you long term, get out. Our team, at Marzano Capital Group, feels cautiously optimistic about the prospects of the markets, both stocks and bonds, as we begin the new year. How you prepare and position your finances is up to you.
Our advice for clients right now is to be realistic about your expectations. Do not think that just because things go up over a long period that they will continue to do so every year. A pause and/or a sideways movement, especially in stocks, is not always a bad thing. If you are young, embrace it. If you haven’t really started investing and you see shares of good companies that you like that are cheaper now than they were, consider that as an opportunity to buy.
Use this next year as a year to get things in order. If you don’t have a will and powers of attorney, get them. If you said you wanted life insurance but you haven’t applied, do it. If you are retiring soon and you are nervous about how well you have prepared, it probably means you do not have a plan in place, and you need to establish one and stick to it. Do not let the headlines and fear mongers of the news outlets paralyze you.
And finally, to paraphrase, as the intelligent author Stephen Covey once wrote, don’t spend your time focusing on the things you cannot control and start focusing your energy on the things you can. We, at Marzano Capital Group, hope that everyone has a prosperous and healthy new year. Please let us know if we can be of service to YOU!