Wendy,People cite a lot of historical statistics to predict what will happen with the stock market. Mostly they are garbage, because they don't take into account legitimate changes in accounting procedures, tax code, and so on. I'm not suggesting anyone go charging into the stock market right now, and basic economic theory suggests companies can't keep increasing profits if there is no one to buy their products, but the doom and gloom predictors have been at it forever, and the are usually wrong.What you need to get your SIL to do is basic financial planning. They need to figure out expenses, now that they have paid off mortgages (they will still have lots of home related expenses, such as taxes and maintenance), and project these forward after inflation to set their long term goals (e.g., saving for retirement). They then need to figure about how much they will be able to save every year. With expenses and savings estimates, they can then figure out about how much of a return on the savings they will need to have enough to meet expenses at different initial withdrawal rates. This allows for making sensible asset allocation plans. If they need big returns, CDs won't do the trick, unless they are really betting on the stock market crashing and getting a buying opportunity later.I would also suggest starting her off with some of the basic stuff about why most attempts to beat the stock market lose (John Bogle, Malkiel's Random Walk). If she isn't convinced, there are plenty of folks out there who will sell market beating schemes.
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