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The Bumpy Road to the Market’s Long-Term Average

Since 1926, the US stock market has rewarded investors with an average annual return of about 10%. But it’s important to remember that returns in any given year may be sky-high, extremely poor, or somewhere in between. Annual returns came within two percentage points of the market’s long-term average of 10% in just six of the past 94 years. Yearly returns have ranged as high as up 54% and as low as down 43%. Since 1926, annual returns have been
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History Shows That Stock Gains Can Add Up After Big Declines

Sudden market downturns can be unsettling. But historically, US equity returns following sharp downturns have, on average, been positive. A broad market index tracking data since 1926 in the US shows that stocks have tended to deliver positive returns over one-year, three-year, and five-year periods following steep declines. Cumulative returns show this to striking effect. Five years after market declines of 10%, 20%, and 30%, the compounded returns all top 50%. Viewed in annualized terms across the longest, five-year period,
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April Planning Action Items

Stuff to Do While Quarantined: Clean Up Expenses and Financial Records “When we throw out the physical clutter, we clear our minds. When we throw out the mental clutter, we clear our souls.” –Gail Blanke I get it. We’re all scared. Something is happening that we’ve never experienced before. One thing that might help is to distract yourself while doing something productive. It’s easy to get frozen by news reports and fear. See if this helps get your mind on
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What Do You Do When Markets Are Down? Build Wealth!

It never feels great to see the stock market drop, especially by a lot, and then watch as your portfolio’s value falls with it. Fear, frustration, anger, anxiety, helplessness – each is a totally understandable and even appropriate response. But all circumstances, no matter what part of life they touch, come with context. And nothing about the context surrounding current market events happens to change what you can and cannot control. At an elemental level, for instance, we have no
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Recent Market Volatility

In recent days, the increase in volatility in the stock market has resulted in renewed anxiety for many investors. While it may be difficult to remain calm during a substantial market decline, it is important to remember that volatility is a normal part of investing. Additionally, for long-term investors, reacting emotionally to volatile markets may be more detrimental to portfolio performance than the drawdown itself. Intra-Year Declines Exhibit 1 shows calendar year returns for the US stock market since 1979, as well
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A Tale of Two Decades: Lessons for Long‑Term Investors

The first decade of the 21st century, and the second one that’s drawing to a close, have reinforced for investors some timeless market lessons: Returns can vary sharply from one period to another. Holding a broadly diversified portfolio can help smooth out the swings. And focusing on known drivers of higher expected returns can increase the potential for long-term success. Having a sound strategy built on those principles—and sticking to it through good times and bad—can be a rewarding investment
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The Uncommon Average

The US stock market has delivered an average annual return of around 10% since 1926. But short-term results may vary, and in any given period stock returns can be positive, negative, or flat. When setting expectations, it’s helpful to see the range of outcomes experienced by investors historically. For example, how often have the stock market’s annual returns actually aligned with its long-term average? Exhibit 1 shows calendar year returns for the S&P 500 Index since 1926. The shaded band
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Procrastination

Procrastination. At some point or another, it plagues us all. We put off folding the laundry, returning that library book, starting to compost, and, of course, myriad tasks related to our financial lives. Whether it’s filing your taxes or upping your IRA contribution, many a financial to-do is put off until tomorrow—and there is often a price to pay for procrastinating. Sure, in some cases it’s because the task is unpleasant, but as it turns out, a more cerebral explanation
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The Index Bogeyman

Over the last several years, index funds have received increased attention from investors and the financial media. Some have even made claims that the increased usage of index funds may be distorting market prices. For many, this argument hinges on the premise that indexing reduces the efficacy of price discovery. If index funds are becoming increasingly popular and investors are “blindly” buying an index’s underlying holdings, sufficient price discovery may not be happening in the market. But should the rise
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Discipline: A Necessary Condition for Successful Investing Part 3 of 3

(Continued from Discipline: A Necessary Condition for Successful Investing Part 2 of 3) There’s another way to reduce the risk of investment depression. Myopic Loss Aversion and the Pain Ratio Nobel Prize winner in economics Richard Thaler, author of the book Misbehaving, has found that we tend to feel the pain of a loss twice as much as we feel joy from an equal­-sized gain. This tendency leads to the behavior known as “myopic loss aversion,” creating a problem for
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