Weighing the Risks of Bond Funds

Many people invest in the bond market through funds because individual bonds can be difficult for non-professionals to analyze, and the trading prices for the small transactions typical of individual investors are often relatively high. When you invest through a fund, experienced portfolio managers make the buy and sell decisions, and your are able to take advantage of the more favorable trade prices that institutional investors enjoy.

Additionally, bond funds may hold dozens or even hundreds of different issues, reducing investors’ exposure to weakness in any one bond. Investing in bond funds rather than individual bonds can reduce risk in the fixed-income portion of your portfolio, but there still are possible pitfalls to consider. Read more about Weighing the Risks of Bond Funds

Deducting Employee Business Expenses

If you work for a business, you might incur certain expenses that are related to your job. In some cases, those expenses can be substantial. As of this writing, in late 2017, Congress is considering legislation that would eliminate miscellaneous itemized deductions, but it appears that they will be available on 2017 returns. That said, you may be able to deduct such expenses incurred last year when you file your 2017 federal income tax return.

The process of claiming this deduction for employee business expenses might not be simple. You must go through several steps, and you’ll need relevant records to substantiate the deduction if you’re challenged by the IRS. Read more about Deducting Employee Business Expenses

Investing In 2018: Dividend Stocks

As of this writing, it appears that 2018 may be a difficult year for investors who seek relatively safe investments. Yields on bonds, bank accounts, money market funds, and other savings vehicles are extremely low, with questionable prospects for substantial increases. In essence, relatively low-risk places to put your money this year appear to offer scant returns.

Stock market indexes, on the other hand, are at or near record levels. But equity markets have been rising since early 2009, so the chance of a pullback in the broader stock market may be just as great as the possibility of solid gains.

Given this environment, where might investors go for opportunities for respectable returns with some protection against a steep decline? One possibility is in dividend paying stocks. Read more about Investing In 2018: Dividend Stocks

Small Companies Need Plans for Natural Disasters

From East Coast to West Coast, hurricanes and wild fires recently created huge losses of lives, property, and emotional wellbeing. In the middle of the United States, crippling natural disasters can range from blizzards to river flooding to tornadoes. News reports naturally focus on homes and families, but local businesses also are among the victims.

There may be little a small company can do when it’s in the path of record winds or a wall of flames. However, there are steps a business owner can take when things are calm to reduce the impact of catastrophic conditions in the future. Read more about Small Companies Need Plans for Natural Disasters