Every crisis is an opportunity. The huge turmoil in the financial markets so far this year is no exception. Here are three things that any middle-class American can do with their 401 (k), IRA or other retirement plans right now to take advantage of what is happening.
Reading: Do not panic about your 401 (k)
- Make a Roth conversion.
Individual retirement accounts, simple IRS-approved retirement accounts, are available in two types: Traditional IRA, where you receive a tax break at the time you make the contribution, and Roth IRA, where you receive your tax deduction at finally, when you make the withdrawal. You can convert a traditional IRA to a Roth at any time by submitting a simple form to your financial company. You will owe income tax on the amount converted by April 15 of the following year. There is a long, arduous and controversial debate about what is best and when. I do not go into that here. However, if you want to convert a traditional IRA to Roth, this is a great time to do so. This is because when you make a conversion you will owe income taxes on the value at the time of the conversion. The lower the current value, the lower your tax bill.
There is some good news hidden in this broad-based discount sale: Almost everything has fallen. So, if you entered the year to own, say, very large stocks in the US, such as the S&P 500, and very little in smaller companies, foreign stocks, real estate and bonds, this is your lucky moment. You can do a do-over for free or at least quite cheaply: Almost everything (except commodities and energy reserves) is down.
It’s not perfect, of course, because things have fallen by different amounts. However, among the major stock indices is the S&P 500 SPY,
has fallen 21%, while the internationally developed VEA markets,
have a 19% discount and VWO in emerging markets,
15%. The small US capitalization as measured by the S&P 600 IJR,
reduced by 19%. International and emerging VX small capitalization,
by 22%. Regular AGG bonds,
have fallen 13% in price, inflation-protected TIP bonds,
12%. And while the very long-term bonds of the public ZROZ,
inflation-protected long-term LTPZ bonds fell by 33%,
reduced by 27%. VNQ real estate investment trusts,
reduced by 24%. Even boring FUTY utilities,
reduced by 9%.
Reading: Retirees on the margins of inflation and stock volatility can take these 5 steps
3. Make an investment for your children or grandchildren.
The easiest way to take advantage of this collapse? Go to a stock exchange or bank, open an investment account for any minor children or grandchildren, and deposit just $ 1,000 into their account at some low-cost index funds. Just iShares Equal Weight USA EUSA,
and Vanguard FTSE All World ex-US VEU,
cover the universe, for less than 0.1% per year. Long-term stock returns were averaging 5% per year above inflation. Based on these numbers, a $ 1,000 gift today would be worth about $ 11,000 in 50 years and $ 18,000 in 60 years, measured in today’s purchasing power parity.