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All Fall Down

Mike Zaccardi

Mike is a freelance writer for financial advisors and investment firms. He's a CFA® charterholder and Chartered Market Technician®, and has passed the coursework for the Certified Financial Planner program. Mike is also a finance instructor at the University of North Florida.

All Fall Down

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 24, 2022

THE S&P 500 JUST HAD its worst week since March 2020’s COVID-19 crash. Ironically, the decline happened as coronavirus cases were finally dropping after the December surge. Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (symbol: VOO) fell 5.7%, while Vanguard Small-Cap ETF (VB) lost 7.3%.
Returns were not as bad overseas. Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-U.S. ETF (VEU) dropped 3.1%. Coming as a surprise to some index fund investors, Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) is actually positive so far in 2022.

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Taking Their Chances

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 20, 2022

QUICK FINANCIAL scores can be thrilling. The idea of plopping down a few bucks to hit it big with a lottery ticket or the roulette wheel is alluring to many. Even folks who know the odds are stacked in favor of the house engage in these gambles.
That brings me to a recent M1 Finance survey of more than 2,000 investors. A particularly sobering stat involved alternative assets: 73% of those who described their situation as “struggling to survive financially” planned to invest in some form of alternative asset,

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Winners and Sinners

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 17, 2022

LAST WEEK SAW additional gains for value stocks, while shares of once highflying growth companies continued to struggle. Meanwhile, foreign markets again rallied. Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-U.S. ETF (symbol: VEU) rose more than 1% last week, even as Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) slipped 0.5%.
Let’s further unpack these trends.
The Nasdaq Composite has endured its worst start to a year since 2009. At the same time, blue chip stocks and some of last year’s losers are suddenly in favor.

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Call of the Wild

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 16, 2022

CRYPTOCURRENCIES have come under selling pressure over the past few months. That might have some readers thinking about buying the dip in, say, bitcoin or ethereum. Those two cryptos, the largest by market capitalization, are off more than 30% from their all-time highs.
I’ve been dabbling in digital assets, but not in the way you might imagine. I put about 3% of my portfolio into stablecoins. Stablecoins differ from the well-known cryptocurrencies we often hear about.

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Goodbye Upside

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 12, 2022

SELLING COVERED calls can sound like a winning investment strategy, especially to yield-hungry investors frustrated by today’s low interest rates. Wouldn’t you know it? There are exchange-traded funds (ETFs) designed to mimic the strategy.
For background, covered calls are a yield-enhancement play that involve selling call options against stocks that you own. The call option gives you extra income, but—during the life of the option—your gains are capped at the call option’s strike price.

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New Year New Trends

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 10, 2022

ARE LONG-SUFFERING value investors and those with a large allocation to foreign stocks finally about to get some relief? The new year has seen significant relative strength by both areas of the market. Meanwhile, after peaking in the first half of 2021, highflying small- and mid-cap growth companies continue to get hammered. Mega-cap tech shares have also lately succumbed to selling pressure.
What’s worked thus far in 2022 are the boring old large-cap blue chip names.

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Resolved: Automate

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 8, 2022

WHEN I WAS WORKING fulltime, my 401(k) and health savings account contributions were automatically pulled from my biweekly paycheck and dumped into the respective accounts. But when I left the nine-to-five world a year ago, the onus fell on me to invest the profits from my small business. I sent off money to some low-cost funds a few times during 2021, but it wasn’t as regular as it should have been.
My resolution: Make my taxable account investing more automated this year.

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No Comparison

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 5, 2022

TARGET-DATE FUNDS from Vanguard Group are, I believe, fantastic products. My first investment was a $3,000 purchase of Vanguard Target Date 2045 Fund (symbol: VTIVX) in late December 2005, shortly after I turned age 18. That was also my first Roth IRA contribution.
A target-date fund is an off-the-shelf globally diversified portfolio that automatically becomes more conservative over time. You don’t have to do any fiddling with the allocation, such as rebalancing or adjusting down your portfolio’s risk level.

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The Year That Was

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 2, 2022

DECEMBER WAS a month to remember for the stock market. The S&P 500 returned 4.5%, while small caps were up a slightly weaker 3.4%. Foreign stocks rallied 3.7%, but emerging markets continued to lag, eking out a 1.5% return.
It was a stellar year for the bulls. The U.S. stock market posted a 25.7% return, as measured by Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (symbol: VTI). Vanguard Small-Cap ETF (VB) started the year hot, handily beating large-company stocks,

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Check the Price

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 29, 2021

YOU MIGHT ASK, “What makes an exchange-traded fund the best?” While it’s hard to say for sure which are the right funds to own, it’s often easy to spot a fund that should be tossed to the curb.
Take the iShares suite of exchange-traded index funds (ETFs). Did you know iShares offers two nearly identical emerging markets funds, iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (symbol: EEM) and iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG)? The only material difference is what you pay.

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Whither Crypto?

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 26, 2021

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, cryptocurrencies have had a raucous 2021. From bitcoin and ether’s fast start in January, to the rise of dogecoin in April and then the shiba-inu October shenanigans, folks owning seemingly any digital currency likely experienced big gains if they were owners since early 2021.
What if folks got in later in the year? Despite being all over the financial press and having inked all sorts of sponsorship deals—including the naming rights to what was once the Staples Center in Los Angeles—total crypto market cap today is pretty much unchanged from the peaks reached in May and September,

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Eyeing the Aisles

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 22, 2021

ALDI IS A POPULAR grocery store chain with a cult-like following in some parts of the country. This family-owned business is based in Germany but currently expanding in the U.S. I always knew that frugal shoppers loved Aldi.
Still, I was surprised to learn just how inexpensive the company’s products are. According to a recent Bank of America Global Research study of the Nashville area, Walmart has the cheapest prices among conventional, mass and specialty grocers,

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Will Bulls Cheer?

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 19, 2021

THE HOLIDAYS MARK a festive period for stock market bulls. The final two weeks of the year and the first several trading sessions of January have historically seen unusually strong gains for the S&P 500 stocks, according to research from Bank of America. Since 1928, the final 10 trading days of December have averaged gains of 1.19% and the first 10 sessions of January have returned 0.72%.
Why has the S&P 500 performed well during this stretch?

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Giving Experiences

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 16, 2021

GIFT CARDS ARE BIG business. More than $28 billion is expected to be spent on gift cards this holiday season, with an average value of almost $50 per card, according to the National Retail Federation’s winter holidays report. This season, consumers want gift cards above all else, says the survey, and restaurants are the most popular category.
I’ve changed my mind about gift cards. I used to think they were a ridiculous way to show appreciation.

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Heading Abroad

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 14, 2021

NATIXIS INVESTMENT Managers just released its 2022 institutional investors’ outlook. The firm surveyed 500 portfolio managers, asking their thoughts on what the next year might look like in the financial markets. The managers—who oversee $13.2 trillion of assets—were generally optimistic, but didn’t expect the recent torrid pace of stock market gains to continue.
The survey found that 35% of institutions plan to decrease exposure to U.S. stocks, allocating more to developed European and Asian markets,

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