Financial advisers offer tips for tough times

Business Writer

With bad financial news flooding the media, consumers can't help but get jittery.

Deciding what to do with your money is always tricky, but especially difficult in poor economic times. There are no one-size-fits-all plans you should blindly follow, other than to focus on your long-term goals rather than the day-to-day vagaries of the financial markets, experts say.

We asked two investment advisers to offer typical strategies at different age levels and marital status. Here are the suggestions of Greg Wynn of Greg Wynn Financial Services in Ormond Beach, an investment adviser with Raymond James Financial Services, and Jeff Ritchey, a financial adviser with an Edward Jones office in Deltona.

SINGLE PERSON: Wynn recommended broadly diversified, international mutual funds that invest in a mix of stocks, bonds and commodities. Ritchey suggested putting the same amount of money each month in mutual funds to take advantage of market volatility over the long term.

YOUNG MARRIED COUPLE: Ritchey recommended sticking with dollar-cost averaging in mutual funds. Wynn said these folks would need to keep some of their personal money in reserve if they plan to have children or buy a house, or take care of their children and home. Their long-term goal should be to continue investing in broadly diversified international mutual funds, Wynn said

MIDDLE-AGE COUPLE: By this stage of life, Wynn said, couples usually will have two distinct "pots of money." Retirement accounts should remain in those international mutual funds, but other money should go into safe investments such as short-term certificates of deposit or money market accounts. Ritchey advised continuing to build up mutual fund investments, contributing the same amount of money each month.

PRE-RETIREMENT BABY BOOMER: Because many people will live 25 to 30 years past their retirement, their money has to be managed with a higher percentage in safe investments, such as CDs or money markets, Wynn said. But some still should be invested in broadly diversified international mutual funds. This is not the time to put your money into narrowly defined niche funds, he said. Ritchey said now is the time for developing a strategy that takes into account your needs, goals, risk-tolerance and time frame for retirement, and making investments in a diversified portfolio with high-quality stocks or mutual funds, bonds or long-term CDs. But you also should have a six- to 12-month supply of cash or CDs readily available, he said.

RETIREE: A guaranteed income stream -- Social Security, a retirement plan or insurance annuity -- is needed to cover the fixed expenses of a retiree, Wynn said. Whatever is left over can be used for the "fun things," and should be kept in short-term CDs or money market accounts. Ritchey recommended sticking with the diversified portfolio and easily accessible cash or CDs.

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