For most of the people most of the time, a 50% to 60% asset allocation to stocks is commonly recommended as the standard answer to how to invest money for longer-term goals. If retirement is approaching, or this just doesn’t fit your comfort level, a lower asset allocation is your answer to how to invest for 2015 and beyond – for greater peace of mind. If you would sleep better with an asset allocation of 40% or less in stocks, go for it.
The second asset class is bonds, and when held in conjunction with stocks they add balance to your portfolio and offset risk. Few individual investors have either the experience or the inclination to sort through bond issues. That’s why professionally managed bond funds are the average investor’s answer to where to invest for 2015 and beyond. With today’s high bond prices (due to recent record-low interest rates) you’ll want to be careful here in terms of exactly where and how to invest money.
The answer to how to invest money here: avoid the temptation of higher dividends offered by high-yield (junk) and long-term bond funds. Junk funds pay more due to the low quality of bond issues held and the risk associated with default (of interest payments and/or principal). But the real risk for 2015 and beyond is interest rate risk, and long-term bond funds are high risk in that department; and are definitely not where to invest money in bond funds at this time. Your best bet for risk vs. dividend income: go with medium to high quality, intermediate-term bond funds for 2015, 2016 and beyond.
For many years now the financial industry has suggested an asset allocation of about 40% or so in bonds as a rule of thumb for how to investment money for longer-term goals. As we look down the road to 2015, 2016 and beyond keep in mind that there is a bond market and it works much like the stock market. Bond prices and bond fund values fluctuate and usually less so than stock prices and stock fund values. If interest rates rise significantly, bonds and bond funds will lose money. Long-term bond funds will be hardest hit. That’s the way bonds work, and why it is crucial that you know how to invest money in them for 2015 and beyond.
If high bond prices and an asset allocation of 40% don’t fit your comfort level, go with a lower asset allocation to bond funds. Now the question is how to invest the rest of your money if your asset allocation to stocks plus bonds adds up to less than 100%. The third asset class is often referred to as just “cash”, or safe liquid investments. As to where to invest for safety and easy access to your money consider a money market fund. As interest rates rise money market fund dividends automatically follow suit. Plus, you can easily move money from fund to fund within your fund family.
If you are more adventuresome consider adding the fourth asset class, called alternative investments, to your asset allocation. These are your alternatives for how to invest money to make higher returns in 2015 if the stock market tanks. Examples include: real estate, gold, and natural resources like oil. The good news is that there are specialty stock funds that specialize in these sectors, so that’s where to invest to keep things simple. While stocks and bonds have become pricy, both gold and oil have dropped in price. If either starts to look cheap, that could spell opportunity in 2015, 2016 or beyond.