- Know you net worth.
- Craft a retirement plan.
- Get a second opinion.
- Tackle your debts without worrying.
The Ides of March is famously known as the fateful day that the great roman leader Julius Caesar was assassinated by his power-hungry rivals. And this Day, the 15th of March, has since become linked with prophecies of doom.
Superstitious or not, we’re all wary of events with the potential to negatively affect our world, the markets, and our own financial well-being. And today my question is — do The Ides of March reflect just historical doom, or could markets be doomed on this treacherous day too? With the eyes of a historian, I decided to find out…
Ides of March in History
March 15th, 1493: Christopher Columbus returns to Spain from his first voyage to the New World. The seeds of the infamous triangle trade are planted, positioning the global economy for mass expansion.
March 15th, 1820: Maine territory inhabitants vote to separate from Massachusetts, making Maine the 23rd State of the Union.
March 15th, 1917: Czar Nicholas II of Russia abdicates his throne, ending a 304-year-old royal dynasty and ushering in communist Bolshevik rule. The Soviet Union takes form, an entity that will crucially affect the global economy throughout the coming century.
March 15th, 1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson introduces the Equal Voting Rights Act in front of a joint session of Congress, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting.
March 15th, 1985: Symbolics.com becomes the first registered domain name on the Internet. The world wide web will grow to spark economic events from the “.com” bust of the early 2000’s to today’s booming Silicon Valley.
March 15th, 1990: Mikhail Gorbachev is elected as first president of the Soviet Union.
March 15th, 1999: Pluto becomes a planet, though it would lose this prestigious title years later. More importantly, the S&P 500 closed above 1,300 for the first time and the next day the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 10,000 points for the first time.
March 15th, 2011: Syrian Civil War begins, having serious implications for global energy prices and internationally trading oil-producing countries in the Middle East.
Notice a pattern? I didn’t think so. The analysis shows that there is no disastrous trend throughout history on the Ides of March, and the same goes for markets on this day.
Ides of March and the Markets
No matter your suspicions or predictions, speculating what the market will do isn’t a good strategy. Even the pros struggle to find success doing so, shown by the fact that 86% of investment managers failed to beat the market in 2014. Instead of trying to speculate around doomsday scenarios, a better investment approach is a long-term one. Make a plan, and stick with it.
How do you get started, you ask? Try these 5 steps:
1. Know Your Net Worth
First things first: do you know where do you stand financially? Your net worth is the most important indicator of your financial well being, and it’s not just something you can eyeball. Net worth is a dynamic value rooted in your assets and liabilities. From your salary to mortgage to student loans, knowing what you have and what you owe is the first step to a solid financial plan. Personal Capital’s Net Worth tool can help you determine your net worth for free — just take 5-10 minutes to link your financial accounts and voila, net worth instantly calculated!
2. Calculate Your Tax Return (Or Your Tax Bill)
Tax day is in 1 month… If you haven’t already, now is the time to gather your tax forms and figure out if you’ll be getting a return, or how much money you need to set aside for any money you owe. And don’t forget to do your research on deductions you’re eligible for. From foreign tax credits to child care credits, there are plenty of credits out there that can save you money.
3. Spring Clean Your Portfolio
From tidying up your past investments to drafting a plan for the future, take a moment to clean up your finances:
Roll over your 401(k)’s: Switched jobs over the past few years? Odds are you’re sitting on several 401(k)’s, which is not nearly as effective as consolidating them. The best way to mobilize your accumulated savings, while protecting them from harsh fees, is an IRA rollover. By transferring these funds into an independent retirement account, you protect them from being taxed as income and are now able to reap the benefits of much greater accumulations over a long-term time horizon.
Check your fees: If you’re paying an investment professional to manage your finances or you manage your retirement within a 401(k), keep a check on the fees that you’re paying. You could be paying hidden fees that cover trading and other variable costs. Not sure how to find your fees? Try this simple tool, the Fee Analyzer, to see yours.
Make a retirement plan: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Take your retirement seriously by making a plan that evaluates your current income, long-term financial goals, how much money you’d like to spend each year in retirement, and what age you want to retire at. You can use this Retirement Planner to make a quick forecast of how prepared you’ll be for retirement based on your current spending rate, savings, and other plans.
4) Ask For A Second Opinion On Your Portfolio
Figuring out how to plan for a family, buy a home, or get ready for retirement can be confusing when you’re not a financial professional. And even worse, you don’t want to be one of 86% of American adults that aren’t sure how much money they need to save for retirement. If you’re ready for a second opinion on your family’s financial plan, take advantage of a free consultation with one of our advisors, who will help you get on track to reaching your financial goals.
5) Tackle Your Debts
Debt is no joke when you’re trying to save for retirement, buy a home, or help your child through college. The average American household holds almost $16,000 in credit card debt alone. Factor in mortgages, auto loans, and student loans, and you’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars of debt within a household. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by different types of debt, the first step is to prioritize. Start by ensuring that you make your minimum payments each month. Then move on to paying off your higher interest loans and consider refinancing if it makes sense for your situation. Check out this article for help on the details here.
So, what have we learned? The Ides of March is just another regular day. And whatever the day of year, instead of speculating when disaster will strike, make a long-term financial plan that you can stick with. Get your net worth, tax return, portfolio, and debts in order in celebration of the Ides of March, and you’ll be on track to a more stable financial future in no time.