Planner's advice: lighten stocks, allocate


Do you wonder how much money to invest in stocks, and into which categories? Lewis Altfest, financial planner, says, "Lighten up on stocks. We could be in for below-average returns, and that could send the market into a tailspin. Cut back especially on technology issues.

"My suggested allocations are: 35 percent in bonds and bond funds, 20 percent in large-cap stock funds, 20 percent in international funds, 10 percent in mid-cap funds, 8 percent in small-cap funds and 7 percent in real estate funds."

LOOKING AHEAD: "Many people now live on substandard retirement incomes because they got caught up in the 'status trap,'" says Primerica Financial Services. "To be comfortable in retirement, trade status for financial security.

"Instead of 'keeping up with the Joneses' -- fancy cars, big house, luxury vacations -- put $10,000 in an emergency fund, $10,000 in a long-term investment fund that would equal $73,280 in 20 years at a 10 percent annual return and use $10,000 to pay off existing bills."

TAX TIPS: "If you are newly self-employed, set up a tax-deferred retirement plan before year-end. Investments grow tax-deferred, a big plus. ... Regarding IRAs, Oct. 16 is the deadline for changing a 1999 IRA from traditional to Roth -- or vice-versa. Consult your tax adviser before switching." (Bottom Line)

WALL STREET WATCH: "Too many people with big-screen TVs and designer outfits say they don't have enough money to invest. Change that mindset if you want to prosper." (Black Enterprise, October)

"I can't think of many good reasons for the market to go straight up. Many investors are still nervous about the coming earnings season." (Bill Schneider, head block trader, UBS Warburg)

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