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Battle Low Rates With Three Types of Income

Posted December 05, 2012 in Advice Column, Johnston

If you depend on fixed-income investments for at least part of your income, you probably haven’t been too happy in recent years, as interest rates have hit historic lows. Even in a low-rate environment, you can broaden the income-producing potential of your investment portfolio.

Before taking action, it’s helpful to know what the near-term direction of interest rates may look like. The Federal Reserve has stated that it plans to
keep short-term rates at their current historic lows until at least mid-2015. The Fed doesn’t control long-term rates, making them somewhat less predictable, it’s still likely that these rates will rise sooner than short-term ones.

Rather than worry about something you can’t control — interest rate movements — try to focus on those things you can accomplish. One achievable goal is to create an investment mix that includes three types of income: variable, reliable and rising.

• Variable income investments. Variable income investments, such as CDs, offer significant protection of principal, and the value of your investment won’t change with fluctuating interest rates, provided you hold your CD until
maturity.

• Reliable income investments. When you purchase reliable income investments, which can include individual bonds, you have the opportunity to earn more income today, and more consistent income over time, than you’d typically get from variable income investments. You will likely experience greater price fluctuations as interest rates change. As interest rates rise, the price of your existing bonds typically will fall.

• Rising income investments. When investing for income, you’ll want to keep at least one eye on inflation, because if the interest rates paid on your CDs and individual bonds are lower than the annual inflation rate, you may lose purchasing power. If this gap persists over time, it could grow into a real problem for you. You’ll want at least some of your investment income to come from rising income investments, such as dividend-paying stocks. Not all stocks pay dividends, but with the help of your financial advisor, you can find companies that have paid, and even increased, their dividends for many years running. Keep in mind that companies can reduce or discontinue dividends at any time. Remember that stock prices will constantly rise and fall, so the value of your principal could decline.

All three types of income-producing investments, variable, reliable and rising offer some benefits, along with some risks of which you need to be aware. Putting together a mix of these investments that’s appropriate for your individual needs, goals and risk tolerance may help you boost the productivity of the “income” portion of your portfolio — no matter what’s happening with interest rates.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor, Tim Hanstad.

Information from Edward Jones, provided by Tim Hanstad, Edward Jones financial advisor, 5525 Merle Hay Road, Suite 260, Johnston, 278-2525.





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