Question:

Do you suggest a post like ours invest in the stock market with any surplus monies we might have? Interest rates in banks are so low, and some stocks are paying 5.5 percent and more. – Burton-Koppang

Answer:

We tend to steer towards the conservative when it comes to this type of question. While you are correct, there are some stocks with very attractive dividend yields, they do not come without some real downside risk. You only have to go back to 2008 to see a market in which large U.S. stocks tumbled over 35 percent. As of the end of January the total return of the U.S. stock market over the last 10 years was slightly negative. Now we are not all doom and gloom, nor do we think individual investors should dump their entire stock portfolio. However, stocks remain a long-term proposition and as you act as a caretaker of the post’s “excess” funds you need to make prudent decisions. If the money is truly long-term, and will not be needed in the next 5-10 years then maybe stocks could be a part of the portfolio, but otherwise we would counsel a more conservative approach.