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Personal Finance: Build a Ladder–And Buy Some Peace of Mind

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January 24, 2023

By Chip Wagner–

Financially speaking, 2023 is going to be a bumpy ride. We anticipate volatile interest rates and high energy costs, the prospect of a recession, continuing supply chain problems, an ongoing war in Europe and (last but not least) the threat of a politically induced default on the national debt.

One silver lining: BONDS now pay their highest yield in more than a decade. This follows the worst performance on record for the bond market. That said, yields have increased dramatically in CDs. One conservative way to benefit and not to have to guess about the future direction on interest rates is to build a short maturity CD ladder with brokerage CDs which are currently paying around 4%.

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First some definitions:

  • CDs are “certificate of deposits” issued by banks.  They are FDIC insured and issued for various time periods.
  • Brokerage CDs are issued by banks and re-sold by brokerage houses but they typically bear higher interest rates and are and are FDIC insured.
  • A CD  ladder is a portfolio of individual CDs that mature on different dates (e.g. 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, etc,), helping investors average out their interest rate bets and avoid guessing about the direction of interest and trying to time the market.

The advantage of investing in a Brokerage CD ladder of short maturities (duration) is that not only do you avoid pesky early withdrawal penalties, but when each CD matures, you also can decide whether rates are favorable enough to re-invest. If so, you lock in a favorable rate for a new term. If you decide not, you can cash out and seek better returns elsewhere.

Developing the discipline of rolling over into successive short term Brokerage CDs can help investors ride out interest rate fluctuations. Many are staying with short maturities of 6 to 24 months which, as mentioned above, are currently in the 4% range. Another advantage of Brokerage CDs is instead of compounding, interest is paid out to savers in regular intervals.

You’ll need a brokerage account to purchase Brokered CDs. If you already work with a financial advisor or financial planner you can ask them about buying brokered CDs.

Investing in a ladder of Brokered CDs will allow you take advantage of strong rates as they come up in the market instead of missing out while you guess rates are going higher and you wait for a bulleted single CD to come available.

Why build a CD Ladder?

Bonds now pay their highest yield in more than a decade. This follows the worst performance on record for the bond market. That said, yields have increased dramatically in CDs.

One conservative way to benefit and not to have to guess about the future direction on interest rates is to build a short maturity CD ladder with brokerage CDs which are currently paying around 4%.

Investing in a ladder of Brokered CDs will allow you take advantage of strong rates as they come up in the market instead of missing out while you guess rates are going higher and you wait for a bulleted single CD to come available. That should help smooth out 2023’s bumpy ride

 

Chip Wagner is a long­time member of the Rotary Club of the Tarrytown’s. Now retired after 38 years at Merrill Lynch, his new mission is to educate people to manage their finances wisely. This spring, he is teaching two classes at Westchester Com­munity College:

Living Thirty Years Without a Paycheck–Discover what you need at every stage of retirement planning starting at age 50. Come learn how you can create the retirement plan you want based on the following: defining your goals for a successful retirement; learning the basics of financial planning and what strategies will combat inflation and taxes; and how to allocate your investments. CE-FIN 2085, 2 Tues., Feb. 21-28, 6:00-8:00 pm, KNC-3, $55.

Six Concepts to Improve Your Financial LiteracyLearn six concepts to help you better manage your personal finances including budgeting, cash flow, yield, FICO scores, net worth and equity. CE-FIN 2083, 2 Tues., Apr. 11-18, 6:00-8:15 pm, KNC-3,

To find out how to register, call 914-606-6830, press #1 or email workforceandcommunity@sunywcc.edu

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