After successfully slogging through years of a down economy, is now a time to make a financial move? While the answer is different for every individual, I would argue that failing to assess your current situation in light of an improved economy would be an error for most investors, homeowners and business owners. I think it's time to seriously evaluate whether or not you should put some of your money in motion.
The concept is simple. We should all be looking at our financial situation to ensure that our money is being put to the best possible use. If too much of our financial nest egg is tied up in one asset, then we are vulnerable to economic shifts. If you put your money in motion, you are seeking out the best opportunity for your money to work for you while shielding yourself from risk.
Many indicators suggest that our economy is nearing record levels, and now's an excellent time to assess a possible move.
Stock markets hit all-time highs. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index are at all-time highs. The NASDAQ Composite also reached a 10-year high and is closing-in on the all-time, "Internet bubble" high from 2000.
Housing market rides road toward recovery. While not as rosy as the stock market picture, the Case Shiller Home Price Index shows residential home prices have recovered to levels similar to 2005 - not the highs of 2006, but not the doldrums either. A few cities, like Boston and Denver, have largely recovered while high flyers from the housing boom, like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Miami, still have a long way to go to match 2006's peak. But housing prices in most of the country have been consistently rising since bottoming out two and half years ago.
Consumer confidence goes up and up. According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence in the U.S. climbed in August to the highest level in almost seven years, reinforcing signs of a strengthening outlook for the second half of 2014.
It's a great time to sell a business. Rising stock market prices give corporate buyers more options to make purchases, and low interest rates also help buyers make acquisitions. More importantly, many businesses that had dismal years in '08, '09 and '10 are now four years removed from those rough days and can show the three or four years of growth and profits that acquiring companies want to see.
What does it all mean? Today, equity investors, homeowners and business executives have options that didn't exist a few years ago to move their money into other investments or lock-in profits.
If you are heavily invested in the stock market, it is likely time to rebalance your portfolio. You may also look to other ways to diversify such as real estate or precious metals. Gold is near a five-year low, with prices off more than 60 percent from its 2011 high. If you believe in buy low and sell high, then it might be worth a look.
If most of your wealth is tied-up in your home and you plan on selling within the next few years, it would be foolish not to look at selling now. Mortgage rates remain comparatively low, which is good for potential buyers, and rising confidence is on your side. The last thing any senior wants to face is a falling real estate market when they hit retirement age. If you are interested in upgrading to a larger home, this could be a good time as well. The market hasn't completely recovered and rates are still competitive.
For business owners, this may also be a great time to consider selling. Valuations are trending in the right direction and business confidence is higher than it has been in some time. If your goal is to exit your business, this may be the time to strike.
And it's not just traditional investments that should be reviewed. Prices for life insurance, for example, have dropped in some instances, making now a good time to re-evaluate insurance coverage, its cost and your ultimate need for it. For seniors who no longer need or can no longer afford policies with escalating premiums, it may be time to consider selling the coverage with a life settlement.
So frequently, we open our investment account statement or look at comparable home sales and get this warm feeling that everything is going great. The market is up, home prices are rising and we all feel good about the business world again. For me, this says it's now a time to look at taking some profits and putting that money into motion.