Young or Old? A 2009 Asset Allocation Game Plan

Whether you are young or old, you need an asset allocation game plan for 2009. Here’s the next installment of age-based investment tips for 2009 from Bob Mecca, an independent and fee-only certified financial planner in Mt. Prospect and Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Ages 25 to 35 This group tends to switch jobs frequently. First, maximize 401(k) contributions. Concentrate on growth. Next, whenever a job is terminated, roll your 401(k) assets to a self directed IRA. Do not cash in to avoid costly income tax and penalties. Set up a college 529 plan for the children. Invest as little or maximum as you can but do so on a disciplined basis. Watch living expenses. Keep a budget. This bracket tends to spend more money on “wants” versus “needs” which can find them with significant credit cards. If you have big credit card balances, make a 2009 resolution to pay off quickly. Cut back on living costs and pay down the credit debt starting with the highest costing rate. Check into zero percent credit cards. Open a Home Equity Line of Credit. Review life insurance and concentrate on term which is the least expensive. Make certain all debt and unfunded college liabilities are covered at minimum. Asset allocation: 5% cash 15% income 70% growth 10% sector plays and commodities Ages 55 to 75

This bracket should not be taking unnecessary risks. As you get older, move into an asset protection mode rather than asset accumulation mode. That said, it is improper to just put your head in the sand and invest all to super-safe Treasury bonds. The yields on them are low. As inflation picks up, it is doubtful the income can keep up with inflation costs. For this bracket, consider an asset allocation of 25% liquid 30% income 45% growth Use the liquid assets for emergencies and possible resource for upcoming capital expenditures. Also obtain a home equity line of credit. Prime is 4% which is low.

The income assets should be in a combination a)ladder of CDs, b)high-quality bond mutual funds, c) individual preferred stock and d) individual high-quality corporate bonds Growth should be in a combination individual stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. The funds should be balanced between large and mid cap. International funds also are helpful.

Having perhaps 5% in commodities should be considered. Think seriously about obtaining a personalized long term care insurance policy. Form the benefits around your budget. If the estate is large, gifting makes sense. You can gift up to $13k. And helping the grandchildren with college would be nice. Open a 529 college investment program. You retain control but excluded from your estate. Have $3 million minimum umbrella policy.