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Research before investing money

It might just be me, but I feel like I have been to a theme park and have been riding a roller coaster over and over again. The market’s up. The market’s down. Oil prices are up, then they’re down. Gas prices are up and then down. When does the ride stop?

Obviously the politicians and the heads of Wall Street do not know. I guess the only thing we can do is try to protect our health, wealth and families the best way we can.

Clients ask daily, “Where is our money going to be safe? Banks are being taken over by the government, insurance companies are being bailed out and brokerage firms are being taken over or failing. With the stock market up and down, we lose money one day and maybe if we’re lucky we gain some back the next day. Where do we put our money so we do not have to worry about it?”

I believe the best thing that you can do is to do your research. We already know that the current condition of the stock market is volatile, to say the least. The FDIC insures your money only up to $100,000 per person. Any investments can be risky if you do not know what you’re buying. So what else is there?

One of the things you might consider is a fixed annuity, which guarantees you a first-year interest rate and also gives you a minimum interest rate. You know what your lowest interest rate is going to be before you ever purchase the annuity. It is very important to research any annuity so that you understand what the surrender charges are and the length of the surrender period. These can vary with each annuity and each company. Also, make sure you know about stipulations for withdrawals.

Another option is life insurance. Whole life or universal life are very good options for protecting and growing your money. Whole life allows you to lock in your premiums for the rest of your life. You have a minimum guaranteed interest rate for the life of the contract and you could even get dividends if you happen to purchase a product through a mutual company. Universal life also has interest rate minimums, but gives you as the insured/owner of the policy more flexibility with the amount of money that you put into the policy.

The important thing to remember is that there are companies and products available to you that are safe places to invest your hard-earned dollars without fear of losing them. Do your research, get with your local insurance agent, or contact an investment adviser to help you make good sound, fruitful decisions. We all know eventually the roller coaster ride will stop. Things will get back to normal, whatever that might be.

Kim Cummins, the life and health specialist for Des Champs & Gregory Inc. in Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch, specializes in individual life and health, and employee benefit plans. He can be reached at (941) 748-1812 or by e-mail at kcummins@deschampsgregory.com.

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