Stocks and your future

Sure, the US stock market is volatile.

It's way up now, but where will it be when you retire?

More important, what can you do to ensure your future financial security?

Theresa Hamacher, chief investment officer at Pioneer Investments Inc., recommends these four principles:

*Be realistic. Since 1983, US stocks, represented by the S&P 500, have risen by an average of 18 percent a year. That's well above the historical average. Ms. Hamacher expects returns to likely be smaller in coming years.

*Don't take too much risk. Plan for the downside as well as the upside. Your level of risk should be consistent with your time horizon. Take more risk if you're planing for retirement, less if you're saving for a down payment on a house.

*Put as much money as you can into tax-deferred retirement plans. The more you save in taxes, the more your money can grow. Remember, these accounts are subject to withdrawal restrictions before age 59-1/2.

*Diversify your portfolio beyond the US stock market. There is money to be made out there if you can accept the additional risks associated with international investing.

Source: Pioneer Investments

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