How to Better Keep Track Of Small Expenses And Fees In New Year
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How to Better Keep Track Of Small Expenses And Fees In New Year

Neglecting day-to-day financial health is often why people struggle to achieve their savings goals—financial self-checkup can help

By Amber Burton
Mon, Jan 11, 2021 4:52amGrey Clock 3 min

In making financial goals for the new year, the approach many people tend to take is to go big. In doing so, they might be missing the small picture.

“These smaller goals become your true financial foundation, a solid base that is crucial for your financial success, especially when you start reaching and planning for the larger goals in life,” said Michaela McDonald, a financial-advice expert at Albert, a finance app.

Ms McDonald says many of her clients have asked for advice to help them achieve lofty financial objectives, but neglecting day-to-day financial health is often the reason people struggle to accomplish even half of their savings goals throughout the year.

For many, 2020 has been exhausting, so it might be tempting to write off little expenses and fees to eschew another headache. But small amounts can matter—here’s how to find and look at the tiny corners of your financial life without getting overwhelmed.

Track down your accounts

Joy Liu, a financial trainer at the Financial Gym, recommends tracking down all your accounts and debts—even the small ones.

“Sometimes, we can unintentionally have little accounts everywhere, so it might be a good indicator that you may need to streamline,” said Ms Liu.

Consolidating accounts can prevent you from being charged a maintenance fee on an account with a small amount that doesn’t meet balance requirements. Americans paid an average fee of $15.50 for not meeting the minimum amount for their interest checking accounts this year, according to Bankrate.com.

Tracking down small debts is crucial to your financial well-being as well. Ms Liu says the best way to do that is by pulling a full credit report to see if you have any unpaid debts. To order a free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com. Federal law allows one free credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion a year.

“From there, it’s just opening that stack of unopened mail to track down the other stuff,” she said.

Check on interest

A popular way to save on a bit of interest is to take advantage of 0% offers for a new credit card or balance transfer. These promotions often require a transfer fee, then for a set number of months interest won’t be charged.

If you have taken out any 0% offers on a credit card on another type of loan in the last 12 months, even for a small amount, pay attention when those promotional periods end. There might also be an annual fee for the cards you didn’t have to pay when you initially signed up.

“Make sure you have a plan to either have it paid off by that time or maybe do a balance transfer without being charged interest unintentionally,” said Ms Liu.

Mind the freebies

Perform an audit of your subscriptions, especially the ones which will increase in price in the new year. Some of the most pernicious monthly charges are from apps and free-trials that people forget to cancel or pause.

These charges can quickly add up monthly and prevent people from making headway on their financial goals.

Pay attention to small spends

Tracking small expenses can be time-intensive. There is the traditional way of printing out your credit card statements and highlighting all small expenses under a certain threshold, but it might be easier to let a money app or spreadsheet do the work.

Keep track of small fees as well, for banking and investment accounts. Ms McDonald encourages people to enrol in autopay for bills and other monthly expenses to avoid late fees.

Whether you are using a low-fee robo adviser or a human adviser, check in on whether the management fees or account minimums will change in the new year and whether the difference is worth comparison shopping. If you have been paying a “teaser” fee to try out a new adviser or product, evaluate the results to see if you want to stay with it.



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These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

By KEN SHREVE
Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at  ken.shreve@investors.com .