Bond Frequently Asked Questions

 

Bond Frequently Asked Questions

 Learn more about bonds and bond funds by reviewing common questions that many have asked about bonds…

 

Q: What can I do to position myself for successful bond investing?

A: It is important that you “have all your bases covered” prior to starting on your bond investing or any investing as it is important that you have reduced or eliminated your debt to an acceptable level, you have a properly funded emergency fund (or you are working toward that goal), you understand credit—and you have looked at your finances in a comprehensive way.

By doing the above you put yourself in position for lasting success and you make your bond investing (or any investing) more likely to succeed—and even if you are unsuccessful your living conditions won’t be adversely affected.

 

Q: What is a bond?

A: a bond is a debt instrument used by corporations (and government entities) to help fund their growth.  Bonds are issued in increments of $1,000 and are sold at either a discount (below $1,000) or at a premium (above $1,000) and yield and yield to maturity is used to determine rates of return.

Interest rate movement will play a large factor in determining the actual yield or yield to maturity.  Bonds come in all durations with short, intermediate, and long-term available on the markets.

Governments also issue bonds (i.e. series EE and Series I) directly to individuals as well and they also issue municipal bonds  and treasuries among others.

 

Q: What is a bond fund?

A: a bond fund is a collection of bonds and can be mixed in any number of ways such as corporate and government, long-term only, short, intermediate and long-term, national and international and many other ways that a bond fund manager sees fit to create.

 

Q: What is the difference among corporate, municipal, government, international, series EE, series I and junk bonds?

 

  • Corporate bonds are a debt security issued by a corporation and sold to investors. The backing for the bond is usually the payment ability of the company, which is typically money to be earned from future operations. In some cases, the company’s physical assets may be used as collateral for bonds.

 

  • Municipal bonds (or “munis” for short) are debt securities issued by states, cities, counties and other governmental entities to fund day-to-day obligations and to finance capital projects such as building schools, highways or sewer systems etcetera. Generally, the interest on municipal bonds is exempt from federal income tax, however some municipalities issue both taxable and non-taxable munis.   Pension funds and foreign investors normally don’t get the tax break.

 

  • Government bonds are a debt security issued by a government to support government spending. Before investing in government bonds, investors need to assess several risks associated with the country, such as country risk, political risk, inflation risk and interest rate risk, although the government usually has low credit risk. Federal government bonds in the United States include savings bonds, Treasury bonds and Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS).

 

  • International bonds are a debt investment that is issued in a country by a non-domestic entity.  International bonds are issued in your country but are purchased outside of the country in which you reside and are purchased in your  country’s currency.  They pay interest at specific intervals, and pay the principal amount back to the bond’s buyer (you) at maturity in the same manner as domestic bonds.

 

  • Series EE bonds are a “non-marketable”, interest-bearing U.S. government savings bond that is guaranteed to at least double in value over the initial term of the bond, typically 20 years. Most Series EE bonds have a total interest-paying life that extends beyond the original maturity date, up to 30 years from issuance.

 

  • Series I bonds are a non-marketable, interest-bearing U.S. government savings bond that earns a combined: 1) fixed interest rate; and. 2) variable inflation rate (adjusted semiannually).  Series I bonds are meant to give investors a return plus protection on their purchasing power.  Series EE and I bonds are considered “non-marketable” savings bonds meaning they can’t be bought and sold in the marketplace.  The can be redeemed at many banks and financial institutions.

 

  • Junk bonds are a fixed-income instrument that refers to a high-yield or non-investment grade bond. Junk bonds carry a credit rating of BB or lower by Standard & Poor’s (S&P), or Ba or below by Moody’s Investors Service. Junk bonds are so called because of their higher default risk in relation to investment-grade bonds.

 

They do well when the economy is growing rapidly and stocks are rising.

 

Q: What are bond rating agencies and how do they operate?

A: There are a number of bond rating agencies and they include Weiss, S & P’s, Moody’s, Fitch and several others and they rate corporations, cities, counties, states and national government’s based on their ability or perceived ability to repay their debt.

In a sense it is based on the financial strength that they bring forward based on their past, present and projected ability to repay their debt obligations.

  

Q: What is the bond rating of the United States?

A: With the United States being the strongest economy in the world in the minds of many it is a big surprise for many when they learn that the United States does not have the highest bond rating.

The United States was recently downgraded from AAA to AA by Moody’s and Standard & Poors (several credit rating agencies around the world have downgraded their credit ratings of the U.S. federal government, including Standard & Poor’s (S&P) which reduced the country’s rating from AAA (outstanding) to AA+ (excellent) on August 5, 2011.

 

Q: If the interest rate rises what will happen to bond prices?

A: The bond price “will fall” as there is an inverse relationship (opposite relationship) to bond prices–meaning if interest rates fall bond prices will rise.

 

Q: What is YTM or Yield to Maturity and how do I determine what my YTM is prior to purchasing a bond?

A: Yield to Maturity takes into consideration the interest (coupon payments) during the period of bond ownership up until the bond is sold at its maturity date—thus YTM.

Yield on the other hand only includes the coupon payments that you will receive on an annual basis.

You can possibly get the YTM or projected YTM from your broker or other published financial publications.

 

Q: What is duration as it relates to bonds?

A: Duration is a measure of a bonds interest rate sensitivity.  You can use a bonds duration to make a better decision as to whether the bond will rise or fall based on interest rate movement.

 

Q: How are bonds taxed?

A: Many are taxed depending on whether they are inside or outside of a retirement account and the taxation is based on the interest received during the year.

If they are inside of your retirement account they may avoid taxation until withdrawals or retirement distributions begin to occur.  Some bonds (depends on the type) are taxed on an annual basis and some are taxed at maturity and those that are used for certain purposes may avoid taxation altogether.

 

Q: What is the biggest risk that I will normally face if I invest in bonds?

A: Market activity is the real key especially as it relates to rising inflation.  If inflation is stable or not moving upward much, interest rate movement will normally be stable as well and bond investments will remain a good play.

When a large number of bondholders move over to stocks for varying reasons that too can be a cause for concern.

However, rising inflation is something you must be aware of and if you are a bond owner you want to be aware of that movement so that you can countermove and limit your losses or protect your gains—in a timelier manner.

 

Q: What is bond laddering and how can I ladder my portfolio to increase my returns?

A: You can ladder your portfolio by purchasing bonds at different times and purchasing bonds with differing durations.

For example you can purchase short, intermediate and long-term bonds at differing intervals such as every 6 months, every year or every other year for a specified period of time—and that will help protect your gains or limit your losses.

 

Q: What is my number 1 concern if I decide to invest in bonds?

A: Depending on the type of bond you invest in inflation is normally the major concern as it will devalue the real worth of future interest payments and usually results in higher interest rates that will bring down the bond’s current market value.

 

Q: What is an inverted yield curve and how will it affect my bond investments?

A: It usually means the economy is slowing and moving into a recession.  Investors may forecast lower interest rates and pull money out of bonds and put into cash, stocks or mutual funds.

 

Q: How are bonds typically sold?

A: Usually in multiples of $1,000 if you purchase from a broker. Bond funds and mutual funds may offer investment of a lower amount.  Series EE and I bonds can be purchased for as little as $50.

 

Q: If a company liquidates where do I as a bondholder fall in claiming whatever cash becomes available as a result of the liquidation (bankruptcy)?

 

A: The good news is that bondholders are first in line to be paid during bankruptcy proceedings.  You would be considered a general creditor, along with employees, contractors and suppliers–stockholders would be the last in line.

 

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Cash Flow & Investing in Your Future

Learn how you can invest and build wealth more efficiently in the current economy by knowing where your money goes on a monthly basis…

 

It is important that you have a workable understanding of how your monthly cash flow will affect your future outcomes.

 

In this discussion TheWealthIncreaser.com will look at ways that you can effectively manage your cash flow in the current economy, as you age–and during your retirement years.

 

By knowing this information at this time (right now) you can more effectively plan your and your family’s future so that you can take the vacations that you desire, do more on a monthly basis with your kids and grand-kids, donate time and money to your favorite charitable organization(s), enjoy entertainment in a way that makes your life more meaningful and pursue other goals that are dear to you and your family.

 

There is nothing that you can do to change certain things in your life that may have happened to you in the past.

 

However, if you make the decision at this time to look at your finances and your future in a more intelligent, consistent and proactive manner you CAN change the outcome of your investments and live the type of retirement that you desire.

 

You Must Know Your Current Cash Flow

 

It is imperative that you at this time take a serious look at your monthly inflows and outflows of income and expenses from all sources.

 

Does your income exceed your expenses on a monthly basis or is there a shortfall? 

 

This is something that you must know so that you can build wealth and invest in your future in a way that will ensure that you will attain realistic results.

 

You must at this time define your monthly income, gather your monthly expenses and determine if you have discretionary income that you can use to save more efficiently or pursue other goals that you may have.

 

With your knowledge and understanding of just this information you will put yourself well ahead of those in the general population and you will be showing a serious intent to improve your living condition for yourself and your family.

 

You Must Know Your Cash Flow at the Various Stages in Your Life

 

Now that you have a handle on your current financial condition as it relates to your monthly cash flow, you can now plan for your future.

 

Will you make a serious commitment to know where your monthly income and expenses are at this time–or will you procrastinate?

 

You can now pay off or pay down your debt, make the decision to get more income, increase your retirement contributions, and make other adjustments based on your lifestyle and where you want to go in your future.

 

You Must Know Your Cash Flow During Your Retirement Years

 

After you have invested in your future in a way that would take you toward your retirement number you must know your income from all sources along with your monthly expenses during your retirement years.

 

Did you plan appropriately and in a manner that allows your monthly income from all sources to pay your monthly expenses for the next 20 to 30 years (your remaining life expectancy) or is it likely there will be a shortfall that would force you to continue working?

 

Will you have a substantial excess that will allow you to leave a legacy for your heirs?

 

Those and other probing type questions are what you must ask yourself and answer appropriately during this time so that you won’t have to look back in regret during your retirement time.

 

Conclusion

 

It is imperative that you have an overview of your life stages at this time so that you can invest in a wise manner at the various stages in your life.

 

It is also important that you measure the success that you achieve at the various stages in your life on your ability to pay your monthly expenses during your retirement years in a manner that allows you to do just that—and have money left over for the enjoyment of life that you desire during your retirement years.

 

Will you have the monthly income from all sources (social security, 401k, pension income, investments and other sources) that will allow you to live at a comfortable level after the payment of all of your mandatory monthly expenses?

 

If you don’t see it happening after sincerely analyzing your finances at this time—NOW is the time to alter your planning to make it happen!

 

In addition to aiming for your “retirement number” be sure to also aim for your “ability to pay your monthly bills” and have cash left over for the enjoyment of life on a monthly basis.

 

Your “retirement number” is a lofty goal, however it may not bring you the monthly income that you need to pay your expenses and live at the level that you desire during your retirement years or your remaining years on earth based on your life expectancy.

 

Be sure to look at your finances in a comprehensive manner at this time so that you will minimize or reduce any future surprise as it relates to your inflow and outflow of cash on a monthly basis.

 

If your monthly income does not look like it will cover your monthly expenses based on your analysis at this time, it is your responsibility to come up with more income or pay off or pay down your debt so that you can get your debt to a level that allows you to get the numbers on a monthly basis—as far as your income and expenses—to turn in your favor.

 

Will you need 60%, 75% or 85% of your current income to live at the level that you desire?

 

It is up to you at this time to determine the path that you will take as far as making your retirement years a more pleasurable experience as you complete your journey on planet earth.

 

Always remember that joy and confusion cannot live in the same house!  Make the decision now to see your retirement years with clarity by investing the time NOW to achieve and live the way that you desire LATER (during your retirement years).

 

Now is the time that you go after what you desire with real zest.

Now is the time that you give it your best.

 

You must at this time know–your cash flow!

You must at this time decide to pursue results that will show!

It is up to you to aim high or low!

Now is the time that you reap what you sow by planting (planning) in advance so “you” will know!

 

All the best to your cash flow and retirement success as you pursue your future with more zest…

 

Go to Calcutlator.net to calculate your current monthly cash flow number…

Go to T Rowe Price for free 30 second retirement projection calculator…

Go to Kiplinger.com for your retirement number calculator,,,

Go to 100 money saving tips that can help improve your cash flow…

Go to Net Worth & Wealth Building page on this site to learn about your Net Worth and how it relates to your Cash Flow,,,

 

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Net Worth & Wealth Building

Learn why it is imperative that you know your net worth as you pursue your wealth building efforts…

 

In the current economic environment there are many who are trying to get ahead financially.

 

Although that is a lofty goal, many have no clue or are totally unaware of where they now stand financially as it relates to their finances and particularly their net worth as they attempt to build wealth.

 

In this discussion TheWealthIncreaser.com will integrate your understanding of how you can manage your finances on a daily basis with the knowledge that you need to know that can help you  “increase of your net worth” and ultimately your wealth–so that you can live in a manner that will bring you the joy that you desire on a continuous basis!

 

It is very important that you have a real understanding of what you own (your current assets) and what you owe (your current liabilities) as that is a critical factor as you move forward in your financial life.  It is also very important that you at this time come to the full realization that your “Self Worth” is far more important than your “Net Worth” as you build wealth!

 

In simple form, theory and practice you can determine your net worth by creating a personal balance sheet so that you will know what you own and what you owe (assets minus liabilities equal net worth) and create a level of comfort or discomfort within your mind–depending on the “outcome of the number that you come up with”–as it relates to your net worth at this time.

 

However, even if the number that you come up with is not of your liking, you can change all of that by making the decision to do so and then putting an action plan in place that will take you to where you need or desire to be.

 

If your net worth is not at an acceptable level, you can take real steps that can assure that you will get your finances to an acceptable level or to the level that will make life more meaningful and enjoyable for you and your family!

 

If your net worth is at an acceptable level you can continue to make good decisions as it relates to your finances and build the type of wealth that will take you toward the net worth that you desire or toward  the net worth that will make life “more enjoyable” for you and your family.

 

You can start on a journey of improving your net worth so that you can do what you really desire to do during your lifetime by taking several important steps:

 

1)      Know how to use personal financial statements to your advantage

If you approach your finances with the creation and understanding of a personal budget or cash flow statement you can put yourself in position to make the right–or at a minimum a good decision as it relates to your financial future.

 

You also need to create a personal income statement if you desire even more clarity about where you are headed as far as your finances are concerned.  You can look at your personal income statement in the same manner as your cash flow statement—however it is on a 12 month or annual basis, whereas your cash flow statement or budget is on a monthly basis.

 

In addition, a personal balance sheet will provide you the knowledge of where you stand financially as far as your net worth is concerned.

 

The higher your net worth, the better off you are doing financially.  You can purchase Managing & Improving Your Credit & Finances for this Millennium and learn about ways that you can attack your net worth before and after you retire in ways you may have never imagined.

 

You can go to Kiplinger.com, right now to see where you now stand as far as your net worth is concerned.  Be sure you have accurate numbers as it relates to your assets and liabilities.

 

By doing so you can put yourself in better position to achieve the goals that you desire to attain during your lifetime.

 

2)      Know how to manage your credit effectively throughout your lifetime

It is important that you skillfully manage your credit affairs and you don’t let creditor’s skillfully manage you where you operate from a disadvantage.

 

Why should you operate from a vantage point of disadvantage when you can have creditor’s operate from a point of disadvantage—if you gain and utilize the right knowledge.

 

By mastering what it takes to manage your credit effectively throughout your lifetime you put yourself in position to achieve at an optimal level throughout your lifetime and at the same time put yourself in position to use credit wisely or in a manner where you come out ahead!

 

3)      Know all areas of your finances that you must address—and then address those areas appropriately

By knowing and understanding your personal financial statements, knowing how to skillfully manage your credit and having a real understanding of where you want to take your future you are now ready to look at your finances in a comprehensive manner and make moves based on that analysis that will help further increase your net worth as you build wealth.

 

By knowing all areas of your finances that you must address and acting in a positive way on that knowledge you can put yourself in position to attain many of the goals that you may have thought about—but never thought you would achieve during your lifetime.

 

At this stage you would put together written plans that would lead you toward reaching your goals in a realistic manner.

 

Conclusion:

 

By using financial statements to your advantage by reviewing your current cash flow and making improvements where needed, cutting your expenses and getting more income (if you need to do so) you are getting on a real path toward increasing your net worth.

 

However, you can’t stop there!

 

You must know what you own (your assets) and what you owe (your liabilities) so that you can readily determine your net worth.

 

Your goal on an annual basis is to always increase your net worth!

 

In reality, there may be setbacks along the way and that is why you must also properly establish an emergency fund if you have not already done so.

 

In addition,  you must manage your credit optimally and not let your credit manage you (pull you in directions that are not of “your” choosing).  You must further look at ways that you can manage your insurance, investments, taxes, education funding, estate planning/wills and retirement planning in a way that will take you toward your goals in a more effective and efficient manner.

 

It is in your best short and long term interest to know your net worth at the earliest stage possible and to make plans to improve your net worth at the earliest time possible.

 

It is your responsibility to know where you stand financially and it is your responsibility to put in place a plan that will reduce or eliminate your debt so that you can start on a serious journey to building wealth and increasing your net worth.

 

Your sincere approach to eliminating debt, increasing your income and building wealth in a manner that truly serves your best interest is a major factor in helping you get on a fast track path to making life more enjoyable for you, your loved ones—and others as you navigate through life on planet earth.

 

Always remember that the more focused you are toward improving your net worththe more mental energy you can pull up from inside your mind  that can take you toward your goals more efficiently.

 

Be sure to put your goals in writing to help clarify your intent so that you can focus your resources (financial and non-financial) on things that really matter in your life.  By doing so you will increase your net worth and build your wealth more efficiently over the coming years.

 

All the best to your new net worth success…

 

Calculate your net worth now at Kiplinger.com net worth page…

Learn how to invest in a wiser manner so that you can get the returns that you desire…

Learn why your “Self Worth” is far more important than your “Net Worth” as you build wealth…

 

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