What Investors Should Know As They Plan for 2018

As we begin 2018, it’s a key time for retail investors to start looking toward their strategy for the year. Are there places where things should stay the same, or should you switch it up to maximize your returns in the new year?

The following are some of the biggest things to know for investors as we ring in 2018.

Should You Invest in Bitcoin?

The buzz surrounding Bitcoin has been dubbed a “frenzy” by many financial experts, so is 2018 the year to invest in Bitcoin or cryptocurrency or is it a bubble just waiting to burst?

It’s hard to tell, and regardless of how well Bitcoin performs in the new year, it’s risky and full of ups and downs. In fact, based on its history, it’s not uncommon to see price drops in excess of 20%.

Investors need to be able to stomach that kind of volatility if they’re thinking about getting into Bitcoin in 2018, and they also need to be prepared to lose it all.

It’s important for investors to make sure they do their due diligence and research the other cryptocurrencies that are making headway.

One other thing to think about is what would happen if Bitcoin actually did become an international currency. If this were to happen it wouldn’t likely be in 2018, but the big downs and the accompanying ups would have to level out, and there would have to be a sense of stabilization, which could mean lower returns.

Investors should be looking at what regulators are doing regarding Bitcoin as well, as they make investment decisions.

Utilize Health Savings Accounts

Opening a Health Savings Account isn’t just about investing in your well-being. It’s a smart financial decision worth considering in 2018.

HSAs are tax-advantaged health savings account, and they’re a valuable way to manage healthcare costs, but you’re also going to see those tax-related benefits.

Learn About the New Tax Plan

With the passing of the new tax plan under President Trump, there are some key things for investors to take note of.

First, you can no longer deduct investment expenses, and as a result, it may be more favorable to go with brokerage accounts based on commissions, instead of the fee-based options that were preferable previously.

Something else to consider with the ushering in of the new tax bill are 529 plans. Under the new guidelines, parents can use up to $10,000 from a 529 savings plan per year to pay for elementary and secondary school expenses. Before the new legislation, costs related to K-12 education fell under the Coverdell savings accounts.

Finally, in terms of taxes, there are changes in capital gains rates. The long-term capital gains rates apply to certain income thresholds, and this is the biggest change here.

There are a few things that didn’t change including the FIFO rule for the sale of securities, and the maximum contributions to 401(k) plans weren’t changed either.

Looking for Deals

As the market currently stands, finding deals is incredibly tough, but it’s still possible. Some investors might think about looking for the losers in 2017 that could be potential winners in 2018.

One example of a 2017 loser that might be worth taking a look at in the new year is Allergen PLC. It experienced a 19% YTD decline, but Morgan Stanley recently took the perspective that the stock should be upgraded.

Allergen also has a tremendous portfolio of innovative products, and it’s cheap which is a rarity in the market right now.

Another cheap buy that you might think about for 2018 is Chesapeake Energy Corporation.

Finding stock market deals isn’t impossible right now, but it’s tough, and if you do find inexpensive options it can take some legwork and research to make sure the problems the company might be experiencing aren’t insurmountable.

Global Outlook

What about the rest of the world and what’s happening beyond the borders of the U.S.?

Most analysts are predicting a continuation of strong economic growth, and central banks will likely continue on their path of raising interest rates accordingly. Also likely in 2018 is more corporate capital spending, which may be one of the biggest drivers of growth not just in the U.S. but throughout the world.

It’s also important to look at what the trends are impacting Millennials are as you’re making investment and financial decisions, because they’re on the way to becoming the biggest generation in the workforce, so what they’re doing and thinking plays a big role in global economics and in the moves being made by corporations.