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Don't Drop the Retirement Ball

Juggling may be entertaining, but the average person may not have the concentration to keep the balls in the air. Yet half of Americans in their prime savings years juggle their retirement money in three or more accounts, according to Fidelity Investments estimates. Whether they are 401(k)s from previous jobs or forgotten IRAs, these multiple accounts can burden investors with several statements and potentially more account fees. Most importantly, scattered accounts may make it more difficult to keep a diversified investing strategy on track. "It's natural to think that multiple accounts may automatically diversify a portfolio, but that's not necessarily true," says Cynthia Egan of Fidelity. "In fact, managing a mix of stocks, bonds and cash across numerous accounts can be confusing and may make it harder to detect risks to your portfolio." For example, some investors unknowingly hold the same security in several accounts, which could result in a big hit to the portfolio if that stock price falls. Identifying how much is "too much" is simple with one view of all your retirement money. Merging multiple accounts into a single Rollover IRA can make it easier to manage your savings, allowing you to easily review your holdings and quickly make adjustments. Here are three more tips to help simplify your portfolio:

1. Find them all. Even if you have to spread your statements across the kitchen table, identify all of your accounts that can be consolidated, including forgotten IRAs and old 401(k)s.

2. Mix it up. We've all heard that while diversification doesn't ensure a profit or guarantee against loss, an age-appropriate mix of stocks, bonds and cash is the key to potentially better long-term performance. Make it easy with a lifecycle fund that is automatically rebalanced by a professional as your target retirement date approaches.

3. Keep it moving. Just like your regular trip to the dentist for a preventive checkup, be sure to review your portfolio annually to make sure your overall retirement strategy stays on track. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you manage your retirement savings. At the end of the day, however, consolidating retirement accounts into a single IRA account can help you more easily evaluate your retirement assets, develop a more thoughtful retirement strategy and monitor your investments to build your portfolio - making it easier to keep your eye on the retirement ball.


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