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TheStreet Open House

10 Bad Investment Ideas You Need to Rethink

3. Use Home equity to pay down debt.
Similarly, those who tout using a home equity line to pay off other debt may have a seemingly sound rationale: that the rates on these loans are almost certain to be more favorable than credit card terms, for example, and there are tax deductions to claim.

So why is it potentially bad advice? To start with, the largest debt you are likely to have is your mortgage, and any move that makes it more likely that you will carry that burden into retirement is ill advised. There is also a limit on the equity you can leverage with your house -- a figure dropping along with home values. It may be wiser to keep that line of credit available for emergencies, home repairs or unexpected needs.

Worst of all, not shredding those credit cards means that you only shifted debt, not eliminated it.

"They will just rack up more and they will have double debt," Lyazidi says. "The other consideration with a home equity line of credit is a variable rate. Yes, rates are low now, but a few years ago rates were high. You should always go with the fixed rate that is not going to change."

4. Index (or actively managed) funds are the only way to go.
Both index funds and the actively managed variety have their champions and critics. It is a feud in investment circles that will persist as long as there are fund managers.

When building a portfolio and retirement savings, keep in mind your own cash needs and projections. Work with a professional to truly understand your risk tolerance.

Then, with those factors well understood, choose the approach -- possibly a combination -- that best suits your goals, not the cheerleaders backing their chosen "team."

5. You are doomed, doomed I tell ya.
On a constant basis, we get press release pitches and studies focused on the same general theme: No one has enough saved for retirement and crisis looms for individuals and society.

True enough that many, many people are well behind the eight ball when it comes to securing their future finances. But pessimism can lead to paralysis, and the drumbeat of disaster can lead people to just give up. In fact, it is almost never too late to start saving for retirement, and you are never too old to take the steps needed to maximize the time horizon you have.

Curtis DeYoung, founder and president of American Pension Services in Riverton, Utah, says large brokerages have a lot to gain by encouraging investors to save more, but the "run for the hills" talk can backfire.

"You've got about $5 billion a week going into these retirement plans," he says. "That's a whole lot of money. That's why nearly every financial institution commercial only touts the value of their retirement plan product. All of the brokerage houses are all trying to get your retirement savings."

The result, building upon recession-era fears, is that people can stop being actively involved with their plan.

"I do seminars all over the United States where clients say, 'I don't know how much is in my old retirement plan' or 'I don't even open my statements, they just go down.' They are so disconnected from their own money. 'If it is going to keep losing money, I will stop contributing to it and therefore I don't need to open the statement, because what's there is what's there.'"

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