Are We Headed Toward a Bull or Bear Market?

The stock market has been on a roll over the last year. Since the winter of 2016, investors have enjoyed a delightful bull market that has seen the S&P 500 index rise by more than 25 percent.

Whenever there is a lengthy run-up like this, investors always want to know how long it can last. Are we due for a big correction or even a record-breaking crash? Or will we see the markets continue to rise?

Trying to time the market’s movement is a fool’s game, but it’s always smart to look at the various indicators that may foreshadow future performance. With the current market, there is evidence to back up both bullish and bearish predictions.

Indicators of a bull market

The good times won’t end anytime soon.

Most economic indicators are strong

For the most part, the American economy is stable. Unemployment is at its lowest point in a decade. Inflation is not out of hand. Manufacturing output is up, along with consumer confidence. There are some concerns about overall growth and productivity, but nothing that spells immediate doom for American investors at this point. Generally speaking, if the underlying foundations of the economy are sound, a sudden drop in stock prices is unlikely.

Interest rates are still historically low

We’ve seen interest rates creep up a bit, but they are still very low by historical standards. If you’re placing money in a bank account, don’t expect to receive much in the way of income. Bond yields are also very low. Thus, there’s a good chance we’ll see people continue to invest in stocks, as they have recently offered much better returns than most other options. As long as interest rates remain low, demand for stocks will be high.

Technical analysis supports it

Many analysts and financial planners prefer to examine a technical analysis of the stock market’s performance, which looks at long-term trends that have historically repeated themselves. Most observers of these trends believe we are halfway through a growth cycle that began around 2010 and will continue another five to 10 years.

Corporate earnings are…

Beware These Sneaky Fees on Discount Airfare

Discount airlines have broadened the base of those who can afford to fly. These no-frills carriers slash prices by limiting benefits and offering an a la carte airline experience. But sometimes, flying a discount airline isn’t nearly as cheap as you think.

If you’ve ever priced airfare, you’ve probably wondered why discount carriers offer lower prices and how they do it. How can Allegiant Air afford to let you fly from Cincinnati to Fort Lauderdale for $122 or less? And how can an international airline like WOW Air stay afloat when a round-trip flight from Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland costs less than $320? (See also: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards)

The answer is “unbundling,” an industry practice that’s been growing for the past decade. Back in the day, when you bought an airline ticket, you automatically got an advance seat assignment, checked bags, carry-ons, and even meals (it’s true — ask your grandparents).

Then came deregulation and rising fuel costs, and multiple airlines went bankrupt. Those that survived sought to boost profits by unbundling all those included services, meaning you had to start paying for many things that were once baked into the airfare. Airlines pitched this as a consumer benefit — why pay for checked bags if you’re just bringing a carry-on? And it is a good deal for some passengers, but it’s also a way for the airlines to make money — more than they made before unbundling.

Hidden fees on discount airlines

Discount airlines have taken the unbundling concept to the extreme, making them the most beloved airlines by some, and the most despised by others.

Not only will you be charged for checking a suitcase, you’ll also pay extra to carry on a bag too big to fit under your seat (in fact, Frontier Airline charges more for a carry-on than a checked bag). Usually, the earlier you pay for bags, the cheaper it will be. Wait until you get to the gate and you could pay as much as $100 for a carry-on.

Then there are fees for choosing a seat, which goes up the more legroom you ask for. And you’ll have to cough up extra for printing your boarding pass at the airport, for booking using a credit card, and even for water onboard (Spirit Airlines is notorious for charging $3 for water unless you need it to take medicine).

Sometimes these fees can cost as much as the fare itself. Take Allegiant Air, for example. Round-trip airfare from Cincinnati to Fort Lauderdale rang in at around $122 for random dates in May, which is downright cheap. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find the base fare includes almost nothing.

Want an assigned seat near a window or an aisle? There’s…

8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home

You think you’ve found the perfect house. But before you plunge into homeownership, you need to watch out for any warning signs this sale isn’t meant to be. Ask yourself whether any of these things apply to you. If so, buying the home of your dreams may just have to wait.

1. You can’t afford 20 percent down

The house may have everything you are looking for, but you need to make sure that the sale price isn’t beyond your means. Ideally, you want to make a down payment of at least 20 percent. This may be a substantial amount of money, but without that down payment, your lender will likely ask you to pay for private mortgage insurance — which can add hundreds of dollars a year to your homeownership costs.

Moreover, the more you can put down up front, the smaller your monthly mortgage payments will be. If you are in the market for a home but can’t hit that 20 percent mark, consider holding off on buying until you have a larger sum saved. (See also: 4 Easy Ways to Start Saving for a Down Payment on a Home)

2. Your mortgage payments would restrict your ability to save

Even if you have the ability to put 20 percent down on the house, you may find that the monthly mortgage payments are higher than you can reasonably afford. The U.S. government recommends spending no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income on housing. That means if you earn $3,000 per month before taxes, you shouldn’t spend more than $900 per month on your mortgage.

You may get approved for a loan much bigger than you expected, but don’t use this as an excuse to buy more house than you can afford. If your payments are too high, you will find it harder to live comfortably or save money for anything besides housing costs. If you have to go into additional debt in order to make house payments, then your “dream home” could become more of a financial nightmare. (See also: How to Make Ends Meet When You’re House Poor)

3. You didn’t get a favorable interest rate

There are two key things that impact how much you’ll end up paying for a house: the sale price, and the interest rate on the mortgage loan. Even if the sale price is within your predetermined budget, you may find your monthly payments to be onerous if…

House Price Forecast 2017

Buying a house can be stressful if you don’t have any idea about how the property industry works. So do your research and take advice from the experts. Ask questions like, “What type of house my family would prefer? Does the environment matter? Can I afford it?” The point is, before deciding to buy that house, understand that there are more important things to consider.

Among these things, deciding about the cost is one of the most crucial. Often, first-time…