Stocks traded lower for much of the session but made a late day comeback Friday, ending the week in positive territory as Wall Street got ready for earnings season to kick into high gear next week.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 28 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 19 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) was higher by 2 points.
Wells Fargo (WFC) was the first big bank to come out with its second quarter earnings. Profits were in line with expectations and revenue topped them. But the stock fell half a percent. For the year, though, it has roughly doubled the growth of the S&P 500, gaining 14 percent.
Cigarette maker Lorillard (LO) confirmed it was in talks to be bought by Reynolds American. The stock was one of the top gainers on the day, rallying 4.5 percent.
Amazon (AMZN) also posted some strong gains up 5.5 percent after unveiling new products for its cloud services. Elsewhere in tech, eBay (EBAY) and Facebook (FB) both gained more than 2 percent, and Twitter (TWTR) was up more than 1 percent.
In the retail industry, Gap (GPS), which also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic, slid more than half a percent after revealing that its sales fell 2 percent in June. American Apparel (APP), which seems to be in the news every day now, gained 14.5 percent and is trading above $1 a share for the first time since February. The rally was caused by news a hedge fund is injecting $25 million into the company.
Mortgage insurers traded on the downside. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has proposed higher capital requirements for them. MGIC Investment (MTG) said its assets wouldn't meet the proposed requirements, and the stock plummeted 9.5 percent. Another insurer, Radian Group (RDN), fell more than 5 percent.
Industrial supplier Fastenal Co. (FAST) fell more than 4 percent on weak margins even though earnings grew 8 percent in the last quarter.
And finally, Family Dollar Store (FDO) continued its slide, dropping another 3 percent a day after releasing its earnings.
-Produced by Karina Huber.
What to Watch Monday:
Citigroup (C) releases quarterly financial results before U.S. markets open in New York.
How I Tuned Up My Finances in 9 Simple Steps
After Market: Late Afternoon Rally Saves Wall Street's Week
Before launching into review our finances, I kicked off with the same Money Organizer Workbook I have my readers or clients use when reviewing their finances. It broke down steps for me to conquer and review one at a time, and allowed me to see the areas I needed to focus on and where I was good to go.
Creating a plan around your finances without having clearly defined goals in akin to getting into the car to drive somewhere without a destination in mind. There's no room for vagueness. My husband and I had to sit down and determine what we're trying to accomplish (aside from just surviving the change wave that is hitting us). We got detailed and created actionable SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely). So, instead of merely saying we'll vacation in Europe, we're now "saving $5,000 for a vacation to Europe next summer."
We all know we're supposed to spend less than we make, but are we? Building a budget is the most important part of getting financially organized. You can't create a plan to meet your goals without knowing where your money is going. Start tracking your spending by paying attention to fixed expenses, debt payments and discretionary (or what I call "fun times") expenses. Pinpoint the areas that are prime for reductions if necessary. In our house, we're willing to cut back on dining out in order to build up our travel fund.
Have you added to or reduced debt since the year began? When it comes to tackling debt, either go after accounts with the highest interest rates first (meaning extra money goes towards this balance only) or use the "snowball" method (targeting lowest balances for payoff first) to build momentum. I have clients and readers use the debt spreadsheet in the Money Organizer Workbook to document creditors, outstanding balances, terms, interest rates and minimum monthly payments and prioritize from there. While we make an effort to pay off our credit cards in full each month, knowing the balances we carry in other debt helps us to understand how much mortgage we can afford when we make the move into a house later this year.
If you didn't start on Jan. 1, there are still six months left to maximize retirement plan contributions. The max contribution for Roth and IRA accounts in 2014 is $5,500 -- $916.67 a month, for the next six months.
The max contribution for your Roth and regular 401(k)s is $17,500. That's $2,916.67 a month for the next six months.
If you haven't been paying attention to your investments, now is the time to check in on allocations and adjust or rebalance to align with your intended strategy. With the market on the move upwards, I took the chance to look at our accounts and the original intended allocation for our funds. With the growth in the market, some funds were out of balance with their intended targets, so I sold and purchased and rebalanced back to target allocations.
You may think "it won't happen to you," but in reality, it could and it might. Having the right kinds of insurance in place for home, auto, life, disability and personal liability is incredibly important. It's even more important to update these numbers as your income fluctuates, your family grows, your career changes, you make large purchases or acquire debt. Many of these numbers are being revamped this month in our household due to my husband's transition to a new job and the adjustments to benefits that we have and need.
Thinking about your death or possible disability is by no means sexy, but it's important. Having the tough conversations and creating documentation for your wishes is a gift of peace of mind for your family. (It's also a good time to tell your spouse who he or she can and can't date if you're no longer around). This is a conversation that my husband and I had a while ago during a road trip, and we have documentation in place, but with family planning on the horizon, it has recently brought up some new questions that we needed to address.
Schedule a check-in for six months from now to track the progress you've made on goals and to review the list of items you've tackled in the previous months. Celebrate your wins along the way. In our house, we have a list of the things we want to purchase (big or small) on the refrigerator. Each time our savings accounts get to a certain amount, we celebrate by allowing ourselves $100 toward one of the items we wanted to purchase. It's a small way to celebrate success and to curb impulse spending.