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By Bruce Mushial

Summer is here and you are going on vacation. Your neighbors will watch your house. Your brother is taking you to the airport. The dog is going to the kennel. But what are you going to do with your stocks while you're on vacation? If you're a day trader you probably sell everything at the close of each trading day so there's no problem. But, if you're like most investors, there is at least a portion of your portfolio you are holding long-term. What precautions can you take with your stocks before you go on vacation? You could sell everything, but the tax consequences could be horrendous. You could do nothing and take your chances, but the losses could be significant. Here are a few ways to help your stocks perform well while you're away. You can place trailing stops. By placing stop sell orders 5 percent below current stock prices the stocks will be sold if the market declines 5 percent or more while you are away. What percentage you choose is up to the individual investor. Keep the tax consequences in mind or you may prematurely sell a stock held for 11 months when it would have been better to hold it 12 months and pay the long term capital gains tax rather than the higher tax on a short term gain. Another option is to ask a friend or relative to watch your stocks while you're away. When we go away we frequently ask neighbors or a relative to pick-up our mail and feed our pet. Why not have them keep an eye on our stocks. You can return the favor when they go on vacation. Leave a cell phone number or pager number with them so they can let you know if things get crazy. You don't need to tell them how much of each stock you own or the value of each holding, just the names and symbols of your major stocks. Another way to keep track of your stocks is to update your cell phone or pager. Many of the newest cell phones and alphanumeric pagers offer comprehensive quote and market information. If you don't have one of these newer units, maybe it is time to replace your current phone or pager before your next trip. Another method is to simply stay in touch using your brokerage firm's 800 numbers. Most full-service and even discount brokers have 800 number services from every state. You can call customer service or use an automated touch-tone service to check stock quotes, account balances, and even place trades. Make sure the 800 numbers you take with you are good in the places you will be traveling. Some 800 numbers are only good inside or outside your home state and some can only be dialed from certain states. Call customer service and get the right numbers. If you are traveling to Hawaii, Alaska, or Canada make sure you have the numbers that work in these areas. These phone numbers are likely going to be different from the regular 800 numbers used in the contiguous 48 states. You could always just pick up a Wall Street Journal at your hotel, but this information is going to be at least a day old. Happy vacation.

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