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Today I have a guest post from Bob Wheeler over at The Money Nerve. If you’ve read my latest post series, Steps To Financial Freedom, then you’ll know that I only touched on investing. This post is about giving you a high-level overview of some types of investments that you can start with. Investing 101 With Bob Wheeler!
-My Strategic Dollar
You have made changes in your financial plan and have begun to lower your debt. You have a 25% debt ration to your pre-tax salary and have even socked away six months of living expenses into savings for a rainy day. Now you are wondering if you are ready to invest. Before you start diving into investments, let’s look a few ways to be smart with your money.
What is investing? Investing is actually pretty simple; you are essentially putting your money to work for you so that you don’t have to take a second job or work overtime hours to increase your earning potential. There are many different ways to make an investment, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds or real estate, and they don’t always require a large sum of money to start.
Learn the terminology of investing. Many of the larger investment companies provide a wealth of content to teach beginners the language of investing and share information about the multiple businesses you can invest in, and the various methods to build your nest egg. TIME=MONEY Therefore, the earlier you begin saving and investing, the higher returns you will see compared investing the same amount of money 20 years later. Money creates money and your lump sum will increase exponentially – if you nurture it and let it grow over time. It is tempting to skim the profit off the initial investment, but you will significantly reduce your total gains with that choice.
I was given some sound advice when I was younger, “Don’t invest money that you can’t afford to lose.” Anytime you put your money where outside influences can create an environment where massive gains can be made; you must also be aware that it can result in substantial losses. More volatility can create huge wins, and that “lucky break syndrome” is addictive to many of us. Hence the warning: this is “extra money” that you want to grow without putting your current lifestyle in jeopardy. If a stock loss means you can’t pay your bills, you need to adjust your investment strategy!
Be smart, do some homework. I like to advise people ready to invest in the stock market to select high-value blue-chip companies that pay dividends. Invest in value and don’t treat it as a quick sale. It is a stable place to park your money, and over time the value will continue to grow, building your wealth.
Another option for entering the stock market is to purchase Exchange Traded Funds, also called EFTs. Investing in EFTs is similar to buying stocks, but you are placing your money into funds that track indexes like the NASDAQ-100 Index, S&P 500, Dow Jones, etc. By purchasing a fund that has many stocks in a particular index, you are not trying to “beat the market” you are taking advantage of being “in the market” with a broader range of stocks being traded for a more consistent result. One of the benefits of ETFs is having the broad array of a diversified portfolio with the ease of buying and selling a single stock. You don’t have to wait for the market to close to make changes. As you get more savvy in following the market or electing to make bolder choices, you can purchase ETF shares on margin, short sell shares, or hold for the long term. You can make trades in the stock market as an individual or you can use a stockbroker; each has advantages and disadvantages; just explore your options.
If the stock market is too much of a gamble or too virtual for your budget, then real estate is another option for investing. It is a fact that the world’s population continues to increase, but there will never be more land. You can begin by investing in land or property. If you live in an area that is having significant growth, look for some land nearby that will grow in value as the area expands.
A rental house might be a solid choice; many people do not have the money to buy a home and need to rent. For this reason, owning property can be another option for investing in a tangible asset. If you have saved a substantial amount of money, pay cash for the house, and the monthly rent will pay for the real estate over time. Or place a down payment on a small home and collect a rent that is higher than the mortgage.
Owning smaller property builds your equity without sizable risk because you own the property, make a small amount of profit each month, and can sell this asset if needed. Be sure to open a savings account to cover any expenses such as new appliances or repairs. It is best to keep the cash flow from real estate separate from your personal cash flow. Separate accounts make it easier to track the money flow and calculate the real return (ROI) on your money. As the property is paid off, you can continue to receive residual income or purchase another piece of property.
There are so many options to build your wealth and these are just a few choices to explore as a new investor. Think about your ultimate goal, what you want the money to provide for you and when you might need to use your money, as you grow older. Seek out the good advice of successful financiers. One of my favorites, a brilliant investor is Warren Buffet, and he famously shares his motto:
“Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.”
Explore. Experience. Achieve.
Bob Wheeler is a certified CPA with more than 25 years experience, CEO of The Comedy Store, an LA-based landmark and author of the book, The Money Nerve: Navigating the Emotions of Money. Learn more about his simple concept of creating a life of proactive abundance at http://www.themoneynerve.com