If you’re just starting out, beginning an investment program may be something that hasn’t been on your radar. You may be more concerned with how to pay for items like food and gasoline. However, if you can scrape together even a small amount of money for investment purposes, you’ll be on your way to creating a much rosier financial picture in the years to come.
Beating InflationIn addition to making for uncomfortable sleeping, stuffing your money under a mattress does little to mitigate the impact of inflation over time. Putting your money in a regular bank savings account won’t help much either because of the typically minuscule interest rates. While placing your money in investment vehicles, such as stocks and mutual funds, introduces an element of risk, you stand a much better chance of outpacing the inflation rate throughout a period of years.
Saving for Retirement
Depending solely on social security benefits as your source of retirement income probably won’t cut it unless you plan to subsist on a diet of rice and water. Unless your company offers a sizable pension plan, you will probably need to start an investment program as early as possible to ensure a comfortable retirement. IRAs offer an easy way to invest for retirement and also provide certain tax benefits. If your employer offers a 401k plan, you can benefit from the matching funds that many companies will deposit in your account on your behalf.
Putting Your Money to Work
If you have a job, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the concept of working for your money. Investing allows you to turn the tide by making your money work for you. Through the magic of compound interest, for example, your accumulated interest actually earns additional money without you having to lift a finger. Consequently, your original investment can multiply greatly over time. For example, if you invested $1,000 at an interest rate of 7 percent compounded annually, your investment would grow to $7,612.26 after 30 years.
Some investments can fulfill more than one financial purpose and serve as a valuable resource. For instance, when you purchase a home, it may appreciate in value and yield a handsome profit when you sell it. Additionally, as you make your monthly mortgage payments you build up equity, which is the amount of your ownership stake in the property. You can borrow against your accumulated equity by taking out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit to help you more immediate financial needs.
HOW TO INVEST Five Key Points to Consider Before Investing
So you and your special someone are thinking about beginning an investment program. That’s a wise move because the earlier you start investing the more time your nest egg has to grow. Invest only $250 a month for 20 years at 5 percent interest and you’ll have $102,758. Increase the rate of return to 8 percent and the total jumps to $147,255.
Before you start socking away money in an investment account do a fitness check on your finances. Your savings account should total from three to six months of living expenses before you start playing the stock market. It doesn’t make sense to invest money until you’ve paid off your credit card balances. The average credit card interest rate on new credit cards as of June 8, 2012, is 14.9 percent according to FoxBusiness.com.
Different types of investments have different levels of risk. A savings account has very little risk, but then the rate of return is low as well. Money markets are rather safe. Mutual funds spread the risk because a number of companies make up the mutual fund’s portfolio. Investing in individual companies can pay off handsomely or help you lose money. If you get butterflies at the mere thought of losing any of your investment then consider a low risk investment strategy.
Determine your goals. Sit down with each other and your favorite beverage and hash out why you want to invest, how much you plan on investing each month and what you hope your investment portfolio will total at the end of one year, two years, five years and 10 years. Consider that as your life changes your goals may change. While your current goal may be to save enough for a down payment on a home, in 15 years you may be looking at funding your kids’ college education.
All your eggs in one basket is a bad investment strategy. In other words don’t put all your money in tech stocks, gold or your cousin’s Vinny’s pizza parlor. Diversify your investment portfolio, so that if one investment tanks, the others won’t be affected. That includes any investing in your employer’s stock. If your employer goes bankrupt, not only have you lost your job, you’ve lost your investments. Consider liquidity as well as risk. Getting cash out of your money market takes place nearly instantaneously. Artwork, collectibles and antiques may take weeks to sell and depending on the market, may not yield as much as you hoped.
Time and Knowledge
Getting up to speed on what to invest in takes time and knowledge. If that doesn’t appeal to either of you, consider a financial planner or adviser. Planners are paid on a commission based on what you invest in or a flat fee based on how much time he spends with you.