The 7 Deadly Sins of Investing

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There are a few investing errors that many people make — mistakes that are detrimental to their overall investment strategies. Here are the Deadly Sins of Investing that you should avoid…

  1. Not taking your goals into account

Make sure that the investments in your account and their risk levels reflect what you are trying to accomplish. If retirement is 20 years away, and you have your money sitting in cash or bonds, you may not reach your goals. Conversely, if you plan to buy a house in six months, and you have that money invested in the stock market, you might lose your money and not be able to recover the loss in time to buy a home.

  1. Basing your investment strategy on someone else’s risk tolerance

You wouldn’t buy shoes based on someone else’s shoe size, would you? So why would you copy your friend’s portfolio holdings without taking into account your own goals and risk tolerance?

  1. Making too many short-term moves with your long-term money

While buying and selling stock can be fun, it should be done with money that is not intended for your long-term goals. If you are really set on short-term buying and selling, open an account that is just for “play money” and leave the rest of your “serious money” in well diversified, long-term investments.

  1. Having too much money in one investment

If your income depends on your salary from a company, make sure your investments don’t also depend too heavily on the same company. A good rule of thumb is to have no more than 20% of your investments in any one company’s stock — and ideally closer to 10% or less.

  1. Not knowing what you’re actually invested in

You don’t need to know the exact stocks in the index or mutual fund that you have, but you should have a general idea of what is in your portfolio. If you use a financial advisor to manage assets, and you have no idea what they’re doing with your money, ask him or her to break it down for you in simple terms or, graphs and charts.

  1. Basing investment decisions on the news

You can’t predict what’s going to happen in the market based on what you read in the news. It can’t tell you that the stock market is really going to tank tomorrow, and that you should sell everything and go to cash. Research shows that having a well-diversified portfolio that you leave alone is a better strategy than trying to time the market.

  1. Not saving enough

This is crucial. If you aren’t saving enough, it is going to be really hard to get to where you need to be.

For example, say you make $60,000 a year. If you save 10%, or $500 a month, for the next 30 years, with an average 9% return, you’d have around $900,000 to work with come retirement. If you saved 15% and made the same return for the same time period, you’d end up with around $1.34 million. That’s a big difference!

So make a plan to bump up your savings. You don’t have to go from saving 5% of your income to 15% instantly. You can set up automatic increases of 1% every 6 months until you get there.

Investment Tip for 2017

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2017’s global economic outlook is, as we can all see, filled with uncertain events. A few of them are: President Trump abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the broadly anticipated rate hike by the Fed and Britain’s withdrawal plans from the European Union.

In times like this, it is only human to feel anxiety and fear. But as American businessman and stock investor Peter Lynch says about investing, “Your ultimate success or failure will depend on your ability to ignore the worries of the world long enough to allow your investments to succeed.”

So here’s a tip for you in 2017 – Remember that time is your friend.

A big part of making money grow is to take advantage of time. People in their 20s or 30s might shy away from investing these days, but they are actually the most suited to own riskier investments like stocks.

That’s because young people have lots of time to recover from market setbacks. A ride up is followed by a ride down, and the ride down inevitably is followed by a climb back to high ground. The longer your time horizon, the less market risk is a factor.

Your ultimate success or failure will depend on your ability to ignore the worries of the world long enough to allow your investments to succeed.

So if you’re waiting for significant signs of market stability or for the market to hit low ground before you start investing, that could be very costly. The longer you wait to invest, the more growth you miss.

Instead of trying to time the market, letting your money “spend time” IN the market is the secret sauce that allows your wealth to multiply, due to the long-term effect of compound interest.

A Trump Presidency: Stay True to This Old Adage

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American voters have chosen to bring big change to the White House. But resist doing the same with your long-term investments, they will be fine.

Many investors worldwide began to sell late Tuesday (November 8th U.S. time) as Donald Trump looked set to win the presidency. Stock markets tanked from Asia to Europe, and a similarly steep drop seemed likely when U.S. markets opened.

On the contrary, stocks proved resilient Wednesday morning (November 9th U.S. time), benefiting those who sat on their hands instead of selling immediately.

Elections can mean big, fast short-term swings for stocks and other investments. And emotions tend to run high in times like this, so it’s understandable if you find it hard to stay calm and leave your portfolio alone.

But we have to remember, history has shown that volatility after surprise events always die down. There is no logic or reason to why markets go down after somebody is elected as president. Most of this is due to speculative or irrational investing.

Long-term investments are meant to be held for many years to your retirement and longer. Big swings in the interim are normal and should be expected. Volatility is the price that investors pay in exchange for the higher returns that stocks have historically provided over bonds and other investments.

So rather than changing around your portfolio, focus on your career, hobbies and family, and avoid being overwhelmed with information. This is just one of the many events that will ride out itself.

2 Investing Biases that Hurt Your Retirement Savings

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Being aware of our behavioural biases could mean a significant increase in retirement savings. There are two common biases that can affect how we save for retirement:

1. Present bias – the tendency to put more value in current or short-term decisions than the future

2. Exponential-growth bias (EGB) – the tendency to underestimate and neglect the power of compounding investment returns.

A person with present-bias may intend to save more in the future but never do so; while a person with EGB will underestimate the returns to savings and the costs of holding debt.

All is not lost, however, as understanding your own biases is the first step to creating a proper retirement savings plan to fund the lifestyle you want when you stop working.

Self-awareness has the potential to reduce the impact of our biases. For example, a person who is aware of his/her EGB could rely on the market to acquire tools or seek advice, and a present-biased person could use committed arrangements to control the impulses of his/her future self.

It is proven that people who understand their EGB, hence accurately perceived the power of compounding, had about 20% more savings than those who neglect compounding completely.

So what does this mean? Be aware and keep check of your biases, and your retirement nest egg could be a lot bigger.

Brexit: What Should I Do with My Portfolio?

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Since the UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June, global markets and currencies have reacted negatively to the uncertainty, with a significant falls across all major equity markets. The British pound fell to a three-decade low against the US dollar – its biggest one-day fall on record. Markets are likely to remain volatile until it becomes clear what Brexit will mean for the UK and the rest of the EU.

What does all this mean for your portfolio? Clearly, no one knows for sure. But no matter how markets react in the next few months, you should follow this advice: Don’t let fear of the unknown – or your emotions  make your investing decisions for you.

Why we let emotions drive our investments. We tend to be controlled by our emotions regardless of circumstances. We become overly excited and ready to invest at the worst possible times. And when it comes to deciding how to invest, we often rely on poor advice, a hunch or worse – speculation we heard on the news or the radio. On the other hand, we sometimes let our fears and emotions keep us out of the game altogether.

How to take the emotion out of your investment strategy. Whether you’re worried about how global events might affect your portfolio or just fearful in general, the best investment strategy is one built for the long term. In other words, once you map out a lifelong investing strategy with your financial advisor, you should have confidence in that strategy regardless of the blips you’ll endure along the way.

While it can be fun to “play” the markets, investors should refrain from playing or risking too much on a handful of bets. It is much more prudent to keep your investments boring by broadly diversifying across big and small companies, domestic and foreign companies, and between stocks and bonds.

If your portfolio is properly diversified, stay cool and await developments.

At the end of the day, investing is a game of consistency – one where the investors who take the longest approach usually win. And when it comes to emotional investing – whether out of fear or confidence – the only way to win is not to play.