Why You Really Need to Invest


You’ll find a lot of blogs on people getting out of debt.  Perhaps they start out with a student loan balance of $150,000 and pay it off over a period of three years.  If they are persistent, and particularly if they see their income rise, perhaps because they get a lot of revenue from their blog and affiliate advertising, they will make their way out of debt.  But what then?

What happens after you pay off that last student loan?  After you close that last credit card account?  You make your last car payment?  You make your last mortgage payment?  And what if you never got into debt in the first place?  Often that’s where the blog stops.

If you want to move from just being debt-free to being financially independent – being able to pay for things without needing to depend on a paycheck – you need a way to make money efficiently.  There is only so much time in the day.  Even if you get a second job, unless you have a phenomenal salary, it is really difficult to simply work and save enough money to reach financial independence.  Plus, your income level is usually limited and it will top out at some point in your career.  If you make an average of $60,000 during your working career and save 10% per year, you’ll have $240,000 over your entire career.  If you save 20%, you’ll still only have about half a million dollars at age 60.  To sustain yourself, you’ll probably need something north of $2 M unless you live a very meager existence.
                           

Great beginner investment guides.  

One way to attain financial independence is to start a business.  If you start a business and run it well, your potential income is theoretically limitless.  If you open a store and do well, you can open a whole chain.  The same thing goes for a lawn care business, or a manufacturing business, or a restaurant.  Because you can hire people to work for you, and take a small percentage of the amount of money they generate, you can expand your income.  But many businesses fail, and you often need to take a big risk to start a business, possibly borrowing a lot of money.  Starting a business when you already have a family that depends on your income is also risky.  Is there another way?

The answer is investing.

When you invest, it is like you are buying an ownership stake in a business, which means that, just like starting a business, your theoretical income is limitless.  There are people who bought a $5,000 stake in Home Depot or Wal-Mart who are now millionaires.  The beauty of investing is that you get to enjoy the possibility of growth that you get from starting a business, but don’t have all of the headaches that come from actually running a business. You don’t need to check inventory, order supplies, or manage employees.

Not only that, but you get to benefit from other people’s good ideas.  You probably didn’t get the idea to build a search engine that everyone would use, let alone go through the hassle of coding it, getting servers set up, and getting the word out.  But you can buy shares of Alphabet and benefit from the efforts of people who did.  You can buy shares of Walgreen’s and have drug stores on all of the best corners in every city in America.  You can buy into a successful restaurant, a successful credit card issuer, or a successful tobacco company.  If it trades publicly, you can get a stake in the company and take advantage of other people’s good ideas, execution, and hard work.

 

Want all the details?  Try The SmallIvy Book of Investing.

There are some people who will become rich by working really hard and saving  every dime.  There are others who will become doctors or lawyers, get hired by the right firm or practice or start their own practice, and live on little enough to build up their savings and become wealthy.  There are still others who will start a business and work hard to grow it into a huge company and become wealthy.  For the rest of us, investing is the way to wealth.  If you’re interested in learning how, pick up a copy of The SmallIvy Book of Investing and keep reading The Small Investor Blog.

Have a burning investing question you’d like answered?  Please send to vtsioriginal@yahoo.com or leave in a comment.

Follow on Twitter to get news about new articles.  @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

Go from a Budgetor to an Investor.


Ocean

So you’ve paid off your credit card debt, paid off your car, and you’ve shifted to a 15-year mortgage that you’ll pay off in 12.  Now you’re wondering, what’s next?  The answer is: Investing.

Many people have heard that it is good to invest in stocks and build up a portfolio but don’t know how to start.  In this article I’ll go over some of the basics to get you started.  There is really no secret to stock investing – it is just a matter of investing regularly, understanding risk, and properly evaluation companies for potential return.

The first concepts that one must understand are volatility, diversification, and time frame.  First, we will discuss volatility.  Stocks and other assets go up and down in price.  It is not like a bank account where one can calculate the interest rate and know the value at a future point in time.  One must therefore not invest money needed in the next few years; however, by taking on more risk, one can make returns that are much better than bank rates.


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The potential return on an investment is proportional to the volatility.  Bank accounts and CDs are not volatile – the rate of interest is easily calculated such that the value at any given time will be known.  There is a slight risk that the bank may close and not be able to repay the money — a risk that was reduced after FDIC insurance was started — but most fo the time the money is repaid and one is able to ask for the money back at any time, albeit with a forfeiture of interest some times.
                           

Great beginner investment guides.  

With stocks and bonds, the value of the investment fluctuates with time.  One can not be certain what the value will be tomorrow or the next day, or even next year – it is whatever someone is willing to pay for the stock or bond at the time.  For a stock one can assume that the price will be close to where it was the day before, but news — good or bad — can cause the price to move by 10% or more in a day.  Sometimes a stock will rise or fall for reasons that have nothing to do with the company.  The whole market will move due to word of recession, war, pending legislation, or other events.  Sometime it is just movements of the stock prices themselves or various trading strategies that are being employed that will cause a stock price to move precipitously.

It is this volatility, however, that makes stocks grow more over time and provide a greater return than safer, fixed income investments.  Because there is risk involved, one is able to buy stocks at significant discounts to what the earnings prospects of the company indicate the price will be.  Because the company may not make the earnings, and later pay the dividends, that are expected the price will drop until it is low enough to justify the risk taken.


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To reduce risk caused by uncertainty and volatility, one uses diversification.  Diversification is spreading out one’s money over several stocks.  It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for single stocks to drop by half or more over short periods of times.  If a scandal breaks out or a large lawsuit occurs, a stock may go bankrupt in a period of days.  By buying several stocks, however, a loss will be limited even if a single stock in the portfolio drops to zero.  If one owns 10 different stocks in equal amounts, one can only lose 10% in any individual stock.  If one buys a significant number of stocks, or buys a few mutual funds, one will get about the return of the market, which generally ranges between about -10% and +15% in a year, but can see swings of between -50% and +100% in a year time period.  During the Great Depression, the market fell by 90%, but then proceeded to rally back, increasing tenfold (1000%)in the years that followed.

Want all the details?  Try The SmallIvy Book of Investing.

The third concept is time frame.  Because stocks are volatile, it is difficult to predict price over short periods of time, between one and three years.  Over five to ten-year period or longer, however, stocks tend to rise.  Returns on stocks over long periods of time have averaged between ten and fifteen percent — much better rates that most other investments.  Also, buy buying shares regularly, rather than putting all of one’s money in at once, one can do even better since more shares will be bought while prices are low than when they are high.  This process, called “dollar cost averaging,” is a popular and effective technique.

The best strategy therefore is to:

1)Invest only with money that is not needed in the next several years.  If the money is needed, it is better to forego the added return and just keep the money in cash.

2) Have only as much money in a single position as you would be willing to lose.  As the amount of money invested increases, the money should be spread over more and more stocks and into other assets such as bonds to reduce risk.

3) Invest for the longterm.  Select stocks that have earnings that are growing steadily and have lots of room to expand.  Once you have invested, then ignore the price fluctuations that occur and focus on the earnings.  As long as earnings continue to increase, the price will also, eventually.  Remember that time is on your side – if things look bleak, just ignore it for a while.  A rally will eventually come.

Have a burning investing question you’d like answered?  Please send to vtsioriginal@yahoo.com or leave in a comment.

Follow on Twitter to get news about new articles.  @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

How Many Shares Should a Beginner Buy?


Ocean

OK, so you’ve been interested in individual stock buying for a while, have saved up some money, and are looking to buy your first shares.  Or maybe you are just starting to save money and wonder how much you need to save to be ready.  Today we’ll talk about how much is needed to get started in stock investing, and how many shares you should plan to buy starting out.

First, make sure you are actually ready to start investing in individual stocks and that you have the right expectations.  To be ready to invest in individual stocks you should:

  1.  Have your credit cards all paid off.  There is no reason to be investing while you’re paying credit cards 12% interest or more.  Pay off you high interest debts, then think about investing.
  2. Have an emergency fund of at least $9,000.  If you don’t have a good emergency fund, you’ll have just bought your first shares, then need to sell them to pay for something that breaks.  Or worse, you’ll pull out the credit card to pay the bill, starting you into debt.  Note this does not apply if you’re under 18 since you have your parents to pay the bills – and this is a great time to first start investing.
  3. Be putting at least 10% of your pay into a retirement fund,  This could be a 401k, 403B, or even an IRA.  This money should be invested almost exclusively in a diversified set of low-cost mutual funds.  You still want to be able to retire even if you’re a bad stock picker.
  4. Be ready to leave your money alone for at least 5-10 years.  Stock investing, particularly individual stock investing, is a long-term game.  Investing for anything less than five years is just gambling.
  5. Have money you can afford to lose.  Individual company stocks can and do go bankrupt.  You should allow the possibility of losing ever dime you invest.

                     

If you pass the criteria above, you might be ready to start individual stock investing.  While you can buy any number of shares, if you’re investing to make money, you’ll probably want to try to buy at least 100 shares, or what is called a “round lot.”  Invest less than this, and the amount you’re paying in commissions will start to make it really difficult to succeed.  You’ll also want to pick a stock in the $10-$30 range, which will mean you’ll need about $1100-$3100, when you include commissions.

If you’re not really investing to make money, but instead just want the fun of holding a few shares, you can buy around 10 shares.  We bought 10 shares of Home Depot for $300 for my son when he was born, and now (15 years later), his holdings are worth about $1200.  Even better , he gets a dividend every three months which has been steadily increasing.

Finally, if you really are serious about single stock investing, and you can afford to take the loss if something goes wrong, you should try to buy in increments of 500-1000 shares.  At this level you will really profit if you are right and the company does well.  If you hold 100 shares of company XYZ and they go from $20 to $60, you’ve only made $4,000.  This is nice, but really not that substantial in your life.  If you have 1000 shares, you’ll have made $40,000.  That’s enough for a year in college, a good down-payment on a house, or a couple of high quality, late model used cars.

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Getting to 1000 shares may take a while and require some build-up.  In fact, it is probably better to buy in increments of 200-300 shares a few times rather than buying 1000 shares all at once since then you can pick up more shares on dips and get a better price.  In fact, to reduce your risk, you should probably pick up 200-300 shares of stock A, then 200-300 shares of stock B, then 200-300 shares of stock C.  Then, buy more of whichever company’s shares are the best bargain when you’re ready to buy more.  Of course, sometimes a stock will take right off after your first purchase and never look back, so you never know.

Have a burning investing question you’d like answered?  Please send to vtsioriginal@yahoo.com or leave in a comment.

Follow on Twitter to get news about new articles.  @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.