You need to be investing your money. Too often, potential investors leave their money on the sidelines waiting for the "right time" to invest. The fact of the matter is that if you want to, you'll find a reason not to invest your money. All you're doing with that is hurting your financial future. You may need to change what you're investing in, but with a bit of research, you'll find that it's always a good time to invest no matter the market conditions.
Why Not Investing is a Bad Idea
Money not being invested is likely sitting around in a bank account being lazy. You need to put your money to work! Checking accounts will make you nothing in interest, and your savings account isn't much better. The biggest problem here is the slow devaluation of your money, known as inflation. Inflation is the rise of prices for services, goods, and the general cost of living over time. On average, inflation is about 2-3% each year, which means that money sitting in your bank account is worth that much less year over year, which is why you need to be investing. The average rate of return of the stock market is 7%, meaning by simply investing your money, you'll typically keep ahead of inflation.
No matter the market conditions, when it comes to investing your money, there are a few factors that you'll need to consider. Everyone's preference and financial situation are slightly different, so you'll need to figure out what investments work best for you based on these factors.
Risk Tolerance - Risk tolerance is essentially how much variability in returns you are willing to see in any investment. Putting your money into an investment that could lose it all or double your money is quite risky, but if the returns are worth it to you, then you'd have a high-risk tolerance. If you are more conservative, you might make an investment that is highly unlikely to lose any money. Still, the returns will be much smaller as well.
Time Frame - When making any investment, how long you'll be investing needs to be considered. The length of the investment could also affect your risk tolerance. For example, if you are looking for a short-term investment, you would likely want to invest in something safer that is more likely to make small gains for you. On the other hand, if the money you invest is more of a long-term investment, you might be willing to invest a bit riskier, assuming that any loss or downswing in market conditions will eventually be gained back over the length of the investment.
Knowledge - Never invest in something you don't understand. There are a lot of different types of investments. Suppose you don't know how what you're investing in works or what factors may affect it. In that case, you won't make informed decisions about when you should be investing more or starting to back out. If you are looking to invest in something new, do your due diligence to have your investment ready when market conditions change.
How Much - The amount of money you are investing can vary as well. You should constantly be investing your money, but that doesn't necessarily mean investing every penny. There are better times to get your money in the market than others, but you should never stop completely.
You Can't Time the Market
There an old investing adage, "Timing the market vs. time in the market." Timing the market is next to impossible, but time in the market depends on the investor getting their money in. The power of compounding gains can't be overstated. If your money is sitting on the sidelines, you won't be making a dime.
Why Invest in A Bull Market?
When the market is in the middle of a good bull run, everyone looks like the next Warren Buffet. It feels seemingly impossible to make the wrong move as stocks continue to rise. You'll hear the arguments, "Everything is too expensive, I'll wait for a dip" or "We're at all-time highs, it can't go any higher." Here's the thing, no one knows how long a bull market will last. We recently finished one of the longest bull markets in history that lasted over a decade! Imagine waiting for the dip for almost ten years. Think of all the gains you would have missed out on!
The other significant part about "all-time highs" is that we continually set new ones. Yes, eventually bull markets end, and we'll see a market correction (a 10-20% fall in stocks from a high) or even a bear market (>20% fall from a high), but the great thing is that given enough time, we get right back into another bull market and set brand new all-time highs.
Why Invest in a Bear Market?
When the market is in a downward trend, you'll get a lot of "The market keeps going down, I'll wait for the bottom and get my money in then." Again, the problem here is that You can't time the market. I'll say it one more time, You can't time the market. No one ones the exact bottoming out point of a bear market, and they tend not to last very long (10 months on average). Bear markets can end very quickly, and before you know it, prices have risen far past where you would have had your money in.
If I offered you a 30% discount on a product, you'd be pretty happy with that. Now, if a month later, someone else is offered a 40% discount, you'd be a little jealous, of course, but you'd still have a pretty good deal. See where I'm going with this? When stock prices are falling, you don't know what the final discounted price will be. Buying stocks or mutual funds at any discount is going to make you money when investing long term.
Be Strategic and Diversify
Just because it's always a good time to invest doesn't mean all investments are a good idea. No matter what kind of market there is, there will be better ways to invest than others. Be strategic about the types of investments you have. You can attempt to rebalance your portfolio with the market's ebbs and flows, but that could be a full-time job in itself. If you choose this route, look to see which sector of the market is doing well despite a bear market. Do some research to find good value in a stock or mutual fund when everything else seems to be at an all-time high.
The best way to make sure you're protected no matter what the market is doing is to have a diversified portfolio. Having your money in a wide range of investments will minimize your risks and exposure to any volatility in the market. Keeping a good balance will ensure that you'll weather any storm that comes your way. Any investments that are dropping will be equaled out by other assets that are on the rise.
Never Go All In
Putting too much of your money into any investment is never a good idea. Investing is a great way to grow your money, but never put yourself in a position where if anything goes south, you'll be in trouble. After all, investing is all about creating financial stability and security. If you invest with a "get rich quick" mentality, you'll more than likely end up with the opposite outcome. Only invest funds that you'd able to lose without affecting your current lifestyle and nothing more.
Don't Panic and Be Consistent
It is almost as crucial as getting your money into the market not to panic or rashly start taking your money back out when the market drops. There are days, weeks, and months at a time where the market might be heading in a downward direction, but it's okay. The market does that. if it went up forever, we'd all be filthy rich, and that's not the case. It's okay if your investments have a down year. The worst thing you can do is start selling your assets and then have everything come roaring back before you can get your money back in. Remember, You can't time the market. Have I said that before?
Setup automatic investing, and no matter the conditions, keep them going. The best part about this is that you won't have to second guess yourself. If the market is going up, that means you were making investments the whole way up. Will all of it be the cheapest you could have gotten? Maybe not, but by having some of your money in at all times, you'll see some solid gains all the way to the top.
On the flip side, if the market is headed down, maybe you bought some of the stock at the top. Still, you'll also be investing all the way down to the bottom to getting some of your investments at the lowest price possible. See how this all levels out? The important thing is to keep investing, and you'll see that sometimes you'll be getting the best prices, other times not. Still, most importantly, the eventual outcome will be those compounding gains we spoke of earlier.
What Are My Investing Options?
Okay, so you should always be investing. What are your options? Luckily there is something out there for everyone. No matter your risk tolerance, investing experience, or financial situation, there is always a way to grow your money.
High-Yield Savings Accounts, Money Market Accounts and Certificates of deposit (CDs)
Okay, not really in the "investing" world here, but High-Yield Saving Accounts, Money Market Accounts, and CDs do offer a better way to grow your money than leaving it in a traditional account. High-yield savings accounts and money market accounts will act similar to your traditional savings account. However, you'll be gaining more money due to the higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts.
With a CD, you'll essentially be loaning money to a bank, and they'll pay you back your money with a predetermined interest rate and after a specific amount of time. You can find CDs with any bank, and the longer you lend them your money, the better the rate of return you'll get. What is worth noting here, that these are both relatively guaranteed gains. Neither typically keeps up with inflation, so even though they are better than nothing, you should only keep your money in them for short periods.
There are a few different types of bonds you can invest in. The most common three are municipal bonds, corporate bonds, and government bonds. Similar to CDs, with bonds, you are giving your money to an entity with the idea that they will pay you back your investment plus interest in a specified period of time. There are different time frames available for each type of bond, and the interest rate will vary among them. Bonds are considered safe investments, but you'll likely get much smaller returns that don't keep up with inflation with them as well. These are typically good for anyone looking to supplement their income after retirement or for any other reason.
Stocks come in all shapes and sizes. They are also the most volatile type of investment. Investing in stocks is investing your money in a specific company. Depending on the direction that company is headed will determine its stock price. A stock's price might be due to the level of earnings, the company's expected growth, or the stock's perceived risk. You might be sold on a company, but if the rest of the world isn't, you might be in for a bumpy right.
Even if all signs of a company are good, when you are dealing with individual stocks, they can be very exposed to the overall market trend as a whole. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be investing, though. If the stock has all the right features, your stock will surpass any purchase price when the market turns around.
Typically when dealing with bear markets, you can invest your money in "safe" stocks. If a stock is considered "safe," it doesn't mean the stock's price will continue to rise, but it does mean the companies themselves are very stable. Find well-known, big companies that will not have their bottom line hurt as much as smaller companies. Staples like credit card companies, popular service providers (think Verizon, AT&T), and essential goods manufacturers and sellers(Costco baby!), won't have their stock prices hurt as much by bear markets and will thrive during bull runs.
You might also want to consider dividend stocks during any market conditions. Dividends are a sum of money paid regularly (typically quarterly) by a company to its shareholders out of its profits. Dividend investing is generally seen as a way to supplement an income you may need. However, investors can use dividends to reinvest in the same stock or used elsewhere. Investing in a stock with a good dividend yield can help navigate you through challenging market conditions. Remember, though, that when a company hands out dividends, its net assets are lowered by that same amount. The stock price will be adjusted accordingly.
Index Funds, Mutual Funds and Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
There are several different types of funds available to investors that can offer various risk levels and potential returns. Instead of investing in individual stocks, investors can put their money with one of these funds to further diversify their portfolio and reduce their overall risk.
Mutual Funds are an actively managed collection of stocks. A fund is considered actively managed when a fund manager is making trades on behalf of the investors. There are many different strategies funds managers will take. You'll need to do your research on a fund's strategy before putting your money in. Managed funds can invest in anything from bonds, stock in a specific sector of the market, or stocks from many different industries. With these strategies will come different levels of potential risk and returns. You'll also need to be aware of the fees associated with a managed fund. Mutual funds will charge investors with the fund manager's cost, research, and other expenses the fund incurs. The important thing again is to diversity what kind of funds you are invested in.
Index Funds and Exchange Traded Funds
Index funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)are great for investors of any age and experience level. Both of these types of funds are considered to be passive investments. Similar to mutual funds, both of these funds are collections of stocks. However, the amount of turnover of stocks in both Index Funds and ETFs is significantly lower than you would find with a typical mutual fund. Index funds and other passive investments typically outperform their actively traded counterparts. Due to these funds' passive nature, the fees associated with investing in them are much lower as well.
Who says all your money needs to be invested in the stock market? There are plenty of other ways to invest your money that can do well no matter what wall street is doing. Here are just a few ideas.
Peer to Peer Lending (P2P)
Peer-to-peer lending is instead of anyone who needs a loan going to the bank they come to you! Well, they don't come directly to you, but you get what I mean. Sites will allow users to sign up as potential borrowers and potential investors. Borrows will need to provide information about how much money they are looking to borrow and other factors that will determine their risk level. Investors will lend issue "notes" of $25 each to different borrowers. The idea here is to spread your investments over as many borrowers as possible to reduce your risk of any single loan defaulting. Investors make money the same way as banks by collecting interest on the loans as they are paid back each month.
CryptoCurrency burst onto the scene for investors and has continued to make strides to become more mainstream. It's become increasingly easier to invest in the leading crypto coins such as bitcoin, litecoin, and ethereum. There is no shortage of options either. There are alternative coins constantly available to invest in. The prices of these coins can vary from a few cents to a few hundred dollars each, and prices can swing wildly, so don't invest your money in crypto if you are faint of heart.
Angel investing used to be reserved for those already wealthy individuals looking to invest in startup companies in the hopes that the company would eventually become successful and go public. The risk is typically much higher since startups generally are not profitable yet. Startups could close up shop quickly if their product or service doesn't start attracting consumers. The reward here is much higher returns if the company eventually begins to make money or at least makes it to an IPO stage. With new technology available and more people looking to invest, sites like Wefunder.com have appeared. Sites like this allow individual investors to invest smaller amounts of money into these startups, allowing them to get in on the action and significant potential returns of angel investing.
Royalties are payments to owners of property for the use of that property. Royalties are most commonly associated with the rights to use someone's intellectual property (IP) like music. Whenever you hear your favorite song on TV or in a movie, the owner of that property (not always the artist) is paid a royalty fee. Buying the rights to different intellectual property has also become available to individuals looking to diversify their investment portfolios. Even during a bear market, there will always be a need for IP like music and other IP forms.
For anyone willing to put in the work, real estate is an excellent investment that won't be affected by whatever the market is doing. It's hardly passive income and can be challenging to get started with, but being a property owner is a tried and true method of creating extra income streams and generating wealth. Don't jump in without doing your research on not only the area you are looking to invest in, but also the laws and regulations surround being a landlord, as they can vary from state to state.
If you are looking to get into real estate but are looking for a more passive version, there are still options available. You do have the standard Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) available to you in the stock market. Still, there are other avenues available as well. In recent years real estate crowdfunding sites like Fundrise.com have become very popular and for good reason. Not only is the investment completely passive, but they have great returns too! A site like Fundrise has its own proprietary software and connections into the world of real estate that you would never have as an individual investor. They will invest in all sorts of different real estate that would not have been available to you otherwise. As with other investments, they offer different investment tracks. You can have a more long-term approach by investing in growth or short term and elect to receive higher dividend payments but see a lower overall return. No matter which path you choose, you won't be subject to the whims of the market.
The stock market is always going to go through its cycles of bear and bull markets. Attempting to time the market is a nearly impossible task to do once, never mind consistently. Leaving you money on the sidelines will more than likely result in lost gains. A consistent investing approach is a great way to ensure you are getting your cash during any market highs or lows. With this approach, you'll be well on your way to financial freedom. If you are looking for ways to invest outside the market, there is no shortage there either. All investments come with different risks and potential returns. It's up to you to decide which fits your investment style, but the most important thing is to get your money in there and get it growing!
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