Category Archives: investing

Dollar-Cost Average or Lump Sum into the Market?

Dollar-Cost Averaging is the process of purchasing securities over an extended period of time with the same dollar amount each time. Lump Sum investing on the other hand, involves just putting all your money into the market at once.

For example if you’re wanting to invest $100,000 should you put it all in the market all at once or over a few months? Many people might suggest putting it in over a period of time. However my suggestion is that for most cases, the opposite is actually the wisest move. Let me explain.

If you were to run with the $100,000 example, a simple dollar cost average might look like putting $5,000 in the market for 20 months. The other scenario is just putting the $100,000 in right now.

In most cases putting everything in is a better move because on average, the market goes up most of the time. So if you dollar cost average, you’d, on average, be missing out on the growth by keeping your money out of the market.

In the smaller percentage of times that the market goes down directly following investment, then dollar-cost averaging can make sense. For example if the market has been Bullish for many years with PE ratios climbing, looking at dollar-cost averaging can make sense.

Before I finish, please click here to take a look at a blog page that covers many investment topics. He has a post from early this year that covers this topic concisely: Exploring Dollar Cost Averaging Verses Other Strategies

Thanks, hope you have a great day.

6 Types of Financial Institutions and Which are Important

The following is a list of institutions that are useful to understand when dealing with money on a regular basis.

1. Conventional Bank (Retail, Commercial and Online Banks)

These are financial institutions that take up the task of performing regular financial functions for both businesses and individuals. The provide services like setting up savings and credit accounts, issuing credit cards, certificates of deposit, mortgages and taking deposits.

2. Credit Unions

These do practically the same thing as conventional banks yet are geared towards a specific group of people. For example a military credit union would be geared towards veterans or active members of the armed services.

3. Insurance Institutions

These companies provide wide rages of insurance intended to decrease the chance of loss. When you go to get car insurance this is where you go.

4. Brokerage Firms

These companies administrate the investing process. Whether someone is investing in bonds, stocks, mutual funds or ETF’s this subset of financial groups likes to help the individual or business execute their purchase of securities.

5. Investment Firms

These Banks or Companies are funded by issuing shares. These funds are mutually owned (thus the name mutual fund) and are usually invested in stocks, bonds and other securities.

6. Mortgage Firms

Generally these companies are geared towards individual mortgage seekers but there are some that specialize in commercial properties. These companies either fund or originate loans and mortgages.

Each of these institutions has their place in the financial world. See where you can recognize them in your daily or monthly financial activities.

The Purpose of Investing

The whole purpose of investing is to turn money into more money – it’s to be able to buy more things than you bought in the past. However, why not put all your money into savings? If I can lose “all” my money in the stock market, why not play it safe and keep everything in savings? There are two reasons. 1) You probably want to grow your money, not simply keep it safe. And 2) the value of money goes down over time. Wait, you might be asking, isn’t $1 always worth $1?

Yes and no. While $1 will always be the same, the amount that $1 can purchase generally goes down over time. Let’s use an example. Let’s say you have a small collection of 10 Legos. While you really love Legos, you only have these 10, so you tend to be really careful with them – you like them a lot.

One of your friends offers you an apple for one of your Legos. You refuse because you don’t want to have 9 left. However, a few months later, after Christmas and a birthday, you have received 36 more Legos. Your friend comes to you again and asks to trade one apple for two Legos. While you don’t like the idea of giving away more Legos, you don’t mind as much any more because you now have 36. So you do the deal.

What changed? Why were you willing to give more Legos up for an apple when before you wouldn’t even trade one for one? That’s because the Legos became less rare. This has to do with supply and demand. While demand for Legos stayed relatively the same, the supply increased, which decreased the value of the Legos relative to the apples.

We could get really technical with economics but for now the general principle can ring true with money as well. As the amount of money out in circulation, both physical and electronic, increases, the perceived value, and therefore the purchasing power of those dollars, decreases. In the last 100 years, inflation has gone up at about 2 to 4% per year.

The scary thing is that inflation continues even when your money isn’t growing. For example in 2008 when the whole real estate market and stock market crashed, inflation continued. Meaning, not only did stock investors lose 37% on their money, they also lost an additional 3%+ in purchasing power! Ouch!

In times of great economic panic gold often increase in price because it can act as a fear mechanism for investors when times get tough. When people in the market see inflation increasing and economic certainty decreasing, they often view gold, which has been used as money for literally thousands of years, as a safer location for their money.

The bottom line: real estate and stocks are fantastic investments for anyone looking to outpace inflation over long periods of time.

Stocks vs Real Estate – Which is Better?

Nearly all of the world’s billionaires have created wealth through business ownership. And the way most of them owned businesses was through stocks. So stocks, by default, are the vehicle by which many of the world’s wealthy have gotten there. Does this mean stocks are always the best investment over others? Not necessarily.

Is the list of richest people duplicatable? In other words, is it possible for someone starting off with nothing today, to buy and own businesses that eventually make them billionaires? The answer is clearly yes.

However there are other methods, less versatile that can provide the same type of opportunity: real estate investing. I am talking specifically about rental real estate, real estate built for the purpose of providing cashflow.

So if I’m a young person, deeply interesting in investing and committing to becoming rich, which paths should I take? Well real estate and stocks are both broad categories that are broken more specifically into numerous other sub-categories. So let’s take a brief look at your stock and real estate options:

Stocks

Stocks, which are ownership certificates in little pieces of publicly traded companies, can be broken down into various groups depending on the size of the company. They can also be categorized based on the industry or other factors. There are two general ways to get involved with stocks: direct purchase of stocks (through a brokerage account of some kind) or the purchase of shares of a mutual fund (a “basket” of stocks that is managed by a group of investment managers).

Individual investment in stocks can be a fantastic way to build wealth if you meet the following requirements: 1) Able to control your emotions in favor of logic, 2) time commitment to researching and analyzing your choices and 3) patience.

The other stock option, mutual funds, is perhaps the least involved option. I recommend this path for most people who aren’t wanting to spend a lot of time on their investments. One thing to be aware of in this type of investment is both the type of mutual fund (large-cap vs small-cap) and the fees that the mutual fund charges.

Real Estate:

Real estate is a vast field with both commercial and residential properties to choose from. When considering an investment path you need to pick somewhere and stay consistent. Building your knowledge up in a specific area of real estate can go a long way in mitigating risk, which should always be a big concern.

The best way to create wealth with real estate is by buying rental properties. You can either buy single-family homes, multi-unit properties (2, 3 and 4 units) or commercial apartments (5+ units). You should only invest in real estate if you have both time, interest and are capable of networking and management.

Conclusion:

Stocks can be good for people who have less time and more analytical skills. Real estate also requires analytical skills, but you also have to have interest and time to make money. The best choice for you depends on these factors.