Investing basics and how NOT to invest

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 By

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Find a good financial planner to help you generate investing ideas. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Brook Rushing/Creative Loafing)

People invest because they want to create wealth. Day traders may savor the adrenaline rush, but profit is the purpose. In order to invest effectively, however, it pays to know some basics. It also pays to know how not to invest.

Invest in a 401(k)

Experts advise getting started with a 401(k) plan from your place of employment, preferably with matching funds from the company. The money deposited is not taxable as long as it remains in the account, earning dividends, interest and capital gains. Let it sit for a while and gain interest for your retirement.

About.com reminds investors that a 401(k) is not an investment per se but an account that holds investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and more, depending upon your 401(k) variant.

Save for a rainy day

In addition to a retirement account, it is essential to establish savings. Online resources like Motley Fool or any worthwhile financial adviser can help you decide how much you should realistically be saving.

Max out your Roth or Traditional IRA

A Roth IRA retirement account gives you the flexibility to make contributions after taxes, so taxes are paid only upon withdrawal. Maxing out your contribution limits will enable you to build a fine nest egg. Even if you don’t qualify for a Roth, a Traditional IRA still grants you sizable tax benefits.

Expanding beyond the retirement account

Producing additional wealth can mean opening a brokerage account and buying stocks. Before investing, however, you should have a clear vision of your goal. Know what you want and how long it will take you to get there based upon the amount of the investment and rate of return.

Pay off your credit cards first

The interest rate on credit cards make them the worst debt consumers can hold. Take care of all credit card debt before beginning to invest in stocks.

How NOT to invest: Don’t sit on your hands

Motley Fool points out that stock market is unpredictable, but t if you venture nothing, you will gain nothing. The miracle of compound interest smiles upon those who buy in. If you invest in stocks and stop paying attention, you’re asking the market to swallow your cash. Follow your stocks and move on if and when the time is right. Remember your financial goals and don’t go too far outside your comfort zone unless you’re prepared for possible loss.

In and out is expensive

If you’re investing through a brokerage firm, frequent trading in and out of the market will produce major fees. Day traders make up for this in volume, but for the basic investor, long-term investments (ideally five years or longer) are the safer course. If short-term investment is necessary, consider money market funds or CDs, advises Motley Fool.

Sources

About.com

Motley Fool

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