Archive for August, 2015

21 bits of investment wisdom from the years

I’ve been intrigued by investing for years, and lately find myself engaged in frequent conversations about the topic with friends.

Here are some of the best tips I’ve picked up over the years. Please keep in mind that I’m not a financial advisor, and you may want to consult with one if this motivates you to dabble in the market.

  1. Keep your costs low, whether you go with a low-fee mutual fund or a stock reinvestment program offered by many corporations.
  2. Time is your greatest ally – start young.
  3. In general, the greater the potential reward, the greater the risk — and many people don’t think enough about risk.
  4. Read everything you can about Warren Buffett.
  5. In most cases, your home is not an investment.
  6. Think twice about investing in things you don’t understand.
  7. Pay yourself first. A 401 (k) plan where you work is a great option and you’ll probably never miss the money from your paycheck.
  8. Playing too safe brings the risk of not keeping up with inflation, and seeing the purchasing power of your dollar drop.
  9. Putting your investments on autopilot is an easy way to save. For example, you can make automatic, monthly contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) from your bank account.
  10. Every little bit helps, and adds up over time.
  11. Put enough into your employer’s 401 (k) to earn the company match. If the plan matches the first 6 percent of your contribution at 50 percent, you’re immediately turning $100, for example, into $150.
  12. People know the mantra “buy low and sell high,” but often do the opposite. A dip in the market might bring an opportunity.
  13. Diversifying your investments helps spread your risk by avoiding “too many eggs in one basket” syndrome.
  14. The web has a wealth of investment tools. Use them to help you make decisions about investment options, risk, retirement planning, and more.
  15. Spend less than you earn.
  16. Know your tolerance for risk and invest accordingly. It’s very likely different from mine, from your neighbors, co-workers, etc. Be realistic about how much you can risk, and how much of a loss you could tolerate.
  17. Building an emergency fund is a top priority.
  18. Follow the data, and invest in something because it makes sense, not because you love the company’s product line or because your neighbor says it’s a great investment.
  19. On the other hand, if you really like a product, consider looking into the company to see if it makes sense as an investment.
  20. While the stock market is generally considered the best long-term investment, making money in stocks is far from guaranteed.
  21. As with anything in life, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Your turn. What’s the best investment advice you know?

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5 Lessons From the Sharks

I recently discovered ABC’s Shark Tank, a show that brings together entrepreneurs who ask a group of billionaire “Sharks” to invest in their product or service.

Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, the show is interesting and provides some good tips about business and finance:

Prepare
Whether you’re interviewing for a job or applying for a loan, the person on the other side of the table will have a list of questions for you. Anticipate what they might ask, and be ready with responses — and data to back them. How? See the next bullet….

Know your audience
It seems as if some of the entrepreneurs on Shark Tank have never watched the show. For example, offering a 5 percent share of your company in exchange for a Shark’s investment pretty much guarantees a black mark on you ledger, yet it continues to happen. Before you walk into a meeting, learn as much as possible about the interviewer, client, employer, etc., to avoid making obvious blunders.

Be respectful
The Sharks can be harsh at times, but the entrepreneurs pitching their products need to stay on the high road. Rudeness often brings a quick dismissal from center stage.

Listen to experts
In addition to their financial investment, the Sharks bring a wealth of knowledge. Some entrepreneurs take their advice to heart; to others it sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher. If a successful person offers a suggestion, listen carefully.

Be flexible and realistic
Entrepreneurs often walk away empty-handed after turning down a counter offer from a Shark. One man declined a multi-million dollar deal for his company. Understandably, he has a passion for the product, but $4 million is a big hunk of change to pass up. Think carefully before you turn down an opportunity because it differs from your original plan.

Your turn. What lessons have you learned from watching Shark Tank?

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