John Jagerson is a CFA and CMT charter holder and a founder of Learning Markets, which provides analysis and education for individual and professional investors. He is an author or co-author of five books on investing, currencies, bonds, and stocks. John has appeared in outlets like Forbes.com, BBC Radio, Nasdaq.com, and CBS for his financial strategy expertise. After graduating with a B.S. in Business from Utah Valley University, John completed the PLD program at Harvard Business School. Once the markets close each day, he can be found back on his mountain bike or in his running shoes on the trails of the Wasatch Mountains near his home.
ETFs are typically index funds and do not generate as much in the way of taxable capital gains to pass on to investors as compared with actively managed funds. ETFs and mutual funds are becoming less distinct from each other, and investors need not own both types of investment. If you like the idea of buying and selling fund shares during (rather than at the end of) the trading day, ETFs are a good choice for you.
Investing in stocks can be very costly if you trade frequently, especially with a small amount of money available to invest. If your broker charges commission fees, every time that you trade stock, either through buying or selling, you will spend extra money. Trading fees range from the low end of $5 per trade but can be as high as $10 for some discount brokers.
The price-to-earnings ratio is a common way of determining if a stock is undervalued. It simply divides a company's share price by its earnings. For example, if Company X is trading at $5 per share, with earnings of $1 per share, its price-to-earnings ratio is 5. That is to say, the company is trading at five times its earnings. The lower this figure, the more undervalued the company may be. Typical P/E ratios range between 15 and 20, although ratios outside that range are not uncommon. Use P/E ratios as only one of many indications of a stock's worth.
Fixed-income securities actually make up a few different types of securities, like U.S. Treasury bonds, corporate bonds, municipal bonds and CDs. These investments are generally reliable, as they appreciate via a specific interest rate. While this safety is surely appealing, the return potential of fixed income securities is weaker than, say, stocks.
An important tip for investing for beginners with little money is to always keep an eye on costs! There can be costs associated when you buy or sell as well as annual costs from mutual funds or ETFs (Electronic Traded Funds). You will want to look at the expense ratio charged, which are the annual fees funds’ and ETFs charge. The lower the better! Also, only purchase mutual funds that do not have a purchase fee (load fee) when you buy a fund. Lastly, remember that some of the brokerage companies offer their own ETFs at very low or at transaction free costs. Check out Betterment or Future Advisor.
Understand the commodities market. When you invest in something like a stock or a bond, you invest in the business represented by that security. The piece of paper you get is worthless, but what it promises is valuable. A commodity, on the other hand, is something of inherent value, something capable of satisfying a need or desire. Commodities include pork bellies (bacon), coffee beans, oil, natural gas, and potash, among many other items. The commodity itself is valuable, because people want and use it.
CONSISTENT DIVIDEND GROWTH is what has been working. I did start with high yield stock and it was nice to see the dividend income but my total portfolio growth was not where it should have been. What can I say? I was a newbie dividend investor and I wanted to generate retirement income from my portfolio and that’s what I was doing – only generating income and not growing my portfolio. In my strive to become a better investor, I stumbled upon the 10% dividend growth, the chowder rule, and the total return value of a portfolio. Let me show you why those 3 concepts matter.
Worth noting: A 401(k) is a type of investment account, and if you’re participating in one, you may already be invested in stocks, likely through mutual funds. However, a 401(k) won’t offer you access to individual stocks, and your choice in mutual funds will likely be quite limited. Employer matching dollars make it worth contributing despite a limited investment selection, but once you’re contributing enough to earn that match, you can consider investing through other accounts.
Leveraging allows you to use borrowed money from banks and brokerage firms to invest in stocks, but you must pay back the amount you borrow with interest. Although leveraging allows you to buy shares that you otherwise might not have access to, if the shares you buy drop in value you’ll be out a lot of money. In general, avoid leveraging because it increases your investment risk.
If you build the right portfolio you can set up a wealth building machine! It doesn’t happen overnight but you can build a portfolio that can provide a 10% annual rate of return and pay you dividend along the way. When you choose to leverage the dividend re-investing program (DRIP), you put compound growth on autopilot and if you have dividend growth stocks such as the Dividend Ambassadors, you have an accelerated growth.
Traditionally, Americans have tended to stay close to home when it comes to their equity portfolios, but this is now changing as more investors realize the diversification and growth benefits of investing in the global economy. Indeed, U.S. companies constitute only about half the value of all world equities, and that piece of the pie is slowing getting smaller. Virtually every portfolio should have a good slug of international stocks.
Beyond that, we evaluated each firm on the services that matter most to different types of investors. For example, for active traders, we note providers offering volume discounts on trade commissions and robust mobile trading platforms. For people venturing into investing for the first time, we call out brokers that provide educational support (such as stock-picking tutorials) and on-call chat or phone support.
Here at the Fool, you'll find plenty of help to get you moving in the right direction. Our 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly offers a step-by-step plan you can follow to develop your investing skills and become more successful. In addition, to find the partners you'll need in order to start buying stocks, the Fool's Broker Center has a list of trusted financial institutions that can pave the way for you to build your own stock portfolio.
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