How do financial planners help? Planners are professionals whose job is to invest your money for you, ensure that your money is safe, and guide you in your financial decisions. They draw from a wealth of experience at allocating resources. Most importantly, they have a financial stake in your success: the more money you make under their tutelage, the more money they make.
I like things that go "boom." Sonic or otherwise, that means I tend to gravitate towards defense and aerospace stocks. But to tell the truth, over the course of a dozen years writing for The Motley Fool, I have covered -- and continue to cover -- everything from retailers to consumer goods stocks, and from tech to banks to insurers as well. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for the most important developments in defense & aerospace news, and other great stories besides.
Invest in ETFs. Mutual funds usually aren't an option with just $100. They often require much larger initial investments. Enter ETFs. They combine a variety of securities into one investment. They often don't charge annual maintenance fees. But, you do pay a trading fee when you buy or sell them. We recommend sticking with ETFs that track index funds, such as the S&P 500.
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.
The rarer way to make an index is to use an equal weight distribution, where you invest in all companies in the index equally. This gives the index a value-tilt, meaning that as shares of a company drop in price, the index fund buys more of them in order to keep the balance, and sells shares if they increase in price. The downside is that these funds are a bit more expensive, and they’re not available for all types of indices.
This is part of what led to the rise of index funds and exchange-traded funds. With these investments, as with mutual funds, you’re able to invest in the entire stock market or large segments of it (for example, all U.S. technology stocks), rather than just investing in individual companies piecemeal (and paying a commission each time you trade one).
By creating a budget, you can determine how much money you have to invest. You can assign portions of your income to various savings goals, ranging from shorter-term ones, like buying a house, to longer-term ones, like retirement. Before you allocate money to your investment goals, however, many financial experts recommend putting aside money for an emergency fund.
You can also open a Roth IRA through a robo-advisor, which uses computer algorithms and advanced software to build and manage your investment portfolio. Robo-advisors largely build their portfolios out of low-cost ETFs and index funds. Because they offer low costs and low or no minimums, robos let you get started quickly. And they require little to no human interaction (still, many have human advisors available for questions).
You'll also want to look at a stock's P/E ratio, or price to earnings ratio, which is its market capitalization (the total value of its outstanding shares) divided by its earnings over the past year. Generally speaking, a high P/E ratio tells you that investors are placing a higher value on the company, which often means that company's stock will be more expensive than a company with a lower P/E ratio. But this doesn't always hold true.
Before you begin investing, you need an overall framework for understanding the stock market. Ours is simple: We believe that the best way to invest your money in stocks is to buy great companies and hold them for the long term. The best investments don't need you to check on them daily because they are solid companies with competitive advantages and strong leadership. Patience is the secret to investing and making money grow.
If you hit 67 with lots of money in your portfolio, enough to last you 30 years even if there are ups and downs in the market, you can afford to make the shift to bonds. But some people make that shift too soon, missing out on the gains that they need to keep their investments growing and make it through retirement. With people living longer in retirement and therefore requiring more retirement income, experts are shying away from advising that anyone eliminate their equity exposure too soon.
Preferred stock, meanwhile, represents an ownership share in a company as well, only if you hold preferred shares, you're entitled to a predetermined dividend that's likely to be larger than what common stockholders receive. Furthermore, in the event of a liquidation (which is when a company shuts down operations and sells off all of its assets), preferred shareholders get paid before common stockholders, making preferred shares a less risky investment. On the other hand, preferred shareholders don't get voting rights on company matters.