Skip to comments.You're Ready to Invest -- or are You?
Posted on 09/07/2011 7:00:15 AM PDT by Kaslin
Dear Carrie: I'm 27 and finally in a situation where I can save some money. Last year, I was even able to put $5,000 in a Roth IRA. But now what? Everyone tells me to start investing, but I have to confess I'm kind of scared. I think what's been happening in the last few years has really shaken me up. How can I invest and not lose money? --A Reader
Dear Reader: First, major kudos for getting an early start on retirement saving. By starting in your twenties, you give yourself a huge advantage; in fact, if you continue to save just ten percent of your salary each year, you should be in pretty good shape come retirement time. But the people urging you to invest are absolutely right. Saving is only half the story. (set ital) Growing (end ital) your money is the real key to setting yourself up for the future.
Looking at your age alone, the standard advice would be to put the majority of your savings in stocks. However, given the market ups and downs you've seen, I completely understand your reluctance to jump in. Let's try to put some things in perspective.
YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT SOME RISK
There's no way around it: when you invest, the risk of loss goes hand in hand with the potential for gain. And while stocks have a greater potential for gain than bonds or cash over the long term, they also are the most volatile. So before you make any decisions, I recommend that you take some time to think carefully about how much risk you're willing to take. Are you willing to accept a loss in one year knowing that you also have the potential for gain in the future? Also realize that at your age, you do have the time to ride out the market's downs more than say a 40- or 50-year-old would.
YOU NEED A PLAN YOU CAN STICK WITH
That said, if you're really not comfortable taking on much investment risk, go with it. When you invest against your feelings, you'll be tempted to bail the first time the market goes through a rough spot. So it's important to come up with an investment approach you can stick with over time.
What might this mean for you? A conservative portfolio might have 20 or 25 percent in stocks and the rest divided into fixed income investments, such as bonds or certificate of deposits and cash. In my opinion, that would be extremely conservative for someone of your age, but it may be appropriate for you -- at least as a starting point. A more moderate approach might be along the lines of 60 percent in stocks divided among large, small and international companies.
Funds can be a good choice for getting started because they can give you a lot of diversification for a small investment -- and diversification helps balance risk, though it cannot eliminate the risk of market losses. But you need to do some research. For starters, look for funds with low expenses. There are a number of easy-to-use online screeners that will help you compare your choices. You might find it fascinating once you get started. And the more you know, the more comfortable you'll feel investing.
Another tool that can be helpful, is what's called a target date fund. You choose a fund according to the date you plan to retire, which in your case might be 2040. The fund invests more aggressively to begin with but automatically adjusts to a more conservative approach as you get closer to retirement. Please keep in mind, though, that neither the principal nor the return of a target date fund is guaranteed on the target date (or any other date, for that matter).
YOU CAN EASE YOUR WAY IN
Another thing to realize is that if you're feeling tentative, you don't have to jump into investing all at once. To ease your way in, you can use a gradual but systematic approach known as dollar-cost averaging: Once you have identified appropriate stocks or funds, you then invest a set amount each month (or at any set interval) -- whatever the market is doing. If prices are low, you'll be able to buy more shares. If prices are high, you'll buy fewer. Over time your cost basis will even out -- and in the meantime, you'll be poised for growth. Of course dollar cost averaging cannot ensure a profit or protect you against losses, so think carefully about your ability to continue investing during declining markets.
THINK LONG TERM
Once you've made your initial investments, keep adding to them as you get more comfortable. Keep an eye on your investments, but try not to worry too much about short-term fluctuations. Remember, it's growth over time that's important. And the sooner you get started, the more time you'll have to make the most of it.
So buy precious metals.
Right now we have a literally golden opportunity where the safest asset class (precious metals) is also the one that will grow most in buying power - at least until 1 oz of Gold = the DOW, and probably until 0.5 oz of Gold = the DOW.
Government bonds, banks, and green energy, if the politicians are honorable. Gold, silver and other commodities if they are dirty rotten scoundrels. You decide.
Nice little dip going on in PMs right now.
this poor kid needs to be told it’s OK to sit out this market in cash and read read read before doing anything
Wall Street has no rationality and will gobble up her hard earned savings faster than a trip to Best Buy
However she might choose a collectible that interests her and start small- buying Morgan dollars or French gold francs or US Mint proofs, for example
Agreed! I hope it lasts until my next payday (though I seriously doubt it).
Past performance is no indicator of future results, but historically, gold hasn’t been the magical investment you seem to think it has been.
It is folly to call gold “the safest asset class” and even more foolish to say that it “WILL grow most in buying power.”
Gold is ONE part of a prudently diversified portfolio.
I was looking at tiaa-cref.org at mutual fund possibilities and everything is negative for the year. I looked at bond funds and they are all about 5% up on the year. not much, but better than negative. The inflation protected bonds were up about 10%. I am going to get in bonds until 2012 and then move into stocks if a republican gets elected.
Ouch! What happened? From the chart it looks like any time it gets close to $1900 it gets smacked down hard and then starts climbing again.
I have an ex-wife, therefore thanks to government “guidelines” I’m broke..... barf
I have found this website to be a very useful source of information on the economy, gold, and silver.
Buy on the dips.
there does seem to be a bit of manipulation going on, doesn’t there?
Of course this would *never* benefit, say, China, would it? (sarc)
Even so “they” (whoever) don’t seem to be able to tamp it down, except temporarily
underlying conditions for the PM rush have NOT been addressed and what is the confidence they will be?
Let not your heart be troubled! Buy the dips if you can!
Right now it takes about 7-8 oz.
The current Gold vs DOW cycle won't reverse until it's 1 or even 0.5 oz of Gold to buy the DOW. Then you sell the Gold and move into real estate or stocks. Not now.
The same sharp gain in Gold/DOW ratio happened after 1928 and after 1966. Post-2000 is the third period of sharp gain in Gold/Dow. It's like clockwork, except that we now also have the possibility of fiat confidence disappearing entirely.
So my advice would be:
"Dear Reader. Get the heck out of fiat. Buy Gold and Silver NOW or spend the rest of your life pushing a wheelbarrow filled with Ben Bernanke Clownbux."
Good point about the coins. If she were to study just a little about the prices of rare coins she’d see they have been going up and up over the years.
Invest in a few high grade colonials, an MS65 1909 S VDB Cent - strong rarities have a strong return.
if she doesn’t wish to lose money, she should invest in nickels. Currently they are worth 6 cents each just for the base metal components. Currency debasement will come sooner or later just as it did in the past with silver coinage in 1964 and the copper penny in 1982. When that happens, all you need to do is wait for inflation to increase and your now collectible nickels will be worth much more than you paid for them. Currently, a pre-1964 dime is worth $2.94. A pre-1964 quarter is worth $7.35. Not bad for an original investment of 10 cents and 25 cents respectively. Considering the girl in the article will retire in 40 years or so if she’s lucky, her $5,000 in nickels will be worth a mint! The worst her investment will do is maintain its value.
thanks- fun forum!
Comment: “After that convoy into Niger, Qadaffi must be selling his gold today!”
Without Bank leasing of Gold and creation of paper Gold and paper Silver (e.g. the ETFs), the precious metals would long since have risen out of our reach.
All this manipulation has been a gift. I could almost kiss the folks at JP Morgan - except that I'd catch a ghastly disease.