“Investing is complicated” - but it isn’t. It’s complicated because there is a lot to learn when it comes to investing. It’s complicated because it is an ever-changing field. It’s complicated because the “how to” needs to be coupled with the “why,” and there really isn’t an answer on Google for that. It isn’t complicated when you understand it, you keep up with it, and you have gained the wisdom to marry the “how to” with the “why.” To help you uncomplicate matters, we have created a list of ten questions every investor should be asking.
#10… Should I invest if I don’t understand investing? No, but yes. Most investors didn’t understand investing when they started. The key is educating yourself and asking questions until you do understand. The opportunity cost of not investing for this reason could risk your entire future. Start with our podcast “A 10,000 Foot View of Investing.”
#9… What does “risk” mean? No matter what you do with your money, you are taking risk. There is even risk by sitting in cash. Understanding risk could be the single most important thing you learn about investing. Listen to this podcast to find out more: “Considering Investing Risks.”
#8… What amount of “risk” should I be taking? You need to get your risk right, you need to have an investment strategy in place, you need to have an investment plan in place to support your income needs, future and goals, family dynamics, etc. You need to have proactive, not reactive investment management. But still NONE of these things will work without the secret sauce. Listen to this podcast to find out more: “The Secret Sauce to Investing.”
#7…How do I know which investments are right for me? Each investment is unique and the million dollar question is, “Is this a great investment?” Each investment should stand alone having that potential, but there is more to it: Each investment is also only one ingredient in the portfolio that is made up of all of your investments. The more precise question is, “Do you have a recipe for success?” Find out more on this podcast: “The 3 Rules for Simple Investing.”
#6…How many types of investments should I have? No matter what you read or listen to, there is not a cookie-cutter solution for your investment plan. However, there is a cookie-cutter solution to CREATE your investment plan. How? Listen to this podcast to learn more: “Investing is Black and White.”
#5… What does it cost me to invest? That is a loaded question—no pun intended. Each investment may or may not have management costs, cost to buy or sell, and other fees. Every advisor or trader could tell you something different about cost, but there is a simple rule to follow - make sure your net returns (after cost) are in-line with your goals and risk. Listen to the “Buyer Beware: Financial Products Sold with Bias” podcast to find out more.
#4… How much should I invest? It would be simple to say “as much as you can,” but it probably would not be accurate. Our experience has taught that us every individual and family is different. Check out our quick and easy online calculator to see what your need are.
#3… What do I do if I need money from my investments? You need a plan for this. Investment markets inevitably go up and go down. You never want to pull money completely out of your investments in a down market. Why? You probably will never make up the loss. Having a plan for your future, potential needs, goals, and income is imperative. Check out this podcast to hear how to plan for this: “Avoid These 3 Common Pitfalls of Investing.”
#2…How do taxes play a part in my investments? There are only three ways to increase your investment returns—the investments themselves, lower fees and lower taxes. Tax management is critical in your portfolio. Listen to “Is Your Investment Portfolio Tax Smart” to learn how your portfolio can be tax smart.
#1… Should there be an overall plan for my investments? One of my favorite quotes by Warren Buffet, arguably the greatest investor of all time is, “Successful investing takes time, discipline and patience. No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” Yes. You should have a plan and stick to it. Check out our podcast: “Investing - the Old Plan or New Plan.”
Remember, wisdom isn’t always about knowing the answer. More often than not it is about knowing the right question to ask. So go ahead. Start asking the questions you need to ask to uncomplicate your investments.