Investing – How To Choose The Best Option

Investors are increasingly forced to choose from a proliferation of investment options. They also have to deal with contradictory advice on how to achieve their financial goals and how to invest the savings they have accumulated during their lifetime. If you consider that there are more than 7000 mutual funds available in the United States alone, and thousands of insurance products worldwide, making the choice that will satisfy them ever after is daunting, to say the least.No wonder people so often ask the rather general question: Which investment is best? The first part of the answer is easy: No single investment is ‘the best’ under all circumstances for all investors. Personal circumstances, goals and different people’s needs differ, as do the characteristics of different investments. Secondly, one asset class’s strength in certain circumstances could be another’s weakness. It is therefore important to compare investments according to relevant criteria. The art is to find the appropriate investment for each objective and need.The following are the most important criteria:
the goal of the investment
the risk the investor can handle
liquidity required
taxability of the investment
the period until the financial goal is reached
last but not least, the cost of the investment.THE GOALGoals determine the characteristics sought in an investment. You will be in a position to choose the most appropriate investment only when you have decided on your short-, medium- and long-term goals. The following generic goals are normally involved:Emergency fundEmergency fund money should be readily available when needed, and the value of the fund should be equal to about six months’ income. Money market funds are excellent for this purpose. While these funds do not perform much higher than inflation, their benefit is that capital is saved and is easily accessible.If you already have a ready emergency fund covering more than six months’ income, you could consider a more aggressive mutual fundCapital protectionIf your primary aim is capital protection, you will have to be satisfied with a lower growth rate on the investment. Those above 50 are normally advised to be conservative in their investment approach. While this may for the most part be sound advice, you should also keep an eye on the risk of inflation, so that the purchasing power of your money does not depreciate. It is not the nominal value of the capital that should be protected, but the inflation-adjusted one. At an annual inflation rate of 6%, $1 million today will buy the same as $174 110 in 30 years’ time. A 50 year-old with $1 million would therefore have to lower his living standard substantially if he only retains the $1 million until he was 80.Conservative investments like those listed above should form the normal basis for providing an income. Because of inflation risk, investments should be structured so that they can at least keep up with inflation. This means that at least a percentage of the investment source providing the income should be made up of other asset classes like property and equity mutual funds. The percentage would differ according to individual and economic circumstances.Investors fortunate enough to have their basic budget provided for by a conservative fund could consider increasing their income with commercial property funds and tax-free income from dividends paid out by listed shares.Capital growthIf an investor’s primary goal is to achieve capital growth, the real rate of return should be higher than inflation. This implies greater risk to capital in the short term. Investors aiming at capital growth should not be apprehensive, as they will reap the rewards in the long term.The history of equity prices over the past 100 years proves equity investments to be the best performer, followed by property. This does not mean you should buy either of these investments blindfolded. Wait until the quality shares in which you are interested are trading at inexpensive price levels.RISKThe investment with a history of the highest growth is not necessarily the one to choose. The Standard Bank’s Gold Fund increased by 178% during the period 13 August 2001 – 24 May 2002 (284 days). Judging only on the growth of the fund during this period, it performed exceptionally well. But would it be the right investment for a retiree? During the 805 days following this, the same fund experienced a negative growth rate of 44%! The problem with an investment that decreases by this percentage is that it will not reach its previous peak by increasing again by 44%. This is because the growth this time will take place from a lower base, so in fact the investment would have to increase by approximately 80%.LIQUIDITYHard assets like Persian carpets, works of art and antique furniture may be good investments in the long term, but unfortunately they are not very liquid. The same is true of certain shares in smaller companies. Money market funds, on the other hand, are very liquid, but the returns may not always be as good as those from other investments. The need to liquidise the investment quickly is therefore also a criterion to consider when evaluating investments.TAXABILITYThe taxability of an investment has a considerable impact on its value to the investor. When comparing the returns on different investments, the return after tax has been deducted should be used. The investor should always ask what will be left in his pocket after tax deduction.PERIODConservative investments with no potential for high returns are suitable for shorter periods, while investment-objectives with longer time horizons aspire to achieving higher returns. Money market funds are suitable for periods of one or two years. Income and conservative asset allocation funds for three or four years and flexible asset allocation funds, commercial property funds and value equity funds may be chosen for longer periods, dependent on the economic and interest cycle and the propensity of the investor to accept risk.COSTSThe costs involved in an investment are normally things like administrative cost and commission. The percentage of the costs to the investment amount directly affects the value of the investment. Many of the currently available investment products are structured in such a way that investors can negotiate commission.CONCLUSIONNo investment strategy blueprint is going to be perfect for everyone’s circumstances. Investment opportunities should therefore be examined critically before any decision is made. It should also be kept in mind that there are different companies managing specific funds under the investment categories referred to above. Some are more effectively managed than others. Investors should therefore research investments as well as the managers thoroughly before investing. Otherwise, they could appoint professional asset managers to do so on their behalf. Time spent determining the type of investment you really need is time invested in your future financial well-being.

Tips For Holiday Traveling

You may find that traveling this holiday season may be more stressful than usual because of this year’s penny pinching global economy. To add to this many airlines have cut flights, raised fares and added more cheery travel surcharges. Thus, many people have decided to forgo holiday traveling this year to save money. But for those who have decided to bite the bullet and are still going ahead with traditional travel plans there is still hope to be had. Here are some great tips for this year’s holiday travel.First, make a game plan stick to it. Whether it is where you are going, what time, or with who you should familiarize yourself with the places you are heading. This game plan can also help you avoid any unforeseen circumstances such as an overweight bag at the airport. Pinning down all the details will organize your plans and mentally prepare you for what is waiting.Before you leave make sure you make arrangements for your home. Whether this means leaving a light on a timer or finding someone to watch your dog, knowing at least a couple of weeks beforehand will ease your pre trip stress.Create a list of the items you absolutely need, those you want and those you could possibly mail. This will help eliminate extra bag weight and will help you limit what really needs to go with you on your trip.In order to make your trip more relaxing try to travel on off peak days. This means don’t head out on a Friday afternoon or evening but try for a weekday. Try to leave your house as early as possible as well to account for possible traffic.When traveling it is also important to not sweat the small stuff. Remember, you are going on vacation which means sitting back and relaxing which will be impossible if you worry about every little thing. Also remember that you probably are not going to get everything done so if something unexpected arises try to go with the flow.All of these tips will allow you to have a much more realizing holiday, one where you will be able to sit back and enjoy your loved ones. Upon returning home, don’t make it sad but celebrate it and allow your vacation bliss to stay a little longer while you ease back into everyday life.

Short, Intermediate, And Longer – Term Impacts On Home Sales, When Rates Rise!

For many reasons, some, economic, while others, related to the pandemic – related, so – called, fatigue, etc, home prices, in most areas, have gone up, at, or, near, record amounts! Because of the prolonged period of artificially – created, low – interest rates, mortgage rates, have been at historic lows! Since, for most home buyers, using financing is essential to affording a purchase, when a low rate, causes cheap money, and, thus, the ability to afford more home – for – the – buck, prices usually rise! It permits qualified buyers to qualify for more money/ loan, because the ratio of monthly mortgage, to overall income, is artificially – reduced! How long will this trend continue, will it become the new – normal, will previous trends/ cycles return, and how will pricing be affected, in the immediate, intermediate, and longer – run, are, all factors, to consider! With, that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, some possibilities, to consider, and understand.

1. Short – term: Since, the Federal Reserve Bank, announced, they planned to raise rates, three times in 2022 (of course, this was before the potential implications, and ramifications, from the Omicron variant), many feel pressure, to act quickly, to take advantage of today’s low rates, before they go up! Three increases will probably translate to, at least, a 0.75% higher rate, which will translate, for most mortgages, to hundreds of extra dollars, per month. Some things to consider, and pay attention to, is, this rate of increased home prices, will, probably, not continue, especially, at such a large degree! How longer one, expects to keep a specific house, is, one issue, to consider, thoroughly, and wisely, before proceeding!

2. Intermediate – term: Although, many believe, to – know, the precise timing of any projected rate – hike, is uncertain! The Fed has changed, and/ or, altered its strategies and approaches, in the past, What the intermediate – term, may bring, including potential inflationary pressures, how long the economic conditions, and unknown factors, related to the pandemic, etc, will determine, largely, what this phase, may bring! In addition, the attitude, and perceptions of buyers, and their confidence, etc, largely impact this real estate market!

3. Longer – term: In the longer – run, will things, restore, to what we have seen, so often, in the past, which is, alternating cycles, between, Sellers, Buyers, and Neutral Markets? The possibilities, include: a continued large escalation; a more – gradual, but persistent – one; some leveling; and/ or, will we see, at least, in certain areas, some sort of falling prices, for a period.