1. Buy low, sell high. Oh really? Are you a stock market aficionado? Can you play the stocks along with the best? Even the pros cannot manage the market with perfect timing. The odds of doing this consistently are incredibly low. That means you have to be buying straight stocks rather than mutual funds or a GIC or even Savings Bonds and keeping an eye on how they’re doing. I wish you luck with that. Usually mutual funds or ETFs are the way to go for the middle-class investor. Affluent to wealthy people may have more leeway but even the affluent need a good financial advisor when investing their hard-earned cash.
2. Follow the 1/3 rule. The 1/3 rule in a nutshell: to invest your money in a supposedly wise manner, invest 1/3 of your income in a high risk venture, 1/3 in a moderate risk and 1/3 in a low risk. Seriously? Let’s consider a high risk. Someone wants you to give them a few start-up bucks to open up a restaurant, promising you a significant return, maybe even a long-term venture together. Everyone knows the restaurant business is notoriously unstable. If you are a millionaire, go ahead with the 1/3 rule. Otherwise, what are you thinking? Invest 90% of your funds in low-risk and maybe the rest in moderate – high risk. You can’t afford the risks.
3. Always get a private financial investor or stock broker. Don’t be stupid. That’s like saying always trust a used car salesman.You might be lucky to find a good one and they are out there, but most brokers are in it to win it for themselves. Generally speaking major banks are the way to go. They also have an agenda of course, but there are so many people investing through banks that your likelihood of a good return is significantly higher than investing through someone whose eye is more on her own commission than on your financial well-being. Besides they might be pushing a specific product and that is ridiculously misleading.
4. Open a credit card account but don’t use your card so you can build up a good credit rating. Of course you will use that card. And often. You will tell yourself it’s only for emergencies but your definition of emergency will be pretty lax once you realize how easy it is to pull out that card and ch-ch-charge it!
5. Nix a written financial plan. Okay so you won’t reach every goal you have on the plan, it’s more of a forecast than 10 financial commands written in stone. A good financial plan however offers room for flexibility and allows for set-backs. It is updated regularly to suit your goals and financial situation. You need it and you need a good, certified financial planner to help you make one.
6. Ignore undervalued stocks. This may be smart but an undervalued stock that has good potential to rise is a different story. Your financial advisor at your bank or your certified financial planner (whom you have checked out and are satisfied with his or her credentials) should be able to advise you on this one.
7. Hire an investor without recognizing significant personal and professional characteristics. A good advisor is patient, understands human needs, has no hidden agenda, has strong, verifiable credentials and is without bias.
8. Ignore your retirement needs, it will all take care of itself. This one is huge. you have to do the math in order to predict what you will need to live on comfortably when you retire. You need to allow for the cost of living, inflation, recession, ill-health, the duration of your mortgage payments, and the age you want to be when you retire. These aren’t fun facts but they’re important. You need to invest in an RRSP or ETF portfolio you are willing to buy and hold, or some such thing and contribute to it with every pay check.. It is never too early (or too late if you haven’t begun) to start planning for your retirement. Seriously. That even applies to people who are fresh out of university or college and are still in their 20’s. The sooner the better.
9. An RESP for your kids shouldn’t be a priority. Well, if you cannot invest in your child’s education and your child has to apply for a bank loan or a government loan, the world won’t stop turning. Most of us had to pay for our own schooling. It was tough, but we did it. However one of the best gifts you can give your child is an education and if you can do it, then why not? The sooner you invest in an RESP, the better. It doesn’t have to be a large investment. I started investing for my 6-year-old daughter with only $25 a month since, as a single mother on a $40,000.00 a year income and no child support, that was all I could afford. I increased it to $50 a month only after she reached about the age of 13. It was the best I could do. However, in Ontario the government matches RESP investments dollar for dollar up to $4,000.00 annually. By the time she was ready for college at the age of 18, I had close to $6,000.00 for her, more than enough to pay for a 2-year college program. Who knew?
10. TFSA’s aren’t as financially sound as RRSPs. Not so. The proper use of a TFSA (tax-free savings account) is to hold your money in it for as long as possible. Investing then withdrawing on a regular basis will lead to taxation and that renders it useless. However, sometimes you may need to cash in your TFSA for an emergency fund. It’s a small tax shelter when used properly. It’s great as an emergency savings plan or for a relatively short-term goal, such as a purchase you wish to make within 5 years of opening the account. It’s wise to take advantage of this investment on a short-term basis. If you’re looking for a retirement fund however, RRSPs or ETFs that are comprised mostly of mutual funds are the best way to go. RRSPs tend to be good starter investments for the new investor but they are also very reliable for the middle-class investor who has little risk room.
11. You always need lots of diversity in your mutual funds. Not necessarily. The “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” mentality is a smart one but a more experienced investor doesn’t invest in hundreds of stocks via mutual funds. Those that are tried and true can be highly beneficial and relatively risk-free.
12. Renting your home is throwing money away. Nonsense. It is true that a house is a long-term investment and that home ownership gives a person a feeling of accomplishment. But renting isn’t throwing money away. Going to a casino and gambling away your pay check is throwing money away. if you aren’t in a position to buy, and that may always be the case, there are other ways to invest your money so you won’t be house-poor or cash-poor. When you can’t rent for significantly less than you can own, that can be a more sensible move than buying a home. At least you don’t have to panic when a recession hits, and recession will hit. It is inevitable, especially with financial trading and national economy going more global than ever. Besides, you are locked in to your mortgage and your location when you buy a house. And you are responsible for your own yard work and the repair and maintenance of your own home. Meh. Flip a coin. To each her own.
I’m sure you know of other tips to avoid bad investing (or missing out on good investing). I’d love to hear from you to add them to my list.
Although I’ve pretty much been doom and gloom about Canada’s ongoing recession, job losses, and the European euro crash, I found some interesting (and hilarious) non-investment retirement advice in MoneySense Guide to Retiring Wealthy that has lifted my spirits. I always wondered what happened to people who either couldn’t or wouldn’t invest a cent for their retirement. I know people in the latter situation, if you can believe it. One family blows their money at the racetrack every week (how they can afford that while living on a government-funded seniors’ pension, God only knows). The other is a young man who is more than capable of holding down a job, yet he works the welfare system and collects every month because he doesn’t like work. No, seriously. There just seem to be people like that in the city, don’t there? They learn barely legal loopholes and they live on us while we live on … us. But I digress….
I am reading the updated 2012 edition of MoneySense and found, on p. 58, the most hilarious retirement advice ever. Now the book states it can help you to retire wealthy, however it seems to have thrown in a codicil here for people who just want to retire, wealthy or not. It presents the no-frills retirement option:
- rental property with utilities
- no car – public transport only
- no cable, internet, etc
- 3 meals a day
- no extras – even a bottle of booze every week
- it didn’t mention food and clothing banks or soup
kitchens…consider those your luxuries
- it didn’t mention begging or busking …
consider those your optional additional income
If you can live happily under these rigid conditions (and some people can) the total amount required to save for your retirement is: zero. Seriously. Where does the money come from to finance the aforemementioned, you say? 3 very solid government systems: OAS (Old Age Security), GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) and CPP (Canada Pension Plan). It is not true that CPP and OAS are in danger of vanishing. Poppycock. Those rumours have been swirling around since the 1970s but the two systems are still paying out annually to ever senior in Canada. watch the canada pension plan with malcolm hamilton
This provides a couple with a combined income of approximately $24,000.00 annually, every year. I do not know what a single retiree is given but I do know (and I quote) “you won’t have to live on cat food.” watch 88 year old stand up to harper government
While it’s reassuring to know that if, for some tragic reason, you wind up on skid row, that you will still be cared for financially, it just rips me that you can plan for a basic retirement by investing nothing. I cannot stop snickering over that one. Can you imagine watching a commercial like that? So for all of you very laissez-faire types who have been late to the investment party, or who may never make it, relax. You live in Canada. Let the elderly Americans eat cat food…or to COIN a phrase…let them eat cake. watch make your money worth more
- You own the property…you can landscape, barbecue, pitch a tent…
- You can’t be evicted.
- You have a financial investment and therefore a future nest egg.
- You can take out a 2nd mortgage.
- People like the status of home ownership. video: How to Buy a House
- A home is a status symbol.
- You will never have a pesky landlord.
- You can rent a room or a basement.
- You feel truly settled.
- You have an inheritance to pass onto your children. video: How Millions of Americans Will Lose Their Homes
- You can invest in home improvement and beautification.
- You can erect a fence for privacy.
- You have creative license with your interior decor.
- You can sell your house when you are in financial need.
- You can turn it over for profit. video: How to Flip a House for $5,000.00
- You can live in an upscale part of town.
- You will build home equity.video: Home Ownership Accelerator: Mortgage Magic
- A permanent neighbourhood gives you a sense of community.
- You have your own backyard.
- You have a sense of security and permanence.
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