“Investing is not nearly as difficult as it looks. Successful investing involves doing a few things right and avoiding serious mistakes.”
-John C Bogle
When it Comes to Investing, My Best Advice is to KISS it!
In other words, Keep It Simple!
When it comes to successful investing, there are only a few things you need to know. You don’t need to learn how to day trade to be successful. In fact, day trading will probably not be successful at all.
MY SIMPLE INVESTING STRATEGY
I have a total of four investment accounts: a 401(k), a Roth IRA, a Traditional IRA, and a taxable account. My money is invested in ETFs, index funds and a few bonds. Of all of my long-term investments, three are tax advantaged (the Roth IRA, 401(k), and the Traditional IRA), meaning I get a tax benefit either when I deposit or withdrawal my money.
Taxes are important to note and consider. Taxes can take a massive chunk out of your future earnings, so it’s important to minimize their impact as much as possible. This is why I always recommend maxing out your 401k, Roth IRA, and if you have your own business or side hustle, a SEP IRA before investing in anything else. One cool feature of all the IRA accounts is that you can buy and sell stocks, index funds and ETFs inside them.
I love and prefer ETFs and index funds. They make investing and staying diversified so much easier. I also 100% manage my own investments. I have never used a financial advisor or firm.
(FYI: I typically don’t recommend mutual funds due to high commissions and fees. I don’t own any either).
“The index fund is a sensible, serviceable method for obtaining the market’s rate of return with absolutely no effort and minimal expense. Index funds eliminate the risks of individual stocks, market sectors and manager selection, leaving only stock market risk.”
-John C. Bogle
There’s a big difference between long-term and short-term investing. A lot of people don’t invest in stocks because they are afraid of losing money – which only really matters if you need the money in the short-term (say the next 10 years or less). But if you are investing for the long-term, then I don’t know of any better investment than the Stock Market (ie equities). Sure, stocks can go up and down drastically, but over any 10-year period in history they are always up at least 7% per year when the gains and losses are averaged out.
You can teach yourself how to invest through reading books and blogs. That’s how I learned how to invest successfully. The main thing you have to realize is that a lot of anxiety, fear and emotions get involved with investing, but that is usually simply due to lack of knowledge and education. However, taking just a little bit of time to do some research and learn from others that have been investing for decades. If you only have the ability to read one book on investing here’s my utmost, highly recommended book: The Simple Path to Wealth: Your road map to financial independence and a rich, free life by J.L. Collins.
“Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy.”
-John C. Bogle
TIME IN THE MARKET VS. TIMING THE MARKET
The down years (ie Bear Market) have an impact, but the degree to which they impact you is often determined by whether you decide to stay invested or get out. An investor with a long-term view may have great returns, while one with a short-term view who gets in, and then bails out after a bad year may have a significant loss.
No one will, or has ever been able to consistently time the market. They is no expert that can tell you when to get in and out and avoid the loss of down years, and then get back in time for the up turn.
If you are going to invest, you should expect the down years. You should know they are going to occur, and stick with your long-term investing plan. Not only that, you should see great opportunity in a Bear Market to buy “cheap” stocks.
BROKERAGE FIRMS VS ROBO-ADVISORS
Vanguard and Fidelity are your best choice for low-cost brokerage firms. Both are pretty competitive on fees.
Brokerage firms like Vanguard usually have a $3,000 minimum for mutual and index funds, but there are no minimums or commissions for ETFs. So you can invest in Vanguard’s Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) with as little as the price to buy one share.
That’s just one of my favorites. There are hundreds of different ETFs and index funds to choose from to fit your personal investing needs and risk allocation. You can also invest in bonds. remember to keep your portfolio as a whole diversified.
If you are more interested in a robo-advsior (a more hands off approach), Betterment has been very successful in this arena and also has low fees and no commissions, but not as low as Vanguard! You can read my full review of Betterment here.
Either way you choose, I recommend setting up automatic deposits timed with each paycheck and “pay yourself first”.
LASTLY, DON’T INVEST IN ANYTHING YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.
You have worked super hard for your money, don’t gamble it on investments, business or schemes you don’t 100% completely understand. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. There is no “get rich quick” approach when comes to investing.
And, that’s about it. I invest in only things that I completely understand with low fees. Then, I continue to buy and hold whether the market is up or down (truthfully, I don’t watch the market day-to-day, because that’s when worry and doubt can set in).