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How To Start Investing In 2016

How To Start Investing In 2016

Investing can be scary. The fear of the unknown always is. And the case for Millennials is worse, especially considering many of them graduated into a financial crisis and witnessed the stock market plummet nearly 40% in 2008. That kind of traumatic experience sticks with you, just as the Great Depression forced an entire generation of Americans to develop very frugal habits.

However, it’s important that young adults overcome their fears and start investing to secure their financial future. Waiting too long and starting too late can result in not having saved enough for retirement. After all, the stock market doesn’t plunge every other year and investing volatility is why experts always recommend you pick long-term investments, not short-term trades.

Below, we will discuss how to start investing in 2016, including the power of compounding interest, the average return of the stock market over the last 100 years, how to choose a brokerage account that is right for you, and finally, investment tips for beginners who may need some guidance.

Average Stock Market Returns

For starters, let me provide some basic background on expected average stock market returns. Between the beginning of 1900 and the end of 2015, the stock market returned an average 11.53%. To make sure that these dates were not cherry-picked, let’s remember what happened during this time period: two World Wars, the Great Depression, Vietnam War, Korean War, an oil embargo, multiple terrorist attacks, and a number of recessions caused by economic boom and bust cycles.

Even if you decide to solely focus on the most recent recession, including the roughly 37% drop in equities in 2008, the stock market has returned over 8.40% between 2007 and 2015. This is because the drop in the S&P 500 was closely followed by a slow recovery that ultimately helped investors recover their investments and then some. The point is, despite recessions and individual years with negative returns, the stock market averages a strong positive return over time.

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Time in the Market vs. Timing the Market

It is also important to point out that investors cannot time the market. In fact, research shows that a handful of days each year are actually responsible for the majority of the gains in that year.

The chart below, which reflects data compiled by JPMorgan Asset Management, demonstrates that an investor would have earned a 9.22% return if they were fully invested between 1993 and 2013. But if an investor were to have missed the top ten trading days out of ten years, the return would have decreased to 5.49%.

Investing - Time in the Market

    New investors should ask themselves: out of the more than 2,500 trading days in that 10 year period, would you have been able to pick the top 10 highest earning days?

    Start Early – The Power of Compounding

    Another reason why Millennials and young families should start investing as early as possible is the power of compounding. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of “compounding” returns, it is when you earn a gain on your principal the first year, and then begin to earn returns on your previous returns.

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    For example, if you invest $1,000 and earn an average 10% return annually, your investment will grow to $1,100 after the first year. After the second year, you won’t just earn another $100 but $110, for a total of $1,210. And the third year you will earn $121 for a total value of $1,331.

    On a small scale, this doesn’t seem like much, but assume you invest $1,000 per year for 30 years and average a conservative 8% return. Instead of having $30,000 in a checking account, you will have accumulated a little more than $132,000.

    Now let’s make this more realistic – assume you have a Roth IRA and you contribute the maximum (for your age) $5,500 per year for 30 years. At an average rate of return of 10% annually, you will have nearly $1.1 million dollars. But here’s why investing as early as possible is essential – if we change the number of years we’ve invested from 30 to 25, we only end up with $654,000 in retirement. Those final 5 years of investing on a large capital base comprise a significant amount in terms of gains and mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and a strained one.

    Compounding returns are critical to investors because they allow you to turn small principal contributions over a long period of time into large nest eggs. Keep in mind that Albert Einstein called compounding interest “the most powerful force in the universe.”

    How To Choose A Brokerage Account

    Once you’ve made the decision to start investing for your future, you must decide on your investment strategy and how to execute it. There are many brokerage houses or investing platforms available today – some of which have been around for decades, while others have leveraged new technology to offer consumers alternatives to traditional companies.

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    Traditional Investment Management

    A decade ago, investors had to choose between mutual fund managers such as Vanguard, Fidelity, and BlackRock (iShares) and discount brokerage firms such as TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE, and Scottrade.

    Mutual and index fund managers are ideal for passive investors. If you don’t know much about investing except for the basics, an index fund or ETF from Vanguard or Fidelity may be best – both securities use broad indexes as benchmarks and can be a way for investors to mimic returns from the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, or NASDAQ.

    On the other hand, if your employer 401K is already held with one of those mutual fund managers, you may want your private investment portfolio to be at a brokerage house. Discount brokers offer a variety of services, but they are ideal for investing in specific securities or trading stock options.

    Nevertheless, most investors aren’t stock-pickers, and evidence confirms they shouldn’t be. Research shows that “actively managed funds lost out to their passive peers in nearly every asset class during the 10 years between 2004 and 2014…”

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    So why pay your financial advisor a costly fee if they are going to have you invested in passively-managed index funds? Enter the robo-advisor.

    What Are Robo-Advisors?

    The robo-advisor is technology’s response to high fees charged by useless financial advisors and planners. Robo-advisors, such as Wealthfront and Betterment, are online wealth managers that provide automated, virtual investment and portfolio management advice without the intervention of a physical human being.

    By asking you a handful of questions regarding your financial goals, risk tolerance, and personal financial circumstances (e.g. income, assets and age), algorithm-based robo-advisors are able to determine your ideal investment plan. Their programs then recommend a number of investment options and allocations, taking into account the need for diversification across different asset classes and geographies. The other benefit to investors is that, because robo-advisors don’t rely on individual advisors to manage clients, their fees are much lower.

    Although both alternative asset managers are cheaper than traditional financial advisors, both companies have pros and cons. If this investment style seems appealing to you, it is crucial investors research and compare Betterment vs Wealthfront to determine which one better fulfills your needs.

    Stock Market Investing Tips – Dos and Don’ts

    Finally, when you pick a platform and start investing, it is important to develop a basic investment philosophy. While each investor has a different risk tolerance and way of choosing his investments, here are a few stock market tips to help you understand the fundamentals.

    • Set long-term goals. Investing is not a get-rich quick opportunity, and taking on too much risk can easily result in financial ruin. Evaluate your age, risk tolerance, time horizon, and financial goals (e.g. income generation, wealth preservation, or growth).
    • Control your emotions. Hope, greed, fear, and passion are emotions that will cloud your judgement. Investing with objectivity will protect you from making costly mistakes.
    • Minimize risk and maximize reward. Don’t take on excessive risk for small gains. Ideally, take on little risk for huge potential gains.
    • Don’t worry about taxes. If you think a stock has overshot its true value, sell. It is better to take your gains and pay capital gains taxes than to lose money holding a stock too long.
    • Buy best-in-class companies. Unless a mediocre company is deeply misunderstood by other investors, always buy the best and strongest companies in an industry.
    • Don’t be afraid to hold cash when you don’t see any bargains in the marketplace.
    • Don’t believe the hype on Wall Street and always be skeptical of financial analysts. They have a vested interest in keeping you invested, especially when they have positions in the names they are advertising.
    • Don’t let a financial advisor convince you to make an investment you aren’t comfortable with. If the investment, company, or industry doesn’t make sense to you, why invest in it?
    • Life insurance is not an investment. Unethical financial advisors make exorbitant commissions selling whole life insurance, which they claim is an investment opportunity with guaranteed returns. The high premiums you pay outweigh any returns you may earn. Term life is the best life insurance you can buy, then take your savings and invest in an index fund.

    Final Word

    Starting anything new can be intimidating, but that’s no excuse to procrastinate and avoid securing your family’s financial future. To eventually reach financial independence, young adults and families need to start investing early to take advantage of time and compounding returns. If you are skeptical or fearful, starting small is an option. Ultimately, successful investing is all about taking simple steps and executing on fundamental principles on a regular basis. Let 2016 be the year you begin your journey to financial freedom!

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    Gary Dekmezian

    Entrepreneur

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    Published on November 8, 2018

    How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

    How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

    After a few months of hard work and dozens of phone calls later, you finally land a job opportunity.

    But then, you’re asked about your salary requirements and your mind goes blank. So, you offer a lower salary believing this will increase your odds at getting hired.

    Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach.

    Your salary requirements can make or break your odds at getting hired. But only if you’re not prepared.

    Ask for a salary too high with no room for negotiation and your potential employer will not be able to afford you. Aim too low and employers will perceive as you offering low value. The trick is to aim as high as possible while keeping both parties feel happy.

    Of course, you can’t command a high price without bringing value.

    The good news is that learning how to be a high-value employee is possible. You have to work on the right tasks to grow in the right areas. Here are a few tactics to negotiate your salary requirements with confidence.

    1. Hack time to accomplish more than most

    Do you want to get paid well for your hard work? Of course you do. I hate to break it to you, but so do most people.

    With so much competition, this won’t be an easy task to achieve. That’s why you need to become a pro at time management.

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    Do you know how much free time you have? Not the free time during your lunch break or after you’ve finished working at your day job. Rather, the free time when you’re looking at your phone or watching your favorite TV show.

    Data from 2017 shows that Americans spend roughly 3 hours watching TV. This is time poorly spent if you’re not happy with your current lifestyle. Instead, focus on working on your goals whenever you have free time.

    For example, if your commute to/from work is 1 hour, listen to an educational Podcast. If your lunch break is 30 minutes, read for 10 to 15 minutes. And if you have a busy life with only 30–60 minutes to spare after work, use this time to work on your personal goals.

    Create a morning routine that will set you up for success every day. Start waking up 1 to 2 hours earlier to have more time to work on your most important tasks. Use tools like ATracker to break down which activities you’re spending the most time in.

    It won’t be easy to analyze your entire day, so set boundaries. For example, if you have 4 hours of free time each day, spend at least 2 of these hours working on important tasks.

    2. Set your own boundaries

    Having a successful career isn’t always about the money. According to Gallup, about 70% of employees aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.[1]

    Earning more money isn’t a bad thing, but choosing a higher salary over the traits that are the most important to you is. For example, if you enjoy spending time with your family, reject job offers requiring a lot of travel.

    Here are some important traits to consider:

    • Work and life balance – The last thing you’d want is a job that forces you to work 60+ hours each week. Unless this is the type of environment you’d want. Understand how your potential employer emphasizes work/life balance.
    • Self-development opportunities – Having the option to grow within your company is important. Once you learn how to do your tasks well, you’ll start becoming less engaged. Choose a company that encourages employee growth.
    • Company culture – The stereotypical cubicle job where one feels miserable doesn’t have to be your fate. Not all companies are equal in culture. Take, for example, Google, who invests heavily in keeping their employees happy.[2]

    These are some of the most important traits to look for in a company, but there are others. Make it your mission to rank which traits are important to you. This way you’ll stop applying to the wrong companies and stay focused on what matters to you more.

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    3. Continuously invest in yourself

    Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Cliche I know, but true nonetheless.

    You’ll grow as a person and gain confidence with the value you’ll be able to bring to others. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you can read books to expand your knowledge in different fields.

    Don’t get stuck into the habit of reading without a purpose. Instead, choose books that will help you expand in a field you’re looking to grow. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to reading books in one subject–create a healthy balance.

    Podcasts are also a great medium to learn new subjects from experts in different fields. The best part is they’re free and you can consume them on your commute to/from work.

    Paid education makes sense if you have little to no debt. If you decide to go back to school, be sure to apply for scholarships and grants to have the least amount of debt. Regardless of which route you take to make it a habit to grow every day.

    It won’t be easy, but this will work to your advantage. Most people won’t spend most of their free time investing in themselves. This will allow you to grow faster than most, and stand out from your competition.

    4. Document the value you bring

    Resumes are a common way companies filter employees through the hiring process. Here’s the big secret: It’s not the only way you can showcase your skills.

    To request for a higher salary than most, you have to do what most are unwilling to do. Since you’re already investing in yourself, make it a habit to showcase your skills online.

    A great way to do this is to create your own website. Pick your first and last name as your domain name. If this domain is already taken, get creative and choose one that makes sense.

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    Here are some ideas:

    • joesmith.com
    • joeasmith.com
    • joesmithprojects.com

    Nowadays, building a website is easy. Once you have your website setup, begin producing content. For example, if you a developer you can post the applications you’re building.

    During your interviews, you’ll have an online reference to showcase your accomplishments. You can use your accomplishments to justify your salary requirements. Since most people don’t do this, you’ll have a higher chance of employers accepting your offer

    5. Hide your salary requirements

    Avoid giving you salary requirements early in the interview process.

    But if you get asked early, deflect this question in a non-defensive manner. Explain to the employer that you’d like to understand your role better first. They’ll most likely agree with you; but if they don’t, give them a range.

    The truth is great employers are more concerned about your skills and the value you bring to the company. They understand that a great employee is an investment, able to earn them more than their salary.

    Remember that a job interview isn’t only for the employer, it’s also for you. If the employer is more interested in your salary requirements, this may not be a good sign. Use this question to gauge if the company you’re interviewing is worth working for.

    6. Do just enough research

    Research average salary compensation in your industry, then wing it.

    Use tools like Glassdoor to research the average salary compensation for your industry. Then leverage LinkedIn’s company data that’s provided with its Pro membership. You can view a company’s employee growth and the total number of job openings.

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    Use this information to make informed decisions when deciding on your salary requirements. But don’t limit yourself to the average salary range. Companies will usually pay you more for the value you have.

    Big companies will often pay more than smaller ones.[3] Whatever your desired salary amount is, always ask for a higher amount. Employers will often reject your initial offer. In fact, offer a salary range that’ll give you and your employer enough room to negotiate.

    7. Get compensated by your value

    Asking for the salary you deserve is an art. On one end, you have to constantly invest in yourself to offer massive value. But this isn’t enough. You also have to become a great negotiator.

    Imagine requesting a high salary and because you bring a lot of value, employers are willing to pay you this. Wouldn’t this be amazing?

    Most settle for average because they’re not confident with what they have to offer. Most don’t invest in themselves because they’re not dedicated enough. But not you.

    You know you deserve to get paid well, and you’re willing to put in the work. Yet, you won’t sacrifice your most important values over a higher salary.

    The bottom line

    You’ve got what it takes to succeed in your career. Invest in yourself, learn how to negotiate, and do research. The next time you’re asked about your salary requirements, you won’t fumble.

    You’ll showcase your skills with confidence and get the salary you deserve. What’s holding you back now?

    Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

    Reference

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