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The Best Investment Portfolio for 2016 and Beyond

The Best Investment Portfolio for 2016 and Beyond

Simply put, there is a lot to know and a lot to learn about investing. There are dozens of different kinds of investment vehicles and countless options among those for investing your money. Before you start putting your hard-earned money away, it’s best that you understand the basics of where it’s going and your best options for investing in 2016.

The Principles of Investing

Before looking at specific types of investments, let’s review some of the basics of investing. The very, very simple summary is that you give away some money, wait, and receive more money back after a certain time.

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It’s also helpful to understand what investing is not. For one, it’s not a way to make money overnight (in most cases). It’s not something to put all of your eggs in–all investments involve a degree of risk. And it’s not something worth putting money into if you have high-interest debt obligations to pay off because the chances are you’ll just end up accumulating more debt than returns on your investments.

That said, if you’re able, the sooner you invest, the better. It’s a snowball effect: The sooner that you put your money into something that will make you money, the sooner you make that money, which you can put back into investing. Rinse and repeat. The best time to invest was yesterday, and the second-best time to invest is now.

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Finally, you’ll want a diverse portfolio. That is, it’s best if your investments are split among different vehicles. If you’re all set to invest, make sure you have the following investments in your portfolio this year.

Mutual Funds

If you’re just starting out, mutual funds are the best way to grow your money. While it will take some time to see a return on this investment, they’re low-risk and almost a guaranteed profit. A mutual fund works by pooling together money from multiple investors who share a common goal and investing the money accordingly. Here are the best mutual funds you can invest in in 2016:

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  • Vanguard 500 Index Fund: Based on the S&P 500, this fund has had its slight ups and downs. But taking a longer-term look at the fund shows its almost doubled in value over the past five years, and it looks to continue to grow. It’s basically a guaranteed profit.
  • Vanguard Health Care: This fund is split among different health sectors such as biotech and healthcare technology. While Vanguard labels this fund as high risk and high reward, an aging Baby Boomer population is going to put these services in high demand.

Stocks

A stock is a portion of a company that you buy into, and as the company does well, demand for the stock rises, meaning your stock increases in value. The best stock investments you can make are in companies you expect to continue to do well. But, if you want to make a greater profit (with a higher degree of risk), you’d do better to choose companies that you expect to grow in the future. Here are your best stock investments for 2016:

  • Apple (AAPL): Of course, the best time to buy Apple was years ago. But don’t be fooled: this is still a good stock. The past year has seen the stock fall, meaning that it’s cheaper than it has been in two years. With a broadening ecosystem and a new headquarters, there’s no doubt that Apple’s stock will rise again.
  • Tesla (TSLA): The electric car company basically has the rapidly-growing industry cornered and is set to release its first consumer electric car next year. It’s a disruptor on the ground floor, just like Apple (AAPL) was, and it’s just announced its iPhone.

Commodities

Commodities are fairly easier to understand, as their value comes from physical objects. Better yet, they’re always in demand. Unlike a stock, you never have to worry about a commodity going out of business or making bad press. Here are three of the best commodity investments you can make:

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  • Alternative energies: If you’re interested in short-term investments, you might look instead at investing in crude oil. But taking a long-term view of energy shows that green and renewable energies like solar, nuclear, and natural gases are the way of the future. Their demand will increase this decade, and surely in the decades following.
  • Lithium: This precious metal isn’t as popular as gold, silver, or copper, but it’s due for a huge surge in demand, as it’s one of the main materials used in batteries. With a car industry that will see a greater reliance on batteries in the future, lithium will be coming out on top.

Real Estate

In simple terms, your investment comes in the form of buying a property, such as a house, an apartment, or a condo. While you’re responsible for paying the mortgage on this property, as well as for its upkeep and repairs, you can make money by renting out the property, or by “flipping” it by making renovations and selling it for more than you paid.

Your safest investment would be to buy a property that’s in an area of high-demand. With that in mind, consider these options for 2016:

  • College apartments and houses: There’s always an influx of students every year, and with tuition rising, across the board, more students will be looking for cheaper off-campus rentals than living in a dorm.
  • Real estate in trending cities: Homes in cities such as Detroit, which is on the verge of economic recovery, and Austin, which constantly ranks as an increasingly popular city for millennials, will no doubt be in higher demand in the coming future.

These are just a few of your investment options, but you would certainly do worse putting your money elsewhere. Look at these investments as opportunities to learn more about how investments work, and soon enough, you’ll be on to more complex (and hopefully higher earning) investments.

Featured photo credit: http://www.lifehack.org/ via lifehack.org

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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