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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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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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