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10 Investments You Should Know

10 Investments You Should Know

    It’s impossible to miss the fact that stocks, real estate and bonds all make for decent investments (at least most of the time). But there are so many different investment options, most of which get minimal marketing. If you want to take a look at a wider variety of options, you should be able to at least tell an American Depository Receipt apart from a Convertible Security. There are about twenty investments that any investor should at least be familiar with and the ten listed below are the first half of that list.

    1. American Depository Receipt (ADR)

    ADRs are traded on U.S. stock markets just like regular stocks, but they actually represent shares in foreign corporations. An ADR is issued by a U.S.-based bank or brokerage, which buys a large number of shares from a company based outside the U.S. Those shares are bundled into groups and then resold; they are usually labeled with a ratio representing how many shares a particular ADR represents. The sponsoring bank collects detailed financial information about any company whose shares it resells. ADRs are a relatively simple way to invest in foreign companies and avoid the administrative and duty costs of international transactions. Other countries besides the U.S. have depository receipt opportunities available.

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    2. Annuity

    Annuities provide set payments at regular intervals to their owners. You can typically purchase an annuity through an insurance company, and you’ll have several options. An annuity can either be immediate or deferred: with a deferred annuity, you will not begin receiving payments for a certain period of time. Deferred annuities are often contracted for life — they’re set up so that as long as you live, the insurance company will send you a check at a regular interval. Annuities are also either fixed (the payments are set) or variable (there is a guaranteed minimum payment, as well as payments based on the performance of an annuity investment portfolio.

    3. Closed-End Investment Fund

    A closed-end fund issues shares that are traded just like stocks but are actually closer to mutual funds in the way the are managed. Closed-end funds hold portfolios of securities — usually securities that meet very specific criteria (i.e. come from particular industries). These fund are actively managed and may hold a few investments in stocks or bonds in order to diversify, but because of their focus on particular sectors, closed-end fund issues are not considered diverse. Some closed-end funds offer dividends.

    4. Collectibles

    Collectibles can be pretty much any physical asset with a value that increases over time. While most people consider fine art, stamps and similar purchases to be collectibles, there is no strict definition that includes or excludes a particular asset. The greatest drawback to collectibles is the fact that collectibles offer no income, unlike many other investments. However, a collectible’s appreciating value often outpaces inflation.

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    5. Common Stock

    Common stock is what most of us think of when we hear the word stock: a share of ownership in a particular company. It entitles you to a portion of the company’s profits as well as voting rights. The majority of stocks traded today are common stocks. While the benefits associated with owning stock can be great, it is a relatively risky investment. If a company that you own stock in goes bankrupt, as a common shareholder, you won’t receive money until the creditors, bondholders and preferred shareholders have all been paid off.

    6. Convertible Security

    Convertible securities are either preferred stock convertibles or convertible bonds. While you would purchase a convertible bond just as you would purchase a normal bond, you would have the opportunity to convert it into common stock in the company that issued it. Depending on the terms of the convertible bond, also known as the indenture, the bond could convert into a significant number of shares. Convertible bonds do provide a small amount of income, but the real value is that the bond can be converted into common stock.

    7. Corporate Bond

    Corporations issue bonds in order to raise money: when you buy a corporate bond, you’re essentially loaning a corporation money for the length of the bond. Not only will the corporation repay you the full face value of the bond (and your loan) but it will also pay you a coupon — a predetermined interest rate paid out every six months. Corporate bonds are more lucrative than government bonds, but they are also riskier.

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    8. Futures Contract

    A futures contract is a commitment to either deliver or receive a specific quantity of a commodity during a specific month at a specific price. Most futures contract are closed out before the expected delivery date and while they can be very risky, futures contracts can also provide for a simple way to manage price risks. They can provide impressive profits, due to their higher risk factors.

    9. Life Insurance

    While life insurance may not seem like an investment on the surface, it provides a return on your monthly payments. No matter how long you may have been paying for a life insurance polity, its value is set. It’s a relatively low-risk investment because insurance is heavily regulated by the government.

    10. The Money Market

    Through the money market, you can buy fixed-income securities, primarily short-term securities that last less than a year. Unless you are able to deal in the very high denominations that most money market securities are sold in, you will likely have to purchase these securities through a money market mutual fund or bank account. Returns on money market investments are highly dependent on the current interest rate and are considered low risk.

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    Check back on Thursday for the other ten investments that you should know.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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