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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 April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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