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10 Investing Mistakes Most People Make

10 Investing Mistakes Most People Make

Whether you are investing to build a retirement fund, or to put your excess cash to work, you should always be wary of the following investment mistakes. These can ensnare an experienced investor as easily as they can entrap a rookie. Here are 10 investing mistakes to watch out for:

1. Investing while in debt.

The phrase “cheap debt” is thrown around by the financial experts routinely. However, it does not apply to credit cards. To invest money when one is living off credit cards is a big no-no. One should repay credit card debt as soon as possible.

Similarly, putting money aside for investment while having a student loan or a house mortgage might seem like a good idea, as the expected rate of return on the investment is higher than the expected cost of debt. However, the comparison is incorrect. Today’s cost of debt is being compared to tomorrow’s rate of return. We are coming out of the zero interest rate period, and it is not unreasonable to believe that debt will become expensive again over time. One should prioritize offloading all debt before one starts setting aside money for investments.

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2. Investing with a very high cost of transaction.

When one buys or sells investments, one invariably coughs up fees and charges. In some cases, the cost of a transaction is quite high. When investing in a house, for example, be sure that you do not liquefy the investment within five to seven years. If you sell the house within that time frame, then the transaction costs will substantially eat into your rate of return.

Another avenue in which the costs are very high is investment in physical gold. Apart from the transactional costs of gold, one should account for the charges applicable for its safe and secure storage. It is more advisable to invest in gold ETFs instead of physical gold.

3. Investing with a single-minded focus on fund fees.

The internet is full of advice on choosing low-cost funds instead of paying a premium on funds managed by rock-star fund managers. Undoubtedly, a lot of advice is sound, but some investors make decisions purely based on fund fees while being ignorant to other parameters like the rate of returns they deliver, or the amount of asset diversification they have. In some cases fund houses use “cheap funds” as a marketing ploy. In Britain, HSBC’s Equity Tracker Fund has an expense ratio of 0.27% a year, while Virgin’s equivalent equity fund charges a full percentage point extra. However, both the funds are being heralded as low-cost funds by their respective fund houses.

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4. Investing in hot tips.

Hot tips and fads rule the market, and just about everyone is an expert on the Next Big Thing. However, such advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Investment is a process, and due research is a necessary aspect of this process. After all, if you are not willing to put in the time and effort necessary when making an investment, you can’t expect your investment to reward you with your returns.

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    5. Investing decisions based on market conditions.

    Market conditions cannot dictate one’s investment strategy. The inherent volatility in the market is frustrating, especially when investment portfolios underperform the benchmark index. Doubts start creeping into one’s investment strategy. However, investment strategies cannot change with the market cycles. It is imperative to have faith in one’s strategy, provided it is based on sound characteristics. A good strategy with a long-term outlook may underperform for a period of several months based on the market conditions, but in the long run it will reap the desired rewards.

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    6. Investing while overpaying for investment services and financial planners.

    There are multiple avenues for investing one’s hard-earned money. To understand all the options out there you may need assistance, and that is where financial advisers come to our aid. However, when a financial adviser builds a portfolio of low-cost index ETFs, then one wonders if there is any value to the adviser. The cost advantage of investing in a cheap ETF is consumed by the fees of the adviser. Some advisers even receive hefty commissions for recommending investment products. If that is the case then the financial adviser’s motives will not match your interests. One should be wary of such advisers.

    7. Investing on margin.

    No matter how enticing an opportunity, one shouldn’t buy stocks or investments on margin. Margin trading has its benefits, but those should be left to the professionals. If the investment is leveraged, then one bad trade can wipe out a significant chunk of one’s investments and set one back significantly. In addition, when investing in property that is not for personal use but for investment, using housing loans is not a good strategy. The recent housing crisis points to the flaws of such leveraged investing. Bottom line: always invest with money that you have and can afford to lose without any adverse impact to your financial health.

    8. Investing with an unrealistic expectation of return.

    Investing with an unrealistic expectation of return, and without accounting for the compounding magic of time, is a strategy that is doomed to fail. In pursuit of manifold returns, people dabble in the penny stock market and end up burning their hard-earned money. In the end, if an investment idea sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

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    9. Investing out of fear and greed.

    Emotions are attached to one’s investment decisions. We all feel joy when an idea works out to our benefit, and all feel despair when a decision goes bad. However, the emotions of greed and fear should not override one’s sense of logic and reason. Greed and failure prevent one from making smart decisions; they make one follow the herd mentality instead.

    10. Investing without a plan.

    Investing is a boring process. To see meaningful returns, one needs time to do its magic. Patience is key. An investment plan, revolving around meaningful financial goals, helps when things get rough. It provides motivation to save money when the same money could easily be spent on mundane activities. It provides the focus and determination required to pursue a life of financial independence.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    How to Develop a Millionaire Mindset in 6 Simple Steps

    How to Develop a Millionaire Mindset in 6 Simple Steps

    We all like to dream about being financially wealthy. For most people though, it remains a dream and nothing more. Why is that?

    It’s because most people don’t set their mind to achieving that goal. They might not be happy in their current situation but they’re comfortable – and comfort is one of the biggest enemies of growth.

    How do you go about developing that millionaire mindset? By following these simple steps:

    1. Focus On What You Want – And Take It!

    So many people are too timid to admit they want something and go for it. When there is something that you want to accomplish don’t think “I could never actually do that”, think “I could do that and I WILL do that”.

    Millionaires play to win, not to avoid defeat.

    This doesn’t mean to have to become a selfish jerk. What it means is becoming more assertive and honest with yourself. You don’t have to grab off other people. There is a big pot of unclaimed gold in the middle of the table — why shouldn’t you be the one to claim it? You deserve it!

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    2. Become Goal-Orientated

    It’s almost impossible to achieve anything if you don’t set firm goals. Only lottery winners become millionaires overnight. By setting yourself attainable goals, you will get there eventually. Don’t try to get rich quickly — get rich slowly.

    Let’s take the idea of making your first million dollars and expand on what kind of goals you might set to get there. Let’s also say you’re starting at a break-even position – you’re making enough to get by with a few luxuries, but nothing more.

    Your goal for the first year can be having $10,000 in the bank within a year. It won’t be easy but it is doable. Next, you need to figure out the steps you need to take to achieve that goal.

    Always look at ways to make growth before cutbacks. With that in mind, you might want to see if you can negotiate a pay rise with your boss, or if there’s another job out there that will pay better. You might be comfortable in your old job but remember, comfort stunts growth.

    You may also have other skills outside of your workplace that you can monetize to boost your bank balance. Maybe you can design websites for people, at a fee of course, or make alterations to clothes.

    If this is still not enough to make the money you need to save $10,000 in a year, then it’s time to look at cutbacks. Do you have a bunch of old junk that someone else might love? Sell it! Do you really need to spend $10 on your lunch everyday when you could make your own for a fraction of the cost?

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    If you are to become a millionaire, you need to start accumulating money.

    Here’re some tips to help you: How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life

    3. Don’t Spend Your Money – Invest It

    The reason you need to accumulate money is for step three. Millionaires tend to be frugal people, and that’s because they know the true value of money is in investing. Being your own boss goes hand-in-hand with becoming a millionaire. You’ll want to quit your regular job at some point.

    Stop working for your money and make your money work for you.

    Rather than buying yourself a new iPad, that $500 could be used to invest in the stock market. Find the right shares (more on that later), and that money could easily double within a year.

    There’s not just the stock market — there’s also property, and your own education.

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    4. Never Stop Learning

    The best thing you can invest in is yourself.

    Once most people leave the education system, they think their learning days are over. Well theirs might be, but yours shouldn’t be. Successful people continually learn and adapt.

    Billionaire Warren Buffet estimates that he read at least 100 books on investing before he turned twenty. Most people never read another book after they’ve left school. Who would you rather be?

    Learn everything you can about how economics works, how the stocks markets work, how they trend.

    Learn new skills. If you have an interest in it, learn everything you can about it. You’d be surprised at how often, seemingly useless skills, can become extremely useful in the right situation.

    Start developing the habit of learning continuously: How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You

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    5. Think Big

    While I advise to start off with small goals, you absolutely should have a big goal in mind. If you have a business idea, then that is your ultimate goal – to start that business and make a success of it. If you want to invest your way to millions of dollars and do little work other than research, then that is your big goal.

    There is no shame in not achieving a big goal. If you run a business and aim to make $1 million profit in a year and “only” make $200,000, then you’re still significantly ahead of most people.

    Aim for the stars, if you fail you’ll still be over the moon.

    6. Enjoy the Attention

    To be successful, you have to be willing to promote yourself and enjoy the attention to a certain extent. Now the attention doesn’t need to be on yourself, it could be on your brand, but attention definitely attracts money.

    Never be embarrassed to get your name out there. That means finding a spotlight and being brave enough to step right up underneath it.

    If you run a business, try contacting the local papers. You’d be surprised at how amenable they often are to running a story about you and your business, and it’s all free publicity.

    Above all, remember: You control your own destiny. Push hard enough for anything and you’ll get it.

    More About Thinking Smart

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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