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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 July 4, 2019

    25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

    25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

    Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

    Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

    1. Coursera

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      Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

      Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

      Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

      2. Khan Academy

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        Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

        Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

        3. Open Culture Online Courses

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          If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

          Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

          4. Udemy 

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            Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

            Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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            5. Academic Earth

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              Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

              Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

              6. edX

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                Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

                7. Alison

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                  Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                  It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                  8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                    A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                    Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                    Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                    ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                    9. Stanford Online

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                      Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                      Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                      10. Harvard Extension

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                        Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                        Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                        11. Open Yale Courses

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                          Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                          12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                            Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                            13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                              Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                              14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                                Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                                15. Codecademy

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                                  Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                  The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                  16. Code

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                                    Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                    In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                    Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                    17. University of London Podcasts

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                                      The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                      18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                        Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                        The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                        19. BBC Podcasts

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                                          For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                          Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                          20. TED-Ed

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                                            Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                            Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                            21. LessonPaths

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                                              LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                              22. Memrise

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                                                Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                                Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                                23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                  The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                  National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                  24. Fun Brain

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                                                    Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                    Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                    25. Whyville

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                                                      Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                      Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

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                                                      Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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