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Most people have a love-hate relationship with money. When youâve got cash to spend, you feel fantastic. You can do whatever you want, go wherever you like, and thereâs no worries in your mind. However, when your cash flow starts to dwindle, your entire outlook suddenly goes sour. The high of having cash can mean that you even end up spending it too quickly, so you end up putting yourself in a more difficult situation long-term. Changing your relationship with cash can be one of the first steps to ensuring that you have more of it in your future. If you can take a more positive approach to the way you handle your finances, youâll be less likely to end up in debt. So, how can you change your relationship with money?
Do Your Research
Most people struggle with their financial freedom because they donât actively pay attention to the way that theyâre spending money. You sign up for essential things like gas and electric and continue paying the same bill for months without checking whether you could be getting a better deal elsewhere. Actually doing your research and making sure that youâre not missing out on opportunities to save will ensure that you can discover some quick wins for your cash flow. You could even find that you can get out of debt a lot faster and make a huge difference to your savings account by refinancing your existing student loans and similar debts into a loan with a private lender. One small change can make a big difference.Â
Automate Your Savings
Do you find it hard to stop yourself from spending every penny you earn each month? Youâre not alone. A lot of people who have a difficult relationship with money discover that itâs difficult for them to just have cash sitting in their bank accounts. Thatâs why itâs so important to find an easier way to convince yourself to save. One good option is to open a separate savings account where you can transfer a portion of your earnings every month. You can automate this process by setting up a direct debit to ensure that the cash leaves your account at the same time that you get your wages each month. This means that the next time you check your bank balance, you wonât be tempted to save the cash that should be going to savings.Â
Finally, stop avoiding the opportunity to learn more about money and how it works. Most of us feel so uncomfortable talking about cash that we barely even look at our bank statements. However, only by examining your spending habits can you determine where the best options are for you to make some significant changes. Be willing to develop a better knowledge of how money works, and how youâre using it. Itâs also helpful to learn everything you can about things that can make you more money long-term, like investing in stocks and shares, or setting up savings accounts with extra interest.
3 Ways to Change Your Relationship with Money is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
Weâre big on investing. Itâs an important way to grow your money and set yourself up for retirement someday.
But is it dangerous to be too obsessed with the stock market?
You bet it is. Our financial advice columnist, Dear Penny, recently heard from a reader whose husband stopped funding his 401(k) so he can bet on the stock market, instead.
Is it OK that heâs stopped contributing to his 401(k) so he can trade stocks? the reader asked. How do I ask him what heâs actually investing in? Iâm worried that heâs gambling money that we need for our retirement.
Thatâs not the way to go. Here are five safer ways to invest and grow your money.
1. Just Steadily Invest Like a Normal Person
Instead of betting all your money on the stock market, just steadily invest in it. Take the long view. The stock market is unpredictable, which means that sometimes stock prices go up, and sometimes they go down â but over time, they tend to go up.
If you havenât started investing and have some money to spare, you can start small. Investing doesnât require you throwing thousands of dollars at full shares of stocks. In fact, you can get started with as little as $1.*
We like Stash, because it lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. But it makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals. Want to invest conservatively right now? Totally get it! Want to dip in with moderate or aggressive risk? Do what you feel.
Plus, with Stash, youâre able to invest in fractions of shares, which means you can invest in funds you wouldnât normally be able to afford.
If you sign up now (it takes two minutes), Stash will give you $5 after you add $5 to your invest account. Subscription plans start at $1 a month.**
2. Grow Your Money 16x Faster â Without Risking Any of It
Save some of your money in a safer place than the stock market â but where youâll still earn money on it.
Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account wonât do you much better. (Ahem, 0.06% is nothing these days.)
But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
Not too shabby!
Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for âthis is totally safe.â
3. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company
One way to make sure you have more money is to stop wasting money on credit card interest. Your credit card company is getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? Youâll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), youâll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but donât worry â they wonât spam you with phone calls.
4. Cut Your Bills by $540/Year
Another way to grow your money: Stop overpaying on your bills.
For example, whenâs the last time you checked car insurance prices? You should shop your options every six months or so â it could save you some serious money. Letâs be real, though. Itâs probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesnât have to be.
A website called Insure makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and itâll show you your options â and even discounts in your area.
Using Insure, people have saved an average of $540 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
5. Add $225 to Your Wallet Just for Watching the News
Hereâs a safe way to earn a little cash on the side.
Weâre living in historic times, and weâre all constantly refreshing for the latest news updates. You probably know more than one news-junkie who fancies themselves an expert in respiratory illness or a political mastermind.
And research companies want to pay you to keep watching. You could add up to $225 a month to your pocket by signing up for a free account with InboxDollars. Theyâll present you with short news clips to choose from every day, then ask you a few questions about them.
You just have to answer honestly, and InboxDollars will continue to pay you every month. This might sound too good to be true, but itâs already paid its users more than $56 million.
It takes about one minute to sign up, and start getting paid to watch the news.
Mike Brassfield (email@example.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He tries not to be obsessed with the stock market.
*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
**Youâll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Financial gurus are telling you how to get out of debt, and what to do with your money and investments. The question is, should you follow their advice?
The post Should You Listen To Financial Gurus? appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Peter Anderson. Copyright Â© Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.
Your credit score is incredibly important. In fact, this number is so influential on various financial aspects of life that it can determine your eligibility to be approved for credit cards, car loans, home mortgages, apartment rentals, and even certain jobs. Knowing what your credit score is, and what range it falls under, is important so you can decide what loans you can to apply for, and if necessary, if steps need to be taken to improve your score.
So what constitutes a good credit score?
The Credit Score Range Scale
The most common credit score used by lenders and other business entities is the FICO score, which ranges from 300 to 850. The bigger the number, the better. To create credit scores, FICO uses information from one of the three major credit bureau agencies – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Knowing this range is important because it will help you understand where your specific number fits in.
As far as lenders are concerned, the lower a consumer’s number on this scale, the higher the risk. Lenders will often deny a loan application for those with a lower credit score because of this risk. If they do approve a loan application, they’ll make consumers pay for such risk by means of a much higher interest rate.
Understand Your Credit Score
Within the credit score range are different categories, ranging from bad to excellent. Here is how credit score ranges are broken down:
Bad credit: 630 or Lower
Lenders generally consider a credit score of 630 or lower as bad credit. A number of past activities could have landed you in this category, including a string of late or missed credit card payments, maxed out credit cards, or even bankruptcy. Younger people who have no credit history will probably find themselves in this category until they have had time to develop their credit. If you’re in this bracket, you’ll be faced with higher interest rates and fees, and your selection of credit cards will be restricted.
Fair Credit: 630-689
This is considered an average score. Lingering within this range is most likely the result of having too much “bad” debt, such as high credit card debt that’s grazing the limit. Within this bracket, lenders will have a harder time trusting you with their loan.
Good Credit: 690-719
Having a credit score within this range will afford you more choices when it comes to credit cards, an easier time getting approved for various loans, and being charged much lower interest rates on such loans.
Excellent Credit: 720-850
Consider your credit score excellent if your number falls within this bracket. You’ll be able to take advantage of all the fringe benefits that come with credit cards, and will almost certainly be approved for loans at the lowest interest rates possible.
What’s Your Credit Score?
Federal law allows consumers to check their credit score for free once every 12 months. But if you want to check more often than this, a fee is typically charged. Luckily, there are other avenues to take to check your credit score.
Mint has recently launched an online tool that allows you toÂ check your credit scoreÂ for free without the need for a credit card. Here you’ll be able to learn the different components that affect your score, and how you can improve it.
You’ll be able to see your score with your other accounts to give you a complete picture of your finances. Knowing what your credit score is can help determine if you need to improve it to help you get the things you need or want. Visit Mint.com to find out more about how you can access your credit score – for free.
Lisa Simonelli RennieÂ is a freelance web content creator who enjoys writing on all sorts of topics, including personal finance, investing in stocks, mortgages, real estate investments, and anything else to do with the world of economics.
The post What’s a Good Credit Score? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
When your home is a fixer-upper, it can be difficult to even know where to start with a renovation. The list can be overwhelming—fix the patio, change out the mustard yellow carpet, buy furniture, paint the house. With a never-ending to-do list, planning a budget can seem virtually impossible.
By sorting through your list of wants and needs and focusing on essentials, you can outline a budget that won’t keep you up at night. Here are some tips on how to plan a budget for turning your fixer-upper into your first dream home.
1. Sort through the “wants” and “needs.”
Where do you even start with a renovation budget? With a limited fixer-upper budget, it’s essential to make functionality the first priority. When the roof is leaking and your fridge is dead, this is where the budget begins. First, determine what infrastructure items require repair or an essential upgrade, as these are typically big-ticket items. Next, focus on beautifying projects that will reap benefits in the long run, like bathrooms and kitchens. Hold off on budgeting fancy appliance upgrades and expensive decor if you already have working items—these can come at a later time after you take care of all the essentials.
2. Consider purchasing used over new.
Give your budget more flexibility by going for used over new with certain big-ticket items. Used appliances, for instance, can be found in great condition from other remodels or homeowners upgrading to the latest technology. Used furniture is also a fantastic way to keep your fixer-upper budget low. Don’t forget—sofas, vintage chairs, tables and more can be easily reupholstered and refinished. They’ll look brand new for just a fraction of the cost.
3. Be ready to DIY with a gift card.
As a first-time buyer, there’s a 99 percent chance you’ll be diving into the realm of DIY. Learning one or many DIY skills will not only come in handy with home repairs in the future, but it’s a fantastic way to keep labor costs low. If you’re worried your DIY supply budget will get out of hand, however, shop with a gift card to your local hardware store. That way, you’ll always be working with a fixed amount of money and won’t be tempted to add on any expensive extras. It’s a guaranteed way to keep your budget in check.
4. Get creative.
Fixer-uppers are great hands-on projects, and creative solutions are key for keeping your budget in line. For items like cabinetry that may be in good condition but out of style, get creative with refinishes to bring new life into your space. Give your kitchen a fresh take by painting cabinets in a modern shade, or reface them for a whole new look without the added cost of all-new cabinetry. Replace hardware on cabinetry, furniture and built-ins to make your pieces feel brand new. Even outdated fireplaces, doors, furniture and windows can go a long way with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. Consider this cheap alternative to help save room in your budget for the fun stuff.
5. Let the professionals help.
Whether you’re starting with the kitchen or diving into a full-scale remodel, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. No matter what your budget, a professional’s advice can help ensure that your renovation has as few hiccups as possible. City codes, minute details and hidden elements can wreak havoc on projects, so let a master guide you through those hurdles instead of trying to blindly tackle them yourself. Don’t let the potential price tag deter you from investing in having expert guidance—many architects and designers have options for paying an hourly rate. This is a great option, especially for fixer-upper and DIY projects, as it allows your plans to be looked over by professionals without the price tag of a full design scope.
Reaching your twenties is an exciting milestone for most as it means youâve officially entered adulthood. Along with that milestone comes new responsibilities and worries that we didnât picture when our teenage selves dreamed of turning 21. We imagined our college graduation, moving into our first apartment, and launching our new career. That vision didnât include dealing with student loan debt, taking on a low paying entry-level job, or having to confront that despite spending 4 years in college, youâre still unsure how the world of personal finance actually works.
Itâs easy to dismiss it all because well youâre a 20 something, and youâll have plenty of time to play catch up. The reality is that each decade plays an important role in our future financial health. Take the time now to learn about your money and follow the money moves outlined below to put yourself on a path of lifelong financial success and eventual freedom.
Money Moves to Make in Your 20âs:
Learn How To Budget
Building a budget doesnât have to be overly complicated or time-consuming. Itâs actually the first step in putting yourself in control of your finances because it means you know where your money goes each month. The good news is that there are lots of apps and online tools that can make the process a breeze. Consider a system like Mint that will connect to your accounts and automatically categorize your spending for you. The right budgeting tool is simply the one youâll stick with long term.
Pay Off Debt
Debt isnât all bad. It may be the reason you were able to earn your degree, and a mortgage may help you one day buy a home. It can also quickly overrun your life if you arenât careful. Nowâs the perfect time before life gets more hectic with family commitments to buckle down and tackle any loans or credit card balances so you can be debt-free going into your 30âs.
Build a Cash Cushion
The financial downturn caused by the pandemic has reminded the whole world of the importance of having an emergency fund. We donât know what life is going to throw at us and having a cushion can help you navigate the uncertain times. Though itâs not all about having a secret stash of cash to deal with the bad news of life (medical bills, car repair, layoff), it can also be about having the cash to seize an exciting opportunity. Having savings gives you the freedom and security to deal with whatever life brings your way – good or bad.
Your credit score can dictate so much of your life. That little number can play a big role in the home you buy, the car you drive, and even the job you hold as some employers (especially in the finance world) will pull your credit. Itâs important that you check your credit report and score (also available through Mint), learn how itâs calculated, and work to improve it.
Money Moves to Make in Your 30âs:
Invest For Retirement
Now that youâve spent your 20âs building the foundation for your financial life, itâs time to make sure youâre also tackling the big picture goals like saving and investing for retirement. I typically recommend that clients save 10% to 15% of their annual income towards retirement. That may seem like an insurmountable goal, but starting small by saving even 1 to 3% of your salary can make a big difference in the future. Also, make sure to take advantage of any matching contributions that your employer may provide in your retirement plan. If, for example, they offer to match contributions up to 6%, I would try hard to work towards contributing at least 6%.
Buying Your First Home
Buying your first home is a top goal for many, but it also seems to be getting increasingly more difficult especially if you live in a major city. The most important steps you can take is to improve your credit score, pay down high-interest debt, and be aggressive about saving for a down payment. Saving 20% down will help you qualify for the best loan terms and interest rate, but there are still home loans available even if you arenât able to save that much. Just be realistic with your budget and what you can afford. Donât let a lender or real estate agent determine what payment will fit into your budget.
Be Covered Under These Must-Have Insurances
Youâve spent the last several years building your savings and growing your family. Itâs now crucial that you have the proper insurance coverage in place to protect your assets and your loved ones. Life and disability insurance are top of the list. Life insurance doesnât have to be expensive or complex. Get a quote for term-life that will last a set number of years and protect your partner and children during those crucial years that they depend on you. Disability insurance protects your income if you become sick or injured and are unable to work. Your earning ability is one of your biggest assets during this time, and you should protect it. This coverage may be offered through your employer, or you can request a quote for an individual policy.
Invest in Self-Care and Well Being
Mental health is part of self-care and wealth. Most people donât talk about how financial stress and worry affect their overall health. When you can take care of yourself on all levels, you will feel healthier and wealthier, and happier. But it is not easy. It takes work, effort, awareness, and consciousness to learn how to detach the value in your bank account or financial account from your self-worth and value as a human being. When you feel emotional about your money, investments, or the stock market, learn ways to process them and take care of yourself by hiring licensed professionals and experts to help you.
Money Moves to Make in Your 40âs:
Revisit Your College Savings Goal
As your kids get older and prepare to enter their own journey into adulthood, paying for college is likely a major goal on your list. Consider opening a 529 plan (if you havenât already) to save for their education. 529 plans offer tax advantages when it comes to saving for college. There are lots of online resources that can help you understand and pick the right plan for you. Visit https://www.savingforcollege.com. This is also a great time to make sure you’re talking to your kids about money. Give them the benefit of a financial education that you may not have had.
Get Aggressive with Retirement Planning
Your 40âs likely mark peak earning years. Youâll want to take advantage of your higher earnings to maximize your retirement savings especially if you werenât able to save as much in your 20âs and 30âs. Revisit your retirement plan to crunch the numbers so you’ll be clear on what you need to save to reach your goal.
Build More Wealth
Youâve arrived at mid-life probably feeling younger than you are and wondering how the heck that big 4-0 got on your birthday cake. We typically associate being 20 with being free, but I think weâve got it wrong. There is something incredibly freeing about the wisdom and self-assurance that comes with getting older. Youâve proved yourself. People see you as an adult. Your kids are getting older and your finances are more settled. Nowâs the time to kick it up to the next level. Look for ways to build additional wealth. This may mean tapping into your entrepreneurial side to launch the business youâve dreamed of or buying real estate to increase passive income. Nowâs also a great time to find a trusted financial advisor who can help guide your next steps and help you plan the best ways to build your wealth.
Revisit Your Insurance Coverage
Insurance was crucial before, but itâs time to revisit your coverage and make sure youâre protected especially if you decide to launch a business or buy additional real estate. This is also where a financial advisor can help you analyze your coverage needs and find the policies that will work for you.
Consider Estate Planning
Estate planning (think wills, trusts, power of attorney) isnât the most fun / exciting topic. It involves imagining your gone and creating a plan for the loved ones you leave behind. It is also often overlooked by adults in their younger years. Itâs easy to assume estate planning is something the wealthy need to do. It really comes down to whether you want to decide how your life savings will be managed or if you want a court to decide. Itâs also crucial for parents with children who are minors to select a guardian and have those uncomfortable conversations with their family members about who would care for the children if the worst were to happen. Itâs also a good time to visit this topic with your own aging parents and make sure they have the proper documents and plans in place.
Whether you’re in your 20âs, 30âs or 40âs, it can be easy to put off planning your finances especially in the middle of a pandemic. Most of us are busy, and itâs easy to tell yourself that youâll have time to work on a goal in the future. Commit to setting aside one hour each week or even each month to have a money date and review your finances. Donât let yourself reach a milestone birthday (30, 40) and regret not being farther ahead. Follow these money moves now to seize control of your financial future.
The post Money Moves to Make in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s appeared first on MintLife Blog.
In March I offered some financial advice to Michelle, a Mint user who was struggling with debt, a lack of retirement savings and a bit of family financial drama amongst her siblings.
Michelle was anticipating a cash bonus from her company and wasnât sure if she should save the money or use it to relieve her debt.
I recommended a two-prong approach where she uses the cash to play savings catch-up in her retirement account and knock down some of her debt, which, at the time, included a $3,000 credit card balance and $52,000 in student loans.
Six months later, Iâve checked in with the 38-year-old real estate developer, to see if any of my advice was helpful and if sheâs experienced any shifts in her financial life.
We spoke via email:
Farnoosh: Have your finances have improved over the last 6 months since we last spoke? If so, what has been the biggest improvement?
Michelle: Yes. I’veÂ aggressively been contributing to my 401(k) â about 50% of my pay – and had hoped to reach the annual maximum of $18,000 by June, but looks like it will be more like October. I also received a $40,000 distribution from a project that I closed.
F: What aspects of your financial life still challenge you?
M: Investing for sure. I never know if I’m hoarding too much cash. I am truly traumatized from the financial downturn.Â I just joined an online investment platform, but it wasÂ also overwhelming. Currently I have $45,000 in a regular savings account that earns 1.5%.
Another challenge is not knowing whether to just bite the bullet and pay off my student loans or to continue to pay them monthly. Â I hate that I’m still paying loans 16 years after I graduated and it’s a source of frustration [andÂ embarrassment] for me. Â I owe $36,000. Often times I have an inner monologue about the pros and cons of just paying them off but then my trauma from 2008 kicks inâ¦and IÂ decide to keep my $45,000 nest egg safely where I can check the balance daily.
F: I recommended allocating $45,000 towards retirement. Was that helpful? What are some ways you’ve managed to save?
M: Yes, I recall you saying you recommended having a total of $100,000 towards retirement for a person my age. Currently, I have $51,000 in my 401(k), $35,000 in a traditional IRA and $17,000 in my Ellevest brokerageÂ account, so I’ve broken the $100,000 goal.
I did add a car note to my balance sheet. My old car suffered a total loss (major electrical failure due to a sunroof leak!) and the insurance gave me a check for $9,000.Â I used it all towards the new vehicle (aÂ certified used 2014 Acura) and I’m financing $18,000.
F: Your dad’s home was a source of financial stress, it seemed. Were you able to talk with your siblings and arrive at a better place with that?
M: My dad actually has passed since we last spoke. He passed in February and so his will went to probate. My siblings and I have decided not to make any decisions about the house for at least one year. Yes, this is kicking the can further down the street however, they recognize that I maintain the house and pay the real estate taxes and so they are not pressuring me to move or to sell.
The new deed has been recorded and the property is under all our names and so everyone seems ok with knowing that I can’t do anything regarding a sale or refinance unilaterally.
So, for now, I live rent free other than payingÂ utilities, miscellaneous maintenance on the houseÂ and real estate taxes quarterly. This, too, is helping me saveÂ aggressively.
Also, the new car note has replaced the hospice nurse contribution so I’m not feeling that my budget is overburdened with the new car.
I think ultimately I will buy out at least two of my siblings and stay in the house. Verbally they have expressed being okay with this.
Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at firstname.lastname@example.org (please note âMint Blogâ in the subject line).
Farnoosh Torabi is Americaâs leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, sheâs become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.
The post Mint Money Audit 6-Month Check-In: How Did Michelle Allocate Her Windfall? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you’re one of those investors with very little time to research and invest in individual stocks, it might be a good idea to look into investing in mutual funds.
Whether your goal is to save money for retirement, or for a down payment to buy a house, mutual funds are low-cost and effective way to invest your money.
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What is a mutual fund?
A mutual fund is an investment vehicle in which investors, like you ad me, pool their money together. They use the money to invest in securities such as stocks and bonds. A professional manages the funds.
In addition, mutual funds are cost efficient. They offer diversification to your portfolio. They have low minimum investment requirements.
These factors make mutual funds among the best investment vehicles to use. If you’re a beginner investor, you should consider investing in mutual funds or index funds.
Investing in the stock market in general, can be intimidating. If you are just starting out and don’t feel confident in your investing knowledge, you may value the advice of a financial advisor.
Types of mutual funds
There are different types of mutual funds. They are stock funds, bond funds, and money market funds.
Which funds you choose depends on your risk tolerance. While mutual funds in general are less risky than investing in individual stocks, some funds are riskier than others.
However, you can choose a combination of these three types of funds to diversify your portfolio.
- Stock funds: a stock fund is a fund that invests heavily in stocks. However, that does not mean stock funds do not have other securities, i.e., bonds. It’s just that the majority of the money invested is in stocks.
- Bond funds: if you don’t want your portfolio to fluctuate in value as stocks do, then you should consider bond funds.
- Money market funds: money market funds are funds that you invest in if you tend to tap into your investment in the short term.
- Sector funds. As the name suggests, sector funds are funds that invests in one particular sector or industry. For example, a fund that invests only in the health care industry is a sector fund. These mutual funds lack diversification. Therefore, you should avoid them or use them in conjunction to another mutual fund.
- Index funds. Index funds seek to track the performance of a particular index, such as the Standard & Poorâs 500 index of 500 large U.S. company stocks or the CRSP US Small Cap Index. When you invest in the Vanguard S&P 500 Index fund, youâre essentially buying a piece of the 500 largest publicly traded US companies. Index funds donât jump around. They stay invested in the market.
- Income funds: These funds focus invest primarily in corporate bonds. They also invest in some high-dividend stocks.
- Balance funds: The portfolio of these funds have a mixed of stocks and bonds. Those funds enjoy capital growth and income dividend.
Related Article: 3 Ways to Protect Your Portfolio from the Volatile Stock Market
The advantages of mutual funds
Diversification. You’ve probably heard the popular saying “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” Well, it applies to mutual funds. Mutual funds invest in stocks or bonds from dozens of companies in several industries.
Thus, your risk is spread. If a stock of a company is not doing well, a stock from another company can balance it out. While most funds are diversified, some are not.
For example, sector funds which invest in a specific industry such as real estate can be risky if that industry is not doing well.
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Mutual funds are professionally managed. These fund managers are well educated and experienced. Their job is to analyze data, research companies and find the best investments for the fund.
Thus, investing in mutual funds can be a huge time saver for those who have very little time and those who lack expertise in the matter.
Cost Efficiency. The operating expenses and the cost that you pay to sell or buy a fund are cheaper than trading in individual securities on your own. For example, the best Vanguard mutual funds have operating expenses as low as 0.04%. So by keeping expenses low, these funds can help boost your returns.
Low or Reasonable Minimum Investment. The majority of mutual funds, Vanguard mutual funds, for example, have a reasonable minimum requirement. Some funds even have a minimum of $1,000 and provide a monthly investment plan where you can start with as little as $50 a month.
Related Article: 7 Secrets Smart Professionals Use to Choose Financial Advisors
The disadvantage of mutual funds.
While there are several benefits to investing in mutual funds, there are some disadvantages as well.
Active Fund Management. Mutual funds are actively managed. That means fund mangers are always on the look out for the best securities to purchase. That also means they can easily make mistakes.
Cost/expenses. While cost and expenses of investing in individual stocks are significantly higher than mutual funds, cost of a mutual fund can nonetheless be significant.
High cost can have a negative effect on your investment return. These fees are deducted from your mutual fundâs balance every year. Other fees can apply as well. So always find a company with a low cost.
How you make money with mutual funds.
You make money with mutual funds the same way you would with individual stocks: dividend, capital gain and appreciation.
Dividend: Dividends are cash distributions from a company to its shareholders. Some companies offer dividends; others do not. And those who do pay out dividends are not obligated to do so. And the amount of dividends can vary from year to year.
As a mutual fund investor, you may receive dividend income on a regular basis.
Mutual funds offer dividend reinvestment plans. This means that instead of receiving a cash payment, you can reinvest your dividend income into buying more shares in the fund.
Capital gain distribution: in addition to receiving dividend income from the fund, you make money with mutual funds when you make a profit by selling a stock. This is called “capital gain.”
Capital gain occurs when the fund manager sells stocks for more he bought them for. The resulting profits can be paid out to the fund’s shareholders. Just as dividend income, you have the choice to reinvest your gains in the fund.
Appreciation: If stocks in your fund have appreciated in value, the price per share of the fund will increase as well. So whether you hold your shares for a short term or long term, you stand to make a profit when the shares rise.
Best mutual funds.
Now that you know mutual funds make excellent investments, finding the best mutual funds can be overwhelming.
Vanguard mutual funds.
Vanguard mutual funds are the best out there, because they are relatively cheaper; they are of high quality; a professional manage them; and their operating expenses are relative low.
Here is a list of the best Vanguard mutual funds that you should invest in:
- Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Funds
- Vanguard 500 Index (VFIAX)
- Total International Stock index Fund
- Vanguard Health Care Investor
Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund
If you’re looking for a diversified mutual fund, this Vanguard mutual fund is for you. The Vanguard’s VTSAX provides exposure to the entire U.S. stock market which includes stocks from large, medium and small U.S companies.
The top companies include Microsoft, Apple, Amazon. In addition, the expenses are relatively (0.04%). It has a minimum initial investment of $3,000, making it one of the best vanguard stock funds out there.
Vanguard S&P 500 (VFIAX)
The Vanguard 500 Index fund may be appropriate for you if you prefer a mutual fund that focuses on U.S. equities. This fund tracks the performance of the S&P 500, which means it holds about 500 of the largest U.S. stocks.
The largest U.S. companies included in this fund are Facebook, Alphabet/Google, Apple, and Amazon. This index fund has an expense ration of 0.04% and a reasonable minimum initial investment of $3,000.
Vanguard Total International Stock Market
You should consider the Vanguard International Stock Market fund of you prefer a mutual fund that invests in foreign stocks.
This international stock fund exposes its shareholders to over 6,000 non-U.S. stocks from several countries in both developed markets and emerging markets. The minimum investment is also $3,000 with an expense ratio of 0.11%.
Vanguard Health Care Investor
Sector funds are not usually a good idea, because the lack diversification. Sector funds are funds that invest in a specific industry like real estate or health care. However, if you want a fund to complement your portfolio, the Vanguard Health Care Investor is a good choice.
This Vanguard mutual fund offers investors exposure to U.S. and foreign equities focusing in the health care industry. The expense ration is a little bit higher, 0.34%. However, the minimum initial investment is $3,000, making it one of the cheapest Vanguard mutual funds.
Mutual funds are great options for beginner investors or investors who have little time to research and invest in individual stocks. When you buy into these low cost investments, you’re essentially buying shares from companies.
Your money are pooled together with those of other investors. If you intend to invest in low cost investment funds, you must know which ones are the best. When it comes to saving money on fees and getting a good return on your investment, Vanguard mutual funds are among the best funds out there.
They provide professional management, diversity, low cost, income and price appreciation.
What’s Next: 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring A Financial Advisor
Speak with the Right Financial Advisor
- If you have questions beyond knowing which of the best Vanguard mutual funds to invest, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc).
- Find one who meets your needs with SmartAssetâs free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.
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