Investments – How To Find The Right Investments For You (USA/CAN)
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Types Of Investments
Choosing the right type of investment can be a tricky venture. Once you have made the decision to invest your money, research and time can be a crucial part of the process to ensure success. It is important to understand the risks and benefits when weighing your options. Two critical questions to ask yourself is, how much money to invest and where to invest it. Let us look at several investment options.
American Depository Receipt (ADR) Investments
American Depository Receipt or ADR are investments that involve buying stock in companies in other countries. Basically, U.S. banks or investment companies put a certain amount of stock in its depositories. They then set the ratio of U.S. ADRs per the foreign country’s share. If the shares are worth less in the home country, then each ADR will be worth more than one share. The investor will then buy shares of that stock in U.S. dollars. The foreign companies like to use the ADR system because of the exposure they get in the U.S. Since they are traded in U.S. currency, they generally do not have duty fees. However, the depository may charge a small fee for their service. This process, in turn, allows individuals to invest in foreign stock. These investments are a good way for individuals to gain capital from emerging countries.
Annuities are simply fixed payments over a period of time. The investor makes periodic payments to a financial institution or an insurance company. The amount the investor receives is dependent upon how much is paid each period and for how long. This investment is low-risk and appeals to those wanting income. Fixed annuities have a fixed payment and are similar to government bonds and corporate bonds. They are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Variable Annuities are regulated by SEC and allow investments in money marketing. Annuities can be deposits into a savings account, monthly insurance payments or mortgage payments. This is a good type of investment for capital appreciation that is fairly low-risk.
Closed-end fund Investments
Closed-end fund Investments sell a fixed number of shares at one time. The shares then go to a secondary market where they are sold or traded the same as stocks. This makes this type of investment very similar to a mutual fund. However, mutual funds prices are determined by net asset value. Closed-end fund share prices are set by supply and demand. These types of investments are specialized by type of industry or region making it unavailable to the entire market. The funds are easy to buy and sell on the market and are a good investment for capital appreciation.
A Collectible Investment is an asset that gains value over time. This is due to the object being a rarity or is in high demand. Collectibles can be anything physical such as stamps, coins, art, or baseball cards. Collectibles can pose high risks. There is no way to tell if a collectible investment will be worth anything in the future and can take years to increase in value. Also, collectibles can be hard to sell at the desired price. However, they are fairly easy to come by as they can be bought just about anywhere. This includes online stores, yard sales, auctions and antiquity stores. Investments of this sort can be a challenging venture.
Common Stock Investments
Common Stock Investments are ownership in a company. This means that you can partake in the company’s profits. The more stock you own in a company, the more dividends you will yield. Also, owning stock gives you the right to vote within the company. Each share equals one vote to elect board members who essentially make decisions concerning the company. These investments give the investors a sense of control when it comes to decision-making within their company and can yield high rewards. However, if a company goes bankrupt, the investment was made in vain since common shareholders are the last to get paid.
Convertible Bond Investments
Convertible Bond Investments can be exchanged into a common stock. The ratio in which the bonds can be converted varies. The indenture can give the investor information on conversion rates. Convertible investments protect the original investment and usually have a good appreciation rate. However, the income is usually not a lot. Also, companies can force bondholders to convert their bonds. The original investment cannot go lower than the market value of the bond. The best time to make this type of investment is when interest rates are high and stocks are low.
Corporate Bonds Investments
Corporate Bonds Investments are bonds issued by a borrower to a lender. Basically, the investor is allowing the company to borrow money. Not only does the company pay back the principal but they also pay a coupon. This is a fee for allowing them to borrow. The payments are paid about every six months until the loan matures. Risks and disadvantages are dependent upon the company. Again, research plays a critical role in these types of investments. Junk bonds are extremely risky because they are purchased from unstable companies that are in financial trouble. Corporate Bond investments are generally a good way to make income if the company is profitable.
Futures Contract Investments
Futures Contract Investments are basically a contract between two parties to buy or sell an asset in the future, at a specific rate that is agreed upon now. Price is determined by supply and demand at the time of the purchase of the contract. This is a high-risk way to invest. It is used to manage price risks. Products are delivered at a designated quantity at a preset price set by the futures market. However, most of these types of investments are canceled before the delivery date. Basically, future contract allows sellers to lock in a price in the future market. This type of investment should only be bought by experienced investors that have a lot of money to work with. Although they are very useful in reducing risk, it is extremely easy to lose your original investment.
Life Insurance as an Investment
Life Insurance is an investment that allows the investor to make periodic payments until his or her death. The beneficiaries then receive a check within a couple of days to cover any lingering bills and funeral costs. Mortgages and bills do not simply go away. These investments ensure that the bills will continue to be paid and gives the investor a piece of mind that their family will be taken care of after they are gone. Insurance companies look at a number of variables to determine insurance premiums. There is little risk because insurance companies are generally stable.
Money Market Investments
Money Market Investments are forms of debt that mature over a short period of time. However, unlike bonds, money markets are sold in large quantities. They allow individuals to participate in money market’s return rates. The interest rate is higher than conventional savings accounts which is an advantage for the investors. However, they are not guaranteed the same federal securities as banks. The best time to make an investment in the money market is when interest rates are high.
Mortgage-Backed Security (MBS) Investments
Mortgage-Backed Security or MBS Investments essentially means that investors lend money to a home-buyer or business. This allows banks to give mortgage loans to customers without assets. MBS’s are backed by government sponsored companies. Therefore, they are considered safe investments. Income rates are dependent upon interest rates. MBS’s are usually sold in sets of $25,000, however some variations allow investors to buy for under $5,000.
Municipal Bonds Investments
Municipal Bonds are investments that are issued by states or counties to fund community improvement constructions. Many municipal bonds are exempt from taxes, which make them popular with investors that have a lot of money. There are not any substantial risks with municipal bonds and are usually purchased for the purpose of income. Keep in mind, investments in bigger cities will yield a more substantial amount of income than small towns.
Mutual fund Investments
Mutual funds are a long-term investment option with strategies varying from fund to fund. These strategies include growth/aggressive, low risk, momentum and more. Basically, large groups of investors pool their money and allow a management company to invest it for them. The mutual fund manager then buy stocks from different markets. . Although there are usually some management fees, the investment is being managed by a professional which takes the leg work out of the equation.
Options are complex and should be used by experienced investors. Basically, they are a privilege sold between two parties, giving the buyer the right to buy or sell a security at a certain price during a specific time frame. There are two types of investors that use options as an investment tool. Speculators buy an option because they believe that stock will decrease or decline in the future. Hedgers use options to reduce the risk and secure current market prices. These investments require a lot of research and knowledge of the market.
Preferred Stock Investments
A Preferred Stock Investment gives the buyer ownership within a company. However, unlike common stock it usually does not give the shareholder the right to vote. Shareholders are guaranteed a fixed dividend. One advantage is that if the company goes under, preferred stockholders are paid right after bondholders. These investments give shareholders a larger dividend than common stockholders but are taxed like income.
Real Estate Investments
When buying real estate as an investment, the single most important thing to look at is location. Investor’s objectives will mainly determine what the property is used for. Those interested in capital appreciation will buy real estate in promising locations and wait for the value to increase. Those wanting income can rent the property out. There are several risk involved when buying real estate. Maintenance expenses, insurance, repairs and taxes can be costly. Also, it is sometimes difficult to sell the property quickly if the market is bad.
Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) Investments
Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs sell on major exchanges like stocks, and invest money directly through properties. Investments in REITs usually give investors high- yields and is not tied to other financial assets resulting in protection from inflation. Dividends are usually higher than common stocks but is taxed as income. Therefore, investments that yield high dividends will cause the investor to pay higher taxes.
Treasury / Government Security Investments
Treasuries or government security investments are considered to have little or no risk. These investments are obligations of a national government. They include treasury notes, treasury bills and treasury bonds which are exempt from taxes. These investments are a safe way to invest money especially when the economy is bad.
Unit Investment Trust (UIT) Investments
Unit Investment Trust or UIT is a trust in which a fixed portfolio of securities is purchased and kept until maturity. These investments usually include municipal bonds, government bonds, corporate bonds and common stocks. With a UIT, investors receive dividends on the bonds or stocks within it. The amount of the dividend depends on how much they have invested. Depending on what you are looking for will depend on which type of UIT to buy. For income, bond trust would be the way to go. Capital appreciation seekers would invest in stock trust. These types of investments are a great source of income for retirees since they are fairly predictable.
Investing in Zero Coupon Security / Stripped Bonds
Zero coupon security or stripped bonds is a bond bought at a lower price than its face value. When the bond matures, the face value is then paid to the investors. It does not have coupon, thus the name. These investments can be long term (usually 10-15 years) or short term (less than a year). The bonds can be held until maturity or sold on secondary markets. This allows investors to buy cheap and sell high but is considered income even if it hasn’t reached maturity, requiring the investor to pay taxes on it. The best time to make a zero coupon security investment is when interest rates are high.
Types Of Investments Conclusion
Regardless of what you are looking for in an investment, it is imperative to fully research each type and ensure that it is the best option to fit your needs. The internet makes it simple to research and access financial markets right from your home.
Simply educating yourself can make a huge difference when it comes to investing your money. I hope you have found this investments guide useful!
FILED UNDER: INVESTMENTS
Posted in Investments
Strategies For Your Investments
Making sensible investments starts with understanding certain aspects of the investment world. Ongoing research and planning goes a long way when attempting to protect your money and save for the future. Finding the best type of investment for your individual needs can be overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out. Since investing money is such a broad area, it is essential to have a plan, or investment strategy.
Strategy #1 Savings Bonds Investments
Considered one of the safest types of investments, savings bonds are debt securities that are issued by the United States Department of Treasury. There are two types of bonds. EE bonds are paper-type bonds that most people are familiar with, and I bonds. I bonds are somewhat different than the EE bonds. Saving bonds are a long-term investment that accrue fixed or market value interest every six months. Starting out at $25, these investments are affordable and safe. They are completely secure and will be replaced if they are lost or stolen.
Strategy #2 401K / RRSP Investments
A 401k plan (called an RRSP or Registered Retirement Savings Plan in Canada) is an investment in which companies allow their employees to make contributions of a specified maximum amount each year. The employers usually also make contributions by matching a certain percentage with the employee. These plans were taken on by employers as an alternative retirement plan. The employee chooses where their savings will be invested, which usually consists of a combination of stocks, bonds and money market investments. One advantage to 401k plans / RRSPs is that they are tax-deferred investments , however, they are greatly penalized if taken out prematurely.
Strategy #3 Invest In a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
A Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is available in Canada only, and allows the investor to save up to $5000 each year in a bank account, without any tax consequences on capital gains earned. Any unused portion can be carried forward in future years. A typical strategy with Tax-Free Savings Accounts involves spouses with different incomes: A higher earning spouse puts money into the Tax-Free Savings Account of a lower earning spouse, effectively doubling his or her limit. The difference between an RRSP and a Tax-Free Savings Account is summed up by the Canada Revenue Agency as so:
“An RRSP is intended for retirement. A Tax-Free Savings Account is like an RRSP for everything else in your life.”
Strategy #4 Investing for Capital Gains
Capital Gain is a profit that an investor realizes when an asset is sold at a higher rate than the original purchase price. Capital Gain Taxes are the taxes in which those profits incur. The investor does not incur those taxes until the asset is sold. Some investment assets are exempt from these taxes such as a person’s private residence or a transfer of assets from spouses.
Strategy #5 After Hours Trading
At one time in our history, investors could only buy and sell stocks during business hours in U.S. Trade Markets such as the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ Stock Market. Since the 1990’s investors have the ability to make investments after hours with the invention of Electronic Communications Network or ECNs. One difference between trading during traditional hours and after hours is that the after hours market does not compare on multiple markets. While after hours marketing allows investors to keep up with current investment news, it is much riskier than the conventional method.
Strategy #6 Use Internal Rate of Return to Track Your Investments
The Internal Rate of Return or IRR in investments is simply the rate of growth a project is expected to yield. It is basically a prediction used to measure how profitable an investment is going to be. More specifically, the IRR is the interest rate at which negative cash flows is equal to the positive cash flows which equal zero. When planning to make an investment, this is a great tool to use to see projected profits.
Strategy #7 Annuities As Investments
Annuities are fixed payments investments that are paid over a period of time. The investor makes periodic payments to a financial institution or an insurance company. The amount the investor receives depend on how much is paid each period and for how long. This investment is generally low risk. Fixed annuities have a fixed payment and are similar to government bonds and corporate bonds. They are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Variable Annuities are regulated by SEC and allow investments in money marketing.
Strategy #8 Review Tax Laws
Being aware of tax laws concerning your investments is essential. Estate Tax or the “death tax” is a tax that gives people the right to transfer property in the event of their death before the property is distributed to the heirs. This tax does not apply to assets or property transferred to the surviving spouse. Other heirs, however, may owe estate tax if the assets exceeds the inclusion limits as set forth by the government. Due to estate taxes being high, careful planning should be implemented to ensure safety of the investments.
Gift Tax differs from Estate Tax in that it is a federal tax that is applied when one person gives something to another while they are still living. The giver of the gift is usually responsible for paying the tax but the receiver can also pay it, although rare. Exemptions from the gift tax include a gift between spouses, gifts to political organizations, gifts that are valued at less than the annual tax exemption and donating money for educational purposes or hospitals. This a good thing to familiarize with to protect investments from high taxes.
Strategy #9 Consider Setting Up A Uniform Gift To Minors Account (UGMA)
Uniform Gift to Minors Account or UGMA is a USA-only way to provide minors with a way to own investments. It is a trust fund that is in the minor’s name, however the custodian is responsible handling the investment to benefit the child. The responsible party cannot use the money for their own use. A benefit to UGMA is that the first $700 is tax-free and there is no limit on the amount of the investment.
Strategy #10 As An Employee, Invest In Your Company’s Stock Options
More and more companies today are offering investments in Stock Options. In the past, stock options were for the wealthy. Stock Options can be a beneficial way to invest by giving the employee the right to buy shares in the company at a designated price over a period of time. Two common plans include Incentive Stock Options (qualified) and Non-qualified Stock Options. Traditionally, employees get the non-qualified and upper management get the qualified and qualify for special tax treatment. Non-qualified, however can be transferred to children or donated to charities. These type of investments have become more popular in recent years but can be tricky with taxes.
Strategy #11 Research A Company’s Moody Rating Before Investing In That Company
The Moody’s Corporation is a credit rating agency that performs research on government and commercial companies and rates borrowers of credit worthiness. Although the company is subject to criticism it is a good tool to use when making investments. Its ratings are categorized by long-term obligation ratings, short-term taxable ratings, short-term tax exempt ratings and individual bank ratings. When looking for investment opportunities, the Moody Rating allows customers to view how the company is rated. This is essential when looking for safe and secure ways to invest.
Strategies For Your Investments Conclusion
Preparation is the easiest way to ensure your investments are safe. Nowadays, there are many more options for investing than in past years. While having options is a usually a good thing, too many can be quite overwhelming.
The best strategy is to simply take some time beforehand to research and identify what will best fulfill your investments needs.
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