Investment involves staking capital in an enterprise, with the expectation of profit. It is nothing but the use of liquid funds to gain income or increase capital. In order for money to grow, investors need to invest judiciously. There are certain guidelines to be followed to avoid major mistakes.

Price of the Company: An investor needs to research on the Market Capitalization of the company he is planning to invest in. Market Capitalization or Market Cap is the total cost of acquiring the entire company. It refers to the price of all outstanding shares of a company multiplied by the quoted price per share, at any given point of time. It is important to gauge the relative cost of a stock, before making any investments in the company. This can be done by learning the P/E Ratio. P/E ratio refers to the Price is to Earnings Ratio. It is the ratio of a companys current share price to its earnings per share.

P/E Ratio = Market Value per Share
Earnings per Share (EPS)

Example: If a company is trading at $50 per share and earnings per share over the last 1 year were $ 2 per share, then, P/E ratio for this companys stocks would be $50/$2, that is, $25. High P/E value indicates that the company has high growth prospects in the future.

P/E ratio can be used to make important investment decisions, by comparing P/E values of various companies.

Is The Company Buying Back Shares: It is very important for investors to observe the per-share growth of a company. A company may not show considerable growth in sales, profit and revenue for a few consecutive years, but could generate large returns for investors by dropping the total number of outstanding shares.

Investment Policy of the Investor: An investor needs to have valid reasons for investing in a particular enterprise. Investment decisions should be solely based on the authenticity of a company. Authenticity, here involves the reputation of the company, its management, profits earned, market cap and other such fundamentals, related to economics and finance.

Long Term Goals of the Investor: Investment involves risk but intelligent planning of long-term goals makes investing safe. An investor needs to select a good company that requires him to pay the minimum possible amount initially. He should consider the Dollar-cost Averaging Program.

Dollar Cost Averaging Program: This involves investing a particular amount in the same investment, periodically. Investors need not invest a lump sum amount in a stock all at once. They can invest a little every month in the same stock. Since an investor puts in the same amount of money, he can purchase more shares when the prices are lower. This basically lowers an investors average cost per share in comparison to the average market price per share, in the same time period. Dollar cost averaging builds the habit of setting aside money for investment.

Reinvesting the dividends, to grow over a long period of time, often proves highly profitable. An investor should look for all valid essentials of an investment before investing.

Life insurance as an investment

Term insurance provides coverage for a pre-specified period. For example, term insurance is designed to protect a mortgage or provide income for your family in case of your death. You pay the term insurance premium each month and as long as you pay the premium your policy will stay in force. Once the contract reaches maturity (usually in 10 years) you need to renew your policy at a higher price. If you die while you’re paying the premium your estate gets a large sum of money.

In contrast, permanent or whole life insurance remains in force until you die. You pay the premium on a monthly basis for a pre-specified term, which can range between 10 to 20 years. A portion of your monthly payment pays the insurance and the life insurance company that provided the insurance invests the remainder. Eventually you don’t pay any premiums but your estate still receives a large payment upon death.

Whole life polices have been criticized because their investment returns are low. Thus you were often advised to buy life insurance protection with a term policy and invest the difference between term and whole life payments in a separate investment vehicle, such as mutual funds, stocks, or bonds. Once you have built up a large pool of assets you don’t need the insurance because the assets will provide security and stability in the event of an unexpected death.

However, there is a new, more flexible product called universal life insurance. While the life insurance company controls the savings in a whole life policy, the savings in a universal life plan are owned and controlled by the policyholder. Insurance companies offer a large variety of investment options for this savings component, including mutual funds. Thus, you have the ability to meet your life insurance needs and increase your return on investment.

The major advantage of a universal life policy is tax-advantaged growth. When you pay the policy premium, a portion of the premium pays for the insurance and a portion is invested. However, when you are ready to withdraw the money from your investment, your cost basis ( the portion not subject to tax) is higher with a universal life policy. The cost base for a universal policy is equal to the sum of all your premiums – the amount of money you have invested plus the money you have used to buy life insurance. This is very useful because increasing your cost base will ensure you pay less tax once you sell your investments within the universal life policy.

Universal life insurance provides a powerful combination of life insurance and tax-advantaged investment opportunities. Investors should realize that universal life insurance premiums work twice as hard as other premiums. They should also know that choosing the right product is an important element in the overall success of this strategy. Finally, the benefits of this strategy are magnified if you are in a higher tax bracket.

Investment – Can You Do Without It?

It is hard to imagine if anyone is living without money and it is equally hard to imagine if humans are living without investing in someway or the other. In plain language, investment means the act of investing or laying out money or capital in an enterprise with the expectation of profit. But at the same time the term investment also means money that is invested with an expectation of profit.

Investment is closely related with earning money and employing it to earn more by its virtue of its inherent multiplication factor. It is this character of money (read investment) which drives people invest in various asset types in which they are comfortable with. As a general rule, it is not quite natural for the novice investors to pursue high return investment categories as they perceive the high element of associated risk is beyond their control.

The Big Question: Could You Do Without Investment?
The answer is rather simple as everyone from top down has wanted to invest in one asset or the other. The more conventional the asset type is more the investors and thus investment. Let me detail this out for you.

Traditional investments like investment on gold and land have never let down the investors although rate at which they appreciated was below par till recently. But come to think of it; the simplicity of prediction matrix and non volatile nature of their class made them the darlings of one and all.

Current Investment Scenario
The current investment arena is extremely wide and intricately interdependent. The simplest investment by far, the savings account, contributes to the pool which bank draws from, for advancing loans to a variety investors. Thus the return on your investment (savings) is connected to the return the bank expects. Floating rate of interest is one of the manifestations of this interdependence.

Investment Options for You

It is impractical to attempt to list out all investment types. However the following are the representative types which apply to all economies.

1. Investment on stocks and securities
2. Investment in money market instruments
3. Investment in mutual funds
4. Investment in ventures
5. Investment in insurance

Speculative Investment
It is difficult to foretell how and why people make investment decisions. Also it is not true that investors play safe every time. Speculating a higher than usual and short term profit is none too unusual tendency with some. Such an investment type is classified as speculative investment. Although it beats logic, it goes by gut feeling of investors. Many stock investment and real estate speculators have made big time money taking tremendous risk.

Investment Advice: 3 Steps To Start Investing With Just $100

Investment Advice: 3 Steps To Start Investing With Just $100

Investment advice is usually geared toward those with thousands, or at least $1,000 to invest, in addition to the standard three-to-six-months salary socked away in a savings account.

Most of us know how important it is to supplement our retirement with additional investment in traditional taxable investment accounts. Simply maxing out your IRA contributions and putting away 6% of your paycheck into the employers 401(k) just may not do it, but not everyone has the thousands that most investment advice requires.Here is a plan developed with the ultra-small investor in mind. It takes just $100, every month for a year.

Should You Invest?

First, it is important to prioritize your financial concerns. If you have high-interest credit card debt, do not invest until you are debt free. While it is possible to make more money investing than you are losing on finance charges, it is highly unlikely. Your money is best spent lowering credit card balances.

Also, if you have no cash savings, you should consider putting this plan off until you have savings equal to at least three months salary.

Finally, if you would be devastated if you lost all of the money you invested, you should probably stay away from directly investing. While not likely if you are conservative, it is possible to lose all or some of the money you invest, no matter what the security.

Start Investing With Just $100

1. Open a brokerage account with a low-cost online broker. Its important that youre not paying more than $5 per trade, because thats money that will be coming out of your investment. Also, make sure that the broker you choose has no minimum account balance, or fees will eat up your entire balance. For more about discount stock brokers you can visit our broker comparison chart.
2. Fund your account. This is where you send your first $100 to the broker via check, wire transfer, or ACH transfer. I recommend ACH transfer, which is like an electronic check, because a check will take a few weeks to process and a wire transfer is too costly for investing such a small amount.
3. Make your first investment.

What you invest in is, of course very important, and professional investment advice is too expensive if you’re only investing $100. But studies have shown that the best returns come from widely diverse portfolios.

Now, you can’t easily have a widely diverse portfolio with $100, since that won’t even get you one share of Google (GOOG) or Toyota (TM). But Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) make it easy to invest a small amount of money in a wide variety of securities, because they are shares in a larger pool of securities. The Vanguard Total Stock Market VIPER (VTI) tracks over 6,000 U.S. stocks, and it’s like investing your first $100 in the entire U.S. stock market. The iShares MSCI-EAFE (EFA) invests in stocks from Europe, Australia and Asia. The iShares Lehman Aggregate Bond (AGG) tracks the Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index, and it’s like investing your $100 in the entire bond market.

If, after three months, you have put $100 into each of these funds, you will have a well-diversified portfolio that should withstand most of the market’s fluctuations. Losses in any particular sector of the stock market should be offset by gains in other areas of the market. Add to it each month, never investing less than $100 at a time, and you should see the value of your account grow just as the stock market does.

There are many ETFs to choose from and they are getting more diverse, including junk bond and commodities funds. Personally I would stay away from them until there’s at least $1,000 in stock and traditional bond ETFs, since the majority of your portfolio should include traditional investments, not alternative investments.

As you watch your investment grow (and then pull back, and then grow again) you should learn more about asset allocation and portfolio diversification, which are the keys to investment success. The more diverse your investments, the more you will be able to withstand volatile markets when stocks dip.

Finally, when the total value of your investment reaches $10,000, you should consider seeking professional investment advice and transferring your holdings to traditional mutual funds, which are a bit easier to manage, but typically have higher investment minimums.

Consumer 101 Ethical Investment

Money Makes The Arms Go Round

Do you give money to the arms trade or to industries destroying our environment? Most of us would be shocked and indignant if accused of doing this. But traditionally, when we invest we give up the right to decide where our money goes and our hard earned cash could be propping up oppressive regimes without us knowing. Ethical investment gives us the chance to control the money we invest and prove that profit and principles can work together.

Ethical investment is not a new idea. The Quakers in the 18th century used it to make a stand against the slave trade refusing to invest money in any business linked to it. More recently it was used to attack South Africa’s apartheid with the state of California withdrawing $50 billion from the country. With credentials like these it is easy to see why investment can be a powerful tool for social change.

Thinking ethically means not compromising on your values or your pocket. For example, the Ethical Investment Research Service concluded ethical funds have a lower total risk then those without ethical criteria.

There are broadly two types of ethical investing. The first is screening the companies you want to invest with to make sure their practices don’t clash with your principles. These can include bad environmental practises, the tobacco or alcohol industries, pornography, anti-trade union practises, or the arms trade. In addition to these concerns Muslims may prefer not to invest in financial institutions where there is interest-based gain. Secondly you may wish to actively channel your money to companies you approve of. These could be companies with good labour practices and safety records, organic farms or alternative energy companies, or those who benefit local communities.

An independent financial adviser will help you find companies, tailored to your specific agenda. You may, for example, want to prioritise not supporting companies who work with oppressive regimes, but mind less about investing in the tobacco industry. Or you may not mind about alcohol production but be vehemently opposed to your money funding environmentally irresponsible corporations. Whatever you decide independent financial help means you can place your money where it won’t damage your conscience.

Why not start with your bank? Smile.co.uk is the Internet bank of the co-operative bank. It not only has specific ethical and environmental policies, but also fantastic rates on current accounts. They also have a huge range of ethical investments options. Triodos bank only gives business loans to organisations involved in sustainable development projects and savers are given the option of specifically channelling their cash into their preferred sector, whether this is social housing projects or organic farming. The Ecology building society uses your money to provide mortgages for energy efficient houses, ecological renovation or for rescuing derelict properties.

Investment Strategy

Because investing is not a sure thing in most cases, it is much like a game you dont know the outcome until the game has been played and a winner has been declared. Anytime you play almost any type of game, you have a strategy. Investing isnt any different you need an investment strategy.

An investment strategy is basically a plan for investing your money in various types of investments that will help you meet your financial goals in a specific amount of time. Each type of investment contains individual investments that you must choose from. A clothing store sells clothes but those clothes consist of shirts, pants, dresses, skirts, undergarments, etc. The stock market is a type of investment, but it contains different types of stocks, which all contain different companies that you can invest in.

If you havent done your research, it can quickly become very confusing simply because there are so many different types of investments and individual investments to choose from. This is where your strategy, combined with your risk tolerance and investment style all come into play.

If you are new to investments, work closely with a financial planner before making any investments. They will help you develop an investment strategy that will not only fall within the bounds of your risk tolerance and your investment style, but will also help you achieve your financial goals.

Never invest money without having a goal and a strategy for reaching that goal! This is essential. Nobody hands their money over to anyone without knowing what that money is being used for and when they will get it back! If you dont have a goal, a plan, or a strategy, that is essentially what you are doing! Always start with a goal and a strategy for reaching that goal!

Investment Strategy: The Investor’s Creed

Fascinating, isn’t it, this stock market of ours, with its unpredictability, promise, and unscripted daily drama! But individual investors are even more interesting. We’ve become the product of a media driven culture that must have reasons, predictability, blame, scapegoats, and even that four-letter word, certainty. We are a culture of investors where hindsight is rapidly replacing the reality-based foresight that once was flowing in our now real-time veins… just like downhill racing, grouse hunting, and Super Bowls.

The Stock Market is a dynamic place where investors can consistently make reasonable returns on their capital if they comply with the basic principles of the endeavor AND if they don’t measure their progress too frequently with irrelevant measuring devices. The classic investment strategy is so simple and so trite that most investors dismiss it routinely and move on in their search for the holy investment grail(s): a stock market that only rises and a bond market capable of paying higher interest rates at stable or higher prices! Just not going to happen

This is mythology, not investing. Investors who grasp the realities of these wonderful marketplaces recognize the opportunities and embrace them with an understanding that goes beyond the media hype and side show performance enhancement barkers. Simply put, when investment grade securities rise in price [As they are now, with the DJIA finally putting together a successful attack on the 11,000 barrier], Take Your Profits, because that’s the purpose of investing in the stock market! On the flip side (and there has always been a flip side, more commonly dreaded as a “correction”), replenish your portfolio inventory with investment grade securities. Yes, even some that you may have just sold days or weeks ago during the rally. This is much more than an oversimplification; it is a long-term (a year or two is not long term.) strategy that succeeds… cycle, after cycle, after cycle. Sounds an awful lot like Buy Low/Sell High doesn’t it? Obviously, Wall Street can’t let you know that it is quite so simple!

[Note that Dow Jones 11,000 was last breached during the infancy of this century, and that the last All Time High in this much too widely followed average occurred late in 1999. When the DJIA banner is repositioned on that historical peak of 11,700 or so, it will represent no less than six years of zero growth in this, the most respected, of all Market Indicators! Would the media strip the gold medal from this Stock Market Icon if it knew that during these same years:

(1) There have been significantly more stocks rising in price on a daily basis than moving lower. In fact, more than two-thirds of the last 68 months have been positive.
(2) Since April 2000, there have been 120 more positive days in NYSE issue breadth than negative days.
(3) 250% more NYSE stocks established new high price levels than new lows.
(4) We are working on our sixth consecutive year of positive issue breadth!]

So understand that your portfolio statement values will rise and fall throughout time, and rather than rejoice or cry, you should be taking actions that will enhance your “Working Capital” and the ability of your portfolio to accomplish your long term goals and objectives. Through the simple application of a few easy to memorize rules, you can plot a course to an investment portfolio that regularly achieves higher highs and (much more importantly), higher lows! Left to its own devices, like the DJIA for example, an unmanaged portfolio is likely to have long periods of unproductive sideways motion. You can ill afford to travel six years at a break even pace, and it is foolish, even irresponsible, to expect any unmanaged or passively directed approach to be in sync with your personal financial needs.

Five simple concepts of Asset Allocation, Investment Strategy, and Psychology are summed up quite nicely in what I call “The Investor’s Creed”:

(1) My intention is to be fully invested in accordance with my planned equity/fixed income asset allocation.
(2) On the other hand, every security I own is for sale, and every security I own generates some form of cash flow that cannot be reinvested immediately.
(3) I am happy when my cash position is nearly 0% because all of my money is then working as hard as it possibly can to meet my objectives.
(4) But, I am ecstatic when my cash position approaches 100% because that means Ive sold everything at a profit, and that I am in a position to
(5) take advantage of any new investment opportunities (that fit my guidelines) as soon as I become aware of them.

If you are managing your portfolio properly, your cash position has been rising lately, as you take profits on the securities you purchased when prices were falling just a few months ago and (this is a big and) you could well be chock full of cash well before the market blows the whistle on its advance! Yes, if you are going about the investment process properly, you will be swimming in cash at about the same time Wall Street discovers the rally and starts encouraging people to weight their portfolios more heavily into stocks; the number of IPOs coming to market starts to rise exponentially; morning drive radio DJ’s start to laugh about their stock market successes; and all of your friends start to talk about their new investment guru or the 30% gains in their growth Mutual Funds. What are you doing in cash!

This is what I call “smart” cash, because it represents realized profits, interest, and dividends that are just catching a breather on the bench after a scoring drive. As the gains compound at money market rates, the disciplined coach looks for sure signs of investor greed in the market place: fixed income prices fall as speculators abandon their long term goals and reach for the new investment stars that are sure to propel equity prices ever higher, boring investment grade equities fall in price as well because it now clear [for the scadieighth (sic) time] that the market will never fall again particularly NASDAQ, which could double and still not be where it was six years ago. And the beat goes on, cycle after cycle, generation after generation. What do you think; will today’s coaches be any smarter than those of the late nineties? Have they learned that it is the very strength of a rising market that proves to be its greatest weakness!

How To Select An Investment Strategy

There are several critical factors that need to be considered in selecting the right trading system for you. Investors are always looking for a trading edge to exploit. Finding such an edge is akin to the quest for the Holy Grail and many would be traders spend their time bouncing from one system to another, constantly looking for the perfect system. If this sounds like you, let me suggest that you change your ways, quit searching, and start making money.

First, realize that every system will have loosing trades and there will be a series of such trades. The draw down is always a challenging time. You have to be prepared mentally and financially to ride out the draw downs. The way to prepare is to check the historical performance. The historical performance period should be appropriate for the number of trades and the rules in the system. What this means is that a system with many rules will need more trades to prove its validity. I like at least 50 trades per rule and be very conservative on the number of rules. For example, if the system is:

Go long when the current price is greater than the 20 period moving average. Close when the price drops below the 20 period average.

There are two rules in the above. One for the entry and one for the exit, which means Id want to see a historical performance of at least 100 trades.

Another consideration is the average holding period and frequency for trading. Both these need to match your preferences or you will be soon looking for some other trading system. Some investors want a set and forget type of trading plan where they enter their trades and just make updates on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. For others this approach would be far too boring.

The major consideration is return on investment. There is no one answer as to what a reasonable number might be. It depends on several factors. First is the leverage used in the investment vehicle. For example, the least use of leverage would be to pay cash for shares of stock and own them outright. More leverage would be to purchase the stocks on margin or buy options on the stocks.

Even greater leverage would be commodities or currency trading. As the leverage goes up, returns should be greater to offset the increased risk.

Another consideration for acceptable returns is the frequency of trading. One would expect day trading to produce higher returns than a long term buy and hold approach, for example.

Lets say that youve found the right combination of risk and reward. A strategy with trading frequency that suits your personality. What next? Paper trade! Always start by paper trading the strategy. The length of time to paper trade isnt as important as the number of trades. Refer back to the previous section on number of trades to validate. The more the better, but at some point you just need to leap in. Ideally Id like to see 25% or more of the total trades as calculated above.