Everyone who follows the financial news has heard of mutual funds and knows the stock market has generally risen (with various ups-and-downs) for over 200 years. In fact, by most measures, the stock market has made more money for more people, and done it more reliably, than any other investment over the past 100 years! If you want to accumulate substantial wealth, you must include stocks in your investments!
But, most people who “invest” don’t study the market. They don’t understand it, and they don’t have time to manage their portfolio wisely. That’s where mutual funds come in. I respect that other people have other opinions, and certainly not all mutual funds are well managed – you MUST choose wisely and use appropriate caution! But, for most folks, a good, solid, boring mutual fund is the golden path to riches.
Here are my Top 10 reasons to us mutual funds:
1. Selection. You can select from thousands of funds (you’ll find one to suit your needs) and you can get information on them easily. Magazines like “Money” are easy to find. Most credit unions have information, and your local library is a goldmine – and there’s the Internet.
2. You Can Start Small. Most mutual funds will let you start with less than $1000, and if you set it up for automatic deposits, some will let you start with only $50. I’ve spent more than that in a restaurant! There is NO reason not to consider this!
3. Simplicity. You deposit 10% of your income every month. Just pay yourself first, then pay the mortgage, then pay everyone else.
4. Professional management. I don’t always have time to research, select, and monitor individual stocks. So, I pay a professional a small fee to do it for me. A good fund manager will make you rich!
5. Compound interest. Depending on what index you pick, the U.S. stock market has gone up an average of over 12% per year for the past 10 years, and it’s been almost that high for the past 20 years. The market fluxuates, but the beauty of this is, you don’t care! Over 10, 20, or 30 years, the system works every time!
6. Dollar-cost-averaging. The details are complicated, but by investing every single month, whether the market is up or down, you get a tremendous boost from the mathematics. Your “average cost” will always be less than the “average price” you paid! And that is money in your pocket!
7. Diversification. A broad-based growth fund typically invests in dozens of companies in different industries, sometimes even in different countries around the world. If one stock goes down, hopefully dozens of others will go up. There is excellent protection and sound risk management built-in to these funds.
8. Specialization. If you prefer, and if you do the research, there are funds that invest in only a very small number of companies. If you can accept the additional risk, you can invest in one particular industry, or one country, or in companies of a certain size or that are environmentally responsible. This specialization offers the potential for even greater profits, but it can also bring greater potential risk. Study before you invest!
9. Fund “Families”. Most mutual funds are offered by management companies that sponsor several different funds, with different objectives. They make it easy to move your money between funds, so as your goals change, you can adjust your investements with a quick phone call, or on the Internet.
10. Momentum. Once you get started, your enthusiam builds. Once you have money “in the market”, you’ll track it, manage it, and in all probability, your desire to save will increase. If you’ve had difficulty saving in the past…START! Those monthly statements will be positive reminders to do even more.
Yes, you should invest in tax-sheltered retirement plans first, and yes, there are other investment possibilities. And yes, there is some risk, because the market can go down. But to retire wealthy, pick a great, long-term growth fund, invest regularly, and let the system work for you! The key, as always is: GET STARTED!
Here’s to your success!