Choosing The Right Asset Type for your First Investment

Investing can seem like a double-edged sword. Most people have heard about the importance of it, yet the options and risks sound impossibly intimidating. Too often, confusion and fear lead to doing nothing, because doing nothing at least feels safe from loss. However, as Money Under 30 explains, the apparent safety of doing nothing is deceptive because, once the power of time and compounding interest are considered, much more money is lost by not investing than by taking on investment risk. Once it’s accepted that loss cannot be avoided by staying on the sidelines, it becomes clearer that the safer choice is to choose the best baby steps forward.

Asset allocation

One of the keys to sound investing is to have the proper asset allocation. Among other things, this means that novice investors should not jump right into purchasing individual stocks when they almost certainly do not have the information they need to make good buying choices. Mutual funds consist of multiple securities (primarily stocks and bonds), and they are preferable due to the risks being diffused by diversification. Also, expenses are reduced by paying just one commission for each fund purchase.

Make it automatic

The other key to sound investing is to make it automatic. This prevents getting sidetracked by the emotions of the news cycle. Among the many options for doing this is an app called Acorns. Acorns allows investors to choose one of five diversified portfolios according to their goals and risk tolerance. Accounts can be funded with a one-time lump sum or regular recurring withdrawals from a checking account. A unique feature of Acorns is that it allows users to link to a credit or debit card, and it then rounds up purchases. Once the difference exceeds $5, it applies the amount to the chosen investment.

Tangible investing

Real estate is a popular investment that has value both for the long-term and for immediate cash flow. Of course, many people do not have the massive capital often required to buy their own properties outright. Fortunately, modern innovation has provided more flexible options. With crowdfunding, it is possible to buy shares of real estate like you would buy shares of mutual funds. RealtyShares, for example, allows investments of as little as $5,000 in various selections of residential and commercial real estate.

Individual retirement accounts

Selecting the right investment account is as important as choosing the right assets and portfolios to go in it. Certain retirement accounts provide tax benefits as long as established rules are followed. A traditional IRA allows savers to deduct the amount they invest from their taxable income. Taxes are paid when distributions are taken in retirement. In contrast, money invested in a Roth IRA is after-tax money, but the distributions are tax-free.

Money in these accounts is typically invested in fund options offered by brokers. However, a self-directed IRA allows the flexibility to choose from a broader range of investments such as real estate and lending notes. Assets in these accounts must still be held by a custodian or trustee.

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