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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Common Investor Mistakes Revealed

You might not think of yourself as an investor, but you are. Most of us have a checking account and probably a savings account, even if it is for just Christmas or your Emergency fund. A good portion also have 401K accounts or some other retirement account available to them via their work.

But even if you are just starting out, or have been maxing out your 401K there are five very common investor mistakes made over and over again. Retirement is a compounding game, meaning that returns magnify returns. You really can't afford to drop even 1% a year over 30 years.

If you invested $10,000, never touched it again and earned 4% interest compounded yearly (BTW avoid any investment that only compounds yearly :) ) after 30 years you would have $32,433.98, but at 4% percent it would be $43,219.42 or $10,785.45 more...more even than your original investment.

So here are Five Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  1. I Have Plenty of Time to Worry about That - Actually you don't. Using those 4% numbers above; if you have that investment for 20 years instead of 30, your out nearly $17,000! Time is the friend and enemy...use it wisely
  2. It is too Late - It's never to late! Once again time is ticking and every second lost is money lost. This goes for everyone: The best time to invest is now!
  3. I Won't Take any Risk - While I believe we should all invest within our own tolerance level, unfortunately risk equals reward. You have to balance out the two. As shown above, every percentage is very important over time.
  4. I am Captain Cowboy, Let it Ride! - OK, as I have stated before risk management is key here. You need the returns, but risk is still risk. If you want to bet on every tip out there go to Vegas, but read Viva Wall Street first.
  5. All in your Company's Stock - One word that should scare the heck out of you at night; the 20th Century Frankenstein...ENRON. The company would have pep rallys, tell the the working staff how great things were going, wait for them to buy to drive up the price of the stock, then sell! I am not saying don't buy any either, take advantage of ESOPs (Stock Options) if you can, just do not peg a higher percentage then you should have of that type of investment class. If you think you need 20% Mid-Cap stocks, and your company is a Mid-Cap stock company and it is run well, etc, fine put some, 5-10% of it in the stock. It is hard to be the nay-saying when your cube mate is high-fiving the janitor, but when/if it tanks, you may be out of a job, but you won't be starting over.

Look, take whatever I say with a huge grain of salt. I am not a stock broker, but I just see people tossing away $10,000's of Dollars. Get with a retirement fund helper. Find someone you trust, then...don't trust her/him! Ask questions, lots. Read blogs (especially this one :) )Don't feel stupid. People can feel dumb all the way to the poor house!

But whatever you decide, make a plan and start working it today. The investment interest you save may be your own!


Mrs. Micah said...

My thoughts on company stock:

Your entire job is invested there. Huge investment. If you're diversifying, how much more do you really want to invest there.

Or, as you say, Enron.

RacerX said...

Great point about what you are already investing.

A lot of time it comes down to avaioding a "herd" mentality. It is hard not to want to invest like other co-workers when they are seeing great gains, but it feel pretty good during the dips!

Thanks for commenting!

Dividends4Life said...

Another excellent article! I plan to include your article in my weekly carnival review this Friday.

Best Wishes,

RacerX said...

Thanks D4L!

Look forward to be included!

Thanks for reading!

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