Basic Terminology to Start Your Investment Education
A stock is simply a portion of business ownership. Purchasing a company’s stock allows you to vote at shareholder meetings while also being eligible to share in any profits that the business may generate. Remember that stock value fluctuates on a daily basis, and that not all stocks will make money – some may stay at the value they were at when you purchased them, while others may drop in value, making stock purchasing a trickier option if you are risk adverse. Keep your initial stock purchase at a minimum until you become comfortable with market performance and don’t invest more than you are willing to lose.
Purchasing a bond is a way of lending money to a particular company or the government. In return for your loan, the entity that receives the money agrees to pay you interest on the money, and eventually repay the loan. Bonds are a relatively safe investment, meaning that your return on investment is much less than the return from other securities, but they do provide peace of mind to those with little appetite for risk.
Mutual funds are a combination of stocks and bonds. When you purchase a mutual fund, you are pooling your money with other investors. All mutual funds have a very specific investment strategy and can include stocks, government bonds, stocks in specific industries, such as technology or healthcare, or even stocks from specific countries. All mutual funds are managed by a professional that choses the securities included in the mutual fund.
Once you begin to invest, you will have a portfolio. A portfolio represents all of the investments that have been made on your behalf. Most investors will have a variety of investments in their portfolio, including individual stocks, bonds, and securities. Your portfolio can also include real property such as real estate, valuable art or jewelry, or any valuable item. Your portfolio is always tied to your investment goals that should be determined before you begin to invest.
While some experts caution new investors against diversifying stock purchases, it’s always best to have a diversified portfolio that includes a variety of investments to balance out risk. While cautious investors may invest in more bonds or government treasuries, with limited stock purchases, other portfolios may include more stock investments. Diversification also includes varying the type of stocks or real investments you make. Instead of concentrating on one particular industry, purchasing stocks in two or three industries can help protect your investment should one particular industry suffer an unexpected market loss.
Talk to a financial professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the investment options available to you.