Basic Investing Concepts

February 26, 2009

Even in the current market downturn there are some basic planning concepts that you need to follow. Whenever you buy an investment, it’s a good idea to think about how long you want to own it. This is called your investment time horizon. Are you hoping to make a quick profit so you can take a nice vacation this summer? Or are you investing for retirement, which may be 20 or 30 years away? The longer your time horizon, the more volatility (price change) you can tolerate. Sink the vacation money into a volatile stock fund and you may end up staying home this summer. But put your retirement money into the same fund, and you could wind up with a nice-sized nest egg — as long as you don’t mind seeing its value go up and down between now and then.

Another thing to think about is how this new investment will fit with the investments you already own. If you hold one financial services stock, you may not want to buy another one, in case all financial services stocks head south. But you can hedge your Internet bet by buying a food stock, or even a bond. This is called diversification, or not having all of your eggs in one basket.

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