Now that we’ve filed our taxes – or an extension – it’s the perfect opportunity to turn our financial focus to investments. If you’re one of the many lucky Americans that are getting a return, you’re probably trying to decide what to do with the newfound disposable income. And, if you have a fat tax bill to pay, you’re likely looking for ways to start generating more income.
An answer for both according to experts in the arena? Investments.
Squirreling money away in a savings account may be a super safe bet, but your money could be working harder and generating even more wealth. When it comes to investing there is no shortage of options and creating a diversified portfolio with a few of the tried and true investment vehicles is a savvy move.
Let’s talk basic investments according to some of the top financial gurus.
Bonds: Start on the Safer Road
When you purchase bonds it is equivalent to lending the government or a company money. The entity receiving the bond agrees to pay you back plus interest. This type of investment is a fixed-income security that is relatively safe when the bond is for a stable government or business. The lower risk means a lower return, but for some investors the security outweighs the income potential.
For professionals like Charles Schwab fixed-income strategist Kathy Jones, the best opportunities for investing in bonds are in the middle. “Intermediate bonds – somewhere in the three- to five-year range – are pretty attractive,” she says. “Especially in investment-grade corporate bonds and even municipals.”
Stock Market: High Risk, High Reward
Think of stocks like purchasing small portions of a business. Follow the stock market for just a week and you’ll see that it’s a roller coaster compared to bonds. There are no guarantees, things change quickly, and the global economy and world events affect stock value on a daily basis. Therefore, stocks aren’t for the faint of heart. There is a lot of risk, but with that risk comes the potential for high return.
There are two ways in which people make money buying stocks. First, there are stocks that provide dividends. When the company turns a profit the stock shareholders receive their cut, known as dividends. However, these aren’t common. The more common way for people to make money on stocks is by selling the stocks for more than they paid.
Susan Kempler is responsible for managing TIAA-CREF’s $3 billion Growth and Income Fund. She’s been able to turn out impressive 7.7% returns by focusing on companies with a “management team [that] knows how to maintain and accelerate growth.” She’s also stated that it’s wise to invest in “high-quality companies with rising earnings and cash flow.”
Mutual Funds: Share the Wealth
Mutual funds are a blend of lower risk bonds and higher risk stocks that people buy together as a group. Typically a professional money manager oversees the mutual fund, selecting stocks and bonds of a particular kind. This is a great option for beginners or those that don’t have the time to learn the markets and manage the investment themselves.
Real Estate: Buy It Right
A house can be much more than a home, it can be the biggest investment most Americans will ever make – and a real wealth builder. As Keller Williams Realty Co-Founder, Gary authored a bestselling investor series, walking readers through the steps to buying real estate as a fast-cash option or long-term wealth builder. Either way, “buying right” is the key to a lucrative real estate venture.
In an interview with Geraldine Barry, Gary explained that, “like a lot of real estate investors, I started by investing in residential properties and over time moved into commercial as well. I believe strongly in making your money going in. Focus on cash flow and value from Day 1 and you’ll always make a great investment.”
One of the many benefits of a traditional IRA account is that the contributions lower your taxable income while a Roth IRA can provide tax-free retirement funds because withdrawals aren’t taxed. On the flip side withdrawals from a traditional IRA do come with regular income taxes and there are no tax breaks for making contributions to a Roth IRA. Furthermore, there could be caps, restrictions and fees involved if you withdraw from a traditional IRA account too early or too often.
IRA expert and definitive guru Ed Slott helps many people get to the biggest benefit from this type of investment by converting traditional IRAs to a Roth IRA. However, Ed says there are a number of things to watch out for, including tax concerns when you make the switch. “Money that’s converted is exempt from penalties. But if you use part of it to pay the tax, there’s a penalty if you’re under 59½,” he says. “It’s something people don’t think about – and it’s too late when the tax bill comes.”
Is your money growing your net worth? Share your favorite investment strategies or advice you’ve learned from the pros!