Investing for Beginners: Simple Tips for First-Time Investors to Make Your Money Work for You
By Saghir Aslam
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

 

(The following information is provided solely to educate the Muslim community about investing and financial planning. It is hoped that the Ummah will benefit from this effort through greater financial empowerment, enabling the community to live with dignity and fulfill their moral obligations towards charitable activities)

Years of education, hard work and determination will likely leave you with a pot of savings at your disposal. Many tend to leave this hard-earned money stagnant in a bank account. But there are a few practical strategies that can be followed to make your money work for you as you seek to invest.

Years of education, hard work and determination will likely leave you with a pot of savings at your disposal. Many tend to leave this hard-earned money stagnant in a bank account. But there are a few practical strategies that can be followed to make your money work for you as you seek to invest.

  • Know thyself

Understanding your financial situation and attitude towards risk is paramount when making any investment decision. When setting expectations for an investment, be realistic about the type of returns you are hoping for. Past performance only provides an indicator of historical returns. Both long- and short-term track records should be analyzed alongside performance in different market conditions and similar types of investments to ensure you are making an informed decision.

  • Be informed

Collecting as much information as possible about a potential investment empowers you. It gives you an extra edge when making decisions. Ask lots of questions to make sure you have all the relevant information, and understand it, before making any decision. Your investment needs to match your goal, and you need to have a clear understanding of the risks associated. Communication on the cost, liquidity and legitimacy of your investment must also be transparent. This will help reassure you that the investment is the right one for you.

  • Make a plan

Choose individual investments that fit into this strategy — this is better than making investments on an ad hoc basis, or by reacting to market conditions. Given the variety of options available today, it’s important to seek guidance from a financial adviser. Nearly every investment entails special risks that should be discussed with an experienced professional. An adviser offers objectivity, support and guidance during periods of market volatility. Each investor’s goals are unique and proper guidance towards the most suitable products is essential.

  • Time horizons

When you’re comfortable with this plan, match your investments to your time horizon. For long-term goals such as retirement and children’s education, consider equity funds, which even though volatile in the short term, are more likely to give you the growth you’re looking for. For short-term goals, look at money markets or cash funds as they tend to be stable and predictable.

  • Risk and reward

All investments carry a certain amount of risk, and the rewards are normally commensurate with the risk you take. For example, equity funds have the ability to provide good returns over the long term, but the question to ask is: are you comfortable with the ups and downs of the markets?

There is no point investing your money in equities and spending sleepless nights due to short-term volatility. But at the same time, you need to ensure that your investments provide returns that are adequate to meet your long-term goals.

Putting money in different asset classes and sectors can provide a balance in your investments as they seldom move in tandem. It allows the ups of one to make up for the downs and losses of another by spreading your money across different types ofinvestments.

  • No ‘right’ time

Trying to successfully time a market is next to impossible. Your investment decision should be based on careful analysis of your situation rather than purely on market conditions.

It is important to remember that any short-term volatility you might face tends to smoothen out over the long term. Investing is not a 100-metre dash. Rather, it’s a marathon run.

When the market is low, you buy more and when the market rises, you buy less. This disciplined investment approach has proven to be a successful way of building wealth for millions of investors all over the world.

  • Loss-averse

Most of us are reluctant to take losses, which means admitting to mistakes. Until and unless you have a good reason to be optimistic about the future prospects of a loss-making investment, just sell it. We all make mistakes. The point is to learn from them and not live with them.

  • Avoid emotions

Emotions tend to overwhelm us whenever there is a significant shift in market conditions, or when we are faced with unforeseen circumstances, be they good or bad. While making investment decisions during such situations, one needs to be even more careful. An objective and deliberate analysis of the situation, taking into consideration the investment objectives and time frame, is an absolute must for achieving financial success.

  • Be flexible

As time passes, your life stage changes, as do your needs and income. Before making an investment decision, evaluate how it affects your current asset allocation plan. You need to periodically monitor and review your investment, assess whether your goal or risk tolerance has changed, and consider how the investment has performed compared to expectations as well as its peer group. After all, we invest to achieve peace of mind. Don’t let the wrong investments we make influence that.

  • Cost Averaging

I have shared with you multiple times one of the method I have used is Cost Averaging. Basically you take the total amount that you want to invest within a year divided by 12. Whatever the amount is invest that amount same date each month for the next 12 months. This speaks market timing and some other strategies. This is very simple, very easy to follow and for this you don’t even have to do lot of research, no homework. Everything is done for you. Most important thing you need to do is to discipline, make sure you do invest same date every month.

(Saghir A. Aslam only explains strategies and formulas that he has been using. He is merely providing information, and NO ADVICE is given. Mr Aslam does not endorse or recommend any broker, brokerage firm, or any investment at all, nor does he suggest that anyone will earn a profit when or if they purchase stocks, bonds or any other investments. All stocks or investment vehicles mentioned are for illustrative purposes only. Mr Aslam is not an attorney, accountant, real estate broker, stockbroker, investment advisor, or certified financial planner. Mr Aslam does not have anything for sale.)

 

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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