Friday, May 20, 2016

What are Paid Online Surveys?

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Companies doing business want to know what the public thinks of their products. They engage marketing and research companies to seek opinion from them. They are also interested to know the impact of their new products before launching. By offering your opinion about their products and services, you are paid in cash (it is credited into your PayPal account and then you can transfer the amount to your personal banking account) or vouchers (KFC, Pizza Hut, Zalora, Parkson, Giant, Starbucks and many more)     

According to Wikipedia surveys where the respondent must pay or purchase products to join a panel are generally scams, as are sites that disappear before paying the participants. Legitimate surveys do not need credit card information from respondents. When a research company needs respondents from a demographic they cannot reach they can easily reach out to a worldwide or specialty panel. By offering a cash incentive to respondents in return for feedback these companies are able to quickly fill quotas and collect the information being sought by the client.

When you join a paid survey site, you are required to provide your personal and demographic information. It is used to select participants for surveys on specific products and services. When you are selected as a panel member, there is a short screening survey to determine if you fit the profile for that particular survey. If you qualify, you will proceed to complete the survey.

Online marketing and survey research companies will usually notify you by email when there is a survey to be responded. Check your email regularly because notification of new surveys can reach you anytime of the day   I usually answer questions using my PC or iPad because it is easier to get work done on a big screen. You take only a few minutes to answer a survey. It is a fun thing do and you also earn some pocket money at the same time

Here are Top 10 Paid Survey Sites in Malaysia that I have joined for free and received payments regularly. I can collect about RM100 per month in cash and vouchers doing daily surveys. To get the most out of paid surveys check out these 10 Top Smart Tips. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Paid Surveys - Top 10 Smart Tips

 Paid Surveys - Top 10 Smart Tips

I have been a panel member of the top ten survey sites in Malaysia since June 2015. I would like to share with you what I have learnt from taking online paid surveys:

 1. Never pay to join a survey site:All   the top 10 survey sites in Malaysia are free to join. I did not pay a single cent. Don’t ever pay a fee to join a survey site or pay to get a list of survey sites. Do not be conned by attractive online ads that promise you heaven and earth. 

2. Join as many sites as possible: If you want to earn more and do surveys daily you need to join as many sites as possible. Like me I participate in all the top 10 survey sites in Malaysia and I used to get daily emails to take part in one or the other survey from among the various companies. 

3. Response Quickly: When you get an email to do a survey, do so quickly because there is a quota for each survey. When they get enough respondents, the survey will be closed. 

 4. Open a PayPal account: When you are paid in MYR or USD the money will be credited into your PayPal account. From your PayPal account you can transfer the fund into your own banking account.  

5. Complete personal profile: Your complete personal profile is to ensure you are invited to participate in relevant surveys. 

Related:What are Paid Online Surveys?

6. Keep a record: I keep a spreadsheet of the links to all my survey sites. I record the points that I have accumulated. When I make a claim or redemption I record it as a pending item to monitor the receipt of the amount in my PayPal account or the vouchers. 

 7. Cash out or redeem: Make a claim as soon as possible when you have enough points to do so. You never know when one of these online companies might fold up anytime and you would waste all your efforts. 

8. Check emails daily: This is to make sure that you do not miss invited online surveys. You also need to visit survey sites daily to look for new surveys. 

 9. You will not be rich by taking surveys: You only spend a few minutes to complete a survey. Do not expect to get paid a huge amount. I am getting RM105 this month (March 2016) and I expect to earn more because as an active member I will be getting more survey invitations in future. 

 10. Productive use of time: When you are free at home, just spend a few minutes to complete a survey and you will be able to earn some money to defray your household expenses. It is legit, fun and interesting. 

Doing online surveys is one great way to work at home and earn extra money. Time is bad and every cent counts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Top 10 Survey Sites in Malaysia

Top 10 Survey Sites in Malaysia
Do you want to earn some pocket money working at home or where there is internet connection? Taking surveys, voicing your opinions and answering questions for a few minutes each time are such easy ways to make some extra money.

Here are the ten top sites that I have joined and made some money and obtained some vouchers. What you can earn in MYR or US$ is credited into you PayPal account. You can also redeem for vouchers from some sites that you have earned sufficient points. These vouchers can be used at such outlets like Giant, Jusco, Parkson, KFC, Pizza and many more.

1.Ipanelonline: When you take part in their surveys, every 1000 points earned you will get RM10/=. The amount is credited into your PayPal account. According to their Home Page iPanel is a professional online sample collecting company for market survey iPanel lets you share your opinions and suggestions fast, conveniently and intelligently. Any survey you participate in will give you 1-2000 points. We are a reputational Asian online survey company ranked within the top 10 of the sample companies throughout the world by authorities through consecutive years.

2.GlobalTestMarket: When you have earned enough points you can redeem for paper vouchers issued by AEON, Cold Storage, Din Tai Fung, Isetan, Metrojaya, Parkson and Starbucks. You can also credit USD10 into your PayPal account for every 1044 points earned. This company is designed to give you the opportunity to get paid for directly influencing global market research.

3.Viewfruit: For every 500 points earned you will get USD1.00. USD3.00 is credited into your PayPal account when you have accumulated 1500 points.

4.Toluna: For every 16000 points earned you will get a RM20 voucher issued by Isetan, Giant or AEON or you can also credit RM20 into your PayPal account. According to Toluna, surveys are created by their partners who are mostly research companies. Most of the time their surveys and questionnaires will last between 15 and 20 minutes, and your participation will be rewarded on the duration of the survey.

5.Mobrog: You are paid USD0.5 to USD0.25 per survey. When you have accumulated US$6.25, the amount will be credited into your PayPal account

Related: Paid Surveys- Top 10 Smart Tips 
                      What are Paid Online Surveys? 

6.AIP Online Surveys: You can redeem for RM20 vouchers issued by KFC, McDonald, Giant and many more at 2000 points per voucher.

7. Surveyon: You can get up to 20,000 maximum points per survey. When you have accumulated 30,000 points you will get USD3 credited into your PayPal account.

8.Valued Opinions: You can get RM30 vouchers from KFC, Pizza Hut, AEON and Zalora by participating in their surveys. You will get RM3 to RM5 for each survey.

9. Opini: It is an online research panel. Members are paid for their time. Opini pays its members for their views, but many people join the online community because they enjoy being part of a public platform which can have a real impact on how products, services and well known brands are offered to consumers in Asia. Your earnings in US$ will be credited into your PayPal account.

10. YourVoice: You can get E Vouchers, physical vouchers by taking part in their surveys.

I started taking surveys in June 2015. I have so far collected more than RM350 in my PayPal account and various vouchers. These survey companies are legitimate

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Best Investment Plan Is Part Science, Part Emotion



Research says to pick an investing strategy and stick to it. That's a lot easier to do when it's a plan you believe in.

What’s the right way to invest?
Most people I talk to about money end up asking me some version of that question. Heck, I continue to ask it myself as I try to ensure that I’m always giving my clients the best advice possible.
The question comes from a good place. You work hard for your money and you want to make sure that your money is working hard for you. You have important goals to reach and your investment plan has to help you do it.
But there’s an assumption inherent in this question that can get you into trouble.
Because the truth is that there is no right way to invest. And the search for the right way to invest can actually lead to more problems than solutions if it causes you to continually change your investment plan in pursuit of the newest best idea.
Instead, I would encourage you to accept that the best investment plans are a mix of science and emotion, and incorporating both gives you the best chance at success.

The Science

The science of investing comes from decades of research and it can teach you some best practices.
It explains how different types of investments work, shows you some simple strategies that will improve your odds of success, and helps you create a “good enough” investment plan to help you reach your goals.
For example, here are a few things we believe to be true based on the best scientific research on investing we have to date:
  • Stocks offer the greatest opportunity for big returns, but also the biggest risk that you won’t actually get those returns.
  • Bonds provide a smaller return, but with more certainty that you will actually get it.
  • The longer you stay invested in the stock market, the more likely it is that you’ll get a positive return.
  • Regularly changing investment strategies or trying to move in and out of the stock market with the ups and downs is likely to lead to poor results.
  • Factors like how much money you need and when you need it should influence your investment strategy.
  • The less money you need, the more conservative (and therefore certain) you can be with your investment strategy.
  • The longer you have until you need the money, the more aggressive you can afford to be (because you’ll have longer to ride out the down periods).
  • If you’re investing for the long term (10+ years), some significant investment in the stock market is likely a good idea.
  • Costs matter. A lot. The less you pay for your investments, the greater your chance of success.
None of these things are absolute. Nothing in the world of investing is. But these are best practices we’ve learned from the best scientific research we’ve been able to do. And they should serve as important guidelines as you create your investment plan.

The Emotion

All of that science is great, but it’s inexact. It gives you a range of possible strategies that could work, but it doesn’t provide one right answer.
And here’s the other thing: We know from decades of experience that one of the best things you can do is simply pick a plan and stick with it through thick and thin.
That consistency, almost more than anything else, is what really leads to success.  And that’s where your emotions come in.
See, we aren’t robots. We can’t just input “optimal investment plan A” and expect to stick with it forever.
We are humans, and humans have emotions. And those emotions affect our decisions whether we like it or not.
For example, you may hear that you’re supposed to be heavily invested in stocks because you’re relatively young and have a long time before retirement. That’s the conventional wisdom and there are good reasons behind it.
But there’s also the fact that being heavily invested in the stock market means that your account balance will rise and fall dramatically with the ups and downs of the market.
Some people are comfortable with that. Some aren’t.
If you aren’t, it’s much better to acknowledge that ahead of time and choose to be a little more conservative.
That will increase your comfort level, which will increase the chance that you’ll actually stick to your plan, which will increase the chance that you’ll actually reach your goals.
And that’s just one example. As you do your research you’ll come across many other right ways to invest. And while some of them can absolutely serve as helpful guidelines, understand that they usually aren’t hard and fast rules.
So take stock of your emotions and include them in your decisions as well.

Science + Emotion = Best Chance of Success

The best investors use the science to understand best practices and determine the range of “good enough” investment strategies.
Then they use emotion to choose a strategy that not only fits within that range, but that they understand and feel comfortable with.
It’s the best of both worlds, and it’s the key to long-term success.

Monday, December 21, 2015

What to Do (and Not to Do) With Your Year-End Bonus

Save money and money will save you. Jamaica Proverb
78 percent of workers can hope for some kind of year-end bonus from their employers. Few will get anything like the average $172,860 Wall Street bankers can expect in their stockings. But a holiday bonus is still an opportunity to reduce debt, pad savings and otherwise do the right financial thing.

Alternatively, you could do the wrong thing.

Making a mistake with a year-end bonus is just as easy as making a smart move, warns Joe Roseman, a financial planner in Charlotte, North Carolina. The first thing you shouldn't do with your bonuses is spend it all. "Don't blow it on Christmas," Roseman says.

The second thing you shouldn't do is use it for a down payment on a new car. "You're still going to have the payments next year," Roseman points out.

"Don't pay extra on your mortgage," he adds. "You are taking away your tax deduction." While paying down a mortgage will save future interest, at today's low mortgage interest rates that savings is modest, and the benefit is further reduced by the tax deduction.

Finally, Roseman adds, "You shouldn't count on a bonus every year." By that, he means don't spend next year's year-end bonus on next year's summer vacation. Many employers pay bonuses when times are good and then cut back or eliminate them if business contracts. If you charge a vacation to a credit card thinking you'll pay it off with your bonus, you could find yourself in a high-interest hole next New Year's.

So what should you do with it? A really smart move is to sink at least some of it into a retirement savings account, suggests Scott A. Stratton, a financial planner in Dallas. "If someone 25 years old took $5,000 of their bonus and invested it until they were 65 and earned 8 percent, they'd end up with $108,622," Stratton notes.

The younger you are, the smarter it is. For instance, if a 35-year-old socked away the same $5,000 bonus until age 65, also earning 8 percent, the ending balance would total just $50,313, according to the Security Exchange Commission's calculator at "You'd end up with half as much just by waiting 10 years," Stratton says.

While getting started on retirement saving is important, it isn't only important financial use for a year-end bonus. Because the compounding effect of interest you are paying is just as powerful as interest you are earning, consider paying off all or part of any debts that charge steep interest rates.

"If you're carrying a balance on any credit cards, that's got to be a high priority," Stratton says. "And a lot of people want to look at paying down their student loans, especially those that are higher interest."

Next after that is an emergency fund. "You need six to nine months of living expenses set aside," Stratton specifies. If you have trouble getting traction on an emergency fund, a year-end bonus can help get you started.

The final thing you should consider doing with your year-end bonus is spending part -- not all -- of it on something that isn't necessarily financially whip-smart. Say, a nice vacation, or a piece of jewelry. How much? Roseman suggests 25 percent, but it depends on the size of the bonus.

But whatever you do or don't do with your year-end bonus, remember to treat yourself to a little extravagance. "Everybody, when they get a pile of money, deserves to spend it on something they've always wanted," Roseman says.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

9 Bad Financial Habits You Need to Break Right Now

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Habit #1: Stop doing the same things over and over again.
Human beings are habit-creating machines. Research shows we crave any mental or physical shortcut that frees time and energy for our minds to focus on higher-level thoughts, such as wondering what to have for lunch or speculating about the true parentage of Jon Snow on Game of Thrones.
A “habit loop” is created in three steps: a cue or trigger, the behavior itself, and a reward for that behavior, according to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit. Bad money habits are more difficult to steer out of than automated behaviors like driving a car. Why? Financial peace of mind is a much more subtle reward than the satisfaction of navigating a half-ton piece of metal through city streets without death or injury.
Still, every person who’s good at money learned these habits, which means you can, too. “What we know from lab studies is that it’s never too late to break a habit. Habits are malleable throughout your entire life,” Duhigg told NPR.
Habit #2: Stop spending more than you earn.
Who do you think you are, the U.S. government? Even America’s once-ballyhooed fiscal deficit is shrinking–it’s now $492 billion, or 2.8% of the economy, down from $1.4 trillion (9.8% of the nation’s GDP) in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
How is your own personal deficit doing? About one in five Americans spend more than they earn, and 36% break even, research from the National Financial Capability Study shows. Your goal must be to join the 41% of Americans who spend less than they earn.
Habit #3: Stop ignoring your bills.
A 21-year-old woman with medical bills looming recently told this NerdWallet writer that her pattern for prioritizing what bills to pay is this: When a collection agency calls, she pays the bill. This kind of financial firefighting guarantees she will veer from crisis to crisis as her credit score burns.
Payment history carries huge weight on your financial future; more than one-third of your credit score is judged by your ability to pay your power, car insurance, and credit cards on time. If you can’t, work out a payment plan with your provider before it goes to collections.
Habit #4: Stop using your credit cards like free money.
Credit cards are a weapon in your financial arsenal. Like all armaments, they can be used in strategic defense or to shoot yourself in the foot. Too often, it’s the latter–the average U.S. household carries $15,480 on credit cards.
That plastic in your pocketbook is the greatest enabler of bad money habits, allowing you to spend on a whim and forsake all budget plans. Sticking to a budget should be your most faithful money habit.
Habit #5: Stop thinking you’re not smart enough.
Money matters can quickly confuse. In the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, many consumers struggled to understand basic health insurance terms such as “deductible,” a survey last month by the Kaiser Foundation found.
We live in an age where consumers are forced to take control of their own financial lives, whether it’s being smart with health insurance or guiding their own 401(k) plans to invest for retirement. Learn the lexicon of finance. “I used to catch myself saying, ‘Investing is hard. I just don’t understand it.’ This gave me permission to avoid learning how to invest,” writes Ann Marie Houghtailing, author of How I Created a Dollar Out of Thin Air. “Now I say: ‘Investing is a skill. You just have to start small.’”
Habit #6: Stop making it hard on yourself to save.
Old habits die hard, and one of the oldest habits is using checks to pay bills or make savings deposits. “Personal finance habits take longer to change than the way you might switch from one smartphone to another. That’s because money is so important to us,” Fred Davis, a professor of Information Systems at the University of Arkansas, told Marketplace.
Set up automatic transfers for bill payments. Also automatically have 10% or more of your paycheck sent directly to your savings account. These two steps will go a long way toward building good money habits and credit scores with the least amount of effort.
Habit #7: Stop complaining about your paycheck.
Whatever energy you’re spending complaining about the size of your paycheck takes energy away from finding ways to improve your bottom line. Think you’re being underpaid? Negotiate a raise or at least have a chat with your employer to understand what’s needed to see a bump in pay. If you’re valued, your boss will see the implicit threat that you may leave for a higher-paying job (which, of course, you should be looking for).
Investigate ways to build other streams of income. Look at ways to improve your skill set. Just stop whining and do something about it.
Habit #8: Stop your Starbucks dependency.
If you’re like a lot of people, many of the receipts in your pocket are for caffeine pick-me-ups. That drip-feed coffee habit costs half of American workers nearly $1,000 per year, according to a 2012 survey by Accounting Principals. The survey shows that two-thirds of American workers buy their lunch rather than bringing one from home, costing an average of nearly $2,000 a year. Worse, Americans throw away 40% of the food they purchase each year, about $165 billion worth, which works out to $2,275 in the bin for the average family of four, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Planning meals should be lockstep with planning your budget. Eating out costs you much more than you think.
Habit #9: Stop thinking more cash brings happiness.
OK, money does bring happiness, but only to a point. A 2010 study by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found that emotional satisfaction in life rises with wealth until income hits $75,000 per year. Purchasing experiences and giving to charity have a much longer shelf life for our well-being, research suggests.
Still, the serenity of being free from debt brings its own kind of glee. Look how much fun these people are having…


Monday, December 14, 2015

20 Common Investment Mistakes and Five Simple Steps to Avoid Them

If you are not willing to own a stock for 10 years, do not even think about owning it for 10 minutes. -Warren Buffett "If you are not willing to own a stock for 10 years, do not even think about owning it for 10 minutes." -Warren Buffett:
I recently came across a wonderful document published by the CFA Institute entitledTips for Avoiding the Top 20 Common Investment Mistakes.
(The CFA Institute is the organization that manages the CFA, or Chartered Financial Analyst, certification program, which is an extremely robust certification for financial professionals, so much so that many other organizations simply accept that certification as a qualifier to bypass entrance exams and other certifications. Someone who is able to pass CFA exams knows their stuff.)
I often find myself disagreeing with materials produced by the financial planning industry, as most of their material is geared toward people signing up with a financial advisor, but I was more than pleasantly surprised by this document. It’s just as applicable to investors who are not using a financial planner as it is to people who choose to do so.
As I often do when I find documents like this, I start adding my own notes and thoughts all over the place, so I thought I would share the investment mistakes from the document along with my own notes on each mistake.

20 Common Investment Mistakes

Mistake No. 1: Expecting too much or using someone else’s expectations

Like it or not, the simple act of investing alone won’t solve all of your financial problems. It’s easy to think that because you’re now investing, everything will be perfect and all of your problems are solved. This is especially true when you listen to investment advisors who promise outsized returns.
I’ll give you a hint – you’re simply not going to beat the returns of the stock market over the long term, and probably not over the short term. People like Dave Ramsey suggest unrealistic expectations (he suggests a 12% average annual return, which isn’t based in any sort of reality).
The best thing for any investor to do is to keep their expectations within reality. Look at what the stock market actually does, not just in one year, but over a lot of years, and use those numbers for your expectations.

Mistake No. 2: Not having clear investment goals

For most people, this isn’t an issue – their goal with investing is to have a stable income in retirement to supplement their Social Security. This is about as easy as can be, with both employee sponsored and individual plans within easy reach of pretty much everyone. Most retirement plans make working toward that goal really, really easy by offering target-date retirement funds.
Where this gets tricky is when people are investing for reasons besides retirement. If you’re not investing toward retirement, you need to figure out exactly why you’re investing, how far off that goal is, and how much risk you can tolerate along the way.

Mistake No. 3: Failing to diversify enough

Diversification in investments simply means having your money spread across a lot of different things. Ideally, you’re spreading your investment money across completely different types of assets – cash, bonds, stocks, real estate, maybe even things like precious metals or collectibles.
The reasoning is easy – just because one of those things drops in value doesn’t mean that the others will, so if you have your money spread across all of those things, you won’t suffer if, say, the stock market takes a dive.
Some things even work in reverse: For example, historically, bonds do well when stocks take a dive and vice versa. The problem is that most people don’t diversify very much, especially when it comes to the things that are most important, like retirement savings.

Mistake No. 4: Focusing on the wrong kind of performance

The stock market can jump or drop multiple percentage points in a single day, and that can be a really bumpy ride for some people. If you have $100,000 in the stock market and it drops 4% in a day, you’ve just lost $4,000. That’s enough to make some people panic.
The thing is, if you’re invested in the stock market, the short term shouldn’t matter at all to you. What matters is the long term, and over the long term, the stock market has a fairly steady (although bumpy) upward trend. If you push the panic buttonbecause of one down day, or one down week, or even one down year, you’re going to end up hurting yourself big time.

Mistake No. 5: Buying high and selling low

Many people’s instincts tell them to buy stocks after a day or a week where they’ve done really well. Stocks have gone up 10% in the last quarter, they must be hot, I should buy in! Unfortunately, that’s buying high.
On the other hand, people often instinctively sell when an investment drops rapidly. They see losses over the last month or quarter and they get scared and panic. That’s selling low.
Buying high and selling low are strategies that are going to fail you over and over again. A much better approach: Ignore the lows and highs, buy a little bit each week or each month, and then sell when you need to.

Mistake No. 6: Trading too much and too often

Some people get really into the “game” of playing around with their investments. They’ll react to the news that they hear and move their investments around all the time. The problem when you do that is that you tend to generate lots of transaction fees as well as lots of tax implications.
Many brokerages charge you every time you buy or sell an investment, which can add up extremely quickly if you’re buying and selling too often. Those transaction fees chew up and swallow your gains quite quickly.
Beyond that, it can quickly turn your tax situation into a mess, with a mix of short- and long-term capital gains and losses that could result in a painful tax bill, too. You’re almost always better off making a diversified plan and sticking with it right off the bat.

Mistake No. 7: Paying too much in fees and commissions

Different brokerages charge different fees when you buy and sell investments. Not only that, commission-based financial planners like to get their piece of the pie, too. If you’re using a high commission planner and also investing in something that has high transaction charges, your money is going down the drain.
You’re far better off figuring out how to do these things yourself and finding investment opportunities that come with little or no transaction fees. I use Vanguard for almost all of my investments and if you invest directly with them and buy their funds, there are no transaction fees or commissions at all.

Mistake No. 8: Focusing too much on taxes

People often focus intensely on the tax consequences of their investment decisions, often to their own detriment. Yes, making a move to help you pay lower taxes can be a good thing, but the taxes a person pays on investment gains are often insignificant compared to having a good investment strategy for your goals.
If an opportunity comes up that can help you lower your taxes without losing investment gains, you should by all means take advantage of it, but if you’re making investment choices primarily to avoid paying a few dollars to Uncle Sam, like putting your money in a 401(k) with terrible options instead of a Roth IRA with great options so you pay fewer taxes this year, you’re almost always guaranteeing yourself a worse outcome.

Mistake No. 9: Not reviewing investments regularly

If you’re actually diversified into several different investments, some of those will have better returns than others in a given year.
Let’s say you want to maintain a 50/50 split between the two investments in your portfolio and, at the start of the year, you have $50,000 in each. However, during the year, the first investment goes up 20% while the second stays steady. You now have $60,000 in the first investment and $50,000 in the second, which is more like a 55/45 split.
If that keeps up, you’re going to be way off track. The solution is to check in on things every once in a while and then adjust your contributions to keep things in the balance that you desire.

Mistake No. 10: Taking too much, too little, or the wrong risk

Too much risk and you’re prone to panic and also to having a lower-than-expected balance at that moment when you want to make a withdrawal. Too little risk and you’re not going to get as much investment growth as you should.
If you’re not sure what to do, figure out your target date for your investments and look at what a target-date retirement fund for that date is doing, as that’s the kind of investment portfolio and level of risk you should be considering as a starting point.

Mistake No. 11: Not knowing the true performance of your investments

It’s great if some of your investments are doing really well, but that doesn’t mean that things are good overall. Your success isn’t judged on your best investment, nor is your failure based on your worst. What matters is that you know how everything is doing and that you keep them in balance by tweaking your contributions.

Mistake No. 12: Reacting to the media

The media always loves to hype things. The media also loves to hit that panic button hard.
One day, they’ll work to convince you that you need this or that investment because it’s the hottest thing in town. The next, they’ll tell you that everything is falling apart and the sky is falling.
Usually, neither one is true. The media simply knows that hype and fear are the things that attract viewers and readers. Be calm and measured – don’t fall for the media hype cycle, especially when it comes to your investments.

Mistake No. 13: Chasing yield

It is always tempting to jump into whatever investment happened to have the best returns during the last year or the last three years. If you see another investment similar to yours with a better return, why not jump to it?
First of all, past performance is not indicative of future returns. On top of that, the higher the yield, the higher the risk (in general). If you jump to a similar investment with a higher short-term yield, there’s a very good chance that the next year will be worse than what you already have, plus you’ll have to deal with transaction fees.

Mistake No. 14: Trying to be a market-timing genius

It is simply impossible to guess when the market is at a peak or when it is at the bottom of a decline. There is so much day-to-day variability in the stock market that guessing such things is essentially impossible. Of course, chasing that kind of market timing is going to trigger a bunch of transaction fees and absorb a bunch of your time. You’re better off just investing with automated regularity and not moving your investments around.

Mistake No. 15: Not doing due diligence

Just because some article suggested investing in something or some talking head on television said that a particular investment was amazing doesn’t mean that it is something you should be putting your money into.
Quite often, mentions in the media like that come from investment advisors that have their own financial reasons for hyping a particular investment, reasons that probably have nothing to do with your own financial success.
Be wary. Put in the time to research an investment by doing things like reading the prospectus or don’t bother investing in it at all.

Mistake No. 16: Working with the wrong advisor

Just as there is in any profession, there are good financial advisors and bad financial advisors out there. There are a few tell-tale signs of bad advisors, however.
One sure sign of a questionable advisor is that they’re not asking you a lot of questions – a good advisor wants to know who you are and what your reasons for investing are. Another sign is that they can’t explain why you would want to invest in a particular investment.
In general, I look for fee-based financial advisors, meaning that they don’t make their money from commissions on particular investments (because doing so would give them incentive to push you into those investments whether they’re right for you or not).

Mistake No. 17: Letting emotions get in the way

The worst investment decision is one based on emotions, and those emotions can come from a lot of places. They can come from fear about the future. They can come from anger or sadness regarding your key life relationships. They can come from irrational exuberance about how well things are going at the moment.
The best investment plan is one that’s considered with minimal emotion and one that you stick to throughout those emotional highs and lows.

Mistake No. 18: Forgetting about inflation

Inflation is a real thing. Prices continue to go up and up and up and if you don’t account for that down the road, you’re going to find yourself in a real pickle eventually.
Don’t make your target number match what you would need today. Include inflation in the equation. Assume that prices are going to go up (at least) 3% per year and thus you’re going to need that much more to live on in retirement. Yes, it makes the hill a lot bigger, but you’re better off shooting for the right number.

Mistake No. 19: Neglecting to start or continue

Many people avoid retirement savings because of a fear of complexity or a desire to maximize their paychecks today. Some people choose to discontinue their retirement savings because they feel pressured by today’s financial needs. The worst mistake you can make when saving for retirement is not starting at all; the second worst mistake is stopping your savings and not restarting it.

Mistake No. 20: Not controlling what you can

You can’t personally change the ups and downs of the economy, but you can change your own day-to-day behavior. You can choose to spend less on unnecessary things, which gives you more money to invest toward the future.
The key is finding a good balance, and many people believe in a balance that istilted too hard toward the present and away from their future needs.

Five Key Steps to Address Most of These Concerns

So, how do you address these mistakes? What kind of plan exists that takes these widely varying mistakes into account? Here are five key steps you can take to address almost all of these issues.

1. Learn how to invest.

Knowledge is power. The most important thing you can do is learn, learn, learn and never stop learning.
Investing actually isn’t that complicated as long as you’re willing to spend the time to learn about it. I recommend picking up a really strong book on investing – my usual recommendation is The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Larimore, LeBoeuf, and Lindauer – and read through it slowly.
At any point where you don’t understand a particular point, stop and go research that specific point until you do understand it. Any time a term comes up that you don’t quite get, stop and look up that term so that you do understand what’s being said. Look at lots of real world examples of what they’re talking about. Then, repeat this with another investment book or two. Before long, it won’t seem scary – instead, it’ll seem easy.

2. Manage the investments yourself.

Once you have that knowledge, managing your own investments seems like an obvious move. Why would you not manage your own investments if you understand investing?
Taking control of things yourself means that you don’t have to pay an investment advisor as a middle man between you and your investments and you also have the ability to freely choose whatever investments work best for you. Almost every investment firm offers more than enough online tools to handle personal management of investments.

3. Stick to a simple strategy.

The simpler, the better. Stick your retirement savings in a target-date retirement fund. If you’re saving for other goals, come up with a very simple portfolio spread across two or three different asset classes – domestic stocks, international stocks, bonds, cash, real estate, etc. – and just sit on that.
Set up an automatic investment plan and then just forget about the whole thing. Check it every once in a while and adjust your automatic investments accordingly so that you keep your portfolio in balance.

4. Ride out the ups and downs.

Stocks are going to go up and down. Bonds are going to go up and down. Real estate is going to go up and down. Don’t sweat it.
Never, ever forget that you are in this for the long haul and that making a panicked move based on a short-term drop or a short-term jump is probably going to put you in a worse long-term position, especially when you add in transaction fees and taxes (if applicable).

5. Call in a fee-based financial advisor only when you’re facing an exceptional challenge.

At some point, something will probably come up that is actually fairly complicated and you’re not sure how to proceed.
This doesn’t mean it’s time to panic or to undo everything. This means it’s time to call in a fee-based financial advisor, one who won’t spend their time trying to sell you on some investment option that isn’t in your best interests.
A good financial advisor will simply ask you a lot of questions, figure out where you’re going, and help you tweak things so that you stay on the path you want to be on. That’s what a good financial advisor does.

Final Thoughts

If you follow those steps, you’ll dodge most of these common investment mistakes just as a matter of course. These mistakes simply don’t apply to people who learn about investing, chart a simple course, and stick to it through the short term rises and falls.
The core to all of this, however, is learning about investing. Don’t trust everything to a financial advisor. Take the time to learn about investments on your own, even if you’re just depositing money in your 401(k). d to much better returns over the long haul.
Good luck!
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