If you have kids — or even if you don’t — you’re probably aware that Halloween is fast approaching. Of course, you may find the ghouls, witches and creepy impersonations of celebrities to be more amusing than alarming. But as you go through life, you will find some things that generally are frightening, such as investment moves that are misdirected or go awry.
Here are some potentially scary investment moves to avoid:
• Investing too aggressively — In the investment world, here’s one of the fundamental truths: The greater the risk, the greater the potential reward. So, by investing aggressively, you potentially can achieve greater returns. But if you invest too aggressively, you can, quite simply, get burned and lose your principal
• Investing too conservatively — You can’t invest without risk. However, you can find investments that offer a higher preservation of principal in exchange for little or no growth potential. But if your portfolio is full of these vehicles, you may never achieve the growth you need to reach your long-term goals.
• Failing to diversify — If your portfolio mostly consists of the same type of investment and a downturn hurts that particular class of assets, you’ll take a big hit. But by spreading your dollars among an array of investments, you can reduce the effects of volatility on your overall holdings. Keep in mind, though, that diversification can’t guarantee a profit or protect against loss.
• Chasing hot investments — By the time you hear about a hot investment, it probably already will be cooling off. And whether it’s hot or not, it might not be appropriate for your individual needs and risk tolerance.
• Trading too frequently — If you’re constantly buying and selling investments to maximize your profits, you may end up actually minimizing your success. Frequent trading will run up commissions and other investment costs — and the greater your expenses, the lower your real rate of return. Plus, by always adding and subtracting investments to your portfolio, you’ll find it difficult to follow the type of long-term, consistent, comprehensive strategy that’s necessary to help you attain your objectives, such as saving for retirement.
• Starting too late — As an investor, you’ll find that time is one of your greatest allies. The earlier you start saving and investing for your goals, the better your chances of attaining them. “Save early and save often” may sound like a cliché, but it’s good advice.
• Taking a time-out from investing — Whether it’s a market slump, political trauma, natural disaster or some other event, you always can find a reason to head to the investment sidelines for a while until things cool off, straighten out or return to what seems like normal. Depending on your goals, not participating in the market may cause you to miss out on any opportunities that the market can present. At times, it can be tough to stay invested, but over the long run, a steady, disciplined approach can be a good strategy.
Halloween comes and goes in a single day. But by steering clear of these menacing investment moves, you can help take some of the fear out of investing and make it a more productive experience.
Cardella is a consultant for Edward Jones in Hinesville.