Learn Stock Market Investing Basics
Investors "buy and hold",
traders "buy and sell". While that may be overly
simplistic, it's essentially how it works. So, what's up with trading? Why does it seem so alluring, and can you
really make any decent money doing it?
For the most part, and for most people, the answer is "No". The only people who make a consistent profit trading
stocks, rather than practicing investing strategies, are those who treat it as a business and have the time,
skills, discipline, and resources that are necessary to be a successful at trader. Most everyone else fails. Stock
market investing, on the other hand, contains a built-in goal: "Invest".
Although the market often trends down for days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years, the overall direction
of the stock market has always been up, and it is likely to continue in that direction unless something very scary
happens in the world.
While traders try to "time" the market by selling stocks when they think that the market has
peaked, and buying back when the trend starts to reverse, it really isn't that easy to predict. As a result,
billions of dollars are lost each year by market "timers" who got it wrong.
One old but relevant study examined the returns for the Standard & Poor's 500 between 1926 and 1987. This
study found that the S&P 500 returned, on average, about 9.44% during the 62 years from 1926 through the end of
1987. But that wasn't the interesting part.
What was really telling happened when they looked at the market return on a month-by-month basis. In the 744
months comprising those 62 years, nearly 100% of the overall increase in the market occurred in just 50 months!
Imagine being a stock trader and trying to time the market in that scenario. If you missed just 50 of the best
performing months out of the 744 months, your average annual return would have been 0%!
Another thing that they discovered was that most of each year's gain usually happened in just one of the 12
months each year. Analysis showed that the market gained an average of 8.68% during the best performing month in
each of the 62 years. On the other side of the equation, the market advanced just 0.76% during the other 11 months
of each year.
Investor would have been immune to all of this. Traders, however, had 12:1 odds AGAINST timing the market moves
correctly each year during the study period!
Making the Stock work for you...
So, now that we know it is nearly impossible to time the market, let's take a quick look at how to start
building a solid stock portfolio:
Buy into well-managed companies and hold them for the long term as long as they keep growing.
Regularly invest set amounts regardless of short-term price movements.
Always buying on weakness and what's cheap right now.
Reinvest all dividends and capital gains to put the power of compounding to work for you.
Diversify by invest in 8-10 stocks, more if you can afford it (but not more than you can easily follow),
in 8 or more different sectors.
Start investing NOW! Don't wait for a good time. All times are good times.
If you follow these basic principles then you should have no problem building a long-term nest egg and being
safely isolated from market fluctuations. But, be FLEXIBLE ! "Times change, and we change
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Here are some articles about investment basics. You will learn to figure out your goals, set
your investment horizon, think about your style, and consider whether or not to
use active or passive investment strategies.
The Investment Process, Time Value of Money and The Miracle of
Real Returns, Investing Versus Speculating and Planning and Setting
Time Is on Your Side, Determining Your Investment Style and Active and