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“Safe” Investments: What You Need To Know

The 8th Wonder of The World.

ae-quotes
Albert knows his stuff

Money is pretty cool right? And knowing that compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world, (Thanks Einstein for that gem) we usually turn to dropping our money in the bank.

Problem is, that money makes next to zero doll-air-oes. Back in the 90’s when interest rates with in the 12-14% it was safe to put money in a CD at 10% interest. Today, interest on a 3-year CD is puny, 1.4%. Interest rates are down 90%, which is good for inflation and other things, but makes me think, “What do I do to grow my money?

Numbers

First: let’s talk numbers. I conducted a survey and found that most people struggle with knowing where their money can grow, and what’s riskier or not.

Problem: “What tends to have the highest growth over periods of time as long as 18 years”

A. Checking Account
B. U.S. government savings bonds
C. Stocks
D. Savings Account

What is your answer?

I’m glad to say that not a single person put Checking Account. I’ll still explain that for a moment, a Checking account is what I classify as “Cash & Cash equivalents”. It’s liquid, it’s being used day-to-day, and mine currently has a return of .02%. This isn’t where money goes to grow, it’s where a money goes to be spent.

B. U.S. government savings bonds. These investments are usually given a pretty small interest rate, and are guaranteed by the government. I was actually quite shocked by just how many people thought that this was the best place to grow money! These are given a guaranteed return, but usually is equal or less than what inflation is.

D. Savings account. A few people thought this was a good place to grow money. Savings accounts are similar to Checking Accounts, in the fact that they have very poor growth rates, usually higher than Checking, but still very low. In my mind, they are basically a way to keep your money in 2 seperate locations so you don’t spend it all. I think there are better ways to organize money, but that’s just my thoughts.

C. The Stock Market. This is where money goes to grow. Naturally there are risks, but there are many ways to mitigate the risk. Diversification, Allocation, and having a good time horizon for investments helps. With an 18 year time frame, and being diversified across many stock types, this is where money will grow.

Lets look at the data

I looked into typical rates for Savings Accounts, Checking Accounts, Government Bonds, Corporate Bonds, and the Average Stock Market Yield. Here is what $1000 dollars looks like over a 20 year investment.

growthof1k
Chart by TheFinancialGinger – 2016
www.nerdwallet.com/rates/checking-account – Zion’s Bank Checking Account
www.nerdwallet.com/rates/savings-account -Zions Bank Savings Account
www.treasury.gov/resource-center/ – Government Bonds
finance.yahoo.com/bonds/composite_bond_rates – 20 year AA corporate bonds
http://www.moneychimp.com/features/market_cagr.htm – Stocks average from 1995-2015

Looking at this, some people are probably shocked. Know that Stocks have the risk of going down, they will go down and up. Greater Risk often yields greater upside potential.

Fine, I’ll put it in stocks. How do I do that?

If you have $5000 or $10,000 to invest, put it into the stock market. There are some great places to open an account online.

TDAmeritrade has a pleasant platform that is excellent for beginners and isn’t too expensive to use at $10 per trade.

OptionsHouse is an online broker that has $5 trades and has no minimum balance.

TradeKing is another online broker that has $5 trades and no minimum balance.

My absolute personal favorite is Vanguard. The reason for that is they are all about the idea of buy-n-hold with stocks, and stock-packages called Mutual Funds or ETF’s. The idea behind that is simply buying a preset group, then waiting and letting it grow over time.

If not, you can probably talk with your Bank, Credit Union, or find a good local individual company such as EdwardJones to get you started. Make sure that if you use a broker/dealer company that you know the cost associated with it.

In Summary

Checking accounts are where money goes to be spent. Savings accounts are for emergency funds and money to be used within 6-12 months. Bonds are where money grows safe but small, and the stock market is where money belongs for long-term growth.

So, open an investment account and invest! Don’t let $5000 extra dollars be left sitting for no reason in the bank.

 

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Homeownership: Still the American Dream?

Is Home Ownership Still the American Dream?

Home ownership is at the lowest level in decades in the United States[i], and many industry pundits lay the blame squarely on millennials.  But is that fair?  Or even true?  Let’s examine this.

How did home ownership become equated with the American Dream?

The term “American Dream” was first coined by James Truslow Adams, an American writer, in his book The Epic of America published in 1931.  At the time, America was caught in the grip of the Great Depression.  Millions of families had lost their homes and found themselves homeless and starving.  The American Dream describes an ethos that folks desperately wanted to believe at the time that hard, honest work would result in financial security, the ultimate symbol of which was owning one’s own home.

We have found, however, that not all folks who work hard ever achieve financial security, or for that matter own their own home.  As faith in the traditional ethos fades, fewer Americans own homes, and the trend toward not owning is still growing.

Will it come back?

Traditionally families bought their first homes in their late 20s or early 30s, so we are looking to millennials to begin buying homes; but they are not – at least not in the numbers necessary to stabilize homeownership rates.  While many pundits posit that the reason is that millennials only want to rent in urban areas, Uber to work and walk to a coffee shop, there is really something else at work here.

Millennials are getting married and starting families later in life than their parents did, so they have less reason to buy a home early.[ii]  Add to this a decline in the belief that real e state is always a good investment, since many millennials watched their parents struggle to keep their homes during the Great Recession, or lose them altogether.  Moreover, because of low starting salaries, massive student debt[iii] and the lack of dual incomes, they have less ability to pay for a home early in life.

If we recall Econ 101 in college, we remember that the demand curve in the supply-and-demand model is driven by two factors: the desire of consumers for the widget and the ability to pay for the widget.  Homes are no different than any other commodity that way.  With less desire than their parents to own a home for multiple reasons, and less financial ability to jump into the market, it isn’t surprising that millennials aren’t buying at the same rate as previous generations.

But is this a wise move on their part?  If you can’t buy a home, then of course the decision is made for you.  But if you can buy a home, should you?

While watching their parents lose everything in a severe recession understandably made folks question the traditional wisdom (that homeownership is always a good investment), new regulations and lending safeguards make the financial crisis very unlikely to happen again, at least to the same scale.

Some folks have noted that it is much more expensive to own a home than to rent, and that it true – at first.  But tax deductions make up some of that difference for most folks.

Further, rent goes up, while mortgage payments do not – at least if you have a fixed-rate mortgage.  Property taxes and insurance go up over time, but usually at a much slower pace than rent, and they are only a small part of your monthly housing cost.  And with homeownership, eventually your mortgage is paid off and your payment disappear. *

Finally, there is the principle of leverage.  When you home appreciates, you are not only making money on the money you have invested in your home, but on the money your lender invested as well.  This simple principle will double or triple your return on investment.  You cannot leverage your savings accounts, and most folks can’t leverage their investment accounts, either.

Mortgaged real estate is the only real leveraged investment available to the average Joe.  The sooner you buy the sooner your monthly payments begin paying down your mortgage rather than paying someone else’s, and the sooner you eventually pay off your mortgage.

Still, owning a home is really not for everyone.

  • If you have to stretch to the very limit to buy a home, it may not be wise, because the first emergency could bury you financially.
  • It costs about 10% of the purchase price of a home to get in and out, in real estate commissions, title fees, etc. If you don’t plan to stay at least three years (or more, depending on the appreciation rate in your area) it may not be wise.
  • If you are likely to move for any reason within the next three years you should probably not buy a home. (Although I have clients who buy a home in their destination area a few years before they move.)
  • If you love to travel and want to spend your money there, the responsibilities of home ownership may not be for you.

However, if you want the stability of knowing you can never be forced to move, want the satisfaction of creating your own home exactly the way you want it, and want to build wealth over time with the greatest certainty, consider re-thinking your negative thoughts about the American Dream.

Casey Fleming, Author The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage (On Amazon)

Mortgage Advisor, C2 FINANCIAL CORPORATION

My Blog: www.loanguide.com

Facebook: C2 Financial Corp.

Facebook: The Loan Guide Book

Follow me on Twitter for interest rate updates: @TheLoanGuide

[email protected] NMLS 344375 / BRE 00889527

[i] Tuttle, B (2015 July 28) U.S. Homeownership Level Drops to its Lowest Level Since 1967, retrieved from http://time.com/money/3975212/homeownership-rate-record-low/

[ii] Davidson, J. (2014, November 12) What Everyone Gets Wrong About Millennials and Home Buying, retrieved from http://time.com/money/3551773/millennials-home-buying-marriage/

[iii] Notte, J. (2014 December 11) Why Millennials Aren’t Rushing to Buy Homes, retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-will-millennials-buy-homes-if-they-dont-know-their-credit-scores/