11 Reasons Why You Should Invest In Index Funds

Some people want to retire early and pursue other passions in life. Others simply want to have enough money, and never have to worry about money again. Whatever the reasons for pursuing financial independence, index funds are one of the best ways to achieve this goal.

In this article, we are going to look at the top reasons why you should invest in index funds.

What Is An Index Fund?

Imagine you want to invest in an apartment. You approach a real estate agent and express your needs. They tell you they have 1000 apartments, and you can choose from one of them.

It then becomes a gamble which one to pick. In the event you make a poor decision, there goes your investment. 

However, they also have another option. They tell you, you can buy a small percentage of each of the 1000 apartments and aggregate them to one.

And since the apartments are in different locations and markets, you get to spread your risk.

Therefore, in the long run, your investment of small percentages of each which aggregate to a whole ensures you have a good return on your investment.

The index fund is no different.

An index fund is an aggregate of stocks or bonds that track and match the performance of an index (the whole market), for example, the S&P 500.

So, there is no human element of tracking and trying to beat the market like a mutual fund.

In the long run, index funds have shown to outperform a human-managed fund.

1) They Have A Better Return On Investment 

In the long term, index funds have a higher return on investment. They outperform individual stocks hands down.

For example, in 2007, Warren Buffet entered The Million-Dollar Bet with Protégé Partners, a New York investment firm. It was a 10-year wager that the S&P 500 index fund would outdo their carefully picked five hedge funds, which they were to trade in for the challenge. 

It is important to note that Buffet used his own money and not Berkshire’s.

In December 2017, Buffet won the challenge and donated the money to charity.

However, his victory didn’t seem assured. On January 1, 2008, the stock market crashed, and the hedge funds swooped in and made a killing hedging.

During this period, Buffets’ index fund fell by 37% while the hedge fund lost 23.9%. 

Nonetheless, from their Buffet beat Protégé in every year from 2009 up to 2014. However, it took four years to come on top of the hedge funds in terms of cumulative return. 

This bet demonstrates that an index fund will weather the ups and downs of the market, and it will eventually balance out and perform better compared to an actively managed fund.

Hence, an index fund is a better return on your investment.

2) Diversification

When you buy individual stocks or bonds, you have uncompensated risk. This is a risk you are not paid enough to take.

So, if a company goes bankrupt, it is downgraded or defaults in borrowing you go under with them. Unfortunately, it happens a lot in the stock market.

To protect yourself, you can invest in an index fund. Just like we have seen, an index fund is an aggregate of all the stocks in the market. 

Therefore, in case one company goes down, your investment does not go under with them. In the same vein, when a company is doing well in the market you also gain and do not miss out.

Eventually, everything balances out in an index fund.

3) It Is Easy

Most people do not know or are not motivated to learn how to invest. They feel it is a drag and a bore.

Luckily, if you are one of them, you have an option, and can invest in index funds without being actively involved.

With index funds, you open an account with an investment management company and commit to making a monthly contribution to your account.

From there, you then leave it and let it grow. 

4) They Have Very Low Fees

Index funds are simple to put together and manage. They do not have overheads like mutual funds. On top of that, the portfolio of stocks is automatically balanced and adjusted, and no human is needed.

With as little as 0.04% annual management fees, all these savings get passed down to you.

However, a mutual fund is different. It has a portfolio manager who handpicks selected stocks and tries to beat the market. 

When trading, they will contract trading fees and management fees. All of these fees add up and will be passed down to you the investor.

Since portfolio managers rarely beat the market in the long term, the investor ends up losing their money.

Therefore, index funds are a much more favorable option, and you get to enjoy low fees.

5) Tax Efficient

Did you know an index fund is more tax-efficient compared to an actively managed mutual fund?

On account, those portfolio managers are actively buying, and selling, they have an estimated turnover of 85%, they pay capital gains taxes on every sale they make. 

This makes actively managed mutual funds one of the most tax-inefficient. On the contrary, index funds are tax efficient. 

In theory, an index fund portfolio, for example, an index fund of the total stock market will only have two turnovers.

That is in an Initial Public Offering (IPO), or when a company is delisted from the exchange.

In these two situations, there are no capital gains made. Consequently, there will be no capital gains tax.

However, in reality, the turnover is about 4% in index funds. Nonetheless, negligible compared to the 85% of actively managed funds.

Therefore, overall, index funds are more tax-efficient compared to other actively managed mutual funds.

6) Easy To Build Your Portfolio

One of the cardinal rules in investing is never to put all your eggs in one basket. As an investor, you have to diversify your portfolio. 

And with index funds, you can do that easily, and quickly.

For example, your investment plan calls for three funds in your portfolio. That is stocks, bonds, and real estate.

To get started, you can buy Total Stock Market Index Fund, and then add bonds with the Total Bond Market Index Fund, and lastly, your real estate through the REIT Index Fund

Therefore, there is no need to worry about overlapping your assets. You know what a fund holds just by its name.

With index funds, you do not need to pay thousands of dollars a year to have an investment manager build your portfolio.

7) Less Time Consuming

In traditional investing, you would need to do your research, and identify well-performing stocks.

You will also need to follow the trends of the market, and try to beat the market.

However, this strategy needs a lot of time, energy, and commitment, which most people do not have.

By investing in an index fund, you free up your time and do not have to track the market. You put your money in, forget about it, and let it grow.

8) Take Advantage Of Market Returns

When you try to beat the market, you may miss some opportunities. 

For example, if you have invested in the total stock market index when the market goes up, you do not miss out. This is because you have invested in the whole market.

However, with a mutual fund, you can only take advantage of gains made in the market if you had invested prior. Therefore, the chances of missing out are very high.

To that end, an index fund makes sure you take advantage of all market returns, and never miss out.

9) No Factor Risks

There are two schools of thought when it comes to investing. There is the Total Market versus the Factor Investing.

In factor investing, you have to analyze what are the drivers of return in a particular asset class. These are macroeconomics and style.

However, in total market investing, you do not have to worry about factors. The structure of the index fund already captures all factors and risks, and there is no need to analyze them.

10) Controls Investor Behavior

Stock trading has been likened to gambling. For example, when an investor makes gains on stocks they have placed their bet on; it produces the same effect as winning in gambling.

Unfortunately, this investment strategy will make you lose money.

But investing in an index fund, investor behavior is controlled. You do not have to keep trading in individual stocks trying to beat the market.

In the end, this protects your wealth and builds you more.

11) Widely Available On Most Investment Accounts

Index funds are as universal as they get. Many investment accounts can be used to invest in them. 

For example, a 401(k) can be used to invest in an index fund, and grow your money for retirement nest.

Or a 529 can be used to invest in index funds to grow your kids’ college fund.

By and large, the type of investment account used will depend on your desired financial goal. However, other factors like tax benefits, the maturity of investment account, among other things should be considered as well.

Other investment accounts you can use to invest in index funds are; Solo 401(k) s, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Health Savings Account (HSA), Roth IRAs, custodial brokerage accounts, taxable accounts, and many more.

Achieve Financial Freedom

The road to financial freedom is hard. It requires a lot of sacrifices, patience, planning, and dedication to achieve it.

And one of the surest ways to get there is through index funds. Time and time again, everyday folks have been able to achieve financial independence using them.

With the above advantages going on for an index fund, it is only wise to start investing and achieve financial independence.

Byline:

Hilda Munjuri is a freelance personal finance writer. She enjoys finding new money hacks and investing. Her dream is everyone achieves financial freedom in their lifetime.

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What Is Wealth Management?

“Wealth management” is a term that is often thrown around, but if you’re new to investing, it can be a difficult concept to grasp.

Although there are lots of financial planning tips around, unless you can develop a wealth management mindset and know-how to track your wealth management, you’ll struggle to see the desired returns.

So, here we’ll explore this topic in more detail and discover the ways that you can easily track your wealth management.

The Wealth Management Basics

In simple terms, wealth management is the principle of enhancing or solving your financial situation. The term was coined by finance professionals as the ability to choose the best types of investments rather than just investment advice. Wealth management should consider all aspects of a person’s financial life, so there is a holistic approach where all the services needed to manage money and plan for the future are covered.

Many wealth management strategies are based on specialisation in particular areas of focus. So whether you decide to consult a professional or do it yourself, you may have some aspects of your wealth management outsourced to others to develop the most beneficial strategy.

There are four main areas of comprehensive wealth management. These are:

Each of these areas requires different planning strategies to ensure that you are completely covered.

The DIY Approach

Although JP Morgan statistics show that individual investors make an average of 2.6% per year, far lower than the 7-10% typically enjoyed with the stock market, it is still possible to take a DIY approach to wealth management. Of course, you’ll need to understand the best types of investments for your specific risk profile.

DIY wealth management requires some basic abilities and resources, including having the proper emotional constitution. This means that while you can go with your gut if you feel strongly, you don’t get caught up in an emotional whirlwind of investing. You also need to feel comfortable with numbers, so you can analyze financial reports without falling for any deceptively positive spin.

You will also need to develop the skills to complete present or future value calculations, but there are tools available to assist you with this. It would help if you also made an honest assessment of your unique limitations. This will enable you to start in areas where you feel confident and see help for all other areas.

For example, while you may feel confident about structuring and managing your individual stocks to create a diversified portfolio, if you’re not sure you could accomplish this with bonds, you could use an outside manager to handle these investments.

As your abilities grow, you’ll start to feel more confident that you can bring some or even all of these outsourced areas back under your direct control.

Tracking Your Wealth Management

One of the most crucial areas of DIY wealth management is a way to reliably and accurately track the performance of your financial products and investments. You need to honestly assess how your investment efforts are matching professional portfolio performances to determine if you need to seek help or can continue going it alone.

Fortunately, there are some great tools and apps that can help you to track your wealth management. These include:

  • Yodlee.com: This platform offers a variety of online money management services, allowing you to track all of your investments and accounts. You can not only track investment values but also create budgets, track spending, and even pay bills through this site.
  • MoneyStrands.com: This is a money management tool that can gather all your financial information automatically. This allows you to see all of your investments and accounts in one place, and you can even sign up for personalized financial advice.
  • Money-rates.com: This website allows you to compare interest rates on credit cards, CDs, savings accounts, and money markets quickly. This allows you to maximize the interest you earn on your investments and savings while minimizing the interest charged on any debt. The site also offers tools and information to help you to make informed choices.

Getting Started

The first step to getting started with your wealth management strategy is to get an understanding of your financial situation. You can only start to address investments and financial planning once you have an accurate and reliable picture of your finances. Unfortunately, according to US Bank, only 41% of Americans follow a basic budget; one of the fundamentals of financial planning.

Fortunately, there are lots of tools that can help you to not only establish a budget but also keep track of your expenses and costs. These tools can also be used to streamline your expenses to create disposable income to start your investment journey. These include:

  • Mint.com: This is one of the most popular finance websites to track budgeting and cashflow. It can help you to analyze your financial situation and will even offer some suggestions on where you can save on your expenses. You can also use the site to research bank accounts or credit cards to get the best deal.
  • BudgetPulse.com: This website provides a basic budget system to monitor your savings and spendings. You can also track finances in multiple currencies, so it is ideal for those who frequently travel or have overseas investments.

So, Are You Ready to Start Your Wealth Management?

If you want to have a strong financial future, it is crucial to develop a wealth management mindset and take a more proactive approach to your finances.

Fortunately, there are professional experts and some great DIY tools to help you tackle all aspects of wealth management, from managing your budget to making investments, allowing you to establish a solid portfolio to meet your financial goals.

Author Bio:

Lorraine Halton enjoyed a successful career in the finance industry and now uses this expertise as a professional writer. Through her blog posts and articles, she helps people to improve their financial health. Whether you need to organize a budget, save money or plan your financial future, Lorraine can help.

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Financing Basics for First-Time Rental Property Owners

Have you been thinking about becoming a landlord, but wondering if now is the right time to purchase a rental property? You are certainly not alone. Real estate is one of Americans’ favorite investments. Plus, with current low-interest rates and the trend of millennials choosing to rent instead of own, you may want to consider taking the plunge sooner rather than later.

Having a rental property in your portfolio has plenty of perks (including a steady, passive income). Still, you need to do your research first and understand options to make sure it makes financial sense for your situation. Rental property financing is not as straightforward as purchasing a primary residence. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss some of the financing basics of investing in real estate to consider, which can be especially helpful if you are a first-time rental property owner.

Make a Large Down Payment

Mortgage insurance will not cover your investment property. So, for a traditional loan, you will need to put down at least 20-25% to get favorable financing according to Quicken Loans. A substantial down payment gives the bank more security, and it also demonstrates your commitment. Additionally, the bank will review your credit and debt-to-income ratio when making their decision on how much down payment is necessary, and if you will even qualify for a traditional loan.    

Evaluate Loan Options

Big bank’ traditional loans probably are the type of financing you are most familiar with, but if you can’t qualify, there are other options available to finance your rental property. Smaller, local (or community) banks sometimes have more flexibility in their requirements. They are usually not as conservative as the big banks, and they like to invest locally and value building relationships with their investors. Another idea is investing in a multi-family property that you can live in to take advantage of primary residence financing.   

Rental Property Owners 1

Ask the Seller to Consider Financing

If you can’t get a loan for your rental property from a bank, another option is to ask the seller if they would consider financing the loan themselves. The seller will extend credit to cover the purchase price of the property (minus the down payment), and you’ll sign a promissory note agreeing to make your payments. Interest rates will likely be higher than you’d get from a bank, but the down payment should be more flexible. Plus, you can close your deal quickly since you don’t have to go through the hassle of the traditional banking process to get your loan application approved. Remember, if you chose to explore this option, be sure when you approach the owner that you have a game plan in place. The seller must have confidence in your ability to repay the loan.      

Gather a Small Group of Investors Together

Although it would be nice to own your rental property outright all on your own, that is not feasible for most people. As an alternative to going it alone, you can gather a small group of investors to buy the property together. This option keeps you all from having to take out a loan, and it allows you to start generating cash flow sooner. Although you will have to share your profits, it does avoid the risk of a foreclosure on your rental property. It can be a great way to get your feet wet as a landlord without shouldering all the risk. To make things even easier, your group can hire a property management company, so you don’t have to deal with tenant issues.    

Making the right choice when it comes to financing your first rental property can help set you up for success. You don’t want to rush into deciding, and you should always consider your short-term and long-term goals to figure out what kind of financing makes the most sense.

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How Sole Traders Can Separate Their Personal And Business Finances?

Sole traders are more than just individuals; they’re business people who are self-employed and running their own business alone.

As a sole trader, it can be easy for your life to become entwined with that of your business, as it means that your finances become combined and you find it difficult to separate a business expense from an individual one.

This can make your life difficult, particularly when it comes to paying taxes, creating budgets and accurately assessing how much money you’ve spent on your business over a period of time.

To help, here are some practical ways you can divide your business and personal finances as a sole trader and make both facets of your life enjoyable.

Use An App

There are a variety of apps out there that are designed to allow you to track your business expenses, invoices and more, meaning that you can accurately log your business finances in one place and keep them separate from your personal expenditure. This will make accounting easier and allow you to track how much money your business is costing.

Be More Careful With Money

It sounds obvious, but when you become a sole trader you need to be more careful about your spending in general. Learn ways to save money, such as buying some items in bulk and avoiding using tempting, but hard to keep track of spending methods, such as contactless. This approach will help you to save money and keep your business and personal finances under control.

Keep Your Borrowing Separate

In the finance market, there are personal and business loans, but in some cases services like overdrafts and credit cards can make the lines between borrowing for business and personal use blurry. To avoid any confusion, take out dedicated personal and business loans instead of using short term financing options. This approach will save you money and time in the long term. Check out https://www.citrusloans.co.uk/ to find a selection of personal loan options to suit any personal need, so that you don’t end up using your work credit card or dipping into savings designated for your business.

Mark Every Transaction

If you have several transactions in your bank that you are unsure of, then you’ll be unable to accurately plan your spending and completely understand your business’ cash flow. As such, you need to make sure that you label every transaction accurately and are clear about where all of your money comes from.

Create Separate Budgets

Draw up a personal budget alongside your business one, and make sure that you stick to both. This will show you how much money you have to spend, and where you need to be spending it. In both your personal and business budgets, you need to make sure that you leave a little money aside for emergencies, and some to be put into a savings account to accumulate and help you prepare for any serious emergency expenses that you encounter.

Learn To Do Your Accounts Yourself

Doing your accounts might seem time consuming and boring, but it’s an important part of running a business. It will teach you to appreciate the value of money and understand the rate of tax you need to pay for every pound you earn. Whilst it might be tempting to outsource your accounts, doing them yourself will allow you to price your services accurately and learn a valuable skill that will stand you in good stead throughout your time in the business market.

A Business Bank Account Is The Ultimate Way To Separate Your Money

Unlike other forms of business, as a sole trader, you’re not legally obliged to have a business bank account, and as such in the beginning, when you first became a sole trader, you might not have thought it necessary to open one. After all, it was just more hassle and work for you at an already busy time. However, now that your business is up and running, with more transactions, it will be tough to keep your business and personal money separate without a business account. Business bank accounts also offer a wide range of additional benefits for your company, making it easier for you to conduct your business and provide your clients with the services they want.

Separate Your Savings Too

As well as your current account, budgets and borrowing, you should also separate your savings when you become a sole trader. Create a separate account for your business savings, so that you can reinvest your profits into your business and prepare for the future. Alongside business banking options, there is also a wide range of business savings accounts on offer so that you can separate your personal and business savings.

Being a sole trader can be a serious challenge, but by using these tips you can be organised, separate your finances and make your accounts easier.

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