The Top 5 Investment Strategies For Beginners
Investing is one of those financial moves that can feel pretty unnerving for the beginner. After all, by investing your money you invariably lose some control over what happens to it. So why do it at all?
The short answer is because it’s one of the best ways to make enough money to live comfortably. By now you’re probably familiar with how much money you really need to retire. But did you know that most people don’t get there just by saving up? Investing your money, however risky it may be, is quite simply one of the best solutions to compounding your savings and enabling it to grow with you as you age. And it doesn’t have to feel quite as intimidating as it sounds.
In fact, investing your money can actually be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it — especially if you have a strategy in mind. Here are five top investment strategies that anyone can try, plus all the details to help you get started.
- Overview of the best investment strategies
- Why you should (or shouldn’t) use these investment strategies
- The bottom line
Overview of the best investment strategies
|Growth investing||Those interested in making higher-risk investments in companies with growth potential|
|Value investing||Those interested in making higher-risk investments in companies with potentially “untapped” or hidden value|
|Pick-and-shovel investing||Those interested in making higher-risk investments in companies that support hype industries|
|Mutual funds||Those interested in making lower-risk, more hands-off investments in a variety of different stocks at once|
|Real estate investing||Those interested in investing in real estate, with varying degrees of risk and involvement|
Best investment strategies
Growth investing is probably one of the most popular investment strategies. It’s also what people generally have in mind when they refer to investing in the stock market. Growth investing typically involves buying equities that you believe will increase in value over time, thereby yielding higher returns. These can be short-term or long-term investments, lasting anywhere from weeks to months, or even years. An investment is considered to be short-term when it lasts less than a year.
In addition to the length of investment, these types of investments can occur in a variety of sectors including energy, tech, or even new or emerging markets. The most common form of growth investing is what you see happening every day in the stock market, where people buy stocks they believe will increase in value— in other words, that the stock price will go up. While nothing is ever for sure when it comes to investing, one valuable tool commonly used by growth investors is a market index. A stock market index essentially shows the performance of a certain sector of the market over time and helps investors compare current prices with past ones to gain insights into performance.
Making these kinds of investments can be a great way to get your feet wet in the world of investing, but they also require a certain amount of risk tolerance. Unlike other investment strategies on this list, the stock market experiences a fair amount of volatility— meaning, you can lose money pretty easily. This is generally why financial advisors recommend these types of high-risk investments to younger investors. Since you’re earlier on in your investment career, you can afford to take risks that someone older may wish to avoid.
Similar to growth investing, value investing is a type of stock market investment that focuses on finding companies of a certain profile. Rather than seeking out companies with good growth potential (as in growth investing), value investing focuses on finding companies you believe are intrinsically undervalued. Why spend time finding undervalued companies? Because if you’re right and the value increases, then you’d stand to make some serious capital gains (ie. profit from the sale) on your investment.
This type of investment strategy was actually coined by Warren Buffet, who’s famously known for pouring over company bank statements to inform his investments. A key part of value investing is in being interested in finding these value stocks in the first place, as well as having a way to measure a company’s worth other than current market value. For example, you might find a company that you believe will receive a lot of hype in the future, or one whose prices have the potential to be driven up by inflation— these would all be examples of value investments.
So how do you find these companies in the first place? Start by researching market trends, and finding lesser-known companies operating in these verticals. Then research the company itself, to find out how it’s performing, what it’s plans are, and if you think it has the potential to increase in value over time.
This one is a personal favorite of mine, and it probably has to do with the story behind the name. This type of investing originated during California’s Gold Rush, between 1848 and 1856. While hundreds of thousands of Americans fled to California to find gold, one savvy investor had different plans.
Rather than following the crowd to try and find gold, Levi Strauss decided to start selling something to help other miners. In doing this, Strauss made a fortune. Jeans were born, and the rest became history, but this idea of pick-and-shovel investing persists. Instead of investing in the latest hype product or trend, invest in a company that’s supporting the trend in some essential way. Miners needed sturdy work-pants, which is exactly how Strauss made his fortune.
Let’s use another example. Say there’s a push towards investing in renewable energy, and one of the companies gaining a lot of traction is making windmills. Rather than investing in the company making the windmills, you might try investing in the company making the blades for the windmills— since this would be an essential product needed by the trending company. While it still involves investing primarily in companies, pick-and-shovel investing is another roundabout investment strategy that requires a bit more research and forward-thinking— but one that can have a big payoff when done properly.
While all of the previous investment strategies on this list involve high-risk investments in individual companies, mutual funds are a nice way to diversify your investment portfolio while making relatively low-risk and low-cost investments. Because mutual funds generally consist of a high number of stocks and bonds (typically over 100), and your investment is pooled with that of other investors, your money is generally considered to be much safer.
Mutual funds are also a great way to buy stocks in a more hands-off environment than that of typical day-trading. Some of them even pay out interest rates to their investors, also called distribution. When buying stocks in individual companies, you’ll generally want to check your investments throughout the day. But with mutual funds, your portfolio is often managed by a brokerage, allowing you to have invested money that doesn’t require your constant attention. This, combined with the lower risk, is partially why so many IRA and other retirement savings accounts rely on mutual funds.
Two types of mutual funds to be aware of are index funds and ETFs (exchange-traded funds). Index funds are mutual funds that allow you to focus on your investment in one particular stock index, like the S&P 500. ETFs are pretty similar, with one notable exception. While index funds can only be traded once per day, ETFs can be traded throughout the day. Once again, this allows you to decide just how hands-on you’d like to be with your investments.
Real estate investing
Unlike other investment strategies, real estate investing doesn’t necessarily involve the buying and selling of stocks. Real estate investing can mean any number of things, from buying and selling property, flipping houses, renting out properties, or even making larger real estate investments with a group of investors (also called REITs, or Real Estate Investment Trusts).
However, you choose to get started investing in real estate, take a minute to first consider how hands-on you’d actually like to be. Are you hoping to purchase property to rent or sell, or are you interested in making a more hands-off real estate investment? While owning and managing property is much like having a second job, there are several laid-back real estate investment opportunities to consider as well, most notably the REITs mentioned above.
What are the 4 investment strategies?
The four main investment strategies will vary based on who you ask, but the four top investment strategies that made this list include growth investing, value investing, mutual funds, and real estate investing. All of these investment strategies come with various levels of risk and investor involvement — and gauging your risk tolerance and desired level of involvement is a great way to decide which one might be right for you.
Which is the best strategy for a beginner investor?
Mutual funds are a low-risk way for first-time investors to get their feet wet, however, they also don’t offer the highest returns. Depending on your age and risk tolerance, you should consider making other types of investments as well, particularly ones with better returns.
How do you develop an investment strategy?
Developing an investment strategy depends on a variety of factors such as your age and risk tolerance, as well as your financial goals and situation. Some investments will cost more than others, while some will also have a higher risk profile. Understanding your goals and what you have to work with, is the first step in developing a personalized investment strategy that makes sense for your portfolio.
Why you should (or shouldn’t) use these investment strategies
How you choose to go about investing your money depends a lot on your financial goals, as well as your tolerance for risk and your intended level of involvement. While some investment strategies like the use of mutual funds, require little involvement and lower risk, it also may yield lower returns.
Different investment strategies will make sense for different investors, and much of it will depend on your age group, personal finance situation, and what you’d like to get out of your investment experience. If you’re hoping to make money quickly, then you might need to take on more risk. If you’re more interested in putting your money somewhere for a long period of time and letting it grow, then a lower risk investment might suit you just fine.
Similarly, if you’re older you may wish to have more diversification in your portfolio (ie. having your eggs in many baskets), versus when you’re younger and theoretically have longer to earn back any losses. A lot of this comes down to something called asset allocation, which seeks to balance risk with reward by adjusting the various components of an investment portfolio according to the investor’s risk tolerance.
Understanding your risk tolerance, combined with your desired level of involvement is actually a great way to start creating your own personalized investment strategy. By knowing these two things about yourself, you’ll be better able to decide which investments make the most sense for your portfolio, and which ones you’ll be happy to pass on.
The bottom line
Choosing an investment strategy is a highly personalized process and one you should take your time with. Spend some time learning more about all the different investment opportunities at your fingertips, as well as considering your overall investment goals. By discovering more about the kind of investor you’d like to be, you’ll be able to make better decisions, and ultimately pursue the investments that serve your goals.