Successful Investing – Helping Investors Avoid Common Investment Mistakes

The Top Mistakes made by Investors

In my dozen plus years of advising individuals and businesses I have found a number of common mistakes that have derailed even the best laid financial plans. I thought by sharing them I might be able to help others sidestep the pitfalls and the negative impact they can have on your portfolio and long-term financial plans.

1. Failing to establish a time horizon and investing accordingly -

If you have expenses that need to be funded in 3 years or less, you should not be investing the cash for them in the stock market or other risky investments. These monies should be carved out of your investment portfolio (the money earmarked for long-term investing) and invested appropriately in liquid assets such as money market funds or term-certain fixed income offerings. If the money is not going to be needed for 3 years or more, an investment plan should be established based upon specific a time horizon and risk tolerance for these funds.

2. Failing to thoroughly diversify your portfolio -

Many investors know about the concept of diversification and think that by owning different investments, they are diversified. Diversification of an investment portfolio makes good sense on an intuitive level. However, it wasn’t until Harry Markowitz published his model of portfolio selection that this concept became a formalized part of sound investment practice and formed the basis of today’s Modern Portfolio Theory. Beyond this basic concept of diversification, the key to Markowitz’s premise is the revelation that the risk of any investment can be reduced and/or performance increased by forming a portfolio of diverse and non-correlated assets. That is, it is important not just to seek a diversity of asset types, but also to seek assets that have low or near-zero correlations to one another. It’s not about owning different investments; it’s about owning different, non-correlated investments.

3. Letting potential tax implications rule your investment decisions –

Many investors delay selling an investment that has done well regardless of how good or bad the future looks for the holding. Their response is, “I will have to pay taxes if I sell.” By not selling, they set themselves up for not having to pay taxes at all – usually because the investment starts on a decline and their concern switches from “having to pay taxes” to one of “hoping for a turnaround.” Don’t be afraid to take some profits off the table. While taxes are an unpleasant result of investing, I prefer to look at them as a positive sign as it indicates you are making money and your investment plan is working.

4. Buying a stock based upon a “hot tip” -

Too many investors listen to a friend’s advice because he or she always seems to have the next “great” money making idea. They don’t take the time to assess the idea personally and jump in because it’s only a few thousand dollars they are investing. Unfortunately this is not investing – it’s gambling. If you want to gamble, go to Vegas and at least get free drinks, dinner, a show and a room for the risks you are taking. Any investment that is being considered for your portfolio should be thoroughly researched and have passed a comprehensive financial screening scrutiny.

5. Attempting to time the market -

Waiting an extra day, week, or month to try and buy in at the “right price” just doesn’t work. No one can predict the future. If they could they most likely wouldn’t be sharing this knowledge with you for free. Successful investors use time, patience and a disciplined approach to increase the likelihood of maximizing their investment returns – not trying to time the market. If you have done the research and the investment is sound and meets your criteria then buy it, regardless of timing.

6. Failing to regularly reevaluate your investments -

Over time all investment styles, strategies and types fall out of favor. So, like timing the market, it becomes virtually impossible to know what is going to be “hot” in the next bull market and what isn’t. For this reason it is always prudent to stay up-to-date on your investments to insure they are still the same investment that you originally purchased (segment drift and manager changes can be one reason they may have changed). If your investments consist solely of mutual funds then an annual review is a good place to start.

7. Basing investment decisions on emotion -

Maybe the stock market is going through a bad time because of a short-term geo-political or economic event. Stay calm and make an educated, well thought out decisions about what, if anything, to do. Assess whether the event will affect the economy long-term or if it’s just a short-term blip. The best move is often no move at all. If it is a short term incident, many times the smart, prudent investor will make additional investments because the current decline provides them with an excellent buying opportunity. The key to successful investing is to have a disciplined strategy and to stick with it.

8. Cashing out gains and dividends rather than reinvesting -

Once you’ve realized gains or had distributions and dividends paid out, insure they are reinvested back into your portfolio. If you pull out your capital gains, dividends and interest, your money won’t compound as quickly, thereby leaving you with a smaller chunk of change down the line. Letting your investments compound is one of the major tenets of successful investing.

9. Owning too much employer stock -

Many people get over-weighted in employer stock because of options and stock purchase plans made available in today’s competitive compensation packages. While these are great supplements to their annual salary they can put an employee in a position of having too much money invested in their employer’s stock. Additionally, it is quite common for people to invest in “what they know” and what do you know better than the company you work for? To compound the problem many people will add more employer stock to their 401k holdings and individual brokerage accounts. Not only does this create a diversification problem in their portfolio but it also subjects them to excessive single stock risk. A good rule of thumb to follow is to insure that no more than 5-10% of your entire investment portfolio is in any one single stock. If you find yourself in this situation the importance of creating a well thought out reduction strategy cannot be overstated.

10. Following the herd -

The most successful of all investors are moving in the opposite direction of what everyone else is doing. They buy when most are selling and sell when everyone else is buying. By following this simple plan you can preserve your capital and potentially sidestep the next bubble (can anyone remember real estate, internet stocks, and technology growth funds?).

11. Not investing at all –

Somehow in today’s society that Mocha Cappuccino Latte seems to take precedence over saving for the long-term. We are a society who wishes to satisfy the “here and now” rather than the securing our future. The important fact here is that those two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, BALANCE is the key in any long-term endeavor, but by always keeping an eye on the end goal you can make sure it is not out of mind while satiating the here and now.

12. Investing without a plan -

Investing without a plan and lacking the discipline to follow it is a sure way to lower your chances of success. The chances of obtaining any long term goal can be greatly enhanced by creating a strategy, following it and regularly reviewing it frequently enough so it reflects any changes that have taken place since implementation. Many investors start off with a small amount of money and start putting it to work without a plan. As time progresses they find they have a mish-mash of investments in their portfolio with no clear strategy or direction. It’s never too early to invest but it’s even better to invest early with a plan.

13. Taking too little risk -

Some people don’t want to take any risk and cannot stand the volatility involved with risky investments. While it may seem like you are keeping your money safe and secure by not taking risk, it is more than likely you are not because of inflation. If your time horizon is greater than 5 years it is recommended that you have no less than 25-30% in growth investments (i.e. stocks) in your portfolio to ward off the effects of inflation. The actual percentage to own is dependent upon many factors including but not limited to age, time horizon before money is needed, current financial situation, etc. A good general rule of thumb to use as a starting point for the percentage of equity you may include in your portfolio is “120 – your age.”

How Can Email Marketing Help My Business?

You simply can not have a good online marketing plan if you do not involve yourself with email marketing. Email marketing, when done correctly, will enable your business to attract new customers, keep existing ones, upsell, cross-sell and cut costs. Let's take a look at some of the specific ways that email marketing can help your business.

It Allows You To Automate Your Business

If you're running a small business, you're probably busy doing lots of different tasks. An email marketing autoresponder acts like your silent salesperson who works for you 24/7. If you have offered something for free in exchange for somebody's email address, your autoresponder can send it immediately. Or, it can instantaneously send a welcome message as soon as someone joins your email list. It would be impossible to do this manually.

An autoresponder allows you to automate your email messages to your customers, leads and prospects. This means that messages that are educational, standard (like thank you messages) and more are created once and sent to each person when appropriate.

You Can Provide Value To Your Subscribers

When you use email to contact people who have signed up to receive your messages, you can reach out to them 24/7. This means that you can provide serious value to your customers' lives by sending them information that solves their problems or makes their lives easier. The more value you provide, the more likely they are to want to buy from you.

You Can Get To Know Your Audience Better

The best thing you can do for your business is to understand your audience backwards and forwards. The more you know who you're crafting emails for, the better you can word everything to get the response you want. Your email marketing autoresponder software will provide you with information on who opens your messages and who clicks the links.

Your Email List Is Your Greatest Asset

As you build your list of email addresses, it becomes your greatest asset. These subscribers are the people who have bought from you or have expressed an interest in your business. You need to develop a relationship with the people on your list and regularly provide them with value. This way they will see you as an authority in your niche. From the emails you send out to them, they will start to know, like and trust you and then be more inclined to buy from you.

Why You Need Title Insurance

Protecting your Home Investment

A home is usually the largest single investment any of us will ever make. When you purchase a home, you will purchase several types of insurance coverage to protect your home and personal property. Homeowner's insurance protects against loss from fire, theft, or wind damage. Flood insurance protects against rising water. And a unique coverage known as title insurance protects against hidden title hazards that may threaten your financial investment in your home.

Protecting Your Largest Single Investment

Title insurance is not as well understood as other types of home insurance, but it is just as important. You see, when purchasing a home, instead of purchasing the actual building or land, you are really purchasing the title to the property – the right to occupy and use the space. That title may be limited by rights and claims asserted by others, which may limit your use and enjoyment of the property and even bring financial loss. Title insurance protects against these types of title hazards.

Other types of insurance that protect your home focus on possible future events and charge an annual premium. On the other hand, title insurance protects against loss from hazards and defects that already exists in the title and is purchased with a one-time premium.

Two Kinds of Title Insurance Benefit You in Two Ways

There are two basic types of title insurance:

  • Lender or mortgagee protection,
  • Owner's coverage.

Most lenders require mortgagee title insurance as security for their investment in real estate, just as they may call for fire insurance and other types of coverage as investor protection. When title insurance is provided, lenders are willing to make mortgage money available in distant locales where they know little about the market.

Owner's title insurance lasts as long as you, the policyholder – or your heirs – has an interest in the insured property. This may even be after you have sold the property.

Depending on local practices and state law where the property is located, you may pay an additional premium for an owner's policy or you may pay a simultaneous issue charge – usually a smaller amount – for the separate lender coverage. You may even split settlement costs with the seller for the lender or owner's policy.

What does Your Premium Really Pay For?

An important part of title insurance is its emphasis on risk elimination before insuring. This gives you, as the policyholder, the best possible chance for avoiding title claim and loss.

Title insuring begins with a search of public land records affecting the real estate concerned. An examination is conducted by the title agent or attorney on behalf of its underwriter to determine whether the property is insurable. The examination of evidence from a search is intended to fully report all "material objections" to the title. Frequently, documents that do not clear transfer title are found in the "chain," or history that is assembled from the records in a search. Here are some examples of documents that can present concerns:

  • Deeds, wills and trusts that contain improper word or incorrect names;
  • Outstanding mortgages and judgments, or a lien against the property because the seller has not paid his taxes;
  • Easements that allow construction of a road or utility line;
  • Pending legal action against the property that could affect a purchaser; Egypt
  • Incorrect notary acknowledgments.

Through the search and the examination, title problems are disclosed so they can be corrected whenever possible. However, even the most careful preventive work can not locate all hidden title hazards.

Hidden Title Hazards – Your Last Defense

In spite of all the expertise and dedication that go into a title search and examination, hidden hazards can emerge after closing, resulting in unpleasant and costly surprises. Some examples of hazards include:

  • A forged signature on the deed, which would mean no transfer of ownership to you;
  • An unknown heir of a previous owner who is claiming ownership of the property;
  • Instruments executed under an expired or a fabricated power of attorney; Egypt
  • Mistakes in the public records.

Title insurance offers financial protection against these and other covered title hazards. The title insurer will pay for defending against an attack on title as insured, and will either perfect the title or pay valid claims. All for a one-time charge at closing.

Your home is your most important investment. Before you go to closing, ask about your title insurance protection, and be sure to protect your home with an owner's title insurance policy.

Connotation and Denotation in Literature

As long as literary usage is concerned, the term "denotation" means primary significance or reference of a word; Whereas "connotation" of a word means a range of secondary or associated significations that the word implies. For instance; "Home" denotes the house in which one lives whereas it connotes intimacy and privacy.

In broader sense, the connotation of a word consist of a range of meanings or significations and which one the word really connotes that depends on the context in which the word is used. As far as poetry is concerned, the words share concepts with both denotative as well as connotative meanings. And it's up to the reader how to evaluate the words. In this respect, George Herbert's poem "Virtue" needs to be taken into consideration:

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and the sky …

The word "bridal" has both connotative as well as denotative meanings. The denotation of the word means that a union between human beings. The word stands for "ground" and functions as a metaphor to facilitate union of the earth and the sky. On the other hand, the connotation of the word "bridal" is sacred or ceremonial. Moreover, the meaning of the word is similar to "marriage".

The second example I wish to offer is a portion from John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale" where the connotative meaning of the word gets changes according to the way it is spelled:

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn,

You will notice that the use of "faery" instead of "fairy" evokes the connotation of antiquity and wonderful world of Spenser's "The Faerie Queene" .

These are some of the examples to see how connotation and denotation overlaps! You can only distinguish the meaningings according to the content in which words are used. As far as the language of literature is concerned, you'll see the presence of both and it is up to the reader to appreciate the work of art considering the proper connotative or denotative meaning.

In short, denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, or the dictionary definition. Connotation, on the other hand, refers to the associations that are attached to a particular word or the emotional suggestions associated with that word. The connotative meanings of a particular word exist in conjunction with the denotative meanings. So, both share distinct features as long as meanings of a word is concerned.