I dread this question...
"What should I buy today?"
There's no good answer... How can I (or anyone) answer that question without knowing your goals or risk tolerance? Without knowing those factors (and a dozen others), my response is almost irrelevant.
Unfortunately, many investors don't fully understand their risk tolerance.
That has consequences. If you're new to investing, you may lack the confidence to take investment risks. Maybe it has even kept you from investing at all, and you've missed out on the incredible gains from the current bull market.
Here's the thing... Adding an appropriate amount of risk to your investments greatly improves your portfolio performance.
So today, I want you to assess your own risk tolerance. And I've included a three-step guide below to get you started...
First, let's talk a little more about how to think about risk.
Risk in the market is measured by something called volatility. The more volatile the investment, the more the price swings up and down.
That's why stocks are much riskier than bonds or money market accounts. Their prices are more likely to bounce up and down. That means that you stand to make a lot more money as the stock moves up, but you could also lose more as the stock falls.
If you're taking on too much risk, your portfolio could take a big hit... especially if we go into a bear market.
Meanwhile, if you're entirely risk-averse, you could miss out on the investments most likely to see major upswings.
Let's review the common investment vehicles and where they fall on the risk spectrum:
As you can see, the least risky investments are cash and cash equivalents, like certificates of deposit. These are usually extremely stable investments, but ones that have low yields.
The riskiest, generally speaking, are stocks. Stocks are the most volatile, but also produce the biggest gains.
So when considering how much to invest in each asset class, start with a few simple questions. Write down your answers and keep them for reference whenever you make future investing decisions. In fact, it's a good idea to review your plan and risk level each year. Consider the following:
- How close are you to retirement?
A popular theory is the "100 minus age" rule. Take your age, subtract it from 100, and that's the percentage you should invest in stocks. That means a 35-year-old woman should have about 65% of her portfolio in stocks.
The idea is that the younger you are, the more time you have to recover from losses. So you want to take on more risk earlier. However, this is still a general guideline. Everyone needs to determine how comfortable they are with that kind of risk – that's why we need to answer two other questions...
- What is your primary investing goal?
Are you looking to preserve your wealth, generate income, or grow your investments? These choices represent different levels of risk as well. For example, if you want to generate income, buying dividend-paying stocks will yield more than a typical savings bond, so you'll want to account for that increase in risk.
One solution: Consider multiple accounts. We know a few folks not only have a conservative "retirement only" account, but also a trading account where they take on more risk. This is a great way to potentially earn big gains without doing damage to your retirement nest egg.
- How much you are you willing to lose in a one-year period?
Before investing in anything, figure out how much you are comfortable losing and write it down. If you don't want to risk much, opt for less risky investments.
Also, be disciplined about selling an investment if it falls by that amount... That's how you keep losses from growing larger than you can handle.
These three guidelines are just the beginning of understanding your risk tolerance... but they're a good place to start. So ask yourself these questions today. It's one of the surest ways to improve your investing performance.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig
Editor's note: In just a few days, Doc will take the stage at the 2018 Stansberry Conference in Las Vegas... along with Steve Sjuggerud, Porter Stansberry, and more of our top analysts. We'll also hear from all-star guest speakers like the editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, and the famous author of Rich Dad Poor Dad.
If you act now, you can still join us from the comfort of your own home... at a 70% discount to the regular ticket price. Click here to learn more.
"Rather than develop a complex, but flawed, analysis of risk... it's more helpful for an investor to think of 'risk' in a simpler form," Doc writes. Learn more about controlling risk with your investments right here: A Dead-Simple Method to Manage Your Risk.
Every investor's dream is to match the success of the legendary Warren Buffett. And our friend Dr. Richard Smith says you can use one of the big "secrets" to his long-term success to boost your own returns... Read more here.
Once you've mapped out your investment goals, it's time to start growing your wealth. And Doc believes this fund is one every investor should own today...
THE 'SIMPLE' BUSINESS BEHIND YOUR MORNING CEREAL
Today's chart reminds us that even "boring" businesses can make huge gains in the market...
Longtime readers know you don't need to buy exciting stocks to be a successful investor. Companies that "sell the basics" – things like paint and auto parts – can make the safest bets because their products are always in demand. And today's example is no exception...
Post (POST) is the name behind many of the everyday packaged goods you buy at the grocery store. The $6.5 billion business owns more than a dozen bestselling brands of breakfast cereal... like Fruity Pebbles, Grape-Nuts, and Honey Bunches of Oats. While breakfast food might be as basic as it gets, Post's success speaks for itself. The company reported net sales of $1.6 billion in its latest quarterly report (a year-over-year increase of 26%).
And as you can see, Post's stock has been on a long-term uptrend. Shares have climbed more than 180% over the past four years, and recently hit a new all-time high. Breakfast might not be a "flashy" business, but these gains are anything but boring...