Investing can be tricky at the best of times; with endless options, instability in the markets, and several different voices suggesting that you invest here or there. Whether you're new to investing or a seasoned veteran, sometimes just getting clarity among all of the financial noise can be a challenge. Here are five investments you should make this year.
1. Your Retirement
Putting money into your 401k or IRA account for retirement should be your number one investment; whether you're 25 or 45, new to investing or been at it for years. Retirement is something that adults of all ages should be seriously thinking about. Ideally, you'll want to start saving in your 20s, but it's never too late to start putting away money for your golden years.
Retirement can carry a lot of costs; from medical care to food and housing to vehicle expenses and more. The type of lifestyle you want to have during your retirement will be a major factor in how much you save, but for the average person, saving at least 15% of your annual income per year is the suggested goal.
Retirement is a good investment. While it certainly carries some risk, which goes up depending on the vehicle you choose, the overall security of a retirement fund is tighter than with other investments. With a 401k, your employer will even match a percentage (sometimes as much as 60%) of your contributions; taking some of the burden to save for retirement off of you.
Planning for retirement can be stressful without any help or knowledge in the subject. Financial advisors are the perfect remedy for this issue; with years of expertise and certification to ensure their credibility, these financial experts will help you plan out your retirement savings and help you invest wisely. If you're in the market for an advisor, you can read about the best financial advisors on the Careful Cents site.
2. Emerging Markets
Fidelity Investments, one of the top investment firms in the country, suggests looking into emerging markets as potential investments instead of the home market for a few reasons. Besides being a potential long-term profitable investment, emerging markets tend to perform well under the right circumstances; making a careful selection of the right EM a smart investment move.
Investing in an EM can add diversity to your portfolio, putting you in a potentially high-value investment should the market perform well. With the "trade wars" going on between China and the US, the world's two largest economies, there are several opportunities available to invest in EMs. Talk with an advisor today to learn which investments are worth a shot.
3. Real Estate
Sites like Fundrise have become popular with investors in recent years, as they provide a more secure way to invest in the real estate market than traditional investing. You'll be investing in real estate notes or shares, and with returns of up to 12%, the site is certainly generating some serious buzz.
If you choose to invest with a company like Fundrise, however, it's important to remember that if the market takes a dive, you can't cash in your account and walk away from the investment. Your investments won't be considered liquid, so walking away from them is, unfortunately, not an option. This is why having diversity in your portfolio is so important; putting all of your eggs in one basket is never a good idea, especially in the investment world.
4. Peer-to-Peer Lending
Peer-to-peer lending has been around for a while, but it's a great way to get started with investing. Essentially, you'll be loaning money to individuals via the peer-to-peer platform (like Lending Club from California) and collect the interest payments on the loan. The site claims to have returns of around 4-7% per year, which isn't bad for beginner and veteran investors alike.
With a low correlation on the stock market, Lending Club's notes have a better chance of generating a return; with 99% of portfolios with 100+ notes seeing positive returns. Those are pretty good odds in the investing world. The best part about peer-to-peer lending is that you'll get principal and interest payments year-round. Think of all that you could do with a few thousand extra dollars per year!
With over 12 years in the business, Lending Club is one of the most trusted investment and personal lending platforms out there. If you'd like to see your money grow while performing a valuable service, peer-to-peer lending is for you.
5. Your Physical and Mental Health
While we're busy investing in types of income-generating assets, retirement accounts, etc., we often forget about ourselves; and how valuable investment in the self really can be. Investing in your physical and mental health this year will ensure that you'll be able to keep functioning at full capacity for years to come. Mental health is especially overlooked, particularly in the workplace.
Mental health plays a crucial role in our success and happiness, and investing in creating a better mental image of ourselves and the world can go a long way. Don't be afraid to spend some extra money on you this year. Invest in better food and eating habits or therapy if you're suffering from a mental health condition. The dividends on these investments can truly last a lifetime!
During a recent meeting on Microsoft Teams, I couldn't seem to get a single word out.
When I tried to chime in, I kept getting interrupted. At one point two individuals talked right over me and over each other. When I thought it was finally my turn, someone else parachuted in from out of nowhere. When I raised and waved my hand as if I was in grade school to be called on (yes, I had my camera on) we swiftly moved on to the next topic. And then, completely frustrated, I stayed on mute for the remainder of the meeting. I even momentarily shut off my camera to devour the rest of my heavily bruised, brown banana. (No one needed to see that.)
This wasn't the first time I had struggled to find my voice. Since elementary school, I always preferring the back seat unless the teacher assigned me a seat in the front. In high school, I did piles of extra credit or mini-reports to offset my 0% in class participation. In college, I went into each lecture nauseous and with wasted prayers — wishing and hoping that I wouldn't be cold-called on by the professor.
By the time I got to Corporate America, it was clear that if I wanted to lead, I needed to pull my chair up (and sometimes bring my own), sit right at the table front and center, and ask for others to make space for me. From then on, I found my voice and never stop using it.
But now, all of a sudden, in this forced social experiment of mass remote working, I was having trouble being heard… again. None of the coaching I had given myself and other women on finding your voice seemed to work when my voice was being projected across a conference call and not a conference room.
I couldn't read any body language. I couldn't see if others were about to jump in and I should wait or if it was my time to speak. They couldn't see if I had something to say. For our Microsoft teams setting, you can only see a few faces on your screen, the rest are icons at the bottom of the window with a static picture or even just their name. And, even then, I couldn't see some people simply because they wouldn't turn their cameras on.
If I did get a chance to speak and cracked a funny joke, well, I didn't hear any laughing. Most people were on mute. Or maybe the joke wasn't that funny?
At one point, I could hear some heavy breathing and the unwrapping of (what I could only assume was) a candy bar. I imagined it was a Nestle Crunch Bar as my tummy rumbled in response to the crinkling of unwrapped candy. (There is a right and a wrong time to mute, people.)
At another point, I did see one face nodding at me blankly.
They say that remote working will be good for women. They say it will level the playing field. They say it will be more inclusive. But it won't be for me and others if I don't speak up now.
- Start with turning your camera on and encouraging others to do the same. I was recently in a two-person meeting. My camera was on, but the other person wouldn't turn theirs on. In that case, ten minutes in, I turned my camera off. You can't stare at my fuzzy eyebrows and my pile of laundry in the background if I can't do the same to you. When you have a willing participant, you'd be surprised by how helpful it can be to make actual eye contact with someone, even on a computer (and despite the fuzzy eyebrows).
- Use the chatbox. Enter in your questions. Enter in your comments. Dialogue back and forth. Type in a joke. I did that recently and someone entered back a laughing face — reaffirming that I was, indeed, funny.
- Designate a facilitator for the meeting: someone leading, coaching, and guiding. On my most recent call, a leader went around ensuring everyone was able to contribute fairly. She also ensured she asked for feedback on a specific topic and helped move the discussion around so no one person took up all the airtime.
- Unmute yourself. Please don't just sit there on mute for the entire meeting. Jump in and speak up. You will be interrupted. You will interrupt others. But don't get frustrated or discouraged — this is what work is now — just keep showing up and contributing.
- Smile, and smile big. Nod your head in agreement. Laugh. Give a thumbs up; give two! Wave. Make a heart with your hands. Signal to others on the call who are contributing that you support and value them. They will do the same in return when your turn comes to contribute.
It's too easy to keep your camera turned off. It's too easy to stay on mute. It's too easy to disappear. But now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to stay engaged and networked within our organizations and communities.
So please don't put yourself on mute.
Well, actually, please do put yourself on mute so I don't have to hear your heavy breathing, candy bar crunching, or tinkling bathroom break.
But after that, please take yourself off mute so you can reclaim your seat (and your voice) at the table.