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5 Investments You Should Make This Year

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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!

4 Min Read
Business

Today, Companies Need to Retain Veteran Employees in Order to Survive and Thrive

In 2020, as the world turned on its axis, we all held on for dear life. Businesses, non-profits, government organizations, and entrepreneurs all braced for a new normal, not sure what it would mean, what would come next, or if we should be excited or terrified.

At the same time that everything is shifting, being put on hold, or expanding, companies have to evaluate current talent needs, empower their teams to work from home, discover new ways to care for clients from a distance, and navigate new levels of uncertainty in this unfamiliar environment. Through it all, civilians are being encouraged to lean into concepts like "resilience" and "courage" and "commitment," sometimes for the first time.

Let's contrast what the business community is going through this year with the common experience of the military. During basic training, officer candidate school, multiple deployments, combat, and reintegration, veterans become well-versed in resilience, courage, and commitment to survive and thrive in completing their mission. Today, veterans working in the civilian sector find the uncertainty, chaos, instability, and fear threading through companies eerily familiar.

These individuals do not leave their passion and sense of service behind when they separate or retire out of the military. Instead, typically veterans continue to find avenues to serve — in their teams, their companies, their communities.

More than ever before, today's employers who employ prior military should focus on why and how to retain them and leverage their talents, experience, and character traits to help lead the company — and the employees — to the other side of uncertainty.

What makes veterans valuable employees

Informed employers recognize that someone with a military background brings certain high-value assets into the civilian sector. Notably, veterans were taught, trained, and grounded in certain principles that make them uniquely valuable to their employers, particularly given the current business environment, including:

Leadership

It's been said that the United States Armed Forces is the greatest leadership institution in the world. The practices, beliefs, values, and dedication of those who serve make them tested leaders even outside of the military. Given the opportunity to lead, a veteran will step forward and assume the role. Asked to respect and support leadership, they comply with that position as well. Leadership is in the veteran's blood and for a company that seeks employees with the confidence and commitment to lead if called upon, a veteran is the ideal choice.

Commitment

The hope is that all employees are committed to their job and give 100% each day. For someone in the military, this is non-negotiable. The success of the mission, and the lives of everyone around them, depend on their commitment to stay the course and perform their job as trained. When the veteran employee takes on a project, it will be completed. When the veteran employee says there's an unsurmountable obstacle, it is so (not an excuse). When a veteran says they're "all in" on an initiative, they will see it through.

Strategy, planning, and improv

Every mission involves strategy, planning, and then improvisation from multiple individuals. On the battlefield, no plan works perfectly, and the service member's ability to flex, pivot, and adapt makes them valuable later, in the civilian sector. Imagine living in countries where you don't speak the language, working alongside troops who come from places you can't find on a map, and having to communicate what needs to get done to ensure everyone's safety. Veterans learned how to set goals, problem-solve challenges, and successfully get results.

Service

With an all-volunteer military for decades now, every man and woman who wore our nation's uniform raised their hand to do so. They chose to serve their country, their fellow Americans, and their leaders. These individuals do not leave their passion and sense of service behind when they separate or retire out of the military. Instead, typically veterans continue to find avenues to serve — in their teams, their companies, their communities.

When companies seek out leaders who will commit to a bigger mission, can think strategically and creatively, and will serve others, they look to veterans.

Best practices in retention of veteran talent

Retention starts at hiring. The experience set out in the interview stage provides insight about how it will be to work and grow within the team at the company. For employers hiring veterans, this is a critical step.

Veterans often tell me that they "look to work for a company that has a set of values I can ascribe to." The topic of values can serve as an opportunity for companies seeking to retain military talent.

The veteran employee may have had a few — or several — jobs since leaving the military. Or this may be their first civilian work experience. In any case, setting expectations and being clear about goals is vital. Remember, veterans are trained to complete a mission and a goal. When an employer clarifies the mission and shows how the veteran employee's role supports and fulfills that mission, the employee can more confidently and successfully complete their work.

Additionally, regular check-ins are helpful with veteran employees. These employees may not be as comfortable asking for help or revealing their weaknesses. When the employer checks in regularly, and shows genuine interest in their happiness, sense of productivity, and overall job satisfaction, the veteran employee learns to be more comfortable asking for help when needed.

The military is a values-driven culture. Service members are instilled with values of loyalty, integrity, service, duty, and honor, to name a few. When they transition out of the military, veterans still seek a commitment to values in their employers. Veterans often tell me that they "look to work for a company that has a set of values I can ascribe to." The topic of values can serve as an opportunity for companies seeking to retain military talent. Make it clear what your values are, how you live and act on those values, and how the veteran's job will promote and support those values. Even work that is less glamorous can be attractive to a veteran if they understand the greater purpose and mission.

Today, veterans working in the civilian sector find the uncertainty, chaos, instability, and fear threading through companies eerily familiar.

Finally, leveraging the strengths and goals of any employee is critical, and particularly so with veterans. If you have an employee who is passionate about service, show them ways to give back — through mentoring, community engagement, volunteerism, etc. If your veteran continues to seek leadership roles, find opportunities for them to contribute at higher levels, even informally. When your veteran employee offers to reframe the team's mission to gain better alignment across the sector, give them some runway to experiment. You have a workforce that is trained and passionate about and skilled in adapting and overcoming. Let them do what they do best.