Stocks are a fundamental component of long-term wealth accumulation, according to most financial experts. Stocks can see exponential growth in value over long periods of time, but their day-to-day movement is extremely difficult to anticipate with any degree of certainty.
So the obvious follow-up question is: what is the secret to making money in the stock market?
Patience and adherence to tried-and-true methods make it easier than it sounds.
1. The Investing Strategy: Buy and Hold
One of the most popular adages among those who invest for the long haul is “time in the market beats timing the market.”
“A definition, please. In a nutshell, the buy-and-hold investment strategy is keeping securities in one’s portfolio for an extended period of time rather than engaging in frequent trading (a.k.a. trading).”
That’s significant because investors who constantly enter and exit the market on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis sometimes miss out on possibilities for high annual returns.
Without a doubt, the worst way to invest is to miss the market’s greatest days and miss out on the highest gains. It may seem like the obvious approach would be to always have money invested for those days, but it’s impossible to know when they’ll occur, and great days of performance often follow days of huge dips.
Because of this, maintaining your investment over the long term is crucial if you want to benefit from the stock market at its peak. You can get there by using a buy-and-hold strategy.
2. Choose Mutual Funds Instead of Individual Stocks
Diversification is a tried and true method of mitigating loss and increasing possible gain for long-term investors. Consider it the investment world’s version of the adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
“Professionals propose stock funds like: “mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs)” for diversification purposes, even though most investors choose either individual equities or index funds.”
It is possible to replicate the diversification offered by mutual funds by purchasing a variety of individual stocks, but doing so successfully may require a significant time commitment, a high level of investing expertise, and a considerable financial outlay. For example, a single share of a popular stock can cost several hundred dollars.
However, with a fund, you can purchase a little piece of hundreds or thousands of separate investments at once. The fact is that most investors, especially the pros, don’t have a solid track record of predicting which firms will provide outsize returns, despite the fact that everyone wants to put all of their money into the next Apple (AAPL) or Tesla (TSLA).
That’s why most financial advisors push their clients towards index-tracking mutual funds. This puts you in the best possible position to conveniently and cheaply reap the benefits of the stock market’s typically annual returns of around 10%.
3. Make use of your dividends by investing them
Dividends are a common way for companies to distribute their profits to their stockholders on a regular basis.
At first, the dividends you receive may seem inconsequential, but over time, they will account for a significant chunk of your portfolio’s growth.
Many financial experts suggest that long-term investors reinvest their dividends rather than spending the money right away so that they can take advantage of the additional growth generated by the compounding effect. By enrolling in a dividend reinvestment program (DRIP), most stock brokerages allow you to automatically reinvest your dividend.
4. Pick the best savings or investment account
While it’s true that the investments themselves will have a significant impact on your long-term investment success, the account you choose to store them in will also play a major role.
This is due to the fact that certain investment accounts provide you with tax benefits, such as current tax deductions (conventional retirement accounts) or tax-free withdrawals in the future (tax-deferred annuities) (Roth). Regardless of the option you choose, you’ll be able to keep more of your earnings without having to worry about taxes. Because you may put off paying tax on these gains for a long time, it can really give your retirement savings a boost.
“There is a price to pay for these advantages, though. Withdrawals from retirement plans like 401(k)s and IRAs are subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty in addition to any taxes that may be due if they are made before the account holder reaches age 59 12.”
However, there are situations where you can use that money early without incurring any penalties, such as when you have to cope with substantial medical bills or the economic consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak. As a rule of thumb, though, if you put money into a tax-deferred retirement account, you shouldn’t access it until you reach retirement age.
You may make money in the stock market without spending your days trying to predict which stocks will rise or fall in the near future. Even the most successful investors, such as Warren Buffett, advise their followers to put their money into low-cost index funds and not touch it for a decade or more.
So, the tried and true secret to profitable investing is, alas, a bit dull. Instead of chasing the latest hot stock, just have the patience to wait for your diversified investments, such as index funds, to grow in value.
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