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9 Great Ways to Understand Mutual Funds

How to Understand Mutual Funds

9 Great Ways to Understand Mutual Funds

Understand mutual funds by beginning with the definition of a mutual fund, and then going on to understand the different types of mutual funds.

A mutual fund is a company that pools money from many investors and invests the money in securities such as stocks, bonds, and short-term debt.

The combined holdings of the mutual fund are known as its portfolio. Investors buy shares in mutual funds. Each share represents an investor’s part
ownership in the fund and the income it generates.

What Are Mutual Funds Used For?

Mutual funds are investments that are generally long-term investments that are used for general savings, retirement savings, and college fund savings.

Mutual funds are purchased because they are professionally managed, diversified investments, an affordable investment, and liquid.

Some have up front fees to purchase and or sell called loads. Some have no-loads, but all have yearly management fees from as low as .2 to 8%.

I prefer fees less than 1% with no-loads. There are good mutual funds that fall into all categories.

Mutual funds make money when dividends are paid, usually every 3 months to every 12 months. Capital gains are usually every 12 months. Mutual funds also make money when the NAV value of the fund increases. The NAV is the Net Asset Value of the mutual fund, similar to the price of a single share of stock.
There are many types of mutual funds within these nine types of mutual funds. Here are the 9 different major types of mutual funds. The risks of mutual fund investing runs the gamut of very low to very high and many levels in between within one type of fund. Do your research thoroughly before investing in order to understand mutual funds.

I have invested in mutual funds for at least 30 years now, and they have served me well.

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The 9 Different Types of Mutual Funds:

1. Allocation
Risk: Low to Medium

Allocation funds are a combination of stock and fixed income securities and are subject to the risks involved in each of these security types. Stock markets are volatile and can fluctuate significantly in response to company, industry, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. In general, the bond market
is volatile and fixed income securities that carry the interest rate, inflation, price volatility and other risks.

2. Alternative
Risk: From Low Risk to High

The fund may invest in securities that may have a leveraging effect (such as derivative and forward-settling securities) which may increase market exposure, magnify investment risks, and cause losses to be realized more quickly.

3. Commodities
Risk: High

The commodities industry can be significantly affected by commodity prices, world events, import controls, worldwide competition, government regulations, and economic conditions.

4. International Equity
Risk: Medium to High

Foreign markets can be more volatile than U.S. markets due to increased risks of adverse issuer, political, market, or economic developments, all of which are magnified in emerging markets. These risks are particularly significant for funds that focus on a single country or region.

Make absolutely sure your budget is in order before you begin to understand mutual funds and start investing.

5. Money Market Mutual Funds
Risk: Very Low

A money market mutual fund is a type of fixed income mutual fund that invests in debt securities characterized by their short maturities and minimal credit risk. You could lose money by investing in a money market fund. An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Before investing always read a money market fund’s prospectus for policies specific to that fund.

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6. Municipal Bond Mutual Funds
Risk: Very Low to Low

The municipal market can be affected by adverse tax, legislative or political changes and the financial condition of the issuers of municipal securities. Interest rate increases can cause the price of a municipal bond to decrease.

7. Sector Equity Mutual Funds
Risk: Medium to High

Stock markets, especially foreign markets, are volatile and can decline significantly in response to adverse issuer, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. Sector funds can be more volatile because of their narrow concentration in a specific industry.

8. Taxable Bond Mutual Funds
Risk: Very Low to Medium

In general, the bond market is volatile, and fixed income securities carry interest rate risk. As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. Fixed income securities also carry inflation risk, liquidity risk, call risk, and credit and default risks. Unlike individual bonds, most bond funds do not have a maturity date, so avoiding losses caused by price volatility by holding them until maturity is not possible.

9. U.S. Equity Stock Mutual Funds
Risk: Low to Medium

Stock markets are volatile and can fluctuate significantly in response to company, industry, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. Investing in stock involves risks, including the loss of principal.

You will understand mutual funds when you begin with understanding the different types of mutual funds.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
Personal Finance: Author, Blogger, Course Creator, Money Strategist

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5 Retirement Tips for your Retirement Planning Young and Old

5 Retirement Tips That Make Retirement Planning a Serious Issue

5 retirement tips for your retirement planning young and old

Retirement tips are for those who never think that retirement day will come, or don’t know the potential difficulties they face when they retire. It always seems so far away, but those who have retired tell me it came faster than they ever imagined.

Here are some actual examples of problems seniors tell me they’ve had because they didn’t take their retirement date seriously in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. Here are 5 retirement tips to include in your retirement planning.

Retirement tips #1 – Medicare + 20%

Medicare pays 80% of most of the senior medical cost. Because of this, senior citizens are required to take out a Medicare Supplement policy. The supplement pays the extra 20%. Some seniors planned so poorly that they can’t afford or pay for the Medicare supplement. Because they have no supplement insurance, they are required to pay the 20% each time they go to the doctor, have surgery, chemotherapy or any other medical treatment. If they have a home, the home will be attached to pay for their medical balances, usually if they sell it or pass away. If they don’t have an insurance supplement or pay the 20%, some medical facilities will not treat them. There are two types of medicare: Regular Medicare (government sponsored) and Medicare Advantage (private coverage). Regular medicare typically pre-authorizes and pays promptly. Medicare advantage includes
many “extras” to “induce” seniors to sign up, but does not authorize major
treatment in many cases, and does not follow through with the extras. Doctors I talk to recommend seniors sign up for regular medicare.

Retirement tips #2 – Social Security as a Supplement

Many employees, both young and old, can pay into a 401k plan but opt-out of it, because either they, 1. Don’t understand what it is, 2. Don’t get matched by their employer, or 3. Feel they have plenty of time to worry about it later. The fact is there are numerous articles to explain 401k plans, the match is a nice side benefit—but you still get a tax benefit when you contribute without a match. The amount of a monthly social security retirement check is small compared to your working retirement income. Because of this, social security is meant to be a supplement to your retirement, so think hard about creating your main retirement now. The earlier you start, the easier it is, and the less you need to put into your account, monthly.

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Retirement tips #3 – 401k Protection

A popular retirement supplemental plan is the 401k, but you must protect it. Once you start to fund a 401k protect it with all your might. The protections include; 1. Leaving it alone for retirement – this means no borrowing. This is a provision that should not be allowed in a 401k plan since it is meant for retirement. Everything should be done to avoid borrowing from your 401k, including careful planning early in your career. Here are some protection ideas. Make yourself several “would if” scenarios and fulfill those scenarios early.

The examples are — “what if I lose my job”, “what if I need a large home repair”, “what if I want to go on a nice vacation”, “what if I have difficulty paying my mortgage”. All those issues can be addressed by 1. Creating savings accounts, 2. Cutting your living expenses now, 3. Make all major purchases affordable. You can come up with more solutions. The point is to come up with solutions to problems that don’t exist yet, so you never need to borrow against your 401k plan later.

Another protection is to keep your 401k balance to yourself. Scam artist prey on older people and sometimes younger people who have large 401k balances, because they know you can take that money out of your account anytime. A large lump sum withdrawal will trigger a large tax bill if you take it out at once. But, that is no concern of any sales person (many of whom are fake), when it comes to your 401k. You should be the only one who knows the balance. It’s not a good idea to share your balance with strangers.

The popular show, American Greed profiled the case of two ladies, not very old, but managed to retire with large 401k type accounts. One had $600,000 and one had $1 million. Both told friends, who told a fake investment person, who contacted them, talked them into investing with him, and he stole all their money. Their primary problem was that they should never have met with or believed in a stranger who claimed to be investing in the music production business with high returns.

The only thing they got was a huge bill from the IRS since they took the money out within a short period. The man went to prison, but they did not get their money back. Friends, family, and strangers have no right to the information in your 401k or 403b plan. Some elderly people have had their 401k stolen from them by their own relatives, including greedy children.

Retirement tips #4 – 403b Protections

The 403b is like the 401k, usually for non-profits. Fund the accounts, make sure you understand where to keep the money when you retire, you will have a few options. But, mostly understand that your balance is your personal business, and you must pay taxes on the amount you take out. The purpose of your 401k or 403b is to supplement a pension or other retirement plan.

Retirement tip #5 – Tax Shelter Annuity Movement

Many school districts offer tax shelter annuities as supplemental retirement accounts. After retirement, they are offered the right to roll over into an annuity outside their job. Be careful, make sure the costs aren’t prohibitive.  Also, you can only take out a little at a time, otherwise taxes would be too high. Again, your tax shelter annuity balance is your business, no one else’s. Look at online investment banks such as fidelity.com, troweprice.com, schwab.com or others – call and discuss low cost annuities to roll over your annuity. You can also discuss other low risk options. Take your time and don’t allow anyone to pressure you.

This is only the beginning, but if you take these retirement tips serious, and include them in your retirement planning, you will be on the road to retirement bliss. Understand the limits of social security when you plan your retirement.


Lois Center-Shabazz 

Personal Finance:  Author | Blogger | Course Creator | Money Strategist

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3 Ways Mutual Funds Are Cost Effective

Mutual Funds Are Cost Effective
3 Ways Mutual Funds Are Cost Effective

You Can Choose No-Load

Mutual funds are cost effective mainly because you don’t have to pay to buy a mutual fund. Some investments including annuities and high cost mutual funds decrease your profits as time goes on.

You can pay $0 per purchase, for a mutual fund bought directly form an investment company, or you can pay $8 for a mutual fund purchase through a broker.

This means every time you purchase shares in a mutual fund you must pay a load. In no-load mutual funds there are still other charges that will affect your profits such as yearly fees. You can choose quality mutual funds with low yearly fees. I can demonstrate how to find mutual funds that have low yearly fees for you.

You Can Choose Low Cost When It Comes to Yearly Fees

There are many high cost mutual funds, but you can choose low-cost mutual funds that will significantly increase your returns over time, since yearly fees are charged every single year.

 As stated above there are many factors to look at. I can show you all the fees involved to maximize your mutual fund returns and show you that mutual funds are cost effective.

You Can Choose Low-Risk

There are many types of mutual funds, just because a mutual fund is medium or high risk does not mean it is not a good fund.

I have made money on many medium and high risk mutual funds through the years.

 It only means that the ups and downs are less, and the risk of temporary decreases in value is much less. I can show you how to determine if you are a low, mid, or high-risk person. And I how to create a great mutual fund portfolio no matter what you are using it for. 

When you consider the load, the fees, and a few other factors, you will find mutual funds are cost effective ways to build your money.

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