During the winter season, people tend to take it easy. They might watch a little television, or generally just sit back and relax - indoors. There's nothing wrong with that, but there are some things that one can do to be a little more productive during the winter season; things that could ultimately help someone make money and maybe even become a better investor.

  1. Learn a New Strategy or Style
    Many people don't have an investment style, per se. They may buy shares of companies or funds that sound interesting or that their broker or someone else has recommended. But there is no grand strategy or style. However, during downtime, investors could spend time analyzing different investment styles (value, growth etc.) and perhaps find one that interests them and fits their temperament, risk tolerance and investment time horizon.

    For example, some individuals may find that investing in a value fund, which purchases stocks at a low multiple of book value, earnings and cash flow to be more attractive and better able to meet their longer-term investment objectives than a fund that is focused on kicking off income. Of course, the investor might also want to go beyond learning the basics of value and other types of investing. In other words, eager investors might also try to learn about how options work, and/or how to conduct technical analysis.

    There are several potential sources for such information. The local library likely contains books on interesting subjects and strategies. As well, there are many resources on the web, and a trip to the local bookstore may also yield some interesting results that are useful and timely. (For more, see Matching Investing Risk Tolerance To Personality.)

  2. Rebalance/Diversify Your Portfolio
    When investors first open an investment account, they may have spread their money among 10 different stocks or five different mutual funds. The idea at the time was to mitigate risk. However, over time, odds are that some holdings have outperformed others. Conversely, some may have dramatically underperformed others or the overall market. The investor might use the downtime to review (and potentially rebalance) the account by bring holdings back to the original percentages.

    However, before buying or selling any holding, consider if the investment objectives have changed, or if the investment(s) that have outperformed will continue to do so. In some instances, the investor may want to "let their winners run." The investor may also want to consider any potential tax consequences of buying or selling certain securities. (To learn more, read Rebalance Your Portfolio To Stay On Track.)

  3. Take A Meeting
    The wintertime can be a terrific time for an investor to consider taking part in an investing club, where individuals get together to talk about and perhaps invest in stocks or other vehicles. The individual may also want to use the time to surf the web and perhaps take part in discussion boards (to discuss topics that might be interesting to them).

    Get-togethers and discussion boards may have the potential to inform even experienced investors about certain strategies or sector- and company-specific information that might have been hard to find elsewhere. Fair warning, however: chatrooms may also contain incorrect or misleading information, and information may be posted by individuals with a particular bias. (Learn more in Investment Clubs Offer Experience And Insight.)

  4. Read a Book
    During those cold winter months, investors might consider expanding their skill sets by reading a book. The book depends upon the individual's passion, interest and desired area of expertise. Some of the more popular books that the investor might consider checking out are:
    • "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham
    • "Security Analysis" by Benjamin Graham/David Dodd
    • "Financial Shenanigans: How To Detect Accounting Gimmicks And Fraud In Financial Reports" by Howard Mark Schilit
    • "Stocks For The Long Run" by Jeremy Siegel
      Again, the investor's local library, bookstore and any one of a number of websites can be terrific source for books related to investing. (For more on these books and others, see Investing Books It Pays To Read.)
  5. Plan to Manage
    During the winter season, the investor might come into some money. Perhaps a relative has given a gift, or an employer has granted a bonus. Whatever the case, investors might want to use downtime to figure out how they'd like to deploy that money. For instance, investing the money in the market, some other asset or simply put it under the mattress.

    Naturally, conducting thorough research prior to deploying cash makes sense. In addition, prior to investing funds, the investor might want to spend some time and do a little soul searching and think about longer-term goals and objectives in more detail.

Bottom Line: Profit from Your Downtime
Everyone deserves a little downtime. Those who want to be a little more productive during the winter months and take advantage of that downtime, as well as potentially become a more informed investor, should consider the aforementioned tips. (For more, check out our Investing Basics Tutorial.)

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