When it comes to the world of investing, three words come to mind: overwhelming, intimidating, and scary. For us "regular Joes," the questions seem never-ending. On that note, let's revisit what experts have said over the years on the topic of investing. The quotes date back to Ben Franklin, and some are from modern pundits like Dave Ramsey and Warren Buffett. Though markets may change, good investing advice is timeless. (For more information, see This Is Your Brain On Stocks)
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TUTORIAL: Retirement Planning
1. "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin
When it comes to investing, nothing will pay off more than educating yourself. Do the necessary research, study and analysis before making any investment decisions.
2. "Bottoms in the investment world don't end with four-year lows; they end with 10- or 15-year lows." - Jim Rogers
While 10-15 year lows are not common, they do happen. During these down times, don't be shy about going against the trend and investing; you could make a fortune by making a bold move - or lose your shirt. Remember quote #1 and invest in an industry you've researched thoroughly. Then, be prepared to see your investment sink lower before it turns around and starts to pay off.
3. "I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful." - Warren Buffett
Be prepared to invest in a down market and to "get out" in a soaring market. (For more, read Think Like Warren Buffett.)
4. "The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing." - Phillip Fisher
Another testament to the fact that investing without an education and research will ultimately lead to regrettable investment decisions. Research is much more than just listening to popular opinion.
5. "In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable." - Robert Arnott
At times, you will have to step out of your comfort zone to realize significant gains. Know the boundaries of your comfort zone and practice stepping out of it in small doses. As much as you need to know the market, you need to know yourself too. Can you handle staying in when everyone else is jumping ship? Or getting out during the biggest rally of the century? There's no room for pride in this kind of self-analysis. The best investment strategy can turn into the worst if you don't have the stomach to see it through.
6. "How many millionaires do you know who have become wealthy by investing in savings accounts? I rest my case." - Robert G. Allen
Though investing in a savings account is a sure bet, your gains will be minimal given the extremely low interest rates. But don't forgo one completely. A savings account is a reliable place for an emergency fund, whereas a market investment is not. (To learn more, see Savings Accounts Not Always The Best Place For Cash Assets.)
7. "Invest in yourself. Your career is the engine of your wealth." - Paul Clitheroe
We all want wealth, but how do we achieve it? It starts with a successful career which relies on your skills and talents. Invest in yourself through school, books, or a quality job where you can acquire a quality skill set. Identify your talents and find a way to turn them into an income-generating vehicle. In doing so, you can truly leverage your career into an "engine of your wealth."
8. "Every once in a while, the market does something so stupid it takes your breath away." - Jim Cramer
There are no sure bets in the world of investing; there is risk in everything. Be prepared for the ups and downs. (To read more on how Cramer makes his pick, see Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Tools of the Trade.)
9. "The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator." - Ben Graham
You are an investor, not someone who can predict the future. Base your decisions on real facts and analysis rather than risky, speculative forecasts.
10. "It's not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for." - Robert Kiyosaki
If you're a millionaire by the time you're 30, but blow it all by age 40, you've gained nothing. Grow and protect your investment portfolio by carefully diversifying it, and you may find yourself funding many generations to come.
11. "Know what you own, and know why you own it." - Peter Lynch
Do your homework before making a decision. And once you've made a decision, make sure to re-evaluate your portfolio on a timely basis. A wise holding today may not be a wise holding in the future.
12. "Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this." - Dave Ramsey
By being modest in your spending, you can ensure you will have enough for retirement and can give back to the community as well.
13. "Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas." - Paul Samuelson
If you think investing is gambling, you're doing it wrong. The work involved requires planning and patience. However, the gains you see over time are indeed exciting! (For more reasons to be patient, check out Patience Is A Trader's Virtue.)
14. "I would not pre-pay. I would invest instead and let the investments cover it." - Dave Ramsey
A perfect answer to the question: "Should I pay off my _____(fill in the blank) or invest for retirement?" That said, a credit card balance ringing up 30% can turn into a black hole if not paid off quickly. Basically, pay off debt at high interest rates and keep debt at low ones.
15. "The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton
Follow market trends and history. Don't speculate that this particular time will be any different. For example, a major key to investing in a particular stock or bond fund is its performance over five years. Nothing shorter.
16. "Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing." - Warren Buffett
In the beginning, diversification is relevant. Once you've gotten your feet wet and have confidence in your investments, you can adjust your portfolio accordingly and make bigger bets. (For more reason to reduce your diversification, read The Dangers Of Over-Diversifying Your Portfolio.)
17. "You get recessions, you have stock market declines. If you don't understand that's going to happen, then you're not ready, you won't do well in the markets." - Peter Lynch
When hit with recessions or declines, you must stay the course. Economies are cyclical, and the markets have shown that they will recover. Make sure you are a part of those recoveries!
The Bottom Line
The world of investing can be cold and hard. But if you do thorough research and keep your head on straight, your chances of long-term success are good. Refer back to these quotes when you're feeling shaky or are confused about investing. How are they relevant to your experience? Do you have any favorite quotes to add? (To learn more from great investors, read Greatest Investors.)