Risk-Return Tradeoff

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DEFINITION of 'Risk-Return Tradeoff'

The principle that potential return rises with an increase in risk. Low levels of uncertainty (low-risk) are associated with low potential returns, whereas high levels of uncertainty (high-risk) are associated with high potential returns. According to the risk-return tradeoff, invested money can render higher profits only if it is subject to the possibility of being lost.

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BREAKING DOWN 'Risk-Return Tradeoff'

Because of the risk-return tradeoff, you must be aware of your personal risk tolerance when choosing investments for your portfolio. Taking on some risk is the price of achieving returns; therefore, if you want to make money, you can't cut out all risk. The goal instead is to find an appropriate balance - one that generates some profit, but still allows you to sleep at night.

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