Many people are hesitant to begin investing because they think that it is some incredibly complicated venture that is only for the uber wealthy. I am here to tell you that it is not that difficult and you can (and should!) get started today at some level.
Most people feel this apprehension towards investing because they do not really know how to tell if they are making a sound investment. There is some research that you can do to make this decision. In fact, I have a process that I go through when deciding if a mutual fund, specifically, is a good investment. Here are the questions I ask when I get ready to make an investment:
- Do I like the product or service they are delivering? Do my children like it? I want to like a product that I am going to invest in first and foremost. If I like a product there is a good chance other people will like it as well. The same holds true for if I dislike a product or service.
- Is the company profitable? Does the company share those profits with shareholders in the form of dividends? I do not typically invest in companies that are not profitable although there are a lot of people that have made a lot of money off of their stock. When I invest in a company I want to see that they can move an idea towards profitability.
- What is the P/E? Once I know if a company is profitable, I next look at the P/E or the price to earnings ratio. This is calculated by finding the earnings per share (the total profits of the company divided by the total number of shares) and the current price of the stock. The P/E is calculated by dividing the price by the current earnings per share. I want to see a P/E that is less than 20 and ideally less than 10. Now, do not freak out about having to calculate this number every time you want to invest. You can simply google the company name followed by P/E ratio and easily find out.
- What is the vision of the company? Do I like the leadership and the direction they are headed?
As you can see, investing does not have to be super complicated or involve a lot of intense research. When picking mutual funds it can be as simple as checking out their products, leadership and vision and then doing a quick check to make sure they are profitable. If you can put a check mark next to those four boxes, you can probably say that you are making a good investment.
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