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How to Locate Incredible Mutual Funds

Locating a Mutual Fund can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to look. In this post, I’m showing you the three-part approach I use.

Once I have determined the category of mutual funds that meets my criteria, it is time for me to review actual mutual funds. Here’s the three-part approach:

  1. Mutual Fund Screens – I really like CNN’s Mutual Fund Screener and Morningstar’s Mutual Fund Screener.  For example, I used the CNN screener to select Small Growth Diversified Funds that have delivered an average of 10% annual return OR LARGER for the past 10 years.  It delivered 36 mutual funds that met that criteria!  This really helps me narrow down the search!
  2. Review Retirement Plan Mutual Funds – If your employer has a retirement plan such as a 401(k), 403(b), Simple IRA, or TSP then be sure to review the options available.  My employer has a Simple IRA with American Fund investment options.  Usually an employer helps absorb some of the fees or the fees are reduced by the plan administrator.  This can really help preserve financial gains!
  3. Seek Professional Guidance – I meet with a financial advisor about once a year.  This professional advice helps me look at my investments with more clarity.

Once I have found funds to look at, I look at the following characteristics of each fund:

  • Age of the Mutual Fund  I like mutual funds that are older than me!
  • Investment Growth  I look at the 1, 5, 10, and Lifetime track records.
  • $ Needed To Start  This is really important for beginning investors.
  • The Fund’s Objective  This helps me understand the direction of the fund.

I use the CNN Money Snapshot feature to analyze funds. I also like to compare mutual funds to each other using the “Advanced Charts” feature on CNN money.

So that’s just a glimpse into how I choose mutual funds. Many times I end up with a dead end, and I go back to the starting point again to get more mutual funds to compare!


Different Types of Mutual Funds

There are literally THOUSANDS of mutual funds available in the marketplace today.  Each mutual fund is usually assigned to a particular family of mutual funds.

Here are some common categories of mutual funds…

  • International Stock Fund
  • Aggressive Growth Stock Fund
  • Growth Stock Fund
  • Growth & Income Stock Fund
  • Equity-Income Fund
  • Balanced Fund
  • Bond Fund
  • Value Fund
  • Industry-Specific Funds (like Healthcare Fund or Pharmaceutical Fund)
  • Index Funds (S&P 500, Russell 2000, etc.)

If you purchase ownership in an International Stock Mutual Fund, you can bet that it is primarily investing in international companies.  If it is an Aggressive Growth Stock Mutual Fund, you would expect to see the mutual fund purchasing shares of companies that are growing like crazy.

Each family of funds has a general “feel” to it.  The International and Aggressive Growth Stock Mutual Funds tend to have wild swings in performance.  One year it could grow 40% and the next it could lose 25%.  It feels like you are on a great roller coaster ride at Six Flags!

Growth & Income, Equity-Income, and Balanced Funds are more stable and predictable.

Index Funds track specific market indexes like the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000.

Interested in learning more about investing? Check out my book on investing: “Oxen: The Key to An Abundant Harvest” HERE.

Establish Investment Goals

Goals! I love GOALS!! My goals spur me to save and invest. Today, I’m sharing about how my personal investment goals guide my mutual fund choices.  First you should know a couple of things about me.

  1. I view my investments as money that I will not touch for at least five years.
  2. I prefer mutual funds over individual company stocks.  I do own several individual company stocks, but I will not allow an individual company stock to exceed 10% of my overall portfolio. (See my current investment portfolio HERE)

My investment goals are GROWTH, GROWTH, and more GROWTH.  I do not need my investments to produce income for me as I am in my early 40s.  I want my money to GROW.  This means that I invest in mutual funds that are purchasing stock of companies that are experiencing major growth (like Google).

Now, if I were retired, I would want my investments to produce income so I would be searching for mutual funds that invest in companies that are paying dividends to its shareholders (like Wal-Mart, Microsoft).

If I were approaching retirement, I would be moving the money that I would need in the next five years to much more stable and secure investments.

What are your investment goals?

What is a Mutual Fund

One of the questions that I get asked the most at an event is: “What is a Mutual Fund?” Mutual funds can certainly sound confusing – especially when there are so many options available.  So for those who do not know what a mutual fund is, let me explain it the best I know how.

If something has been FUNDED, it means that money has been given to it.

If you and I come to a MUTUAL agreement, it means that we both were involved in making the agreement.

So if you and I have MUTUALLY FUNDED a project, then it means that we both provided money for the project.

A MUTUAL FUND means that you and I have both put our money in the same place.  It is not unusual for a mutual fund to have over 5,000,000 people MUTUALLY FUNDING the same investment.

So we have mutually funded an investment along with three or four million of our closest friends.  The amount you have invested is different from how much I have invested, but it is all in the same place.

So, we now all understand that we have mutually funded this investment and that it is called a mutual fund.  The next question to answer is: “Where does the money go once it is in the mutual fund?”

Well, each mutual fund has a specific objective.  Some mutual funds have an objective to produce income.  Others have an objective to maximize the long-term growth of the invested money.  Still others may have an objective to invest only in international companies.  The bottom line is that each mutual fund has a specific objective or charter.

Based upon a mutual fund’s charter, the mutual fund managers will purchase part-ownership in a lot of companies.

The Mutual Fund managers use the money provided by you, me, and three million of our closest friends to purchase ownership in anywhere from 50 to over 1,000 companies.  As these companies earn profits and grow, the value of the investment grows.  This means that each individual who owns a portion of the mutual fund can enjoy that growth as well.

I hope this post has helped understand exactly what a mutual fund is. Let me know below if you have any additional questions about mutual funds.


It’s Not How Much Money You Make …

“It’s not how much money you make. It’s what you do with what you earn.”

Ever heard that statement before? This great video (trust me, it’s worth the 6 minutes and 3 seconds it takes to watch it) demonstrates this principle so well.

Congrats, Mr. Earl! Right from the middle of Baltimore, MD, you’ve demonstrated the principles of sound investing and the power of a financial education. Thanks for inspiring me and tens of thousands of others!

Can’t see the video? Copy and paste the following link in your favorite browser:

There Is No HARVEST If You Do Not INVEST

A farmer will not be able to experience a harvest if he does not first invest seed.

A business owner will not experience a profit if she does not first invest money to start the business.

An employee will struggle to experience an abundance if he does not invest money.

A parent will have a poor relationship with their child if she does not invest in that child.

A spouse will have a poor marriage if he does not invest in that marriage.

A student will not receive a college education without an investment.

Do you see it? There is no such thing as a harvest without someone choosing to invest first.

Waiting for a magical unicorn to deliver your wealth is one approach.

Perhaps a better approach is to invest. Early. Consistently. Smartly.

You CAN do this!

Most People’s Retirement Plan

I saw this recently:

A person shared with their banker, “I do have a diversified retirement plan: 30% hopes, 30% wishes, 40% prayers.”

The sad part is this is FACT for many people. It is my passion to help people in this situation CHANGE their financial future and to help them accomplish far more than they ever thought possible.

“Like” us on Facebook: I Was Broke. Now I’m Not.

A Financial Tip That Could Change Your Life

Let’s face it. Many people are stuck financially. They have no idea where their money is going. All of their money just disappears with little to nothing left each month. They see big expenses coming their way (car repair or replacement, paying for college, house repairs, braces for their children’s teeth, etc.) and have no idea how they will pay for them.

I know the feeling.

The good news is that one financial tip could change your life! It certainly changed mine.

Here’s the tip:

Think like an owner.

When I changed the way I thought about money, it completely changed how I managed money. I’m confident it will do the same for you!

Here are some key ways my mindset changed:

  1. In the past, I viewed my paycheck as an opportunity to spend money. As an owner, I view it as an opportunity to invest money.
  2. In the past, I viewed my paycheck as an exchange for my labor. As an owner, I realize that income only happens when I add value to others in such a way that they will pay money for my efforts.
  3. In the past, I thought the only way to produce income was to work for it. As an owner, I see that income can be produced in many ways – even as I sleep!
  4. In the past, I felt that my income was limited to my paycheck. As an owner, I see that income from my paycheck can be used to produce income elsewhere.
  5. In the past, I felt that my 401(k) was a diversified investment. As an owner, I realize it was diversified within the stock market, but it was all in the stock market. I diversified my investments to include real estate and small businesses.

When you think like an owner, you will become an extremely valuable employee because you will work differently. No longer will you be able to “just do my 8 hours and get out of here at my J-O-B.” Instead, you will be driven to create value for your customers and grow your company’s business! People who think like owners get pay raises, promotions, and may even have the opportunity to launch a business or division of their own!

Are you thinking like an owner?

My Favorite Thing To Invest In

As a teacher of personal finances, I am asked lots of money questions. Here are just a few of the more common ones:

  1. “How do I know if I have enough money to retire?”
  2. “How do I budget for expenses that change every single month?”
  3. “Where do you get 12% interest on your investments?”
  4. “How do I compare health or auto insurance policies to ensure I am getting the best deal?”
  5. “How do I save money when my expenses are so high?”

These are all great questions! In an upcoming series, I will be focusing on answering each of them. However, today’s post is about my favorite money question of all:

“What is your favorite thing to invest in?”

It’s such a great question, and there are many layers to my answer.

Big picture answer: My favorite thing to invest in is my education.

The detailed answer: A great Bible verse (Proverbs 29:18) shares “where there is no vision, the people perish.” My education has helped give me vision! By ensuring my education continues every single day, my vision expands regularly. Even more specifically, I love to invest in money education. I discovered back when I was living the “I Was Broke” part of my life that the biggest reason I was not prospering like I could was because of my lack of financial knowledge. I knew the most basic financial principles such as “save money for a rainy day” (I didn’t), “invest long-term for retirement” (I actually did that), and “it’s important to prepare a monthly budget and live by it” (I didn’t do either). At age 28, I began investing in my money education. It changed my life forever. It changed my family’s life forever.

Let me explain some of my financial education investments.

  • Books  When I was broke, I bought a book about personal finances. Then I bought another one. Overall, I have purchased and read at least 50 books about personal finances. Let’s say they cost an average of $20 each. This is a total investment of $1,000. The rate of return has been WAY MORE than 10,00o%.
  • Seminars & Membership Programs  I’ve went to events where they have taught about money. Some of them have been quite alarming in their approach to money and were definitely high pressure events attempting to get me to “buy their special item today only,” but every one of them has provided an opportunity to expand my money knowledge. I’ve spent somewhere around $1,000 to attend these events. The rate of return has been WAY MORE than 10,000%.
  • Blogs and websites  I read 54 blogs and websites every single day. They have helped me expand my money knowledge tremendously because it allows me to consume financial knowledge “in bite-size pieces.” The best part is this is FREE – just like I provide with this website. Because I’m dividing my investment return by zero, I guess we could say my rate of return is “infinity.”
  • Actual investments  I’ve bought 4 houses, dozens of land properties, and hundreds of stocks and mutual funds. I’ve successfully started a business from scratch and purchased another one. We have a total of 21 team members working with us to help people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible. There is NOTHING like actually putting the knowledge into practice to expand vision. The rate of return on these investments has been extremely blessed, and it would have been impossible without the investments I’ve made in obtaining financial knowledge.

SHARE YOUR STORY:  When was the last time you invested in YOUR money education? What did you invest in?

I’ve written each of my financial books to help expand money education. You can purchase copies HERE.

The Definition of Investing

I recently conducted a survey and received hundreds and hundreds of responses. One of the questions I asked was:

Which (if any) of the following financial areas do you feel CLUELESS about?

The top response was Investing.

With phrases like mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, bonds, brokers, margin accounts, rate of return, yield rate, P/E, market capitalization, and current ratio, it can literally feel as if investing is another language!

I know the feeling as I’ve been there! Because of the results of this survey, I am tasking the I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. team to aggressively address this issue. We are hard at work developing resources that are going to help take people from “clueless about investing” to “financially confident and competent investor!” You will be seeing these resources being released over the next several month, and we can’t wait to share them with you!

In the meantime, let’s start by presenting a working definition of “investing.”

Investing  Using your money and possessions to create more money and possessions.

The goal for any investment is to gain more in return. There are countless ways to do this, and we are creating resources to help people maximize their investing efforts.

I look forward to sharing more in the very near future!

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Save, Invest, or Pay Off Debt?

Suppose you happened upon a substantial amount of money all at one time. For discussion purposes, let’s say it was $10,000.

What would you do with this money? There are really five options available to you:

  1. Spend it
  2. Give it away
  3. Put it into savings
  4. Pay off debt
  5. Invest it

Most people will be faced with this type of situation at least once in their life. Here are some thoughts to consider with each option.

1. Spend it

This would certainly be a fun option! The money could be used to make much-needed home repairs, purchase a vehicle, or take a vacation.

2. Give it away

Being able to give $10,000 away is an incredible option! Consider the impact you could make on the world around you by giving money to support causes you really believe in.

3. Put it into savings

Financial margin provides something I call “financial confidence.” When I first achieved financial margin, it was as if scales literally fell from my eyes. I was able to “see” opportunities like never before.

4. Pay off debt

Debt increases a person’s operating costs and requires more income. If the debt is associated with a no-value or declining value item, it is literally the equivalent of “robbing yourself.”

5. Invest it

What if you could use the $10,000 to start a business that will produce $4,000 of income each year for the next 40 years? Consider the investments you might be able to make – it could literally change your life!

Your thoughts are appreciated. What would YOU do?

This One Trick Can Change Your Financial Status

Do you feel “stuck” financially? If so, this one trick can change your financial status.

Think in terms of NET WORTH instead of INCOME.

It can become easy to focus only on current circumstances. If asked, “How are you doing financially?” by a close friend or family member, an “income” thinker might respond with these type of answers:

  • Raises “I got a raise!” or “I haven’t gotten a raise in three years.”
  • Income “I’m making more money than I ever have.” or “I’m making half of what I used to make.”
  • Outgo  “Costs keep going up up up!” or “My kids are eating me out of house and home.”

BUT if you move to another level of financial awareness, your answers would be much more focused on building net worth instead of income. Responses of a “net worth” focused individual would be similar to:

  • Assets  “I purchased another rental home. It was cash flow positive from day one, will be paid off within five years, and will then provide free cash flow, after expenses, of around $600/month for the rest of my life.”
  • Liabilities  “I paid off my home mortgage. This has freed up substantial income I am going to use to purchase more assets.”

The INCOME approach can take a negative “victim” turn where financial challenges are the result of something or someone else. The NET WORTH approach allows you to take control of your financial future.

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How Can I Help People Become Better Investors?

“How can I help people become better investors?”

That is the question I’ve been asking myself lately. As most of you know, it is my passion statement to help people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances. And “accomplishing far more than you ever thought possible” is IMPOSSIBLE without learning and using investment knowledge.

I want to make sure our team can serve you best so we have prepared a brief survey to learn a little more about this awesome group of people we call the “I Was Broke. Now I’m Not.” Tribe. By the way – we’re honored to have you as a part of it! Below is an 8 question survey. Would you help us out by taking 2 to 3 minutes to fill it out? Your feedback really matters, and I would be so grateful!


Joseph Sangl’s Current Investments – March 2013 Update

Anyone who has attended a Financial Learning Experience has heard me say that it is important to INVEST money and to do so every single time you are paid money. At the end of our live events, I am regularly asked or emailed the following question:

“What investments do you recommend?”

My answer is always, “I don’t recommend specific investments. I can only tell you the investments I own, and they have worked well for me. The investments you choose are up to you.”

Occasionally, I update everyone on the investments I currently hold. Below is a chart of the current investments we hold. If it is publicly-traded, I have included the ticker symbol. Click on the chart itself (or HERE) to see a larger version.

We have finally seen the market improvement that many people expected. With companies declaring record profits and sitting on record amounts of cash, I’m seeing that they are finally beginning to invest again. That should bode well for investors and the economy at large. At this moment, I will continue to purchase individual stocks as well as research private investments – particularly small businesses (my favorite!).

Here’s the pie chart showing the investment distribution:

My thoughts:

  1. The stock market has been hot, but nothing is ever hot enough for me to put all my eggs into one basket. I greatly prefer diversification beyond the open markets.
  2. A lot of day traders think they are incredible geniuses right now. That’s not because they are all awesome – it’s because it is hard to lose in this type of market! As enticing as day trading may seem, it feels a lot like gambling. I prefer being a “slow & steady” and “stay the course” investor.
  3. Tracking net worth on a monthly basis has made me a “first-hand witness” to the incredible momentum of my investments. Without consistently tracking net worth, I’m pretty sure I would have missed it!

Your thoughts?

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Joseph Sangl’s Current Investments – November 2012 Update

Anyone who has attended a Financial Learning Experience has heard me say that it is important to INVEST money and to do so every single time you are paid money. At the end of our live events, I am regularly asked or emailed the following question:

“What investments do you recommend?”

My answer is always, “I don’t recommend specific investments. I can only tell you the investments I own, and they have worked well for me. The investments you choose are up to you.”

Occasionally, I update everyone on the investments I currently hold. Below is a chart of the current investments we hold. If it is publicly-traded, I have included the ticker symbol. Click on the chart itself (or HERE) to see a larger version.

In my last update on March 30, 2011, I shared that I was focused on diversifying my investments beyond publicly-traded instruments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, etc.). The below chart shows continued progress as a result of that focus.

Can’t see the chart? Click HERE.

My Thoughts:

  • It is vitally important to maintain margin. Cash on hand is essential to the long-term success of any effort – personal, small business, or large business. As a result, you can see strong cash holdings.
  • Some of these funds are not open to the general market, which is why they do not have a “Ticker Symbol”, but I am able to invest in them through my previous employer’s 401(k) plan.
  • One reason I hold so many mutual funds is because of a variety of 401(k), 403(b), Roth IRA, and 529 holdings – each plan has different mutual fund selections available.
  • I do not “eat, sleep, and breathe” the stock market on a daily basis. I update my net worth once per month, but rarely jump in and out of funds. Day trading is definitely not for me.
  • Our small businesses are growing – and we are putting people to work! That FIRES ME UP!

I would love to hear your thoughts on these investments!

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