3 Charts That Will Make You a Smarter Investor in 5 Minutes

Learning how to invest can feel like reading a giant, esoteric book. The more you delve into it, the more you realize you have to learn new lingo and new Greek letters and, where did I put my old TI-84 back?

This article is not that.

Instead, take a look at the following three charts. Each illustrates an important lesson that, if internalized, will make you a wiser investor.

The virtues of investing early

It can be difficult (read: almost impossible) to know exactly when to put money into the market to maximize your returns. But if you are a young investor, the best time to invest was yesterday. And the second best time is now.

Indeed, the key to growing your investments over your lifetime lies in compound interest. And the best way to maximize compound interest is to let it do its job for as long as possible.

“Time is the best asset when it comes to making money,” said Ed Slott, publisher of IRAHelp.com. told CNBC Make It.

Case in point: The chart above, which shows the investment results of three people who make an initial investment of $1,000 and then invest $200 per month. From the time they start investing until they retire at age 67, each earns an annual return of 8% per year.

The only difference: one starts investing at 22, the other at 27 and the third at 32.

The investor who started early wins overwhelmingly, and not because he invested much more.

After 45 years in the market, the investor who started at age 22 has invested $109,000 in the market, only $24,000 more than the investor who started 10 years later. But at nearly $1.1 million, their total is more than double that of their later-starting counterpart.

The arguments in favor of diversification

The chart above represents 12 asset classes over the 20 years ending August 2023. On the investment. The Y axis represents the annualized return over 20 years.

You may notice that an investor favorite performs quite well here. U.S. stocks of large companies (those in popular indexes such as the S&P 500) have generated the highest returns of all asset classes, despite many – including all other stock classes – exhibiting more volatility.

It is therefore good that these stocks form the central part of many investors’ portfolios.

However, it would be wise to diversify, financial experts say. On the one hand, adding other assets can help increase returns. Although U.S. stocks have performed well recently, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

“It’s been almost 10 years of international stocks not performing, but there’s also what’s called mean reversion,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. told Make It. “One day they will come back to the forefront. And like Wayne Gretzky did, skate to where the puck will be, not where it is.”

Stocks of small and mid-sized companies will also likely end up having their day in the sun, experts say.

Additionally, holding a diversified mix of assets can help smooth your path over time. After all, even though large company stocks have been less volatile over 20 years than other types of stocks, S&P 500 investors still had to endure declines of 56.8% during the 2007-2009 bear market. , 33.9% in 2020 and 25.4% in 2022.

By holding investments that move in different ways based on different market forces, you effectively ensure that something in your portfolio always performs, even when your core stock portfolio falters.

Remembering 1987

It can be easy to get caught up in the daily drama of the economy and the stock market. Will the Fed get it right? Is everything going to fall apart?

When things get hectic in the market, take a second to remember 1987.

For readers who weren’t following market news at the time, know that it was bad. On October 19 of the same year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.6%, the largest one-day drop in the index’s history. This day became known as Black Monday.

The headlines at the time were terrifying. Accident! Panic! Chaos on Wall Street! In total, between August 25 and December 4, 1987, the U.S. stock market as a whole lost 33.5%.

The headlines will become scary again. And your portfolio will be as ugly as investors’ portfolios in 1987. When that happens, go back to the chart above or type “S&P 500” into Google and click “Max.”

The stock market’s historic upward trajectory reduces what was at the time a catastrophe to a mere flash on your screen. Eventually, all the slowdowns became spurts.

As long as the market continues to behave as it always has, whatever your portfolio does today, tomorrow, or next year will ultimately not matter much over the course of your decades-long career. ‘investor.

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CHECK: ‘Money dysmorphia’ could be stopping you from building wealth, says expert


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