Don't take unnecessary risk, read essential investor information.
You want to start investing, or maybe you're just thinking about it cautiously. In either case, it's important to know that investing is only a good idea if you:
- Want to get more return than in your savings account (where your money becomes worth less in the long run), and know that in order to do so you must be willing to take (some) risk;
- Have patience. This means that you can sit out bad times in the stock market until better times come. You invest for the long term, not to make a quick buck (unless you want to day-trade: buy and sell investments on the same day, and try to profit from price differences);
- You have built up a buffer first. You only invest with money that you really can miss. That is money that you do not need in the next 15 years, for example if your boiler breaks down or you want to buy a house.
But how do you know how much money you have left to invest? With Flow you get a very clear overview of how much money is coming in, and what you're spending it on. Flow divides your money automatically over all your budgets, savings accounts and, for instance, your investment account. In the Flow app you set up all these different 'jars' once, and then you know exactly where all your money is going and - at least as important - how much is left over.
And then you have money left over. Where are you going to 'put it' next, to make more of it? There are a lot of options, some of which we discuss here.
Cryptos or cryptocurrency is digital money, which is not considered an official currency in almost all countries, like the euro. Well-known examples of crypto currencies are Bitcoin and Ethereum. One advantage of crypto currencies is that they allow you to pay without the involvement of a third party, such as a bank. Many cryptos work with blockchain technology, a technique that allows users to keep track of digital transactions together, without the need for a bank. Another advantage is that blockchain is a technique that is difficult to hack.
However, the price of cryptos depends entirely on supply and demand. Well, the same is true with investing in a stock, but there is one big difference. If you buy a stock, then you are a mini-owner of a company. And a company has a certain value. But digital money has no underlying value. That's why cryptos are often referred to not as investing, but as speculating. The prices of crypto currencies can fluctuate greatly, which makes it very risky to put your money in them. There is also no consumer protection on cryptos, making these digital currencies vulnerable to criminal abuse.
Not only can you have jewelry made of gold, you can also invest in this precious metal. One advantage of investing in gold is that it is somewhat stable in value. This is because the gold stock has remained relatively stable over the past few years. In addition, gold cannot fall over, as a currency, for example, can.
Gold is often seen as a safe investment, but that is not always the case. When the economy is doing well, gold becomes a less interesting investment. As a result, the gold price falls. So the value of gold is not that stable. Moreover, an investment in gold does not offer you a bonus, such as interest or dividends. This is the case with other investments such as shares.
A share is a very small part of a company. If business is good, the company (and therefore your share) becomes more valuable. If business is not going so well, or the company even goes bankrupt, then your share is worth a lot less or nothing at all.
Whether business is doing well depends not only on whether the company is financially healthy, but also on whether people (investors) have confidence in the company. If that is the case, the value of a share will rise. If investors do not have that much confidence, the value of a share will drop. As a result, shares can fluctuate a lot in value. Some companies pay dividends: a portion of the profits is then distributed to the shareholders.
A bond is a loan to a country or company. If you buy a bond, you provide (part of) a loan to a country or company. Bonds are generally more stable than shares; they fluctuate less in value. This is because a company must always first pay its bondholders, and only then the shareholders. Because the risk of bonds is usually lower than that of stocks, bonds on average yield less than stocks.
Yet investing in bonds is not without risk either. The company or country issuing the loan can go bankrupt. And there are gradations in bonds: a safe bond, for example, is a bond of the German state. But if you buy a bond from, say, Greece, which has a sky-high government debt, it's not nearly as safe.
Many investors put their money partly in stocks, which yield a little more, and partly in bonds, which give a little more stability. It is also smart not to invest in stocks and bonds of one or just a few companies, or governments, but to spread your money over a large number of stocks or bonds. If one or a few of your investments are not doing so well, you can make up for it with the shares and bonds that are doing well.
If you invest actively, you decide for yourself where to put your money. Or you allow someone else, an expert, to invest on your behalf. So you can choose what you invest in, for example in shares of Shell, Netflix or Tesla. The disadvantage of this is that it takes a lot of time. After all, you have to read up well before you put your money in a company. Choosing a company on gut feeling almost never results in a successful investment. But choosing a company with financial knowledge (e.g. by reading the FD and keeping an eye on stock prices), does not always produce the desired effect.
Here's the thing: active investors try to get a better return than passive investors, who go for the market average. Active investors try to do this by picking the best stocks and by getting in or out at the right time. To do this successfully time after time, you actually need to be able to predict the stock market. But the stock market does not let itself be predicted. Because as it turns out? Fifty years of independent research shows that, on average, passive investing yields more returns than active investing.
Passive investing is something you can really only do with a globally diversified market-weighted index fund. The idea is: don't make choices and invest in all stocks worldwide. Not trying to select the 'best' stocks, regions, sectors or anything like that. Not trying to time the 'right' moment of entry and exit. Just sit back (in good times and bad) and don't look back.
At Flow we work together with Meesman Indexbeleggen, they have such a worldwide spread market weighted index fund: Shares Worldwide Total. With this fund you invest in more than 6,000 companies at once. Because you invest in so many companies, you limit your risk. To spread your risk even further, at Meesman you can also invest in 2 bond funds. These consist entirely of 151 and 842 'safe' bonds.
Start with index investing
Would you like to know more about index investing? At Meesman they know all about it. Meesman was the first to introduce index investing in the Netherlands in 2005. Since then, index investing has become increasingly popular. And that is not without reason. You can read more about it here.