Many people wonder, “What are common mistakes people make when investing?” Regretfully, missteps happen often, and some of them are incredibly costly. Fortunately, by knowing what they are, it’s easier to avoid them. Let’s look at the answer to the question,”What are common mistakes people make when investing?” By answering this question, we ensure you don’t make them.
5 Common Investing Mistakes
1. Failing to Diversify
Putting all of your eggs in one basket is incredibly risky when you’re investing. If you focus solely on a single company – or even a single sector – you may see the value of your portfolio tumble when specific market conditions occur.
Often, a lack of diversification is more likely to be an issue with new investors who are just getting some footing with their portfolios. If you don’t have a lot of money to commit, you may be limited to just a few investments initially. As a result, diversification is inherently harder to capture, especially if you’re buying individual company stocks.
If you want to boost your level of diversification quickly, consider mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) instead. Unlike individual stocks or bonds, mutual funds and ETFs actually represent a range of investments that are associated with the fund. As a result, there’s an inherent degree of diversification built into the investment.
When you explore mutual funds and ETFs, you’ll find a wide variety of options. Index funds aim to include assets that represent the broader associated market, so they can be excellent places to start. However, you’ll also find mutual funds and ETFs that target specific sectors or groups of investments that align with a single concept, which may or may not be industry-limited.
Consider starting with a few different mutual funds or ETFs to get the ball rolling. Then, you can examine other investment options after your diversified portfolio is a bit established.
2. Being Glued to Market News
Generally, it’s wise to remain informed about the market when you’re investing. Similarly, you’ll want to research any potential investment before moving forward, allowing you to determine if it aligns with your strategy and risk tolerance.
However, constantly monitoring the markets isn’t typically a good idea for the majority of investors. It’s easy to get swept up in the fervor, which may prompt you to make decisions you normally wouldn’t in regard to your investments.
Plus, not all market news is entirely unbiased. For example, some media personalities operating in this space may have an incentive to push an investment if they’re heavily involved with a particular stock. Even if they aren’t aiming for personal gain, that attachment may skew their view.
Instead, look to limit your consumption of market news, going with enough viewing or reading to stay informed but not so much as to track the market in real time. Additionally, if you learn about an investment with potential or are wondering if conditions make shifting away from an investment wise, do some additional research. Focus on unbiased sources that use a neutral approach to news delivery, as those are less likely to impact you emotionally, allowing you to make smarter decisions.
Similarly, resist the urge to constantly check the value of your portfolio. Market fluctuations are common, so the value is going to rise and fall regularly. What matters is sustained growth. In most cases, investing is a marathon, not a sprint, so keep an extended time horizon in mind and focus on the bigger picture.
3. Relying on Social Media for Investment Advice
While social media platforms can carry news from legitimate sources, it’s critical to be wary of investment advice coming from accounts not associated with unbiased information. First, social media accounts don’t know about your financial situation, so any recommendations aren’t targeted to your circumstances. That alone should give you pause.
Second, social media influencers may be compensated by companies to promote specific investments, either by directly recommending an asset or indirectly by increasing the visibility of an asset or company. While social media influencers are supposed to disclose when they’re compensated, it doesn’t always happen. Even if it does, you have to notice the disclosure, and it may get buried within the post depending on how it’s presented.
As with all investment advice, you shouldn’t move forward without digging into the asset or company yourself. Assess its viability and decide if it aligns with your investment strategy. Also, analyze the amount of risk, as an endorsement doesn’t mean it’s a safe bet.
4. Focusing on Trends When Choosing Investments
In some cases, unique conditions occur that bring a particular investment to everyone’s attention. The GameStop stock rise in January 2022 is a prime example, and there are several cryptocurrencies that have seen meteoric rises over the short term. However, these upticks may not last, particularly since the buying activity can shift to a sell-off relatively quickly.
What’s important to remember is that a trend isn’t necessarily an indication that an investment has long-term merit. The GameStop stock rise wasn’t about the value of GameStop; it was a movement designed to show the power of small investors, allowing them to impact massive institutions. Essentially, it was about making a statement.
With cryptocurrency, trends can occur for a variety of reasons. While some may be based on the increasing validity of a particular coin, others may be scams. For example, pumping and dumping isn’t exceedingly rare within the altcoin landscape, and if the news travels through the right channels, investors of all kinds can get caught in the wave.
Often, trends create a fear of missing out, essentially invoking an emotional response in investors who worry they’ll fail to capitalize on these rapid upticks. As a result, it’s crucial to take a breath and do some research. Determine if the trend genuinely represents long-term potential or if it’s spurred by something else. Additionally, assess whether the investment fits with your overall strategy and risk tolerance. Ultimately, if you have doubts, it’s usually best to focus your investing on other assets.
5. Trying to Time the Market
Generally speaking, timing the market doesn’t work for long-term investors. First, getting the timing exactly right is almost impossible. No one knows precisely what an individual stock or broader market is going to do from one day to the next, so you can’t predict the precise moments prices will hit their lowest point.
Second, trying to time the market can lead to inaction. You’re essentially holding money outside of the market, waiting for the perfect moment. Even if it’s in a high-yield savings account, you’re potentially missing out on much better returns.
Bonus Tip: Invest What You Can When You Can
In many cases, your best bet is to invest what you can when you can. Whether that means committing a lump sum all at once – such as turning your tax return into a source of funds for investing right when you receive it – or using a dollar-cost averaging approach where you invest using a specific amount from every paycheck, you’re creating opportunities for long-term growth.
Plus, moving forward ensures that you don’t wait so long that you never invest. Even if some of your investments are made when the market is high, it’s important to remember that the markets generally trend upward when you look at the activity over years and decades instead of weeks or months. As a result, occasionally buying at a high point today doesn’t mean you don’t have growth potential, so keep that in mind.
Can you think of any other common investing mistakes people make? Did you make any of the missteps above and want to tell others about the experience? Do you have any advice for new investors? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald has worked as a Financial Advisor for the military for past 13 years. She has taught Personal Financial classes on every subject from credit, to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs. McDonald is an AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselor and has helped her clients to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.