This week lesson with my wife was about different investment vehicles. I am not an investment guru, so our conversation was mainly around the ones we do use. However, I did some Google searches and included other investment vehicles I do not use for the sake of completeness (links are pointing to Wikipedia).
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I categorized investment vehicles into four groups relative to their risk and reward potential.
These are low risk investment vehicles that can be easily liquidated into cash, with mandatory holding period of 12 months or less. They typically provide very low return on investment, and little or no inflation protection.
Between the two of us, we carry very little cash around preferring to use our credit cards with rewards when possible. We do have some cash in checking account, savings account, money market, and CDs for emergencies and regular expenses. As for whole life insurance, I don’t think it is a good investment vehicle; however, my wife does have one. For me, I just have a low premium term life and use the difference to invest in the stock market. Lastly, I have never dabbled in treasury securities before, but include it here for completeness.
Here is the list of investments under the cash and cash equivalents group:
We don’t own any of these and I am not familiar with them. The only exception is bond funds — I had a small amount previously invested in my 401k. However, I think being completely bond free may make our portfolio more risky than necessary, and I have been thinking about adding back some.
Here is the list of investments under the low risk investments group:
The majority of our retirement money falls into this category of investment vehicles. They provide the best balance between risk and reward for long-term investing.
When I used to be a more active investor, I used to invest more in stocks than mutual funds. The majority of my stocks were blue chip stocks (i.e., DOW and S&P500 stocks). Now most of my investments are in low-expense mutual funds and ETFs; including about 5% in REIT funds and ETFs. Although investing in individual stocks can bring greater reward, it is also riskier. In the end, I found it better to diversify with funds and ETFs; and leverage asset allocation instead.
The only real estate we own our house, and I don’t consider our primary residence an investment — although it has more than tripled in value in the past 10 years.
Here is the list of investments under the moderate risk investments group:
I am a lay investor, and I am least familiar with these investments. My wife and I don’t have anything significant enough to be considered investment in this category.
Here is the list of investments under the speculative investments group:
I hope this lesson helped my wife understand the various options she has when it comes to investing. I will have to think about next week lesson, but I will probably talk to her about which investment vehicles to use to achieve different financial goals.
I hope you enjoyed the lesson.