Compounding has been called the
8th wonder of the world and is probably the most powerful
and important single concept in the world of saving, investing
and the financial markets.
When we save money and earn a return, and
add this return it to the saved money, we start the next
year with a larger amount. The return next year will be earned on
that larger amount and therefore should be larger; the saved
amount will grow by more than in the previous year; each
year the return becomes larger and the money grows faster and faster.
This section looks at compounding in detail,
how it can make money grow, what affects the amount of money
that we compound to, and how money that we owe will compound
as well, especially if we buy things on a credit card. Furthermore,
we look at how we can consolidate our debt and reduce our
interest payments and why.
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DEBT, EQUITY AND FINANCIAL MARKETS
What allows us to compound our money by
getting a return on it. Why is the bank willing to pay
us for keeping our money there? What determines whether
an investment will provide a return?
This section looks at why we
can gain a return on money and therefore compound it to
larger sums. It looks at the two main ways for savers
(as providers of capital) to interact with users
of capital (like companies and governments) who might
pay us a return to give them the money for some time.
The first way that we can make our money
available is through debt – we can lend money to users of capital and they usually pay a return in
the form of interest. The second very common way of compounding our money is through equity or ownership, and our return corresponds to that of an owner or
a part owner of a business.
The section details how we can increase our rate
of return at the bank, and provides simple examples of how debt and equity work. It concludes by detialing how the financial markets play a role
in bringing providers and users of capital together.
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Investments are the tools that help make our money grow. Two key investments involve making
our money available to users of capital in the form of
equity and debt - these will looked at in more detail. There are also other types of investments
including real estate and commodities and even art - these will also be looked at in this
DEBT AND BONDS (FIXED INCOME
The first way that we as savers can
interact with users of capital who are looking for funds
to grow their business or to undertake a project is through
debt – we can effectively lend them money. Our return depends on the
ability and willingness of the other party to pay us
a return, usually in the form of interest.
In this section we will look at debt
investment including bonds in more detail – who
issues them, what kinds are there, what affect their
price and how we should we should think about them as
EQUITY AND STOCKS
The second way that we as savers can
interact with users of capital is via equity (which includes stock investments), where we become owners or part owners of
In this section we will look at equity
in more detail, including private equity, as well as the equity
of companies that has been listed on the stock exchanges
of the world. We will look at how this works, what the terms mean, what
indices are, and what the factors affect valuation and price.
MUTUAL FUNDS OR UNIT TRUSTS
Funds can provide a way of investing
in many investments at once, and often also involve having a professional
take the investment decisions.
For many of us investing in funds where
a professional takes the investment decisions probably
makes sense. But there are numerous considerations to
bear in mind – some funds never perform well,
some funds have higher expenses than others and some
funds just replicate an index.
In this section we will look at what
these funds are, what the important characteristics are
of the funds, what fund mangers do, what works and how we should think about investing in funds.
Hedge funds have been spoken about in
the press a lot, and for some investors they are a very
attractive alternative to mutual funds.
In this section we look at what hedge
funds are, how they make money and how we should think
about investing in them.
Real estate can be one of greatest sources of wealth; in fact, in many countries,
the government incentivises us to buy at lesat some real estate (for example a home).
This section looks at different
types of real estate investments, what we should think
about when we are trying to figure out whether real estate
prices are likely to rise or fall, what the risks are,
how the government incentivises home ownership, as well as factors that determine the price of real estate.
Commodities such as oil, metals and
agricultural products have some very interesting investment
This section looks at what drives commodity
prices and why they can be a very interesting addition
to an investment portfolio.
In theory we could invest in anything.
An investment becomes an investment if people buy it
and make money over longer periods of time. One thing
to bear in mind for some investments is that if it looks
to good to be true, then it just might be.
In this section we look at capital guaranteed
products that offer a return with
downside protection. Also, we look at art and other collectibles
as investments, what the differences are between these
investments and others that we have spoken about, and
how we should think about them.
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The economy affects how investments behave,
the prices of goods that we purchase, unemployment; not to mention that the subject is poken about in the press every day.
In this section we will learn about the
role the economy plays, what the central bank does, what
pieces of data are looked at and how economic cycles work.
We also look at the impact of the economy
on different investments.
AND INVESTING IN PRACTICE
Knowing about the saving concepts and
the different investments is powerful, and in fact is what
helps us understand so much of the world around us. In
order to put all of this into practice, there are a few
more things that are important and that we need to learn
about. These include:
THE IMPACT OF
Some investments are expected to have
a higher average return over the long term, but the return
in any one-year can be very volatile. Looking at returns over different time periods allows some very interesting concusions to be drawn. It also has huge implications as to which investments
are suitable when and for whom.
AND DOLLAR COST AVERAGING
There are many psychological factors
that affect how we invest and many of them lead to making
poor investment decisions – even for smart people.
Just look at bubbles that happen over and over again.
In this section we look at some of the
mental processes that go on, bubbles that have taken
place in history and how we can avoid falling into some
of the traps that exist and that even smart people can
be caught off-guard by. We will also talk about how
we can get the average price for our investments down
and how to avoid falling into some psychological traps.
TAXES AND COMPOUNDING
Governments in developed countries want
us to save for our retirement and they want us to
get wealthier. Furthermore, the financial system relies on savers
to make funds available for companies to be created and
for governments to function.
Because of the role that savers play,
the fact that the financial system is so important and
because the government does not want masses of older
people begging for money, there are numerous incentives
that governments provide for us to save and invest our
money. Being able to save tax in a legal and
government-endorsed manner makes a huge difference
in how much we end up with.
By mixing assets that go up over the
long term, but that do not move perfectly together over
shorter time periods, we can often increase
returns for a given level of risk, or decrease risk while
giving up very little return. This is pretty important
especially if we want to avoid a catastrophic loss.
When we buy investments, sell investment
or hold investments, there are often costs involved.
Any cost will take away from our return, and as we saw
in the section on compounding, what might seem like a
relatively small difference in the return per
year, can make a very large difference over the
The key is to understand what these
costs are, which ones are justified and then to eliminate
the unnecessary const and reduce the others where it
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Sticking to any investment plan takes
a bit of thought, some action and the ability to stick
with it. Fortunately it is not difficult and if we have
the knowledge - we won’t be taking random actions
based on misunderstandings.
In this section we will look at some final
tips as we set off on the road of saving and investing
and towards financial freedom.
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