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Understanding the Basics of Investing

Mon Jul 17 2023

What is investing?

Investing is the process or act of purchasing assets that appreciate in value over time and offer returns in the form of income or capital gains. This means that you are putting money over a long period of time in an asset, project, or endeavor in the hope of making a profit or gaining from it. In a broader sense, investing can also mean devoting time or resources to bettering your own or others' lives. But in the world of finance, investing refers to the act of buying securities, real estate, and other things of value with the intention of making money.

One can invest in a variety of activities, such as using capital to launch a business or buying assets like real estate with the intention of renting it out and/or selling it at a profit in the future.

How does investing work?

The simplest way to understand how investing works is to buy an asset for a low price and then sell it for a higher price. This type of investment return is referred to as a capital gain.

One way to make money investing is to generate returns by realizing capital gains or selling assets for a profit. Another way to get return on your investment is through setting up an income stream or cash flow. When you purchase and hold assets that produce income, investing works by providing an income stream in addition to possible rewards from capital gains and appreciation.

The objective of income investing is to purchase assets that produce cash flow over time and hold onto them for a period of time. You may or may not choose to realize capital gains by eventually selling the asset.

Savings vs Investment

While it can be a common mistake to interchange the term “investment” with “savings,” the two concepts are very different from each other. Saving usually refers to setting money aside for immediate or future needs, such as an emergency fund or a major purchase.

Savings are typically simple to access when you need money. In contrast to saving, investing involves putting money to work, which carries an implicit risk that the related project could fail and cause a financial loss. One way in which investing differs from speculation is that the latter involves trying to profit on short-term price fluctuations rather than using the benefit of a long time horizon when putting the money to work.

Risk and Return Tradeoff

Risk and return tradeoff is a trading principle used by investors and traders which revolves around the idea of high-risk-high-reward. According to the risk-return tradeoff, as risk increases, so does the potential return. Investors link low levels of uncertainty to low potential returns and high levels of risk or uncertainty to high potential returns. The risk-return tradeoff states that investing money can only result in higher profits if the investor is willing to accept a higher likelihood of losses.

The right risk-return tradeoff depends on a number of variables, such as the investor's risk tolerance, the number of years until retirement, and the possibility of recovering lost funds. In order to create a portfolio with the right balance of risk and reward, time is also crucial.

The risk-return tradeoff is one of the crucial factors that investors consider when making investment decisions and when evaluating their portfolios as a whole. The risk-return tradeoff at the portfolio level can take into account evaluations of the concentration or diversity of holdings as well as whether the mix presents an excessive amount of risk or a lower-than-desired potential for returns.

Types of investments

There were only a few common asset classes that people or investors use for their investment. However, as the financial platform and market develops, there have been new types of assets where people invest and put their money for appreciation. There are also funds like mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) that purchase various combinations of securities to help individual investors diversify their portfolios. By purchasing these funds, you can invest in hundreds of different assets.


Companies raise money by selling stock to finance their operations. Purchasing stock entitles you to a portion of a company's assets and lets you share in its profits (and losses). Some stocks also distribute dividends, which are sporadic small payments made from earnings. Stocks carry a higher risk than some other investments, because there is no guarantee of returns, and specific companies may fail.


When businesses and governments need to raise capital, they borrow funds from investors by issuing debt, which is known as bonds. When you buy bonds, you're giving the issuer a fixed-term loan of money. The issuer will repay your loan to you along with the money you initially advanced to them, plus a fixed rate of return.

Bonds are also referred to as fixed income investments due to their guaranteed, fixed rates of return, and they are typically less risky than stocks. However, not all bonds are “safe” investments. Some companies that issue bonds have a bad credit history, which suggests that they may be more likely to miss their repayment obligations.

Real Estate

Purchasing a house, a building, or a plot of land will allow you to invest in real estate. Real estate investments come with varying levels of risk and are influenced by a wide range of variables, including local government stability, crime rates, economic cycles, and crime rates.Consider purchasing shares of a real estate investment trust (REIT) if you want to invest in real estate without directly owning or managing any property.

Companies known as REITs use real estate to produce income for their shareholders. They sometimes offer higher dividends than other types of assets.


Agriculture products, energy products, and metals, including precious metals, are all considered commodities. These assets, whose prices are based on market demand, are typically the raw materials used by an industry.

Purchasing "physical" goods entails acquiring large quantities of these goods, such as gold, wheat, or oil. This is not how most people invest in commodities, as you might imagine. Investors instead use futures and options contracts to purchase commodities, which often do not entail actual exchange of physical goods.

Other securities, such as ETFs or purchasing the stock of companies that produce commodities, can also be used to invest in commodities. Investments in commodities can be relatively risky.

Trading in futures and options frequently involves using borrowed funds, which increases your risk of losing money. Because of this, purchasing commodities is typically reserved for more seasoned investors.


Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies and are not backed by physical assets or securities. They are monitored on digital ledgers and exchanged between willing parties without the use of a broker or middle man. Any investor can buy cryptocurrency through brokers or from well-known exchanges like Coinbase or mobile apps like Cash App. Financial derivatives, like CME's Bitcoin futures, as well as other instruments like Bitcoin trusts and Bitcoin ETFs, are two other popular ways to invest in cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency investment is regarded as highly risky. Even the most well-known cryptocurrencies have much more volatile prices than other types of assets, such as stocks. Future regulatory changes may also have an impact on cryptocurrency prices, with the worst-case scenario being that cryptocurrencies are made illegal and lose all of their value.

Why should you start investing?

The act of investing involves placing money in an asset to make money or make a profit. It is a productive way to invest your money and possibly increase your wealth. Your money may grow in value and outpace inflation if you make wise investment decisions. The power of compounding and the tradeoff between risk and return are the main reasons investing has a higher growth potential.

The type of investment you select may depend on your goals for the money and your risk tolerance. In general, taking on less risk results in lower returns, and taking on more risk results in higher returns. However, it's important to exercise caution when investing. The amount of time needed to study, research, and think through what is required to begin your investment will largely depend on the type of investment as well as your financial situation, needs, and investment goals.

Take time to research your target investments as well as your investment manager or platform. As the seasoned and successful investor Warren Buffet said, "Never invest in a business you cannot understand.”

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