Investing Explained

Investing Explained

What Is Investing?

In general, investing is putting money to work over a period of time in a project or endeavor in the hopes of generating profits (i.e., profits that exceed the amount of the initial investment). It’s the act of allocating resources, typically capital (i.e., money), with the hope of making money, making gains, or making a profit.

One can engage in a variety of activities (directly or indirectly), such as utilizing 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.

As contrast to saving, investing involves putting money to work, which carries an implied risk that the connected project(s) could fail and cause a financial loss. The other way that investing differs from speculation is that the latter involves wagering on short-term price swings rather than really putting the money to work.

Understanding Investing

A person invests to increase their money over time. The fundamental tenet of investing is the expectation of a favorable return in the form of income or price appreciation with statistical significance. There is a fairly broad range of assets in which one can invest and generate a return.

In investment, risk and return are inversely correlated; low risk typically translates into low predicted returns, whereas larger profits are typically associated by increased risk. Basic investments like Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are at the low end of the risk spectrum; bonds or fixed-income instruments are at the higher end, and stocks or equities are seen as being riskier. Generally speaking, commodities and derivatives are among the riskiest assets. Besides from investing in tangible assets like real estate or land, one can also do so in delicate things like fine art and antiques.

Within the same asset class, risk and return expectations can differ significantly. A micro-cap that trades on a tiny exchange will have a substantially different risk-return profile than a blue chip that trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

Depending on the type of asset, different returns are produced. For instance, a lot of equities pay dividends on a quarterly basis, whereas bonds often pay interest on a quarterly basis. Several forms of income are taxed at various rates in many jurisdictions.

Price appreciation is a significant part of return in addition to regular income like dividends or interest. So, the total return on an investment can be thought of as the sum of income and capital growth. According to Standard & Poor’s estimates, dividends have made up about a third of the total equity return for the S&P 500 since 1926, while capital gains have made up the other two-thirds.

Thus, capital gains are a crucial component of investment.

Types of Investments

The majority of financial instruments used today to raise and invest funds in enterprises are referred to as investments. These businesses then rake that capital and put it to work expanding or making money.

Although there are many different sorts of investments, the following are the most typical ones:


An investor who purchases stock in a corporation gains partial ownership of it. Shareholders are those who own a company’s stock and can benefit from the company’s expansion and success by increasing the value of their investment and receiving regular dividend payments from the company’s earnings.


Bonds are debt obligations of organizations like corporations, governments, and municipalities. A bond means that you own a portion of a company’s debt and are qualified to receive periodic interest payments as well as the face value of the bond once it matures.


Investment managers manage funds, which are pooled instruments that let investors buy stocks, bonds, preferred shares, commodities, etc. Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, are two of the most popular categories of funds. ETFs trade on stock exchanges and, like stocks, are regularly valued during the trading day, unlike mutual funds, which do not trade on an exchange and are evaluated at the close of the trading day. Mutual funds and ETFs can be actively managed by fund managers or can passively track benchmarks like the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Investment Trusts

Another category of pooled investment is trusts. One of the most well-known types of securities in this group are real estate investment trusts (REITs). REITs engage in residential or commercial real estate, and from the rental revenue generated by these properties, they distribute money to their investors on a regular basis. Due to their trading on stock exchanges, REITs give their investors the benefit of immediate liquidity.

Alternative Investments

Hedge funds and private equity fall under the umbrella term of alternative investments. The reason why hedge funds are so named is because they can utilize long and short positions in stocks and other investments to diversify their investing bets. Without becoming public, private equity enables businesses to raise financing. Typically, wealthy individuals who met particular income and net worth standards and were referred to as “accredited investors” were the only ones with access to hedge funds and private equity. Alternative investments have, however, recently been made available to retail investors in fund formats.

Options and Other Derivatives

Financial instruments known as derivatives derive their value from another instrument, like a stock or index. Popular derivatives like options contracts provide the buyer the option, but not the duty, to purchase or sell a security at a specified price within a predetermined window of time. Leverage is frequently used in derivatives, making them a high-risk, high-reward investment.


Along with financial instruments and currencies, commodities also include things like metals, oil, grains, and animal goods. Commodity futures, which are contracts to purchase or sell a specific amount of a commodity at a given price on a specific future date, or ETFs are the two ways they can be traded. Commodities can be traded for speculative or risk-hedging objectives.

Comparing Investing Styles

Let’s compare a couple of the most common investing styles:

Active versus passive investing: By actively managing the investment portfolio, active investing seeks to “beat the index.” Contrarily, passive investing promotes a passive strategy, such as purchasing an index fund, as a tacit admission that it is challenging to continuously outperform the market. Both strategies have advantages and disadvantages, but in practice only a few fund managers routinely outperform their benchmarks to make active management’s higher costs worthwhile.

Value vs. growth: Value firms often have lower price-earnings (P/E) ratios than high-growth corporations, which are preferred by growth investors. Value investors search for businesses that have PE ratios that are much lower than growth company ratios and dividend yields that are greater because these businesses may be temporarily or permanently out of favor with investors.

How to Invest

Do-It-Yourself Investing

The answer to the question “how to invest” depends on whether you are a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) type of investor or would rather have a professional manage your money. Due to the low commissions and simplicity of trading on their platforms, many investors who prefer to handle their own funds have accounts at discount or online brokerages.

DIY investing, also known as self-directed investment, calls for a good deal of knowledge, expertise, time commitment, and emotional restraint. If you don’t fit these descriptions, it could be a better idea to let a professional manage your money.

Professionally-Managed Investing

Wealth managers typically handle investments for investors who seek professional money management. AUM, or assets under management, is the standard proportion that wealth managers charge their clients as their fee. Although though hiring a professional money manager costs more than managing money on one’s own, some investors are willing to pay for the ease of having an expert handle the research, investment decisions, and trading.

Roboadvisor Investing

Some investors decide which investments to make based on advice from computerized financial consultants. Roboadvisors, which use algorithms and artificial intelligence to generate recommendations, compile vital data about the investor and their risk profile. Roboadvisors, which operate with little to no human intervention, provide services akin to those of a human investment advisor at a lower cost. With technological developments, roboadvisors can now do more than just choose assets. They can aid in the creation of retirement plans as well as the administration of trusts and other retirement accounts like 401(k)s.

Investing vs. Speculation

Three elements determine whether purchasing a security counts as investing or speculating:

The level of risk assumed: Compared to speculating, investing often entails a lesser level of risk.
The investment’s holding term: Investment normally has a longer holding period, which is frequently measured in years, whereas speculation typically has considerably shorter holding periods.
Source of returns: Dividends or distributions may make up a sizable portion of investment returns while price appreciation may be a relatively minor one. Price growth typically represents the primary source of returns in speculating.

A stable blue-chip is obviously far less risky than a cryptocurrency because price volatility is a standard metric of risk. Hence, purchasing a dividend-paying blue chip with the intent to retain it for a number of years would be considered investing. But, a trader who purchases a cryptocurrency with the intention of selling it for a profit in a matter of days is obviously engaging in speculation.

What Are Some Types of Investments?

There are numerous investment options available. The most popular ones are probably equities, bonds, property, and ETFs/mutual funds. Real estate, certificates of deposit, annuities, cryptocurrencies, commodities, collectibles, and precious metals are more investment options to think about.

How Can Investing Grow My Money?

There are numerous investment options available. The most popular ones are probably equities, bonds, property, and ETFs/mutual funds. Real estate, certificates of deposit, annuities, cryptocurrencies, commodities, collectibles, and precious metals are more investment options to think about.

You can begin investing in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds or even open an IRA. Starting with $1,000 is nothing to sneeze at. A $1,000 investment in Amazon’s IPO in 1997 would yield millions today. This was largely due to several stock splits, but it does not change the result: monumental returns. Savings accounts are available at most financial institutions and don’t usually require a large amount to invest. Savings accounts don’t typically boast high-interest rates; so, shop around to find one with the best features and most competitive rates.

Believe it or not, you can invest in real estate with $1,000. You may not be able to buy an income-producing property, but you can invest in a company that does. A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that invests in and manages real estate to drive profits and produce income. With $1,000, you can invest in REIT stocks, mutual funds, or exchange-traded funds.

Is Investing the Same as Gambling?

Yes, gambling and investing are very different. When you invest, you put your money to work in ventures or pursuits that have positive expected returns, or returns that will be positive in the long run. Betting on the results of events or games is referred to as gambling. Nothing is being done with your money. Gambling frequently has a low expected return. Investments can lose money, but only if the project they are part of falls short of expectations. Contrarily, gambling results are entirely determined by chance.

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