Investment 101: Stocks and Bonds

Chloe L., journalist

Investment may seem overwhelming and difficult to understand. However, if you learn the basics of the financial markets you will be able to make smart investment decisions and understand the complex investment systems. 

There are multiple ways to start investing. In fact, everytime you deposit money into a savings account at the bank, you are in a way investing. This is because many banks have interest rates attached to accounts so that your money compounds over time. Putting your money into a bank account is one of the safest choices because it is backed by the government. If somehow the bank could not pay you back, the government would bail the bank out by paying you the money you had in the account. However, because banks are safe, they have relatively low interest rates,meaning a low return. 

One of the most important principles to understand when deciding how to allocate your money is that high risk equals high return and vice versa. The investment opportunities with the highest returns are often the ones with the highest chance of default, which means  that you might not get your money back. 

There are two main markets for direct investment, stocks and bonds. Bonds are like an IOU that states the maturity date (how long until the loan will be repaid) and the interest that will be paid periodically as the bond matures. As mentioned before, higher interest rates correlate with riskier investments, so bonds with a longer term to maturity and high credit risk usually offer higher returns to compensate for the risk. Some of the safest bonds are those from the government, but they come at the cost of lower interest rates. Overall, bonds are comparatively safer than stocks. 

Stocks are claims to partial ownership in a company. When it comes to stocks, there are multiple factors to consider. First, consider the price (how much you will pay for a share), and the price to earnings ratio, which is an indicator of how the stock’s price compares to the earnings of the company. Some stocks can be  overvalued ( ) or undervalued (the price is considered to be less than the company is worth). It is best to buy stocks that are undervalued because you are buying the stock for less than the company is worth, meaning you will make more profit. . .  

When you buy stock in a company, there are two ways that you can make money. The first is from the dividend, which is the payment from firms to stockholders. The second  is by selling your share in the future for more than the price you paid for the initial purchase of the stock. Both of these methods depend on the profitability of the company and have a decent amount of risk involved. 

In conclusion when assembling your investment portfolio, it is best to choose a mixture of both stocks and bonds. The risk of those stocks and bonds depends on how much risk you want to take for the possibility of higher return. However, it is  important to assess the value of any financial investments you undertake. Factors such as credit risk, maturity date, interest rate, and profitability of the company are all things to consider when buying bonds and stocks. 

Photo Credit: Nick Chong on Unsplash

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