Heike Moeller February 24, 2020 Mutual Fund
Taxes are often overlooked and can substantially reduce your after-tax gain unless investing within a tax-deferred, retirement account. Avoid funds with large distributions (capital gain payments) by searching for funds with low turnover. Since buying and selling stock incurs transaction costs, lower turnover translates to lower expenses and lower capital gains taxes. Fund managers who seek to boost returns through repeatedly buying and selling securities are no friend of yours.
But you have to remember those special mutual fund factors: minimum holding requirements once you buy a fund; short-term penalty fees if you sell too soon, and a possible frozen account if you re-buy a recently sold fund or funds too soon within 12 months. In other words either you or your software must track or base your selling and buying decisions upon how long you have owned a fund with a re-buy restriction on recently sold funds so you do not get caught in the round-trip trap.
READ CLOSELY: How do all these fund costs affect you? Well, with the expense ratio which averages 1.6% per year, sales charges 0.5%, turnover generated portfolio transactions costs 0.7%, and opportunity costs - when funds hold cash rather than remain fully invested in stocks - 0.3%. The average mutual fund investor loses 3.1% of their investment returns to these costs each and every year. While this might not seem like much on the surface, costs would consume 31% of a 10% market return. Add in the 1.5% capital gains tax bill that the average fund investor pays each year, and that figure shoots up to 46%, nearly half of a potential 10% return. Do you feel like you are taking one or two steps back while trying to go forward yet?
Picking mutual funds is a challenging task. You will need to spend time learning, researching, investigating, analyzing, and comparing. The key is to develop your own methodology using some of the components listed here along with your own judgment and decision capabilities. Review your investment plan and fund selection criteria at least once a year. Make sure the plan still matches your goals and the funds match your expectations.
They are low to moderate risk investments and are very sensitive to interest rate changes - balanced funds mix stocks and bonds to reduce the investment risk of stocks and to benefit from the certainty of bonds - stock index funds consist of stocks of companies which are found in market indexes and who generally follow the stock market. As you near retirement, you might want to switch your investments to more conservative funds to preserve their value. Target-date funds simplify long-term investing.
Mutual funds also cost less. You do not have to spend a lot of money to purchase them like you may have to with a single stock purchase. Plus, you can invest small amounts at any time with no trading costs. If you have decided to invest in a mutual fund, there is one problem. There are well over 10,000 funds available so which one to go with. Before you actually invest in a mutual fund get a prospectus from the company. The prospectus will tell you about the fund including the funds goals and how the goals will be achieved, along with a chart of past performance and fees.