How To Invest

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Rating Municipal Bonds: Safe Investments

Municipal bonds are very safe animals — at least those rated by the major rating agencies (such as Moody’s), which are the vast majority of munis. If the mild nature of the beast weren’t enough to put [more…]

How to Choose a Municipal Bond

When choosing a municipal bond, or muni, there are a lot of things to consider. First, you definitely want munis that are rated. Some municipal offerings are not rated, and these can be risky investments [more…]

Paying Taxes on Municipal Bonds

If you are buying municipal bonds, then there are two taxes that may rear their heads on April 15: the AMT tax and capital gains taxes. [more…]

What Are Exchange-Traded Funds All About?

A share of an ETF (exchange-traded fund) represents ownership (most typically) in a basket of company stocks. To buy or sell an ETF, you place an order with a broker, either by phone or online. [more…]

Why Exchange-Traded Funds Are Better than Individual Stocks

Why buy a basket of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) rather than an individual stock? You’ll sleep better knowing that your risk is spread around, rather than based on the performance of a single stock that [more…]

The Cost Advantage of ETFs Compared to Mutual Funds

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) offer a major cost advantage over mutual funds. The management companies that bring us ETFs, such as Barclays and PowerShares, can offer ETFs so cheaply compared to mutual [more…]

Potential Pitfalls of Trading ETFs

Here are some facts about ETFs that you should consider before investing your hard-earned dollars in exchange-traded funds. You have to pay a commission every time you buy and sell an ETF. The good news [more…]

How to Choose a Broker for ETF Investments

You can’t personally buy a share of an ETF — you need someone to actually buy it for you and hold it for you. That someone is a broker, sometimes referred to as a [more…]

ETF Investments Start with Opening a Brokerage House Account

Before you can invest in exchange-traded funds, you’ll need to open an account with a brokerage house. The brokerage will ask lots of questions related to your personal finances, your financial goals, [more…]

The Basics of Placing an Order to Buy ETFs

Your first step to buying exchange-traded funds is to set up an account with a brokerage house. Then, you’re ready to buy your first ETF.

ETFs are usually traded just as stocks are traded. Same commissions [more…]

How to Manage Risks with ETFs

Asking how risky, or how lucrative, ETFs are is like trying to judge a soup knowing nothing about the soup itself, only that it is served in a blue china bowl. The bowl — or the ETF — doesn’t create the [more…]

ETF Investment Strategies to Reduce Risk, Optimize Return

When you invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), you're wise to invest in both large growth and value stocks — separately. That approach gives you the opportunity to rebalance once a year and, by so doing [more…]

How Annuities Help Secure Your Future

Annuities are intended to help you save for retirement and supplement your retirement income. Various types of annuities can make your retirement more secure by helping you do the following: [more…]

What Is a Fixed Deferred Annuity?

A fixed deferred annuity is the insurance industry’s version of a savings account. The annuity helps you earn a modest rate of interest safely, and allows you to postpone the payment of income taxes on [more…]

What Is a Single-Year Guarantee Fixed Annuity?

The single-year guarantee fixed annuity is like an adjustable rate mortgage in reverse. With this annuity, the insurance company promises to pay you a certain rate of interest for one year. But each year [more…]

What Is a Multi-Year Guarantee Fixed Annuity?

A multi-year guarantee (MYG) fixed annuity is like a fixed-rate mortgage in reverse. You give a specific amount of money to an insurance company, and the insurer guarantees that your investment will earn [more…]

What Is a Market Value-Adjusted Fixed Annuity?

Although insurance companies usually assume your interest-rate risk when you buy a fixed annuity, that’s not always the case. With a market value-adjusted [more…]

The Benefits of Fixed Annuities as Investment Tools

Fixed deferred annuities offer safe, but low, returns and tax deferral. Risk-averse investors buy them when they offer higher interest rates than CDs, when the stock market is declining or appears headed [more…]

The Drawbacks of Fixed Annuities as Investments

Although fixed deferred annuities are a relatively safe investment, there are also reasons why people tend to shy away from them. They include the following: [more…]

Are Index, Equity-Indexed, and Fixed-Indexed Annuities All the Same?

Index annuities were created in 1996, when investors were shifting their attention from bond-based investments like fixed annuities to stock-based investments, including mutual funds and variable annuities [more…]

What Are Variable Annuities?

Variable annuities, or VAs, are mutual fund investments that have certain insurance-related guarantees, such as living benefits and death benefits. (Mutual funds are bundles of stocks or bonds or a mixture [more…]

What Are Income Annuities?

Income annuities enable you to convert a large sum of cash into a monthly, quarterly, or annual paycheck. You give the lump sum to a reputable insurance company, and the insurer issues a contract that [more…]

What Are Advanced Life Deferred Annuities?

One of the more intriguing annuities of all is the advanced life deferred annuity (ALDA), also called pure longevity insurance. Typically people who purchase an ALDA [more…]

Who Can You Buy Annuities From?

You will probably buy your annuity from a licensed insurance agent, broker, or financial adviser. Standing directly behind these intermediaries are brokerage firms [more…]

How Do Futures and Options Compare?

Although they are similar, futures and options have some important differences. Futures markets are the hub of capitalism. They provide the bases for prices at wholesale and eventually retail markets for [more…]

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