Investments

The investment landscape is filled with financial products. Before you invest in a particular product, take the time to understand it—and assess whether it's really suitable for you. Keep in mind that all financial products carry risk, even if it's the risk that a product's financial return may not keep pace with inflation.

Tracking Your Investments

Take these steps to make sure you're on top of your investments. Keeping track of them can help prevent minor mistakes from turning into big problems.

Before You Invest

If a salesperson is trying to sell you an investment, check them out by following these steps.

Asset Allocation

You can invest your portfolio to achieve the dual goals of growth and safety by distributing your investments among the three major asset classes: equity, fixed income and cash or cash equivalents.

Diversification

When you diversify, you divide the money you've allocated to a particular asset class, such as stocks, among various categories of investments that belong to that asset class. Diversification, with its emphasis on variety, allows you to manage nonsystematic risk by tapping into the potential strength of different subclasses, which, like the larger asset classes, tend to do better in some periods than in others.

Additional Resources

Financial Investor Quiz
We recently surveyed investors to get an idea of what people know—and what people may not know—about investing. This quiz includes some of the questions from our survey, and explains the correct answers. Take the quiz to see how you stack up.

Dollar-Cost Averaging
Making small, regular monthly investments can be a great way to meet your financial goals. By regularly investing small amounts, say $50 a month, you take advantage of the market’s ups and downs. Over the long-term, you buy more shares when their costs are low and fewer when they are high. See page 79 of Money and Mobility for more information.

U.S. Savings Bonds
Savings bonds can be purchased from the U.S. Treasury, at banks and credit unions, and are often offered by employers through payroll deduction.

Smart Bond Investing
You've heard it before: asset allocation is the foundation of prudent investing. You've probably heard this before, too—your portfolio should contain a mixture of stocks and bonds. This is sound advice. But do you understand the critical characteristics of bonds? This comprehensive guide provides a wealth of information about investing in bonds and bond funds.

Old Stock and Bond Certificates (SEC)
An old stock or bond certificate may still be valuable even if it no longer trades under the name printed on the certificate.

Lost or Stolen Stock Certificates (SEC)
Brokerage firms, banks, transfer agents, and corporations have procedures in place to help investors replace lost or stolen certificates.

Stock Certificates, Proving Ownership (SEC)
If you are trying to establish whether you or a family member own securities or not, here are some steps you can take.

CDs: Tips for Investors (SEC)
Before you consider purchasing a CD from your bank or brokerage firm, make sure you fully understand all of its terms. Carefully read the disclosure statements, including any fine print. And don't be dazzled by high yields. Ask questions—and demand answers—before you invest. These tips can help you assess what features make sense for you.

REITs
REITS are entities that invest in different kinds of real estate or real estate related assets. Learn more.

Reverse Mortgages
Reverse mortgages allow older homeowners to convert part of the equity in their homes into cash. Learn more.

Oil and Gas Investments
Oil and gas investments are limited partnerships and other ventures that invest in exploration, drilling and distribution of oil and gas. Read this alert from the SEC for more information.

Off-exchange Foreign Currency (FOREX)
Off-exchange Foreign Currency (FOREX) involves trading in non-U.S. currencies. Take the National Futures Association's e-learning program for retail forex trading.