When is the right time to start investing in stocks?
Most of the people who start looking to bring their financials in order have a question in their mind. “When should I start investing in high return instruments?”
They are fascinated by high 20%-30% annualized returns from equities. They have some extra cash which they want to invest for some time and even before anything happens, they convince themselves into investing the spare cash in high risk equity markets in order to rush towards achieving financial independence.
This reminds me of one of my friend, who reaped exceptionally well returns during the dot com boom and used to tell me how easy it was to tame equity market and double your money in no time.
Unfortunately he had invested all his eggs in one basket that is into the stock market and lost big time during the 2008-2009 market crash. This friend of mine had borrowed a lot of money to buy stocks in hope of making big and that too very quickly. But things didn’t work out as he expected.
There are two basic investment criteria of investing in stock which every investor should consider before taking plunge in stock market investing
- You do not have high interest loans looming at you:
This implies that you should not have high interest loans like personal loan, consumer loans, credit card balances and rotation of balance on credit cards etc. The basic home loan is perfectly fine as home loans create assets and the home you bought is giving you shelter. Stock market investments are high risk investments. If you have high interest loans and still you go ahead with investment, you might land in trouble. There is no fixed investment life-cycle in stock markets. Sometimes you may have to remain invested if market conditions are not good. This might affect your loan repayment ability if you are planning to pay off the loan monthly payments from the returns on your investments in stock market.
- You have sufficient emergency fund to bank on during emergency situation:
Emergencies never give you written intimation before they come. Emergencies bring mental trauma as well as financial hardships too. What if you lose your job due to some meltdown and you do not have money to pay for utilities and your home loan? To counter this type of situation, you must have sufficient liquid emergency fund to pay for rents, monthly home payments (EMI), utility bills etc. Ideally you should have an emergency fund to fund your 6 months of unemployment which should take care of all your bare minimum expenses in case of emergency. This fund should be somewhere stacked in liquid fund which can be accessed quickly. Never put your emergency fund in debt funds, equity linked mutual funds, insurance or stock market. Idea is you should not depend on market conditions to take back your money.
Also, one more important aspect you should consider. Being educated, you should know what you are doing. Take charge of your investments as it is not a rocket science to do a bit of arithmetic before taking the plunge. You need not to be an expert but a basic idea on how mutual funds work should be alright to start investing into mutual funds. Central idea is to avoid the risks posed by high risk investments as a naïve investor.
Investing is fun, it can be highly rewarding but to enjoy it you must set your house in order first, explained above in two simple points. This will cover yourself from the risks posed by the high risk investments in equities and you can do proper asset allocation to counter the risks.