A Personal Finance Blog for Malaysian: 22 toxic investment mistakes that you must avoid at all costs

Friday, October 22, 2010

22 toxic investment mistakes that you must avoid at all costs

Posted Date: Sep 24, 2009
By: Milan Doshi
 
Warren Buffett, the world’s richest and most successful investor for over 50 years follows two very simple, yet profound rules:
Rule #1: Don’t Lose Money
And
Rule #2: Don’t Forget Rule #1!
His two rules basically imply that it is imperative for everyone not to make any sort of silly investment mistakes that may cause you to take on high risks and lose money unnecessarily. In the case of bad stock selection or the wrong market timing, you can easily to lose up to 20 percent of your investment capital within a few short months. To recover your losses, you need to make returns of at least 25% on your remaining capital which may easily take you two years or longer to achieve. Take a look below:
  
                                            Loss -20%
Year 1     RM100,000        ------------>     RM80,000
                   
                                            Gain +25%
Year 2      RM80,000          ------------>     RM100,000

It takes you over two years to just break-even in this example. After two years, even though you have recouped losses, you have lost precious time. Money is something that comes and goes. Whereas when time is lost, it is lost forever!
  
In my 10 years of conducting financial seminars, I have come across many people making all sorts of mistakes. Here are some of these toxic investment mistakes which you must avoid at all costs: 

#1: You take financial advice from people who sell investment products, not successful investors. The right or wrong advice will have a big impact on both your current and future financial health. Many beginners start off by listening to friends and family members. They get free advice on what works and how to succeed. What they may not realise is that free advice can be very expensive

#2: You do not have any written financial goals with regards to the number of properties, how much passive income, how much bank borrowing or good debts for property investments, what is your asset allocation model, what investment strategies you want to apply, etc. If you do not have any firm idea, you will not know which direction to head. 

#3: Young people (i.e. less than 35 years old) focus the bulk of their time, energy and effort on investments when their investment capital is too little to have any sort of meaningful impact. Instead, they should be focusing on maximising their earning potential as they are at their prime earning age. 

#4: You invest your hard earned money in high return investment scams and lose everything. Some people even lose a hundred percent or more in failed business ventures. In my opinion, taking business risks is acceptable. If you do not try, you will never know. As long as you plan to fail cheap and fail fast, it is worth taking a calculated risk.

#5: You buy investment funds and take risks hoping to make average returns of 7-9% per annum. Instead, you can pre-pay your car or housing loans and enjoy a guaranteed savings of 4-6% per annum with absolutely no risks! You should only invest provided there are opportunities where you can make double or even triple the amount you get by saving with minimal risks. 

#6: Mistake number five automatically implies that if you are going to have any sort of loans till the day you retire, you cannot invest in investment funds till the day you retire! It is a fact that most Malaysians are expected to have some sort of loan till the day they retire.

#7: To diversify and reduce risks, you buy complex (e.g. structured, capital guaranteed, etc) investment funds that you do not quite understand. Many people even start diversifying when they are still young with their small investment capital. Warren Buffett likened the word ‘diversification’ to “de-worsification’. As long as you know what you are doing, it is not necessary to diversify. 

#8: These investments funds have high sales charges of 3-5%. In fact you can buy similar funds with entry costs less than 0.6 percent! After all, is not a dollar saved equal to a dollar earned? 

#9: You buy various products from banks and make them rich when it makes greater sense to buy bank shares and make yourself richer! 

#10: You are not investing in low risks commercial properties giving high returns of over eight percent per annum with low entry costs. You can actually do so from as little as RM1,000 and enjoy absolutely no property or tenant management problems! 

#11: Your first investment property is a landed house giving negative cashflow. This will limit the number of properties you can buy. For beginners, it is advisable to start off with apartments or condominiums as it is easy to achieve zero or positive cashflow every month.

#12: When you get married, you buy a dream home right away! Instead, it makes more sense to buy an investment property and rent a home for the first 10 to 15 years of your married life. As you may not have settled down career-wise and your young family needs changes, renting will give you the flexibility to move as and when the need arises.  

#13: You buy a property or a home which you could not financially afford yet. Being young, you think that given time, this property will become affordable as your earnings increases due to promotion, salary increments, etc. 

#14: You buy costly high-end residential properties. Instead you could have invested in commercial properties which give the best of both rental returns and capital appreciation. This is applicable if you have a budget of over RM1.5 million for real estate investments.

#15: You buy ‘cheap’ properties when it is a fact of life that ‘cheap things are never good’ and ‘good things are never cheap’! It is always worthwhile to pay a premium and buy the best properties in great locations.

#16: You purchase commercial properties in areas where the neighbourhood’s purchasing power is low. How well your commercial property does will depend on how well your tenant is able to make profits. A neighbourhood with low purchasing power will not do well compared to a richer neighbourhood.

#17: You purchase a dream retirement home when you are still 30 years away from retirement. As your future lifestyle, likes and dislikes will inevitably change, it is advisable to only think of buying a retirement home when you are only a few years away. For all you know, you may prefer to retire in another country!

#18: Your investments are unable to give decent returns to enable you to outperform your personal inflation rate of 6-10% per annum. Your family’s inflation rate will depend on you, your spouse and your children’s consumption patterns and lifestyle!

#19: You waste over an hour a day trading Forex or options. Yet, it is a known fact that over 90 percent of traders lose money and less than five percent break even. The profitable few are financial institutions who continue to invest millions of dollars every year into the latest high speed computers and proprietary trading software that are programmed to trade without emotions.   

#20: You work hard and save to buy one investment property every few years. Whereas savvy investors creatively buy one property a year or even one every few months with little or no money down!! 

#21: Your financial goal is to retire debt-free at age 65. On the other hand, smart investors aim to retire at age 45 or earlier by accumulating good debts of at least RM3 million via property investments!

#22: You wrongly focus on hitting a certain net worth instead of generating passive income. For example, when you retire debt-free, you must have RM1.8 million in fixed deposit at two percent per annum, in order to get RM3,000 a month for living expenses. Instead, you can actually get the same passive income by investing RM500,000 in properties!

No matter how hard you work or save, committing any of these 22 toxic investment mistakes will prevent you being Financially Free. 
Article Contributed by:

Milan Doshi
Financial Trainer and Best Selling Author of
“How You Can Become a Multi-Millionaire Real Estate Investor!”
For more information, visit www.milandoshi.com
Copyright by Milan Doshi