How to Compare Investments Apples-to-Apples

Investing into the financial market is a lot like playing chess. It takes a short time to learn the fundamentals, but a lifetime to perfect. Here are some basic skills to use when comparing investments.

Don’t Ignore Volatility

Volatility is how an investment moves from its average. The measurement used to understand this volatility is the standard deviation for the investment. A less volatile investment generally would be a conservative mutual fund invested in bonds. Investors in these types of funds want to preserve the capital they have and avoid any loss. Teknos explains that currencies, including cryptocurrencies, tend to be more volatile than conventional securities and commodities.

Load vs. No Load

Investment companies charge fees for their services. CFI explains that the term used for these fees is called the “load.” They are added to the price of the investment so that the company can cover their various operational and salary costs. Each company has their own set fee structure, but they all use one of the load options allowed:

  • Front Load:  This fee is usually a small percentage charged during the buying process
  • Back-End Load:  When the client sells, the company can take a one-time flat fee which is deducted from the withdrawal.
  • No Load:  Instead of charging a front or back-end fee, they obtain their fees in other ways. One example is that a mutual fund company receives their fees based off of each market day. At the end of the day they take less than 1% of the total fund collectively, then spread the rest out to their investors.

Historical Research

EOD Data explains that when comparing different stocks to invest into, research is the key. You always want to look at the following:

  • The company’s financial stability
  • Historical stock prices
  • News articles about events that affect the investment
  • Mergers, new product launches, or executive board changes can greatly affect the volatility of the stock.

Tax Implications

Taxation of investments can differ. Non-qualified investments tax you yearly. Qualified plans, like IRAs can be tax deferred. Municipal Bonds are tax free on the federal level.

It’s important to remember that preparation is key. Research is a major contributing factor to preparation. Gathering all of the information you need about investments makes it easier to compare them more accurately. Smart investors go into the market understanding that they could lose their money. Layering your investments protect what you have invested while still having earning potential.

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