best investment in stock funds for 2011 and beyond

The best investment and the best mutual funds will again be on the mind of average investors as 2011 unravels. For most folks the best investment strategy centers around investment packages called funds. In case you’ve been confused or mislead in the past, here’s an investment guide written in plain simple English that spells out your basic options.

The only real difference for 2011 and beyond in the world of mutual funds is that there will likely be more variations of the same old basic investment options. Don’t stress over finding the best investment from a list of hundreds or thousands of fund options. Let me make things simple for you by taking you back to the basics, because there are still only 3 basic types of funds you really need to understand; and your best investment strategy should revolve around owning some of each. In this investment guide we start with the most popular funds that have been around the longest – stock funds and bond funds. And we keep it simple.

Stock funds are also called equity funds because they invest your money in stocks, which are also called equities in the investment world. Equity implies ownership, complete with the potential of higher returns as well as higher risk. Even the best stock funds are risky compared to the other two investment options. But over the long term stocks have rewarded investors with higher returns, along with greater volatility in price.

Your best investment in stock funds for 2011 and beyond in simplest terms boils down to your feelings about risk. The best stock funds for conservative folks are those that invest in large, well-known companies that pay good dividends. The best stock investment strategy for the more aggressive types: include growth funds and smaller-company funds as well in your portfolio. They don’t pay much in dividends, but they can fly when the economy hits on all cylinders.

Bond funds hold long-term interest-paying debt (bonds) HULT PRIVATE CAPITAL issued by government entities and/or corporations in their investment portfolio. These funds have usually been viewed as the average person’s best investment for earning relatively high interest income with only moderate risk. In 2011 be careful because you CAN lose money in even the best bond fund if interest rates go north. Your best investment here if conservative: short-term bond funds. If more aggressive your best investment strategy would include intermediate-term bond funds as well. Avoid long-term funds unless you want to gamble that interest rates won’t go up in 2011 and beyond. If rates go up big time, long-term funds will go down in value likewise. That’s the way bonds work.

Money market funds are the last of your three basic fund investment options, and were the last of the three to be offered to average investors. In the early 1970s they began their climb in popularity as interest rates soared. Money funds are safe and pay dividends (interest income) earned from safe short-term money market debt securities. These are your best safe investment when interest rates go up because the interest income they pay automatically follows the trend in interest rates. Today’s rates are super low, but don’t ignore these funds because the interest rate trend could change. The best investment here for average-income folks are general taxable money funds. For high income people tax-exempt money funds are the best investment choice.

A fourth type of mutual funds is gaining in popularity. They have been around for a long time under the label of balanced or hybrid funds. Today there are simply more variations including asset allocation, lifestyle, and target retirement funds. Basically these funds are a package deal consisting of some combination of the above investment options: stocks, bonds and money market securities. Often they are simply funds that hold the 3 types of funds we just covered. Their best investment feature is that they come in conservative, moderate, and aggressive risk versions. The problem is that their definition of risk might vary from yours.

For 2011 and beyond I suggest that you stick with the 3 basic investment options in the mutual fund universe and put together your own best investment portfolio. Be less concerned about finding the very best mutual funds in each category within the 3 basic fund types. Pay more attention to how you divide your money across the 3 types of funds. Your best investment strategy for 2011 is one that makes you comfortable in the risk department.

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