We have all heard the advantages of investing in a mutual fund over trying to pick individual stocks. First of all mutual funds hire professional analysts that are market experts and devout many hours of study to the various stocks. Unless you want to devout a large portion of your free time to the study of the financial reports, you probably won’t have as much information to make a decision as a mutual fund manager.

You also shouldn’t forget the well documented advantage of diversification. By holding several non correlated investments, risk is reduced. Put simply, some go up, some go down and combined, the return levels off the fluctuations, or risk.

Because of mutual fund, rather than having to save a large chunk of cash to purchase 100 shares of stock, smaller investors are offered a chance to invest in small increments.

Because of all the advantages, it’s not really surprising that mutual funds have become a very popular form of investing. Now there are thousands of mutual funds to choose from, so how does one make a selection? Try to consider these few tips:

Do not be seduced to jump on the recently performing best fund. Like individual stocks, what you want to do is buy low and sell high, not buy high and pray for more growth even though it may seem like it’s safe and rational.

It’s likely that good funds may not be enough to overcome the force of the overall market. Funds that can exceed the broad market without increasing the risk is what you should be looking for. Risk parameters are what each fund has and they are required to follow it. To understand what these are, you need to read the prospectus closely.

You need to limit the funds that you own. Unless achieving the same returns as the broad market is what you are trying to do, then diversifying into many mutual funds will not reduce your risk nor will it increase your return.

If funds have become too big or too popular, then they tend to slip in performance. Several reasons contribute to this.

There is one final point that you need to remember and that is the type of fund being totally dependent on your investment objectives. Whether they are for retirement, income, growth, funding the kids college, etc., there are certain funds that are designed for your objectives.

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