Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Key to Long Term Investing: Liquidity

Paradoxically, liquidity is a very important component to success at long term investing. Stocks have a good long term record, if you measure in decades. Real estate is less profitable overall, but is the long term investment of choice for many Americans since they are homeowners. Having to sell unexpectedly early, though, can ruin the value of either stocks or real estate as investments. If markets are shaky when you have to sell, you can be a big loser.

To increase your chances of long term success, you need liquidity--cash to keep you going without having to sell your long term investments. This includes having a bulked up emergency fund to cover unexpected cash needs (like unemployment or a medical crisis). It also means having a stable source of cash for a long period of time. Most people work for that stable source of cash. Those with pensions have a steady cash flow in retirement. Highly rated bonds and stocks with a strong record of paying dividends can also serve this need. Immediate fixed or inflation adjusted annuities from highly rated insurance companies can provide long term liquidity. Don't forget Social Security. It's like a pension. Even if it doesn't cover all your needs, its predictable inflation-adjusted monthly payments are the financial foundation for most retired Americans.

If your day-to-day liquidity needs are met, you can hold your long term investments until the moment you, and not circumstances, choose as the time of sale. Avoid borrowing to meet these liquidity needs. Debt tends to destabilize your finances. (See Instead, securing a steady income and living within your normal cash flows can give you a good chance to win over the long haul.

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