Flu Virus Research

The critical part in the research is to understand how influenza virus spread and mutate and is the key to preventing pandemics by discovering preventive, diagnostic and treatment methods.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), influenza viruses that occur in animals can infect humans, and later develop to pandemic strains. Several research areas have been outlined by the WHO relating to the animal/human influenza interface that could have a profound impact on protecting human being.

The Working Group of WHO on Influenza Research at the Animal/Human Interface was setup in 2005 to encourage basic studies into animal influenza viruses, with the aim to find out the cause the viruses can infect people.

ON-GOING STUDIES

Studies are on-going on avian influenza viruses, particularly H5N1. Researchers aim to discover the prevalence of avian influenza viruses in domestic animals and birds, understand the molecular basis of   transmission  of viruses from animals to people, assess the role of migratory birds in the  transmission  of the viruses, and evaluate the human immune response to infection with avian influenza viruses.

Studies are also being done on H1N1, a novel strain which is the causative factor of the current influenza A pandemic and researchers succeeded developed a vaccine which approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

PUTTING VACCINES TO THE TEST

The scientists from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) play an important role and work in collaboration with medical research institutions worldwide to find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat seasonal and pandemic influenzas, including influenza A (H1N1).

The trial is being conducted through the NIAID-funded national network of Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs). Safety data will be collected and assessed continuously throughout the trial by an independent safety monitoring committee and investigators.

STUDYING THE NATURE OF THE FLU VIRUS

Other than vaccine research, NIAID scientists are also investigating the basic biology of influenza. The data collected will assist in designing diagnostics that are more accurate and faster, cost-effective and portable. NIAID is also investigating host immune responses to the virus in animal models and people, and studying influenza epidemiology.

For treatment, NIAID supports research being conducted to develop new and effective drug combinations and examine the mechanisms behind emerging drug resistance. This effort is supported by innovative new technologies to design drugs that target specific cellular processes and viral proteins.

5 Daily Habits That May Shorten Your Life Span

The human body is considered as the greatest wonder. You are the person who is responsible for habits that may shorten your life span. No one else is to blame. The body of the humans is believed to be built for living more than a century, but the present situation shows that only the half of that can be taken as an average life span. The life span is shortened mainly due to the habits developed by the humans. Those habits can harm the whole system adversely. Any habit will take a fixed period of time to turn into a regular pattern. Avoiding the habits which are harmful is not such a Herculean task. So it is high time you reclaim the control of your life and live. There are mainly five habits that shorten your life span and that should be avoided.

Unbalanced Diet

You take in food to provide your body with the necessary nutrients which are inevitable for the proper working of the various systems of the human body. But think once more, do your diet has all the essential nutrients? If your body is not getting the vital nutrients it will not function properly. This is sure to shorten your life span considerably.

Drugs

Taking in drugs and toxic substances is another grave problem. Alcohol and such other intoxicating substances are silent killers of your body organs. Alcohol can cause damage to you heart, liver and such other vital organs. The effect of cardiac and liver problems is well known to every one. Thus the intake of intoxicating substances can shorten your life span dramatically. Not just that, these substances can make the living period itself as painful as hell.

Tobacco

Tobacco also comes under the category of toxic substances. It can destroy the cells in the lungs. Smoking is a major cause of cancer around the world. Chewing of tobacco and other like substances can cause mouth cancer. Once you are affected by these diseases, it will be a great distress not only for you but for the people closer to you also. Smoking is a huge factor that shortens your life span.

Stress

The busy life has a very bad level of stress. Stress has a lot to do with the health of a person. The life of a person can be worth living only if his mind and body work in perfect harmony. The mental breakdown is one of the main reasons which leads people to the habits of alcohol consumption, drugs and smoking. Avoiding stress can work wonders in one’s life. Stress is the sure by-product of this ultra modern era, but there are ways to avoid it. It should be avoided. Otherwise you will be the hunt of many diseases and your life span will also be affected.

Lack of Exercise

With the development of technology the human body is having very less workout. The adverse effects of having less or even zero exercise is very disturbing. If your body is not getting enough exercise, the calories taken in will get deposited in different parts of your body. These unwanted fat deposits will eventually cause health problems

Legal Protection for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Nigeria

For healthy and continuous in flow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to Nigeria, the country has over the years put in place friendly legal framework for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) protection.

In this Foreign Investors’ Guidelines for Doing Business in Nigeria Series, we shall be examining the legal mechanisms put in place for the purpose of encouraging an increasing FDIs inflow and ensuring foreign investors’ confidence in the country.

We shall be discussing foreign investors’ protections ranging from certainty of arbitral proceedings and other dispute resolution mechanisms in the country.

The fact with modern economic systems is that no country can be an island economically; Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) protection is very essential to the successful attainment of foreign investors’ business objective(s) and economic development of any economy.

There are steps that host countries can lawfully take in the exercise of their sovereignty and power can lead to depriving foreign investors of reaping the fruits of their investments.

Host government actions that can affect foreign investment adversely includes nationalization; the act of a government taking control of a private enterprise and converting it to state or public ownership.

Expropriation; the act of a government taking possession of or otherwise meddling with privately held assets or property for the use and benefit of the public, or in the public interest.

The legislative and administrative acts of the government as government action can also have adverse effects on foreign investors’ businesses in Nigeria.

This is the indirect or creeping form of expropriation. The only difference is that, it mode of operation shifted attention from the physical and actual taking-over of an investor’s assets to the legislative and administrative acts of the government.

While not depriving a foreign investor of the ownership of an asset in this type of government control, it is capable of significantly reducing the value of properties and investments of the foreign owner.

Foreign investors don’t like investing in country’s with risk such as arbitrary revocation of a license; permit or a concession after the investor has made the requisite investments.

The advancement and expansion of international business relationships and the importance of foreign direct investment to the economic development of Nigeria has made the country to put in place some foreign business protection laws for the purpose of encouraging foreign investors.

Nigeria has performed greatly in providing protections to potential foreign investors.

Investment Treaties

In spite of the provisions of Section 12 of the Nigerian Constitution, investment treaties entered by the country are binding on, and enforceable against Nigeria upon ratification under the principle of ‘pacta sunt servanda’.

Also, by a literal application of Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which provides that a treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in agreement with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty.

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs): Nigeria entered into its first Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with Germany in 1979 which came into force in 1986.

According to finding from my investigation Nigeria has entered into 28 Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) between 1986 and November, 2015.

Of the total number, 13 are currently in force, 14 are signed and 1 repealed. The Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) currently in force are the ones entered into with Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Kingdom.

The 14 BITs which have been signed by Nigeria but are yet to enter into operation were signed as far as back as 1996.

In addition to the usual investment protection standards, these BITs provide that a contracting state shall not damage by irrational or unfair means the maintenance, management, disposal of investment in its territory of nationals or companies of the other Contracting Party.

And the same recompense for losses suffered due to a safety event made to a domestic investor shall be allowed to the investor from the other contracting state.

These BITs also provide for the right of subrogation allowing foreign investors to obtain suitable investment insurance and for these investment insurance providers to seek remedy on their behalf from Nigeria.

The BITs that are presently in force have also made satisfactory requirements for the standard investment protection. These include fair and equitable treatment, umbrella clauses, most favoured nation status, national treatment, obligations against arbitrary and discriminatory measures and security.

Multi-lateral Investment Treaties (MITs): Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaty is one of the famous MITs Nigeria have entered. The ECOWAS treaty was signed on 28th May 1975; it came in into force on the 20th June, 1975.

The treaty currently has 15 signatories who are member states of ECOWAS.

Article 2 of the Treaty gives ‘Community Enterprise’ status to businesses whose equity capital is owned by two or more member states, and citizens or institutions of the Community.

Article 16 of the Treaty provides that Community Enterprise shall be accorded favourable treatment with regards to incentives and advantages, and shall not be nationalised or expropriated by the government of any member state except for valid reasons of public interest, and subject to the payment of prompt and adequate compensation.

Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) investment treaty is another MIT Nigeria has entered into in relation with providing favourable conditions for foreign investments in the country.

OIC is a treaty with an Agreement on Promotion, Protection and Guarantee of Investments among Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which came into force in September, 1986.

Chapter 2 of the Treaty mandates all member states of the Organization of Islamic Countries to provide adequate security and protection to the invested capital of an investor who is a national of another contracting member state.

The terms of protection specifically include the enjoyment of equal treatment, undertaking not to adopt measures that may directly or indirectly affect the ownership of the investor’s capital or investment and not to expropriate any investment except it is in the public interest and on prompt payment of adequate compensation.

Host states are further obligated to guarantee free repatriation of any capital and returns due to an investor.

Conventions to which Nigeria is a Signatory:

The country is signatory to a number of Conventions which have been entered into for the purposes of protecting foreign direct investment.

The most significant convention in this regard is the Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention).

International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) as an arbitral institution under the World Bank Group is a fully integrated, self-contained arbitration institution that provides standard arbitration clauses, arbitration proceedings rules, arrangements for venues, financial arrangements and administrative supporting including the appointment of arbitrators to parties.

Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID) primarily provides for the settlement of investment disputes between investors and sovereign host states.

It has also taken the necessary legislative measures to make the Convention’s resolution effective in Nigeria by enacting it as a domestic legislature in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Enforcement of Awards) Decree No. 49 of 1967.

Another significant investment protection convention Nigeria has entered into is the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

New York Convention was adopted by the United Nations in June, 1958 and it mandates domestic courts in signatory countries to give effect to arbitration agreements, and to also recognise and enforce valid arbitral awards given in other signatory states.

The New York Convention in other words is particularly significant for the enforcement of arbitral awards resulting from non-ICSID investment arbitration proceedings.

In an attempt to bring into conscious awareness the legal guidelines to undertaking business in Nigeria to intended foreign investors, we shall specifically be reviewing domestic legislations and investment treaties which collectively make up the legal framework for foreign investment protection in the country.

The Domestic Legal Framework:

The notable investment legislation in Nigeria is the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, CAP N117 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (“NIPC Act”).

The NIPC Act provides the fundamental and suitable legal framework for the protection of foreign investors in the country. Part 5 of the NIPC Act provides that foreigners may invest and participate in any enterprise in Nigeria.

They are assured unrestricted transfer of funds attributable to the investment such as profits, dividends, payments in respect of loan servicing, and the remittance of proceeds obtained from the sale or liquidation of assets or any interest in the venture through an approved dealer in freely convertible currency.

Section 25 of the NIPC Act clearly provides that no enterprise shall be expropriated or nationalised without prompt payment of compensation; the same section also provides a protection clause to an investor to claim “creeping” expropriation by establishing that the acts complained of indirectly results to expropriation or have expropriatory tendency.

Lastly, the NIPC Act provides that disputes between a foreign investor and any government in Nigeria arising from an investment shall be submitted to arbitration within the framework of any investment treaty entered into between the government of Nigeria and any state of which the foreign investor is a national.

It further provides that where there is a disagreement between the Nigerian government and the foreign investor on the mode of dispute settlement, the dispute shall be submitted to ICSID for arbitration.

Foreign investor is thus at liberty in Nigeria to institute arbitration proceedings against a government even after bringing a claim or counterclaim against the government in a court or domestic arbitration.

Another domestic legislation that provides protection to foreign investors is the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions Act) CAP F34.

Section 15 of this Act provides that any person may invest in any business venture with foreign currency or capital imported into Nigeria through an authorized dealer who will issue a Certificate of Capital Importation to the foreign investor.

Sub-section (4) of the same section in addition guarantees unconditional transferability of funds in freely convertible currency of any such monies arising from an investment made in Nigeria with foreign currency, including dividends and profits, payments in respect of loan servicing, and remittances of the proceeds of sale or liquidation of assets.

A similar provision on repatriation is also found in Section 18 of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Act, CAPN107 (“NEPZA Act”).

Section 18 of the NEPZA Act provides that foreign investors who invest in outlined businesses within an export zone shall be eligible to remit profits and dividends earned in the zone and repatriate foreign capital investment at any time with capital appreciation of the investments.

Other foreign investors’ protection laws are the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The act gives foreign investors the opportunity to determine the mode of settling disputes that may arise out of their investments without resort to litigation in domestic (Nigeria) courts.

With the anticipation that such settlement will unfailingly and efficiently protect and enforce the rights of foreign investors and their investments provides a framework for domestic arbitration it also makes provisions for international commercial arbitration which is more preferable by foreign investors.

Section 56(2) (d) defines ‘international arbitration’ to include any arbitration that the parties have expressly agreed in the arbitration agreement to treat as international arbitration. The Act provides that every arbitration award is capable of enforcement under the New York Convention.

Nigeria’s entries into these investment treaties and its enactment of the Conventions into domestic legislation have made the protection mechanism part of Nigeria’s legal framework for protection of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) friendly and convenient to actual and potential foreign investors.

What Are Examples of Gourmet Foods?

The definition of gourmet food is food that a connoisseur would enjoy – a gourmet. This means that even food prepared with every day ingredients could be considered gourmet food if it is prepared with loving care by a chef who knows how to cook very well. For example, my husband cooks a chicken jal frezi which is simply superb, so can be classes as a gourmet dish. If I cook the same dish it can’t be classed as gourmet food as I am not very good at making this particular dish- I don’t have the patience it needs to make it to perfection. If you can take ordinary ingredients, say peas, carrots, potatoes and lamb and cook them in a way which makes the dish superb, then this is an example of gourmet food.

If you think about individual items that are categorized as gourmet food then Beluga caviar would be a contender for the number one slot. Beluga is a type of sturgeon which lives in the Caspian Sea where it is caught by Russian and Iranian fishermen for its eggs (unfertilized) as caviar is raw fish roe (eggs). If you are a true gourmet, then you will know that real black Beluga caviar can only be eaten with a spoon which is not made of metal as metal reacts with the roe and it doesn’t taste as good if this happens. It is eaten with mother-of-pearl, bone or tortoise shell spoons (these are now illegal so you have to find antique ones). Part of the mystique and caché of caviar is the rituals that surround the eating of it.

Wild smoked salmon is also considered a gourmet item and this taste very different to the ubiquitous smoked salmon found in packaged slivers on supermarket shelves. Oysters (raw) would also be categorized as a gourmet item. These seafood items are rich in vitamins and minerals and are very good for our health, and I often wonder if they became so highly valued because of their nutritional content as the peasants of Europe just couldn’t afford them.

Peasants could however find truffles, another highly prized item, in forests if they knew which trees to find them under. Black truffles are the best (so it is said) but white ones have a lot going for them too. In Italy in delicatessens you can buy a few slivers of truffle to go in a dish, which makes them less expensive that buying a whole truffle. They can be added to a dish to make it an extra special one as you don’t need to use very much of a truffle for it to impart its unique flavour to a dish. They are very good added to rice which is cooked in champagne (a truly gourmet risotto).

Cheeses which have been lovingly made from ewe’s and goat’s milk by small dairy farmers are also highly prized gourmet items, and you can, increasingly, find these online. Brie would not be classed as a gourmet item unless it is ripe and gooey and made by the French cheese makers. The type so often found on supermarket shelves is not a gourmet cheese.

Chanterelle mushrooms can be gathered in the woods as long as you know what you are looking for. These are certainly gourmet mushrooms with their meaty flavour and beautiful golden-yellow colour. They grow under (not on) trees and have very distinctive trumpet-shaped tops. Fresh porcini and morel mushrooms are also considered gourmet food items.

You don’t have to pay the Earth for a gourmet dish. All you have to do is have the patience and the understanding of the nature and quality of your ingredients to produce your own gourmet food. (Although Beluga caviar is wonderful!)

A Buyer’s Guide to Kids ATV

Buying a kids ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) could be a confusing task. Often, most people do not know how to go about buying the ATV. There are so many factors to consider. Size, make, price and safety are examples of factors that must be taken into account. Of course, looks too play an important part. After all, your child will not accept a kids ATV that doesn’t look cool! So, how do you buy the right bike?

Size: When it comes to size, most parents make big mistakes. It is common for them to buy a kids ATV that is one size bigger so that their child can grow into the bike gradually. But, buying a quad bike that is bigger than the required size is dangerous. Your child should have comfortable access to the handle bars, brake and accelerator. If they cannot reach these parts comfortably, it could be dangerous. Parents must also consider the size of the engine. If the engine is too powerful, it could go out of control. 50cc engines are best suited for young children.

Quality: When you buy kids ATV, it is important to consider the quality of the bike. A quality bike equates to lesser number of break-downs, repairs and low maintenance costs. Reputed brands are highly conscious of the quality of their machines. Also, since kids grow out their ATVs pretty fast, you need to consider your re-selling options. A reputed brand fetches much more when you want to resell. If you are about to buy a brand that sounds new, find out more about warranties, guarantees and so on.

Safety: Kids ATV must keep to high safety standards. High quality quads have a large number of safety features. Some even have safety features that may not be present in adult ATVs. Examples include kill switches which help kill the engine in case of trouble. Remote controls allow parents to control the ATVs, in case of necessity. A safe engine keeps your child safe.

The ATV is also known as the quad or four wheeler. According to the ANSI (American National Standards Institute), the ATV is a vehicle that is equipped to travel on all terrains. It has four low pressure tires and a handlebar. The vehicle is legal in some countries and not allowed on the roads in other countries. Regardless, kids need to learn how to be safe on the kids ATV before they can graduate to more powerful ATVs.

Kids between the ages of 6 and 12 must always ride a kids ATV with a 70cc engine or lesser. As age and experience increase, they can opt for more advanced models. It is necessary to buy the ATV that suits your child’s physical make up. In this regard, you cannot accept any industry norms. The only way to find out is to take your child for a test drive. Your child must be able to shift gears if you intend to buy manual   transmission . Otherwise, go for the automatic ATVs.

Passive Investment Income

What are some ways a person can generate passive investment income? There are a number of ideas about it. Everyone has his own ideas about which one can be a passive investment income. We should have our own choice of investment. The wealthy, the marginalized, and the middle class people differ in their own preferences about investing their money. Now, let’s compare ways and opportunities according to some considerations such as safety, profitability, and also liquidity.

Safety means that your investment and the income are stable. The money that you invest could be prone to the changing market condition, economic slowdown, and social unrest. The point is that your passive investment income should always be there. In that case, it is safe to invest.

On the other hand, profitability is what we usually consider when we invest. We are supposed to believe that what is profitable is ideal. That’s right. But is it risky? Is my money stuck? Obviously, everyone would go for whatever gives them profit. Whenever we consider gains, the highest amount is always the best passive investment income. What we should consider here should not have been about the top gainers only. It’s should also be the safer ones.

Another significant factor that must be considered is liquidity. Let us suppose that we earn very attractively from our safe investment. What does that mean to us anyway? When you are ready to use your fund because you really need it and that’s the reason why you invested, is it possible to convert it to cash now? If there is no liquidity, our passive investment income is only an imagination. You would become wealthy only in your dreams. Liquidity is not only about the comfort of making a withdrawal. It is also about how smooth it is to invest.

Now, here are three kinds of investment we may consider whether which passive investment income is better for us. So, let’s talk about three kinds of portfolios such as business, stocks, and real estate.

Business is a personal activity that deals with economic factors that determines future gains. It is the chemistry of work and investment. This means that a businessman does not only wait for passive income, he should also work for it. Therefore, it is an active income and at the same time passive.

In the aspect of safety, business is not that safe. It is exposed to economic cycle. Businesses are under the supply and demand law. If the demand for their goods has been increasing, the price will also increase, and so will the supply. As time goes by, the demand will influence the supply to increase more. So if the supply is much greater, it will then influence the price to decrease. Consequently, businesses are getting more unstable and their future is turning gray. But, businesses may also get more resilient. As this type of investment is a little active, the active control of a businessman can manage a worse situation. Therefore, these two characters of investment regulate the cycle. Because of this, business becomes good. It is definitely a good example of passive investment income when it comes to safety.

In stock market, it’s the other way around. Safety is a very controversial issue here. Obviously, the risk involved here is very high. But the potential return is high, too. Passive investment income is more common in stock trading. Therefore, your income here is not the product of your active participation in the company. It is the product of your decision.

In the area of real estate, the lesser amount you invest, the safer it is. The bigger the investment you have, the riskier it becomes. But land alone is considerably not risky. The reason why real estate becomes a little risky is because the cost of structural materials is getting higher. Structural materials are also subject to the law of supply and demand. So, if we only rely on land for passive investment income by renting it out, our passive income will not be affected by any price fluctuation. Aside from that, structures depreciate over a period of time. Therefore, investing in real estate can be risky or safe depending on the kind.

In terms of profit, it is more attractive in business. In some businesses, you have to spend time before you earn regularly. Usually, the profit is negative especially if they are just beginning to operate. They should promote their brands and strengthen themselves in the market. When the consumers buy their goods, passive investment income begins. On the other hand, other businesses are doing well in the beginning of the operation. During the first stage, their sales shoot up. Subsequently, they grow very early. As time goes by, consumers get sick and tired of their goods. Consequently, these businesses reduce their passive income. Nevertheless, what is nice about business is the resilience to catch up with the competition. In business, the consistency of income is stable. One more advantage in business regarding this is the petty cash. Passive investment income in business need not come after a fixed cycle like that in stocks. There is always readily available petty cash.

On one hand, profit potential in stock investing is definitely high. As the character of stocks is risky, risk appetite causes the value of stocks to go up quickly. On the other hand, risk aversion and profit taking in the intraday trading can cause the value of stocks to go down quickly, too. Risk management in the stock market depends on the traders. Speculators enjoy their passive investment income from the price volatility while non-aggressive traders and investors get their passive investment income from dividends. Therefore, we can’t rule out the risk nature of stocks. When we gauge the balance between the energy we exert and the profit we earn, investing in stocks could be the most attractive one. We must not forget that passive investment income is an income that we could get without extra effort. If stock market really offers this potential, it must be a better option for passive investment income.

In real estate, how can we have a passive investment income? There is no doubt that one may enjoy his passive investment income in real estate without extra effort. The point is whether or not the ratio of profit is balanced with the investment. Surely, we can gain in real estate primarily because the usual investment is big as well. But always remember that you should pay the capital gains tax annually. This might explain why landlords do not solely rely on renting out their lots. Hence, land is usually developed to optimize the gains. Regarding the actual amount of gains, real estate could guarantee a better passive investment income. Therefore, we should really consider the ROI.

In terms of liquidity, it is somewhat less in business. Of course, liquidity still exists. However, much time is spent to put up a business, to start gaining, and even the time it takes to stop operating. Although the period of time executing all these can be determined according to a business plan, the process is still slower depending on the kind of business. Retail businesses are quite liquid whereas manufacturing industries are not.

Among the common types of investments known to many, investment in stocks is the most liquid one. You can open and close an investment account at your convenience. Moreover, you may select any available stock you wish to invest in. If you wish to have exposure in stock market, to take profit, or to pull out your investment, it won’t take that long. You may do so at any given time wherever you may be.

On the contrary, liquidity is a big problem in real estate. In business, there are still ways to determine it, but hardly in real estate. Usually, it is like a game of chance to sell even a small house and lot. Thus, investing in real estate, earning passive income, and even pulling out your investment will never occur overnight. It won’t matter if it doesn’t affect productivity. For instance, you have found a better opportunity that needs quick decision. Then, you think it best to change your existing investment into such a new one. Perhaps, before you are able to pull out your investment from real estate, your commitment to others will have already been canceled. In similar case, you might get stuck.

These are some ways a person can generate passive investment income. Whether you wish to invest in stocks, real estate, or business, you can always find an opportunity to generate passive investment income.

Investing Basics for Beginners

Investing money is a way for individuals to save toward their goals, whether it be retirement, a child’s college education, or some other financial goal. Beginning investors need to take time to determine their goals and learn some basic concepts of investing before jumping right into making an investment. Successful investing takes much research, time, and patience. As beginning investors start to have some success in making money through investments, they will develop a degree of skill. However, there is still a degree of risk involved even the most seasoned and skilled investors. Finding the answers to some basic investing questions will help make the efforts of beginning investors more successful.

How much money do I need to make an investment?

One common misconception by beginning investors is that they must have a large sum of money to make an investment. The truth is, many investments can be made for as little as hundreds or perhaps a few thousand dollars. One way to begin investing small is through dividend reinvestment plans or direct stock purchase options. Investors may be able to invest in a company’s stock options by paying a minimal start-up fee, often as little as $25 or $50 and making an initial investment. Once the money begins adding up, it can then be transferred to a brokerage account, where the investor will be able to begin investing larger sums of money.

What are the different types of investing?

Once investors determine that they have enough money to make an investment, the difficult part is often deciding where to invest their money. There are many different options for investors; some of the most common investment options are mutual funds, bonds, futures, and real estate.

  • Mutual funds – A way for individuals to invest without having to manage their investment “hands-on” is through investing in mutual funds. Mutual funds are investments that are handled by a fund manager. This fund manager invests the pool of money, contributed to by several individual investors, in the financial marketplace. The funds may be invested through closed or open-ended funds. Closed funds have a set number of shares that are distributed to the public and are traded on the open market; whereas open-ended funds to do not a set number of shares. The trader will re-invest into new shares for the investor. The shares are overseen by a professional money manager who is trained to select investments that will provide the largest returns to the investor.
  • Exchange traded funds – These funds, known as ETFs, are pools of investor money that is invested in similar ways to mutual funds. However, since ETFs are designed only to track certain indexes and much of their management is computerized, their maintenance costs and fees are generally much lower.
  • Bonds – When investors purchase bonds, they are buying an interest in a company or corporation. The companies issues bonds, which is a loan from an investor. In turn, the company agrees to pay this investor back at determined intervals with interest. Investing in bonds can be a fairly secure investment. Unless the company goes bankrupt, the investor is almost certain to receive back at least the minimum amount of his investment. These interest payments at set intervals can be a source of steady income for retired couples or others wishing to create a type of investment where they can generate consistent returns. The interest earned on bonds can be tax exempt with some types of bonds.
  • Real Estate – Real estate can a good investment when the timing is right but often requires a lot of work. One easy way for investors to enter the real estate market is through a real estate investment trust, or REIT. Investors become part owners in the investments of the REIT such as malls, park garages, hotels, or other real estate ventures. REITs often pay out high cash dividends to investors because the REIT pays no federal income tax in return for paying out 90 percent or more of their profits to shareholders in the form of dividends. Another way of making money through investing in real estate is through purchasing properties, improving the properties through repairing them or adding amenities, then selling them at a profit; or renting the houses to tenants and receiving a monthly income from the payments.
  • Futures – Futures trading is the marketplace where buyers from around the world buy and sell futures contracts. A futures contract is an agreement to receive a product at a future date with a set price. Once the price is agreed upon, the price is secure for the next year regardless of the changes in the market. Some common futures markets include commodities, currencies, stock indexes, interest rates, and other alternative investments such as economic indicators. The rewards of this kind of investing can be great but so are the risks. Therefore, futures should be left to the most experienced investors.

Should I diversify or stick with one investment?

Most professional investment advisors will confirm that diversification is the key to a successful investment portfolio. Investors who spread their investments out through several avenues reduce their risk of losing all of their assets should the investment fail. While it may be tempting to dive right in and start investing large sums or money, beginning investors should balance the potential profit against the risks they are exposing themselves to in the investment marketplace.

Using the services of a professional investment advisor

A professional investment advisor can provide beginning investors with the basic information needed to start an investment portfolio. An investment advisor sometimes is also a financial planner and can help with all financial matters. Some investment advisors are paid a percentage of the value of the assets managed, while others charge an hourly fee or are paid on a commission basis.

For investors who would like to avoid these fees, the best strategy is to do some study and start with mutual funds or ETFs offered by reputable companies.