Banking

Here’s how you can make money being ‘boring’ with your finances

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Headlines today are swamped with new and flashy investments such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), meme stocks and cryptocurrencies. It can be tempting to invest in the latest craze, but it is just as important to have ‘boring’ investments as well.

On July 29, Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s Mad Money, had a segment at the beginning of his show talking about how boring investments shouldn’t be neglected. His example was Carrier Global Corp (CARR), a global manufacturer and leader providing HVAC services, refrigeration and fire and security solutions.

An incredibly non-sexy investment has made investors a handsome return on their investment. In the last five years, the stock is up 340% to date. And since March 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns started, the stock price has risen 34%. Past performance is no indication of future returns, this isn’t to say you should invest in CARR, but uncool investments can do very well, too.

Cramer’s point was this: “You can still make a lot of money by being boring.” And this theory can apply across the board to many of your financial decisions.

Here are four ways to be boring with your money so you can continue to grow your wealth with ease.

Invest in the S&P 500

The S&P 500 is a favorite of many investors for stable and consistent returns. The S&P 500 is made up of 500 of the largest companies in the U.S and includes popular stocks such as Apple, Tesla and Facebook.

When you invest money in an S&P 500 index fund, you are buying a piece of each company listed in the index. This helps produce steady returns (over the long term) and shields your investment from serious risk. However, the S&P 500 does have years where it is in the red. But to add to it’s credibility, Warren Buffett has regularly suggested that everyday investors should focus investing their dollars into the popular index — and for good reason.

Instead of bitcoin or the latest meme stock, regularly investing in this index can be quite profitable. Since 1950, the S&P 500 has produced an 11.4% annualized return. In fact, this index has consistently outperformed more than 90% of actively managed mutual funds — further adding to the sentiment that boring can be consistently profitable.

Assuming that same return, if you were to invest $100 per month for 30 years into an S&P 500 index fund, your brokerage account would be worth over $287,000 — after only contributing $36,000.

Rich Arzaga, a certified financial planner and founder of Cornerstone Wealth Management, reiterates this strategy to his own clients. “Sexy can represent a danger to a portfolio. With proper financial behavior, boring returns have been respectable. Respectable should be the new sexy.”

To get started investing in the S&P 500, you can open a brokerage account (including an IRA and Roth IRA) with Charles Schwab or Fidelity, or even consider a robo-advisor such as Wealthfront or Betterment, which often allocates a portion of your portfolio to an S&P 500 index fund.

Wealthfront

On Wealthfront’s secure site

  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. $500 minimum deposit for investment accounts

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Zero account, transfer, trading or commission fees (fund ratios may apply). Wealthfront annual management advisory fee is 0.25% of your account balance

  • Bonus

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash. Additional asset classes to your portfolio include real estate, natural resources and dividend stocks

  • Educational resources

    Offers free financial planning for college planning, retirement and homebuying

Use a cash-back credit card and invest your rewards

Another tool that’s a part of your everyday life, and may often feel boring and tedious to deal with, is your credit card. Your daily purchases can actually earn you cash-back rewards that you can use to “passively” invest in the market.

In the world of credit card rewards, there are two different types of credit cards: travel rewards and cash back. While travel rewards cards have a ton of upside when you can fly in first class and brag to your friends and family, there is nothing wrong with earning cash back.

Select calculated how much cash back the average American can earn in a year with the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers cardholders 2% cash back on all eligible purchases (1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay).

We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). With this in mind, using a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card will earn you $443 each year.

Yes, you may earn better “value” with a travel rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, but simplicity and savings is the boring solution with potential long term benefit. However, consider that having multiple credit cards could benefit you heavily as the welcome bonus for the Sapphire Preferred is worth a whole lot. Currently the card is offering 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership — that’s worth $1,000 in cash back. You could take that cash and then invest it into the market.

In addition, there are credit cards available that will invest your cash back into an index fund like the S&P 500, such as the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card or the American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab.

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% – 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Shop around for better interest rates

Your housing costs are probably the biggest part of your monthly budget and often feel like a burden to pay. But for many, there’s a simple and effective way to cut this bill down, and it doesn’t involve downsizing your lifestyle.

More than a year and a half since the beginning of the pandemic interest rates remain at record lows. For homeowners, now is a great time to refinance their mortgage for a lower rate, and likely a lower monthly payment.

However, there are a few points to consider before starting the home refinancing process:

  • Home equity: As home prices continue to surge, more and more homeowners are finding themselves with a strong position in home equity. In order to refinance, the rule of thumb is that you should have at least 20% equity in your home, meaning that you have paid off 20% of your home. However, contact your lender to see what your options are.
  • Credit score: Be sure that you are monitoring your credit score. If your credit score isn’t where you want it to be, work on improving it before refinancing your home to get the best interest rate possible.
  • Refinancing costs: Refinancing your home isn’t free. It will cost roughly between 3-6% of the total loan amount to refinance. In some cases, the costs of refinancing may outweigh the savings, so make sure to run the numbers before you modify your mortgage. However, each lender will charge a different amount, so be sure to shop around to get the best deal.

Refinancing your home is a boring, yet effective and simple, way to save money. To get started figuring out whether this makes sense for you, use a home refinancing calculator to help you crunch the numbers. You can take the savings and invest them in the market or use them to pay down your mortgage even quicker.

Reanalyze your bills for potential savings

The most boring method of all these potential money makers is to take a look at your monthly bills and find costs to cut. This is probably the last thing you want to do in your free time, but the effort can really pay off.

Here are a few ideas to get started:

Bottom line

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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