So you’re thinking of investing in bonds? Maybe you’ve been hearing a lot about how low-interest rates are, and you’re looking for ways to get a little more yield out of your portfolio. Or maybe you’re just curious about what all the fuss is about. Bond investing can be a great way to balance out risk in your portfolio, but there are a few things you should know before you dive in. Here are five things every bond investor should know.
What are and how do bonds differ from other investments?
Bonds are essentially loans. When you buy a bond, you are lending money to the issuer, who may be a government, corporation, or other entity. In exchange for your loan, the issuer agrees to pay you interest at regular intervals and repay the loan’s principal amount when the bond matures. Bonds are typically issued with maturities of 10 years or more, although there are shorter-term bonds.
The main difference between bonds and other investments such as stocks is that bonds are generally much less volatile, which means they tend to hold their value better in market turmoil. It makes them a good choice for investors who want to preserve their capital or are approaching retirement and don’t want to see their nest egg eroded by a stock market crash.
What are the benefits of bonds?
There are several benefits to investing in bonds. They tend to be less volatile than stocks, so they can help offset some of the risks in your portfolio. They also offer relatively predictable returns, which can help plan for retirement or other financial goals. And because bonds are issued by various entities, including government agencies and corporations, you can find bonds that fit your risk tolerance and investment objectives.
Another benefit of bonds is that they offer tax advantages in some cases. For example, many municipal bonds are exempt from federal income tax and state and local taxes if you live in the state where the bond is issued. It can make them an attractive choice for investors in high tax brackets.
What are the risks of bonds?
Bond prices can rise and fall in response to changes in interest rates, inflation, and the issuer’s financial health. When interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall because new bonds are being issued at higher rates. It is why it’s essential to consider your investment time horizon when buying bonds. If you need to sell before the bond matures, you may get less than you paid if rates have gone up in the meantime.
Inflation can also erode the purchasing power of your bond income over time. And if the issuer of a bond defaults on its payments, you could lose some or all of your investment.
How do I choose which bonds to buy?
When choosing bonds, the first thing you need to consider is your investment objective. Are you looking for income, stability, or capital appreciation? That will help determine what types of bonds are suitable for you.
It would help if you also thought about your risk tolerance. If you can’t stomach any volatility in your portfolio, you may want to stick with short-term bonds or funds that invest in various bonds with different maturities.
Once you’ve decided what type of bond you’re looking for, you can start considering individual issues. When doing so, it’s essential to look at the issuer’s credit rating, which will give you an idea of the issuer’s financial health and how likely it is to default on its payments.
It’s a good idea to compare the yield of different bonds. The yield is the interest rate you’ll earn on the bond, expressed as a percentage of the price you pay for the bond. Generally, bonds with longer maturities and lower credit ratings will have higher yields than bonds with shorter maturities and higher credit ratings.
How do I buy bonds?
You can buy bonds directly from issuers, through brokers, or through mutual funds that invest in bonds.
If you’re buying bonds directly from issuers, you’ll need to do your research to find bonds that fit your investment objectives. Once you’ve found some bonds you’re interested in, you can contact the issuer or a broker to arrange the purchase.
If you’re buying bonds through a broker, you’ll need to pay commissions, which will eat your profits. But brokers can offer advice and guidance if you’re unsure which bonds to buy.