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Investing

Investing is that portion of our personal finance that creates the greatest buzz. Entire television networks, business magazines and newspapers are devoted to the analysis and promotion of investing. These comments range from opinions on the general economy to individual investment ideas and everything in between.

We are truly suffering from information overload and have strayed into areas never before explored. The pages are filled with talk of cryptocurrencies, negative interest rates, algorithms, money printing, bailouts, quantitative easing and countless other terms that never before entered our minds. In the short term the direction that investments take is often dictated by the emotion created by this information overload.

But in the long long run fundamentals matter. The old quote is that "in the short term the market is a voting machine (emotions); in the long run it is a weighing machine (fundamentals)".

Amid all the turmoil there are still some basics that you can turn to in an effort to build a solid investment portfolio. These basics (or fundamentals) are often forgotten in the hype of social media and new paradigms but in the long run they still matter.

While we often focus on the average rate of return, the volatility those returns matters just as much. It is a measurement of risk. The good news is that there are ways to measure and influence that volatility. It can help you decide if the risk you may be taking with an investment is worth the potential reward.

Measurements you can use to evaluate investments include standard deviation of returns, correlation of returns, alpha, beta and so on. The terminology may be intimidating but is easily explained.

The manner in which you can influence the rate of return and the volatility of returns is through asset allocation or choosing the mix of investments that meets your requirements for rate of return while keeping your exposure to volatility (risk) within your comfort zone.

You can get started by giving some thought to your own investment profile.