According to billionaire Warren Buffett, the best way to beat inflation and weather turbulent times is to invest in low-cost index funds and pursue value over the long term.
Families in the United States, who have already been dealing with decades of wage stagnation, are now dealing with rising food, gas, and housing prices, to name a few.
In an uncertain investing environment influenced by inflation, war, and a pandemic, both novice and experienced investors must navigate.
Financial clarity and strategy are in high demand, as evidenced by the thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders who attended their annual conference on April 30 in Omaha, Nebraska, or watched the livestream on CNBC.
Warren Buffett, the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the world's richest men, is a 91-year-old investor and business legend known for his strategic financial advice and prowess. Here's what you can take away from him about inflation, index funds, and value investing, as well as what you can do right now to improve your financial portfolio.
1. Investors have no control over inflation.
On April 30, Buffett reminded investors that inflation "swindles almost everyone." Prices for goods and services are rising, which means that the US dollar can buy less than it could a year or two ago.
Families in the United States, who have already been dealing with decades of wage stagnation, are now dealing with rising food, gas, and housing prices, to name a few. While market changes and global events are beyond the control of an individual investor, consumers should concentrate on what they can control. In most cases, this means sticking to your investment strategy — after all, as Buffett would say, investing over the long term is usually the best way to beat inflation.
2. Index funds can provide straightforward and effective diversification.
Buffett is a big fan of index funds, which are investment packages that mimic a specific market index, such as the S&P 500: "In my opinion, the best thing to do for most people is to own the S&P 500 index fund," Buffett said in May 2022.
Low-cost index funds typically charge lower fees than actively managed funds and enable you to purchase a diverse slice of a market or industry. It spreads out the risk of your investments, which is especially important during volatile times.
Stock picking, or actively managing a financial portfolio by purchasing individual stocks, on the other hand, can be costly, time-consuming, and risky. And, according to Kevin Cheeks, a financial advisor in San Francisco, it rarely pays off: "Most professional money managers can't consistently beat the market." Although they may have a few good years, 70% to 80% of fund managers will underperform the stock market."
The data demonstrates: According to S&P Dow Jones Indices, nearly 80% of actively managed funds underperformed the S&P Composite 1500 in 2021. "Paying more for something that may not perform well over time does not add as much to your portfolio," Cheeks explains.
On April 30, Buffett said of stock picking, "We [Buffett and Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman] haven't the faintest idea what the stock market is going to do when it opens on Monday." We've never had." "I don't think we've ever made a decision where either of us has said or been thinking we should buy or sell based on what the market is going to do," he continued. Or, for that matter, what the economy will do. We have no idea."
To begin with index funds, choose an index such as the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq Composite, or Wilshire 5000 and a fund that tracks that index. Many investors choose index funds based on their expense ratio, which is the annual fee expressed as a percentage of their investment. When you're ready to buy, you can use an investment account like a brokerage account or an IRA. Index funds may also be available through employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k)s.
3. Value investing can be an effective strategy.
Buffett told Forbes magazine in 1974, "Buy into a company because you want to own it, not because you want the stock to rise." One strategy for deciding where and when to invest is to evaluate a company's value.
Buying high-quality stocks at bargain prices and holding them for years is what value investing entails.
There's also investing in line with your values, which involves investing with your social, religious, environmental, or moral beliefs in mind.
Buffett has done well for himself by implementing both strategies. Buffett, for example, announced at this year's annual conference that Berkshire Hathaway had purchased 15 million shares of gaming company Activision Blizzard. The purchase is one of the most recent examples of Buffett's strategy of selecting undervalued investments at an attractive price rather than stocks with high growth potential.
Buffett has prioritized four major areas for Berkshire Hathaway's beliefs: insurance, Apple, railroads (BNSF Railway), and energy. Buffett refers to railroads as "the number one artery of American commerce" and "an indispensable asset for America as well as Berkshire Hathaway" in his 2021 Letter to Shareholders. Buffett's investment is based on his belief in the services provided by railroads and their impact on the environment. "If the many essential products carried by BNSF were instead transported by truck, America's carbon emissions would skyrocket," he wrote.
Even if you only have $100 or $1,000 to invest, investing based on your values is an important consideration. Cheeks assists clients in making a variety of value-based investment decisions. "Let's concentrate on what you need to do. "And then let's look at how we can do that through a specific lens, such as being impactful or charitable," he says.
If you're interested in value investing, you'll need to look for underpriced and overlooked companies in today's stock market, which is easier when the market is down.
When it comes to investing in accordance with your values, many brokers offer screening tools that enable you to filter index funds or other investments based on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) business practices.
Getting started with investing is easy. If you learn about the basic types of investments and find the right Stock Advisor, you can begin making more informed financial choices for the future.