Gary Scheer, RFC®, CSA

The 7 Rules of Investing

Over the past century, many of the world’s leading economists have studied the art – or science – of investing.  Dozens of investing theories, models, and systems have been created, most of them requiring a PhD to understand.  But when it comes to learning how to invest, sometimes it’s best to turn to the people who actually do it for a living. 

Case in point, take Peter Lynch. 

From 1977 through 1990, Lynch ran one of the most successful mutual funds ever, posting an average annual return of 29%.  Over his career, Lynch espoused many investing principles, but there are seven in particular that I think all investors should keep in mind.

Peter Lynch’s 7 Rules of Investing

  1. KNOW WHAT YOU OWN.  Invest in companies, industries, and funds you understand well. What do they do?  Who uses their goods or services?  Is it a company you would want to do business with yourself?
  2. PREDICTION IS FUTILE.  No one can predict where the markets will go or what the economy will do, so don’t even try.  Instead, focus on what you can control, like the types of companies or funds you invest in, how much you save, etc. 
  3. TAKE YOUR TIME.  Investing isn’t a race.  You have plenty of time to do your research and find outstanding companies to invest in.  Follow the tortoise’s example, not the hare’s.
  4. AVOID LONG SHOTS.  Investing isn’t gambling, either.  While we have no control over the markets, we do have control over how much risk we take on.  Your portfolio isn’t the place for speculation or bets.  For that, head to Vegas. 
  5. BUY GOOD COMPANIES.  Invest in companies that have proven management, a strong business model, and that sell things people actually use.  Otherwise, you’re investing in companies you guess might prove popular…and that’s just another form of gambling. 
  6. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES.  Even the greatest investors sometimes get things wrong.  When that happens, accept it humbly and try to determine how you can improve.
  7. BEFORE YOU BUY, BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN.  Before investing, can you explain to a family member what you’re buying and why?  Can you describe how that company or fund works?  If not, take your time and do more research. 

Ultimately, all investing comes with risk, and there is no strategy or rule that guarantees success.  But there are solid “rules of thumb” you can follow to make smart, simple investment decisions. 

And best of all, you don’t need a PhD to understand them!